Throughout our lives, we have all suffered from feeling a little anxious at times. Whether you are performing in front of a large crowd, meeting someone for a first date, or interviewing for the job of your dreams, everyone has most likely felt feelings of anxiousness at some point throughout their lives. Dogs are no different.
While it is common for dogs to feel anxious from time to time, some dogs feel it more than others, or they simply don’t deal with it as well. The cause of this anxiousness could come down to a variety of different things.
- Unfamiliar humans in or outside the house
- Being uncomfortable around other dogs
- Home alone for long periods of time
- Loud and sudden noises
- Locked up in a pen or crate
- Traveling in the car
Those are just a few scenarios that may cause a dog to feel anxious, but the list could go on and on depending on the dog. If your dog is feeling anxious, their body language will show signs that they are feeling this way. Your dog may bark, growl, pant loudly, blink excessively, pace back and forth, or even avoid eye contact with you if they are feeling anxious. If you see these signs, your dog is definitely stressed out.
If you want to know how to calm an anxious dog, here are 6 of the most popular methods.
Create a Safe Zone
Creating a safe zone for your dog to make them feel comfortable and entertained is a great first step to keeping them calm when they are feeling anxious. First thing you will need to do is pick a spot for them. It could be a mat, a crate or pen, Or even a whole room if you have space. Making sure it’s a quiet, comfortable spot they can feel cozy and secure is the most critical aspect of this method.
Similar to a teenager retreating to their room when they want to be alone, this “Safe Zone” can act as a getaway or hideout for your dog when they are feeling anxious. Always give them lots of treats and love when securing them in their safe zone so they are encouraged to go there.
Treats and Toys
Treats and toys are great options for calming an anxious dog. They will take your dogs’ mind off of things and get their attention onto you. When your dog is getting stressed or worked up, get a treat out for them and slowly calm them down. When they are finally relaxed and calmed down, give them the treat as their reward.
There are many toys out there that will help with your dogs anxiousness. Simple bones and chew toys can relieve stress for dogs that like the chew. There are also toys that allow you to fill them up with peanut butter or other sweets that will keep your dog occupied for long periods of time.
Lots of Exercises
Exercise can sometimes act as a “Cure-All” for a lot of problems and issues that come along with raising a dog. Being cooped up in a house or apartment for long periods of time can be stressful for anyone. Get them outside and running around. Take them for long walks and throw a ball for them. By tiring them out, you can get a lot of the stress and energy out of your dog.
Training goes hand in hand with exercise. Challenging their mind and just spending time with them can go a long way towards tiring them out. When they feel exhausted physically and mentally, they will be in a much more calm and relaxed state.
Reward Their Calmness
Next time the FedEx person comes knocking at your door causing your dog to lose it and go off, take steps to calm them down and get them in a relaxed state. Once they get there, take them for a walk or give them a treat.
Speak encouraging words to them and let them know they did a great job. Do this any time your dog is feeling anxious towards something. Consistency with the process will pay off when your dog comes looking for you when someone is knocking on the door.
Pet and Comfort Your Dog
When it comes to calming your anxious dog, sometimes the obvious choice is the best. Petting and comforting them is always an excellent method for getting them calm and relaxed. If the thunderstorm outside is seriously stressing your dog out, hold them and speak to them in a really calm and relaxed tone. Your dog will always appreciate being loved and held by you, so when all else fails, this is a great option to fall back on.
Distract Your Dog
A very effective method for soothing your anxious pup is the great art of distraction. Some folks like to keep their dogs’ safe zone close to the television. Just by having some background noise, your dog won’t be focused on every little sound they hear around them. Music is another option for having some background noise.
Obviously, treats are another great way to distract an anxious dog. My dog will pretty much drop anything he is doing if you dangle a piece of food out for him. Taking your dogs’ mind off something that is stressing him out with a tasty snack can help him through any situation.
If you find that your dog is pacing back and forth in the house, or just can’t seem to get comfortable, try taking them for a quick walk to get their minds off things. Most of the time you will find them much more comfortable and relaxed when you get back.
When To Seek Professional Help
At the end of the day, there are many ways to calm an anxious dog. If you find that the methods above are not working and you just can’t seem to get your poor dog relaxed, you may have to look into a professional dog trainer or animal behavioral specialist. A professional will most likely have the secret sauce or wizardry that can help train your dog to keep their cool.
Keeping your anxious dog calm can be a challenge. But with a good amount of training and exercise, a safe place to call home, and lots of treats, your pup will feel calm and collected.
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