Anxiety in dogs is a very real issue. If you’ve seen it firsthand, you’ll know that the destructive behavior, shaking, and pacing that’s often brought about as a result can be a worry. It’s a tricky situation because you’re aware your pet isn’t in control of their actions, but dealing with the mess and damage can be frustrating.
As a result, we often reach for the jar of treats in an attempt to cheer up our furry buddies. While this may be a temporary solution for some, it goes to waste for others, as their anxious pet is too stressed to eat—or do anything else for that matter.
Luckily, there are a few alternatives you can try to ease your dog’s anxiety and make them feel less stressed.
Create A Quiet, Safe Space
One of the most common anxiety triggers in dogs is loud sounds. While you can do your best to protect your pet from loud noises, it isn’t always possible. Thunderstorms and fireworks may both be terrifying, and there’s nothing you can do to stop them.
The best way to deal with this is to create a safe space in your home where your pet can “hide” during these instances. When choosing a space, try to find a part of the home that’s secluded and secure, with doors and windows that close. The easiest spot for most pet owners is the bathroom; simply add a comfortable bed and a few toys, and your pet will have all they need to hideout and calm down.
Set A Meal Schedule—And Follow It
Sometimes, irregular meal times can cause anxiety. This is because irregular meals or portions that are too small result in food guarding, or other disorders that may trigger nervousness. The nutritional content of these meals can also result in behavioral disorders.
Always speak to your vet about the best meal options for your pet, and ask for a suggested feeding schedule as well.
Give Your Dog a Break Too
We all need regular breaks to avoid burnout, and the same goes for your dog. This doesn’t only relate to physical activity like running. Meeting new people and adapting to changing environments can be exhausting for a dog. Keep an eye on them, and if they start to take strain, take a break.
Get Regular Exercise
In the same way that we need physical exercise, so do our dogs. Regular exercise can release pent up energy and frustrations, reducing the frequency of destructive behavior. It also releases feel-good endorphins that help curb stress and anxiety.
Manage Your Moods
Animals can pick up on certain behaviors and emotions, which can affect their mood and behavior too. Try to manage your stress levels and address your anxiety when it arises—it will help you manage your health and make your dog feel better.
Playtime Is Important
Make time to play with your pet when you’re at home to release energy and help them relax and calm down. This can also help in reducing separation anxiety. Try to follow a schedule of when you’ll be home so that your pet gets into a routine of what to expect.
Remember, simply sitting with your dog is enjoyable for you both, but it doesn’t count as playtime. Any time spent playing should be very active and involve plenty of engagement. Throwing a ball is a great option, as is going for a walk or run together.
One way to reduce anxiety is to distract your dog from the object or situation causing stress. A simple distraction is having an “anxiety toy” that you give to your pet to play with when they’re anxious.
You can also invest in stimulating toys that allow you to hide a treat. This will preoccupy them by getting them so focused on the treat that they’ll no longer focus on their stress. These types of puzzle toys drain mental and physical energy, so they do a doubly good job.
Understand Their Feelings Towards New People
Some dogs love meeting new people, which means you don’t need to worry about exposing your pet to new people and environments. However, if your pet doesn’t enjoy interacting with people, it may be best to limit their exposure to situations where they’re meeting and interacting with new people. If you regularly have new visitors in your home, ensure your furry buddy has a safe space to hide until they feel comfortable coming out.
CBD oil assists both humans and animals with alleviating stress and anxiety. It can also help treat pain, inflammation, and even epilepsy. Both dogs and humans have an endocannabinoid system that affects the entire body, including the brain. One of the cannabinoids found in hemp is cannabidiol, or CBD. When ingested, CBD affects the endocannabinoid receptors and the central and nervous system that regulates the body, and keeps it healthy.
The CBD used in good quality oil and dog treats has no THC, so your pet won’t feel intoxicated. However, it’s always suggested that you talk to your vet before introducing any new treatments, natural or pharmaceutical.
Play Soothing Sounds
Some pet owners have found that having soothing background music keeps their pets calm, especially when they’re not home. Science backs this, as studies have proven that dogs in high stress environments react well to soft music of no more than 50-60 beats per minute.
In addition to having a soothing effect, music or background noise may make your pet feel less alone. Sudden silence when they’re used to having someone around can be scary, and heighten anxiety. Leave the radio or TV on—keep the volume low—when you go out, and they’ll feel far more relaxed.
Your pet’s anxiety is by no means a reflection of your parenting style. Some dogs are more inclined to experience anxiety than others, and some simply develop it. You are, however, responsible for properly managing the condition, and preventing it from getting worse. Leaving pet anxiety untreated can be detrimental to your pet’s well-being.
No two dogs are the same, and you may need to try a few different options before finding the one that works best. It may be a stressful time for the both of you, but remember, stress and anxiety relate to the mental and emotional wellbeing of your dog, something that they’re unable to control. They need your help to manage this condition and get better.