Stress can be as damaging to your dog’s long-term health as it is to yours. It can cause an upset stomach, either immediately or up to 48 hours after a stressful event; it impacts the immune system, making them more likely to pick up illnesses; it may lead to a loss of appetite, and it can lead to bathroom accidents in the house.
Anxiety can be caused by several things such as loud noises, prolonged separation, confusion, and some illnesses. If you think your dog is suffering from heightened anxiety, keep an eye on him, and consider the following 10 methods to help eliminate or reduce anxiety in your dog.
1. Remove Stressors
One of the most obvious and direct methods to prevent your dog from suffering from anxiety is to remove any stressors from their life, or at least minimize their exposure to stressors. If your dog gets anxious when confronted with other dogs or people, try to walk them when fewer people are around or avoid the dog park. Obviously, there are some stressors that you can’t, and shouldn’t avoid. But start with doing what you can to eliminate any stressors that may be keeping your pup from feeling safe and relaxed.
2. Get Out and Exercise
Physical exercise has been shown to not only improve the mental health of owners but also their pets. Poorly exercised dogs are more prone to anxiety. Wearing your dog out will also mean that he is less likely to concentrate on the cause of his stress. It could even be that a lack of exercise is one of the causes of his stress. Some breeds need a lot of exercise, and even those that do not require hours and hours of running every day, still benefit from getting outdoors.
3. Make A Safe Space
Sensory deprivation can help dogs that are otherwise impossible to calm. Dogs can suffer from anxiety as a result of confusion, which can be caused by a change in surroundings, a change in activity levels, or an illness like canine dementia.
Sensory overload may not have been the cause in the first place, but extra noise and sights place additional stress on your dog and can lead to heightened anxiety levels. Provide a safe space for your dog — somewhere where there is very little noise and as few distractions as possible. Your dog should not have to worry about anything if they are inconsolable with anxiety. This type of space may give them the peace of mind they need to regroup.
4. Give Him Support
Above all, your dog needs your support. This doesn’t mean that you should run over and mother him during a storm or when fireworks are going off. If anything, this attention can make the problem worse because it reinforces the fear that he feels. It does mean that you should be willing to work with your dog to try and find the cause and a solution to his anxiety. Be prepared to try different techniques one at a time so that you can identify what works and what doesn’t.
- Related Read: 8 Proven Ways to Calm Your Dog During Thunderstorms
5. Try Behavior Modification Training
Modification training is something that owners use to correct a dog’s unwanted behavior. It is used to stop or limit barking, to calm an aggressive dog, or for a host of other reasons. It can be used to help overcome anxiety by identifying the triggers and then modifying the dog’s reaction to those triggers so that they no longer feel threatened, scared, or otherwise anxious. You should consult a professional behavioral modification trainer to assist in this.
6. Give Anti-Stress Hormones
Melatonin and other hormones are known to reduce stress and anxiety levels in dogs. As such, by exposing your dog to these hormones, you can naturally bring their anxiety levels down. You can buy sprays, mists, and even supplements that contain this and other hormones to reduce anxiety.
7. Buy Calming Food And Treats
Certain herbs and other supplements can have a calming effect on your dog. Herbs like chamomile are especially popular, and you can even buy aromatherapy oil for use on your dogs. Try to make sure that the spray only uses natural ingredients. As well as buying bottles for the home, you can buy portable bottles and sprays that you can fit in your handbag, glove compartment, or in your pocket.
8. Give Them A Stress Vest
Of the many potential causes of anxiety, one of the most common is separation anxiety, when you leave your dog alone for too long a time. Some dogs feel like they are being left permanently, and this causes their anxiety to hit a peak. When left, they may feel a greater need to protect the home, too, so they will react to external noises. Stress vests gently hug your dog until he is calm.
9. Give Them Hemp or CBD
Hemp is a natural ingredient with many health benefits. You can buy hemp tablets, chews, and other products like ginger that are proven to relax your dog. These chews can also help with inflammation and other health complaints. These natural chews can be given whenever you know that your dog’s anxiety levels will be high, for example when you are going to the vets or on a car journey.
10. Consider Anti-Anxiety Medication
Many of the medications that humans take for depression and anxiety also work on dogs, although certainly not all and definitely not at the same dosage. You will need a prescription for your dog, but if you have tried everything else or if you know that your dog will need help from anti-anxiety medication, you should speak to your vet as soon as possible.
Calm Your Anxious Dog
Like humans, dogs get anxious for any of several reasons. Anxiety can be caused by environmental factors, mood, or physical condition. Typically, you need to identify the trigger in order to find the best treatment and enjoy the best chance of success. Possible treatments can range from essential oils and herbs to anti-anxiety medication that is very similar to the medicines that humans take for the same problem.
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