‘Take a deep breath’…If only we could tell our dogs that, right?
Stress and anxiety are not only human problems. Your dog also might struggle with anxiety from time to time. Ever found yourself curled up on the floor with your dog during a thunderstorm or fireworks show? That’s been me before!
Have you brought your pup to the vet just to have them pace and shake the whole time?
Having had an anxious dog myself, I have tried out many of these calming aids and can’t wait to share with you some of the top ways to help your best friend stay more level headed in high anxiety situations.
But first, let’s discuss the nitty-gritty on why your dog might be stressed and how to spot signs of anxiety.
There are many reasons we get stressed as humans. A new house, new job, changes in our day to day routine. We deal with stress in so many different ways, from eating to grinding our teeth. These stressors also affect your dog, and they have some different ways of showing they are on edge.
Dogs have a routine, and when that routine is disrupted, they tend to get nervous.
In this article, we will learn what stress looks like, triggers, types of calming methods, and additional tips and tricks for keeping you and your dog safe and stress-free.
What Does Stress Look Like for a Dog?
You might recognize, pacing, panic, and uneasiness with your friends and colleagues, but how do you know when your dog is stressed?
Here are some common signs:
- Excessive licking, yawning, and panting are obvious signs of stress.
- Aggression may show up in forms of biting, nipping, or barking.
- Uneasiness might look like pacing, shaking, abnormal shedding, or a tucked tail.
- Similar to humans, digestion issues may arise. Diarrhea decreased appetite, or having an accident in the house can be caused by stress.
- If your dog is anxious, they may chew on items other than toys. This is especially common with separation anxiety. ‘
- Escaping from the house, yard or crate might be a sign of the flight instinct.
These are all signs your dog might be on edge. For a dog parent, it can be very upsetting to see your furry friend in this state.
Remember that your dog can sense your emotions too. Try and keep yourself calm, and that can help your dog as well.
What Triggers Stress in Dogs?
Your dog can be anxious, scared, and stressed about several factors. Noises, significant life changes, unfamiliar people, and places may cause uneasiness.
- Loud Noises. Thunder and fireworks are loud, unexpected, and scare a great number of dogs.
- Change. Being adopted, changing homes or staying with a friend or family member while you are away are big environmental changes, and your dog is not sure what to expect.
- Separation. Leaving your dog home while you are at work, or if you are away on vacation.
- Strangers. Visiting the vet’s office, traveling and meeting new people can all be very intimidating situations for your pup.
- Loss. Losing a family member, having someone move out or losing another pet is a big change.
Many events, places, and situations can trigger your dog. We want to help you both be successful at navigating the unknown.
Create a Safe Space
Creating a safe space for your dog to retreat when they need to may help your dog settle in stressful situations considerably. An area such as a crate or a corner with their bed can help your pup feel like they have a space that is their own.
If you crate train your dog this can also be a portable safe space that will be very convenient for you when introducing your dog to new environments.
Have their favorite toy or blanket, a shirt that smells like you or a good bone ready for them. Let this space be available when having company, during fireworks or even in a new environment.
Having a safe space for your dog can also help kids understand healthy boundaries with your pooch.
Keep Calm and Walk On
In addition to calming aids, be sure your dog has plenty of stimulation throughout the day. Long walks, hikes, and play can help tire your dog out and ease stress. Try doubling up on walks if you know your dog is stressed.
Calming Aids We Recommend for Dogs
We have reviewed our top choices for calming aids to help you choose the right solution for your dog.
These Hemp Calming Chews provide an edible treat for your dog with ingredients like ginger root, chamomile, and hemp seed oil while having a calming effect on them. There are no chemical relaxants or sedatives in these treats and can be used for any size dog. A super quick on the go option for when your dog needs some calm.
- No chemical relaxants
- Portable and simple to administer
- Great for any size dog
- Can help in many situations
- Some anxious dogs do not take food
The Thundershirt is a classic go-to for dog owners. Similar to swaddling a baby, this jacket provides gentle constant pressure to calm fear and over-excitement in your pup.
There is no training required, the shirt is very comfortable and you can adjust it in many directions to get the best fit and pressure.
- Very adjustable
- Quick results
- Machine Washable
- No treat or liquid to administer
- Only 80% of dogs respond to this technique
The Lickimat is an option for when your dog starts to show signs of anxiety. You can spread peanut butter or other favorite treats on the mat and let your dog lick away.
This can help with boredom while you are out of the house or distract your dog during other triggers. If your dog has separation anxiety try using this mat while you get ready to leave the house. They may not even notice you are gone.
- Good Distraction tool
- Keeps your dog stimulated
- Temporary relief
The Rescue Remedy is a mix of five different flower essences that help naturally calm your dog without sedatives. The dosage is not based on the weight of the dog but the amount of stress. A simple oral dosage can help occasional stress.
- Natural flower essences
- Quick reaction time
- Simple to administer if your dog will not take treats
- Dosage is flexible
The Busy Buddy calming toys are chamomile scented to give your dog some natural calming relief. They are also treat dispensing to help distract your pup from the trigger. Not only will your dog get the calming sensation they will also have a fun interactive toy to play with keeping their mind busy.
- Calming scent
- Treat dispensing
- Prolonged play
- May not be suitable for a big chewer
The Qwizl is a great mentally stimulating toy that can help prolong the play of your dog reducing boredom and restlessness. This toy will help keep them entertained while you are preparing to leave the house, while they are in their crate or in a new situation.
- Interactive to prolong play
- A great distraction from trigger
- No additional calming effects
The Snuggle Puppy is a plush dog with a real feeling heartbeat and a heating pad that appeal to your dog’s natural instincts. This great toy is designed to help your dog feel less lonely and help them transition in different stressful situations.
The heartbeat can last for 2 weeks continuously or you can set it for eight hours at a time. The heating element is similar to a hand warmer and will last up to 24 hours.
- Appeals to your dog’s natural instincts
- Maternal feeling for a new puppy
- Eases a dog into a new situation
- Helps with Crate Training
- The disposable heating element will need replacing
- If your dog chews this toy may not last long
Pairing is Caring
Pairing multiple calming aids is a great idea. Pick a couple of aids we have recommended and use them together. Here are a few great examples.
- Having a great distraction like the Qwizl and a Thundershirt will help immensely during fireworks.
- Heading to the vet? Try a hemp calming chew and bringing along the Lickimat to help distract your pup during the exam.
- If your dog is anxious around guests coming to your home try the Busy Buddy calming toys with a few drops of rescue remedy.
- New puppy coming home for the first time? Maybe get them into a Thundershirt and provide them with the Snuggle Puppy Toy for a smooth transition.
Medication? Medication your vet prescribes can also be an option. Medicines tend to take a few weeks to take effect and should be paired with additional calming aids and behavior modifications. Talk to your vet if your dog is having severe anxiety continuously.
Behavior Modification? By slowly introducing your dog to the trigger such as leaving the house you can help your dog modify their behavior over time.
Leave the house then come right back in. Pick up your keys then put them back down. Repeat with a longer duration. You can try behavior modification with a wide range of anxieties.
Simple Recommendations? Playing some soothing music and comforting your dog with pets can help in a quick pinch.
That’s A Wrap!
Getting your dog a calming aid will be a lifesaver in the moment. From the vet visit to a new home, your dog will have some additional help to keep calm and enjoy more belly rubs.
Introducing a safe space and ensuring your dog has plenty of exercise will help the calming aid have a much better effect. Whether you decide on a supplement or a toy to prolong playtime or even a mix of both we know your dog will be grateful and much calmer when scary situations arise.
Last update on 2019-11-05 at 12:29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API