Dogs may be anxious for a wide variety of reasons ranging from environmental situations to innate personality and character traits. Different dogs may express their anxiety in a wide variety of ways including:
Sometimes dog phobias and anxieties are addressed through prescription medication, but medication can be problematic in the long term. That's why it's a good idea to also use solutions such as conditioning and training to deal with anxiety in dogs. In this article, we present some natural alternatives to help you deal with your dog’s anxiety. Read on to learn more.
Training & Medication Can Work Well Together
Just like people, there are some dogs that are just more anxious Than others in their general character and makeup. These are dogs that may need pharmaceutical solutions or natural remedies to help them calm down so that they can be trained.
While you may think that training would make a frightened dog more afraid, the exact opposite it is actually true. A well-trained dog is a confident dog. Dogs who are well-trained know what to do in a given situation and know that they can trust their person to keep them safe.
Why Is Your Dog Anxious?
One of the first things you should determine before attempting to resolve your dog’s anxiety problems is the cause of those problems. There are number of reasons why a dog may be anxious including fear of:
When you understand why your dog is afraid, you will have a far better handle on what you need to do to resolve that fear.
7 Natural Solutions for Dog Anxiety
- 1Keep your dog active. Exercise relieves stress in all living beings. Everybody needs to move. When dogs get plenty of exercise, their bodies produce more serotonin (the feel-good hormone). Additionally, exercising burns off extra energy and anxiety. This is why it's so important to spend time with your dog, play with your dog and go on plenty of walks, runs and bike rides. You and your dog will feel better when you get more exercise.
- 2Offer an alternative. If your dog is afraid of specific events such as thunderstorms, fireworks, road work, sirens or other loud and frightening sounds and circumstances, introduce an alternative. Distract your dog from the thing that scares him by introducing activities that you know your dog enjoys.
If your dog knows that you're going to play with him, teach tricks and offer treats when those scary things happen, the fear will soon resolve.
Another good way to distract your dog is to give him a favorite toy. One toy that can keep a dog very busy is a Kong chew toy stuffed with kibble. You can also fill Kong toys with peanut butter and freeze them. This is a very long-lasting and very distracting toy.
- 3Comfort your dog. If your dog is afraid of thunderstorms, loud noises or other specific events, you may wish to invest in a Thundershirt. This is a tightly fitting garment that swaddles your dog and calms his nerves.
- 4Massage therapy can be helpful. Look into a technique known as TTouch, which is a specific method consisting of prescribed circular movements of your hands and fingers over your dog’s body. This method is said to activate cell function and awaken cellular intelligence resulting in a more relaxed dog.
- 5Try pheromone therapy. A synthetic chemical known as dog appeasing pheromone (DAP) has been developed for the purpose of calming dogs. This chemical simulates a hormone that is produced by female dogs when they are lactating. Its purpose in female dogs is to increase the bond with puppies and keep them calm.
DAP is very effective when used with puppies, but it may not be as effective when used with anxious dogs adult dogs. Nonetheless, there is no harm in trying, and it's easy to use as the chemical works like a plug-in air freshener.
- 6Play calming music. There are many absolutely free calming music videos for dogs available on YouTube. If your dog is anxious when you're away from home, set up one of these videos for him or her to listen to.
Alternately, just leave an easy listening music station playing for your dog. Be sure that whatever you leave for your dog to listen to is calm and quiet. A quiet talk radio station (free of yelling, shouting and arguing) or soft, quiet, simple music is best.
- 7Try prescription drug alternatives. There are various supplements and over-the-counter (OTC) medications that may calm a dog’s nerves. Some easily available OTC solutions include kava-kava, Valerian root or Benadryl. Talk with your vet about using these products so that you can be sure to get the right dosage and use them appropriately.
There is also an especially formulated calming herbal mixture called Rescue Remedy that is said to be very effective for dogs and cats. A company called Animal Essentials produces another mixture called Tranquility Blend.