Whether your dog is hyper from happiness or suffering from anxiety, every pet parent has had to deal with the conundrum of how to calm their dog down.
It’s fascinating how a simple word like walk can send a sleepy dog into a frenzy.
Hyping up an already hyper dog is just as easy, but what about calming down an over-excited or anxious dog?
How to recognize anxiety in a dog
Your furry friend may tuck their tail in, avoid making eye contact or hide away if they’re feeling anxious.
Other symptoms of anxiety in dogs include:
- Having ‘accidents’ when they’re already housetrained.
- Destroying furniture, plants, or other household items.
- Excessive panting.
- Pacing up and down.
- Whimpering or whining.
- Repeated yawning, lip licking, sniffing or shaking.
- Dilated pupils.
- Cowering away and avoiding interaction.
Although it’s normal for dogs to display some of these behaviors from time to time, it’s not good if they are distressed and exhibit these symptoms constantly or to the extreme.
If you want to help your hyper animal stay calm and collected when their emotions are all over the place, you have to take it one step at a time.
The first step to having a peaceful puppy is to figure out what triggers them to become anxious.
What causes anxiety in dogs?
Here are some possible causes:
- Separation Anxiety. If you’ve ever left your dog at home for some time, you may come back to a completely refurbished space, complete with a half-eaten sofa, a broken lamp, and a mangled pair of running shoes.
- Anxious owners = anxious dogs. Even when your furry friend is triggered by something almost irresistible, like a stray cat strolling up to the window, you can help calm your dog if you are relaxed and calm.
- Rescue anxiety. Pets that have spent time at a shelter may be generally anxious because they had to deal with being abandoned and maybe even abused. It usually takes time and a lot of love and care for this type of dog to become less anxious.
- Anxiety due to illness. Just like people, dogs feel anxious when they are not physically well. Some common diseases that cause stress in dogs are Grave’s Disease, hypothyroidism, and encephalitis. They could also be pre-diabetic.
- Generalized anxiety. This is very common and is often not recognized. Dog breeds prone to this include labradors, border collies, cocker spaniels, greyhounds, and German shepherds.
How to help your anxious dog
No matter the cause of the anxiety, your dog does not have to suffer from it. You can figure out how to calm anxiety in your dog. If you’re not sure what to do and it seems urgent, you could take them to the veterinarian.
A vet will do everything they can to help your dog. This could include:
- Prescribing anxiety meds for dogs;
- Possible dietary changes such as dog calming treats;
- Introducing your dog to a behavioral therapist.
If you’re not ready to seek professional help just yet, below are some tips and tricks for natural anxiety relief in dogs.
#1 Run Sport, run!
Every dog needs some form of exercise. Some breeds may need more.
- A dog that has regular exercise will deal with anxiety much better than a couch potato pooch. It can be a simple walk around a few blocks or a run in a dog park.
- Exercising your pet is a great way to bond with them, and it’s also good for you. The extra exercise will do wonders for your emotional well-being.
- Since dogs feed off of their human companion’s state of mind, they’ll also feel how good you feel.
#2 The art of a calming touch
Compression wraps, calming coats, or t-shirts are all great to keep your dog calm when their behavior is affected by something like loud noises. They also help dogs suffering from dementia or general dog anxiety.
The way that compression wraps work is to apply gentle pressure to a dog’s body, like a comforting, warm hug. The concept is similar to swaddling babies.
#3 Pet massage
Some dogs don’t like being wrapped up, especially aging dogs. Even if you train an older dog, the wrap may cause even more anxiety in them.
If your dog is not keen on this, they may feel more comfortable with a hug or a massage from you, their best friend.
Dogs are similar to humans: they need physical contact. So, let your dog get up on the bed and spend some time rubbing their ears or the top of their heads. This will put your dog at ease almost instantly.
You could even install a bed ramp for dogs so they can hop up easily.
#4 CBD for the D-O-G
CBD Oil is not just for treating humans with various physical and emotional issues - it can also ease anxiety in dogs. Readily available these days, CBD oil has many healing properties that will help your dog calm down.
Although CBD is not a cure-all treatment, studies have shown it can help with your dog’s emotional well-being and alleviate other ailments such as joint and muscle pain and inflammation.
Many CBD products are available, from the more common CBD oils to calming treats for dogs. Talk to your vet about making sure you give your dog the right product in the correct dosage.
#5 Brainy games for Buster
Certain dog breeds are genetically predisposed to being working dogs. They were bred for jobs like herding sheep or helping people hunt. This dog type tends to be hyperactive and may need a little more mental stimulation to prevent anxiety.
If you have this kind of dog, try some games like Find It, Hide and Seek, and Manners Minder. Distracting their minds with a workout will ease their anxiety.
#6 Music calms the anxious beast
If you’ve had a long day where you just had too much to do, then got stuck in traffic, you’ll know that putting your favorite tunes on can have an almost instant calming effect.
Studies have shown that music also affects dogs in this way and can calm their behavior.
Calming music for dogs can be anything from classical piano, to gentle reggae.
So, turn down the heavy metal, and crank up the Chopin to keep your pooch calm. It will even make your mood lighter!
#7 Avoid loud noises
The simplest thing you can do for a dog prone to anxiety is to keep them away from loud noises and overly stimulating activities such as fireworks, loud parties, or crowded gatherings.
Keep up to date on fireworks schedules so you can prepare a quiet and secure environment for your pup:
- Play some calming music;
- Wrap them up;
- Or just hang out with them to help them keep as calm as possible.
#8 Being a calm human can help to calm a hyper canine
Dogs are sensitive to their humans’ emotions and body language. They will quickly learn what certain gestures, vocal commands, eye contact, or emotional states mean and how to react to them.
Our furry friends are always learning human behavior, receiving information even when we are not teaching them. Educating yourself about your dog’s responses to your own behavior will help you calm your dog a lot easier.
Your dog can pick up your:
- Frame of mind;
- Heart rate;
- Eye contact;
- Adrenaline levels.
If you are excited over a football game, chances are Butch is also barking at the TV over that missed field goal!
#9 Feed Fido to feel better
Another point to consider when you want to calm down a dog’s hyper behavior is diet. Just like people are affected by what they eat, food is crucial to a dog’s temperament.
If your dog is eating food that does not support their emotional well-being as well as their overall physical well-being, it could create an emotionally unbalanced pet.
Adjusting their food quality and quantity can do wonders for Spike’s serenity.
Calm down, Daisy!
As you begin to understand what triggers your dog’s anxiety, it will become easier to deal with their anxiety. With some hands-on help or some helpful pet products such as a compression blanket or CBD oil, you have the power to help your best friend calm down.
If this is not enough, there’s nothing wrong with getting professional guidance from a vet, who may give them a little something to relax them and help them get through the stressful times. Time to turn your distressed dog into a peaceful pooch!