We have a stressful life many of us. We have obligations, appointments, bills and a lot more that shall be completed during the day. It is not easy to get everything done, and the more tasks that “pops -up”, the more stressed we get. If it all is allowed to develop, we get even more stressed and starts to change our behaviour. We can get cranky, sleep patterns get worse, and maybe we start acting out.
Our dogs react in the same way, and if such condition is not addressed early, it can develop into a severe problem.
This article will try to help you in the endevour to relax your dog. So, if your dog is anxious, these are the 5 best ways to soothe your best friend.
Our Dog is Anxious and Shy
Nemi, our dog is anxious and shy. She has been a shy dog ever since she was a puppy, and she has never been to happy with loud sounds or crowded areas. Sometimes she minds new and loud sounds a lot, and sometimes she doesn’t mind the noise at all. It depends on the circumstances.
But lately she has become a bit more anxious than what is normal for her and has started to change her behaviour noticeably.
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What Types of Anxiety are There and What Triggers Anxiety
According to MedicineNet, Anxiety is defined as a feeling of apprehension and fear, characterised by physical symptoms such as palpitations, sweating, and feelings of stress.
The feeling of anxiety is normal, and we humans feel it from time to time. Under certain circumstances, anxiety can develop into a condition that needs to be treated. This applies to dogs and animals as well.
Concerning dogs, we can divide the main types of anxiety as follows
- Separation anxiety
- Fear of loud noises
- Changes to your dog´s environment
- Guarding her stuff – scaring people or other dogs off and away from the items she finds valuable, like her toys, her home or her food, or her owners (her own pack).
There are several sources to the reason of why your dog behaves as it does. Some of these factors can be lack of social training and interaction, lack of physical and mental stimulation, sudden and loud sounds and noise, quarrelling among their owners and feeling of being overlooked. Another cause of anxiety can be a hidden illness.
What Common Signs Can You Expect If Your Dog is Prone to Anxiety
There are several things a dog does that generally wouldn’t be recognised as signs of anxiety, but seen as normal behaviour for a dog. Symptoms of stress can be obvious, but there are also several very subtle signs that we humans would characterise as cute and normal.
The following list are the more visible signs of anxiety to look for:
- The dog is barking and whining, when alone at home
- Panting, shivering and/or pacing. The dog does it even if it isn´t hot
- The dog is cowering in the corner of your house or is running away
- Extreme digging
- Trying to escaping the dog yard
- Destroying furniture
- Starts with excessive licking or chewing, or other self-harming behaviour
- Stops eating
- Frequent urination, more than usual
- Inability to settle down
- Yawning and drooling
- Shedding of fur
For more subtle signs, then you will have to observe your dog for the following:
- Licking of its lips
- The body posture changes. If your dog changes its weight to its rear legs or cowers, it is signs of stress
- The whites of the dogs eyes is showing.
- Ears pinned backwards against your dogs head. This gives the dog a funny look, but it is not funny for your dog
- Lifting a paw, very cute, but be aware.
- If you try looking at your dog, it is looking away.
These subtle signs are vital not to overlook as they can be the first signs before the dog goes into deeper forms of stress. If we can catch the signs at an early stage, the work to alleviate its anxiety conditions will be easier.
How to Handle Stress and Anxiety in Dogs
If you are familiar with your dogs’ normal behaviour patterns, you can differentiate if it wants some goodies when it is licking its lips or is only drooling
There are three main ways to handle dogs anxiety. These are:
- Behaviour training
- Medical treatment
- Cuddle them if they’re complaining
When discovering signs of stress in your dog, the first rule of thumb is to remove your dog from what’s the cause of the stress. Take it to a place where it can gather its self-confidence again. Do not overly comfort your dog, it can backfire and confirm that its fears are justified, and cause its self-confidence to become lesser.
Give it treats, but make your dog earn them, like “sit” or “heel”. Use routine commands as they are significant in taking your dogs’ focus away from the stressor.
Another treatment that is effective, is physical activities. Go out for a long walk or play fetch or similar. Such play and games will release tension in both your dog and yourself.
Also, make sure to provide your dog with a spot at home where it can retreat and feel safe when it thinks that a situation is becoming stressful. Just think about yourself and when you need some time for yourself during intense periods of your life.
Also, make sure to provide your dog with a spot at home where it can retreat and feel safe when it feels that a situation is becoming stressful. Just think about yourself and when you need some time for yourself during intense periods of your life.
5 Great Methods to Soothe Your Best Friend
According to CCSPCA the following 7 methods work wonders for your dog it is stressed out. Bear in mind that If your dog becomes consistently stressed, see your veterinarian. After ensuring that your dog’s behaviour does not have a medical basis, your dog’s doctor may refer you to a trainer or veterinary behaviourist to evaluate stress-related issues.
And, finally, remember that stress isn’t always bad. Fear is a stress-related emotion that prompts us to avoid potentially dangerous situations.
So, stress may actually be a protector. Regardless, stress is part of everyday life for our dogs and us, and we should learn how best to deal with it.
The owners touch is a safe haven for all dogs. It is the source of food, you are the leader, and you provide comfort when life gets tough. This is probably the best soothing method of all dogs. Identify your dogs signs of anxiety and start working on your dog as early as possible, pick them up, cuddle them on the couch, or give your dog a nice and relaxing petting session.
How do you like to be massaged? It will relax and calm you and make you feel great. As with humans, massage works wonders with dogs as well. Tensing of the muscles is a result of stress in most cases. A good massage is one way to alleviate tension.
Use the petting session above to massage your dog. Start at the top, from the head and neck and work downward with long strokes. Work with both hands if possible. After a time, you can possibly identify where the massage works the best and focus on that area.
Our dog loves to have her head and her hind legs massaged. But she also loves it when we use both hands on her back and ribs.
I play classical music for our dog. She loves Mozart and Vivaldi. When I start playing classical music, she is off to sleep very quickly. Therapy with music is a proven method, beneficial for both humans, as well as our canine and feline friends.
The power of music is calming and relaxing while you’re home, in the car, or away from your pet. It can also be a method to alleviate noise sensitivity by blocking the street or scary noises that bothersome dogs, resulting in anxiety.
Calming Coats or Thunder-Shirts
You can get a hold of a type of calming coat or t-shirt like dogs clothing which applies mild, constant pressure to a dog’s torso. It surrounds your dog like swaddling a baby with a cloth. Any type of anxiety caused by travel, separation, noise, or strangers can be alleviated by this method.
Some brands you can check out are ThunderShirt Anxiety Jacket, American Kennel Club Stress Relief Coat, and The Comfort Zone Calming Vest.
Alternative Methods Including Supplements and Diffusers
Such products are non-invasive and will cause no harm. These types of therapies can be used as a single method, or you can combine them to be more effective. You must do proper research before implementing alternative therapies. It is advised to consult with your veterinarian, too, before you start.
Adaptil or Beaphar Canine Comfort are aromatherapy for dogs. These products are basically a day at the spa with aromatherapy for dogs! They alleviate the dogs fears. The product uses pheromones similar to those a bitch gives to her puppies during nursing.
They are easy to use. Plug the diffuser into ta socket in the room your dog spends the most time in. The diffuser releases “dog-appeasing” pheromones, an odourless scent particular to dogs. (Humans, cats, and other pets will not smell anything.)
There is also a lightweight collar that can be worn by dogs, which helps with the separation anxiety. Often used on puppies, training them to be alone for some hours.
Some Final Thoughts
Dogs get anxious just like humans. I tall depends on the surroundings and how the dog is treated and trained.The signals the dgo uses to signal anxiousness and stress are similar to humans, but of course there is several signals that ony applies to dogs and pets in general.
If discovered early, the conditon can easliy be remedied. If let to develop, it can turn into a major problem for both the dog and the owner. Get to know your dog, its personality and body language, don´t stress it, but understand what is causing anxiety and discomfort.
The methods described herein works for the most part, and are meant for information only from another dog owner. In anay case make sure to involve a veterianrian before you start treating your dog.