7 Proven Ways to Calm Your Anxious Dog
1. Exercise Your Dog
If your dog has separation anxiety, the obvious way to ease their mind is to never leave them alone. That is not a reality for most pet owners, so using exercise as both a bonding time and to tire out your pet is often an easy fix!
Because anxiety can cause an excess of energy, taking your dog out to play ball or on a long walk before you leave can be helpful. Providing plenty of physical contact and talking to them during this time is also beneficial. And, like their human counterparts, exercise can help relieve stress by producing beneficial endorphins.
2. Physical Contact
There is probably nothing more soothing to an anxious dog than its owner’s touch. Try to identify the signs of anxiety in your dog and nip them in the bud as early as possible by picking them up, cuddling on the couch, or giving them a good long petting session.
As you probably know, a massage will relax and calm even the most anxious human --- did you know it also works wonders with dogs as well?! Anxiety often causes tensing of the muscles and massage therapy is one way to alleviate tension. Start at the neck and work downward with long strokes. Try to keep one hand on the dog, while the other works to massage. Over time you may even be able to identify where your dog holds its stress and just work on that one particular area.
4. Music Therapy
Music therapy has been proven to be beneficial for both humans, as well as our canine and feline friends. The power of music can be calming and relaxing while you’re home, in the car, or away from your pet. Music can also alleviate noise sensitivity by blocking the street or scary noises that bother some dogs and create anxiety.
Research has shown that many dogs prefer classical music. Harp music, often used in hospice situations, can be a natural sedative.
While anxiety isn’t a bad behavior per se, it can help to give your dog some time-out when they’re acting out. Isolating your pet in a safe and quiet space can help calm their frayed nerves. Maybe that space has some very quiet music playing, low lights, and/or some aromatherapy available.
You might also try a ZenCrate for time-outs, and as a general escape pod for your furry friend. The ZenCrate was designed to help dogs with a variety of anxiety factors. It’s similar to a standard crate but it provides vibration isolation, noise cancellation (through sound insulation), reduced light, as well as comfort and security. A motion-activated sensor turns on a gentle fan when your dog enters, which helps block noise and provides a steady stream of fresh air. You can pre-program the crate with music. It comes with a removable door, so your dog can self-comfort and enter at any time.
6. Calming Coats/T-Shirts
Calming coats and t-shirts apply mild, constant pressure to a dog’s torso, surrounding a dog much like a swaddling cloth on a baby. It’s recommended for dogs with any type of anxiety induced by travel, separation, noise, or stranger anxiety.
Depending on the size of your dog, there are several brands and models to choose from. You can check out ThunderShirt Anxiety Jacket, American Kennel Club Stress Relief Coat, and the Comfort Zone Calming Vest.
7. Alternative Therapies
While there is limited evidence that alternative products can be of benefit to dogs suffering from anxiety, the products listed below are non-invasive and will cause no harm. They are therapies that can be used alone or combined with those above to be more effective. Be sure to do proper research before implementing alternative therapies, and consult with your veterinarian, too.