How to Reduce Dog Anxiety
Like humans, dogs are susceptible to anxiety. It’s a common denominator in many behavioural problems. Anxiety in dogs is triggered by a wide array of scenarios, i.e., being left alone, loud noises, or a change in routine. And like us, every dog is different in how they express anxiety. Recognizing the signs of an anxious canine is the first step to helping them feel better.
Anxiety indeed correlates to a healthy emotional life. A certain level of anxiety helps dogs stay alert and aware of potential danger. The “fight or flight” response is instinctual and necessary for survival. However, when a dog’s anxiety becomes excessive, it’ll eventually become harmful to them, both emotionally and physically.
While no treatment will cure your dog’s anxiety overnight, there are ways to provide relief and help your furry friend feel more comfortable. Your job as a companion is to reduce stress in your furry buddy’s life and create an environment conducive to relaxation.
But before we talk about reducing dog anxiety, you must learn the three main trigger factors: aging, fear, and separation.
As dogs grow old, they become a lot more anxious than when they were younger. It’s due to the changes taking place in their body and brain. For example, older dogs are more likely to suffer from health problems, leading to anxiety about going to the vet more often than usual.
Additionally, cognitive decline causes disorientation and confusion, leading to further anxiety. This is beyond your control, but you at least can make your home a safe and comforting place for your aging dog.
Dogs quickly develop a fear of anything, whether it’s something they’ve experienced before or not. If your dog had a traumatic experience, such as being under heavy rain and thunder or being attacked by another animal, they might start to feel anxious around those things.
One of the most common trigger factors for anxiety is separation from their human companions. Dogs are social animals that thrive on companionship. When they’re left alone, they experience loneliness and isolation, which can quickly turn into anxiety.
Now that you know the three main trigger factors let’s talk about how to reduce dog anxiety.
Creating a Safe Haven
The first step is to create a haven for your dog. You can provide them with a comfortable place to stay, such as a crate or dog bed. Make sure that their haven is in a quiet area of the house where they feel relaxed and secure. It must also have less traffic so that they won’t be disturbed often.
Consider using pheromone diffusers or plugins. These products release calming pheromones that have a relaxing effect on dogs. They’re safe to use and are an excellent way to reduce anxiety in canines.
Establishing a Routine
Dogs thrive on routine and predictability. Be sure to establish a routine for your furry buddy to reduce stress. The routine must include regular mealtimes, walks, and lots of playtimes.
Sticking to a set schedule helps the animal feel more secure and less anxious. It’ll also make them happier and healthier overall.
Boredom is one of the leading causes of anxiety in dogs. Dogs need mental stimulation to stay happy and contented. Without it, they quickly become restless, destructive, and anxious. To keep your dog’s mind active, give them plenty of toys to play with, i.e., chew bones, puzzles, and a Kong Classic.
Tip: Why not enrol your dog in fun activities, such as agility or obedience classes? These classes aren’t just for fun as they provide mental stimulation.
Regular Exercise (Lots of It)
Exercise is crucial for all dogs, but it’s especially important for those that suffer from anxiety. Like humans, a good workout helps release the happy hormone known as serotonin, which has a calming effect on the mind and body.
Aerobic exercises like walking, running, and jumping are the best for reducing anxiety as they help increase the heart rate and release endorphins. Swimming is an excellent form of exercise for dogs suffering from anxiety as it’s low impact and is a great way to build muscle tone. And yes, dogs are fond of swimming and will look forward to it every single time.
Make exercise a part of your routine with your dog. If they’re physically stimulated, they’ll never feel anxious or stressed.
Dogs are social animals that need to interact with other dogs and humans to stay happy and well-rounded. If your dog doesn’t get enough socialization, they can start to feel anxious, especially when around other people and animals.
It’s not that hard to keep your dog socialized. You must take them to the park, on walks, or to doggy meetups. If you can’t do those things, there are other options like dog daycare, dog-walking services, and hiring a pet sitter. Even the most mundane of things like buying coffee or groceries is a great opportunity to bring Fido with you to meet other people.
It sounds a bit odd, but massage effectively reduces anxiety in dogs as in humans. Dogs love being touched, and a good massage relieves tension and stress. It’s also an excellent way to bond with your furry friend. Massage increases circulation, relaxes the muscles and releases endorphins. Be sure to use slow and gentle strokes when massaging your dog. If they seem uncomfortable or uneasy, stop immediately.
Dogs deserve to be happy. Some people don’t see it, but a canine with anxiety issues goes through much suffering. Be in the know when it comes to detecting the signs; that way, you’ll know when to intervene. These are just a few tips on how to reduce dog anxiety. Of course, don’t forget to visit a veterinarian to discuss possible medical solutions if your dog’s state worsens.