How To Reduce Anxiety in Dogs: Best Practices
Do sudden noises or unexpected visitors have your furry friend tucking her tail and scurrying for cover? Ifholding your pet while she shakes in your arms is a common occurrence, your animal may be suffering from anxiety. Like humans, dogs’ anxiety can range from the occasional jitters to a full-blown anxiety disorder that requires further treatment.
Are you wondering how to reduce anxiety in dogs? As a loving dog parent, you want to help your pet reduce stress in their daily life. Thankfully, there are plenty of different ways to ease anxiety in dogs. Your puppy will be back to her happy lopsided grin in no time.
Does My Dog Have Anxiety?
Observing animal behavior and body language are effective ways to ascertain if your dog is suffering from anxiety. If your dog is exhibiting any of these ongoing symptoms, you should contact a veterinarian to discuss treatment options.
Symptoms of Dog Anxiety
- Aggression towards humans or other animals in the form of barking, growling, or biting
- Destruction of property, typically breaking out of crates or scratching at doors
- Urinating or defecating in the house
- Diarrhea, constipation, vomiting, or frequent urination
- Excessive drooling or panting
- Widened eyes and ears towards the back of their head
- Cowering or hiding
- Pacing, whining, and restlessness
- Listlessness, skipping meals, and lacking sleep
- Increase in shedding
- Increase in sleeping
- Isolating from family members and other pets
- Repetitive behavior such as licking continually in one spot, lifting one paw, or obsessive digging
Why Is My Dog Anxious?
Fireworks shooting into the air and bursting into raining color might be a pleasant pastime for humans, but loud noises can throw most dogs into a tizzy. Strangers, like the friendly mailman, loud noises, and new environments, like the veterinarian’s office, are triggers for fear-related anxiety in pets.
Fear of the unknown and not being able to differentiate between danger and safety can cause your dog to develop an anxiety disorder.
If you have been working from home with your pet 24/7 and suddenly transition to an office job, your pet could be experiencing extreme separation anxiety. This break in routine can cause your pet to become upset when you are gone. Your pet is then unable to self-soothe and is anxious until you return.
If your pet is a rescue and has a background of abuse or neglect, he may display trauma-related anxiety by flinching when you try to pet him or running away when you wear shoes in the house. Trauma-related anxiety in dogs can also manifest as clinginess and hyper-vigilance. Your veterinarian will be able to differentiate if your dog is suffering from anxiety or has a more complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Another common cause of anxiety in dogs is the aging process. Older dogs become susceptible to Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS), which is similar to the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease in humans. Getting lost at home can cause anxiety in your dog.
How Can I Help My Dog Overcome Anxiety?
The first step in finding an appropriate treatment plan is a consultation with your veterinarian. Your veterinarian can determine if your dog’s anxiety is severe enough for medication or if alternative treatments can alleviate symptoms.
Tips and Tools to Reduce Anxiety in Dogs
Some tips for managing anxiety in dogs include:
- Exercise your dog frequently. Exercise reduces stress and tires your dog out.
- Proper socialization prevents anxiety in the future. Make sure that your dog is comfortable around groups of people and other animals.
- Try obedience training. A trainer will be able to work through your dog’s triggers and help you gain control of the situation.
- Exposure therapy works in some instances. Regularly exposing your dog to a small source of anxiety can desensitize them to the trigger. Be sure to monitor your dog closely and reward them with treats.
- If the anxiety is too overwhelming for your dog, you can try situation avoidance. Essentially, you will remove the triggers from your dog’s life to the best of your ability.
- Some pet owners rely on CBD oil to calm their dogs before stressful situations like flying or visiting the veterinarian.
- Alert other people about your dog’s anxiety by purchasing a harness that clearly states “nervous” or that indicates the dog’s boundaries in some way. This visual signal will keep your dog safe and other people safe from your dog’s behaviors.
- Crating your dog may provide relief from anxiety. Crates can function as a safe space for your dog.
- Playing music can help drown out other anxiety-inducing sounds.
- Positive reinforcement, such as giving your dog treats or toys during stressful events, helps retrain your dog.
- Leaving a shirt with your scent on it helps your dog with separation anxiety.
- Physical contact, such as cuddles and massages, is a great way to reduce anxiety in your pets.
XDOG Weighted Jackets for Anxiety
Weighted blankets are a popular treatment option for adults and children with anxiety. The deep pressure stimulation of the weighted blankets reduces anxiety symptoms by putting your autonomic nervous system into rest mode. The pressure from the weighted blankets increases serotonin and lowers cortisol, the stress hormone.
Just as weighted blankets slow down your quickened heartbeat and even out your breathing, weighted dog jackets can calm your dog’s nervous system. Weighted blankets and weighted dog jackets function the same way a hug does in lowering anxiety levels in the body.
Are you wondering how to reduce anxiety in dogs? Try a weighted dog jacket from XDOG’s line of Weight and Fitness Vests. They come in a variety of weights and colors and reduce anxiety symptoms in your animals, with the added bonus of building your dog’s muscles during exercise.
Visit XDOG.com to browse our wide selection of Weight and Fitness Vests today. Your pup will thank you!