Does your dog suffer from anxiety? If so, you are definitely not alone. Experts estimate that 30% of dogs suffer from some form of anxiety, whether this is separation anxiety, noise sensitivity, or general fearfulness. Anxiety can cause a lot of distress for you dog, but also for you, as you can feel hopeless and unable to help them. Fortunately there are some effective strategies that you can try to reduce your dog's anxiety level and get back to having fun!
1. Stay Calm
Animals can pick up on our emotions, so it's important that you remain as calm as possible, and reassure your dog that everything is okay. Speak in a soothing, low voice, and offer treats. If you act anxious when your dog is anxious or scared, there there is a good chance that they won't calm down. Our dogs can't help feeling anxious and frightened, so never punish your dog for being scared.
2. Distract And Redirect
Try to distract your dog from whatever is causing their anxiety with their favourite toys, treats, or by starting a fun game. Engaging them in an activity may keep their mind occupied and less focused on the anxiety. It may also help to reduce their response to the cause of their anxiety in the long term, as they may begin to associate it with treats or fun. This approach needs to be balanced with ensuring you aren't reinforcing the dogs anxious behaviour.
3. Try An Anxiety Coat
Using pressure to relieve anxiety in people and animals have been a common practice for many years. Anxiety experts believe that pressure has a calming effect on the nervous system and may release calming endorphins. The Thunderbuddies Anxiety Coat applies a gentle constant pressure that has a dramatic calming effect on most dogs if they have separation anxiety, fear of loud noises, travel anxiety or hyperactivity.
4. Offer A Safe Haven Or Crate
Create a place or space that your dog associates with safety and can retreat to when they are feeling threatened or anxious. Sometimes this requires training from when they are a puppy so that they accept a crate as a safe place. A cave bed is a great option for creating a safe space, as dogs feel like they are protected from all sides but can keep watch. Being in a calming, safe environment will stabilise their anxiety levels.
5. Medicate If Necessary
If your pet is exhibiting very high levels of anxiety that is unresponsive to any of the suggestions above, then it may be a good idea to consider pheromones or other anti-anxiety medication. Whilst may dog owners are reluctant to medicate their dogs, prescription medication can make a significant improvement in your dogs anxiety, and then you can both get back to having fun! Consult your vet to see if medication is the right option for your dog.
There you have it, 5 Ways To Reduce Your Dog's Anxiety. Remember, just like people, every dog is different, and what may work for one, may not work for another. We suggest trying a few different approaches, and if nothing is working than speak to your Vet about using medication to calm your dogs anxiety. If you have some further suggestions or ideas, let us know in the comments below!