Dogs feel excitement, stress, fear, and anxiety just like we do. There are plenty of ways to calm a dog down when they feel a bit out of control. Learn to recognize the signs of stress and anxiety in your dog and what you can do to calm your dog down naturally.
Why Your Dog May Need to be Calmed
Dogs can get over-excited or anxious for a number of reasons. They can get nervous, fearful, stressed, anxious, excitable, and hyperactive. Long term stress and anxiety can lead to anxiety disorders and health problems for your dog, so it is important that you can notice when your dog needs help. Here are some reasons why your dog might need calming down.
Loud noises like fireworks and thunder can upset dogs and make them scared and nervous.
Separation anxiety is something your dog may suffer from while you are out of the house. This will show up as acting out and destroying your stuff while you are away from home. For more on this read How to Relieve Separation Anxiety in Dogs
Nervousness around strangers and other animals could be a reason to calm your dog.
Past abuse. If your dog is a rescue dog they may have issues as a result of past treatment that you are not entirely aware of.
Boredom. Your dog may be excitable or hyperactive as a result of not getting enough mental stimulation.
Visits to the vet or groomer can cause stress or anxiousness in dogs, particularly if they have had a bad experience.
Signs Your Dog Has Anxiety
Learn to look for the signs of stress or anxiety in your dog so you can help them to calm down. There are some signals that you can look for to see if your dog is anxious or excited. You are the best person to notice any change in your dog’s behavior.
Your dog’s body language will most likely indicate when he is feeling stressed or scared. Often the signs will be obvious and you will know immediately what is causing your dog stress, like with thunder or fireworks. Other times you will need to look a bit closer to find the cause.
Remember to always look at these signs in context to determine the cause. For example, excessive licking at dinner time most likely indicates your dog is anticipating getting food rather than being stressed. Look for changes in body language and behavior.
- Excessive licking or chewing
- Barking or howling
Why You Should Calm Your Dog Down
Emotional stress in dogs, particularly when it is ongoing, can lead to health issues like:
- Reduced immune system
- Delay in wound healing
- Decreased cognitive function
- Gastrointestinal issues
- Hastening the aging process
- Increased risk of depression or anxiety
Helping your dog to calm down when you notice he is stressed or anxious can minimize the risk of developing any health problems. Reducing emotional stress in your dog will lead to your dog being happier and healthier.
How to Calm Your Dog Down
Be the pack leader. Your dog needs to feel safe and secure at home. You can help your dog feel this way by being the calm and assertive pack leader your dog needs.
Give your dog a safe place to retreat to. Their own space, a comfortable bed, a quite room or in bed with you. If your dog needs to hide out in his own space to feel calm then let him.
Natural ways to calm down your dog
Remove the stressor. This assumes you know what is causing your dog’s stress and that it, or your dog, can be removed. If it is other dogs or people then take your dog somewhere else, like another room in the house or outside. If it is something out the window, then close the curtains. If it is noise outside then turn on some soothing music or move your dog to a room further away from the sound.
Distraction. GIve your dog something to do to help take his mind off what is stressing him. Give him a chew toy or a treat, or try a quick training session or a game of hide-and-seek.
Calming Treats. Use calming treats and chews with natural ingredients made specifically for dogs.
Mental stimulation and play will help to keep your dog occupied. Play is essential for your dog’s health and well-being. Have plenty of interactive puzzle toys and fetch toys on hand to bring out when you need them.
Massage and physical contact are another great natural way to help your dog calm down when they are stressed.
Aromatherapy. You can use essential oils to help calm your dog down. These can be used via wall plug-ins, sprays, and balms. Some great calming essential oils for dogs are lavender, bergamot, and tangerine. Make sure to always buy good quality, non-toxic products for your dog. Rescue Remedy Pet is a natural stress relief that many people use to help calm their dog.
Exercise improves your dog’s mood and helps to reduce stress. If your dog needs calming down try going for a walk with your dog or play a game outside to help tire them out. Your dog will be calmer if he is a little worn out at the end of the day.
Music. Look for some music that is specifically developed for dogs to help your dog relax and stay calm. Or just put on something mellow and soothing.
Keep calm yourself. Make sure you remain calm as well. Dogs can pick up on your energy and mimic it. If you are nervous or anxious your dog can sense it.
Dietary supplementation. There are plenty of supplements you can get to help keep your dog calm. Many of these will have ingredients like melatonin, that helps to promote relaxation, and Thiamine and L-Tryptophan that helps to reduce stress & tension. Zylkene contains a protein extracted from milk that acts as a calming and relaxing agent. Valerian is a herbal supplement that is a sedative and anti-anxiety herb. Chamomile also helps to calm nerves in dogs.
Behavioral modification training. If you cannot get your dog to calm down with these methods you can try special training to modify their behavior.
Get creative and combine a few of these together, like music and a massage, or aromatherapy and a treat. Your dog may respond differently to certain calming methods so keep trying different ones until you find what works.
Anxiety Medication for Dogs
If you cannot calm your dog down naturally you may have to try medications. Do not administer your own medication to your dog. You should only give your dog medication recommended by your vet.
If you have tried the natural methods above to calm your dog and nothing is working, you should consult with your vet to come up with another solution.
It is important to always consult your vet before introducing anything new into your dog’s diet and if your dog continues to be stressed or anxious despite your efforts to calm him down.
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