While it may seem unlikely, some dogs sadly do experience anxiety. This is often common in rescue dogs who have had a hard life or been through a traumatic event.
However, with things returning to normal after a pandemic many dogs have been experiencing anxiety as their routine has again been disrupted and they may find they aren’t getting the same attention they got before.
Here are seven ways you can help your canine companion remain calm if they are suffering from anxiety.
As true in dogs as it is with humans, regular exercise is a great way to relieve stress and reduce anxiety. A lot of anxiety can be aggravated by a build-up of energy with nowhere to go.
Exercise has been shown to reduce cortisol levels in dogs, a hormone that has been shown to cause a variety of effects on the canine body like a lack of sleep, breakdown of muscle and importantly an increase in stress levels.
Exercise is also a great way to reduce your dog’s anxiety with limited resources.
Playing music for your dog is a true and tested method of reducing anxiety in dogs the same way music can help humans to relax. For those dogs with separation anxiety it provides them with something to help soothe their anxiety at being alone. For dogs with noise sensitivity the music can help block out those noises that frighten them.
“There are loads of resources available with many services offering playlists for dogs,” mentions Lee Small a pet writer for PaperFellows and Essay Services, “However, taking time to sit with your dog and create a personalised playlist is also very beneficial.”
Dogs tend to react well to classical music and harp music with a lot of shelters now using it to help calm kennelled animals.
- Reduce Human Stress
This one is pretty hard but essential, dogs can sense when you’re stressed and will react to it negatively. So, if you can reduce stress factors in your life this can actually help your dog
The bond between human and dog is a deeply emotional one and many dogs will try and comfort their owners. This can be distressing for the dog if they are doing it frequently.
It is hard but looking after yourself physically and mentally can greatly reduce your dog’s stress levels caused in reaction to yours.
- Time Out Session
These sessions tend to be ones where you allow your dog an hour or two to just go about things themselves without you. This is really hard, especially with dogs who have separation anxiety, but can help your dog destress in a place that’s safe and familiar without having human chaos around.
If you persevere at this you could even reduce the levels of separation anxiety your dog feels whenever you leave as it isn’t as scary anymore. However, it is important to not use this as a way to punish your dog and to have a way to monitor your dog for signs of distress.
If your dog is showing signs of extreme distress while in one of these sessions it is important to end it a.s.a.p. and consider alternate ways of helping them destress.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that dogs love to be petted by their humans, so is it any wonder that they also enjoy massage therapy. Taking time to massage your dog starting at the neck and moving down their back can help your dog destress.
- Positive Physical Contact
As before, dogs love humans petting them and some positive physical contact can be truly beneficial as a way to reduce your dog’s stress. When you notice signs of stress take some time to show your dog some affection by petting them until they seem calmer. About 8 minutes is a good starting point.
- Create Routines
Dogs like routines, they like the stability of knowing what’s happening and when it happens. “Create a daily schedule for your dog of walks, play time, meal times to help them feel regulated in the home,” recommends blogger Antony Meyer, Boomessays and Oxessays, “Use routines for going out or doing something that you know stresses your dog out that helps them relax as much as possible beforehand i.e. take your dog a long walk before you leave them alone.”
Like humans, dogs can relieve anxiety in many ways like the seven tips mentioned above. If all else fails it is worth considering a visit to your vet or a professional service to help you provide your dog the best care.