Just like humans, dogs can get scared, nervous, and anxious. I actually have a very good friend whose rescue dog suffers from severe anxiety. The anxiety attacks strike when it rains, thunders, or the wind howls. Her dog doesn’t like loud noises and even gets anxious when the vacuum or dishwasher run. As a way to relieve stress, her pooch will pace or try to hide behind furniture. It doesn’t end there, though. I can’t even tell you how many times my friend has come home to ripped-up clothes and her bed’s stuffing spread out on the floor. Despite all of this, she refuses to give her dog anxiety medications. Let me just say, I 100% agree with her. I’m a firm believer in trying the natural route!
When it comes to dog anxiety, there are several things you can do to help comfort and calm your fur baby. Here are five tips that have worked for my friend’s dog and countless other pooches.
1) Distract With Exercise & Games
When your dog gets nervous it’s great to distract them with exercise and games. Playing a little fetch or going over old tricks will help keep their mind busy and off of whatever it is that’s stressing them out. If you have the room to exercise, then get up and move! Exercise is a great stress reliever for two main reasons. It:
- Stimulates the production of serotonin, a feel-good brain chemical.
- Gets rid of pent-up energy that can make an anxiety attack worse.
2) Dog Appeasing Pheromone (DAP)
DAP is a synthetic chemical based on a hormone that’s produced by lactating female dogs. It’s this hormone that helps keep puppies calm. While scientific studies show DAP works with puppies, researchers say it’s unclear if DAP works with anxious adult dogs. DAP has helped calm my friend’s dog and it’s definitely worth a try! DAP comes as a plug-in diffuser with vials that last for about 30 days. Don’t worry about these synthetic pheromones stinking up your house — humans can’t smell it.
3) Lavender Essential Oil
Lavender is known as the ultimate calming agent and could help your dog beat stress. Many dog moms swear that simply rubbing a little essential oil on their dog’s coat helped calm them down during a storm or car ride. But don’t take my word for it. The effects were put to the test in 2006 during a clinical study that examined 32 dogs with a history of travel-induced excitement. The results? Dogs spent significantly more time resting and sitting and less time moving and vocalizing when exposed to the lavender scent vs no scent at all. My friend uses the brand on the left and loves it. If you don’t want to worry about diluting the oil with a carrier oil — such as coconut, almond, or olive oil — then opt for a pet-formulated product like Calm Gold.
4) Calm Music
Music can be extremely effective in calming your anxious dog. While you can simply turn on Pandora and play soothing music, there are playlists specifically designed for calming dog anxiety. For example, the company Through a Dog’s Ear offers a selection of pet-calming tunes. They even sell a portable music player called the iCalmDog 2.0. It comes pre-loaded with 4 hours of clinically-tested music.
5) Thunder Jacket
A thunder jacket is a tightly fitting jacket that applies pressure to your dog’s body. The continuous pressure is believed to calm an anxious dog’s nerves. My friend’s dog has a thunder jacket and she swears by it. She isn’t the only dog mom who believes in the thunder jacket. They’re actually quite popular!
*Note: If your dog suffers from severe anxiety, you should consult with your vet.