If your dog is prone to anxiety, through separation anxiety in dogs, fear, or similar, then it is likely that you have already had to endure a couple of sleepless nights while trying to desperately soothe them. After all, the last thing loving humans want to see is our dogs suffering. Dog anxiety is far more common than most people realize and periods of panic will often occur when they are left at home by themselves. While no one wants to leave their pet alone for extended periods of time, for the majority of pet parents who work long hours, it’s unavoidable.
Just like other behavioral issues, with the right tools and possible anti-anxiety treatments to help with calming your dog, anxiety in dogs can be remedied. And ensuring that you uphold a peaceful environment at home is the first step you need to take toward making your dog feel calmer and more secure.
Your Role as a Puppy Parent
Imagine that you grew up in a home that was completely chaotic—your parents were barely around and when they were, they would spend hours arguing or raising their voices at each other. Unsurprisingly, this would likely cause you to have a nervous demeanor and be prone to anxiety and panic attacks. The same is true for our pets! Making the decision to get a dog also means taking the responsibility to be his voice and to make sure that he is cared for and loved unconditionally and as our pets pick up on our emotions so easily, promoting a sense of calm at home is imperative to raising a well-balanced and calm pup.
Here are some of the best tools that you can use to help calm your pup down and make sure that he feels safe at home, even when you are not around.
CBD Oil or Dog Treats
CBD oil has become a godsend for many pet owners who have witnessed their dogs experience full-blown panic attacks and it has become one of the most popular natural anti-anxiety remedies on the market. However, as wonderful as this anxiety medication is, it tastes horrible, meaning that many dogs just refuse to take it and will either spit it out or drink so much water immediately afterward that the effect is not as potent. Thankfully, you can now give your pup delicious CBD-infused dog treats if you see any symptoms of stress that they will take happily and there are a wide range of different strengths and flavors available. Many dog owners prefer not to medicate their dogs and traditional treatment for anxiety, including prescription medication, will often include the use of benzodiazepines, which can have some pretty harmful long-term side effects. If your dog is afraid of loud noises or thunderstorms, then these calming treats are going to be an invaluable natural remedy that will help to keep him calm during times of distress.
Provide Him with His Own Safe Space
Even if your dog sleeps in your bed or on the couch, it is always a good idea for him to have his very own space that he can go to when he feels stressed out. This can be as simple as placing a bed for him in a warm corner of your home, with a few blankets and toys to comfort him. Many people swear by the efficacy of crate training, which, when done properly, has an excellent success rate at easing anxiety in dogs. If your dog has a habit of becoming destructive or trying to escape when left alone, then you can start by choosing a crate with a lockable gate. As time passes, your dog will learn to love going to his crate. So, even if you leave the door open, you will find him hanging out in there by his own choice. If you decide to give crate training a try, always remember that you should never lock your dog in the crate as a punishment, as this will only make him fearful of it and hence will be counterproductive.
Avoid Raised Voices in the House
Just as you would never scream at someone in front of a small child, you also should try to avoid raising your voice around your dog. Dogs pick up on human emotions so easily, which is why their personalities seem to mimic those of their owners. Unlike a person, they don’t have the ability to rationalize as we do—a minor argument could still have a huge impact on their emotional wellbeing. The last thing you want to do is to make your dog feel afraid when they are around you, so be mindful of your behaviors and actions around an anxious dog.
Plenty of Exercise
A dog that is not given sufficient opportunities to release any pent up energy is going to become frustrated quickly and possibly begin to suffer from stress. If you want to make sure that your home environment is calm, then you need to ensure that you commit to exercising your dog daily to go with the dog’s diet and ensure the dog’s health. If you are lucky enough to have a large enough yard, then a game of fetch can work wonders for giving your dog the mental stimulation that he craves, in addition to letting him burn off excess energy.
Certain essential oils like lavender are entirely safe to use with your dog and are known to promote tranquilizing effects. Rather than applying the essence directly to your dog’s skin, put some in a burner. Not only will your house smell great, but your pooch will also feel calmer and comforted.
Dog anxiety can have a negative effect on your life, too, not just your dogs! That’s why it should be diagnosed as soon as possible and dealt with accordingly. Reading up on training methods and symptoms to help your dog overcome the frustration of being left alone will also provide you with a fountain of knowledge and set you up for success.
Jennifer is the voice behind the FOMO Bones blog. She's pretty sure in her past life, she was a Great Dane. However, we peg her as more of a labrador. Regardless of her breed, she's a dog enthusiast who has 15 years experience training dogs and owners.