Do you have a dog that struggles with anxiety? Dealing with our dogs that suffer from this debilitating issue can be extremely difficult. It can truly be every dog parents nightmare. Nobody wants to see their dog go through this without help. Let’s talk about how to calm a dog with anxiety. There are some great tips and products that can help us as parents work to solving or lessening it.
As a dog parent myself, I struggled with this issue with my previous dog BOO and now my current dog FERGUS is starting to have small bits of anxiety.
When it comes to anxiety in dogs, there is not just one thing that will work for every dog. What worked for BOO, doesn’t work for FERGUS. OK time to get started.
Anxiety and what it looks like
You maybe sit there reading this, wondering well what does anxiety really mean and what does it look like.
Anxiety is an emotion that our dogs can experience when they have feelings of fear, nervousness or anticipation of danger.
There are 3 most common types of anxiety that your dog may suffer from.
Separation anxiety is experienced when a dog is left alone without the family and they are unable to relax or feel comfort. This type of anxiety actually affects 14% of all dogs.
Fear anxiety can be caused when your dog is afraid of things like loud noises, thunder storms, traveling, different environment, trips to the vet and strange or new people. Some dogs may have only a small reaction, while for other dogs it can be way more dramatic.
Aging anxiety, is of course related to aging or senior dogs. Many aging dogs develop Cognitive Dysfunction or Dementia. This is when a senior dog starts to show a mental decline due that can cause memory loss and confusion. Anytime a dog starts to experience this type of confusion will also lead to high bouts of anxiety.
All 3 of these types of anxiety physically shows up with symptoms that are hard to miss.
Your dog may experience:
- Whining or barking
- Compulsive behavior (IE. excessive licking)
- Posture changes
- Ear and eye changes
- Eliminating of urine
- Hiding or trying to escape
- Destructive behavior
Sometimes your dog may show some of these symptoms occasionally, while other times, they experience these at a level 10 every time. Even small bouts of anxiety, if left untreated, can lead to serious behavioral changes in your dog. It can also lead to an anxiety disorder that is much harder to deal with.
If you believe that your dog is suffering from anxiety, the main concern is to know how bad that the anxiety is. First and foremost, take your dog to the Vet to have them evaluate your dog. Making sure that your dog is diagnosed properly is important. In order to treat your dog, you need to first understand what is going on with them. Knowing for sure is the best way to know what you need to do to help fix the issues.
Once your Vet diagnoses your dog, if he deems that your dog does have a serious anxiety disorder, they may decide to put your dog on an anti-anxiety medication or opt for a more natural therapies. As far as medication goes, the Vet may choose to prescribe SSRI’s or antidepressants, much like humans would receive.
If you don’t want to treat your dog with these type of prescription meds, there are plenty of natural therapies and supplements that can help.
CBD Oil – Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the most highly researched compounds
Hemp Oil – hemp seed
Zyklene – alpha-casozepine, a natural ingredient found in cow’s milk
Calming Treats- Suntheanine, amino acid L-theanine, Vitamin B1, organic hemp and chamomile
Because there are 3 types of anxiety that your dog could be dealing with understanding which one he is suffering from. Each type of anxiety can require different treatments.
A dog that has fear or separation anxiety, the best way to help solve this issue is of course to avoid them. Well let’s be honest that just won’t work. We need to be able to leave our dogs behind to go to work or just simply live. Avoiding leaving our dogs is not an option.
The key to start helping solve this issue is to be able to start back fresh at the beginning. Well what do I mean by that… Separation anxiety is just that…..being separated or left alone. In order to get your dog to be comfortable and calm being alone, start slowly. Go out for 5 minutes and leave them. Slowly increasing this in increments and building up the time away.
Our goal is to try to desensitization your dog from the fear of being alone. If you make it OK for short periods of time, it takes the power away from the fear itself. Repeating this over and over with controls then helps desensitize the anxiety
This same logic can be applied to a fear based anxiety. Say your dogs’ anxiety is around the car and traveling, again you start slow with just putting them in the car in your driveway. Do you best to always make it fun and exciting. Then as always rewarding good behavior with treats is helpful. Moving on from the driveway, you could drive a few minutes around the block and so on.
Before leaving your dog, or trying to tackle a fear anxiety, exercising your dog with a brisk walk or activity like playing fetch is a way to drain some of their energy. Less energy means they may be more apt to rest or be calm because they are tired.
Obedience training, socialization, and feeding your dog good nutritious food are also very important factors in having an overall well-balanced dog. If your dog is balanced with a good amount of the essentials being able to solve anxiety issues the second they start is far easier than if it has escalated.
I talked about starting at the beginning with tackling your dog’s anxiety triggers. One of the thing that I use myself for my dog FERGUS, is using music along with incremental increases for his separation anxiety. I swear the two things together actually helps.
Music as we know for ourselves can be a tool we use to help us relax. Well this also applies to our dogs. The power of music is just as capable of calming down our dogs. Calming dog music is so powerful, that it is often used at animal or rescue shelters to help rehabilitate dogs.
Playing music for dogs is proven to lessen or stop barking, lower respiratory rates and help lower the stress hormone cortisol. Using music therapy is a natural anti-anxiety remedy that is pretty much accessible for every dog parent.
Now using music for FERGUS, is something I have done with him since day one. I never leave my dog alone without music or sound. I believe that a dog needs to not focusing on the dead air, nope, I think that is one of the worst things for a dog. Just think your dog is normally with you when you are home and it isn’t normally dead quiet. So having music or sound on is a great way to emulate that.
One thing I really like is that they actually make specific music for dogs that is designed for each type of anxiety scenario they may have. Whether they are afraid of a storm, or traveling or being left alone, there is music for that.
You may think, that using YouTube, your TV, or a radio is all you need. Let me tell you it isn’t the same. Either there are commercials interrupting the music that can scare your dog, or just not the type of calming music that will help calm your dog. Having access to the right dog calming music is very important if this is something you want to use to try to relax your dog.
From personal experience with playing music for my dog, I never had much success using any of these other options. Did you know that you can actually buy the exact music that we are talking about. Easily downloaded music that will give you hours of great dog music. Your dog will thank you. If this is something that you are interested in, check this out.
If you are looking for another cool option, that you won’t even hear….YUP you heard me. Well there is this cool new product online that may peak your interest. It is called RelaxoPet Pro Dog Relaxation System. What makes this different is that instead of actual music it uses high frequency vibrations to help our dogs eleviate stress and panic. You really can barely hear it. The vibration helps change your dogs response to their fear.
This is a compact standalone module that is completely wireless. It also is equipped with a sensor that detects noise and when there is none, it will turn on all by itself. Pretty cool hey. The compact design makes it easy to take with you even if you wanted to use in the car. Much like downloaded music, playing the Relaxopet in the car when you travel along can dramatically calm your dog down.
There is also one other very cool dog music speaker that I want to share with you. It is made by Pet Tunes and is a Bluetooth Speaker that is pre-loaded with Canine Calming Music created by Pet Acoustics. This very compact and easy to use speaker with USB charging will last 5-10 or you can plug it in an play it non stop. The canine music is 90 minutes in length, but it is also equipped with a repeat mode to play it continuously.
Last but not least, how about soothing dog music that doesn’t require any new device, but can be accessed through an app called “Relax My Dog”. You can access it through almost any device: IOS, Android, Roku, AppleTv, any device that you can download the app. You then pay a monthly subscription of $4.99 or $41.99 yearly. Completely ad free streaming and many different types of calming music for your dog. Whether it is to help treat separation anxiety, fireworks and storms or more, Relax My Dog has it. Truly an easy way to access calming music for your dog.
No matter which decision you choose for your dog, music is an excellent resource to help calm dogs with anxiety.
The bottom line when it comes down to how to calm a dog with anxiety, you need to take it one step at a time. There is no quick fix here.
Whether you are dealing with a fear issue, or separation anxiety, you need to approach it with kid gloves. Take is slow, be consistent and repetition will always bring success faster.
If your dog is dealing with age anxiety, you obviously are dealing with the issues that old age can create and anxiety happens to be one of them. The thing is, you can still do your very best to help calm your dog down using the same method of music. Just because they are a senior dog, doesn’t mean this isn’t a great way to help your dog feel calm.
Having dealt with 2 of the 3 anxiety issues with dogs in my lifetime, I know exactly what you are all going through. Remember there is no magic pill that is going to solve this for you. Work together with your dog and be the best parent you can be to your dog. That is all we can do. Best of luck to you and remember if you have a question you want to ask, just enter it below.