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How to Comfort an Anxious Dog

October 15, 2018

 Just like humans, dogs get anxious for a wide variety of reasons. Separation from their people, loud noises like thunder or fireworks, or rare occurrences like car rides or meeting new people are all things that can cause a great deal of stress for your canine companion. There are a lot of ways to try to soothe your dog if they get anxious - here are just a few methods to try.


Above all else, keep a calm demeanor yourself

Dogs are incredibly good at sensing your emotional state, and will often look to you in stressful situations to determine how they should act. If your dog is stressed and you are too, they are going to feel like they are absolutely correct to be worried and get even worse. You can’t control your body chemistry, but try to maintain a flat, calm tone of voice and avoid nervous behaviors like pacing if your dog is stressed - the both of you feed off the emotional energy of the other, so portraying an air of calm will ultimately help the both of you deal with a stressful situation.


Play music (or sing to your dog)

Soothing music is a great way to help deal with stress. It can help in a great deal of situations - calm music when you leave can help fill the uncomfortable silence that may be causing separation anxiety, and a bit louder music can help cover up stressful noises like rain, thunder, or fireworks. Find a few calming playlists on Spotify or YouTube, or find a relaxing radio station to play in the background. If you’ve got musical talent yourself, you could also try singing to your dog; just like a baby, hearing a calm and soothing voice singing directly to them can help calm your dog down.


Snuggle or provide physical pressure

One of the best ways to relieve stress is by keeping close to your dog. Warmth and physical proximity are great ways to provide comfort, so snuggle up with your dog if they are feeling anxious. Give them a blanket or dirty clothes to make a nest in. Pick up a thundershirt so they can feel that physical pressure to help keep them calm. Let them know they are physically safe, and that adrenaline will drop as well.


Take their mind off the stress with exercise or play time

Get your dog thinking about something else if they are stressed - take them for a job, or treat them to a game of fetch. If they are concentrating on one of their favorite activities, they will not have as much time to fret about whatever is causing their anxiety. Likewise, if you know a stressful event it upcoming (people coming over in the evening, a thunderstorm is on the way, etc.), preemptive exercise will hopefully tire them out enough that your dog will not have the energy to be stressed.


There are other options for helping to calm your dog, such as anti-anxiety medication or a quiet, secluded place for a bit of a time out. Try whatever you can to keep yourself calm, and then work on finding a method that works with your canine companion. Accidents can happen when your dog is stressed - keep a supply of a stain and odor remover like Bio-nihilator on hand in case the stress gets to be a bit too much for your dog.


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