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Six Ways to Calm an Anxious Dog

 by lucy on 15 Aug 2017 |
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Just like people, dogs can suffer from anxiety disorders. Whether he’s afraid of social situations, suffers from separation anxiety or is simply a nervous pet, there are several techniques to help calm Fido’s fears:
 
1- Crates are considered controversial by some, but with proper training, they can be one of the best ways to calm an anxious pet. The key to crate training is to ensure it’s done right. This includes picking an appropriately sized crate, equipping it with blankets and other objects to make it as welcoming as possible, and slowly familiarizing your pet with the crate using treats and positive reinforcement. All of this helps your dog see the crate as his “den,” which provides him with a sanctuary during times of high stress. Crate training can be especially helpful for dogs with separation anxiety that might otherwise wreak havoc on your home and ingest dangerous items when left alone for long periods of time.
 
2- Exercise can help anxious dogs, too. Although it is not a cure for anxiety, physical activity can reduce stress, improve your dog’s mood and focus his mind on positive activities. Running and playing are great ways to get your dog active.
 
3-Physical contact can help comfort an anxious companion. Just like people, our pets are social creatures and they feel reassured when they spend time close to those they love. Staying near your dog during a thunderstorm or visit to the vet can help reduce stress. However, be sure you don’t make a fuss over your pet when he’s stressed, which can legitimize his fear.
 
4-Maintain a calm demeanor to help an anxious pet. Dogs are experts at sensing what’s going on around them and if you’re tense or upset, your pet can easily pick up on this. When his leader is anxious, a dog also becomes anxious, so be sure to keep a steady voice and composure around your pet. By taking the lead and showing your dog he has nothing to be afraid of, you can help ease his anxiety in stressful situations.
 
5- Take a break if your dog gets overly anxious or wound up. A time-out can help your pet unwind, though it should never be used as a punishment. Instead, take your dog to a quiet place or his crate. You can also distract him with a treat during this time.
 
6- Treats and chews may seem like unlike stress-relievers, but long-lasting chews such as rawhide bones can also help put a nervous dog’s mind at ease. They help keep Fido occupied while you’re away from home and provide much-needed distraction during stressful events, such as thunderstorms or visits from new guests.
 
While the above techniques can help mildly to moderately nervous dogs, pets with severe anxiety may require diagnosis and treatment from your veterinarian. Medication can help manage many pets’ anxiety and a trained professional can recommend a combination of behavior therapies to help put your pet’s mind at ease.

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