Dogs, just like people, can suffer from a whole host of mental disorders including anxiety.
As a pet parent, it can become heartbreaking and downright frustrating when dealing with
behaviors associated with anxiety. It may feel like there is no light at the end of the
tunnel, but there is. In fact, there are ways that you can help to reduce anxiety in your dog this 4th of July and beyond, the natural way.
What is anxiety, anyway?
Often times, people think that anxiety, fear and phobias are all synonymous. That is a
false assumption. Fear is normal emotion that your dog might feel in response to your
dog’s central nervous system saying, “Hey, something is wrong.” Fear is a necessary emotion
for dogs and humans alike. The body’s natural response to fear will be fight or flight.
Sound familiar? We’ve all been there. A phobia, on the other hand, is a fear that presents
itself in response to a specific trigger. For some dogs, it may be loud noises, for others it
may be a phobia of car rides, or even the vacuum. Finally, anxiety, is a state of fear,
nervousness, or worry associated with a perceived danger.
While anxiety in dogs is a feeling, it’s usually made known by your dog exhibiting specific
behaviors. Some signs you may note in your dog could be shaking, hiding, destructing
property, urinating, vomiting, fleeing and more. Simply put, your dog will begin to the feel
the effects of that which he fears, as if he was really exposed that perceived danger.
Calming your dog naturally
There are a few things you can do to help calm your dog when he’s feeling anxious.
Distract your dog from the culprit. Redirecting your dog’s attention from the perceived
threat can help to eliminate or reduce the anxiety and behaviors that go with it. By
grabbing your dog’s leash or the treat jar, you’re giving him something else to focus on.
Change your dog’s mind. This may sound silly, but it’s really not. Through positive
reinforcement, you have the power to change how your dog responds to the perceived
threat. Now, this requires a calm, safe, controlled environment in which the dog is exposed
to that which he is having anxiety about. During this time, your will simultaneously provide
your dog with positive reinforcement. This may look different for different dogs. You
may shower your dog with hugs, soothing talk, belly rubs or treats so he begins to
associate the threat with something positive. This approach takes patience and
commitment on your end. It’s even a good idea to involve a professional trainer or
behaviorist to help you, especially if you have a hard time managing YOUR frustration
throughout the process.
Provide your dog with natural remedies
There now exists a large market for natural remedies to help ease your dog’s anxiety. Two
very well-known and effective products are Rescue Remedy and Sentry Calming Spray.
Rescue Remedy is a product that uses flower essences to help keep your dog in a relaxed
state. By rubbing the product on your dog’s paws and ears before, during or after he’s
exposed to the perceived fear, your dog will begin to feel the calming effects of the
flower essences. It always helps to apply it before if you are given any warning at all that
he will be in an anxious state. Providing a similar reaction, there is Sentry Calming Spray.
This spray contains pheromones. Momma dogs produce, or give off, pheromones after they
have their puppies so in the same way that pheromones reduce stress in puppies during the
birthing process, dogs that are experiencing anxiety can begin to feel less anxious when he is
exposed to the spray.
Helping your dog calm down during times of stress related to anxiety is no easy task. That
is perfectly understood. Hopefully this is a starting point for you towards peace for your
dog, and you as well. Stay calm and diligent in your pursuit and you will find some relief
along the way.
Out For A Walk is an award winning pet sitting and dog walking service. We happily service Los Angeles. Do you have any input on anxiety in pups? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.