Yes, they can. Anxiety is a common issue for many dogs. According to the American Kennel Club, up to 14% of dogs show signs of anxiety and fear at some point in their lives.(1
A whole lot of things can trigger anxiety in dogs. Among the wide range of possibilities, the following are oft-cited reasons:(1
- Sudden change in environment
- Underlying medical conditions
- A traumatic experience
- Lack of socialization
- Being left alone
- Not getting enough attention
- Presence of unfamiliar people, pets, or surroundings
- Loud noises
- Abuse or neglect
It's important to understand why your dog may be anxious in order to take the necessary and appropriate steps to help it cope.
While the cause of anxiety can vary from dog to dog, the result is the same: an unhappy and stressed pup. Anxiety in dogs can manifest in different ways, such as:(1
For many pet parents, the answer to that question is a wholehearted “Yes” accompanied by a vigorous nodding of the head.
Fortunately, with some knowledge and patience, there’s actually a lot we can do to ease the overwhelm our dogs may experience. Below are some very common scenarios in which dogs may exhibit anxious behaviors and how to calm down an anxious dog in each instance.
If you think your dog may be anxious, you should also consult with your veterinarian or a pet behavioral specialist. Your vet can help you develop a plan to manage your pooch’s anxiety. With proper care and treatment, you can help your pup feel more secure and relaxed.
Our focus here is on how to calm an anxious dog naturally using training, conditioning, and natural or non-invasive techniques.(1
) However, there are dog anxiety medications on the market as well.
No matter the age or size of your pup, the clatter of bad weather can cause dogs to become anxious and overwhelmed.
Next time it's gross out and your dog is starting to flip out, you can try these methods to help your dog find some tranquility.
It’s not just kids that get scared of the dark. Some dogs don’t take to the evening hours with a sense of serenity.
When this happens, see if any of these tips do the trick.
- Create a familiar and inviting environment. Put your dog's bed in a room that’s dark, quiet, and well-known — maybe even in a room with a family member. Lots of dogs love to retreat to their crates.
- Shed some light. If it seems that your dog’s upset stems from being in the dark, place a night light in the room where your baby sleeps.
- Drown out the bumps in the night. Are the weird sounds making your pup jump? Use a white noise machine to blanket any unfamiliar sounds.
- Exercise before bedtime. If your dog is good and tired, he or she may have an easier time remaining calm. And, often, a spent pup is a sleepy pup.
- Take a potty break. By doing its business before bedtime, your dog will be more comfortable and won’t have to worry about holding it until morning.
- Stick to a routine. Establish a consistent bedtime routine and stick to it. This will help your pup recognize the signs that it's time for bed.
While we humans may love the aerial light show on Independence Day, New Year's Eve, or other special occasion — many dogs aren’t fans.
Next time you know there’s going to be some Boom! Boom! Boom! from firecrackers, rockets, cakes, or smoke balls, give these “pyro-techniques” a shot.
Activate your Stormy Weather Plan. Those techniques used during storms can work when fireworks are the trigger.
Separation anxiety is a big deal. As much as you love your pet, it adores you right back and may not understand why you’re gone for extended periods of time.
Give these recommendations a whirl and help your pet understand and handle your absences.
- Occupy your dog’s time and mind-body. Give your pup a toy to focus their attention on, rather than you being gone. A fenced yard to run around in can also keep your dog busy. Always make sure your fence is secured/locked.
- Interact from afar. Some pet parents like to use modern technology to connect with their dogs while they’re away. Think webcalls.(3)
- Hire a dog walker or pet care. Highly social or energetic dogs may benefit from encounters with people or other animals during the day.
- Get another pet. A companion animal could ease your dog’s tension, loneliness, and boredom.
- Try an alternative therapy. There are herbal supplements, homeopathic remedies, aromatherapies, CBD treats, and other formulations specifically for pets.
- Leave a piece of you behind. Leaving your pooch with a blanket or t-shirt that smells like you might provide comfort.
Maybe you want to know:
- How to calm an anxious dog in a car
- How to calm an anxious dog for grooming
- How to calm an anxious dog at the vet
After all, there are so many reasons why and occasions when your beloved pet might get upset.
Luckily, the majority of the tips and recommendations listed in the above sections can be adapted to fit other kinds of anxiety episodes. It may take some time and trial and error — but eventually you’ll land on a set of anxiety-busting tactics that you can readily draw upon.
Dogs can experience anxiety for many reasons and in many ways. But, they needn’t suffer.
You have plenty of anxiety-management options available to you. So, the next time your pup gets spooked by fireworks or foul weather — you’ll know how to calm an anxious dog.