Have a seemingly stressed out pup? There are many things you can do to help ease your dog during a nerve-rattling time. It begins with recognizing your dog’s body language and behavior. When a dog is stressed, be their pack leader. When your pooch can’t identify the alpha she can become anxious and insecure.
“You will see signs often in conjunction with each other,” says Darlene Arden, dog behaviorist and author of over a dozen books including The Angell Memorial Animal Hospital Book of Wellness and Preventive Care for Dogs. “It is important you remain calm. If you’re anxious, your dog will pick up on that.”
To help identify stress, Arden said to look for the following signals:
Excessive licking of paws, nose or lips
Panting that isn’t heat related
Pinning back ears and cowering
Diarrhea or vomiting
Clawing at walls, doors or gates trying to escape
Ways to Soothe Your Stressed Dog
“Drawing the curtains helps to keep out flashing lights that may startle your pets,” Arden says. “And if you plan on being out, leave a few lights on. That can also help ease a dog’s mind.”
If you have a dog that suffers from separation anxiety, make sure all doors and windows are locked before you leave the house so the dog can’t run off. Play noises your dog is familiar with like the TV, radio or CD player and encourage your dog to hang out in her “den”—a crate or other private area with soft blankets or pillows, favorite toys and a treat-release toy or puzzle game filled with kibble.
Taking your dog for long walks, playing fetch, or spending some time learning new tricks are other ways to help relieve pet stress.
Bonnie Brown, founder of Dog Trainers Connection, recommends trying a popular pet product to reduce anxiety. “Use a Thundershirt,” she says. “Maintained pressure helps calm the dog’s sensory receptors.” Think of it as swaddling a baby to encourage a feeling of security. “The wrap helps to minimize the dog’s involuntary shivering, which in itself can help your dog feel calmer,” says Brown. Securing a T-shirt or towel around your dog can also have a similar calming effect.
Aromatherapy mists, calming supplements and pheromone collars are other products that can promote relaxation and relieve nervousness.
Brown also recommends speaking to your vet about prescription anxiety medications if your dog suffers from severe stress and anxiety.
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