There are plenty of things that can give our dogs the jitters. From the obvious ones like travelling, thunderstorms, fireworks or the hoover, to other triggers like a new environment, or unfamiliar people or pets. Many of us know how anxiety feels so it’s only natural that if our pooches are showing signs of anxiety, we want to do whatever it is we can to help them!
Which breeds struggle with anxiety?
All dogs can be affected by anxiety, although some breeds seem to be more prone to it than others – especially when it comes to separation anxiety (your pet becoming nervous when separated from their favourite human (aka you), or becoming worried if they’re left alone for short periods of time).
Breeds that can be more prone to anxiety include Cocker Spaniels, Jack Russells, Staffies, Border Collies, Vizslas and German Shepherds.
It’s important to understand what’s causing your pet’s anxiety before you try to treat it for the best chances of success in keeping them happy and worry-free.
How do dogs show signs of anxiety?
There are a number of signs that may show your dog is anxious or feeling stressed. Some of these signs include:
- Excessive panting
- Cowering or hiding
- Whimpering, whining, howling or barking
- Tucking their tail between their legs
- Flattening their ears back against their head
- Lip licking or drooling
- Paw raises
- Destructive or hostile behaviour
How to calm an anxious dog
Fortunately, there are plenty of steps pet parents can easily implement to help take the edge off their pooch’s anxiety…
Make sure your dog is getting enough exercise
Giving your dog plenty of physical stimulation is a vital part of treating lots of behavioural problems. So be sure to give them plenty of opportunities to let off steam (zoomies, anyone?). Exercise produces endorphins which relieve stress. Many of us know how AMAZING we feel after a decent workout!
If your pooch has a lot of pent-up energy and they still have fuel in the tank after a few long walks, try incorporating hilly terrain or a swim into your routine. Or try using a ball launcher or frisbee to get more mileage out of a good game of fetch.
During your dog’s puppy months, they’ll only require gentle exercise. This helps to limit damage to their growing joints. Once they hit 6 months of age you can start adding longer, more exciting walkies.
Check out the guidance for your dog’s breed to find out how much exercise they should be getting each day. If you have a crossbreed aka Heinz 57, check out the guidance for their closest match or if in doubt, ask your vet! They’ll be happy to advise on their exercise requirements.
Make sure your dog is getting enough mental stimulation
Dogs are highly intelligent – that’s indisputable! Sometimes, issues with anxiety can arise when our dogs lack enough mental stimulation in their days. Boredom can also lead to noisy or destructive behaviour such as excessive vocalising, scratching and chewing.
Keep things fresh and interesting for your dog by exploring new routes on walkies. Or maybe find a fun new hobby that requires focus, like agility classes or provide them with a new puzzle toy. Most dogs get endless enjoyment out of licky mats. If you haven’t heard of these, they’re silicone mats with grooves in, where you can spread dog-friendly peanut butter, stick treats in or any other dog-friendly edible tastiness you fancy. Unleash your pooch and watch them go to town on it.
Try vet-approved calming treats and supplements
Give your dog a herbal helping hand with one of the products in our vet-approved calming range to help take the edge off anxiety. Itch Calm Treats contain soothing lavender, relaxing camomile and belly-boosting probiotics to leave your pet more relaxed than a bedtime story from David Attenborough.
Or why not try our new 10-in-1 multivitamin powder supplement, Best in Show? It’s packed with calming ingredients, including Green Tea Extract, Magnesium and Choline. Don’t just take our word for it though! Here’s some recent feedback from a pet parent with a worrisome pooch.
“Since starting Best in Show, he now seems much calmer when I leave the house and is always fast asleep when I get home!”
And that’s not all.
We found that Best in Show helped 80% of dogs become more relaxed and confident after just one month of having it mixed in with their food.
Start sprinkling a little Best in Show magic on your dog’s dinners today!
Give them affection
Is your pooch giving off worried vibes? They used to say that stroking your pet when they’re anxious could reinforce their anxiety, making them more worrisome. However, that’s just a myth. It turns out that it actually works as a great distraction from whatever may be causing them stress! Who knew?!
Always pay close attention to your dog’s body language and make sure they always have the option to walk away so they don’t feel trapped when you’re lavishing them with fussings.
Create background noise with the radio & TV
Leaving the radio on with some soothing classical or instrumental music can mask triggering noises and might help your buddy settle down. Is your pooch being set off by loud banging or fireworks? Throw some reggae on! Yes seriously. Clinical studies have proven the soothing effects of this style of music on dogs.
White noise can also work wonders for nervous doggies. Free apps like YouTube have hours of plopping rain, thundering waterfalls, beating hearts and whirring fan sounds to choose from. Play it either on its own or alongside the TV or radio.
Some pets are known to be sensitive to loud, unexpected noises, so it’s a good idea to socialise your pooch from a young age to help them cope better with the everyday unexpected noises they might be exposed to as adults. For example, squealing children or passing fire engines.
Create a safe space or den
Your dog might need some alone time now and again – “don’t we all?”, we hear you say. Having a cosy, safe space of their own to retreat to will provide them with a sense of security and stability which in turn will help boost their confidence.
Whether you want to throw a blanket over their crate or make a little den for them under a table, make sure their very own area is a comfortable and quiet little sanctuary they can retreat to whenever they like.
If you’ve tried all of these steps and your pooch is still on edge, we’d recommend booking an appointment with your vet just in case there are any underlying medical issues causing their anxiety.
In the meantime, if you have any questions at all, the pet wellness pro’s in our customer service team are here to help. Feel free to drop our team a message 8am-10pm or call them on 020 3370 0905 Mon to Fri 8am-4pm. We’d love to hear from you!