As we know from personal experience, it’s no fun having anxious moments where we feel out of control or even frightened. So when we see our best friend trembling, hiding or acting out in other stressful ways, we can’t help but want to find a solution. Because every dog and every stress trigger is a bit different, we may have to try a few things first before we find what works expressly for each particular dog in our life.
Research shows there are several ways we can work with our dogs at home to help relieve anxious moments. Thunderstorms can be particularly unnerving for dogs, so in a situation like this, simple physical contact may help put your dog at ease – knowing his trusted friend is right there with him can be very comforting. For dogs with energy to burn, giving them a place to run and exercise may be the answer. Unless the dog park creates even more stress for them, it’s a great place to let off steam and tire out your furry friend. Even playing in the back yard with a ball or stick will help get their mind off whatever is causing their stress. If your dog experiences anxious moments due to separation – for instance, while you’re at work or out shopping – playing some soothing music might help mask other noises until you return.
Some dogs may just need a quiet place to chill out. Whether it’s their own personal kennel or the laundry room, removing stressful stimuli with some isolation may help. Be sure to monitor your dog during this time to make sure she’s not doing anything self-destructive. While you’re at it, check your own behavior. Are YOU acting anxious when you notice stressful behaviors in your dog? Just like our human best friends, our furry ones can pick up on our stress and make their problems worse.
If you need more help, be open to trying other solutions. With your dog’s heightened sense of smell, he might like a spritz of chicken or beef smell on his dog bed, or even one of your smelly socks so he can feel closer to you (gross, but it might work!). There are some over-the-counter therapy options that have been marketed for pets, but make sure you’re checking labels for credibility such as testing certificates and avoiding sketchy claims.
These ideas may sound simple, but are just good reminders that our fur-buddies rely heavily on us to help them through stressful situations they may not understand.