7 Natural Ways to Reduce Your Dog's Anxiety
Chewing, endless barking and moaning, peeing on the sofa… you name it! These are common signs that your dog is suffering from anxiety, and I’m going to show you how to deal with them in a natural, organic way.
But first I’m going to tell you a little story:
When I came home one night, I was very surprised to find little pee puddles everywhere. Lenni - my dog back then - had never done it before, so for me this was something totally new. It happened a few times and I had to get to the bottom of it. After reading hundreds of articles and posts on dog training, my head was overloaded with information, and I still didn’t know what to do with it. I noticed that Lenni was very upset and anxious every time I left the house, so I started working with him and building up trust, and the incidents stopped happening. It was very clear to me from the beginning that I wanted to go the natural way when it came down to training my dog. I soon came to discover that training your dog naturally requires lots of patience and hard work, but it was also so very rewarding.
So, let’s get into it!
First, we have to understand where this behavior is coming from. Does your dog break your stuff while you’re gone? Does he get nervous when you pick up the keys? Do loud noises scare him and make him go crazy? If the answer is yes, your dog is most likely suffering from anxiety. Don’t panic now! Anxiety is the most common root cause for behavioral problems in pets. So, how do we fix it?
Why you should ditch conventional medication for dog anxiety
Did you know that dogs very often get human medication prescribed? Don’t get me wrong. If there are any health issues, of course your pet should be treated! But treating anxiety (or any trainable issues) with meds is not the solution. Giving your dog pills when he doesn’t need them can have strong side effects as well as long term symptoms, like lethargy and memory loss, upset stomach, liver damage, insomnia…
We strongly believe in the natural ways of behavioral training. The combination of the right external and internal factors will result in the right actions. Your dog’s behavior is strongly linked to his emotions in a natural way that creates balance, regulates stress and excitement. So basically: the happier the dog, the better its behavior!
The first step towards successfully training your dog’s anxiety away is primarily identifying the triggers that are causing him to feel this way. Every doggie is different, so it’s very important to understand that there’s no magic formula or pill that will work for every dog. Take the time to get to know your Fluffy Friend.
Now we have to think about the signs and also the causes. Common signs that your dog might be suffering from anxiety include chewing (destructive behavior), barking and crying, sleeplessness, loss of appetite, shaking, excessive panting, and liking.
The most common causes for these signs of anxiety are separation, past trauma and abuse or adaptation to a new home. Other situational causes would be going to the vet, hearing fireworks, going on a car ride, etc.
Once you’ve identified the signs and their cause, it’s time for our
7 tips to reduce your pet’s anxiety, naturally!
Play outside, relax at home
Keeping these two separated is really beneficial. With time and consistency, your dog will understand that being at home means being calm. For this, make sure you’re creating a safe space where your dog can fully relax and stay relaxed, apart from your bed or couch. Dogs react to emotional energy around them, so giving him his own space-to-be adds structure to his life. This can be a cushion next to your bed or a dog bed in the living room where they feel totally in their energy. You can encourage him to chill there with treats, always rewarding and positively reinforcing the relaxed and calm behavior.
No fuss, no stress
This one is about desensitizing your dog long term to his trigger and training him to associate these same stressors with new, positive things.
If your dog gets anxious when he notices you’re leaving, normalize the activities you do before you leave, but without leaving. Pick up your keys, put on the coat and your shoes, then sit on the couch and chill. Put the things somewhere else over the course of the day. This way your dog will stop freaking out when you’re getting ready. You can also practice going out without him, gradually increasing the time of your absence. This way he’ll get used to you always coming back.
It’s all about building up trust and transmitting that everything’s okay, even in his trigger situations.
Everything starts in the gut…
Having the right diet is crucial for your pet for a number of different things. Having all the important nutrients doesn’t only show in the fur, nails and skin - what happens beneath all that is really the interesting part! The chemicals and bacteria that are responsible for your dog’s actions actually get regulated in the gut.
Nowadays there are various ways to feed your dog (BARFing, natural cooking, kibble and wet food, vegan feeding…). In the end there’s only one thing that matters: how does your pet feel after eating? Take a close look and analyze which foods are the best for YOUR dog. Naturally, canines need high-protein-low-carb food, but, as I always say, every doggie is different!
Exercise the body and the mind
The best way to have your dog calm and relaxed is to keep him tired, both physically and mentally. Mental stimulation plays a huge part in your dog’s behavior and can be achieved by something as simple as playing a game; you just have to find out what he likes playing the most!
Here some easy examples:
- Food dispenser toys or puzzle toys can help keep your doggie occupied for a while.
- Letting him sniff and explore during walks will also keep him busy, as it’s a process of communication and information exchange.
-Teaching him tricks will not only keep him mentally stimulated, but also interested in you, building up trust!
- You can do nose work at home, teaching him the cue to go and find something that you’ve hidden prior.
Let him sleep!
Did you know that adult dogs need on average around 14 hours of sleep? And that puppies might need up to 20? Keeping your dog deprived of sleep has a huge effect on his mood. Make sure your fluff has his own bed, where he can lay undisturbed, away from daily hectic situations. A great tip is also to let your dog sleep without touching or petting him. Some people get grumpy when woken up constantly, and dogs feel exactly the same!
A dog’s bed should be fluffy and enable him to rest his head and neck comfortably.
Be alternatively natural
There have been multiple studies on how your dog can benefit from alternative healing methods like the use of music, essential oils, acupuncture, CBD, or pheromone extracts. Stress in dogs can also be treated with melatonin, a natural sleeping hormone that helps pets stay calm short-term (a car-ride, during a thunderstorm…)
Disclaimer: before trying out any of these supplements you should talk to your vet about the dosing and using methods. You should never use essential oils directly on your pet, but rather on the fabric or cushion where he rests. CBD does not contain THC and therefore does not get your pet “high.” When used properly, CBD may help calm your dog, reduce pain and inflammation.
Train the dog trainer!
The calmer you stay, the calmer your dog will be too! As I mentioned before, dogs are very sensitive to human emotions. Training your dog the natural way means spending a lot of your time and your energy on him, and this can sometimes be frustrating!
While training, make sure that you do it with an open mind and heart. Try to understand your dog’s behavior first and identify his triggers, instead of reacting in a way that he won’t comprehend.
As you can see, this post focuses mostly on understanding your Fluffy Friend and the root cause of his triggers and fears. I always say: every doggie is different! This means it will be a matter of time and practice to find out which techniques work best for you and your hairy pal.
We want to encourage you to try some of our natural tips out - we’re happy to receive your feedback in our comment section!
your MrFluffyFriend team
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