If you’ve ever been around a dog with anxiety issues, you know it can be hard to watch. You just want so badly to find a way to comfort and calm him.
Estimates are that somewhere around 30 percent of dogs show signs of anxiety, which often take the form of body language that signals uneasiness, and/or behaviors such as obsessive licking. Since each dog has his own style of communicating, it’s important to learn your own pet’s signals that he’s feeling nervous or stressed.
The first stop for a dog who seems anxious or stressed is your veterinarian’s office for a wellness checkup. It’s important to rule out an underlying medical condition that may be the cause of or a contributor to the anxiety.
Here are a few natural tips to soothe your dog.
1. Play calm, soothing music before a possible stressor occurs. This may relax your dog and have the added bonus of drowning out distressing noises.
2. The essential oil of lavender has also been proven to reduce a dog's stress response. I recommend placing a few drops on your dog's collar or bedding before a stressor occurs, if possible, or diffuse the oil around your house for an overall calming effect. There are also great oil blends specifically for calming animals.
3. If your dog seems to respond well to pressure applied to her body, there are wraps available (e.g., Thundershirt, TTouch anxiety wrap) that many pet owners and veterinarians find extremely helpful.
4. Make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise, playtime, mental stimulation and TLC. The fuller her life is when you're around, the calmer she'll be when you're not.
5. When you must leave your dog at home alone, leave him with an article of clothing or blanket with your scent on it. Also leave a treat-release toy for him to focus on in your absence. Place small treats around the house for him to discover, along with his favorite toys.