Anxiety is an unfortunate burden in many people’s lives and our pets can suffer from anxiety as well. When you have an anxious dog, you may find yourself staying at home more often to make sure they have the support and care they need. Fear, anxiety, and stress affect many dogs in seemingly everyday situations. Signs of their anxiety can include pacing, running from grooming, or a ride in the car. Anxiety takes a toll on your pet’s overall health and happiness and should be addressed. There are a number of ways to make your pet feel more secure and reduce their anxiety.
Make Home The Safest Place
Home shouldn’t only be safe and relaxing when the entire pack is around, your dog needs to feel at ease even when home alone. You can try introducing a compression, or thunder shirt to help reduce anxiety. These options work by simulating pressure across the body that helps the dog feel safe, secure, and comfortable. This option gained fame for its effectiveness with reducing fear of thunderstorms, but can work well for dogs with more general anxiety as well.
It is also important to keep the mind busy and distracted while home alone. One way to do this is with long-lasting treats, puzzle toys, or calming music. Nuzzle’s no-fee GPS activity collar allows you to stay in constant contact with your dog when you are away. You will be able to tell where they are and what they are doing. So you can see if they are resting, playing, or exploring to monitor key statistics and potential signs of anxiety while you can’t be with them. With Nuzzle, you can be there for them even when you can’t be there with them. And that peace of mind, will help us manage an anxious dog with more confidence.
Make Traveling Routine
It is not unusual for a dog to have some fear when it comes to riding in the car. If they don’t go often, a car trip might mean only one of two things for the dog— the vet, or the groomer. It is important to create a positive association with the car so anxiety doesn’t mount immediately when you set out together. Take your dog for short, fun trips around the neighborhood, to the park, to the store. Go on trips that have your dog’s idea of a happy ending to change their association with the car.
Beyond associations and conditioning, make sure your dog is safely secured in the vehicle, in a harness, carseat, or crate. If you’ve seen success with compression shirts, you can bring one on car trips as well. Some dogs, just like us humans, get motion sickness. Keep an eye out for signs that your dog is feeling a little green. You can help by keeping trips as short as possible, keeping your dog steady in the seat or crate and facing forward, and by cracking the window for them.
Make Grooming A Bonding Experience
It is an age old question— who hates nail trimming more, the human or the dog? It’s not the most fun experience, but it can be relaxing and easy. If you take things slowly and gently, mixing in grooming with rewards, you will reduce a key moment of anxiety. If your dog already has fear surrounding grooming, start at the very beginning. Lay them down and slowly and gently handle the paws, ears, and tail. Peek in to see the teeth, without touching and brushing. All movements at a low energy level to avoid any disruption. You will also benefit from choosing grooming times that coincide with a sleepy pup. Perhaps the best time to groom your dog is after a walk or playtime so they are relaxed and without built-up energy.
Nails and teeth can be the trickiest and the most anxiety inducing. For nails, start with just one or two at a time and barely trim them so the motion is as quick and careful as possible. Once you and your dog become more confident that this process doesn’t need to hurt, it will get easier to do all sets of nails. When it comes to brushing your dogs teeth, look before you touch. Just lift your dogs lips up and look and then end the exercise. This will ease you both into the process. Next, you can brush with just your finger before adding a finger brush and paste.
Make Vet Visits A Social Call
The Bayer Veterinary Health Care Usage Study found that people whose pets are afraid of the vet, don’t want to bring them to seek care. These dogs and their people abstain from veterinary care. This is dangerous for your pet. Trying bringing them by just to say hello and grab a treat from the front desk and a pet from the doctors and then leaving. The more your dog feels the vet’s office is safe, even sociable, place, the easier it will be to get them there calmly when they really need it.
Look For These Signs Of Anxiety In Your Dog
- Licking His Chops
- Standing Still In Place
All of these signs of anxiety give you the window to adjust. Take a step back and calm yourself and the dog before moving forward. Our dogs look to us for how to behave in any new situation and we have the opportunity to calm their fears and their anxiety by reframing their triggers.