You can always sense when there’s something bothering your dog. You know your fur-baby best, and you can tell when there’s something amiss. Dogs can suffer from anxiety and high levels of stress — just like the rest of us.
Our four-legged friends can’t simply tell us what’s bothering them and how to fix it. Also, unlike some of us, dogs can’t drink a glass of wine or take a chill pill. When your dog is feeling down, you want to help it feel happy anyway you can.
That means you sometimes have to play detective and get creative when it comes to soothing your pups. Whether your pet is afraid of loud noises or experiencing separation anxiety — I will teach you how to calm down a dog when it starts panicking.
How to Calm down a Dog in 11 Simple Steps
#1. Natural calming chews
These chews are made from natural ingredients and can help with your dog’s overall comfort and well-being. They can be used short-term as treats during scary times, for example, a thunderstorm or loud fireworks. However, there are also chews that are more long-lasting, these are used to keep your dog calm during stressful periods of time, like when you’re away.
Chewing can be quite soothing for dogs in general, and some natural chews and treats can contain essential oils to enhance this trait even further. They are perfectly safe for your pup and encourage good behavior and habits. Natural chews can also help with dogs that are always hyperactive or show some aggressive behavior.
#2. Give your dog the attention it deserves
Dogs love having all eyes on them, and they thrive on attention from their owners. They will act up if you don’t give them enough physical or mental stimulation. Dog toys aren’t just nice to have; they are an absolute must.
More often than not, a simple chew or fetch toy can be quite effective as long as you take the time to play with your pup. There are also a lot of fun puzzle games you can get, such as a hide-and-seek squirrel or a dog flip board. They are quite interactive and a great solution for older dogs that can’t handle too much physical activity, as well as the ones that like to play ruff.
#3. Crate train your dog
Crates are a controversial topic among dog owners and vets alike. However, they can be a great tool when you use them the right way. Crates shouldn’t be seen as a punishment or a place you force your dog in when you’re about to leave.
They can be a source of great comfort — if you teach your dog to like staying in them. With proper training, your dog will always look at the crate as its own little slice of heaven. Dogs can chew through almost anything, and ingest dangerous objects that can harm them; crates offer a safe space for your pet during stressful times.
#4. Massage your pup into Nirvana
Just like humans, dogs can experience the benefits of a good massage. This activity combines the comfort your dog feels when you pet it, with the stress-relieving properties of a regular massage. Rubbing your pup’s body for only 10–15 minutes will decrease its stress levels, and allow you two to have a nice bonding experience.
Simply apply a little bit of pressure to larger groups of muscles, such as thighs and shoulders. The gentle compressions will also allow blood and other fluids to circulate through your pet’s body more efficiently. Another great technique is gently rubbing your dog’s face and ears.
You can use aromatherapy to lower stress levels and treat your dog’s anxiety. There are balms and sprays you can use on your pet or around your house. You can even purchase a specialized scent that plugs into walls and emits aromas and pheromones that have calming properties.
Lavender is one of the most popular scents, but there are many other options available on the market. However, many commercial products are too strong and can even be toxic to your pet. Always make sure to choose products that are made to be used with dogs.
#6. Always be there for your pet
Dogs love the company of their humans and appreciate all of the attention you can give them. It’s important to comfort your dog when it feels stressed, especially during visits to the vet, or thunderstorms. You should always keep your dog’s company during events that you know typically make them feel anxious.
Most of the time, your dog will feel safer when you’re in the same room with it. You can try talking to it, petting or doing anything you can think of to distract it. Sometimes you don’t need to do anything, just be near your pet during tough times.
#7. Exercise does a body good
Almost anyone that suffers from anxiety disorders can tell you how much regular exercise can help reduce stress levels. Even though it isn’t a cure, physical activity can improve your dog’s overall mood and wellbeing. Depending on your time and level of physical fitness, you can choose from a wide range of activities, such as walking, running, or hiking.
Exercising is an essential part of having a healthy body and soul, and anxious dogs need it more than you can imagine. Next time you’re racking your brain trying to figure out how to calm down a dog, just put on its leash and get out there. You can choose to do a high-energy activity to get the juices flowing quickly, or opt for a long walk to kill time and drain stress levels.
#8. Try out some positive reinforcement
A calm dog doesn’t just happen overnight. You have to work with it over time in order to create a positive atmosphere and teach good habits. When your dog is being overly hyper, you shouldn’t immediately try to pet or soothe it. Coddling your pet in these situations will make it think that it’s doing something good when it’s acting out.
If you shower your pet with love when it’s being hyper or aggressive, it will expect to be rewarded for bad behavior in the future. Byyou simply ignoring your dog, you will prevent any future fits. Also, always reward your dog for being a good boy or girl.
#9. Good music makes for a well-behaved pup
We all have that one go-to song we listen to when we need to blow off some steam. Did you know that dogs can also find happiness in upbeat melodies? A recent study by Scotland’s Animal Welfare Charity has shown many benefits of playing reggae and rock in reducing a dog’s symptoms of stress.
Cheerful music can help reduce a dog’s cortisol levels and heart rate. There’s even a special type of music made for anxious dogs. Next time you aren’t sure how to calm down a dog that’s feeling stressed out — turn on the radio!
#10. Dress to reduce stress
You can buy shirts or vests that will apply pressure to lessen your dog’s fear, excitement, and anxiety levels. These clothes are a great way to soothe your dog without having to train it for long periods of time or medicating it. Moreover, they are great for rescue dogs that experience separation anxiety.
They apply gentle pressure and allow your dog to feel safe during vet visits, travel, or fireworks. The logic behind it is similar to swaddling an infant; they are perfectly safe to use and easy to put on.
#11. Remove all of the distractions
If you’re still not sure how to calm down a dog in the midst of a panic attack, try isolating it from the situation. You can put your pet in a dimly lit room, where it won’t experience any external stimulation. The separation isn’t meant to be seen as a punishment, just a safe space to relax and stay calm.
Also, physical touch is one of the best things you can give your dog when it’s stressing out. Petting your dog slowly or rubbing its belly while talking in a soothing voice can make all of the difference in the world. Before knowing how to calm down a dog, you also need to check your own stress levels as they can be a huge trigger.
It hurts seeing your beloved pet go through pain, and you should know how to calm down a dog during stressful events or periods of time. In this dog-eat-dog world, it’s important for your pup to always feel safe and comfortable in its own home, and around other people. Luckily there are many easy techniques you can try to make your dog feel comfortable.
Lastly, never leave your dog alone when it’s in a state of distress. Make sure to keep your pets company and be there for them when they need you, just like they’re there for you.