How to Calm an Anxious Dog
10 July, 2012
My friend Susan has a dog that she adopted that she loves with all her heart. He has been doing really well around the house, likes the other pets and is even OK with new people. But, he tends to be anxious as he learns to adapt to his new surroundings.
The symptoms of an anxious dog vary but can include pacing, barking, licking constantly, or urinating in the house. Some causes for anxiety include separation from owners, loud noises, a new home or unknown causes. Some breeds of dogs tend to be more anxious than others. And, it is very common for a newly adopted dog to be anxious.
Below are some tips to help you calm an anxious dog:
Exercise your dog regularly
Exercise your dog on a regular basis especially before you leave the house each day. What seems like anxiety could just be boredom which often leads to the undesirable behavior such as chewing on furniture or shoes. Walk your dog for a half hour at least once a day, two or three times if possible.
Practice short times of separation
Practice short times of separation. Say “I’ll be back” and walk out the door, then walk back in. A little later, repeat the same thing, but stay outside for a little longer. Slowly increase the times you are gone and the dog will learn to associate “I’ll be back” with your short return, helping to minimize its anxiety.
Giver your dog a toy distraction
Give your dog a toy to chew on especially when you leave the house. The Kong is a very popular toy among dogs; it is a rubber toy that you put treats inside. The dog has to chew and play with the Kong to get to the treats. This activity usually preoccupies the dog and will make him or her less likely to go back to the anxious behavior.
Try to ignore your dog when you first arrive home
I know that this is a difficult one, but if you ignore your pup when you first get home, he or she will be calmer. And, conversely, if you make a fuss over your dog, it reinforces the negative behaviors that are symptoms of his or her anxiety. Just wait a few minutes and then give your dog a treat when he or she settles down.
Crate training is an option
Consider crating your dog when you leave the house or during times of stress such as when company visits. Some dogs actually like a close, confined space with water, toys and blankets. It makes them feel as if they have their own cave or home. If you make the crate comfortable, your dog very well could enjoy it.
If all of the above doesn’t seem to alleviate your dog’s anxiety, then it is time to take your dog to the vet. Some anxious dogs might need medication to treat their anxiety. Usually the medication is given every day to help dogs deal with a daily separation anxiety they might have.
I hope these tips help. If you spend time with your dog and teach him how to be more assured and trust that you will be back, his or her anxiety should lessen.