There are all kinds of circumstances in the life of a dog that can cause his anxiety levels to rise, and no loving pet owner likes to see their dog nervous or frightened. That’s why there are natural dog calming products available, so we can help our canine best friends handle these situations with ease.
Unfortunately, the older our precious pets get, the more predisposed they are to having anxiety attacks and often the cause of these episodes are not obvious to the dog owner.
We understand their skittish behavior in the case of fireworks or a thunderstorm. A visit to the vet can cause even the most happy-go-lucky pooch to shiver and shake. Traveling can be another cause of canine angst. Even the holidays with ringing doorbells and ‘intrusive’ guests can upset your dog’s normal routine and cause anxious behavior.
But sometimes our dog’s uneasiness just stumps even the most attentive dog parent, and we can’t help but wonder…
Why Is My Dog So Anxious?
Dog behavioral specialists classify canine anxiety disorder into 3 main types:
1.) Noise Anxiety ~ This would be the thunderstorms, fireworks, slamming doors, any sudden loud noise variety.
2.) Social Anxiety ~ This usually occurs when the dog hasn’t been properly socialized as a pup or a young dog. He becomes fearful and distrustful of strangers or anything unfamiliar. Whatever does not fit into his normal routine tends to cause uneasiness or agitation.
3.) Separation Anxiety ~ This happens when your dog is separated from you, or the family member he is closest to. I know from experience that this form of canine anxiety tends to get worse with age. The changes that come with advancing years make the geriatric dog much more ‘clingy’.
Of course, just because these are the 3 main classifications of anxiety in dogs does not mean that they occur totally independent of each other. Your dog may have varying degrees of all 3, or he may have just noise anxiety. Chances are, if your dog suffers from an anxious condition, you have a pretty good idea of what the main trigger is.
But whether we (as the protective pet parent) are aware of all the causes of apprehension in our canine kid or not, it’s fairly easy to read the signs of anxiety in your dog.
What Are Signs Of Anxiety In My Pet?
Canine anxiety manifests in certain behaviors in your dog, such as:
- Excessive uncontrollable barking. Your dog is nervous and excited and using his voice is a natural outlet for this energy. This also includes howling, moaning and whining. (Some dogs have very unique ways of expressing anxiety through their voice.)
- Pacing. He paces nervously back and forth or in a circle.
- Panting. Dogs usually pant to cool their body temperature down, but it is also a normal response to fear.
- Hiding. Where has he gone? Where could he be? If he’s not trying to hide under you, he could be under the bed, behind the couch, or in the tub behind the shower curtain.
- Trembling. Most dogs tremble and shake when cold, but this is also a response to tension or anxiety.
- Escape. In the midst of a thunderstorm, your precious pet tries to “escape” through open doors or windows; sometimes even through closed doors or windows. If an outdoor dog is left in a fenced yard during a storm or fireworks, he might attempt to escape over, under, or through the fence, not understanding that he isn’t escaping at all.
- Destructive behavior. Using the high-stress situation of a thunderstorm again, some dogs will engage in uncontrollably destructive behavior like ripping down curtains or blinds, upending small tables or potted plants, or chewing through stuff not meant to be chewed through.
- He becomes ‘clingy’. Whether he is a bull mastiff or a teacup poodle, in your lap is where he wants to be. This is a perfectly understandable response to his anxiety given that YOU are his everything, including his security.
Dog Calming Products ~ Help For His Fretful Episodes
What sort of natural solutions can we use to take the edge off the anxiety of our canine companions and effectively calm them down? We humans have discovered quite a few and have fashioned them into ways of soothing our faithful friends and bringing them as close as possible to a state of relaxed tranquility.
Scents: Any dog lover knows that the canine olfactory system (sense of smell) is much different and stronger than our own. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly how much stronger, and some breeds have a keener sense of smell than others. But suffice to say that it is a whole bunch stronger, given that they have 50 times the amount of smell receptors that we do. And the portion of the canine brain that analyzes scents is 40 times that of ours.
So what a great idea it is to use your dog’s amazing sense of smell for his calming purposes! Lavender and chamomile are two of the top scents known for promoting canine calmness with their stress reducing properties. There is an aromatherapy pet care spray product developed by Gerrard Larriett called DE-STRESS Lavender & Chamomile that cleans, freshens, and adds shine to your dog’s coat while easing his ruffled nerves.
Never underestimate the power of your own soothing voice and your own gentle touch. I would recommend that you spray this lavender and chamomile product on your dog and lightly brush it through his coat, all the while caressing him and speaking to him quietly and lovingly.
Music Therapy: Through a Dog’s Ear is a company created by Lisa Spector, a concert pianist (Juilliard graduate) who decided to combine her love of dogs with her love of music. She now also considers herself a canine music expert, and is the recording artist on the Through a Dog’s Ear music series. Her music has been clinically tested and proven to alleviate canine anxiety.
Thundershirts or Anti-Anxiety Vests: Frequently recommended by dog trainers and veterinarians, thundershirts work along the same lines as swaddling a newborn baby; by promoting a sense of security. The constant gentle pressure to specific pressure points on your dog’s body reduces or eliminates anxiety and produces a calming effect.
And a thundershirt is not just for thunderstorms or fireworks. It can be used to help your pet through any anxious situation, such as travel stress, unfamiliar visitors, a trip to the vet, or separation anxiety.
All Natural Calming Treats: A list of effective dog calming products would not be complete without naming the strategic combination of natural ingredients found in some very easy-to-give doggie treats!
First on my list is Zesty Paws’ Stress & Anxiety Calming Bites.
Although this company is fairly new, I’ve tried several different Zesty Paws formulas (dog and cat) and both my pets and I have been happy with the results.
These dog calming bites come in two non-drowsy formula flavors, peanut butter and turkey. If you don’t mind if your pampered pooch takes a much-needed snooze, you can get turkey + melatonin. Melatonin is a natural hormone that regulates the sleep/wake cycle.
Calming Collars: There are also dog calming collars available. These use your dog’s ‘scents-of-smell’ in the way described earlier. Calm Me Down Calming Collars emit the relaxing fragrances of lavender, chamomile and balsam from the collar over a period of 4 months to a year, depending on how often your dog needs to wear it.
I’ve never tried one of these but it seems very convenient, especially for the pet parent who is on the go much of the time. Just knowing you can leave him home alone with calming, soothing scents alleviates your worry too.
Always Remember ~ Your Dog Takes His Cues From You
Dog calming products are a wonderful way for us to help relieve our pets’ anxieties and assure them of a safe and happy home environment no matter what.
But never lose sight of the fact that your dog looks to you for most everything and when you are anxious, he picks up on that. The single most effective thing you can do to ease your dog’s anxiety is to be calm and serene yourself. If you can approach life with humor and a “that’s O.K., we can handle that” attitude, so will your dog!
Thank you for reading my stuff and please leave any comments, questions, rants, or observations below in the comment section!