10 Ways How to Calm Dog Anxiety Naturally

Filed in Dog Health on April 23, 2022

How to Calm Dog Anxiety Naturally

Anxiety is a very common problem for household dogs, affecting more than 70% of dogs.

Some dogs are chronically anxious, while others experience anxiety only in particular situations like with thunderstorms, for example.

While medication can be effective, it sometimes comes with unwanted side effects. Instead, you may be more interested in a more natural solution.

In this blog post, I’ll discuss 10 ways how to calm dog anxiety naturally.

Keep in mind, that every dog is different and you should speak to your vet about your dog’s specific situation.

My Top 10 Ways How to Calm Dog Anxiety Naturally

1. Chew Toys and Food-Distributing Toys

My first recommendation is to try providing your dog with plenty of chew toys and food distributing toys. These can be a great way to relax your dog and calm them.

Food-distributing toys can be especially useful because they give your dog the opportunity to problem-solve as well as chew and lick.

Try a wide variety of different kinds of chew toys and food-distributing toys to see what works well for your dog.

Dogs find chewing to be naturally soothing. This is why destructive chewing is such a common problem for dogs that experience severe anxiety such as separation anxiety.

Dogs who have a lot of anxiety may also tend to lick themselves, you, or objects in their environment.

While destructive chewing and licking can be a serious issue, you can use the capacity of chewing to soothe your dog to your advantage.

2. Exercise

Two bulldogs running

Another top way how to calm dog anxiety naturally is through exercise. It releases endorphins that can make your dog happier and more relaxed.

Dogs that don’t get enough exercise every day may be more likely to experience hypersensitivity to noise and separation anxiety.

In fact, insufficient daily exercise is the largest environmental factor that causes these kinds of anxiety.

Plenty of exercise every day is very likely to make your dog less anxious and may even prevent severe anxiety disorders.

It’s more important that your dog gets enough exercise every day rather than how they get exercise.

The amount of exercise that your dog needs depends entirely on your dog. Very small dogs with low to moderate energy levels may get enough exercise playing in the house.

On the other hand, larger dogs or high energy dogs may need plenty of outside time to run and play.

Most dogs do not give themselves sufficient exercise on their own. It’s best to actively exercise your dog by going for a walk or run, playing a game of fetch or tug, or another activity.

3. Thundershirt or Other Pressure Wrap

Soft tissue pressure can alleviate anxiety in people and other animals. Studies indicate that products that place pressure on your dog’s body, such as the Thundershirt, may be effective.

You can choose the brand name Thundershirt or you can make your own pressure wrap using an Ace bandage wrapped appropriately.

Some dogs seem to respond very well to this kind of treatment, while for other dogs it’s less effective.

However, this is a simple and well-tolerated measure that works great to soothe many dogs, so it’s well worth trying.

4. Calming Beds

Calming beds are a simple way to relieve your dog’s anxiety, especially at night. A bed that makes your dog feel safe and comfortable can be a secure retreat when your dog is overwhelmed.

By the way, I wrote an article on the best anti-anxiety dog bed, if interested.

Beds that have faux fur and enable your dog to nestle into the edges can remind your dog of the comfort of snuggling with littermates, which can be intrinsically soothing.

Dogs naturally tend to seek out a den in which to sleep, so you’ll likely find that your dog responds best to a calming bed when it’s placed under something– like a table or under your own bed.

Placing the bed within a crate and putting something over the crate can also be very effective.

The bed should be somewhere that is dark, quiet, and won’t be interfered with by anyone else in the household, including other pets.

5. Music

Music for dogs can help with many issues including anxiety, sleep, barking, and stress.

Research has found that listening to music can be very soothing for your dog. Dogs seem to acclimate to music relatively quickly, eliminating the soothing effect. Therefore, it’s a good idea to play different genres.

In one study, dogs seemed significantly less stressed when listening to soft rock and reggae, but also responded very well to classical, Motown, and pop.

What may be more important than the type of music is offering some variability in the music.

6. Essential Oils

lavender oil and dried lavender herb

Essential oils are another common way how to calm dog anxiety naturally. They’re pretty easy to use and safe when used properly.

By the way, I wrote an article on the best essential oils to calm dogs if interested.

You can use them in an oil diffuser, topically or put onto your dog’s clothing or bedding.

Both lavender and chamomile have been found in studies to have benefits for calming anxious dogs. When used properly, there’s little risk involved, so this is a technique well worth considering.

7. Relax Yourself

One thing that most people overlook when finding ways to calm their dogs is how they themselves are feeling. In fact, your dogs can smell your emotions and will respond strongly to them.

If you’re afraid or anxious, your dog may be as well. This can quickly become a cycle, in which you feel anxious because you’re worried about your dog’s anxiety, which in turn causes your dog to feel more anxious.

The first step when you want your dog to calm down is to calm down yourself. Giving your dog things that smell like you when you’re happy can also be very calming for your dog.

Try putting a t-shirt you’ve been wearing or a blanket that’s been in your bed into your dog’s bed.

8. Petting and Massage

You’ve probably noticed that your dog seeks you out and wants to be pet and loved when they’re feeling anxious. Some trainers recommend that you not give affection when a dog is anxious since it’s rewarding the anxiety.

In fact, petting your dog is very likely to help them relax. Furthermore, petting your dog will help you to relax, which can help to eliminate the cycle in which your dog smells your anxiety and becomes more anxious themselves.

Massage works in the same way as petting, but may be even more effective by also releasing stress in the muscles.

9. Nosework

Dogs understand their world largely through their noses. However, when they’re very anxious, dogs may be less likely to use their noses in a natural way.

Nosework is a good way to jumpstart your dog into thinking and behaving naturally again. When a dog is busy following a scent, they don’t have the brain space to feel anxious.

This technique is particularly effective for dogs that naturally tend to be centered on the nose, like scent hounds, but it can work for any dog.

Furthermore, nosework gives your dog a job to do, which can make them feel more centered and at ease. Nosework is easy to do in your home or backyard, and it can double as a great way to give your dog some exercise.

10. Natural Supplements

CBD oil in a small glass bottle

There are a wide range of supplements advertised to reduce anxiety in dogs. While not all of them have studies backing their effectiveness, most have at least some anecdotal support.

It may be worth trying a natural supplement to see if it works for your dog. Here are a few of the supplements most likely to be effective for your dog:

  • CBD. CBD is popular for reducing anxiety in people and may also be useful for your dog. It seems to be well-tolerated, but please check with your vet.
  • Chamomile. Chamomile is not well-studied in dogs, but the smell of it seems to reduce anxiety in dogs. It is reasonable to think that consuming chamomile would reduce anxiety in dogs as well. It appears to be safe for dogs.
  • Valerian root. This root is often used by people as a sedative, and it may also be effective for calming dogs. However, it can have some negative interactions with some medications, so only use it with your veterinarian’s recommendation.
  • Melatonin. This is a popular hormone for helping people to sleep, and it may also make your dog more sleepy and relaxed. There aren’t many studies supporting it, but it’s often used to calm dogs and seems to be effective for many.

Conclusion on How to Calm Dog Anxiety Naturally

If your dog is struggling with anxiety, you’ll be glad to know that there are a lot of natural treatments that you can try.

These recommendations on how to calm dog anxiety naturally are fairly safe and mostly free of unwanted side effects–unlike the prescription medications that you may use otherwise.

It’s generally fine to use many of these techniques simultaneously. Experiment with different natural remedies and you are very likely to find one or more that works great for your dog.

However, I still recommend speaking with your vet to get advice specific to your dog’s situation.

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