Dogs, like humans, can become stressed and anxious for several reasons. But when your dog is in the middle of a stressful episode, or you notice it doing things out of the ordinary, how can you help your canine buddy? Sometimes, stress comes from a lack of nutrition, which is simple to fix, but what if the stress is from something else?
Here’s how to calm a stressed dog:
If your dog seems more restless than usual, or you’re unable to calm your dog down, stick around. This article will address why your dog might be stressed and simple methods you can use right now to calm down your buddy.
1. Establish Trust Through Obedience Training
You might have adopted a rescue dog, or perhaps your dog is still very young. At any rate, a dog will only obey you if they trust you. So how does that relate to calming a stressed dog?
Sometimes, stress in pets can stem from not knowing if they can trust you or not. One way to help calm your dog is to establish trust through obedience training. Since many behaviors and mental health issues stem from a chaotic and untrained pet, training your dog to calm down on cue can work wonders in your stressed buddy.
According to the American Kennel Club, obedience training can “prevent and manage” anxiety in your dog, and it gives you a tool to use when your dog gets out of control. And if they are trained to come to you, no matter the situation, you’ll be able to calm them during any stressful situation better.
Bottom line: Your dog might be stressed due to a few trust issues. If you train your dog to obey and trust you, you’ll have a much easier time calming it down when it becomes stressed.
2. Evaluate Your Dog’s Nutrition For Areas To Improve
Like you, your dog sometimes has gaps in its nutrition and needs a little help. Poor nutrition creates stress in your dog’s body as it tries to keep the dog alive without the required vitamins and minerals.
If your dog is stressed, you’ll need to evaluate its diet to see any gaps you can fill. Most gaps can be filled in with chewable supplements made for dogs, such as this supplement. It has a delicious beef flavor that dogs love, and it contains the following nutrients:
- All the essential B vitamins
- Vitamins A & C
- MSM and Glucosamine for joint health
- Choline for eye health
- Fish oil for heart health
Dogs, like humans, become stressed when they don’t feel well or when their joints or muscles ache. You’ll be able to tell when your dog’s nutrition isn’t so great, especially if your canine buddy isn’t as lively as he once wasn’t. Or, if your dog is in pain, he probably needs something to help lubricate the joints.
Bottom line: Your dog might be stressed because it isn’t getting enough nutrition through the diet. Change up the diet and add a daily supplement from Plush Paws to fill the nutrition gaps.
3. Take Your Dog Out For a Walk Daily
Many dogs are very active and need daily exercise to work off stress and anxiety. If you don’t take your dog out to run or walk daily, your dog gets more stressed and will act out inside your home. This might look like:
- Chewing on your favorite pair of shoes.
- Peeing on the floor.
- Destroying everything in your house.
- Whining or barking when nothing else is wrong.
If your dog is doing any number of these things, it might signify that it needs more exercise in its daily routine.
Bottom line: If your dog isn’t getting enough exercise, it will become stressed. Take your canine buddy out daily, and give yourself a little exercise too.
4. Massage Your Dog’s Muscles
Like you, your dog gets muscle pain and joint aches that can cause stress. If your dog is in pain, it will keep trying to find a comfortable position to rest.
But you can help relieve some of that pain through light to medium massage.
Start at your dog’s neck and work your way down with long strokes. As you work down your dog’s body, apply light pressure to see how your canine buddy reacts. If it responds favorably, then continue massaging your dog’s muscles. If it doesn’t, then back off and see what else is wrong.
Also, while you’re working on your dog’s muscles, try to feel if there is anything out of the ordinary, such as a broken bone or a lump of some sort. When your dog flinches or yelps, it might be a sign there is some pain. Contact a vet if you think something is wrong.
Bottom line: Your dog might be stressed from muscle aches and pains. Give your buddy a massage to see if that can help. It can also help you relax after a long day.
5. Avoid Situations That Trigger Stress and Anxiety
Like you, your dog might have situations or places that can trigger stress and anxiety. This might include places such as:
- The dog park
- The vet’s office
- The groomer’s salon
- At a friend’s home
These places might trigger stress because your dog might have had a bad experience there, or maybe it senses something that isn’t right every time you’re there. When your dog experiences stress in these situations, you may want to rethink taking your dog there.
You won’t be able to avoid the vet or the groomer’s salon all the time, especially if your dog has specific health issues or needs frequent grooming.
But, instead of the dog park, try taking your dog on a walk to a normal park. Or, maybe take your dog to the woods to let it explore. You also don’t want to take your dog to a friend’s home if this triggers stress.
Bottom line: Your dog can become stressed in certain situations or places. If you know which places your dog doesn’t like, you can either avoid those places or try to prepare for the stress if you can’t, such as when going to the vet.
6. Try Compression Wraps
Like children who have anxiety, dogs can also experience this feeling. Both children and dogs benefit from compression blankets or wraps. The weight of the compression can help soothe a nervous dog, but it seems no one knows why.
Veterinarians have mixed feelings about compression vests for dogs, as some vets say they work wonders on a stressed dog, while others say it makes the situation worse.
The reason for it working might be a learned response. If you put a compression vest on your dog when it is stressed and hold him while he calms down, he will learn to associate that feeling with calm and closeness to you.
However, on the other hand, if dogs and their parents depend on compression vests for calming down every time, then nothing else might work. Still, if you find that nothing else works for calming your pup, try wrapping him up in a tight blanket and see how it goes.
Bottom line: Compression wraps can help your stressed dog calm down, but you don’t want to rely on them all the time. While you can try it, you might want to try other methods first.
7. Create a Safe Space For Your Dog With an Old T-Shirt
We all need a safe space every now and then, and your canine buddy is no exception. When stressed, your dog has an instinct to retreat until the threat or stress is over.
To calm your dog, you might want to create a safe space in an area of your house that is away from the activities of the rest of the household. Find one of your old t-shirts with your smell because this will help your dog associate the space with you. It will feel safe and secure in that area.
To create the area, take the following steps:
- Clean a corner of your house away from the daily activities and routines.
- Place a soft folded blanket in the area and arrange it into a bed for your dog.
- Lay down one of your t-shirts on top of the blanket.
- Add a few of your dog’s favorite toys.
- Lead your dog over there to see what he thinks.
Once you have your dog’s safe space set up, he will more than likely go over to this safe space to recover whenever he is stressed.
If you’re taking your dog to a park and your buddy becomes stressed, you’ll need to create a safe space in your car. Before putting down your old t-shirt, be sure to lay a seat cover down first to protect your car’s interior.
This rear seat cover can protect both the seat and back, so if your canine buddy starts ripping the fabric, your car seat is fine.
Bottom line: Your scent goes a long way in calming your dog when stressed. If you set up a space where your dog can go to feel better while you’re gone, it can keep him from destroying your favorite shoes later.
8. Play Soothing Music When Your Dog Is Anxious
While this might sound a little odd, soothing music helps calm your dog down when stressed. Classical music is the best choice for soothing your pup, even though you might enjoy metal. Bach, Mozart, or other classical composers are best for settling your dog due to how calming and soothing the musical beats are.
Your dog can sense your emotions, which in turn can cause them stress if you’re showing that you’re overwhelmed.
Bottom line: Dogs can benefit from classical music when they are stressed, just like you benefit from your favorite music when you’re stressed. You can find any of this music online through streaming services or find CDs that you can play on any CD player. When your pup is stressed, pull out that and press play.
9. Contact Your Veterinarian For More Assistance
If you’ve tried all of these ideas and your dog is still stressed out for some reason, you might want to call your veterinarian for further assistance. There might be something wrong that warrants an examination, such as an undiagnosed disease or infection.
For example, your dog could be experiencing pain due to an infection that might need antibiotics. The only way you’ll find out is if you take it to the vet for a checkup.
Stress doesn’t just come from outside stimuli but rather from inside your dog’s body. Diseases, or even a cold, can cause pain, which might make your dog act out negatively. So calling your vet can help you decide which way you need to go to help calm your stressed dog.
Bottom line: Stress in your dog might result from some internal issue that needs to be treated by a veterinarian. If nothing else works, call your vet for more assistance.
It can be scary, frustrating, or even upsetting when your dog is stressed, and if you don’t know what to do, it can be even worse. When you apply the actions addressed in this article, you can bring your dog’s stress level to a more manageable level and create a calmer dog.
One thing not mentioned in this article is that if all else fails, you might try finding an animal psychologist who can help you find the cause of your dog’s stress levels. After discovering this, you can take steps to ease your dog’s stress.
Here at Plush Paws, we know how important it is for you to help your dog stay calm and comfortable. With our line of dog-focused products, it’s easier than ever to give them the best environment possible, whether at home or on the go. Browse our selection today!
- Bustle: 7 Ways To Help Stressed Dogs Calm Down Naturally
- PetMD: Dog Anxiety Help: How To Calm Down an Anxious Dog
- American Kennel Club: Understanding, Preventing, and Treating Dog Anxiety
- Central California SPCA: 7 Proven Ways To Calm Your Anxious Dog
- Veterinary Practice: Evidence For the Use Of Pressure Vests In Dogs