It’s extremely upsetting to watch a dog suffer with anxiety. They’re not able to relax, they develop nervous habits such as licking and paw chewing, they start being destructive to your home…and they ultimately become exhausted (and sometimes ill) as a result. If you’ve ever dealt with anxiety in your own life, you know how unpleasant it is to constantly feel anxious, nervous and fearful. Learning how to calm dogs with anxiety is crucial, for your dog’s health, and for you and your family.
Signs of Dog Anxiety
Some of the signs your dog has anxiety may include:
- Destructive behaviors
What Causes Dog Anxiety?
It can be helpful to understand what is causing your dog’s anxiety before you attempt to fix it. The three most common causes for dog anxiety are stress, phobias, and separation anxiety.
This is the most common cause of dog anxiety and can include any sort of stressful situation, even from their past. For example, a dog who has been attacked by another dog in the past might become anxious when visiting a dog park. It’s important to pay attention to your dog and take a good look at the situation whenever your dog starts to become anxious.
What is happening in this situation? What has changed in the environment to cause the dog to become anxious? In other words, “what is triggering this?”
This type of anxiety can be associated with a handful of triggers. Loud sounds such as fireworks are a common trigger. Or perhaps your dog was abused by a man in the past – this may cause your dog to gravitate toward women and get anxious when men are around.
Many dogs and puppies suffer from separation anxiety. But you may be surprised to learn the actual reason for this. Separation anxiety is typically triggered when your dog believes he is the boss of the household. So, when you leave the house, your dog thinks he’s responsible to manage things while you’re gone, and also worry about your safety while you’re away. Sounds strange? Think of it this way: What if it was your first day at a new job, when suddenly all of the staff leaves and you’re in charge of everything. You don’t know how anything works and you have no training.
How would you feel? Anxious? Yes! It’s extremely stressful when you’re put in a situation you don’t feel capable of handling. This is what causes separation anxiety in dogs. For more information about this, read my article, Helping Dogs Separation Anxiety – How to Teach a Dog to Stay Home Alone.
The good news is that the solution I’m about to share with you will solve your dog’s anxiety issues, regardless of the cause. The solution consists of five steps. The first is the most important, and the rest will ensure your success by reinforcing your dog’s ability to remain calm.
Step 1: Establish Yourself as the Household Provider
This is also commonly referred to as being the “pack leader.” This is crucial, because in order for your dog to feel calm and relaxed, he needs to be able to look to you for guidance and reassurance. When you’re able to convince your dog that you are the one in charge of providing food, protection and companionship, there’s no longer a reason for the dog to feel anxious.
How do you make your dog see you as the pack leader? Professional Dog Trainer and Behavioral Specialist, Doggy Dan, has developed a dog training program called, The Dog Calming Code. The program teaches you how to tap into the psychology of your dog so you can communicate with your dog in a way the dog will understand. The program is designed to train your dog in a gentle, kind way, and provides techniques to help you think like your dog and connect on a deeper level. Once you complete this program, your dog will look to you for guidance when it matters most.
This step is the most important. You MUST implement a solid training program that establishes you as the one in charge. This is non-negotiable. If you neglect this step, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to solve your dog’s anxiety issues.
Step 2: Use the Calm Freeze Technique
The calm freeze technique is simple, but powerful. It’s a way to show your dog that it’s ok to relax. Do these steps whenever your dog is starting to become anxious:
1. Take your dog under the collar (underhand…with your palm facing the sky). Do it gently…you may only need one finger. Sit with the dog if possible.
2. Stay calm. Think about pleasant things to calm yourself first.
3. While you’re sitting there calmly, ignore your dog. This part is crucial. Don’t speak to him, don’t touch him, and don’t look at him. Keep hold of him gently under the collar. As long as you remain calm and silent, he will eventually sit.
4. No words are necessary. You are transferring your calm energy to your dog. Eventually your dog will lie down. Keep hold of him for a bit until he is settled down and relaxed. Once he’s totally relaxed, you can let go of him.
Repeat this process as necessary. At first, it will take a few minutes or longer. But as your dog begins to trust you more and more, this process will become easier, shorter, and eventually you won’t need to do these steps anymore.
The calm freeze is all about transferring your calm energy to your dog. Dogs are incredibly aware…they pick up on energies, and if you’re stressed out and anxious your dog will be too! Show your dog quiet, calm energy. He’ll follow suit!
Step 3: Make Sure Your Dog is Getting Enough Exercise
Anxiety is, in reality, a type of energy. If your dog has too much energy, his anxiety will get worse. This is why daily exercise is so important. Just like with humans, exercise doesn’t just burn energy, it releases feel-good chemicals into your dog’s body. It’s amazing what a long walk in the park or tossing a ball around in the yard can do to help a dog (or a person!) relax.
If you know your dog is going to be encountering a trigger that normally makes him anxious (like a car ride or a trip to the vet), take him for a walk or play with him beforehand. It’ll help reduce the level of energy built up in his body. A walk or play time isn’t a cure-all for anxiety, but it really does help!
Step 4: Set Your Dog Up for Success
The best way to set your dog up for success is to NOT set him up for failure. If you know a particular event or situation typically causes anxiety for your dog, don’t put him in that situation or at least minimize it as much as possible. Never force your dog or push too hard or too fast. Doing so will do more harm than good. You have to first take the time to think about what’s triggering your dog’s anxiety, then set up a plan to ensure your dog feels safe and secure in that situation.
For example, if your dog is afraid of fireworks, don’t force him outside thinking he’ll get used to it. He likely won’t. Instead, set him up in a safe, quiet place in the house, perhaps in a bedroom away from windows to reduce the noise. When he feels safe and the noise isn’t as loud, it won’t seem as scary to him. Over time, and with The Dog Calming Code training in place, your dog can learn to overcome this fear and be more confident. Think about ways you can make stressful situations less scary for your dog while the two of you work through the program and build his confidence.
If your dog is having a particularly hard time, you may consider using a calming aid like CBD oil while you work on this issue. Doggy Dan recommends a natural CBD oil called Angel Oil. Learn more about the benefits of using Doggy Dan’s Angel Oil here. Of course, it’s ALWAYS important to talk to a vet before you introduce any form of medication or calming aid into your dog’s diet.
But don’t forget…
A CBD oil product is simply a training aid. It will NOT fix your dog’s anxiety issues in the long run. It’s simply a tool you can use to provide some temporary relief for your dog while you’re working on implementing a solid training program like The Dog Calming Code.
Anxiety in dogs is an upsetting and difficult issue. But if you’re willing to take the time and put in the effort to help your dog feel calm and relaxed, it CAN be solved. I recommend checking out Doggy Dan’s The Dog Calming Code. It’s not only the best way to cure a dog’s anxiety, but it’s also the best way to set the ground work for training your dog on every dog behavior issue. You can get more information about the program here, or go directly to purchase the program here:
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Information Source for this Article: 5 Methods for Overcoming Dog Anxiety by Doggy Dan
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