Just like humans, pets can have erratic emotional reactions to certain sounds and environments, and experiences, which is called pet anxiety. There is a common misconception that a pet with anxiety must have had a traumatic experience and that is the reason they get frightened, when they could just in fact be predisposed to that fear or anxiety.
Dealing with pet anxiety can be difficult, but there are things you can do to try and help ease your pets mind and your own. Every pet is different and that includes their reaction to their anxious emotions. Some pets cry, whimper, or shake and others may bark or act aggressively. Causes of anxiety range from fireworks and loud noises to separation anxiety when you are away from home.
Below is a list of tips to comfort your pet during times of stress.
Provide a Safe Space
Your pet is more likely to self soothe if they have a “safe space” they can escape the sound or interaction that is causing them stress. Allowing them their own private time to calm down and quiet space is an important step in ensuring they feel secure. Some pets, especially those with separation anxiety, may still want you near them during times of stress as your presence will reassure their comfort. No one knows your pet better than you. Follow your gut when it comes to helping them overcome mental discomfort and help them work through it. These instances will not only help them react calmer in the future but will also heighten your pet/owner bond.
As simple as it sounds, redirecting your pet’s attention to a toy or treat can reduce or even take away their tension and stress completely. Gaining your pets total focus on a positive interaction can help them cope with their emotions and bring them back to a normal emotional state. Stay engaged with them through talk and play as long as their stressors are present to keep them calm.
Some examples would be playing tug-of-war with a tug toy, or instructing simple commands for small rewards such as training treats, or offering a fillable toy such as a KONG loaded with their favorite flavor of filling. Lick mats, and teaser toys are also great distraction tools.
Another option worth mentioning if your pet is triggered by sounds would be a white noise machine. White noise can drown out those scary sounds like thunder or fireworks. Free apps are available for use on any type of smart phone, to use right when the need arises.
When your pooch is feeling anxious, it can create a lot of energy inside their bodies they can’t always control! With all that energy and nowhere to direct it, this can cause your dog’s behavior to change… And, not for the better! Luckily, just like us humans, exercise can relieve stress and tension for our dogs, too! When you know your dog is about to have a stressful episode or if actively anxious, take them for a walk or throw a ball in the yard for them to chase.
When your dog is feeling anxious, it can create a lot of energy they cannot always control. Which is why your dog may pace back and forth or get up and down off furniture when they are stressed. Exercise can relieve tension and stress, just like it does in humans. If you expect a trigger or even if your pet is currently in a fearful state, take your dog on a walk or play fetch. However, if their stressor is outside, do not take your pet outside closer to the trigger. You can stay active with them inside. Leash up and walk down the hallway or around the kitchen table. A tired dog is a calm dog.
If the above steps are not quite doing the tick, or you are not always able to be with your pet during stressful situations, you may want to consider a supplement. There are several safe and effective supplements available over the counter to help your pet with anxiety. CBD oils and treats are an all-natural option. Make sure you choose a reputable brand to ensure quality of ingredients.
Pet parents have started turning to CBD for a number of reasons, and one of them is to promote relaxation in their dogs. It’s a perfect, holistic option for those who may need to calm down a dog or a hyper puppy or who want to help their dog cope with external stresses. The best part is that CBD has little to no side effects, with most dog owners reporting nothing more than slight lethargy when CBD is first introduced. For more information on the CBD products we carry by Honest Paws, click here.
Do not punish fearful or anxious behavior
Punishment should not be used to correct undesirable behavior. Some pets may see it as a form of reinforcement, while others will become increasingly more fearful or aggressive. The best strategy is a combination of avoiding the “scary thing” (getting farther away from it) and then helping the dog to associate it from a distance with good things. The goal should always be to increase your pet’s confidence and decrease his worries.
UPCO has a knowledgeable staff with years of experience to help you find a solution that works best for you and your furry friend. Do you have a blog idea or story to share you think would be helpful to our pet owner readers? Send it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
About UPCO Pet Supplies
Founded in 1952, UPCO® was one of the first retail animal supply companies in St. Joseph, MO. A third generation, family owned and operated company boasting a knowledgeable staff and offering products from over 700 brands. UPCO® provides both pet and farm supplies to the local community and throughout the U.S. via their website and mail order services. Primary focus on friendly customer service and low wholesale prices, they are the animal supplier of choice, voted Reader’s Choice for the past 12 years.
Located at 3705 Pear Street, Saint Joseph, MO 64503