LIFE

How to Help Your Anxious Dog

Plenty of humans get anxiety, but so do our beloved furry friends. And like humans, dogs often have unhealthy coping mechanisms for their anxiety — but with a little love and care, they can get the support they need.

Dogs will always benefit from a healthy diet and plenty of toys and entertainment — which you can receive a monthly dose of with BoxDog's subscription boxes — and attention and love and care. But depending on your dog's specific kind of anxiety, you might try some different approaches.

Different Types of Dog Anxiety

Dogs can suffer from a variety of kinds of anxiety, like humans. For example, some dogs suffer from separation anxiety, which can stem from fear of being without humans (and all the food and toys and love we provide). Some dogs also suffer from a fear of loud noises, and others struggle with changes in environment. Some dogs display behaviors like resource guarding if they're anxious about their toys or food being taken away. This can stem from experiences in puppyhood and can lead to a variety of responses.

Anxious dogs might display their fears by barking or howling, shivering, digging, not eating, panting, pacing, showing whites of the eyes, or even licking their lips. It's important to take note of your dog's anxiety early so you can treat it more effectively.

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How to Treat Dog Anxiety

Exercise

Doggos need to let loose like humans, so make sure you're walking and running your dog! Toss this fluffy football with them (it even floats in water so you can take your dog for a swim)! If your dog especially struggles with separation anxiety, it's a good idea to hire a dog walker if you're going to be away for a long period of time. If you get anxiety that the walker might not find everything your dog needs (treats, toys, poop bags?), then maybe invest in a Dog Adventure Pack for your pup's adventures outside.

A Furry Friend

Dogs need companionship, so if your dog is going to be alone for a while it's a great time to get them another companion. "If the separation anxiety came about from the dog losing a companion, and the dog is used to having another dog around all the time … getting another dog can solve it," says animal behaviorist Dr. Kate Mornement.

Music and Aromatherapy

Dogs have a great sense of hearing and smell, so you could try to treat their anxiety with some music therapy or aromatherapy. Classical music, particularly harp, can be relaxing for humans and dogs. Consider trying these anti-anxiety tracks:

  • Through A Dog's Ear by pianist Lisa Spector and psychoacoustics researcher Joshua Leeds
  • Noah's Harp: Surrender by Susan Raimond
You could also get an aromatherapy diffuser, like the Adaptil Home Diffuser, which releases "dog-appeasing" pheromones. Or try the Thundercloud, a tool that plays relaxing music and sounds while also releasing relaxing scents.

Medication

Just like with humans, sometimes it's important to solicit professional assistance for dog-related issues. Dogs can be given anxiety medication to take the edge off. If your dog struggles with anxiety about thunderstorms, for example, you could get a prescription for a sedative.

If you're not ready to go the sedative route, there are options for supplements like dog CBD, or anti-anxiety treats that contain L-Theanine, melatonin, and other relaxing additives.

Behavioral Training

Sedatives won't fix the underlying issue, though, so your dog might also need some therapy in the form of behavioral training, which can help them overcome their anxieties. For example, if your dog struggles with separation anxiety, they'll need to learn to break their association being alone with fear. You could give your dog puzzles or toys (like the ones that come in BoxDog!) to keep them entertained while they're alone.

Baby steps are also important. You could start by going out for short periods of time, then gradually increasing the amount of time you're away, for example. If the dog is afraid of getting in the car, start by just having them enter the car one day (and then give them a treat), then take them on a very short drive, and so forth.

And of course, like humans, dogs always benefit from some cuddling and pats. We all need love, whether that's being spoiled by gifts in a subscription box just for us or being held tight when the world feels like it's too much. A monthly subscription through Boxdog is as low as $35 a month, plus free shipping.

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