Ten Ways to Help a Nervous Dog
Updated: Apr 6
You love your dog and will do anything to help them feel safe and secure. Unfortunately, your dog can’t talk to you so you would have to be in tune with their behaviors. Some dogs may not be nervous dogs, but can suffer from situational anxiety.
For example: loud noises, large gatherings, strangers, thunderstorms, fireworks, doorbells (or a loud knock) or anything new can cause anxiety. As a result; they can snap, bark, or lash out. This can be very dangerous, especially around kids or other pets. The essential part of owning a dog (specifically rescue pets) is being able to tell when they are nervous, and what is causing the stress. Once you have figured out the missing puzzle pieces, then you can start to treat or repair them.
Lucky for you, we have some information to show you how you can tell if your dog is experiencing anxiety, and what you can do to alleviate that anxiety with your nervous canine.
HOW TO TELL IF YOUR DOG IS NERVOUS
POSTURE: The first thing to look at is your dog's posture. If they’re crouched down with their head lowered, shaking, and tail tucked between their legs; then they are experiences some level of stress. When this happens, make sure to approach your dog cautiously because a nervous dog can be unpredictable.
HIDING: Some dogs find comfort in hiding from their fear. You might notice your nervous dog goes underneath the bed; or tucks in a closet or bathroom. This might be a sign of anxiety (especially if there is a stimulus like thunder); it’s best to leave your dog alone, so they can relax.
SEEKING COMFORT: Some anxious dogs might want to seek comfort and affection from their human. Cuddling your pooch can provide security and support during a stressful event.
SHAKING: If your house is warm and your dog is trembling, then your dog is most likely scared. According to PetCareRx, shaking is a common sign of anxiety and should be taken seriously.
LICKING & CHEWING: When a dog licks or chews on a bone, it activates endorphins. Often times, when they are bored, they tend to chew because it helps alleviate anxiety. Whenever you see your dog randomly chewing with a fearful posture, then they are stressed or fearful.
BARKING & HOWLING: If a stranger rings the doorbell and your dog reacts by barking or howling, this indicates stress from the doorbell or the stranger. It’s also a way for the dog to warn their human that a threat is nearby.
AGGRESSION: It’s important to give an anxious dog some space; and avoid touching or grabbing them as a nervous dog is more likely to growl, snap, or bite. Unfortunately, this has led to accidents in the household where the humans are not aware of the signs of an anxious or nervous dog.
ESCAPING: Dogs that feel trapped are more likely to feel anxious; then feel the need to escape. For example, if you lock your dog in a kennel or room that is unfamiliar; they are likely to try to escape by chewing through locks or doors.
ENERGY: if your dog starts running, jumping and barking as a result of a stimulus such as a loud noise; then is may be a sign of anxiety. This surge of energy is a way for the dog to prepare for any danger so they can escape or fight against an obstacle.
DIARRHEA: If you have a well-mannered and housebroken dog; then notice poop everywhere, then there is a chance that your dog feels threatened. This could be a confusing sign because food poisoning and upset stomach can also cause diarrhea, so you want to rule out health issues first. If it is not any health concerns, then your pooch may be suffering from anxiety or stress. Keep in mind that stress can stimulate your dog's bowels, and leave an unintentional mess in the house.
DESTRUCTION: If you come home and find all of your furniture destroyed, then you may have an anxious dog. When the dog gets stressed out, they seek ways to alleviate the anxiety; like destroying things to unleash these feeling. It’s a little bit OCD because they chew, claw, and rip to mitigate that stressful situation that is always in their mind.
PANIC ATTACK: Just like humans, dogs get panic attacks. The panic attack can last from minutes to hours, and it could involve a variety of signs and signals. If you start seeing them pacing around, look out for these common signs of a panic attack: looking nervous, sweating, panting, committing self-injury and destroying things. This means that something is seriously bothering your dog and they need help right away.
If your nervous dog shows signs of stress and anxiety; it is best to find the cause and eliminate it. For example, if the doorbell causes extreme stress for your dog, then disconnect the doorbell. Unfortunately, there are cases where you can’t get rid of the stressor or the situation. For instance, you can not stop a thunderstorm. Luckily, you there are tips & tricks you can employ to help your dog enjoy life.
HELP YOUR NERVOUS DOG
You know your dog has anxiety and you know what is causing your dog stress. Listed below are Ten Amazing Strategies to help calm your nervous dog.
CLASSICAL MUSIC: Studies have shown that Beethoven and Mozart can help your dog relax. Next time your dog is stressed, turn on your music app to the classical music station. It’s best to have a comfortable bed with lots of blankets, so your dog can relax with the music.
MAT TRAINING: Mat Training is an effective way to alleviate anxiety. This will give your dog a safe space, within the environment. And your dog's mat can being taking to grandma's house.
MASSAGE: We all love massages, and so does your dog. This is a great time to bond, and to show them that you care. Start by gently patting and scratching his/her head and ears, and slowly massage their body. If you notice your dog gets calmer when you massage a certain area, then continue. This can instill trust between you and your dog.
KEEP CALM: Dogs are great at picking up on people's energy. If your dog is anxious, the best thing you can do is to relax and calm yourself. That way, your dog will feel safe and secure. This is important because your dog can follow your lead; pick up that calm energy and absorb it. Remember, you are the alpha or pack leader, and your dog is beta. That means the dog will feel maximum security and support if the pack leader is confident and calm.
BE CONSISTENT: Dogs strive in routine. If there is a slight change in their normal daily schedule, it can cause stress. This is why it’s important to gradually adjust your dog to any change. For example, if you are move to a new home, if may take your dog a week or two to adjust. The best thing to do is to keep your routine consistent to help your nervous dog adapt to the new environment.
TOUCH: Touch Therapy was originally used for horses, but because of its success, it has transitioned to dogs as well. This method involves a light massage technique in a clockwise circular motion. Touch Therapy helps to counteract adverse behaviors and to develop a comforting relationship between the human and the dog.
DISTANCE: If your dog is nervous about a certain object, then increase the distance between the object and the dog. You can gradually decrease the distance to help your dog adapt. This will let your dog know that the object will not hurt them and that it is safe to be around it.
ANXIETY WRAP: Anxiety Wrap (a.k.a. Thunder Vest) is an amazing invention. It’s a warm and comforting material that you wrap around the dog during a stressful situation. For example, if your dog is afraid of thunderstorms or a car ride, you can use the anxiety wrap to mitigate their stress. We purchased one at PetSmart for Libbey Dog to wear during car rides. It’s essential to make sure that you do not leave the wrap on them for an extended period of time. After all, this is only a temporary fix.
CBD: Food always makes us feel better, and it works the same with our dogs. When you see a dog getting nervous, you can bring him treats or a high value snack to calm them. There are dog treats that have CBD to help calm anxious dogs. If you are taking the dog on a car ride or an airplane, give them a couple of CBD dog treats to take the edge off from the travel. Usually, these dog treats have the proper feeding instruction to guide you. In addition, when your dog is eating or chewing, that motion can calm them.
YOGA: Yoga is not just for humans. There are plenty of places where you can bring your dog to yoga class. The instructor will teach you techniques that will relax both you and your dog. After all, your dog can sense your energy. Luckily, with doggy yoga, you can both relax and bond. After this activity, you guys can take a stroll to enjoy the fresh air and get some Vitamin D (make sure to hydrate).
A stressed dog is a dangerous dog. They can growl, bark, and bite. If you observe signs and symptoms of anxiety, it’s best to find out what is causing it. There could be a variety of reasons why your dog is nervous such as a change in location, car rides, thunderstorms, visitors, etc. Whatever the cause, you want to find ways to mitigate the stress. These ten strategies can help your nervous canine companion to relax and strengthen the relationship. After all, dogs are family, so you want to treat them like family. The best way to do that is to make sure they feel happy, safe, and secure.
Related: CBD Dog Treats and Pet Droppers