Calming Your Nervous Dog: A Complete Overview
Is your pet acting nervous or anxious? This can come seemingly out of nowhere and become a big concern. After all, you love your dog and want them to be happy and healthy. Seeing them dealing with nervousness or anxiousness can be an upsetting experience. At Innovetpet, we understand the concern and love that pet parents have for their pets.
Having a pet that is nervous isn't anything unusual. Many dogs get nervous for various reasons. Sometimes, even a dog that is ordinarily calm will experience nervousness. If you notice your furry friend is displaying neurotic behavior, you may be wondering what you can do to calm them down.
There are some common reasons for dogs to have nervousness and it's imperative for dog owners to learn about them so that they can try and remedy the issue effectively. The causes of nervousness in dogs are varied, and we will go over them in the article so that pet parents can have as much knowledge as possible.
What Are Causes of Dog Nervousness?
The causes of dog nervousness are typically one or two types. Some nervous dogs have a behavioral cause. Others have situational nervousness. We will go over some of the most common causes of a dog being nervous.
Changes in The Environment
Environmental changes can really affect some dogs negatively. Many are afraid of changes in the environment like thunderstorms, weather changes, and more. If you notice that your dog becomes scared when a storm is coming or if the weather is different, then you may have a dog that becomes nervous when there are significant changes in the environment. Noticing this change in their behavior can help you in the future for calming your nervous dog down.
Another type of environmental change that can affect dogs is moving into a different home. If your dog is used to one home and you move to another, it could be a big change for them. They have to get used to the lay of the land, so to speak. It can cause a lot of anxiety and nervousness as they don't really know what is going on and why they are in a new place. They may miss their old home and their familiar stomping grounds. This can happen to dogs just as it does in humans! Many people feel anxiety when they are moving to a new house or a new city. Our dogs can feel the very same way.
Strange Sounds Or Loud Noise
Perhaps one of the most well-known causes of dog nervousness is a loud noise. Many pet parents have experienced their dog getting very anxious during fireworks displays. Also, vacuum cleaners are a common loud noise that scares some dogs into anxiousness. Other things that can cause a dog to become nervous is kitchen appliances, gardening tools, and airplanes.
Dog Nervousness With Anxious Owners
A dog can experience nervousness when their owners are anxious. A person that has anxiety or a nervous situation can affect their pet. Some dogs sense when their pet parents are anxious, and that causes them to be nervous as well. They care about their pet parents as much as they care about them. So, it is understandable that dog nervousness can come about if their owner is experiencing the emotions of anxiety. This would be a form of situational anxiety for a pet.
Separation Anxiety In Dogs
Pet parents typically have to go to work during the day. Some even have to work during the evenings or night shifts. Bills have to be paid, and humans understand that. However, dogs do not understand why their pet parents are leaving them alone. Dogs can experience separation anxiety when their pet parents leave them alone. They will begin to bark, whine, or whimper and act quite upset and nervous if they have separation anxiety. Some dogs will even destroy property and act out a bit violently. It seems to get worse the longer that pet parents are gone.
Dog Nervousness in Social Settings
A dog can experience nervousness in social settings just like a human does. The term most give this is social anxiety. For example, dogs can get social anxiety when around dogs that they aren't familiar with on a regular basis. Scenarios where this commonly occurs is in dog parks or when on a walk in the neighborhood or area. Some dogs even get social anxiety when meeting new people that they aren't used to. It happens more than people realize. They will often begin displaying nervous behaviors if they have social anxiety when in those situations where they are meeting new dogs or new humans.
Dogs and Travel Anxiety
Just like humans, some dogs just really do not like traveling. Dogs can get travel anxiety and experience vast nervousness before a trip. Travel anxiety in dogs can occur when going into a car, a plane, and any other mode of transportation. They may display nervous symptoms like drooling, barking excessively, whining, and panting. Some dogs with travel anxiety can even get car sick. Car sickness in dogs could result in nausea and vomiting. Pet parents will usually be able to tell if their dog has travel anxiety quite easily. They will act in a way that is not their normal, and some of the symptoms will be noticeable right away.
Knowing what the most common symptoms of a nervous dog are can really assist pet parents in figuring out if their dog is experiencing nervousness or not.
Most Common Symptoms of a Nervous Dog
- Excessive barking and howling
- Chewing unusually
- Howling and barking more than usual
- Excessive whining
- Digging and/or scratching
- Excessive Licking
- Trembling or body shakes
- Panting or drooling excessively
If your dog is experiencing some of the common symptoms of nervousness, you may be wondering what you can do to help. There are some natural remedies to calming a nervous dog that can make a big difference in the well-being of your beloved furry pal. Pet parents want to do everything they can to make their pet feel better. Natural options for nervous dogs are a good idea as they are usually relatively simple to apply, contain no chemicals that many common medications do, and are often free or low-cost.
Severe Anxiety in Dogs
If your dog is experiencing severe anxiety, then you may want to visit your trusted vet. Severe anxiety in dogs that is making it extremely tough for them to function normally on a daily basis is very hard to deal with. Just as a person can have severe and diagnosed anxiety, a dog can also have clinical anxiety. It is very difficult for a pet parent to tell if their dog has a severe case. After all, our furry friends cannot tell us how they are feeling.
Making an appointment with a veterinarian will be crucial if your pet is having severe anxiety. They will want to go over a complete medical history of your pet and will ask for any symptoms that they have been displaying. They may work with you to figure out if anything is triggering their anxiety and work to lower the chances of those triggers affecting your dog. Sometimes, they will perform a blood test on your dog's blood to determine if there is anything else that could be wrong with your pet that is related to their health. For example, they could have a vitamin deficiency or other health problem that is causing some of their behaviors. The veterinarian would then develop a treatment plan based on those results and inform you of what the next steps are.
Follow-up appointments are vital for any and all health problems that have been diagnosed. The veterinarian will want to see your dog measure how well they are doing and if the treatment plan is working the way it should. In severe cases of dog anxiety, they may prescribe an anti-anxiety medication. This would be something that you should discuss with your vet and research thoroughly. Some dogs can be helped with crate training, especially if they have travel or separation anxiety. It is important to listen to the veterinarian's advice and follow the recommended treatments.
Believe it or not, there are even dog behavioral therapists. Dog behavioral therapists use their education and skills to help your pet through their behavioral issues. They can work with nervous dogs or dogs with anxiety. They use various therapies with pets and develop a plan tailored to your particular pet. Some dogs can benefit from behavioral therapy with a pet therapist, and it is an excellent option for concerned pet parents.
They can also treat other behavioral issues. Behavioral dog therapists can also help with aggression, house training, destroying property, and much more. It is a good idea to consider if you can find one in your area with a great reputation and that is in your budget.
Calming a Nervous Dog With Natural Remedies
If you think that your dog is experiencing anxiety or having nervous moments, you can treat them with natural remedies. Natural remedies are popular now and becoming more and more a part of life for humans and animals. There are some proven and effective natural remedies that can help calm a nervous dog, and we will go over the various methods so that you can give your furry friend some relief from their anxiety.
Calm a Nervous Dog With The Distraction Method
A nervous dog that gets triggered in certain situations can be helped with the distraction method. It is when you use a distraction to divert the dog's attention from what is giving them nervousness to something else. An example of a distraction method that is great for dogs is playing with a toy that they love. Bringing out their favorite toy is a good method to distracting them from whatever is making them anxious. Other things that you can do are give them a treat that they enjoy, petting them, and speaking to them in a very calm and kind tone.
You can also distract them in ways that you know as their pet parent is sure to help. Any activities or things that they enjoy can really help in using the distraction method. You know your dog better than anyone else. Knowing what they like and enjoy is part of your job. So, use that knowledge to help distract your pet and get their mind off of their anxiety and nervousness.
Exercise To Help Calm Nervous Dogs
One of the most beneficial forms of natural anxiety relief is exercise. Dogs and humans alike can enjoy the benefits of exercise. There are endorphins that are released during an activity that can boost mood and help stabilize and balance hormones. It is very helpful for nervous dogs to get exercise as often as possible. The release of serotonin is really what can help balance hormones, and this will help balance moods and anxieties. Some dogs could benefit from exercise while they are experiencing nervousness as a way to calm nervous dogs. Types of exercise can be a nice walk in the neighborhood, a good run in the back yard and playing fetch outdoors to get their bodies moving. There are other ways of getting your dog exercise as well, and it is a smart idea to keep your mind open to different methods. Dogs are unique, and each may have an activity that they love more than others.
A great tip for people that live in apartments or homes without yards is to go to the local park. Many local parks allow leashed dogs to roam on walking trails and along the property. It is imperative to find out the rules for pets in the park before going. However, it could be very helpful in ensuring that your furry friend gets exercise. It can also help pet parents get exercise too! That way both you and your pet can get beneficial exercise that can even help you spend more time together at the same time.
Calming Your Nervous Dog With Massage
Calming your nervous dog with a massage is something that could really help. A good and relaxing massage feels good to most humans. The same feeling of relaxation and calmness can occur in dogs, too. Pet parents should use soft, calming strokes on the dog's body and speak to them in a calming tone while giving the massage. It really works well for many dogs and is an excellent natural option for calming your nervous dog that you can do anywhere and at any time.
Music For Dog Nervousness and Anxiety
Have you ever had a bad day and found you felt much better after listening to some of your favorite music? If so, you will be pleased to know that music can also help your anxious pet. Music is a natural remedy for a nervous dog. Soft music is one of the best choices to help with calmness in dogs. For example, slow jazz or classical music are excellent options for dogs that need to calm down.
Having some good music at the ready for road trips is helpful for dogs with travel anxiety. Pet parents could add some to their playlist before a trip if your furry friend is coming along. Dogs that feel separation anxiety when their owners leave could be soothed with music, too. A good tip is to leave on a nearby radio playing soothing music for your pet to hear. This could help relax them and calm your nervous dog when you have to go to the house for a while.
CBD As a Natural Remedy To Calm Nervous Dogs
Pet parents don't always want to give their pets medications or products that are filled with chemicals. CBD Oil For Dogs is a natural product that is sourced from organic hemp extract. There is no THC, and therefore your dog will not get high from consuming this natural remedy. This is a common misconception, and one that we want to ensure is made clear for pet parents. It is specially formulated for dogs. It is entirely safe to give your dog. CBD has zero side effects for pet parents to worry about. This is excellent for pet parents that stress out about giving their dogs something with side effects or with added chemicals. CBD is all-natural, chemical-free, and has no side effects. Your dog will enjoy a true natural remedy for their nervous conditions. CBD has been gaining in popularity in recent years for helping humans with many health problems. This natural remedy has been shown in studies to improve conditions like nausea, anxiety, epilepsy, and inflammation. It has even been shown to help people that are going through cancer. These fantastic benefits also apply to dogs. Dogs that have anxiety and nervousness may benefit from CBD as a natural remedy.
Please do not ask for emergency or specific medical questions about your pets in the comments. Innovet Pet Products is unable to provide you with specific medical advice or counseling. A detailed physical exam, patient history, and an established veterinarian are required to provide specific medical advice. If you are worried that your pet requires emergency attention or if you have specific medical questions related to your pet’s current or chronic health conditions, please contact or visit your local/preferred veterinarian, an animal-specific poison control hotline, or your local emergency veterinary care center.
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Sara Redding Ochoa, DVM was raised in north Louisiana. She graduated from LA Tech in 2011 with a degree in animal science. She then moved to Grenada West Indies for veterinary school. She completed her clinical year at Louisiana State University and graduated in 2015 from St. George’s University. Since veterinary school she has been working at a small animal and exotic veterinary clinic in east Texas, where she has experience treating all species that walk in the hospital. In her free time, she likes to travel with her husband Greg, bake yummy desserts and spend time with her 4-legged fur kids, a dog Ruby, a cat Oliver James “OJ”, a rabbit BamBam and a tortoise MonkeyMan.
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The Innovet Team