Tips to help Anxious Dogs
Updated: Aug 15, 2021
Autumn and Winter are my favourites seasons of the year they include Halloween, Bonfire Night, Christmas and New Year all which come with celebration. They also usually come with Fireworks and decorative changes to our homes. All which can be stressful for our dogs. This year more than most, people will be celebrating at home potentially with fireworks purchased from supermarkets. How will this impact our pups?
Today in society it's becoming more well known and accepted that our dogs suffer from a range of anxieties. Chester and our family dog Maisy are both anxious in their own ways. For their health and wellbeing it's really important to try and understand what makes them anxious and where possible work them through it. However some dogs will always be anxious and you will only be able to mange that anxiety rather than removing it completely.
Anxiety in pets can manifest itself in lots of different ways, from the extremes of chewing/destruction or toileting in the house to excessive grooming to the more subtle signs of barking, panting or pining their ears back. It can also be for many different reasons, such as separation, fear of noise, being scared or in pain.
Chester suffers from separation anxiety. This form of anxiety in dogs is more common than you think. Every time you leave, your dogs have no idea when or if you’re coming back; every dog reacts differently to this situation, but some get worried and display anxious behaviour.
Maisy on the other hand is very noise sensitive, so fireworks, thunderstorms and even gun shots in shooting season make her anxious. This has been very difficult to deal with over the years and we have tried everything to help her cope.
Tips To Help Anxious Dogs
1. Pet Remedy
As I mentioned we have tried a number of methods and remedies to help Maisy cope with her anxiety and retried them when Chester displayed anxious behaviour. The most effective we have found is Pet Remedy calming spray! We have used Pet Remedy for a few years now. Initially we got the Plug-in to help Maisy deal with the seasonal Fireworks and kept it all year to help with her other anxieties. Then we began to use the spray in the car to help her cope with that fear. The Plug-in was already in use when Chester arrived and I have since used the wipes and spray in situation he finds difficult usually the vets (since the trauma of the chemical castration implant).
Pet Remedy has been our go to product and has helped us achieve our anxiety goals with the dogs. They have a fantastic starter Party Season Survival Kit which included the Plug-in and a mini spray. It will get you started and see if it works for your dog.
Pet Remedy works with the pet’s own natural calming mechanisms by mimicking GABA (gamma amino butyric acid) which is a natural calming agent present in all mammals, reptiles, and birds. The formulation is: Valerian oil based with small inclusions of Vetiver, Sweet Basil, and Clary Sage essential oils.
2. - Be calm (You the human)
This was my game changer with Chester. I used to get myself in knots trying to help him. It only made him worse because he was reacting to my anxiety and I was creating more reasons for him to be anxious. When you know your dog is going to be scared of something you can see coming it can be really hard to not get anxious yourself.
Once I knew that I was reinforcing the anxious behaviour by being anxious myself I immediately stopped, it's so important to keep calm and work on things to help the dog, when they know you're calm, not reacting to any of their anxious behaviour, it will help them to understand there's nothing to worry about.
*Throughout this time we also used Pet Remedy
3. - Address the stress
Once you know what your dog gets stressed and anxious about, then you can start to work on and reduce the stress they feel. Always set them up for success and not for failure, (I learnt this from an Instagram trainer and will admit when Chester was a pup I did understand the importance of this. I do now!) praise them when they show good behaviours and remember to keep calm yourself. Chester knows when i'm stressing as I will sign louder than normal, he coming running over and gives me a hug! Chester has never really been affected by Fireworks but last week one went off and he started barking at it. So we've started working on that already.
*Throughout this time we also used Pet Remedy
4. Prepare the Atmosphere for Stressful Nights
The sun is started to set on Halloween and we are getting Chester prepared for the evening. In the light of setting your dog up for success, you should also set them up to be as calm as possible on evening that potentially will have Fireworks going off! To help our dogs stay as calm as possible we do 4 things:
- Set up base in one room. Close all doors upstairs & downstairs minimising noise.
- Plug-in and spray Pet Remedy on bandana/bed.
- Have some long lasting chews on hand (Antler, Pluto, Yak, Kong)
- Play calming music where possible.
If your dog is very anxious make them a fort to feel safe.
Have a safe and calm Halloween! We'll be tucked up watching Hocus Pocus!
Thanks for reading
Sarah & Chester x