Dogs are people too. And like people, they feel happiness, sorrow, and pain. Another thing that they constantly feel is anxiety. Despite their bouncy and resilient characters, dogs can easily get anxious and stressed when faced with certain situations.
There are telltale signs that your pet is distressed, such as trembling, whimpering, yawning, tucking in their tail, or trying to make themselves look small. Dogs can also display destructive behavior when they get antsy or bored.
If your dog does any of the things mentioned, know that they’re not reacting that way for no reason. To help ease their anxiety, you must first determine the source of it and provide your pet with healthy ways to cope with the feeling. Try these coping mechanisms with your pooch.
Take Away the Source
Taking away the source of their anxiety is the first thing you should to calm your dog. Many dogs don’t respond well to unfamiliar things or people. They also feel distressed when they’re exposed to something that they associate with something negative.
For example, dogs who have not been socialized enough as puppies will often be wary of strangers—both people and animals. If your dog displays a negative reaction toward unfamiliar things or people, try to keep it away from them. Forcing them to interact with a stressor will only make their anxiety worse. You must gradually and properly train them to be comfortable with the unfamiliar to help them get over their fear.
Distract Your Dog
If you can’t control or take away the stressor, you can try to distract them from it. A dog’s short attention span is both a blessing and a curse. In this case, it’s a blessing as you can use it to take their mind off what’s distressing them.
Toys are incredibly effective in distracting dogs. For instance, if you’re going on a long car ride and your dog starts to get antsy, you can give them an interactive toy to entertain them and ease their anxiety. You can also give them delicious and engaging treats, like bully sticks and safe chews, to keep them happy and distracted.
Create a Safe Space for Your Dog
Facing your fears isn’t always the best solution to get over something. Dogs don’t work like that. They need to be gradually conditioned and desensitized to shake off their fear or apprehension toward something. But when conditioning and distractions aren’t enough, what they need is a safe space where they can hide from the source of their fear and feel comforted.
You don’t have to go far to create a safe space for your dog. Kennels and cages are meant to confine pets to some degree, but they’re better used as personal havens for dogs. But most dogs don’t automatically like kennels or cages, so it’s up to you help them create a positive association toward them.
The most important thing you can do is to never ever use kennel time as punishment. This only creates a negative association.
Next is to make the space comfortable and fill with the things that your dog loves. You add a cushion inside, a blanket with your smell, and toys that your pooch loves. Your dog’s kennel should feel like home to them. After all, home is where you’re supposed to feel safe and loved.
Dogs have feelings—all animals do. They may not feel or express it the way people do, but that doesn’t mean they’re less important. A good owner knows to take their pet's feelings into consideration, especially when trying out new things. Pets, especially those that have gone through abuse, are easily afraid and distressed.
They can hide or lash out when they feel threatened. Scolding, yelling, or worse, hitting a distressed animal is never the proper response. As the owner, you need to know how to deescalate the situation and help your pet calm down. Your pet trusts you more than anyone else; you should prove that their faith in you isn’t misplaced.