Dogs, like humans, get anxious. They sense a shift in their surroundings and respond according to their nature. Some canines are naturally laid back and can shake off the stress, with no problem. Others, however, internalize the anxiety and may shiver themselves into nervous collapse. Most veterinarians will offer a variety of medications to keep their patients on an even keel. The side effects of anti-anxiety medication may be worse than the symptoms of the condition. Natural alternatives may produce stronger results with less strain on a dog’s internal organs.
The practice of aromatherapy is as old as the hills and may be quite effective. Lavender is the most recommended for a calm environment. Some other scents to play with are rose, bergamot, and sandalwood. It’s best to stick with essential oils in their purest form, heated with a diffuser. Air fresheners may contain other additives and won’t achieve the same results.
All hail the chamomile. Not only is this herb good for anxiety, it also is excellent at relieving gassiness, as an anti-inflammatory, good for cleaning wounds and getting rid of worms. Chamomile may be given as a tea or in a tincture. Another herbal alternative for a nervous pooch is oats. Add cooked oatmeal to a dog’s meal to ease the stress of their day. Lemon balm, an additional herbal supplement, reduces a dog’s excitability level from cartwheels to a low hum.
Not to be confused with the needle poking acupuncture, acupressure is nothing more than applying pressure to certain areas to produce a calmer dog. The Thundercoat is one product that uses the acupressure technique to alleviate a dog’s anxiety in stressful situations such as storms, fireworks, or a visit from a family member who doesn’t acknowledge boundaries. As successful as the Thundercoat has been for thousands of owners, there have been quite a few misses as well. Some of those fails have been due to misuse. The effectiveness of any acupressure application is intended for short term fixes only. Prolonged wearing of the coat or the application of pressure lessens its usefulness and brings back the anxiety.
Sports coaches the world over have urged their players to run it out. There is a method to their sadistic madness. With exercise, endorphins are released, the mood elevates, and silliness falls by the wayside. Sometimes an anxious dog needs to get out and run the stress off.
Using one or a combination of the above suggestions may help a dog ease some of the anxiety they endure. Consulting with a certified, professional dog trainer may also help pave the way to a calmer home vibe. By talking with a trainer, they may pinpoint exactly what is stressing the dog out and offer suggestions and training on desensitization.
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