Every dog is unique and different, there is no cookie cutter answer for an anxiety induced situation. It takes trial, error, and patience to find what works within the pack.
As a dog trainer who believes whole heartedly in exploring natural alternatives before anything else, the following ideas were things I found that worked well with several of my clients who suffer from chronic anxiety… and their owners too.
Create a safe “happy” place for the dog to go to when stressed. It could be a crate, if the dog is crate trained. Some dogs feel safer enclosed in their crate. If the dog is not a fan of the crate, a quiet corner in a remote area, like a back bedroom. Pad the area with soft blankets, fun toys and hidden treats. If the anxiety is due to a specific noise (Fireworks, thunder, neighborhood kids yelling) a white noise machine, or anything to drown out the sound like a fan or radio static would be good to have close by.
The basis behind aromatherapy is to use individual or a combination of scents to generate a particular response. In this case, calming a dog during stressful situations. Many pet owners turn to the therapeutic scents of lavender, chamomile or ylang ylang to ease the mind and spirit. Some citrus scents have proven to be good for calming as well.
While most advertisements will encourage putting the oil directly on the dog, there is no way of knowing if the dog may have an allergic or bad reaction. It is best, especially for an aromatherapy beginner, to start with a diffuser and permeate an area. Preferably the safe zone created for stressful situations. By infusing the air, the dog still has the comforting smells without the worry of accidental ingestion or allergic reaction.
Certain herbs and blends will help reduce a dogs anxiety. An owner should check with their veterinarian first before administering any herbal remedies.
Valerian root is a widely recommended calming agent. It does come in pill form and is mild enough to ease an anxious situation, without creating too much havoc on the body. Word of caution, if an owner resides with a competition dog, best check the rule book on performance enhancing drugs. Animals testing positive for Valerian will be disqualified from competing in certain sports.
Catnip may amp up cats and make them even more entertaining, but the herb is good for relieving anxiety in dogs.
Most pet stores carry herbal calming aids for stress filled, anxious dogs. As with anything that a dog ingests, give the lowest dosage recommended and monitor the dog closely. Giving a dog more than their body can handle may result in diarrhea, vomiting, or extreme lethargy.
The Thundershirt is a very popular item for owners of nervous dogs. It has achieved remarkable success with some canine customers and others were as fearful and nervous as before. Thundershirt works as an all over acupressure cuff. By hitting certain pressure points, a calm floods the body relieving the dog of anxiety and nerves. Some owners believe this is so great the dog needs to wear it 24/7. As with all wonderful items, too much of a good thing is just too much. After awhile the Thundershirt will stop working and the dog will go back to being riddled with anxiety.
There are certain pressure points an owner can hit to relieve anxiety in a dog before a full blown panic attack hits. For an in depth acupressure guide click here.
Giving a canine massage as a fearful situation begins, may also relieve some stress and anxiety.
By watching the dog, an owner may recognize certain panic patterns and anxiety triggers. Knowing this may help stop the attack before it blows out of proportion.
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