How to Reduce Anxiety for Pets, According to an Expert

Your pets may be a source of comfort for you, but can your pets say the same about you?

Whether it’s due to early childhood trauma or a phobia, almost all pets deal with anxiety at some point in life. For instance, separation anxiety in dogs is pretty common. 

Some stress is normal in human life to keep us functioning, pets and humans alike. However, you need to be able to calm your pet down before their triggers become worse.

Dog separation anxiety is a significant reason your dog might be exhibiting abnormal behavior.

Janelle Metiva, a certified dog trainer at Best Friends Animal Society, suggests prepping in advance of an event to treat dog anxiety. “If the dog is used to that constant attention, and it suddenly goes away, that huge, abrupt change could definitely cause some big, initial panic,” She explains. 

So, we searched ways to treat separation anxiety in dogs and selected the best few to share with you. 

How to Help a Dog with Separation Anxiety?

According to Janelle, it’s essential to train your dog to help them overcome the fear of being alone, “It’s good to give them alone independent time,” she shared.

Understand the Triggers

If you’re wondering how to help a dog with anxiety, this one’s the most important step.

To calm your canine friend, you first need to understand their source of anxiety. Is it the loud noise, strangers, the fear of being alone, or something else?

Does the noise make him cower? Does it begin to bark excessively every time you’re trying to leave? Check their reaction to everything to gain better insight.

The sooner you understand their trigger, the quicker you can calm them down. 

Prepare them in Advance

If you’ve been home for some time, your pet may have gotten used to having you around. They might find it challenging to let you get back to your routine.

Being home alone after a while could make them feel abandoned and trigger dog separation anxiety. So, start preparing them well before it’s time. 

Go on walks alone. Even if you’re home, try occupying your pet in individual activities. Create a safe space where they can enjoy alone time.

Get Interactive Toys

You can occupy your dog in many ways, but getting puzzles and interactive toys can be one of the best things you can do for them.

Dog toys are specifically designed to keep them engaged so that you can work. Get your dog a stuffed toy that they have to dig out, or any other toy that they enjoy, and do your work without guilt.

Here are some options you can look at:

Tire Him Out

Sometimes your pup might display signs of anxiety when just bored. Get them to exercise or assign him tasks around the house to keep them active. You can even arrange puppy play dates to keep him entertained.

Being tired at the end of the day not only makes up for a good night’s rest, but exercise also keeps your dog healthy and relieves stress.

Desensitize Separation

You may love showering immense love on your pup before leaving home or after returning, but this could lead to separation anxiety in dogs. Instead, ignore him for the first few minutes to highlight that separation is no big deal.

Dogs are observant animals. After spending some time with you, it’s easier for them to pick up cues when you’re leaving and begin feeling stressed. 

One way to manage dog anxiety is to show them that you’re not abandoning them. You can begin by leaving him alone daily for 30 minutes. He might get stressed in the beginning, but eventually, he’ll know you’re returning.

Additionally, you can practice leaving rituals to desensitize separation. Or, you can leave your dog with a piece of your clothing to help calm his nerves down.

Try to Maintain a Routine

Too many changes can stress your pet out. They wouldn’t know how to get used to the changes, which can worsen his mental and physical condition. 

So, try to stick to a routine to help your dog adjust and keep his anxiety at bay.

Get Him a Buddy

This may be a more costly option, but aren’t two better than one?

Rather than worrying about leaving your pet alone, you can get another compatible pet to accompany him. The two can enjoy playing chase or doing general activities together while you’re away from home. 

Your house might become a bigger mess, but you’ll get to enjoy the love of two instead of one. Look at the positives!

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Give Your Pet Time

How to calm an anxious dog? Spend quality time with them.

Your dog needs to know they matter for you. While giving them extreme attention isn’t good for the both of you, not giving enough can also have adverse effects. So, make sure you maintain a balance.

Whether it’s exercising, cuddling, or doing house chores together, give your pup enough attention that they know you don’t plan on leaving them. 

Final Words

Pets and humans don’t share the same language, making it difficult to understand their emotions. However, you must keep an eye on your pet’s behavior to resolve any issue as soon as it arises.

Separation anxiety in dogs isn’t unusual, but don’t forget to get your vet on board for professional guidance.

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