Oh, for a life with a pet that’s just chilled, right? If you’re the parent of a pet with anxiety, it may feel like your life will have this black cloud hanging over it forever, but it’s not always the case. With a better understanding of what makes your pet anxious, and by addressing those fears and being clever with implementing anti-anxiety routines, you can overcome the problem and live a normal (well, almost) life with your pet!
Nothing is worse than knowing that your fur-child is struggling to handle something. We all know what stress and anxiety feel like, and when we see it happening to our pets, we can feel pretty useless! Here’s your beloved pet, void of words but perfectly communicating stress and anxiety, and there’s diddly squat you can do about it. Okay, not really. You can do a lot about it, and we’ll tell you how! But first, let’s consider a few tell-tale signs that your pet is feeling anxious:
- Aggressive behavior towards other pets and children
- Ears back
- Destructive behavior
- Overly alert
- “Accidents” in the house
- Looking scared or cowering
- Digging in heels (won’t walk)
Drop Kick Anxiety Right Out of Your Pet’s Life!
According to Paws&Pup, below is our top pick of a few things you can try today to help your pet feel a little (or a lot) less anxious!
Get a Wobble Bowl or Something Similar
Wobble bowls are fun! They’re bowls with grooves and ridges inside them. You get to smear peanut butter or other dog-friendly goopy stuff inside it and then hand it over for your pet to lick and drool over. While they’re licking, the bowl is wobbling around, making the process a little harder for them. What’s the point of this? Well, when a dog is fully absorbed into conquering the wobble bowl, they’re not focusing on the thing that could/usually does cause them to experience anxiety. Wobble bowls are a great trick for those who have pooches with separation anxiety.
Call in the Snuffle Rug
First of all, it must be noted that pets should not be left to their own devices with a Snuffle Rug because if your pet is slightly destructive, you can expect half the rug to end up in their tummies. A Snuffle Rug is an oversized mat that you can hide treats in. Your dog will need to bury his head in the rug and snuffle around looking for treats. This is another distraction tool, and it works pretty well!
Jog On By!
You know when you’re walking in the street with your dog, and suddenly you feel anxiety kick in? Your pet is suddenly confronted with another dog (and owner), and you sense that an attack will happen? Remain calm. Move your pet to your other side and pick up the pace. It may even help to cross the road or turn around in the opposite direction. Getting to a slight jog and encouraging your dog to join you like it’s a game is a nifty trick for breaking the spell and getting your dog to a less anxious space. This one works a charm! Try it!
Desensitize Your Dog to Triggers
Observing your dog may give you all the answers you need to know about his triggers. Let’s say you’re on a walk, and suddenly your dog goes crazy. He howls, twists, turns on the leash, and tries his best to escape. Is he scared, or is he aggressive, and what is causing this sudden stress? Look around you and observe. In fact, you should be observing your pet from the moment you leave the house. If small children are a trigger, it’s probably best to avoid a route with small children. But if the triggers are things you can desensitize your pet to, try it.
For instance, if your pet barks when you’re on the treadmill, it doesn’t mean you should never use the treadmill. Start by encouraging your pet to investigate the treadmill while it is off. You can use treats to lure him and show him that this is just a device. It’s not scary – it’s just sitting there. Do this until he comfortably comes towards the treadmill and seems no longer phased. This treadmill is now boring. Once you’ve achieved that response for a few days, you can work on turning the treadmill to the lowest setting and walking around the room like nothing is wrong. Only get on and use the treadmill when your pet is used to it running slowly without you on it. Slowly exposing your pet to things he is scared of and showing him that they’re not so scary is a great way to overcome non-dangerous anxieties.
Get a Thunder Shirt
Thunder Shirts are magnificent devices. They don’t work for all pets, but they work for many. These are vet-recommended natural solutions for anxiety. They work similarly to swaddling a baby. The vest provides gentle pressure, which reduces anxiety and fear and also helps calm over-excited dogs.
Remember that your pet is not in the lead. And you certainly can’t allow an anxious dog to think they’re in control. By being in control and ensuring you’re calm and taking charge at all times, your pet can relax and feel secure in that particular type of support. You are the one that makes decisions, forges the path, and ensures everyone is safe. Once you’ve adopted this approach, there’s less for your dog to feel anxious about. Many times, people think it’s the dog that needs behavior modification when our own behavior modification can sometimes make all the difference.
When it comes to helping your pet feel less anxious, it’s a team effort. You cannot expect your pet to get over anxiety overnight. Imagine being told to “don’t be anxious” – it wouldn’t work, right? It’s much the same with your pet. Instead, be prepared to work with your dog to overcome these anxieties slowly. The more time you put in and the more patient you are – the better results you can expect to see.