The thought of a suffering dog is the absolute worst nightmare for any owner. Your faithful, furry friend, who sticks valiantly by you through thick and thin deserves to be happy and healthy always. However, similar to their owners, dogs sometimes suffer from anxiety, fear, and distress. It can occur for any number of reasons, and as every dog is different, no two will react the same way to the same issues. If you're worried your dog is suffering and want to make it better, we completely understand. That's why we've come up with this handy guide of how to comfort a dog, so you can be an expert in no time at all!
What causes dogs to become anxious?
Dogs are social creatures, craving the companionship of their owner, as well as other people and even doggy buddies. If you're often leaving your dog at home for hours on end while at work, it can lead to feelings of abandonment. Dogs are also often scared by loud noises, like fireworks or thunderstorms. They can even be shy around new people, other animals, and even children if they're not used to being around them.
Signs your dog is anxious
As a dog can't tell you they're feeling anxious or scared, you need to keep an eye on their body language to determine their mood and state of mind. These are the most common signs that your dog is suffering from anxiety:
- Licking their lips more often than normal
- Shaking or trembling
- Pupil dilation
- Loss of appetite
- Regularly yawning
- Excessive drooling
- Pacing a room, or around the house restlessly
- Panting like they've been exercising
- A faster heartbeat
How to comfort a dog with anxiety
Now you know what to look for, you'll want to know what you can do to help. Thankfully, we've got some top tips below!
Give them a rub
This one might sound obvious, but yes, cuddling, petting or cradling a dog when you want to comfort them is a great way to put them at ease. Your dog looks up to you as a parental figure and provider, so smothering them with love and attention is pretty much top of their wishlist. That and food. Obviously, they love their food.
Stand by them
As dogs can suffer from separation anxiety, it might be best to alter your lifestyle or schedule so you're not leaving them alone for too long. If you can, try and work from home more often. If that's impossible, see if you can get a friend or relative to dog sit for you during the day. And when you go out for errands, take your dog if possible. As long as you don't have to tie them up outside and leave them alone, your dog will appreciate the tag along!
Go out and about
Exercise is a great way to blow off some steam. For dogs, it can also help relax their muscles if they're tense from anxiety. So go take your dog out for a big long walk, tire them out, and then let them get a good night, or afternoon's sleep. Or just a big nap, if that's what they need. If their anxiety is likely from a fleeting cause, like a thunderstorm or a firework show, they should be right as rain the following day.
Yep, one of the best ways to comfort a dog is to play them music. Who knew they were so similar to us humans? Some nice classical tunes should do the trick. Music is great, because not only can it help to block out louder, unpleasant sounds that are causing them distress, but it can even help distract them from an anxious situation. For instance, if your dog hates travelling, stick on some classical music and trick them into enjoying themselves. They'll thank you later.
You could also supplement their diet with some calming treats. No matter how fussy your dog's eating habits are, there is a supplement that will suit them! You could try Stress Support, a relaxing natural supplement you can add to their food or serve whole, if they don't mind. Or, if your dog's fussy nose will smell the deception a mile away, try Calming Aid, a delicious soft chew that can help calm them down. Alternatively, Caninexiety is a tasty calming paste you can feed them directly.
You could also try:
- Giving them a safe place to retreat to when they're anxious, like a crate or a specific room
- A calming coat
Now you know how to comfort a dog! It is worth bearing in mind, however, that if you're ever worried about your dog's anxiety, it's worth taking them to the vet for a check-up. Sometimes, we all need a professional opinion to put our mind, and your dog's, at ease.