Anxiety in Dogs: Expert Tips on How To Calm an Anxious Dog

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Tetiana Zhudyk
Updated on

If you’ve ever dealt with an anxious dog, you know first-hand how stressful the experience is for all parties involved. Compulsive behaviors, signs of separation anxiety, and sensitivity to loud noise are some of the most common indicators that your pet is dealing with anxiety. More than 72% of dogs show behaviors associated with anxiety.

Dog anxiety makes your pooch extremely difficult to manage. Anxious dogs have difficulties responding to cues, may destroy furniture in your house, or bark at strangers. Unless addressed properly, anxiety in dogs can decrease the quality of life for a dog parent, too.

Is there anything you can do to help your dog cope with being overwhelmed? We’ve prepared the top 7 tips for treating anxiety in dogs. We’ll help you identify the potential causes of anxiety in your dog, the common signs of the condition, and teach you how to calm a dog down.

Dogs and humans experience many emotions similarly. But it’s not always easy for pet parents to understand their furry companion. Want to know more about your dog's psychology? Download Woofz to get access to top-level educational content!


Understanding Anxiety in Dogs

Anxiety causes your dog to experience periods of uneasiness and nervousness. These feelings can manifest as barking, whining, shivering, and excessive sniffing or scanning of the environment. Some dogs even become aggressive or show destructive behavior.

Remember, It’s essential to address anxiety if your dog stays anxious over prolonged periods. Untreated chronicle anxiety in dogs can lead to constant irritability, depression, loss of appetite, and loss of interest in social interaction. In the long run, it can decrease your dog’s resilience to allergies and other medical issues.

If you’re looking for practical solutions for calming your dog down, you must determine what causes your pet’s anxiety. Pinpointing why your canine companion is dealing with nervousness helps you effectively treat the anxiety.

What Can Cause Anxiety in Dogs?

There are several common reasons why your dog can become anxious. If you ask yourself how to calm an anxious dog, identify underlying issues and possible causes. Here are some of the potential causes of anxiety in dogs.

Your dog is scared

It’s common for canines to develop specific fears and phobias, such as the fear of sudden loud noises or unfamiliar people. Various body reactions, mainly trembling and pacing, can indicate fear in dogs. Some scared dogs can even make attempts to escape physically.

Separation anxiety

Anxiety in dogs often takes the form of separation anxiety. Dogs, like their wolf ancestors, are pack animals. Since they treat humans as members of their park, your absence may trigger a feeling of anxiety. Dogs suffering from separation anxiety often demonstrate destructive behaviors or are prone to barking and howling.

Changes in environment

If you own a dog, you’ve probably noticed that your companion is a creature of habit. Predictable daily routines are essential for your dog’s emotional well-being. If your dog's habits are disrupted, for example, by moving to a new location or changing their schedule, they may start experiencing anxiety.

Genetical makeup

Some dog breeds are more prone to nerves than others. Some of the most popular breeds, including Labrador Retrievers, Border Collies, and Jack Russell Terriers, are prone to stress and excessive nervousness.

If you’re interested in such breeds, consider the challenges you might face. A profound understanding of these dogs’ tendencies can help you better support them and ensure their optimal quality of life

Your dog is getting older

Pet owners caring for a senior dog may have to deal with specific issues triggered by the aging process. Thus, older canines are more susceptible to anxiety and sometimes develop Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (CCD). This condition may cause disorientation, confusion or fear, and phobias in your experienced furry pal.

How To Tell If Your Dog Is Suffering From Anxiety?

Many dog owners want to know how to calm a hyper dog. But are the behaviors you observe clear signs of anxiety, or is it just your dog’s goofy personality? It’s not always easy to tell. The rule of thumb is to pay attention to the frequency of the symptoms. If your dog adopts recurrent behavior patterns, those may be signs of a more severe condition.

Here are some of the symptoms you should look out for if you suspect your dog is suffering from anxiety:

  • Destructive behaviors (chewing, scratching the furniture)

  • Excessive vocalization (barking, howling, whining)

  • Drooling

  • Trembling

  • Restlessness and compulsive behaviors

  • Hiding

  • Attempts to escape

  • Tail-tucking

Ways To Calm an Anxious Dog

The earlier you start intervention to treat your dog’s anxiety, the easier it is to help your pet overcome the issue. Let’s explore the proven and practical techniques for tackling anxiety in dogs.

Exercise your dog regularly

How to calm a hyper dog? Physical exercise is an effective method of releasing stress and boosting your fluffy friend’s endorphin level. In addition, exercising and playing with your dog gives owners a chance to strengthen the bond with their pets.

Anxious dogs often become hyperactive and show increased energy levels. Walking with your dog, playing together, and engaging in various indoor and outdoor activities can benefit anxious dogs.

Provide opportunities for physical contact

Like humans, physical contact has a soothing effect on canines. Activities like petting, cuddling, or picking up your dog can help them become calmer. You can also give your dog massage sessions to alleviate muscle tension.

Use audio therapy

Implementing music therapy or switching on white noise can help your dog become more relaxed. Recent studies have shown that classical music, reggae, and soft rock demonstrate the most calming effect on dogs. However, you shouldn’t choose compositions with deep bass or clashing sounds, as they can remind dogs of thunder.

Music and white noise therapies can benefit dogs scared of sudden outside noises. Remember that dogs’ ears are way more sensitive to sounds than humans, so keep the volume down to avoid overstimulation.

Establish consistent routines

One way to calm a dog down is to create a daily activity schedule – dogs long for structure, predictable feeding times, playtime, and sleep routines. Staying consistent helps to avoid confusion and stress not only for pets but also for their owners.

Practice time-outs

Anxiety isn’t a bad behavior you should punish your dog for. However, your four-legged pal can benefit from time-outs, which allow dogs to calm down independently. Provide your pet with a safe and isolated place to retreat to.

Remember, every dog has a unique personality, so what helps one canine can be irritable for another. For example, some dogs can benefit from crate training because they will start treating a crate as their safe spot. Meanwhile, others can begin to panic when confined to a closed space. It’s essential to approach each dog’s anxiety symptoms individually.

Introduce calming wearables

Based on anecdotal evidence, putting calming coats and T-shirts on your dog has a calming effect. How do body wraps work? They apply mild pressure to a dog’s torso, deactivating its sympathetic nervous system. This system is responsible for kicking the fight-or-flight response in potentially dangerous situations.

Pressure stimulation is similar to swaddling a baby and is reported to benefit dogs with separation anxiety, travel anxiety, and others. It helps the nervous system relax and rest.

Try alternative methods

Many pet owners opt for natural remedies when looking for solutions on how to calm an anxious dog. Though many lack scientific evidence, pet parents choose them due to their noninvasive nature. We recommend consulting your vet first before starting alternative methods of treating anxiety in dogs.

Here is the list of common natural remedies for anxious dogs:

  • Essential oils (lavender, camomile)
  • Natural herbs (valerian root, l-tryptophan)
  • Calming supplements (melatonin, l-theanine)

Learn more about relaxation techniques covered in the Wellbeing module of the Woofz app.


Anxiety in dogs is a common condition many canines experience. Its symptoms can vary from physical signs of distress to escape attempts and destructive behavior. Since anxiety in dogs can decrease the life quality of both a pet and an owner, it’s crucial to address it as soon as you notice the symptoms.

Once you identify the cause of nervousness and restlessness in your dog, you can start treating it effectively. If you face difficulties calming down an anxious dog, contact your vet or a certified dog training expert for further assistance.

Written by

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Tetiana Zhudyk

Woofz Content Manager with a deep passion for dogs and a strong affinity for positive reinforcement training methods.

Reviewed by

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Annie-Mae Levy

Experienced dog trainer with Bachelor of Science Degree in Animal Behavior. Diplomaed dog nutritionist. CFBA Accredited Canine Behaviorist