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Effective Ways to Calm a Dog Down
By Canada Pooch on Aug 21, 2023
Dogs can become anxious and stressed, just like humans. It’s essential to understand how to calm your dog when they become upset and agitated. In this article, we will explore different techniques and methods to calm your dog down safely and effectively.
Training Techniques to Calm Your Dog
Effective Ways to Calm a Dog Down involve a combination of training techniques, understanding canine behaviour, and using calming products. Pet parents can start by teaching their dogs basic commands and working on desensitizing them to various triggers. A consistent routine is another essential factor that helps dogs feel secure and calm. In this article, we will explore various training techniques and calming aids that pet parents can use to promote a more relaxed state in their dogs.
Teach Your Dog Basic Commands
Teaching calm to your dog starts with mastering basic commands such as 'sit,' 'stay,' and 'down.' These commands help pet parents communicate effectively with their dogs and create a sense of structure and predictability. To teach these commands, pet parents can use positive reinforcement techniques such as praise, affection, and dog treats. Practice these commands in a quiet environment and gradually increase the level of difficulty and distractions to ensure your dog obeys them in any situation. Progress gradually and be patient, as these skills will help you manage their anxiety and promote a more relaxed state during challenging circumstances.
Desensitize Your Dog to Triggers
Desensitization is a process where pet parents help their dogs become familiar with and respond calmly to triggers that can cause anxiety, such as loud noises and strangers. Begin by identifying your dog's triggers and introducing them to these triggers at a low intensity, taking care not to overwhelm them. Gradually increase the exposure to triggers over time, ensuring your dog remains comfortable and calm. Positive reinforcement, such as treats and praise, can encourage your dog to associate these triggers with a positive experience. Physical exercise and regular mental stimulation can also help reduce overall anxiety levels, making it easier to desensitize your dog to specific triggers.
Establish a Consistent Routine
A consistent daily routine provides predictability and security for your dog, helping them feel more at ease. Ensure that your dog goes for potty training, meals, walks, and playtime at roughly the same time each day. This consistency will help minimize anxiety for your pet. In addition, providing them with a comfortable and quiet hiding spot where they can retreat when they need some alone time can also help them feel safe and calm in their environment.
Calming Aids for Dogs
Calming aids are alternative therapies that pet parents can use alongside training techniques to soothe their dog's anxiety and stress. These products may include calming vests, toys, and blankets. Music therapy, such as calming classical compositions, has also been proven to be soothing to dogs. Let's explore some of these aids in detail.
Use a Calming Vest
Calming vests, such as the Weighted Calming Vest from Canada Pooch, apply gentle pressure on your dog's torso, similar to being hugged or pet. This pressure has a calming effect on dogs by releasing endorphins, which promote relaxation. Before using a calming vest, ensure that your dog is comfortable wearing it by letting them sniff and explore the vest. Next, introduce the vest during a calm and happy moment, such as during playtime or petting, to create a positive association with the vest. Once your dog is comfortable wearing the vest, you can use it in potentially scary situations such as thunderstorms, fireworks, or visits to the vet.
Provide a Calming Blanket or Safe Space
A calming blanket or safe space can help your dog feel secure and relaxed in their environment. Our Weighted Calming Blanket has a soft, comfortable cover with a lavender-scented insert to promote relaxation. Encourage your dog to use this space to rest and relax, especially during potentially scary situations.
Use a Calming Blanket
Calming blankets, like the Weighted Calming Blanket at Canada Pooch, are designed to provide gentle weight and warmth to your dog, helping them feel more secure and relaxed. Introduce the blanket during a positive and relaxed scenario, such as cuddling or snuggling, to encourage a favourable association with the blanket. Be sure to monitor your dog's body language and observe if the blanket helps them feel more at ease in challenging or anxiety-inducing situations.
Calming Behaviors and Interactions
As a pet parent, one of the key responsibilities is ensuring your dog's emotional well-being. Understanding your dog's body language and incorporating calming interventions can significantly help in managing dog anxiety and stress. Let's discuss effective ways to calm a dog down, focusing on calming behaviours and interactions.
Introduce Calm and Gentle Touch
A gentle touch can have a soothing effect on dogs experiencing stress, anxiety, or hyperactivity. You can use slow, gentle strokes to put your dog into a more relaxed state. While doing so, observe your dog's body language to gauge how well your pet responds to your touch, ensuring they are comfortable with your actions.
Some dogs respond well to massage, which can release tension and promote relaxation. When incorporating massage into your routine with your pet, use a gentle circular motion, starting with the neck and shoulders and gradually working your way down the body. Remember to be attentive to your dog's reactions and adjust the pressure accordingly to minimize any discomfort.
Encourage Healthy Playtime and Exercise
Physical exercise is crucial for keeping your dog both physically and mentally healthy. Engaging in healthy playtime can not only help with burning off excess energy but can also reduce anxiety levels. Schedule regular walks outdoors or, if possible, visit an off-leash dog park to provide opportunities for more vigorous exercise.
Ashley Laderer, writing for Pet Central, suggests incorporating games like fetch or tug-of-war, which engage your dog physically and mentally. Keep in mind your dog's preferences and comfort level with different toys while prioritizing safety during playtime.
Structured physical exercise and playtime can be especially beneficial for dogs showing signs of anxiety. Gradually increase the duration of your walks or play sessions to keep your dog engaged and help them release pent-up energy before you leave them alone for a longer duration.
Reward Calm Behavior
Positive reinforcement is a powerful way to communicate with your dog and encourage desirable behaviour, like remaining calm and settled. Rewarding your pet for being calm and reiterating this behaviour can significantly reduce anxiety and stress-related issues. Dog treats can serve as excellent tools to reinforce calm behaviour, especially during potentially scary situations.
For example, if your dog is typically anxious during thunderstorms, reward them with a favourite treat when they exhibit a relaxed response to the sound of thunder. Timing is essential when rewarding your dog, as misplaced rewards can reinforce undesirable behaviour or create confusion for your pet.
Ensuring your dog feels safe and secure is vital to managing anxiety and promoting a calm demeanour. Identify a cozy and quiet spot within your home where your dog feels comfortable and can retreat to during scary situations or episodes of anxiety. Providing a designated hiding spot, preferably with a comfortable weighted blanket, will help your pet feel safe and secure.
Seeking Professional Help
If your dog is suffering from anxiety, it can be challenging to manage on your own. Anxiety in dogs can present in many ways, including destructive behaviours, excessive barking, fear of new people or situations, and even physical symptoms like shaking or panting. Seeking the help of a professional dog behaviourist or veterinarian can be a beneficial step in managing your dog's anxiety and improving their overall quality of life. Professional help can provide a personalized assessment of your dog's behaviour and anxiety triggers and develop a tailored plan to help manage and alleviate their symptoms. Dog behaviourists can work with you to create a training and behaviour modification plan that suits your dog's personality, preferences and environment. They can also teach you relaxation techniques, such as gentle massage or aromatherapy, that may help to calm your dog during anxious situations.
Being in tune with your dog's body language, identifying triggers, and incorporating calming interventions will help manage canine anxiety and stress. Pet parents can successfully promote a peaceful and composed state in their pets by introducing calm and gentle touch, encouraging healthy playtime and exercise, and rewarding relaxed behaviour. The key is to progress gradually and consistently, adapting techniques and alternative therapies as needed to ensure the well-being and happiness of your beloved pet.