Austin And Kat Logo

6 Natural Ways to Calm a Nervous Dog

6 natural methods you can try to help calm down your dog's anxiety.

It turns out that somewhere in the realm of 20% to 40% of dogs suffer anxiety from separation, noise, or fear of other external stimuli. There are plenty of scary things out there for dogs to try to understand in our industrialized human world, but with the right dog anxiety remedies, they can manage well.

positive chemicals flooding them on a regular basis, they're less likely to pursue anxious feelings.

All of that energy that they devote to feeling anxious is going to be hard to muster up when they're focused on playing and trying to keep their eyes open after. Just a little bit of running around the yard, going for a jog with you, or playing fetch for 20 minutes is going to take their energy levels way down for the rest of the day. They'll happily nap away the day after a long day of playing.

If you like to go for hikes, take your pooch with you. Dogs of every age and size love the opportunity to see the great outdoors and sniff around. Any kind of long walk is great for humans and dogs as we age and that close connection helps to ease your pup's nervous anxiety.

2. Try a Distraction

Some situations get different dogs to become nervous. During holidays with fireworks, some dogs can't sit still or hide under the covers. If there's a big thunderstorm outside, dogs might go under a desk or run around panicking.

If your dog is upset about something you can't control, you could try distracting them. Most dogs have a pretty straightforward way of thinking and when you distract their one-track minds, you get the chance to relax them. Being able to engage them with something that's familiar and that they enjoy, keeps them from thinking about the things they don't understand.

When you hear a storm brewing, bring out their favorite toy and start playing fetch. If you're in the middle of a new type of training for your dog, pull out the treats and have them focus on their favorite tricks. Once they taste those treats, they'll be too distracted to be anxious.

Another way to distract them is with the treat-filled ball. Those endlessly rewarding and frustrating toys keep dogs occupied for hours as they try to get the treats or the peanut butter out.

3. Have You Tried a Thundershirt?

If you find that your dog needs to be hugged or held tightly when they're anxious but you can't always be there, you might feel bad leaving. When you can't be there but you know a thunderstorm is coming, a thundershirt could be what your pet needs. A thundershirt wraps tightly around your dog, comforting the dog as it presses against the dog's body.

The pressure ensures that they feel calmer when you're traveling or when they're likely to become anxious. There's not much solid science behind the thundershirt, but there are enough dogs whom it's worked for to leave a pretty strong case.

The effectiveness of your thundershirt is going to depend on whether or not the dog associates it with good feelings or not. When you use the shirt while the dog is anxious, they might also see that it's meant to calm them and feel better. It can even depend on your dog's personality whether or not it works.

While your dog is in their thundershirt, give them some other solutions to make them feel better. Distracting and petting them when they've got the shirt on helps to make them feel even more comforted.

4. Even Massage Works

It might seem strange, but dogs also benefit from the relaxing feeling of getting a massage. You know that petting makes them feel better, so why shouldn't a little bit of focus on their muscles work too?

When your dog is anxious, offer them some nice long strokes along their back. Alternate between slow and long strokes and some more vigorous muscle massaging. Mix in some circular motions until your dog responds positively to the stimuli. MaryJean Ballner wrote a comprehensive guide on how to give dog's the ultimate petting experience if you'd like further guidance.

You'll rush some blood to places all around their body and make them feel lots of sensations at once. Rather than merely feeling anxious, they'll feel loved and cared for in a new way. They'll be just as relaxed as any person who was getting a gentle massage during a bout of anxiety.

5. Music Therapy Works

Believe it or not, there are some types of music recorded just for dogs. Music made to calm nervous dogs takes into account the kind of psychoacoustic character of dogs' hearing.

Through simple sounds, the music for dogs causes calm feelings that help to desensitize them from their anxiety or noise phobias. You'll notice your dog seems much more relaxed after you put some dog-friendly music or recordings on for them.

6. CBD for Dogs

While there's still much research currently happening about how CBD helps dog anxiety, there's lots of anecdotal evidence on how CBD can help dog anxiety. Since so many of the things that work to calm humans also work on dogs, this safe herbal option could be added carefully to food to calm your pet. 

Try giving your pet a serving of CBD 30 minutes before a thunderstorm or before leaving the house to let the full effects kick in. It takes 30-60 minutes for CBD to be absorbed when taken orally, less when given sublingually. The CBD should give a balancing effect so they are less likely to get a spike in cortisol (the stress hormone) when the fear inducing stimulus occurs.

There are many forms of CBD for dogs, from biscuits to oils, there is sure to be a product that works for your pup. And since CBD is totally natural, you will feel good about giving it to your furry friend.

Dog Anxiety Remedies Can Make a Huge Difference

If you choose the right dog anxiety remedies for your pet, you'll find that they feel more confident and calmer throughout the day. The best bet is always to get enough exercise and have them focus on something that isn't causing them anxiety. And if you have a pup that's been anxious for years with no help, don't worry, studies have shown that no matter the age and amount of anxiety that have, they can always find a remedy.

The sooner you can find a way to calm your anxious dog, the healthier they will be in the long term.



Vetmed Separation Anxiety

NCBI study: Psychosocial and Psychophysiological Effects of Human-Animal Interactions: The Possible Role of Oxytocin


Dog Massage: A Whiskers-to-Tail Guide to Your Dog's Ultimate Petting Experience


Does the Thundershirt really work?


Current Issues and Research in Veterinary Behavioral Medicine