How To Calm Down an Anxious Dog
Is “chill” a legitimate command?
Dogs are energetic animals. Hyperactive behavior can usually be released through long walks or games of fetch, but sometimes it’s challenging to get our pets to calm down. Your dog may experience sudden cases of the “zoomies,” when he randomly starts sprinting or running in circles. This is a totally normal, expected behavior in dogs. But when our pet’s hyperactive behavior becomes excessive, an underlying cause like anxiety could be fueling their nonstop energy. Here, best practices for calming down your dog.
How to calm an anxious dog
Separation anxiety or loud thunderstorms can enhance your pet’s stress level, often leading to destructive behaviors, like urinating or defecating inside, excessive barking, or chewing on furniture. If your pet experiences separation anxiety, Tufts University’s Cummings School of Veterinary medicine suggests a few things to help ease the tension of leaving your dog alone, like taking walks before heading out; providing chew toys, treats, and other distractions to keep pets busy; and staying calm. Our pets often mirror own behaviors, so if owners remain calm and unstressed, then those feelings are more likely to carry over to pets.
If your pet’s anxiety increasing during a loud thunderstorm or fireworks display, try distracting them with chew toys and other games, suggests Texas A&M University’s College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. Wrapping your pet in a blanket, slipping on a secure Thundershirt, or putting her in a safe spot (like a crate) can help ease nervousness and tension. An owner’s disposition during an episode like this can influence the situation. If you remain calm, then your pet likely will too.
How to calm a hyperactive dog
Research your dog’s breed to get a better understanding of their innate behaviors and natural activity levels. Border collies, Australian shepherds, German shepherds, and Labrador retrievers are a few of most active dog breeds. Your pet’s seemingly endless energy could be a result of not getting enough exercise throughout the day. Depending on your dog’s age and health level, taking him for multiple walks throughout the day will help tame hyperactive behavior. Playing fetch or letting your pet run around a dog park off-leash are other great outlets for their energy. Consider signing your dog up for daycare if you’re away from home for extended periods of time.
Another outlet for extra energy is teaching your pet basic commands. According to the American Kennel Club’s Dr. Mary Burch, teaching your pet practical skills like sit, down, and stay can help manage their behaviors. Instructing your pet to “down-stay,” Dr. Burch says, will help keep her calm.
If these practices aren’t helping to calm your hyper dog, consult your vet.