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How to Calm an Anxious Dog

How to Calm an Anxious Dog

Is your pup a pacer? How about a barker? What about a paw-nibbler, yawner, or howler? If so, you’ve come to the right place.

Anxiety in dogs can come in all shapes and sizes. More than 70% of dogs exhibit signs of anxiety, and with almost 90 million domestic canines in the U.S alone, that’s a lot of pet parents in need of solutions to a remarkably common issue.

According to a 2020 study where traits such as noise sensitivity, impulsivity, fear,

and aggression (among others) were taken into account, almost three-quarters of the dogs studied registered significant anxiety reactions. The most common stressor among them, affecting the largest percent of dogs, was noise.


Stress triggers can run the gamut. Whether you’ve adopted a shelter pup whose background is not entirely known, or you have a dog who’s only ever lived with you yet seems to have anxious tendencies, it’s important to know what to look for and how to defuse a nervous pet.

Dogs can become anxious because of a lot of things. These include:

  • Being home alone
  • Having a fear of abandonment
  • Being exposed to new circumstances
  • Experiencing a break in routine
  • Abuse
  • Age-related cognitive decline and disorientation

The COVID-19 pandemic didn’t help either, as most people have been home with their hounds, but eventually had to go back to work or school. This can be extra triggering for a dog, which is why it’s important to know the signs.


Your dog’s anxiety can show up in a variety of ways.
This includes:

  • Shivering 
  • Whimpering
  • Aggression
  • Panting
  • Shedding
  • Loss of appetite

When trying to determine if your pup is stressed, a good rule of thumb is this: If you notice a shift away from who she is when she’s at her best, it’s a good sign that something is up.

Fortunately, there’s plenty you can do to help or calm a stressed dog.

Get Active
First and foremost, it’s crucial you assess how much exercise your dog is getting.
The number one alleviator of animal anxiety is movement (meaning theirs, but don’t be shy about joining them!). Having a handle on your dog's exercise, to be sure he’s getting the right amount, can make a huge difference.

<<Related Reading: How to Set Fitness Goals for your Dog>>

Some dogs need more movement than others, but there’s no question that every pet needs it. The general philosophy goes like this: A physically active dog makes for a tired (and happy) dog; a tired dog sleeps well; and a rested dog is a calmer dog.


While you’re out walking, moving, or playing, another opportunity to curb anxiety can happen through physical touch and loving play.


Make Him Happy At Home And On-The-Go

Once home, cuddling, massaging, and brushing your pet can go a long way to 

help with a nervous dog.

Your pup's environment matters, and certain music can calm an anxiety-ridden dog in minutes.

In persistent cases of anxiety, alternative therapies ranging from calming vests, dog houses that minimize light and sound, to acupuncture, can trigger positive and profound shifts.

If your dog is anxious in the car, you might have a carsick pal on your hands. Because dogs are olfactory experts, scents can be your ally. Aromatherapy has been shown to dissipate stress in dogs, and a couple drops of a calming essential oil like lavender, applied to blankets or a dog bed, can do wonders—at home and on the go. Talking to your vet will help, too.

Talk To The Experts

Your dog’s doctor can help recommend products like theanine or CBD chews to help take the edge off. Pheromone sprays, especially in the car, emit the smell of a nursing mother and can even calm older dogs. 

Treats, cool temps, and safety mechanisms that minimize excessive movement also help to create a safe and low-stress environment when car travel poses a problem.

Our dogs learn from us, and stress can be contagious. Mindfulness experts suggest doing your best to impart ease by setting an example. Meditating with your dog, for example, can provide a mutual benefit that helps everyone. Your slow and measured breaths create a calm energy that dogs pick up on, and you might be surprised to open your eyes after a five-minute session to find your pooch pal either watching with subdued interest or conked out altogether. All good signs.

Have some heart—even if you’ve tried it all, keep revisiting the options with a beginner’s mind, knowing that your efforts are cumulative and rely on building trust with your dog. Like humans, dogs just need to know everything is going to be alright, and with you on their side, they’ve likely got a pretty good shot.


If you’re planning on following some of the advice above, the Wagz Freedom Smart Dog Collar may be your best friend.

Not only can it track steps, sleep time, and exercise patterns of your pooch, but it also has a Companion Time feature, which shows the number of hours a dog spends with their companion (spending time together can help with anxiety in dogs).

It then takes all these factors into account (and more) to calculate your dog’s overall Health & Happiness Score.

To learn more about how the Freedom Collar is helping pet parents just like you, join our growing community on social media.


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