Holistic Ways To Calm A Nervous Dog

Living with a nervous, stressed dog can be difficult. It can keep you from doing everyday things, like having a party, because your dog can’t handle it. Maybe you’ve given up on trying to vacuum or cringe every time the neighbor brings out his lawn mower, knowing it’s going to send your poor dog over the edge.

Even the well-adjusted dog can get nervous sometimes. Fireworks can cause dogs that are otherwise pretty laid back to run for cover. Whether you are dealing with anxiety every day, or just once in a while, the best way to combat it is holistically. Combining the following treatments will give you the best result, as each one treats stress in different parts of your dog.

Soothing Sounds – Science has proven that music affects our canines much in the same way it does us. With that in mind, several people have created music specifically for calming dogs. These are great to play all the time, in the background, for the dog whose always nervous, or during times of stress such as fireworks or in the car. By doing this you can drown out noises that may have normally scared your dog. Remember the point is to soothe your dog, so don’t play it too loud – their ears are much better than yours!

Get a Doggy Den – dogs are den animals. Giving your dog a “hiding place” can really make them feel more comfortable because they know they can retreat there when needed. A den can be a crate, but it should be completely covered (think cave) and the door should be left open or even removed so your dog can go in and out as she pleases.

Location is important too. Put it somewhere that is semi-secluded. Your dog should still feel part of the family, but not be in the main thoroughfare. If you are having people over, you may want to move it to a more secluded part of the house. Pay attention to where your dog normally goes to “escape” and put her den there. Some people put speakers near their dog’s den so they can play the soothing dog music nearby.

Aromatherapy – Dogs noses are about 10,000 times better than ours, so if scents affect us, you can bet they affect your dog. There are many companies that make aromatherapy products just for dogs and all of them have calming lines. Scents of lavender, chamomile, sweet marjoram, and others can help calm your dog (and you!). You can buy sprays for the air or to mist your dog’s bed or den and oils for skin application. Be sure you don’t overdo the scent, however, since your dog’s sense of smell is so strong, a little goes a long way.

Massage & TTouch – these help your dog relax just like massage does in humans! Tellington TTouch is a mix of touches, lifts and slides on your dog’s body that is used to change your dog’s behavior, mood and improve body health. It is a practiced art, so you should find a certified TTouch practioner to help you get started.  Not only does it help your dog relax at that moment, but over time, most owners find that TTouch creates a more relaxed dog over all.

Anxiety Wraps – anxiety wraps are used as a short-term solution for a dog that is suffering an “anxiety attack” of sorts or for dogs that get nervous in situations like car rides. They lose their effectiveness if you leave them on the dog for too long, so they are best for times when your dog is temporarily anxious. In addition, anxiety wraps have a high success rate in helping cure car-sickness due to stress/anxiety.

Supplements – finally, your dog’s food can help them with overall calmness if you have a dog that is just stressed in general. B-complex is known as “anti-stress” which may help some dogs. Hops (found in many over-the-counter pet stress relieving medications), and a host of other herbs like, chamomile, lemon balm, valerian, skullcap and rosemary, have been known to have a calming effect.

Using a combination of these remedies will help your dog relax from the inside out, creating a happier, more laid-back dog.

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  1. I have a black lab called Diva she will be 11 Xmas eve I have had her since she was 6 week’s old. The problem is if I have to leave her she howl’s and bark’s and a while ago I had to go to a wedding over nite and left her with my mother-in-law and she was going to ring the vet because she would not stop panting! She though she was going to have a heart attack. Any ideas would be helpful. Kind regards Kathleen

    1. Hi Kathleen, sounds like severe separation anxiety. I’m sorry but I don’t have experience with this kind of thing. Maybe look into crate training. That could give her somewhere comfortable to be when you are away.

  2. Thank you for your advice, I have a stressed dog especially this time of year with fire works.He just climbs up on me and shakes and holds on tight. I love him so much i just hold him as tightas ican without squashing him.Now I will try the things you have suggested. Thanking you Sue and Ned

  3. I have a dog who gets nervous around children, especially if the children are loud or playing. She will try to nip them and she becomes incredibly tense and trembles. Would love and appreciate any advice on how to handle a situation like this other than keeping both separated.

    1. Hi Alicia, this is a complex situation because we don’t want her snapping at kids. I think you need to get a very good dog trainer to supervise while doing anything with your dog and kids.

  4. I’m glad I found this post!

    I have a 2.5year old boxer who has severe social anxiety – not with humans, but with dogs ESPECIALLY small, white dogs!

    We tried anti-anxiety medications (diazepam) but, unfortunately she lost a lot of weight due to being affected by one of the drugs side effects.

    Having taken her off the medication she is A LOT better and less reactive than before medication (i.e. she no longer fixates on dogs whilst out on walks and she doesn’t fly at dogs walking on the other side of the road), but I would like to get her to a stage when she can at least be near other dogs without fear and without attacking them.

    She has awesome obedience skills (as long as there aren’t other dogs nearby) and I’d really like to get her to a stage where we can compete in obedience trials and title her in endurance. I know this will be a long and challenging road, but I know she can recover (we used to have a dog walker take her out once a week with a bunch of other dogs and she was absolutely fine on these walks with no fights with the others dogs)

    I find that she is often much calmer after a 30min walking/training session and, as long as these remain regular, she is able to control her anxiety better. We have a Thunder Shirt for her as well, but we find this to have almost no effect.

    I would like to try the natural supplements approach and possibly the TTouch system.

    We hand feed all our dogs with a BARF diet and can add things like camomile and the like to this. Does anyone at Stay Loyal know a good recipe or measurement website outlining how much of what to add to her food – if possible – or is it better to see a canine naturopath?

    Also, the B-Complex supplement; are human vitamin B tablets OK or should the dosage be different for dogs?

    There are a lot of questions here, please feel free to point me to a recommended website if that’s easier!

    1. Hi Emilia,

      Yes the B-complex for humans is best. Just get the standard ones or the ones for kids. B-complex is water soluble so will be peed out if there is excess.

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