If you’re adopting a dog, there’s a good chance that you’re going to end up adopting a dog that’s got some anxiety. Sometimes the dog can have fear aggression, fear anxiety, all kinds of things. But the thing about all of these problems with dogs is that they’re actually pretty easy to fix.
Most dog issues boil down to either dogs being misunderstood by their owners or the dog not getting enough exercise. Some cases definitely need the help of a behaviorist, but before you seek out a behaviorist or a trainer, make sure your puppy is getting all of his needs met to decide if the issue is boredom or a real anxiety issue!
5 Tips for Dealing with A Nervous Dog
Get him some exercise.
The best way to make your dog less nervous is to exhaust them. If they’ve worked out their energy in a healthy way, they will be less likely to chew, scratch, or exhibit other nervous behaviors. If you know your dog is going to be in a situation where they will be stressed (in the car or walking down a busy street), it’s a good idea to give your dog a long run or energetic play in the park beforehand to reduce their anxiety.
Train him up right.
There are several ways to help a nervous dog with training and tricks. First, you can do desensitization training, where you give your dogs treats while exposing them to the thing that scares them in a safe way. For example, feed your cat-avoidant dog treats while in the same room with a crated cat. You can also do tricks they love while they are stressed to distract them from their stressor and redirect their energy.
Make and stick to a schedule.
Much like children, dogs thrive when they have a schedule to follow. Knowing what is coming helps dogs stay calm, but it can also be calming for the owner to know their dog’s routine. That way there’s no scrambling to get leashes or food or whatever. Keeping a tight schedule can also be very important for dogs that pee when they’re nervous.
Take care of your own anxiety.
Dogs pick up on our energy, and they can become anxious if their owner is feeling anxious as well. In addition to that, you might react more harshly to your dog’s little mistakes and escalate a situation that might have resolved calmly. Don’t approach your dog when you’re already feeling anxious about something unrelated. Take deep breaths and let your own tension go before interacting.
Have other pets.
The last trick for calming an anxious dog is to adopt another pet. While an adopted animal can have it’s own anxieties, companionship is a powerful thing that can turn an anxious dog around. It helps to get a very calm dog to pair with the anxious one, of course, and getting two dogs of the same breed has been said to help. For example, we have one cavalier x dachshund mix and for her companion, we purchased a cavalier puppy of the opposite gender. He has improved her anxiety by leaps and bounds by giving her someone to look out for and simply by being there.
If you try several of these things for awhile and it seems like your dog isn’t getting any better, then it’s time to consult a behaviorist. Behaviorists can evaluate and address your dog’s particular issues and make up a training plan 100% geared to your dog. Getting a second dog is the absolute last result and only should be an option if it seems like your dog is getting better and you’ve already thought about getting another dog.
Do you have any tips or tricks for nervous dogs? Let me know down below!