Thursday, January 5, 2017

Natural Ways to Calm Dogs

A dog shows it is stressed or anxious when it chews on things it knows it shouldn't, when it soils the floors of the house or its crate, when it claws at doors and windows, and when it barks, howls or whines nonstop. Sometimes a dog's pupils will dilate and the dog will pant even when it's not hot, both of which can indicate fear. Depending on what your dog is afraid of, there are a number of ways you can help the dog calm down naturally. All methods require consistency and repetition.

Identification and Technique

    Find out what is making the dog frightened, anxious or excited. Is it a sound or smell, person, other animal or object? Knowing what is frightening your dog will help you know how best to calm it. Don't punish the dog for being afraid and showing fearful behavior like jumping, barking or soiling the floor. The dog can't help it, and punishment will only confuse and increase the fear. Instead, verbally praise the dog for being calm using a quiet, cheerful voice, and physically praise it by petting the dog, rubbing its belly, scratching its ears or whatever physical attention the dog enjoys most.

Desensitization Method

    Desensitize the dog to what it is afraid of by exposing the dog to it gradually. Start with short amounts of time and small amounts of exposure, slowly increasing the time and exposure gradually so the dog becomes accustomed to it. When the dog is calm during the exposure time, praise the dog with positive words, affection and small healthy treats so that it associates calmness with praise. Increase the proximity and length of the exposure only when the dog shows calm behavior. If you progress too quickly, the dog will remained frightened.

Counterconditioning Method

    Pair whatever it is frightened of with something that is incompatible with anxious behavior. For example, if your dog jumps up on your leg when frightened by the sound of the doorbell, encourage the dog to sit after someone rings the doorbell once. As you gradually increase the number of times the bell is rung (either all at once or during the course of a day), continue to command the dog to sit and praise the dog when it does so.

Vet Anxiety

    Some dogs must ride in a car only when they are going to the vet. They then associate a car ride with an exam by a veterinarian. Take your dog for car rides regularly so that it does not assume it is going to the vet every time it gets in the car, and the dog will be calmer. If the dog is anxious while at the vet for its checkup, consider visiting the clinic regularly so that the dog can enjoy the attention of the staff and be fed treats. Again, this will help the dog be calmer when it goes for its checkup. Give your dog plenty of exercise if you know the dog will be experiencing a stressful situation like going to the vet. Physical tiredness will help make the dog less prone to anxious behavior.

Social Anxiety

    If your dog gets anxious or aggressive when you take it to other people's homes, keep it on a short leash and close to you. Allow the dog to play with the other animals in the house by keeping it on a 15-foot leash that can be dragged as the dog moves around. This way you can jump in if the animals become aggressive with each other. Bring your dog's crate when you visit unfamiliar places so that your dog can stay in it when it becomes anxious. This will be especially calming if the crate is a familiar resting place. Inside, place a blanket, familiar toy and even a bone. Dogs are den animals and do not dread confinement as we sometimes think they do.

Separation Anxiety

    The dog can tell when you're about to leave when you, for example, grab your coat, find your purse, get the keys and open the door. Vary the routine to calm the dog. Open the door, close it, then get your purse. Find your keys before grabbing your coat. Also, pretend as if you're getting ready to leave and sit on the couch instead. This will help the dog disassociate those actions with you leaving. Vary the amount of time you're gone each time you leave, sometimes just walking around the block before coming back. The dog will become less concerned as you come and go. Leave the classic music radio station playing quietly or an uneventful television program (no action films with gun shots) playing on the TV. Some dogs find the noise calming.



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