You may have asked why can’t my dog stay calm or even wondered why your dog is anxious and hyperactive?
If your dog is overly anxious or hyperactive, he may be bored, under-stimulated, seeking attention, suffering from separation anxiety, or something else may be bothering your dog.
So, the first thing you can do to help your anxious dog relax or calm a nervous dog is to be sensitive and try to understand exactly why he or she may be hyperactive or anxious. Here are a few things to consider:
- What’s your interaction with your dog like and what activities does your dog do on a daily basis?
- Are you reinforcing the very behavior you’re trying to eliminate in your hyper dog by constantly paying attention to him during outbursts? Next time your dog nips or jumps at you over-excitedly, try not touching, not talking, and no eye contact to see if it does the trick.
- Maybe your beloved furry friend is bothered by something; you should be able to tell since no one knows your dog as well as you do.
There are a variety of ways to make your dog more comfortable depending on the reasons for their anxiety or hyperactivity. The way your dog exhibits stress and reacts to calming methods differs from one dog to the next.
If your dog has anxiety or is nervous, you can try some of the techniques below the next time your pet needs comfort.
- Identify the signs of your dog’s anxiety and help him avoid the triggers
- Become self-aware and provide a positive example to your dog
- Refocus your dog’s energy elsewhere
- Your dog’s diet may have an effect
- Stimulate your dog’s relaxation through healthy sniffing
- Music can also calm your dog down
- Use Behavior Modification
1. Identify the signs of your dog’s anxiety and help him avoid the triggers
Anxiety in dogs can manifest in many subtle ways. You can help your dog have a better quality of life by learning and avoiding the things that make him anxious. Some dog therapists suggest that if your dog licks incessantly, they may be trying to communicate nervousness, stress, or fear.
It will help if you write down the things your dog does and, when the dog is anxious, what situations and circumstances trigger the anxiety so you can figure out what’s going on.
When you take note of what you see, you might be able to identify certain things that might be making your dog restless and help avoid or eliminate those things.
2. Become self-aware and provide a positive example to your dog
Dogs are mirrors of our lives. You will receive back whatever energy you project. Do you feel calm and confident? Does your energy reflect that of a confident leader? Have you been bogged down by a conflict, or are you dealing with work-related worries?
Your dog’s energy level can be affected by the uneasy or nervous mood expressed in your body language or voice tones. Our dogs are constantly reading our emotions and body language.
It doesn’t matter whether we think that we are teaching our dog or not, they always learn during our interactions with them.
3. Refocus your dog’s energy elsewhere
Providing your pet with a task to concentrate on can be extremely beneficial. As easily as it comes from physical needs, hyperactivity in dogs can be psychological. Your dog’s hyperactive behavior can be reduced by giving him an activity to do thus, refocusing his energy.
Playing fetch, taking a vigorous walk, going for a run with your dog, and having him carry a backpack with weight to help divert his attention from squirrels or other obstacles, are great physical ways to redirect his attention, expend excess energy, and relieve any stress.
Apart from engaging them in physical activity suitable for their developmental stage, it is also important that you make them feel relaxed by involving their brain in tasks which appeal to their natural instinct. When dogs chew and lick, they find it soothing and both help them to calm down.
Licking can help dogs release endorphins and serotonin, which calms and helps them to feel less anxious. It’s this calming experience you’re aiming to help your dog stimulate in certain circumstances such as when easing new dogs into their new environment, or when anxious during thunderstorms or fireworks using a licking mat like Hyper Pet IQ Treat Mat.
Giving dogs something to chew is also a great way to get their attention off something and onto another. A dog chew that is edible can provide your dog with a quiet activity and help to calm teething pups or dogs that are nipping.
Despite the soothing nature of licking, excessive licking may be an indication of other problems that a dog may be experiencing, such as allergies or underlying pains. If your dog does seem to be licking himself constantly, or certain objects, then you should determine the underlying cause.
The same applies when choosing chew toys: be sure they are the correct size or are not stuffed. When giving your puppy or dog a chew toy or edible chew, keep an eye on him or her so that you can remove the toy if it starts to tear or gets so small your pet could accidentally ingest it.
4. Your dog’s diet may have an effect
Aside from the actions you take, looking at your dog’s diet is an important step towards learning how to calm him down. There is a common saying that a person is what they eat. A dog is no different.
Physical and mental health are impacted a great deal by diet. Restlessness can also be caused by when and what you feed your dog.
Just as you wouldn’t feed your child a bunch of candy right before bed, you shouldn’t do the same with your dog. Make sure your dog eats at least three hours before bedtime, and go outside before going to bed so he can relieve himself.
Learn about the best food choices to give your dog and commit to helping your furry one live a healthy life through a healthy diet. The best pet food to use is an all natural pet food that is free of sugar, soluble carbohydrates, and any other additives that can cause blood sugar spikes and other harmful effects.
5. Stimulate your dog’s relaxation through healthy sniffing
A dog’s primary mode of experiencing his environment is through scent. For dogs, being able to sniff is essential. As your dog sniffs, the area of his brain that produces dopamine, a neurotransmitter involved in anxiety regulation, activates.
By sniffing, your dog can self-soothe and relax. Some essential oils like chamomile, lavender, cedar, and bergamot have been found beneficial in helping soothe your pet. But these must be vet-approved, specially formulated oil meant for pets.
You can do your research or talk to your veterinarian or a holistic professional to find out what smells your dog may tolerate, harmful ones to avoid like tea tree, citrus, anise, clove, wormwood, and the best and safest methods to apply it.
Keeping your dog’s mealtimes exciting and involved is yet another way to stimulate healthy sniffing. Your dog can have a lot of fun indoor sniffing out treats you’ve hid throughout your house for him or simply hide some treats in different spots in your yard so your dog can sniff out and enjoy some outdoor fun.
If you want to make it much more fun and exciting, you can get snuffle mats or stimulating treat balls.
6. Music can also calm your dog down
Most of us have a favorite song we play whenever we’re stressed. The truth is that dogs are also similarly affected by music? A dog that is stressed or anxious can benefit from listening to music.
Playing classical, soft rock or reggae music has been shown to reduce dogs’ heart rates and cortisol levels, as well as other symptoms of stress.
These types of music can help to calm and relax a dog because they have the right sound waves. You can even find calming music specifically designed for dogs on the market. You can play such music to help ease your dog’s anxiety anytime you’re not home and keep him calm during thunderstorms.
7. Use Behavior Modification
When your dog does great and is of good behavior, shower him with lots of praise, compliments and occasionally some rewards. You should always reinforce positive, healthy behaviors in your dog. Undesirable behaviors should however be discouraged.
For instance, petting your dog or soothing him should not be your first response when your dog is unnecessarily jumping, barking, and becoming hyperactive. These behaviors may train your dog that acting out is a way to quickly get your attention.
Rather than making eye contact or touching your dog when they’re acting this way, step back. This simple behavior modification technique can stop some acting out behavior and calm your dog down.
Applying similar behavior modification techniques can also help to change how your dog reacts to certain triggering situations or incidents.
This psychological therapy teaches your dog how to cope with stressors more calmly and to become less fearful. In certain cases, additional help from a professional dog therapist may sometimes be necessary to help manage pets suffering from behavior problems.
You now have 7 useful and effective ways to calm down a hyper or anxious dog. Having tried the above tips, if your dog is still having anxiety problems it may be best to seek the help of your veterinarian in order to ensure you have taken all the appropriate steps and rule out any possible underlying illnesses.
Your veterinarian can create a plan for easing your dog’s anxiety, which may include simple steps or other measures requiring his oversight, prescribe anxiety medication, if necessary, and/or refer you to a veterinary behaviorist if other causes cannot be found.
This veterinary group specializes in treating aggression, fear, stress, and anxiety in pets.