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Tips for Calming an Anxious Dog

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scared dog

Some dogs have nervous, fearful, and anxious tendencies.  The reason for this can be caused by a few things.   If you bring a new dog into your home it’s important to be able to notice a scared dog and know how to help them cope.

How To Notice Signs of Anxiety

These traits can manifest in the form of shyness or even aggression. Anxious dogs can also become destructive. Signs of anxiety are trembling, whining, growling, panting, elimination, hypersalivation, excessive barking, and destruction.

If the dog shows signs of aggression towards strangers, children or other dogs, they should be closely monitored because they can harm someone else out of fear.

What Causes Canine Anxiety?

Some dogs have generalized anxiety which means that they’re anxious regardless of what the circumstances are. Poor socialization as a puppy or owner abuse is a common reason for why an adult dog would behave this way most of the time. Other dogs only get anxious during certain times like when traveling, boarding, during thunderstorms, trips to the vet, or grooming.

anxious dog grooming

How Can You Help An Anxious dog?

There are a few things that you can do to help calm a scared dog. Consider the following:

#1 Crate:

My dogs know that their crate is their bedroom.  The crate is their “safe zone” where they can go when they want to be left alone.  Sometimes my Dogo Argentino Diana will get nervous if there are a lot of children around that she doesn’t know.  Simply putting her in her crate allows her to calm down because she can safely sit there and just watch the rambunctious little humans, rather than being right in the middle of the chaos.

Crates don’t have to be those cold, metal, or ugly plastic things that don’t match any decor other than a prison’s.  Amazon has some beautiful wooden crates to choose from. Check them out below.

Diana of, course, has a bed in her crate that she loves to sleep on. Dog On It has excellent orthopedic dog beds for your loved one. Click the banner below to check them out.

Orthopedics Dog Beds for Every Breed

#2 Tight Clothing:

Loud noises like thunderstorms and fireworks can make for one scared dog.  You can’t simply explain to them that everything is okay and they are not in harm’s way.

Slipping on a sweater or t-shirt is a great way to help a scared dog feel secure and be less frightful.  Be sure that it is tight, but not too tight of course.  This method is basically the same as swaddling an infant in a blanket.  I remember when my children were babies – at bedtime, they loved being swaddled tightly.

If you can’t seem to make a sweater or t-shirt work you could try the Thundershirt for Dogs which is made specifically for this purpose.  This lifesaving product comes in different colors and sizes, so they work for nervous dogs of all breeds. They even make a version for cats. It is machine washable and made from a soft, breathable fabric.

Thundershirts also work great if your dog has a hot spot that they will not stop scratching.  It provides a layer of protection, allowing the sore spot to heal.

Scared French bulldog puppy


#3 Essential Oils:

Just like in humans, aromatherapy can be helpful for pets, both physically and physiologically.

There are some essential oils that shouldn’t be used around pets.  On the other hand, there are some that are great for many ailments other than anxiety.

Here are a couple of options that are perfectly safe. In fact, when used properly, these oils are recommended to help promote relaxation and relieve anxiety in a scared dogs

  • Chamomile: Promotes relaxation and sleep. It also supports healthy digestion.
  • Lavender: Relieves anxiety from separation or during long trips.
  • Clary Sage: Calms both nervousness and excitability.

It is important to exercise the safe use of essential oils. Pets have a much stronger sense of smell when compared to humans. They also have smaller bodies, so the biggest mistake pet owners make is using too much essential oil. Also, be sure to use the best quality essential oils that you can find.

Organic Aromas carries top of the line essential oils and diffusers.  They also have a blog which includes a few articles about essential oils and our pets. You can check them out here.

#4 Medication:

Sometimes you have no other choice for your anxious dog.  You’re left to resort to some sort of medication and/or supplement to help your pet deal with her issues.

This doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing.  There are natural remedies available that can help a scared dog.

My favorite is L-Theanine. I buy the human grade which is safe for canines.  You can find the one I buy from Bulk Supplements by clicking here.

L-Theanine is an amino acid found naturally in green tea.  It directly stimulates the production of alpha brain waves which provide deep relaxation, while maintaining wakefulness and mental awareness.

This stuff really works.  I like to buy the powdered form and sprinkle it over my dogs’ food. Or you could put it in a pill pocket and administer it orally as a treat.  If you prefer to give your dog healthy, unprocessed pill pockets, click here and check out the pill pocket recipes on our Pinterest page.

Before administering L-Theanine to your anxious dog, you’ll need to measure the powder very carefully and keep a close watch on your pet. This way you can adjust future dosages accordingly.

Here is a general guideline that I follow in regards to L-Theanine dosage for scared dogs:

  • < 10 lbs: 50 mg every 6 hours
  • 10-20 lbs: 100 mg every 6 hours
  • 21-40 lbs: 200 mg every 6 hours
  • 41-60 lbs: 300 mg every 6 hours
  • 61-80 lbs: 400 mg every 6 hours
  • 81+ lbs: 500 mg every 6 hours

Now, of course, most people don’t have a scale that measures in milligrams so here is a conversion chart as a guide:

US Standard Measuring Spoons
Spoon Size(level) milligrams
1/16 teaspoon 121
1/8 teaspoon 243
1/4 teaspoon 487

If you have a large dog and you don’t want to be worried about measuring a powder then you can purchase L-Theanine from Bulk Supplements in a capsule by clicking here.  I use the Gelatin ones and they are 500mg capsules.

I use this product before going to the vet, or on trips, and sometimes when a large group of people are coming over.

Don’t Let Your Dog Suffer

Fear is something that can be very hard to get over.  As a human, you’ve probably have experienced a bit of anxiety yourself.  Talking through it can help.  However, our canine friends can’t speak with anyone about their feelings, so they’re left suffering.  Be there for your scared dog by providing him with everything he needs to feel safe, and secure in your home.

Disclaimer:  I am not a veterinarian and before administering any recommendations made in this article you should consult your veterinarian.  This article is for informational purposes only and should not be used to diagnose and treat your pet.  Please seek professional advice from a licensed veterinarian.



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