Those sad dog eyes. We’ve all seen them. You’re packing up your lunch for work in the morning and your gaze meets your pooch’s, the furrowed eyebrows and drooped head indicating your dog isn’t too happy you’re leaving.
While this is common behavior for many dogs, some have an especially hard time: studies suggest that as many as one in four dogs experience separation anxiety. These dogs exhibit more than just sad puppy dog eyes, with symptoms ranging from trembling and tail tucking, to compulsive licking and biting, and more.
Anxiety is a survival mechanism. When the dog perceives a threat – be it real or not – their sympathetic nervous system kicks into high gear and prepares the body for fight or flight. For chronically anxious dogs, though, this response is on a hair trigger, making them much more reactive than the situation requires.
It can be challenging to know how to help your canine companion if they’re dealing with anxiety. If your dog is exhibiting the symptoms above or has others commonly seen with canine anxiety such as howling, damaging items in your home, or having frequent accidents, here are a few things you can do to help them relax:
1: Create a space that’s theirs.
Dogs are creatures of habit, and routine helps them feel secure. Make sure they have an area where they feel safe going to in moments of fear or nervousness. Include their bed or a comfy blanket, and their favorite toy. If you can, try and establish the space in a quiet area of your home so they can easily nap if they’d like.
2: Get them moving!
Just like with humans, exercise stimulates serotonin production in dogs, which helps elevate their mood. In addition, being active helps them burn off extra energy that can worsen anxiety symptoms. Try to get out for at least 30 minutes each day and enjoy a game of fetch, a jog around the neighborhood, or a walk at a local park.
3: Give them a fun (and/or tasty) surprise.
If you know you’re going to be out and about for a while, fill a hollow dog toy with a yummy treat like peanut butter and leave it somewhere in the house where your pup will discover it. If your dog is watching their weight, offer up a favorite toy, sans food. Make sure your pooch only has access to the toy when you’re gone – soon enough he’ll begin associating your absence with a delicious treat or fun plaything, and the separation won’t seem so painful.
4: Calm them naturally, with hemp.
Therabis’ Calm and Quiet contains cannabinoids and L-theanine, which work together to increase your dog’s alpha wave generation, lower overall anxiety levels, and support full-body wellness. Cannabidiol, a component of hemp, doesn’t contain any of the psychoactive properties found in marijuana, so it won’t make your dog high. Your pup will, however, enjoy the therapeutic and healing properties inherent in hemp! Just sprinkle one sachet on their food each day.
5: Teach them a new trick.
A dog that’s busy learning something new has little time to focus on their stressors. Coach your pup on how to high five, roll over, or give you a hug. Not only will this distract their mind for a bit from their worries, it will also strengthen the bond you two share.
If you have an anxious dog, give these tips a try. We have no doubt your pup will go from anxious to assured in no time!