5 Tips to Calm Anxious Pets
By McKenzie Dillon
Pets are considered furry family members by most animal owners, so it’s a big responsibility to make sure they’re properly cared for while their owners are away. That means staying on the lookout for anxious pets, and knowing how to ease their nerves when you notice they’re uncomfortable.
Since dogs and other animals are parting ways with their owner to be in your care, it’s likely you’ll board a few pets who are suffering from separation anxiety. Pet anxiety can stem from many different causes; however, the primary sources are behavioral and situational nervousness.
Animals can also become distressed and apprehensive around other pets if they aren’t accustomed to that kind of setting. The cause of their anxiety could even be from a startling noise in your environment, such as vacuums or washing machines. Whatever the reason, here are a few things you can do when you have an anxious pet on your hands:
1. Play Them Calming Music
There are particular chords and melodies in music that cause humans to feel more relaxed, and pets can be just as susceptible to calming sounds. It’s essentially music therapy for animals. You can find music meant to soothe an animal’s anxiety on websites like Amazon1, or even on Spotify where they have several specially curated playlists for different animals.
2. Give Them A Nice Cuddle
Dogs are considered man’s best friend for a reason, and, at times, a human’s physical touch is the best way to help relieve their anxiety. When an animal is anxious or stressed out, they can really benefit from something as simple as a loving stroke. Studies2 have shown they experience positive changes in serotonin, endorphin, prolactin, dopamine and beta–phenylethylamine levels after a session of gentle petting. The presence of cortisol, a hormone responsible for stress, also decreases after physical touch.
3. Provide Extra Exercise
Sometimes anxiety leads to pent-up energy in animals, and exercise is one of the only remedies for it. If your attempts at soothing an anxious pet with methods like music and physical touch don’t work, try letting them outside for a bit of extra exercise so they can get some space and tire themselves out. You can also offer individual walks or one–on–one playtime as an add–on for anxious pets who might not be interested in group play.
4. Distract Them With A Toy or Treat
Luckily for you, a dog’s short attention span can work in your favor, and you can distract them from their anxiety with a fun toy or tasty treat. An anxious pet can also benefit from a dog puzzle, such as a dog toy with a treat hidden inside. It will keep the pet busy, give them a sense of purpose, and they’ll be rewarded with a treat at the end. If you need something more readily available, a juicy bone or chew toy should do the trick, too. (Make sure any toys, treats or bones are owner-approved.)
5. Give Them Time Alone
If all else fails, the pet may be in need of some alone time—especially if they aren’t used to being in a space with several animals. You can probably relate to the feeling; when you’re in an unfamiliar, crowded space and you just want to step out for some air. Sometimes, the best thing you can do for an anxious animal in your care is leave them in a secluded area where they aren’t getting any stimulation until they calm down and feel ready to join the pack.
1. Amazon. Calming Music for Pets. https://www.amazon.com/s?k=calming+music+for+pets&i=digital-music&ref=nb_sb_noss_2
2. Health Benefits to Petting Your Dog. https://www.whole-dog-journal.com/lifestyle/what-to-think-about-when-petting-your-dog/
McKenzie Dillon is a blogger and sleep enthusiast for The Slumber Yard (myslumberyard.com), a reviews site that focuses on bedding products. In her free time, she likes attending music festivals, reading fiction novels and playing with her animals.