When it came time to crate train my puppy, he made it very obvious that he did not like being left alone — and as a first-time dog owner, I wasn’t quite sure how to proceed with his apparent anxiety. If you’re experiencing a similar situation, try not to worry — there are Amazon products on the market that are designed to help ease your pup’s mind (whether they’re worried about separation, storms, or something totally different).
However, before you start shopping, it’s a good idea to consult your veterinarian to make sure there aren’t any underlying medical conditions causing them anxiety.
What does dog anxiety look like, anyway? Nicole Ellis, a certified professional dog trainer, gives Inverse several examples. She says that some particular behaviors include “excessive pacing, barking and crying; scratching at doors or destructivity of household items/furniture; urination when dog is potty trained; or whimpering, howling, barking, or crying.”
Sound familiar? If so, the following tips I’ve gathered might be able to help. Covering everything from chewable treats made with soothing chamomile to using positive reinforcement, there are plenty of tricks — all recommended by professionals — you can use to help your dog feel less anxious.
Again, it’s important to speak with your veterinarian first so you can both determine what might be causing your dog stress. If you get the OK to move forward with the following tips and tricks, start filling your cart.
1. First & foremost: figure out the source of your dog’s worries
Buying a variety of calming products can become a moot point if you aren’t the right items. Tonya Wilhelm, the dog trainer behind Raising Your Pets Naturally, recommends figuring out what’s stressing your dog out in the first place.
“The very first thing a dog parent should do is find out what their dog is anxious about,” she tells Inverse. “Only when a dog parent knows why, can they develop an appropriate treatment plan to address their dog's anxiety.” Noted.
2. Play these dog-friendly tunes to help soothe their anxious mind
Wilhelm also expresses the importance of “natural calming aids” while easing your dog’s anxiety (depending on where it’s rooted), emphasizing how “teaching the dog that what was once scary is now something not to be concerned about.”
She suggests using calming CDs. These ones are clinically tested and specifically made for anxious pups. The manufacturer even claims an 80% success rate — but if you need proof, tons of reviewers shared their stories. One person wrote, “My trainer recommended these for my rescued Siberian Husky dog who has severe separation anxiety issues... I just pop one in the portable player and hit repeat. Puts her to sleep and relaxes her within minutes.” Each of the three discs are also interchangeable, so it doesn’t matter if you play them out of order.
3. Give your pup a gentle hug with this compression jacket
Similar to how weighted blankets work on humans, this Thundershirt — which Wilhelm also recommends — wraps your dog in a gentle hug. It’s made to help keep your pup calm, whether they’re experiencing thunderstorms, vet visits, and more. Plus, the soft-and-stretchy fabric shouldn’t chafe uncomfortably against their fur or skin — and thousands of reviewers raved about how it started working “within minutes.” It’s even available in seven sizes.
4. Read a training book to help create an anxiety-reducing plan
If leaving your dog alone always makes them restless, Please Stay: Help for a Dog with Separation Anxiety is definitely worth a read. From picking the perfect location for your dog’s crate to tips and tricks on how to build their confidence up, Wilhelm herself takes you through a step-by-step process on how to break the cycle of anxiety. And if you aren’t sure where your dog’s anxiety is coming from, there’s also a diagnostic section that helps you determine whether the anxiety is related specifically to your absence, or humans in general.
5. Buy your dog a backpack so they have “a job to focus on”
If your dog has a lot of energy, giving them a “job” to do can help keep their mind occupied. “Exercise is so important for reducing anxiety, and wearing a backpack gives the dog a job to focus on,” Lindsay Stordahl, a professional dog trainer, tells Inverse. She says, “I've found dog backpacks really help with anxious, high-energy dogs, dogs that tend to pull or dogs that tend to react to people or dogs during walks.”
Luckily, this backpack is available at a very reasonable price — and it even features a handle on the back, just in case you need to quickly grab hold of your dog. Or, if you choose to use it while hiking, the compartments on either side are large enough for food, water, snacks, and more.
6. Check with your vet to make sure calming products are necessary
While calming products can help put your dog at ease, there’s a chance that they could be masking a larger problem that may require assistance from a vet. That’s why Shonyae Johnson, a certified dog trainer and the behavior manager for Operation Kindness, recommends checking with your veterinarian to find out if they’re even needed in the first place.
“Yes, it’s important to check with your veterinarian to determine if your pet needs calming products that can help with their anxiety,” she tells Inverse. “Anxiety can be a symptom in relation to other medical concerns, so it’s important to rule those out first.”
7. Spritz this soothing spray made with lavender essential oil
Once you’ve ruled out any other potential medical concerns, Johnson tells Inverse that “pet calming sprays and chewable treats are known to lower anxiety levels when experiencing separation anxiety, thunderstorms and fireworks.” But if you aren’t sure where to start? This spray in particular is adored by reviewers.
Its blend of lavender, chamomile, and Egyptian geranium essential oils is specifically made to help soothe anxious minds — or, you can even use it as a calming air freshener around the house. You only need a few spritzes for it to be effective, and the formula has a balanced pH that’s 100% safe for dogs. Plus, many reviewer wrote about how it “smells great” and “seems to help.”
8. Don’t forget about training, because calming products aren’t everything
Sprays and treats may soothe your dog in the short-term, but Johnson says that figuring out what is stressing your dog out in the first place is the most effective solution to reducing anxiety. “Calming products can support pets during temporary moments when they’re scared, but they are not meant to be relied on for extended periods of time,” she explains. “Calming supplements are a tool, but training is usually accompanied with it to extinct the behaviors present with the anxiety.”
9. Incorporate these soothing dog chews into your pup’s diet
With that in mind, these chewable dog treats are still a solid option when looking for ways to help calm anxious pups. Chamomile is only one of the soothing ingredients you’ll find listed on the back, while valerian root and ashwagandha can help alleviate stress. Protein-rich cricket powder combined with amino acids and omega-3s also work to support your dog’s overall health. But if that isn’t enough, these supplements are also free from wheat, soy, and corn.
10. Give your dog this stuffed animal with a comforting heartbeat
Overall, Johnson provided Inverse with numerous examples of products that can help ease your dog’s mind, including “supplements, stuffed animals designed to lower anxiety, anxiety vests, anxiety-reducing pillows, gel packets, behavioral calming bites, dog diffusers pheromones, weighted blankets, treats, sprays, and auditory designed Bluetooth speakers [...].”
That’s why this stuffed animal is a great pick — especially if your dog likes to cuddle. The pulsating heartbeat simulator on the inside helps your dog feel like they aren’t alone, while the soft exterior is perfect for snuggling. And since the heartbeat automatically shuts off after eight hours, you won’t be stuck having to constantly change its batteries.
11. Set up this dog bed that helps provide a sense of security
If you can’t find an anxiety-reducing pillow, this fluffy dog bed could be a great second option. The raised edges can help give your pup a sense of security as well as some extra head and neck support. Its bottom is also made from high-density fabric that’s moisture- as well as dirt-resistant — and if pink isn’t your color, you also have the choice of 13 other shades. Choose from eight sizes, ranging from beds made for dogs weighing anywhere from 3 to 150 pounds.
12. Plug in this pheromone diffuser that covers up to 700 square feet
By providing up to 700 square feet of coverage, this pheromone diffuser aims to help alleviate anxiety regardless of whether your dog is relaxing in their crate or hanging out on the couch. It works by mimicking the chemicals that mother dogs produce, sending calming messages to your dog that can help them relax when stressed. The best part? Each order comes with enough pheromone solution for up to a full 30 days — and the diffuser only needs to be replaced once every six months.
13. Again, ask your vet for specific recommendations
With so many calming products available, it can be difficult to find one that’s perfect for your pup — that’s why Johnson suggests focusing your search on brands that have been approved by the pros. “Look for trusted brands that are certified by professionals,” she tells Inverse. “Ask your veterinarian for recommendations and pay attention to warning labels and ingredients.”
A good piece of advice, regardless of whether you’re shopping for yourself or your dog.
14. Add this grippy mat to your tub for stress-free baths
Slippery surfaces can destabilize your dog, making baths a stressful experience. “Slip and scare moments in the bath make dogs terrified: slippery = scary,” explains Mikkel Becker, the lead animal trainer for Fear Free who’s also a certified trainer and dog behavior counselor. “A pet's sense of balance is essential for their physical and emotional wellbeing.”
Becker also tells Inverse that, “In a pinch, you can use a thick bath towel to add a bit of stability” — though this nonslip bath mat is a more permanent solution. The grippy surface helps give your dog some much-needed traction in the tub, while hundreds of drainage holes help prevent any grimy buildup. Choose from more than 20 colors, including a soothing shade of sky blue.
15. Wash your pup with this easy-to-use shower attachment
If adding a bath mat to your tub doesn’t seem to help with your dog’s stress, their worries could be coming from something else — like a thundering showerhead.
That’s why Becker recommends using this particular Aquapaw shower attachment when it’s time to give your dog a bath. “It's more concentrated and controlled than putting your dog under the full showerhead,” she explains. Becker continues, “You can get in deep to your dog's skin which gets them cleaner overall.” And with its 8-foot hose, it’s easy to maneuver around large breeds. Plus, the palm is also ergonomically designed to fit on both left and right hands.
16. Add this licking pad to your shower wall so your dog stays busy
Keeping your dog occupied can help take their mind off of whatever is stressing them out — and according to Becker, a licking pad “offers a distraction for your dog while grooming, clipping their nails, applying eye drops, cleaning their ears, etc.” This one’s made from food-grade silicone that’s completely BPA-free — and the variety of textures help scrape away odor-causing bacteria from your dog’s tongue. Plus, the suction cups on the back mean you can stick it nearly anywhere, including your shower wall.
17. Utilize a quiet clicker to help reinforce good behaviors
If your dog is sensitive to loud sounds — even from training clickers — Becker suggests using a quieter clicker like this one from PetSafe. It’s ergonomically designed to fit comfortably in your hands, as the attached finger band gives you a little extra gripping power. Plus, it’s suitable for dogs of all ages. “Clickers are perfect to train dogs for many purposes, for example, to stay in a sit and not to dash out the door when it opens,” Becker explains.
18. Find an interactive toy to help redirect your dog’s destructive energy
Whether your dog has destructive or nervous tendencies, there are interactive toys that can help redirect that energy. Joan Hunter Mayer, the certified dog trainer and professional canine behavior consultant behind Inquisitive Canine, tells Inverse, “Provide your dog enrichment activities to help build self-confidence and independence, and redirect their hunting and problem-solving energy to something productive.”
Mayer continues, “Interactive food toys such as the Omega Paw Tricky Treat Ball and Kong® Toys provide options and can be found on Amazon.” As for this tricky treat ball, simply insert your dog’s favorite dry food or treats, then give it a light toss. Your dog should be able to smell the treats inside — and they won’t be able to access them unless they roll the ball around, keeping them focused and entertained for hours.
19. Add this highly rated Kong toy to the mix
Speaking of interactive chew toys, you’ve likely seen this classic Kong toy before — but that doesn’t make it any less effective at keeping your dog busy. A simple toss is all it takes to send it bouncing all over the place, as the curved body makes it hard to predict which direction it’ll go. You can also fill it with peanut butter as a fun treat (if your vet allows it) — or, if you need a little extra time to yourself, you can pop it in the freezer so that the peanut butter filling turns hard, making it difficult for your dog to snack on too fast.
20. Switch to this harness that’s designed to fit comfortably
Mayer also suggests incorporating gentle training equipment in order to help keep anxiety to a minimum. “Use humane, force-free training equipment such as a harness, as opposed to items that choke and cause pain,” she tells Inverse. “This type of gear helps enhance the human-canine bond while avoiding the development of negative conditioned responses and often more fear and anxiety.”
Available in 13 colors and four sizes, this harness has an X-shape fit that shouldn’t choke your dog — even if they pull. It’s also made from soft, breathable polyester mesh to help keep them from overheating when running, or during long walks. Plus, the metal D-ring on the back gives you a firm place to attach your leash.
21. Use positive reinforcement to help build confidence
According to Tess Marty, a dog trainer and contributor to Dog Spotted, building your dog’s confidence can help conquer certain anxieties. She tells Inverse, “Rewarding them before they do something ‘wrong’ is so important to their confidence.” Marty continues, “When you’re on your walk or even in the house, remind them that they’re doing the right things, and it will prevent them from choosing to do something that may not be ‘good.’”
22. Hide treats in this puzzle that’s sure to stimulate your dog’s brain
If you take your dog out running for miles and they’re still energetic when you get home, you might want to try giving them an activity that stimulates their brain rather than their body. Julie Burgess, a certified dog trainer for Senior Tail Waggers, tells Inverse, “Brain exercise can be just as beneficial, if not more so, than physical exercise for reducing anxiety. When dogs are tired, they are less anxious.” She continues, “Brain-stimulating toys are excellent for keeping your dog busy.”
If tossing a ball isn’t enough to get your dog’s brain working into overdrive, an interactive puzzle toy like this one will likely do the trick. Fill each compartment with some treats or kibble, and your dog will have to figure out whether to flip, lift, or slide them in order to get whatever’s inside. And if your pup solves the puzzle too quickly (or not fast enough), it also comes in varying difficulty levels so that pups of all intelligences can play.
23. Pack this puzzle ball with treats & let them chew
If your dog likes to chew (or is teething), Burgess recommends trying out this puzzle ball. She says it’s an it an “excellent” option for pups who like to chew — but she also tells Inverse, “The ball has a unique shape and is infused with mint to freshen your dog's breath while they gnaw. They're easy to pick up and carry, making them ideal for playing fetch.” Unlike some toys, this one is made from puncture-resistant rubber that’s less likely to get shredded after a few hours of play.
24. Leave your pet in short intervals to help reduce separation anxiety
Managing your dog’s separation anxiety is all about building up their tolerance to being left alone. Rather than leaving them for hours at a time, Ellis suggests leaving for just a few minutes when starting out. “If your dog specifically suffers from separation anxiety, spend short periods of time separated for your pet each day, starting really low such as 2-3 minutes and slowly building up time.”
With consistent training, your dog should be able to handle themselves home alone in no time at all.
25. Press play on this white noise machine with 24 soothing sounds
Ellis has several suggestions when it comes to making your dog feel like they aren’t alone when you leave the house. “Play some music, white noise or the TV to create noise in your house,” she tells Inverse. “Animal-loving dogs may enjoy watching DogTV, which has the colors adjusted to attract dogs to the images on the screen.”
With that in mind, playing this white noise machine while your dog is home alone might be able to help ease their mind. There are 24 different soothing sounds ranging from ocean waves to a crackling campfire — and since the volume is adjustable up to 32 levels, you can easily fine-tune it to be as relaxing as possible.
26. Stay on schedule when it comes to your dog’s mealtimes
If your job is heading back to working from the office, Ellis suggests putting your dog on a routine in order to help with the transition. “Get your dog on a similar schedule to what it will be when you do go back to work,” she tells Inverse. “This includes walks, mealtimes and attention.” And with help from this meal tracker, it shouldn’t be too hard to keep a consistent schedule of whether or not they’ve been fed. It’s made from tough ABS plastic, and there are even magnets on the back so that you can stick it right to your fridge.
27. Give your pup a relaxing massage
When all else fails, giving your dog a soothing massage might do just the trick when it comes to helping them relax. Sharon Williams, a pet behavioralist and co-founder of DogDesires, tells Inverse, “Anxiety often causes muscles to tense up and just the same way that any human would be left feeling relaxed after a massage, a dog would too!” She continues, “You can start at your dog's neck working your way down with long strokes. It's important to keep one of your hands on the dog so that he or she does not fear the massager.”
But if you want your dog to get the most out of their massage? This handheld roller is specifically designed for dogs and cats. The larger ball works to roll away stiffness, while the smaller one helps alleviate tension. Plus, the curved handle lets you keep one hand on your dog at all times as you roll it back and forth.
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