We brought Benji home a few weeks before July 4th. As anyone in the US knows, July 4th is considered the birthday of our nation. Americans celebrate by grilling meats outside and lighting fireworks (also, drinking a lot of alcohol).
Benji was generally a chill dog at home. However, the fireworks had him terrified. He was running around our apartment in a frenzy; nothing we did would calm him. We felt terrible that he was petrified and that there was nothing we could do.
We tried putting him in his crate and he howled and howled. We tried giving him treats- he wouldn’t eat them. We tried snuggling him in our bed. He just stomped all over us.
We just had to wait for the fireworks to stop.
I’ve learned quite a bit since then about dealing with various types of dog anxiety. Here are some of the most effective natural remedies I’ve found. I hope these tips can help you, too!
I’ve gone back and forth with thunder shirts. When we first brought Denver home, he was a maniac. Putting the thunder shirt on him only seemed to make him a slightly restricted maniac.
Basically, a thunder shirt is a cloth wrap with velcro straps. The idea is by wrapping a thunder shirt tight around your dogs body, your dog receives compression that calms them.
Many dogs have found solace with thunder shirts. Here is a study I found that suggests thunder shirts will likely reduce a dog’s heart rate during especially anxious situations.
Also, many shelters rave about how well thunder shirts work for their dogs.
If your dog suffers from severe anxiety, a thunder shirt might be worth a try. Check out my recommended brand here.
You can also try swaddling your dog. If you don’t have a thunder shirt this is worth a shot!
CBD Oil and Treats
CBD, or cannabidiol, has long been recognized for its positive effects on the endocannabinoid system in humans. What’s interesting is that dogs (and many other animals) also have an endocannabinoid system. This means that CBD may offer the same positive effects that we see in humans to dogs.
The endocannabinoid system is responsible for regulating many different aspects of our behavior including mood, memory, pain and appetite. There is still a lot of study that needs to be done but the early research is showing positive signs for managing pain and anxiety in dogs.
For dogs with serious anxiety, such as extreme separation anxiety, I would recommend trying a regular dosage of some CBD oil. For less extreme anxiety, you might try treats with a lower dosage of CBD as needed. I recommend the Zesty Paws or fomo bones.
My sister-in-law has had a lot of success managing her dog Bailey’s storm anxiety with top 40 music. She gets so scared of storms that she starts shaking. It’s worth a shot!
Give Them Something To Do
Many dogs want jobs. They crave work. When they don’t have anything to do, they often become anxious and look for trouble (this is especially true of most herding and working breeds, like collies and huskies).
Working on your dog’s training during periods of anxiety will help to calm them by refocusing them on something else. Reinforcing a “sit” or “down” are good examples of this.
I would also recommend training a “crate” and a “place” command. It really helps calm a pup down if their job is to stay put in crate or in place.
You might also try training a “hold” command, where the dog can’t drop a toy placed in its mouth.
The purpose of these commands is to refocus your dog off of whatever is making them upset onto something constructive.
If you’re struggling with an anxious puppy, I’d recommend checking out this article.
Hope these tips help! It’s worth trying anything that gets us closer to zen with our dogs.