How to Calm an Anxious Dog

Like humans, animals can experience anxiety. Whether it’s due to trauma or situations that trigger their nerves, dogs of every breed can become an anxious bag of bones. The good news is that there are therapies, techniques, and treatments available to ease this problem. Below are a few to get you started.

Recognize the Signs

Anxiety can be easy or tricky to spot, depending on the severity and how your dog expresses it. If you suspect your dog is nervous, below are some key signs to watch out for:

  • Trembling
  • Shaking
  • Pacing
  • Hypervigilance
  • Chronic licking
  • Frequent yawning
  • Decreased appetite
  • Increased salivation or drooling
  • Increased panting


Like humans, exercise is a great way to expel anxiety in a dog. While it won’t remove the cause, it can redirect their nervous energy and help them flush it out. Even if you take your dog for regular walks, you’ll want to increase the amount of exercise if they’re anxious. Whether it’s playing fetch or taking them on a run, exercise will boost their endorphins and ease some of their nervousness.

Boost Their Self-Esteem

It may sound weird to associate self-esteem with dogs, but it is also a trait that needs nurturing. Confidence goes a long way towards helping a dog feel less nervous in certain situations, but it does take practice. Renowned dog expert Cesar Milan says the best way to boost a dog’s self-esteem is to help them repeatedly accomplish small goals. These goals can be part of obedience training and obstacle courses where the dog is given rewards for achieving certain feats.

Stick to a Schedule

If you have an anxious dog, it’s best not to aggravate them by keeping them to a haphazard schedule. A sense of regularity will help ease an anxious dog as they know what to expect and when. Sticking to a regular schedule includes consistent timing for meals, walks, and even sleep.

Alternative Therapies

Alternative therapies are becoming more popular with pets, especially if they suffer from anxiety. While it’s always best to check with a veterinarian at Goodyear Vet Clinic first, alternative therapies can be a safe and effective way to calm your pooch’s nerves. Some of the more common therapies include:

  • Music/sound therapy: music and certain sounds can be calming for a dog. It can also be a way to redirect their attention if they’re anxious.
  • Rescue Remedy: part of the range of Bach flower remedies, this homeopathic treatment can ease an anxious pooch.
  • Supplements: supplements like melatonin, chamomile, or tryptophan can induce relaxation in your dog.
  • Aromatherapy: diffusers that emit certain scents can also calm a nervous dog. You might need to do some research into which scents are best (and some are poisonous to dogs), but this can be a pleasant (and great smelling) alternative therapy.
  • Calming Coats: calming coats consist of t-shirts that create pressure around the dog’s torso, creating a feeling of being swaddled. Popularly used to calm cats and dogs during travel, coats such as the classic ThunderShirt may be enough to ease their nerves.