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There are times during your puppy’s development when they will be nervous or scared, so it’s important for owners to know how to calm an anxious puppy.

Many dog owners will tell you their puppy went through a “scaredy cat” phase – things that were once boring and insignificant, became terrifying creatures ready to attack! While this is a normal phase that some puppies might go through, there are things in a puppy’s life that truly are scary. Vacuum cleaners and car washes, for example, make some pretty freaky sounds and movements. So how do we show our puppies that everything will be okay and calm an anxious puppy?

How to tell if your puppy is showing signs of anxiety

Puppies show emotions differently than their human friends. There are certain behaviours and symptoms that puppies will show when they are experiencing anxiety. To calm an anxious puppy, you will first need to recognise the following signs:

  • Trembling
  • Pacing
  • Urinating
  • Whining
  • Panting
  • Excessive licking
  • Long yawns
  • Barking
  • Hiding
  • Growling
  • Baring teeth
  • Chewing

How to calm an anxious puppy without using medication:

Radio: If your puppy is suffering from separation anxiety, some owners find that a radio playing in the room makes a big difference. This helps your puppy feel less alone.

Essential oils: Some essential oils can be used to help calm an anxious puppy. Be careful to find oils that are safe for puppies, use them around the home in a diffuser and avoid applying them directly to your puppy as they may cause irritation.

Cuddling: When your puppy is scared, try physical contact to help calm them. Just like humans, puppies crave connection, so pat and love away.

Note: some puppies show signs of fear aggression, so make sure if you’re handling your puppy in this state you’re not allowing children or inexperienced adults to do so. Always read the signs of your puppy.

Exercise: During an anxiety episode, take your puppy for a walk or play with them. Burning energy with a little exercise is a fantastic anxiety remedy!

Time out: You may need to give your puppy some quiet time. The safety of a kennel can quickly calm some puppies. If you don’t have a kennel, try a quiet, dim-lit room.

Build and train confidence: Obedience classes can help your puppy gain confidence again. If your puppy has already had obedience training, consider putting them into an agility class.

Anxiety Vests: Things like ThunderShirts are a type of sweater/coat that provide a small amount of pressure while your puppy wears it. This gives them a calming feeling, and can greatly reduce anxiety.

When to seek professional help…

When you have tried to calm an anxious puppy and nothing seems to work, have a chat with your veterinarian.

Mental health care has come far in the past 20 years. Fortunately, medication used for humans can sometimes be used for our puppies as well! It might sound silly, but if your puppy is showing signs of anxiety on a regular basis, medication could make their quality of life so much better. If you aren’t keen on pills, your vet can also help you find supplements and vitamins that can calm an anxious puppy.

One of the most common causes of nervousness in a puppy is separation anxiety. To learn how to help a puppy who is suffering from loneliness, read our article “ Puppy Separation Anxiety.

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