How to Help an Anxious Dog
Just like humans, some dogs can have naturally quite anxious personalities, and it is important to gently teach these dogs from a young age that the world is not something to be afraid of. It can difficult to know where to start when training an anxious dog, as many can be scared or unresponsive to standard training techniques. The key is to start from the beginning, starting with rewarding even the most simple behaviours such as not hiding from a stranger, or by being more inquisitive about a new toy.
For anxious dogs, avoid using correctional behaviour techniques such as spray collars, as these can actually make your dog more nervous and less easier to deal with. Use positive training techniques, such as clicker training, which allows your dog to associate the noise of a clicker with rewards such as praise and treats. If your dog doesn’t respond to playing with dog toys as a reward, then tasty low fat training treats make the perfect reward to coax them. Working in short, daily sessions of ten to fifteen minutes will slowly build your dog’s confidence.
For the most anxious dogs calming aids can help to reduce nervous behaviour such as pacing, chewing or howling, making it much easier for you to work with your dog without him becoming too stressed. Many dog calming products use natural ingredients or pheromones to calm your dog, which are ideal for calming your dog without having to result to medication from the vet. Other great products to help calm your dog include snuggle cushions which can be microwaved and placed with your dog, allowing the heat to relax them.
Playtime can also be stressful for an anxious dog, so start with relaxing play times which can help them to slowly burn off energy and calm down. Soft and plush dog toys are ideal for this, as the material and soft texture is calming for your dog, and they are great for cuddling up to after play helping them to feel secure and comfortable.