Whether you’re house sitting or on vacation, strange places can cause severe issues with dog anxiety.
Many dogs have anxiety issues when they are introduced to new places.
The short of it is that they don’t know what to do.
This strange place, with its strange smells, can cause severe dog anxiety.
Especially if other dogs are, or have been, in the area.
How to Deal with Dog Anxiety
Dog anxiety can be a crippling thing for you, your dog, and your trip. You have to address the anxiety and relieve as much of it as possible if you want to have a happy dog and a happy trip.
Don’t Make it a Thing
By this, I mean that the best thing to do with any sort of negative feeling from your dog, be it dog anxiety, aggression, or anything else, is to not give it attention. Of course, you want to alleviate the situation, but what you don’t want to do is acknowledge it to your dog. For example, it may be tempting to coo and whatnot to your dog if it’s freaking out, but this doesn’t work. It only accentuates the anxiety. Instead, you want to offer a distraction to alleviate the dog anxiety without letting your dog realize that you are acknowledge it.
Related: The 7 Best Dog Travel Accessories for a Smooth Getaway
If your dog is suffering from anxiety, try to distract it. Offer it a treat or its favorite toy. If that doesn’t work, try to alleviate the dog anxiety by taking your dog for a walk. Walks are a great distraction because there are all sorts of things to see and smell, and because it’s something you normally do anyway, your dog won’t be further upset by the new sights and smells it see. You’ll simply be going for a walk.
Whether you’re at home or travelling, exercise is a great way to alleviate dog anxiety. If your pooch is flat tuckered out, it simply won’t have the energy to get balled up into quite such a tangled mass of anxiety. Don’t get me wrong, your dog will still experience anxiety, however it will be lessened by a lot of physical activity.
They key is to get your dog nice and tired before the anxiety comes. For instance, if your dog hates to ride in the car, take it for a super long walk or play an epic game of fetch before you leave. I mean, really work your dog. By the time you’re finished, your dog should be ready to plop down and not move. This is an extremely effective proactive approach to dog anxiety. And don’t worry, exercising your dog that hard will not affect its health in any way. As the vet where I worked used to say, “It’s hard for a dog to be bad when it’s exhausted.” In this case, though “bad” is replaced with “anxious”.
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You can use pheromones to alleviate dog anxiety in those pooches who are just too high strung for distraction or exercise to work. DAP (Dog Appeasing Pheromones) pheromone products work extremely well, and are what my vet recommended for both home and travel use.
- DAP Diffuser: The diffuser variety is perfect for home use or travel. You simply plug the diffuser into an outlet, and it slowly releases calming pheromones into the air. You can use one diffuser in the room where your dog spends most of its time. If your dog has extremely severe dog anxiety, you can even put one in every room of your house or wherever you’re staying while travelling.
- DAP Collar: The collar is an excellent way to address dog anxiety. Because the collar releases a steady stream of low level pheromone around the dog’s head, it’s a perfect “always on” option.
- DAP Spray: Another excellent dog anxiety reducer is DAP spray. To use this, simply spray it into the air. Of course, with this method you do have to respray the area, but it still works very well.
For dogs that have an extremely high level of anxiety, my vet often recommended using a combination of the diffuser and the collar. This one-two punch can help reduce dog anxiety dramatically.
Plan Ahead to Reduce Dog Anxiety
When travelling, having people over, or whatever causes your dog’s anxiety, planning ahead can be your absolute best first line of defense against dog anxiety. When you are going to be in a situation that will cause your dog distress, be proactive. Exercise your dog before the trip or visit. Keep DAP products with you to alleviate the dog anxiety. If your dog appears to be getting wound up, distract it as soon as you see the first signs.
Doing these things won’t eliminate dog anxiety, but they will help reduce it. That’s really all you can do for your pooch, but even reducing the dog anxiety will have your little buddy feeling better about life.
Do you have any tips for reducing dog anxiety while traveling? Tell us in the comments!