How to Help Dogs Destress

by Lori Lapierre
Your dog needs exercise, mental stimulation and routine to ease his tension.

Your dog needs exercise, mental stimulation and routine to ease his tension.

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Just like humans, dogs experience stress and anxiety. Life changes are usually the culprit—such as a move, family transitions or daily separations when people go to work and school. With your help, your pooch can work off his stress and learn to keep himself calm as well.

Step 1

Exercise your dog to help him work off stress and anxiety. Give him a long walk or a long stretch of outdoor play in the morning and again in the evening. This will tire him out and allow him to rest, as well as release endorphins to ease his stress, just as it does in humans.

Step 2

Leave plenty of his favorite toys around to play with during the day—especially if he is going to be alone. This will keep him occupied, keep him mentally stimulated—and help him forget that he's stressed.

Step 3

Give your dog a gentle massage to invoke calm. Pet his head, chest and back in slow, long strokes. Talk quietly and soothingly, and continue the massage until he physically relaxes. Quietly praise him for his calm behavior.

Step 4

Ignore your dog's attempts at attention through his stressed-out behavior. Help direct him toward independence by sticking with scheduled playtimes and encouraging him to play by himself as well, even when you're in the room. Avoid showing sympathy or attention during his poor behavior, or it may escalate.

Step 5

Give your dog a steady routine so he knows what is expected of him, when people will be home and when he gets his playtime. Having a steady routine that he can count on can greatly reduce his stress.

An Item You Will Need

  • Dog toys

Tip

  • Use aromatherapy to calm your dog; purchase lavender scent or plug-in dog scent diffusers to place around the house.

Warning

  • If your dog does not respond to these attempts at destressing, your veterinarian may recommend antianxiety medication.

Photo Credits

  • Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images

About the Author

Lori Lapierre holds a Bachelor of Arts and Science in public relations/communications. For 17 years, she worked for a Fortune 500 company before purchasing a business and starting a family. She is a regular freelancer for "Living Light News," an award-winning national publication. Her past writing experience includes school news reporting, church drama, in-house business articles and a self-published mystery, "Duty Free Murder."

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