How to relax a stressed dog?

Behavioral therapy, anti-stress vest, pheromones: discover here 9 concrete solutions to help your dog relax...

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Why can my dog be stressed?

In biology, stress means any physical or psychological agent that causes a reaction in the body. But, in everyday language, stress refers to an agonizing or traumatic situation that an individual, and your dog in this case, has to face.

A dog can thus be confronted with punctual and transient stressful situations which lead to emotions such as fear or fear. Your pet may be confronted with it, for example, when he goes to the veterinarian, in the event of a storm, or on fireworks nights.

But your dog can also be subject to stressful situations that settle over time or that are repeated often. This is the case, for example, of stress linked to the inactivity of a working or hunting dog, stress linked to the loneliness of the animal, stress linked to poor communication between the master and his dog or inappropriate living conditions etc.

However, a dog who is too often stressed can become anxious or depressed. It is therefore necessary to break this vicious circle by implementing solutions aimed at relaxing your dog effectively in order to preserve his well-being and yours.

How does stress manifest itself in dogs?

Stressful situations in dogs result in negative emotions such as fear or anxiety which themselves give rise to various reactions such as:

  • neurovegetative manifestations: urination, diarrhea, vomiting, anal gland emptying, hypersalivation, tremors, gasping
  • a "folded up" posture, low with the tail between the legs,
  • a flight or aggressive behavior,
  • untimely barking, vocalizations,
  • substitute behaviors such as compulsive paw licking, scratching, spinning among other stereotypies, destruction,
  • loss of appetite or on the contrary, bulimic behavior
  • etc.

10 solutions to relax your dog

Solution n°1: behavioral therapy

Whether your dog suffers from a phobia or is stressed about being left alone, it is always best to identify precisely the origin of your pet's problem by consulting a canine behavior specialist. . Whether it is a behavioral veterinarian or a canine behavioral trainer, this professional will help your animal by setting up targeted behavioral therapy adapted to the particular case of your animal.

All the other solutions presented in the rest of this article can be used in addition to behavioral therapy in order to support it and facilitate its application.

Solution n°2: provide a serene environment and a reassuring routine for your dog

On a daily basis, offer your dog a comfortable bed in a calm and reassuring place for him where he can find refuge whenever he sees fit.

Also make sure house rules are clear and consistent for your dog.

Avoid coercive punishments and training methods (anti-bark collar, choke collar) which are likely to exacerbate fear reactions and can lead to aggression. Prefer positive and benevolent methods, more respectful of the dog's well-being.

Solution 3: Meet your dog's activity needs

When we are stressed, we often need to let off steam by having a good sports session during which we can release all the tensions! Well, it's exactly the same for your dog! Whatever the origin of his stress, you will always benefit from meeting his activity needs by offering him a long walk where he will have the opportunity to run to his heart's content

But physical activity isn't your dog's only need. Also remember to satisfy his food and chewing needs, his social needs, his intellectual and vocal needs! This will help to relax him on a daily basis.

To read also: the activity needs of the dog, how to satisfy them?

Solution n°4: try pheromonotherapy and aromatherapy

The apaisine is a pheromone, secreted in the intermammary furrow of the bitch from a few days after the birth of the puppies until their 3th week of life.It has soothing effects on the little ones who come to suckle but also tranquilizing effects on adult dogs so much so that today a synthetic analogue of alaisin is used to help with stress management:

  • of a puppy arriving in a new home,
  • of an anxious dog who has trouble adapting to a new environment (moving, vacation),
  • in all situations of fear in dogs (fear of an unknown person, urban phobia)
  • etc.

These pheromones have visible effects within the first 15 days of use.

There are also soothing essential oils (Valerian, Vetiver, Sage and Basil) to use as a spray or diffusion that help pets relax more easily. They can be used in all situations that cause short-term stress in the animal such as transport, a visit to the veterinarian or when there is noise that frightens the animal (work, fireworks).


The use of essential oils is to be avoided if you have a cat, a very young puppy or a pregnant or nursing dog. If necessary, ask your veterinarian for advice before using essential oils in the presence of your animal.

Solution n°5: bet on soothing natural products

If your dog needs an extra boost to make him less stressed, you can also use relaxing food supplements, products from herbal medicine, Bach flower essences or homeopathy. Seek advice from a specialist veterinarian.

Solution n°6: experiment with the anti-stress vest for dogs

Dog stress vests are a kind of dog coat designed to calm anxious dogs. These vests exert gentle, constant pressure on the dog's body and are said to cause a calming effect similar to swaddling a crying infant or hugging someone in distress.This gentle pressure would have the property of releasing chemical substances called endorphins which promote a feeling of well-being in the animal.

Solution n°7: Play relaxing music for your dog

Some studies have suggested it: classical music would have relaxing effects on our dear canines. But not just any ! To have calming effects, however, the music should not exceed 50 to 60bpm and a sound level of 55+/-5 DB so as not to offend the dog's hearing sensitivity.

To read also: a compilation of relaxing music for dogs on Music for my dog?

Solution 8: Learn to massage your dog

Solution 9: Relax!

A Swedish scientific study published in Nature showed in 2019 that the level of stress between dogs and humans was synchronized. In other words, we can also say that your dog is contaminated by your emotions.If you are stressed, your dog will be too! And if you already started by managing your own stress by relaxing, it might just help your dog relax too!

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