Have you heard the term “Pandemic Puppy” over the past two years? This is a term that refers to the emotional changes that happened to our precious dogs as our lives changed during the pandemic. Routines were different, schedules changed, & ultimately a dog who thrives off of both of those things were left to guess what was happening day in & day out. This led to a lot of codependency from pet to owner. While life has gone back to normal, the emotional changes in these affected dogs doesn’t just magically go away. Signs of an anxious dog can be (but not limited to):
- Excessive panting
- Forcing Attention (Laying on you, forcing pets, & staring at you)
- Spinning in circles
- Jumping up & on people
- Paw chewing (can be signs of allergies too)
- Loose stools
While anxiety isn’t something that changes overnight, it is also not something you have to just endure with your Doodle. There are many tactics that can greatly help your Doodle learn how to process through their emotions while also creating a balanced dog. Emotions in a dog are all based on ability to balance their emotions. While personality is based on genetics up to a certain point, most anxiety in an adult dog is learned behavior, environmentally induced, or a dog more in charge then the owners. Here are some tips to combat anxiety in a Doodle:
A dog needs exercise daily. That could be walks, visits to a dog park or doggy day care, or even fetch in the house. Getting a dogs heart rate up does wonders to regulate their emotions. When a dog exercises it releases endorphins that regulate their mood while also giving them the stimulation they need.
2.) Make Goodbyes Unemotional
When you leave, if you make it a grand goodbye with stimulation for the dog then you are setting the dog up for failure. Keep your voice mono-tone & calm. Limit the goodbye interaction to a simple pet & without a lot of eye contact or words.
3.) Mentally Stimulation
Just as important as exercise is mental stimulation. Doodles are extremely smart so stimulating their brain is extremely important. Make them work for a meal in a Kong or in training. Play mental games with them with toys & even hide & seek. Purchase puzzle boxes to make meal time more challenging. Have interactive play times with them where you are playing tug-o-war, playing fetch, or chase. Interactive play is not only a time for you to bond with your dog, but it is a time to build their confidence. Mental stimulation can take on many different facets & be different for each dog, but finding things that work for them is essential!
4.) Crate Training
Whether your dog sleeps in bed with you or in the laundry room opposed to a crate, having them crate trained is essential to their emotional balance while you’re not around. The crate should be a relaxed & safe space for them. While crate training, we encourage families to feed their dogs in their crate as well as provide them “nap times” in the crate. This allows the dog to not only feel safe alone, safe in a confined space, but also getting used to alone time. Which leads us to our next point…
5.) Alone Time
Having your dog with you 24/7 when you are home is creating a problem. If you get up from the couch & your dog follows you wherever you go then you need to create some space so they are not so co-dependent. We encourage alone time in a back yard for them to play, alone time in a room alone or tethered to a wall or chair where they can rest alone, as well as staying inside while you go outside to do something where they can see you but not join. The dog learning to be alone & ok with that is essential to their overall emotional maturity.
6.) Limit Stimulation
Our gut reaction when a dog is lonely is to redirect them. We do that with toys, treats, bones, & food. While at times all of these methods can work, overstimulation is one of the leading causes of anxiety. Just as parents, we limit screen time for a child, you have to limit toy & stimulation items for a dog. There is a time for toys & then a time for no toys. If they have access to their toys all the time then more then likely your dog is over stimulated. You will also be amazed at how interactive your dog is when you only let them play with one toy for a couple hours then take all toys away until later that day or even the next day. When you leave, don’t leave a pile of toys. Leave one & the next day switch that out for a different toy. If you come back to toy destruction ever? Then don’t turn around & give them another toy the next day.
7.) Access While Alone
If you have an anxious dog, one of the worst things you can do is leave them alone with access to your entire house. This adds to the sense of feeling alone & nervous. Limit their space while you’re gone. Confine them to a laundry room with a baby gate. Leave them in a kitchen. Tether them to your couch. There are many ideas to give them access to move about while not feeling out of control. An anxious dog will pace, whimper, & go from window to window for hours & hours while you’re gone. Whereas a confined dog feels safe, secure, & can decompress. You may feel you’re being cruel confining them to a smaller space while you go to work. Yes, your dog wants to be with you. However, if/when you cannot do that then creating a safe environment for them is essential.
8.) Focus On The Relationship
An emotionally balanced dog is always connected to its human & sees their human as the leader. Spend quality time engaging with your dog. Focus on the bonding. Don’t just snuggle when it’s convenient & then take it for walks. Interact with your dog. Make them a part of your routines & life. Engage with them when they need it. However, the biggest key to a healthy dog/owner relationship is discipline. They need to also respect you & know boundaries. Don’t let them go wherever they want and access whatever they want whenever they want. Have boundaries, routines, structures, & disciplines in place & when they don’t obey then correct. You can still correct lovingly while also demanding the response you need.
9.) Say It Once
A huge part of anxiety is a dog feeling they have to be in control when they don’t want to or have the skills to do so. It is a war inside their head & they struggle to process what to do. One way to combat this is to make sure they see you as the leader. The best way to do this is the “Say It Once” method. If I tell my dog to sit & he doesn’t? Then I need to help him obey or issue a redirect timeout. If I tell my dog to stop barking & he doesn’t? Then I need to help him obey or issue a redirect command. You get the idea I’m going with here. The worst thing we can do is repeat ourselves 5 or even 10 times before we get a positive response. The dog needs to learn when a command is given there needs to be a response. You will learn over time the difference between confusion of what was asked versus refusal to obey. In either fashion, helping them obey or redirecting them shows them that you are the leader & you’re asking for them to lovingly follow your lead & commands. When they understand this clearly it helps immensely with anxiety. While they will rely on you for leadership, they will develop a healthy understanding that when you’re not around they don’t need to be in charge. They can simply await your return.
10.) Natural Remedy Support
Last, but certainly not least, we go with some all natural supplements to aid while a dog is learning to be more emotionally balanced. Not all supplements are created equally. Some have harmful chemicals in them. Others claim to have certain things in them, but as you read the fine print you realize there isn’t enough to make a difference. There are three products that we not only trust whole heartedly, but have seen first hand the amazing results from them.
This product is jam packed with nutrients your pet will thrive on. If there ever was a magic pill that you can trust…this is it! CBD Mega is a daily vitamin that slowly builds up in your dogs system. This is a supplement you can give everyday & slowly watch many changes ranging from calm disposition, normal joint function, healthy immune system, healthy cognitive function, allergy support, as well as skin & coat health. Click here to order.
This product is not for daily consumption, but is more for those stressful moments that your Doodle may experience like a vet visit, a long car ride, or a holiday with a lot of guests. Simply give the recommended dosage 30-mins before a stressful activity & you will see the benefit. It does not subdue your dog or make them sleepy. It simply relaxes their stress reactors & allows them to function outside of the “Red Zone” that we have discussed in previous articles. Click here to order.
Chillax To The Max – CBD Bone
If you’re going to leave any item with your dog while you’re away from home this is the product! These long-lasting nylon bones are coated with a clear, soluble CBD herbal supplement for oral delivery. The CBD is gradually released as your dog chews or licks the bone. Our personal pet dogs will chew on these for weeks & weeks & is the only bone we give them outside of natural hooves. It is safe to give them with the other products as it is a very slow release. Click here to order.
You can also order a combined pack of all three for a discounted price. Click here to order the bundle.