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- Dogs with anxiety may benefit from enrichment toys, supplements, and other supplies.
- Consulting a veterinarian, veterinary behaviorist, or professional dog trainer is the best way to help a dog overcome anxiety, but a variety of products may help manage the problem.
- To round up recommendations, we spoke with Dr. Karen Sueda, a veterinary behaviorist, and Malena DeMartini-Price, a specialist in dog separation anxiety.
Like all animals, dogs can experience a variety of forms of fear, stress, and anxiety. Some pups are terrified of fireworks or construction noise. Others panic when encountering strangers or when they are left alone.
While fear triggered by scary experiences or a lack of early exposure to sights and sounds can be extremely debilitating for some dogs, most are more likely to encounter milder forms of stress and anxiety at some time in their lives. For pups who experience occasional low-grade fear, toys, supplements, and other supplies may help. While these products aren’t a substitute for visiting a veterinarian, veterinary behaviorist, or dog trainer, they may help manage anxiety, especially when used in conjunction with training.
With the help of two experts and drawing from my own experience as a certified professional dog trainer and certified separation anxiety trainer, we’ve come up with a list of toys, supplements, and supplies that may help to calm a dog who is experiencing mild anxiety due to noise sensitivity, changes in the home, and other triggers.
For a veterinary behaviorist’s perspective, we consulted with Dr. Karen Sueda, a veterinarian at VCA West Los Angeles Animal Hospital in Los Angeles. World-renowned dog trainer and author of “Treating Separation Anxiety in Dogs,” Malena DeMartini-Price provided us with her expertise from more than 20 years working in the field.
It’s important to note that when working with an anxious dog, devices that cause pain or prevent a dog from practicing a natural but unwanted behavior are never the solution. Equipment like prong collars and e-collars/shock collars are not just dangerous, they are likely to create more fear, not less. If you think your dog is experiencing fear and anxiety severe enough to warrant these devices, it’s best to reach out to an expert immediately.
“If we address the dog’s anxiety early with good advice, then we address the problem at its milder stage,” said Sueda, instead of when it is more developed and harder to overcome. DeMartini-Price agrees. “Anxiety is something that can blossom and get worse and worse and worse,” she said.
Our experts also do not recommend turning to CBD products to calm an anxious dog primarily because there have not yet been any studies about their effectiveness. “Once we have the research, we may find that it really does help, but the hard part is we don’t know any adverse effects yet,” said Sueda.