I cannot emphasize enough how the skill of knowing how to calm dogs down can go a long way for dog owners wanting the best for their pets.
As a dog trainer, I always emphasize the calmest dogs are the happiest dogs. When your dog’s body becomes less stiff, they settle peacefully in one corner, and their breathing regulates—there’s just no better sight.
But there’s so much advice and tips out there about helping dogs calm down that I totally understand if you feel unsure, uncertain, or overwhelmed on what to do.
Calming dogs down is a passion I have as a dog trainer. I actually have a dog calming course called The Dog Calming Code™ to help calm dogs down!
I believe that when our dogs have a period of time to regularly unwind, take a break, and enjoy alone time to let off steam, it will TREMENDOUSLY benefit them—physically, mentally, and emotionally.
In this blog, you will learn how to calm your dogs, how to reduce their stress, and how to help them find ways to release stress.
- One of the major causes of stress in dogs comes from the dog assuming the role of leadership.
- Quiet times can help your dog switch off and de-stress, so it’s important that they have them.
- Dogs can absorb a great deal of stress from us, their dog owners, so we should be careful with our energies, too.
Table of Contents:
- How to Calm Dogs Down: What I Learned From Car Rides With My Dogs
- Signs That Tell You Your Anxious Dogs Need to Calm Down
- How to Calm Dogs Down: Why Your Dog Is Stressed
- How to Calm Dogs Down: Taking On the Role of the Leader
- Doggy Dan, How Can Your Dog Calming Code Course Help My Dog?
- Help Dogs Relax With Alone Times and Breaks
- Calm Dogs Down With Their Own Retreat Corner
- How to Know If Your Dog Has Calmed Down
- How to Calm Dogs Down: 7 Best Tips to Reduce Stress and Anxiety in Dogs
- Dogs Absorb The Energy of Dog Owners… So Be Calm, Too
- Conclusion: Wondering How to Calm Dogs Down? You Might Need to Take a Step Away
How to Calm Dogs Down: What I Learned from Car Rides with My Dogs
My dogs adore my ute (pickup truck with a canopy on the back)!
Whenever I feel like my dogs need a break, I just make them hop inside the back of the vehicle, and drive around with the windows down.
Car rides calm my dogs down because they always hop off my ute significantly relaxed — and YES! — happy.
All I do is prepare the back of the ute by adding pillows and blankets all around, just to make my dogs feel comfortable.
I let them feel the wind, and after a while, they become less tensed, their breathing becomes more steady, and they look almost sleepy!
Seeing firsthand that my dogs respond positively to car rides taught me three things.
Lesson #1: There Are Free Solutions That Can Help Your Dogs Relax, De-Stress, and Calm Down
A simple—but free!—solution such as a car ride can really help our dog’s mental and emotional health.
During one of our car rides, I asked myself “What makes these car trips so relaxing for our dogs?”
THE PROGRAM THAT HELPED MORE THAN 80,000 DOG OWNERS KNOW HOW TO CALM DOGS DOWN THE RIGHT WAY. LEARN MORE HERE.
And the answer: my dogs get their moment to simply turn off the world.
No home to guard.
…or strangers to worry about.
…no overwhelming environment!
All they enjoy in the ride is fresh air and a moment of blissful calm.
Lesson#2: Apart From Knowing How to Calm Dogs Down, We Should Also Know When to Calm Them Down
Now this part is important as it’s easy to misinterpret our dogs.
Sometimes, we look at our hyperactive, jumpy dogs and think “Oh, they’re probably just being playful.” However, in reality, they’re actually so stressed.
Knowing the cues when to calm dogs down can spare your dogs from stress exhaustion!
Signs That Tell You Your Anxious Dogs Need to Calm Down
Is your dog simply rowdy or already exhibiting signs of stress and anxiety? Here are common signs to look out for.
Sign #1: Excessive Panting
Dogs will often pant heavily when they are stressed or anxious, so take excessive panting as a common sign that your dogs need a break.
Sign #2: Barking
Barking is a common sign of stress in dogs, as it is their way of expressing their anxiety or fear.
Sign #3: Hiding
If your dog is hiding and trying to avoid you, this could be a sign that they are feeling stressed and need some extra attention and comfort.
Sign #4: Trembling
When dogs are feeling scared or overwhelmed, they may start trembling or shaking as a physical response to the stress they’re feeling.
Sign #5: Pacing
If your dog starts pacing around in circles or back and forth, this could be a sign that they are feeling anxious and need some help calming down.
Sign #6: Chewing on objects
Dogs who are feeling stressed may start chewing on furniture, toys, or other objects in an attempt to soothe themselves.
Sign #7: Excessive licking
When dogs feel overwhelmed by their emotions, they may start licking themselves excessively as a way to cope with the stress they’re feeling.
Sign #8: Aggression towards other animals/people
Dogs who are feeling stressed may become aggressive towards other animals or people in order to protect themselves from potential harm.
Sign #9 Loss of appetite
Stress can cause dogs to lose their appetite, so if you notice your pup isn’t eating like usual this could be a sign that something is wrong and needs attention immediately.
Sign #10: Changes in sleeping patterns
If your dog is sleeping more than usual or having trouble getting comfortable at night, this could be an indication that something is wrong and needs addressing right away.
How to Calm Dogs Down: Why Your Dog Is Stressed
#1: They See Themselves as Leaders and Protectors… and it’s Overwhelming Them
Think about it this way: compare how you’d feel if you were designated as the driver for a car journey, versus just being a passenger.
Surely, you would be more relaxed as a passenger than being the driver, right?
That’s how your dog feels.
ALL THE TIME.
When your dog takes on the role as a leader and protector, they will be more on the edge, more anxious, more aggressive, and more stressed!
They’re always on the lookout for trouble or danger. They’re constantly agitated because they want everyone — puppies, other dogs, and especially YOU — to be safe.
They don’t have time to relax, switch off, and stop worrying because they’re the leader — and they take that role seriously.
BUT THEY DON’T HAVE TO FEEL THIS AT ALL.
Check out my course the Dog Calming Code to see what dogs need from you to understand that they are NOT the leader in the relationship, and how you can step up and show them the dog-cues that will help to settle them down.
#2: They Absorb Your Energy
Our dogs are very sensitive to their environment, so it’s no wonder they can easily pick up on the stress of those around them.
This is why it is so important to create a calm, positive atmosphere in your home if you have a dog. When dogs live in a stressful environment, they become stressed as well.
They may exhibit signs of anxiety such as barking, pacing, or hiding. Additionally, dogs will often take on the energy of their owners and absorb it.
If you are feeling overwhelmed or stressed out, your pup will likely feel the same way too. So be sure to keep your energies and emotions in check, too.
To reduce stress for both you and your dog, make sure to provide plenty of exercise, quiet moments, and mental stimulation for your pup each day.
Additionally, try to practice mindful breathing exercises with your pup by taking deep breaths together. This will help both of you relax and de-stress from the day's events.
#3: They Just Couldn’t Take Some Alone Time to Relax and Switch Off
Dogs are social animals, but they still need time to relax and switch off from the world. Just like humans, dogs can become overwhelmed or stressed if they don't get enough alone time.
Providing a safe and comfortable environment for your dog to retreat to when they need some peace and quiet is crucial for their wellbeing.
This can be in the form of a designated spot in your home or yard where your dog can go to take a break from people and other animals.
Moreover, it is essential to make sure that this space is free from distractions such as loud noises, bright lights, and visitors.
A good rule of thumb is to provide your dog with at least an hour of uninterrupted alone time each day.
This will give them the opportunity to rest, recharge, and relax so that they can come back feeling refreshed and ready for more playtime with you!
How to Calm Dogs Down: Taking On the Role of the Leader
Imagine the difference it would make to OUR anxiety when someone we trust tells us “Don’t worry about it. I got this!”
We can finally breathe a sigh of relief. Finally — we can relax!
Same goes for our dogs.
But a quick disclaimer before I continue: Although I used human emotion as an analogy above, I would like to encourage you that to understand your dog, you must also understand dog psychology. Dogs are complex animals and we really need to go to their level of thinking to understand them.
We can do things to help them see clearly that WE’RE the ones in charge, not them. So letting dogs know you got things covered will help!
When we establish that we’re the ones responsible for overlooking their food, and safety and security, our dogs will feel that it’s okay to wind down and take the back seat.
This is why I encourage dog owners — both old and new — to learn more about this principle through my course, The Dog Calming Code.
Doggy Dan, How Can Your Dog Calming Code Course Help My Dog?
I find it mind-blowing how easy it is to misinterpret dogs.
An anxious, stressed dog won’t always be sulking in one corner. Sometimes, they’re the rowdy ones, the agitated ones, the dogs that are so stubborn, it’s driving you crazy.
And we respond to their behavior with shouting, or giving punishments, or scaring them to establish that we’re the boss.
I will help you shift this mindset with the Dog Calming Code.
The DCC course teaches dog owners what dogs are looking for in a leader – and it's not what you'd expect.
It's not shouting and being a drill sergeant – it's being calm, it's acknowledging danger and dismissing it so the rest of the pack at home can relax, it's giving guidance, it's taking control of the walk until it's time to let the dog loose and have their own play time.
The course will help YOU instill into your dog’s mind: “I’m here. I got you. I’ll be in control. You can trust me.”
And that’s a powerful promise to your stressed dogs!
Help Dogs Relax With Alone Times and Breaks
Alone time and breaks are important for dogs. So, I always tell dog owners to add it to their dog’s routine.
Dogs need to be able to have time away from their owners to rest and relax, so having regular breaks can help them stay healthy and happy.
There are several ways to provide alone time and breaks for your dog.
#1: Calm Dogs Down By Taking Your Dog on a Walk or Run
Exploring the outdoors is a great way to give them some alone time. A walk or a run allows them to bask in their environment without the distraction of other people or animals.
#2: Toys Can Be an Excellent Distraction That Will Keep Your Dogs Occupied Even Without You Around
You can also give your dog toys that will keep them occupied while you’re away, such as interactive toys that dispense treats when played with.
#3: Help Calm Dogs With a Comfortable Corner
Additionally, providing your dog with a comfortable bed in a quiet area of the house can help them feel safe and secure while you’re away.
The benefits of providing alone time and breaks for dogs include improved mental health. You will also see reduced stress levels and increased physical activity.
Your dog might also exhibit better sleep habits, improved cognitive function, and greater overall happiness.
Regularly giving your dog alone time will also help build trust between the two of you. Trust is the secret recipe for a strong bond between owner and pet.
Calm Dogs Down With Their Own Retreat Corner
Creating a retreat corner for your dog can be a great way to give them a safe and comfortable space to relax.
To make the perfect retreat corner, here are some things you can consider.
Tip #1: Consider Privacy
Start by choosing a spot in your home where your pup can have some privacy. Make sure that the area is free of any distractions like loud noises or people walking by.
Tip #2: Cushions and Blankets Help
You may want to consider adding cushions or blankets to make the space more inviting and comfortable. If you have an outdoor space, you could also create a retreat corner there with things like a kennel or playhouse.
Tip #3: Keep Dogs Calm and Entertained with Their Favorite Toys and Treats
Add some items that will make your pup feel safe and secure such as toys, treats, and chews, so they can still be enteratined even while alone.
You can also include items like puzzles or interactive toys that encourage mental stimulation. To add, you may want to add calming scents such as lavender or chamomile to help keep your pup relaxed and stress-free.
Tip #4: Safety First
Ensure that the area is completely pet-proofed and that all furniture is sturdy enough to support your pup’s weight if they decide to jump up on it. With these steps in place, you should have everything you need for the perfect retreat corner for your four-legged friend!
How to Know If Your Dog Has Calmed Down
If you are trying to help your pup relax, it is important to be able to identify the signs that they are feeling more relaxed.
These cues that show your dogs have FINALLY relaxed can help you determine what to do next time.
These are some of the most common signs that your pup has calmed down:
Sign #1: More Relaxed Body Language
You can see this once their ears and tail will be lower, they may yawn or lick their lips, and their breathing may become slower, deeper, and more regulated.
Sign #2: Showing Signs of Contentment
A common sign can include wagging their tail or panting with a relaxed expression on their face. Additionally, less muscle tension can also indicate reduced stress.
Sign #3: They Start to Engage in Activities Such as Chewing on Toys or Lying Down
If your dog is back to their playful mood — playing quietly on one corner, or chewing in a non-aggressive way — it’s a good sign that they aren’t too wired up or too stressed.
Sign #4: They may start to respond positively to commands or cues from you.
When dogs have calmed down, they tend to respond positively to commands or cues from you. Moreover, they are more attentive and willing to listen, which is a good indication of their relaxed state.
Sign #5: You may notice that they seem less reactive when exposed to environmental triggers such as loud noises or other animals.
They may not bark or whine as much, and their body language may be more relaxed. This is a positive sign that your dog is feeling more comfortable and confident in their surroundings, and it may indicate that they are better able to cope with stressors.
How to Calm Dogs Down: 7 Best Tips to Reduce Stress and Anxiety in Dogs
As a dog owner, it can be distressing to see your furry companion experience stress or anxiety. So many things can come into play!
Dogs can become anxious for a variety of reasons, such as separation anxiety, fear of loud noises, or unfamiliar environments.
However, there are several tips and techniques that you can use to calm your dog down and alleviate their stress. See some tips below.
Tip #1: Exercise
Taking your dog on a long walk or run can help them to burn off excess energy and make them calmer. Additionally, exercise is a great way to produce happy hormones for dogs.
Tip #2: Massage
Gently massaging your dog’s body can help to relax their muscles and calm their nerves.
Tip #3: CBD Oil Therapy
CBD oils have properties that have been linked to reducing anxiety in dogs.
When it comes to dogs and CBD, it's all about how this magical cannabinoid teams up with their endocannabinoid system (ECS). Your dog's ECS is like the superhero responsible for mood, memory, muscle movement, digestion, appetite, and balance.
When the ECS is in harmony, your dog shines in all these areas. But when it's off-kilter, their well-being can take a hit. Since CBD is a great sidekick for the ECS, giving your pup a dose of doggy CBD treats or tinctures might help them find their balance and feel awesome overall.
Tip #4: Music Therapy
Playing soothing music for your pup is another recommendation because it can help to reduce stress and create a calming atmosphere in the home.
Tip #5: Calming Treats
You can find treats specifically designed to help reduce anxiety in dogs, such as CBD-infused treats or calming chews with natural ingredients like chamomile or valerian root extract.
Tip #6: Toys & Puzzles
Providing interactive toys and puzzles for your dog can help keep them occupied and distracted from any potential stressors in the environment.
Tip #7: Comfort Items
Giving your dog a favorite toy, blanket, or other comfort item can provide reassurance and make them feel more secure when feeling overwhelmed by stress or anxiety.
Dogs Absorb The Energy of Dog Owners… So Be Calm, Too
Your dogs can absorb your energy, so be calm, too. Dogs are incredibly sensitive to the energy around them, and they pick up on your mood.
If you’re feeling frustrated or angry, your dog will be able to sense it and may act out in response.
They might bark non-stop, or just act all fidgety around you.
That’s why it’s important for dog owners to take a few moments to calm themselves before interacting with their pet.
Take a few deep breaths, go for a walk, or do some yoga poses – whatever works best for you. Doing this will help ensure that your dog is getting the positive energy it needs from you.
Also try to stay away from any activities that may cause you stress while in the presence of your pup. This could include things like working on the computer or watching TV, as these activities can cause stress hormones to be released in both humans and dogs alike.
By taking the time to calm yourself first, you’ll be able to provide your pup with a more positive atmosphere and foster an even stronger bond between you two!
Conclusion: Wondering How to Calm Dogs Down? You Might Need to Take a Step Away
When it comes to helping dogs relax, sometimes the best thing you can do is simply step away and give them a break.
The gift of alone time allows them to take a few moments for themselves and process their feelings in a safe environment.
A quiet, distraction-free break gives your dog some time to calm down and de-stress without any additional stimulation or pressure.
Giving your dog some time away from whatever is causing them distress is one of the best ways to help them relax and reduce their stress levels.
Allowing your dogs some time for self-care will ultimately benefit both you and your furbabies… and you’ll surely come back to each other more refreshed, relaxed, and happy!
~ Doggy Dan 😄
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