Saturday, December 10, 2011

How to Calm Dogs When They Are Frightened

Use a soft, gentle voice when calming your scared dog.

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Dogs can become frightened for a number of reasons, including exposure to a new object, person or pet. Thunderstorms, firecrackers or loud noises can also scare your dog, causing it stress and anxiety. When a dog becomes frightened, it reacts by whining and displaying fearful body language, such as lowering its body, flattening its ears and tucking in its tail, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Reduce your dog's anxiety and fear by calming it during a frightening situation.

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Take the dog out of the frightening situation on a leash while remaining calm and confident. Determine what is causing the dog's fear, such as a person or object, and ask the person to back away from the dog, or remove the object if your dog is not on a leash. Speak to the dog in a calm, nonanxious voice to calm it once it is away from the object or situation.


Give the dog a series of treats to distract it from a frightening situation you cannot leave, such as a thunderstorm. This helps to associate the situation with something positive, like a tasty treat. If the dog prefers to play, engage it in a game of fetch or hide-and-seek with a favorite toy. Reward it for nonanxious behavior with a food reward.


Plug in a diffuser that contains synthetic dog pheromones or spray the pheromones around the room. These chemicals have a calming effect on your dog and reduce its anxiety and fears. In outdoor situations, you can place special collars, which contain the pheromones, on your dog.


Give your dog an herbal remedy like a flower extract to calm it down during a stressful, frightening situation. Apply these remedies in the dog's water or in the dog's food. During storms, you can use a specially designed jacket-type wrap that goes around the dog's body to calm it.


Massage your dog to calm it during a frightening situation. Play calming, soft music in the background during the massage. This not only distracts the dog from what it fears, but positively reinforces the experience.

Tips & Warnings

Expose young puppies to a variety of objects, people and situations to prevent it from fearing new things later in life.

Keep a frightened dog away from strangers. The dog may lunge at or bite a stranger as a reaction to its fear.

Never punish your dog if it becomes frightened of a person, object or situation. This increases its stress and anxiety, making it more likely to react aggressively toward you or others.

Don't spray dog pheromone sprays directly on your dog.

Bring the dog to a veterinarian if it shows consistent signs of fear. This could indicate an underlying medical condition or behavioral problem, which may require medication or treatment.

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ReferencesAmerican Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Fear of Curing Your Fearful Or Frightened DogAmerican Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Is Your Dog Afraid of Thunderstorms?Webvet: How to Calm a Dog Scared of Loud NoisesSan Diego Humane Society: Was Your Dog Abused?Partnership for Animal Welfare: Dog Tip -- Help for the Shy and Fearful DogAmerican Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Pet PheromonesPhoto Credit George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty ImagesRead Next:

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