What Stressed the Dogs Out? Easing Pet Anxiety during Covid-19

What Stressed the Dogs Out? Easing Pet Anxiety during Covid-19
What Stressed the Dogs Out? Easing Pet Anxiety during Covid-19

Mental Health May

Looking at dog stress

While your pet might be relishing your new work-from-home status, enjoying more company and extra treats, there are many things about our current situation and the ‘new normal’ which might affect your pet’s mental health.  At this time it is important not only to look after their physical health, but also their mental wellbeing. 

Anxiety in dogs can be caused by; 

  • Fear – Triggered by loud or new noises or strange people and situations/activities.  Just like people living with anxiety, different things can be triggers for dogs.
  • Age-related Anxiety – Affecting older dogs where physical health and cognitive abilities have started to decline.  Like Alzheimer’s in humans this can cause confusion and anxiety in older dogs.
  • Separation anxiety – Dogs struggling to be on their own and can panic before you leave home and exhibit certain abnormal behaviours while you are away.

Our current isolation situation due to the Covid-19 virus could also be specifically impacting our pets’ mental health.

  • Their routine has been disrupted as many pet owners are working from home and others will be key workers who may be away from home more than normal or at unusual times.  Children are home from school and there may more noise during the day, and new activity that your dog isn’t used to.
  • New smells - With the increased cleaning and handwashing there could be new and unusual smells at home.
  • They are getting less exercise and time outdoors, and when they do get time outside it’s in the same locations for a shorter time and they may not be allowed off the lead.
  • They have less opportunity to mix with others – no interactions with other humans and they are not playing with other dogs or animals like they used to.

Signs of Stress & Anxiety in your dog

Helping with stress and anxiety

Your pet may be exhibiting some of these signs of frustration in this situation, but how we respond can be the first step in easing their anxiety.  Below are some suggestions of different things you can do to ease their anxiety during isolation but the main thing is to try and stay calm and be patient with them.

  • Exercise – Get outdoors when you can, at a safe social distance, or let your dog play in your garden if you are lucky enough to have one.  Exercise releases endorphins and allows them to have fun but it also wears them out. If they are tired, they may be more content when they come inside. 
  • Access to natural daylight and a window - if you can’t get them outside, the fresh air and exposure to different sounds and smells through a window can help stimulate them.  Just make sure this isn’t creating anxiety, as your dog may be frustrated about not getting to go outside.
  • Buying a new toy or rotating existing toys – This keeps things fresh and interesting for them.  Playing a game with your pet using a toy is a great way to build a bond and stimulate your pet.  Rogz has a great selection of toys including Yumz which massage their gums and dispense treats and Rogz Pop-Upz – these self-righting toys are great for mental stimulation and fun.  They are easily carried and their shape gives them an erratic bounce and wobble. They also float in water.  
  • Setting up agility activities and teaching your dog something new.  Guiding your pup around an agility course not only gets them moving but it is also a great bonding experience for you and your dog.  Learning to weave a figure of 8 between your legs is great for flexibility and this along with other tricks will help improve their agility.  Make sure to give lots of encouragement and praise.
  • Playing Hide & Seek for people or for treats.  Not only is this fun but it cultivates brilliant sit-and-stay behaviours, channels your dog’s natural instincts to hunt, builds their confidence, and will deepen your bond.   A great mental and physical workout
  • Play your Pet some Music – Spotify conducted a survey and found that 8 out of 10 pet owners believed their pets liked music, the genre of choice being Classic and Soft Rock.  They found that 46% of people felt that music was a stress reliever for their pet so they have set up Spotify Pets to help you create the pawfect playlist.
  • Yucalm The Yucalm range from Lintbells is natural and completely safe for your pet.  The products contain lemon-balm, L-Theanine, B vitamins, and fish protein. This is a supplement - not a sedative.  Although excellent results can be seen after just a few days, depending on the dog, it may take 3-6 weeks to get the full effect.
    • Lemon Balm – soothes stress and encourages calm behaviour. 
    • L-Theanine supports the production of serotonin and dopamine. 
      B vitamins support healthy nerves and brain function reducing excitability
    • Fish proteins (Hydrolysate) help calming signals find the right spot
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