Corona Virus anxiety and your dog. How to keep them calm
Obsessing over the news seems to be the new norm and working from home mixed with constantly being home after work is making the days blur together. Your sleep schedule is all messed up and “Tiger King” on Netflix has not helped your goal to stay on track with at-home work-outs. On top of trying to establish a new “normal” the best you can, you’ve started to notice that your doggo is weirdly pacing non-stop and just had an accident in the house!! ughhhhhh
You’re not alone! Ever since the World Health Organization (WHO) declared this terrible COVID-19 a pandemic, there have been a lot of people experiencing a lot of anxiety lately. The changes in your dog’s behavior are based on the fact that your dog picked up on your increased anxiety during these trying times.
“Dogs sense our angst and can catch it,” explains Mary Beth Knowles, MA, CPDT-KA, owner of Canines Content Dog Training since 1994 in San Diego’s North County coastal area. “Years of cutting-edge research from Dr. Brian Hare at Duke University’s Canine Cognition Center has repeatedly shown that dogs are empathetic and experts at reading our body language and facial expressions. They know when we’re upset or anxious. Recent research also shows that dogs and their human’s cortisol levels—a hormonal stress marker—rise and fall in tandem.”
The good news is that there are things that you can do to ease your dog’s anxiety and your own!
- Get those essential oils out: The key to keeping your dog less stressed out is to keep your stress level down. Aromatherapy is always relaxing. It can calm and ease tension in both of you. If you’re new to aromatherapy, please just make sure that you do not use anything harmful to your dog. Lavender is great for creating a calm environment, and you can also use vanilla, tangerine, and cypress oils to relieve your stress.
- Natural Remedies: Supplements, CBD Oil/Cannabis Extracts & Herbs can be helpful when given to your dog. Dogs release chemicals called endocannabinoids that help their bodies release serotonin which is a natural mood stabilizer and CBD seems to support that process by calming and soothing anxiety. Herbs like St. John’s Wort, chamomile, and valerian are also natural supplements that you can give to your dog. There are also other supplements like melatonin, L-theanin, and L-tryptophan which are homeopathic remedies that can ease anxiety in your dog.
- Give your dog’s brain a workout: Just like human minds, dog minds also need something to focus on or anxiety/bad moods will set in. Try playing some sort of high and seek with your dog or try to teach an old dog new tricks! Training sessions will keep you and your four-legged companion pre-occupied and your minds off of negative things going on in the world.
- Work out with your dog: Okay I’m sure that you’ve taken your dog on like a million walks during the entire shut down, but you can also do some inside games with your doggo. There are a bunch of YouTube videos showing people doing yoga and general workouts with their dogs. And if your best bud likes playing fetch, you could do simple fetch/toss games. If your dog has a KONG toy, try adding some peanut butter or chicken brother to the inside middle of the KONG and then freeze it. Your dog will love you forever for their little KONG-sicle.
- This is the most important, stick to your routine: Ever since you brought your dog into your life, the two of you have maintained a routine through everything and during these trying times, you need to stick to that routine more than ever! Stick to your feeding routine, your walking routine, and your snack time routine. It’s always good to add more exercise time as much as you can, and the sun/fresh air is good for both of you!
The constant shut down can be exhausting, but maintaining a healthy lifestyle helps maintain a healthy mind! Always remember to hug your dog, they’re so happy that you’re at home with them.