As rewarding and exciting it is to own a dog, it can also be a bit overwhelming when they act out of control — especially if you own a hyperactive dog or a very stressed pup. That’s not to say you love your pup any less; it simply means you have your work cut out for you.

While it’s completely normal to be immediately greeted at the front door with wet, slobbery kisses and a wagging tail, it’s a whole other thing to discover your pup hiding under the bed shaking uncontrollably, or to walk into a half-chewed living room. These unwanted behaviors can be alarming for pet owners and their families, but they’re also signs that something deeper is going on and your dog may need some help in curbing these behaviors.

So what causes dogs to develop these behaviors? And which ways are best to get your dog to calm down?

Stress in dogs may be the root to unruly behavior

It’s no surprise that our beloved canine friends share similar emotions as we do – like stress, fear, excitement, discomfort, and so on. Stress is perhaps the most common source of behavioral issues in dogs, particularly when you have to leave your pet alone for any period of time (like going to work, going into the grocery store, or out to dinner at a restaurant). So when you see your dog shaking uncontrollably, it may not be because they are cold; they may be scared or stressed. Same goes for a half-chewed living room. This type of stress affects many dogs, and some may react in more extreme ways, depending on their environment. Nevertheless, there’s a reason behind their behavior, and it’s important that pet owners observe how our companions are showing their emotions.

There are various reasons why your dog may express unwanted behaviors:

  • Lack of exercise –– If your dog isn’t getting enough exercise, they may resort to destructive behavior. This is especially true for energetic breeds and puppies.
  • Vet and grooming visits –– Dogs who’ve had bad experiences in the past with vet or grooming visits may develop fear for these facilities. This may cause them to uncontrollably shake, pant, drool, whine, bark, pace, or even act out aggressively.
  • Abuse –– If you own a rescue dog, they may have endured negative treatment in the past. Dogs that have suffered abuse may show aggression or timidness due to fear of past experiences or stress in uncertain times.
  • Loud noises –– The most common fear and stress-inducing noises for a dog are fireworks, gun shots, and thunder. For dogs who live outside, these noises may cause them to run away to seek safety.
  • Lack of socialization –– Dogs that have been isolated or prohibited from socializing with other dogs or humans may display aggression or nervousness.
  • Changes in the household –– Maybe you’ve moved to a new place, just had a baby, or got a new job. These changes can easily provoke destructive behavior due to, you guessed it, stress and fear.
  • Separation –– Leaving for work, going on vacation, or even stepping outside for a short period of time can easily bring stress on your dog, causing them to act out in a number of inappropriate ways.

Now let’s learn how to calm a dog down, especially those who are showing signs of stress.

How to calm down a dog exhibiting stress

As pet parents, learning how to get a dog to calm down can be overwhelming — especially after discovering your favorite shoes are now forever ruined. The key to calming your dog down is patience, practice, and a whole lot of love. So here are some strategies and tools to help soothe your pup:

Classical music

Did you know it’s been scientifically proven that classical music may help dogs in distress?  Fun fact: in one study, researchers played “Four Seasons” as well as other classical melodies for kenneled dogs. They quickly noticed that classical music helped calm down the dogs in the shelter.

Amazingly, in other studies, researchers noticed that dogs exposed to heavy metal music spent most of their time barking. So the next time you head off to work, or head to the store, try playing some Mozart, Beethoven, or Bach to help calm your dog down. Who knew?!

Aromatherapy

If dogs had a superhero strength, it would be their sense of smell. Why? Because a canine’s sense of smell is far greater than a human’s sense of smell. How much greater you might ask? 10,000 to 100,000 times greater. This means dogs can detect a higher amount of chemical compounds than humans, just from different smells.

But did you know that certain scents can help calm your overactive pooch? In one study, scientists found that dogs exposed to the aroma of lavender spent less time barking when traveling in cars and more time sitting and relaxing.

Additionally, dog-appeasing pheromone collars (DAP) also help produce calming properties in beagles when tested in stressful situations: Vet visits, crating, traveling in the car, separation from owners, exposure to fireworks, etc. DAP collars give off the scent of a mother offering a sense of wellbeing and safe atmosphere. While learning that scents and aromas can be calming for your dog is great, it also means that certain scents may be toxic for dogs. If you are unsure of which scents are safe or toxic for your dog, a quick Google search for accredited sites (.gov, .edu) or a call to your vet may help you identify the safest scents for your dog.

To hug or not to hug

As pet parents, our first response to our trembling pup is to hold, hug, and comfort them. But hugging your dog when they are showing signs of fear or stress could actually make them more stressful and more likely to bite.

According to animal professionals, this is because when fear arises in a dog, their first instinct is to run, and a hug might make them feel trapped – thus making them feel more stressed. Instead of physical contact, try using kind words, a calm demeanor, their favorite treats, and gentle, comforting pets to express tenderness for your dog.

Exercise

This may come as no surprise, but dogs are active animals and they need to move, just as do humans. Exercise is one of the best things for a dog’s health, and it’s perfect for calming a dog down. Something as little as a 25 minute walk or throwing the ball in your neighborhood park each day can greatly improve the quality of life for your little pooch.

CBD for dogs

If you haven’t already heard, Cannabidiol (otherwise known as CBD) is a naturally occurring phytocannabinoid in the Cannabis sativa plant. But don’t let its origin steer you away from its beneficial value. This molecule offers an array of benefits without ANY intoxicating effects.

CBD is known to promote a calming effect in terms of relaxation, as well as a calming of the nerves – both of which can help your pooch if they’re experiencing stress. Additionally, the safety profile has been noted by researchers as well tolerated among its users (what does that mean, you wonder? Read more here). However, too much of anything can cause issues, and each dog responds differently to different products. So, it’s crucial to observe your dog when trying out a new product, especially if they are currently using other products too. It’s also important to keep your vet in the loop anytime you add a new product to your pet’s regimen.

So the next time you see a storm on the radar, or it’s getting close to firework season, try administering hemp oil with CBD as it may help promote relaxation and produce a calming effect.