15 Best Ways To Relax A Nervous Dog

Do you have a nervous dog at home who is always on alert?

From loud noises to sudden movements, it can be frustrating for both dog and owner when anxiety takes over.

It’s important to remember that just like us humans, all pups are individuals and will react differently in stressful situations.

The good news is there are many things you can do as an owner to help your pup relax.

In this article, we share the 15 best ways to relax a nervous dog with tips from experts in pet behavior and animal care.

Play With Your Dog

brown little dog plays with a toy on a grey bed

Playing with your dog is not just fun for both of you.

It’s also a great way to help calm a nervous dog.

Not only does it provide a physical activity that can tire them out, but the mental stimulation helps to keep their minds occupied and relaxed. 

Plus, playing games like fetch or hide-and-seek encourages positive reinforcement and builds trust between you and your pup.

That will make them more comfortable in stressful situations and create an overall sense of security.

Take Them For A Walk 

Not only does walking your dog provide physical exercise, but the smells and sights of being outdoors can be stimulating and help take his mind off whatever may have been causing him distress.

Going on regular walks with your pup also helps build trust between you both, giving you time to bond while exploring together.

Let Them Run Around In The Backyard 

white black dog walking in grass in backyard

That is especially effective for dogs prone to anxiety or stress, as it gives them an outlet for their energy and allows them to explore the world around them in a safe, familiar environment.

Running also releases endorphins which have been shown to reduce feelings of fear and anxiety.

Running outside exposes your dog to fresh sights and smells, which may stimulate their intellect.

Allowing your pup some time outdoors can be beneficial for both physical health as well as emotional well-being!

Feed Them Their Favorite Food 

Not only will it provide comfort and reassurance, but the familiar taste of their favorite treat can also help to distract them from whatever is causing them anxiety.

Additionally, feeding your pet can be calming for you and your pup, as it allows you to connect positively.

Brush Them And Give Them A Bath

brown dog gets a bath

Physical contact provides comfort and relaxation for the pup and helps them feel secure and connected to their owners.

When brushing a pup, be sure to use long gentle strokes that cover their entire coat.

That will help stimulate both their body and mind in a calming way. 

Bathing can also be a great tool for reducing anxiety as the warm water creates a calming environment for them to relax.

Make sure you use a pet-friendly shampoo that won’t irritate the dog’s skin and opt for lukewarm rather than hot water for a more relaxing experience.

Get Your Dog Used To New Environments Gradually

One of the best ways to relax a nervous dog is to gradually get used to new environments.

This can help build your dog’s confidence and reduce its anxiety when faced with unfamiliar scenarios.

It also helps them become accustomed to different sounds, smells, and people they may encounter.

Small steps, like meeting one person at a time or taking short walks around the block, will help your puppy adjust better than long trips.

Also, if you make sure that these experiences are always good by giving treats and lots of praise, your pet will soon learn that there’s nothing to be afraid of in new situations.

Reward Calm Behavior With Treats And Petting

white brown dog get a treat from a womans hand

This tactic brings peace and comfort to dogs and serves as a positive reinforcement that can help further calm anxious behaviors.

Treats are an easy way to give your dog attention, while petting can release oxytocin, which is known to create a feeling of relaxation.

It’s important, however, that you reward only the desired behaviors for reinforcing them.

If your pup is exhibiting anxious behavior, don’t reward it.

Instead, redirect their attention with treats and petting when calm and relaxed.

Speak In A Soothing Voice And Avoid Sudden Movements

Speaking softly and calmly can help your dog feel more at ease and less anxious while avoiding abrupt motions will prevent them from feeling startled or scared.

Additionally, when talking to your pet, be sure that you use positive language, so they associate those words with good feelings.

If you have treats on hand, offering them as rewards for calming down can also help create an environment where they feel safe and secure.

Provide A Safe Space For Your Dog To Retreat To 

white dog is laying in his beige brown bed

This safe spot can be anything from their crate or bed to a corner in the house with blankets and soft toys.

It should be somewhere they feel secure and comfortable, away from loud noises or stressful situations that might trigger anxiety. 

Encourage your pup to take refuge in this area when they’re feeling anxious by providing treats and praise whenever they do so.

That will allow them to learn that this spot is where it’s okay for them to go when feeling scared or overwhelmed.

Introduce New People And Animals Slowly 

Introducing new people and animals to a nervous dog can be daunting.

It is important to take your time with this process, as introducing new things too quickly or incorrectly could cause extreme stress for you and your pet.

The key is to move slowly and cautiously while keeping an eye on your pup’s body language so that they don’t become overwhelmed. 

Start by introducing them from far away, then gradually move closer until they are comfortable enough to interact with their new friends. 

That will help ensure that you and your dog have a positive experience when meeting strangers or other animals.

Make Sure Your Dog Has Plenty Of Chew Toys And Bones 

dark brown dog chewing on a dog bone

If your dog is feeling anxious, providing it with plenty of chew toys and bones can be an effective way to help calm them down.

Chew toys are a great distraction for dogs that get nervous or stressed easily, giving them something else to focus on while also releasing some pent-up energy.

Chewing also releases endorphins, which can further relax them and make them feel happier overall.

Bones are also great for keeping your pup occupied, as long-lasting chews like marrow bones can keep them busy for hours.

Not only do these activities help soothe your pup’s nerves, but they can also help strengthen their teeth and gums in the process!

Take Your Dog On Car Rides For Fun Distractions 

Taking your dog on car rides can be a great way to help them relax and take their mind off of what is making them anxious.

Not only can it distract from the source of anxiety, but it also provides mental stimulation and enrichment for your pup. 

Plus, depending on where you go, they may even get excited about the new sights and smells!

Driving around with your pup in tow can offer an enjoyable outing for both of you while providing calming effects for any nervous dogs.

Help Your Dog Relax With Calming Music Or Aromatherapy Oils 

white brown little dog sleeps in a dog bed

That can be done in a variety of ways and can help reduce their stress levels.

Music has been proven to have a very soothing effect on animals, while aromatherapy oils promote relaxation and well-being. 

With these methods, you can create an environment where your pup feels more at ease and calm.

Not only will this make them feel better, but it will also result in better behavior for you and your furry friend!

Give Them Lots Of Attention And Love 

You can start by gently petting them and reassuringly speaking in a calming voice, and avoiding direct eye contact. Petting makes your pup feel safe, so be sure to alternate between their head and their body.

You can talk to them in a soothing and calming tone as you pet them. Be sure to use positive reinforcement such as treats, toys, or soft words of encouragement when they exhibit good behavior.

Take Them To A Dog Park 

Dog parks provide ample opportunity for dogs to socialize with other dogs, exercise, explore new smells, and just have fun. 

That helps distract the dog from whatever is causing him or her stress and allows them to focus on more positive activities.

Additionally, spending time outdoors has been shown to have numerous physical and mental health benefits for humans and animals.

Therefore, taking your pup out for fresh air at the local dog park may be just what they need after a stressful day!

Watch Tv Together

This low-key activity can provide comfort and entertainment, distracting your pup from whatever makes them anxious.

It’s also perfect for those days when you’re stuck inside due to bad weather or need to stay home for other reasons.

Grab your pup’s favorite blanket, snuggle up on the sofa, and enjoy a movie, documentary, or show together.

If your dog is particularly anxious, you can try playing “dog-friendly” movies or television shows that feature sounds like birds chirping, dogs barking, music composed specifically for animals, or even nature scenes with calming music.

That can help to provide comfort and security while helping your pup relax.

You can even use this time to practice obedience training as long as your dog appears relaxed enough to focus on practicing new commands.

When the movie is over, take a break from the screen and take your pup for a walk or playtime outside.

Before You Go…

You now know the ways to relax a nervous dog.

If you want to learn more, read the following article too!

Mena Emad, DVM
Mena has a Bachelor’s degree in veterinary medicine. His expertise, passion for animal welfare, extensive knowledge, and experience in the field of veterinary medicine make him an excellent resource for our readers.