Anxiety issues are very common in urban dogs today. The way we live is very far from the quintessential pack, and dogs have a hard time adjusting to the new rules. They need to spend a lot of time alone in small places or bear with city noise and crowds. Luckily, there is a simple way to help them! In this article, we are going to teach you how to make a dog anxiety wrap DIY and help your dog take that nervous edge off.
Dogs get anxious for many different reasons. Some have separation anxiety and don’t take being alone very well. Others are pretty chill throughout the year but can’t stand the sound of firecrackers and other celebratory noise makers. Some are just a bit nervous by nature, and that’s the way it is.
Either way, untreated anxiety can lead to sleep disorders, eating problems, and even aggression. It is very important to address this issue early on and try to find a cause, then the solution—which to many is the dog anxiety wrap.
This article is going to discuss several topics: anxiety causes and how to treat them, methods for helping a stressed dog quickly and easily, and finally, instructions for making a DIY anxiety wrap. We hope you’ll find everything you need to know in the following paragraphs.
About Anxiety in Dogs
Dogs are highly emotional creatures. Being pack animals by nature, they rely heavily on cooperation with other members of the pack.
Humans are also pack animals and need social interaction and support. However, our lifestyle changed drastically in the last century. The communities are getting smaller and smaller while the world is more crowded than ever.
A dog who wants to protect his family and guard his territory doesn’t have a lot to work with in the cities. Strangers are everywhere, and the “territory” is often limited to a very small living space. On top of all that, we intentionally leave them alone for one-third of the day, demanding that our dogs embrace this as normal.
No wonder our dogs feel anxious.
How to Recognize the Signs
Common signs of anxiety are:
- Excess energy and erratic behavior. Dogs that behave hyperactively might be just that—youngsters with ants in their pants. But if this behavior is combined with other signs, such as complete loss of focus (in certain situations/places he doesn’t listen to you even though he knows the commands), unprovoked aggression towards other dogs or people, or reactive behavior in general, you might have an anxious dog. These poor pooches don’t know how to handle a certain situation and become very nervous, triggering the fight or flight reflex. This can be very dangerous for both you and your dog, and might lead to trouble.
- Barking or howling too much. Giving a couple of warning barks when someone’s at the door is quite normal. After all, dogs bark to communicate with us and each other, and some are a bit chattier than others. But if the barking becomes obsessive (for example, your dog starts barking the moment you leave the building and won’t shut up during the entire walk), you have an anxious dog right there. This is a very sensitive issue because the “bark-o-meter” varies a lot between the breeds. If you think your dog is barking because he or she is anxious, you should consult a behaviorist or a vet to assess the situation.
- Escape attempts. Dogs that always hide or refuse to be in the room where the family gathers definitely have an issue with insecurity. Hiding or avoiding contact and interaction might be caused by many things, primarily by health issues. If your dog behaves like this, don’t write it off as shyness. Shy dogs are still very relaxed and happy around their family. Take your dog to the vet and do a thorough check-up.
- Shaking, tucking the tail. This is a dead giveaway. A dog that shakes and behaves frightened is definitely anxious; the only thing for you to do is find out why.
- Obsessive biting or licking. Paw licking or chewing are also signs of anxiety and some other disorders including OCD. This one is very serious because the dog can injure himself. It’s also very hard to control and stop.
Common Causes of Anxiety
Here are some of the causes of anxiety that are most often seen in dogs today. Of course, every case is different and if you think your dog suffers from it, make sure to consult your veterinarian.
- Abandonment issues. Dogs that have been abandoned before often develop some sort of It can be separation anxiety, obsessive chewing, and a lot of other stuff. But it’s not just abandonment that’s the problem. Dogs that went from hand to hand, frequently changing owners and environments are very prone to anxiety issues because their life lacks structure. One of the best ways to help such a dog is a very strict day-to-day routine. When the pooch is sure that everything is in its right place and doesn’t change, he will start to relax.
- Neglect. Another common cause of anxiety. Dogs that have a history of neglect are usually very anxious and insecure. They need to be introduced to the normal dog life all over again because many things that we consider normal weren’t a part of this dog’s life. Sometimes it was lack of food, water, and shelter—sometimes complete isolation for very long periods of time, or even violence and torture. Doggos that had such a rough patch need a lot of love, patience, and routine to get back on track.
- Lack of socialization. Even though most dog owners think that arranging a doggy playdate once a week is what socialisation is all about, this is far from the truth. Socialization starts the moment a puppy was born, and is a continuous process. The first step is interaction with the siblings. The second step is exploring the environment and understanding human presence (and also the presence of other animals like cats, ferrets, adult dogs, etc.). Socialization as in taking a puppy to the dog park comes much, much later, after many important milestones that happen inside the litter. It’s also important to understand that socialization is a big part of desensitization, meaning that you are teaching your dog not to be super excited about everyday stimuli.
- Aging. A lot of different things happen in our brains and bodies as we age. We become aware that we’re not as agile and strong as we used to be, have less energy, and generally seek a calmer environment. The same goes for dogs. Senior pooches can get easily stressed out by things that didn’t bother them just a few years back. Keep a close eye on your pooch and see what makes him feel uncomfortable. Avoiding some small things can make a lot of difference.
- Disease. Chronic pain or disability can lead to insecurity and anxiety. Depending on the nature of the medical condition, sometimes all you can do is ease the pain and make your dog’s life a little more comfortable. Always consult your vet and discuss possible ways to help your dog. Some dogs get very nervous when they are in pain, even if it’s a small thing like a twisted ankle. We are not calling them drama queens; we are just saying that if you have an overly sensitive pooch, you might want to keep him away from additional stressful situations. On the other hand, serious acute medical conditions are nothing to joke about, and you might have to come up with a completely new regime. This means changing the habits and food, which makes every dog anxious. If it’s possible, do the transition gradually. If not, you might have to use medication to help your dog.
- Negative past experiences. Dogs that have been mistreated might connect certain sounds, places, or people with unpleasant experiences. It is very important to break this habit. What helps a lot during the process is an anxiety wrap, because it makes the dog more relaxed and focused on what you want him to do.
How to Make an Anxiety Wrap
Making an anxiety wrap is very easy. Of course, you can choose to make one that is an actual wrap suit, but if you don’t want to, here is how to make one quick and easy.
The most important tip about anxiety wraps of all kinds—some dogs love it and even ask to get one when they are used to it. Others, however, hate it. If your dog wants to take the wrap off, then it’s not good for him. Don’t insist; find another way to cope with the anxiety.
The wrap should be used circumstantially, or in scheduled times. Don’t just leave it on your dog forever. It can lead to habituation or loss of awareness.
What you’ll need is an elastic fabric. This can be literally anything you want. Here are some suggestions:
- A regular elastic bandage; you can purchase one in every pharmacy.
- A piece of fabric you bought specially for this project. It should be a stretchy material that is firm enough to keep the shape, but not too thick to make your dog feel uncomfortable.
- A knitted shawl for winter days.
- The anxiety wrap is basically a long and thin piece of stretch fabric. The dimensions depend on the size of your pooch.
- The width of the fabric should match the width of your dog’s chest.
- The length of the fabric should be long enough to wrap three times around your dog’s torso.
How to use the wrap:
- Take the band and find the center, lengthwise. Place the center of the band on your dog’s chest. Make sure not to place it on your dog’s neck because that will make him even more anxious. Make sure to do the whole process slowly and calmly.
- Wrap the band behind your dog, crossing the two ends at the shoulder blades, and tighten it. It should be tight enough for your dog to feel a slight pressure, but not too tight.
- Bring the band ends under your dog’s chest, cross them again, and pull them up on the back.
- Tie the knot away from the spine. Check the tightness. Your dog should feel some comfortable pressure, but he should be comfortable and able to breathe and move normally.
What does this simple wrap do? It basically provides a big, permanent hug! The feeling of being tightly wrapped makes your dog more relaxed and takes the edge off. This gives you an opening to work on training and focus, which is usually impossible when the dog is distracted due to anxiety.
Other Ways to Help an Anxious Dog
What else can you do to make your dog’s life easier? Depending on the cause of his anxiety, some of these tips might help:
- Scheduled separation. Leave your dog alone every day, for tiny periods of time. Start by just closing the door and waiting on the other side for a couple of minutes. Increase the period gradually, introducing toys, puzzles, and other pass-time activities as you go. Anxiety builds up when the dog sees you doing certain things—putting your shoes on, talking the keys, talking on the phone. Do all of these things randomly during the day but don’t get out of the house. Let your dog think that all these mean nothing, and he won’t build up negative emotions just before you’re about to leave the apartment. Also, leave some music on while you’re away, it helps some dogs tremendously. Check here for more information about music for dogs.
- Keep calm. If your pooch sees that you’re stressed, it will only add up to his emotional state. No matter how hard it is, try to stay completely calm and composed. Also, smile. Studies have shown that dogs understand us better when we have a calm or happy expression.
- Exercise. A tired dog is a good dog, and this is especially true for dogs with anxiety. Two or three big walks per week or talking your dog to swim/run is a great way to take the edge off. You’ll be good for a couple of days, and he will be happy and healthy.
- Playdates or company. If your dog is a bubbly extrovert, it might be a good idea to find a doggy daycare. He will be happy, exercised, mingling with other dogs, and equally happy to see your face in the evening, but this time without anxiety and nervous tantrums. It was also shown that separation anxiety is much rarer in households with more than one animal.
Coping with anxiety is hard for dogs and humans alike. Unfortunately, we can’t explain certain things to our dogs—thunder is nothing to worry about, firecrackers are not going to hurt you, and I will always come back home, no matter how long I’m gone. Because of this, we have to resort to other methods.
Anxiety wrap is a great method to help your dog in acute situations. It is also a good training aid for dogs that are insecure or anxious. What’s more, it is successfully used as a therapeutic aid for senior dogs. Putting an anxiety wrap on a couple of times a day, for short periods of just 5 minutes, can significantly reduce stress.
Unfortunately, this lovely wrap can only go so far. Dogs with severe anxiety issues probably need more serious treatment, including medication. Talk to your vet and discuss any concerns you might have, and we are sure you’ll find the best possible solution for your beloved dog.
Do you find our article useful? Will you be trying the method to make a DIY dog anxiety wrap we explained above? Let us know what you think in the comments section below. Plus, check out our article on separation anxiety in dogs for more information that can help.