How To Calm an Anxious Dog: 6 Tips To Ease Your Dog’s Hyperactivity

4 min read Aug 22, 2022

Does your dog have limitless energy? Are they unable to settle down regardless of how much you exercise them? Oftentimes, a dog’s hyperactivity is a way of expressing anxiety. The good news is you’re not alone, and there are several ways to help your anxious pup. Read more to learn what anxiety looks like in dogs, as well as some helpful tips to consider to help calm your dog’s anxiety.

Dog Anxiety Symptoms

Below are a few signs and body language indicators of canine anxiety. If your canine companion displays one or more of the following body language indicators, there’s a good chance they may suffer from canine anxiety:

  • Aggression
  • Destruction
  • Depression
  • Constant barking
  • Pacing
  • Repetitive behaviors (such as licking or chewing)
  • Restlessness
  • Panting or drooling
  • Trembling or shaking 
  • Fear related to loud noises (such as thunderstorms or fireworks)
  • Discomfort when you prepare to leave the home

Why Do Some Dogs get Anxious?

Anxiety is a normal response to an unknown situation that the body perceives as threatening. While some anxiety can be situational, the most common causes of dog anxiety are separation from their owner or family members, aging that causes cognitive decline, and general fear.3 While no two dogs are the same, genetics and years of breeding can also predispose certain dogs to anxiety.

A recent study that looked at the behavior of dog breeds in Finland found that anxious dog breeds include Wheaten terriers and mixed breed dogs, specifically related to noise.4 Spanish water dogs and Shetland sheepdogs were the two breeds found to be the most fearful.

Certain dog breeds have a tendency to be more energetic than others based on their history. In many cases, breed-related temperament traits, including high energy and anxiety, are due to years of human breeding for selected traits.

If you think your dog has anxiety, consider setting up an appointment with your veterinarian. Your vet will look to rule out any underlying medical conditions and will provide the best treatment options for your dog.

Regardless of the reason for your canine companion’s anxious energy, finding ways to calm your furry friend is key to a happy and peaceful existence for both you and your dog.

How to Help an Anxious Dog

Suppose your dog has a high energy level or displays any of the anxiety body language indicators mentioned above. Easy fixes like weighted blankets or letting your dog eat grass can help calm them down in the short term, but they may not be effective long-term solutions.
Channel your pup’s inner calm while considering these other helpful tips:

Tap into your dog’s breed instincts

It can’t hurt to do a little research into what your dog’s breed or mix of breeds was initially bred to do. You can use this information to tap into your dog's instincts by finding activities that harness their natural energy.

For example, if you have a dog who’s bred to be active, such as a herding breed or a sighthound, you may just need to add some physical and mental stimulation into their daily routine to satisfy their natural desire for a job. Put them to task and watch them thrive!

Get your active dog plenty of exercise

Many people believe that physical exercise is the only way to release extra energy, but it’s best to challenge the mind along with the body! 

Walking, hiking, or jogging with an active pup is a great place to start to tire them out and release some of that anxious energy. However, many active and anxiety-prone dogs are also quite intelligent and require mental stimulation just as much as physical stimulation. Try some physical play that forces your pooch to think or figure out a small puzzle to incorporate both their brain and muscles.

There are also many canine sports out there for you and your pup to try. If your pup doesn’t seem interested in one sport, keep trying others until you find one that fulfills your pet’s needs and brings them enjoyment.

Train your dog to work for everything they need

Require something from your dog for everything they want. Whether your dog wants a treat, wants to play, or wants to go outside, have them work for it. You can teach them to sit while you walk through entrances first and require them to stay until you give them the “okay” signal. The mental stimulation will keep them focused and on their toes, which will give them the exercise they need to be tired at night.

Ditch the food bowl

Rather than feed your dog from a bowl, try placing their food in a treat pouch or plastic bag that you can easily carry on-the-go. Start by spending 15 minutes a day practicing commands your dog has learned. Then reinforce their positive behavior with food.

Once your dog gets the idea, introduce new commands, tricks, and other skills. This is an exciting way to keep your dog mentally active. Not only does it strengthen the human-canine bond, but it’s also a fun way to turn mealtime into work time.

Teach your dog to work for food

Animals in the wild spend much of their time searching for food. Domesticated animals don’t have to forage for food because humans take care of that job for them. Allowing your four-legged companion to forage for food not only gives them a job, but it also keeps them mentally and physically stimulated.

There are several foraging toys like puzzle feeders and treat dispensers on the market. These toys and feeders are great options for days when you don’t have time to train with every meal. Consider beginning with easy puzzle games, so your dog doesn’t become frustrated and lose interest.

Try activities that involve your dog's sense of smell

A dog’s nose is tens of thousands of times more sensitive than a human’s nose. This is because dogs have significantly more scent receptors than humans. Exercising this portion of your dog’s brain gives them plenty of mental and physical stimulation.

Try hiding pieces of kibble around the house, and encourage your dog to sniff and find them. This activity engages both mind and body.

Consider Investing in Dog Insurance

Looking for more ways to keep your pup happy and healthy? Consider investing in a dog insurance policy with MetLife Pet Insurance.1 Our dog insurance policies can provide the coverage and care your furry family member deserves.2 Get your free quote today.

Protect your Dog

Coverage in 3 Easy Steps

Nothing in this article should be construed as financial, legal or veterinary advice. Please consult your own advisors for questions relating to your and your pet’s specific circumstances.

1 Pet Insurance offered by MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022, and Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, in those states where MetGen’s policies are available. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is the policy administrator authorized by IAIC and MetGen to offer and administer pet insurance policies. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC was previously known as PetFirst Healthcare, LLC and in some states continues to operate under that name pending approval of its application for a name change. The entity may operate under an alternate, assumed, and/or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions as approved, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota), MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois), and such other alternate, assumed, or fictitious names approved by certain jurisdictions. 

2 Provided all terms of the policy are met. Application is subject to underwriting review and approval. Like most insurance policies, insurance policies issued by IAIC and MetGen contain certain deductibles, co-insurance, exclusions, exceptions, reductions, limitations, and terms for keeping them in force. For costs, complete details of coverage and exclusions, and a listing of approved states, please contact MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC.

3 “Understanding, Preventing, and Treating Dog Anxiety,” American Kennel Club.

4 “Prevalence, comorbidity, and breed differences in canine anxiety in 13,700 Finnish pet dogs,” Scientific Reports.