How To Keep Your Nervous Dog Calm And Happy

How To Keep Your Nervous Dog Calm and Happy

Like us, dogs can be a bundle of nerves, not just because of thunderstorms or when they encounter another dog at the park. Some canine companions seem naturally nervous, reacting to new places or people, unexpected situations, or routine changes with caution, curiosity, and anxiety. If this sounds like your dog, the key to helping them stay calm and happy is first determining the cause of their anxiety. Then, you can find the best way to help reduce it. Even if your dog’s nervousness is baked into their personality with no specific triggers, there are still things you can do to help keep them calm and happy, especially during significant life changes such as moving into a new house. In this article, we'll look at how to spot the signs of a nervous dog and provide practical tips on keeping them relaxed and content while strengthening your bond.

Signs Your Dog is Feeling Nervous

The signs that a dog is nervous can vary from pup to pup, so you must pay close attention to your dog’s body language and behavior. Look for subtle cues like excessive panting, trembling, or yawning, indicating your dog is anxious. They may also exhibit certain avoidance behaviors like trying to hide. You may notice that their ears are flattened against their head, they are grooming themselves excessively, or they may display rapid, shallow breathing and excessive lip licking. A lowered tail or one tucked between their back legs also shows they feel uneasy, along with whining, excessive barking, or pacing. Sometimes, a nervous dog may become destructive, chew furniture, or go to the toilet where they shouldn't. 

Plan for Big Changes

Most dogs love routine and familiarity, and any sudden changes can cause their anxiety and nervousness to soar. If you’ve got a nervous dog and there are big changes on the horizon, such as moving into a new house, a little forward planning can go a long way to keep them calm through the move. Try to stick to their routine as much as possible and keep their bed, bowls, and favorite toys accessible so they still have that comforting sense of familiarity. During the move, allocate a quiet space away from the chaos for your dog or even ask a friend to dog-sit while you get your new home ready. Introduce them to their new home gradually, letting them sniff all the new smells and get comfortable. The key is to be patient. Your dog might be a little nervous initially, but with plenty of reassurance, love, and a familiar routine, they should soon settle into their new surroundings.

Exercise Your Dog

Regular exercise is a great way to improve your dog's mental and physical well-being. Exercise releases endorphins, which act like a natural mood booster for your canine companion. It can channel their nervous energy into something positive and fun that reduces stress, alleviates boredom, and improves their sleep quality. Exercising your dog can be anything from brisk walks, a game of fetch, a visit to the park, or joining an obedience class. Joint research by Tufts University in Massachusetts and the Center for Canine Behavior Studies found that dogs participating in physical activities were more effective at relieving their anxiety than working with an animal behaviorist, changing their diet, or taking medication. 

Affection and Reassurance

When you’re feeling stressed or nervous, sometimes all you need is a hug or soothing words to help you feel calmer. Dogs are just the same. A little TLC can work wonders when a dog is feeling nervous. Talking to them in a calm, happy, and reassuring voice and giving them some gentle strokes can be enough to make them feel safe and secure. You can also try giving your dog a soothing massage to relieve their physical tension. Start at your dog’s neck and work down their body using long, gentle strokes. Over time, you may be able to spot where your dog holds their stress, and you can work on that particular area. You can also use physical affection strategically to create a positive association. For instance, if they’re upset by the sound of a thunderstorm, talk to them and pet them. Your gentle touch and reassuring presence can help them relax and be content.


An essential part of owning and caring for a dog is to find ways to help them be calm and happy, especially if they have a naturally nervous disposition. By spotting the signs that your dog is feeling nervous and using these strategies, you can create a positive and supportive environment that encourages your canine companion to feel calm, safe, and content.

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