Social Anxiety in Dogs and Stranger Danger: When Your Dog Gets Anxious Around New People
You’ve seen the happy-go-lucky dog who playfully greets each new person with friendly licks and sniffs, but your furry friend cowers and hides behind your legs when meeting new people. Some dogs suffer from anxiety when they meet others, just like humans. In fact, social anxiety in dogs is likely more common than you know. Sometimes it’s a result of genetics; some breeds are more prone to anxiety than others. Other times social anxiety in dogs occurs because of a lack of socialization or a history of abuse or another traumatic event. Your dog can also suffer social anxiety from aging.
You want your four-legged friend to feel at ease. Like humans, social anxiety can impact behavior and cause continued distress when left untreated. Pharmaceutical solutions are available, but they also come with side effects, and many of us prefer natural approaches to help our dogs live their best lives. The Okoa Pet team recommends these natural solutions to help ease social anxiety in dogs:
One way you can help lower anxiety levels when your furry friend meets new people is to go slowly with introductions. Give your human friends the scoop and ask them to let your pooch make friends at their own pace. If or when your dog is ready to engage, he or she will approach. You should also avoid large groups of new people when possible, which could send your dog into anxiety overdrive. If you have a puppy, socialization is key to helping your baby overcome social anxiety. But you still need to take things slowly so you don’t cause too much stress.
Regular exercise is one of the most significant ways to relieve general stress and anxiety in humans. The same goes for the dogs we love. Exercise likely will not have a direct impact on alleviating social anxiety. However, letting your pooch run, walk, and play more than you might otherwise can help with general anxiety. You might find your dog is slightly more relaxed when new people come around. You can also combine regular walks or runs with any natural solutions to social anxiety in dogs below.
Dogs have notoriously good sniffers. Sometimes it seems those with the keenest sense of smell can sniff out a crumb from two counties away. Dogs can experience some of the same calming effects of aromatherapy that humans do. One popular aromatherapy solution is dog appeasing pheromone (DAP), a synthetic chemical miming female dogs’ hormones when making milk. The hormone helps keep pups calm and bond with their mother. Research on DAP has been plentiful and shows that the chemical reduces many symptoms and behaviors associated with anxiety, especially when your dog is separated from you.
You can put DAP into the air with a diffuser. You can also do the same with calming essential oils, such as lavender. In fact, they even make special doggie collars and lockets so your pup can enjoy the benefits of calming essential oils. On a cautious note, however, essential oils can be toxic to dogs — so make sure your pups don’t ingest the oil.
The market is chock-full of supplements for dogs that come in capsules, pills, powders, and treats. Depending on the exact product you choose, it might have one or more of the following botanicals or nutraceuticals that can help soothe your pooch and reduce overall anxiety.
Humans often use chamomile for its anti-anxiety properties, and some dog owners report success using it to treat mild anxiety. Chemicals in chamomile relax muscles, which may reduce anxiety by reducing blood pressure in dogs. You can give your dog chamomile tea but you can also find it in several other forms. Always follow recommended dosages because chamomile can be toxic if your dog gets too much.
Those who celebrate Thanksgiving know the power of tryptophan. This chemical is famous for making humans snore on the couch in front of a football game after turkey dinner. Specifically, tryptophan is an essential amino acid that helps improve serotonin production in mammals, which regulates mood and behavior. Many dog supplements contain tryptophan to provide calming effects and reduce social anxiety.
If your dog’s social anxiety results from aging, choline can help. Supplements with choline are effective for treating canine cognitive disorders. Our senior pooches can get anxious when disoriented and confused, especially when new people are around. By treating or preventing the disorder, you might see a reduction in related anxiety.
What About CBD for Social Anxiety in Dogs?
Cannabidiol (CBD) oil is an extract from the hemp plant. Hemp is a species of cannabis that has low amounts of THC, the hallucinogenic compound, that produces a “high”. CBD is not psychoactive and may support several healthy body functions. Research about CBD use with dogs is still ongoing because it’s new. Yet, many dog owners report that CBD has helped promote a calm demeanor in their anxious dogs.
If you give your dog CBD, we recommend using a broad-spectrum product that does not contain THC. All Okoa Pet products have been developed using broad-spectrum CBD rich in other naturally-occurring minor cannabinoids such as CBG, CBC, CBN, and terpenes. The THC is removed during the extraction process. In short, broad-spectrum CBD offers all the benefits of a full-spectrum product without THC. We believe this is a safer option for our pets and yours.
“Hush, Puppy” CBD Calming Treats
You can find an all-inclusive product if you do not want to buy each supplement or natural solution separately to treat social anxiety in dogs. Okoa Pet’s “Hush, Puppy” CBD Calming Treats for dogs of all ages can help your pooch overcome their stranger danger. “Hush, Puppy” is an all-natural supplement that combines broad-spectrum hemp with other calming ingredients, such as chamomile, tryptophan, and two types of choline. A veterinarian specially formulated “Hush, Puppy” calming treats to promote calmness, relaxation, and stress reduction in dogs.