How To Calm your Jittery Dog

Dogs are like humans; they have their own characteristics and personalities.  Sometimes it is partly due to the breed, while at other times, it is how they were raised.  There are dogs that are high strung and dogs that are calm.  Some dogs are always anxious, nervous or jittery while others seem complacent and quiet.

Some causes of anxiousness or nervousness include:

  • Meeting new people or animals
  • Traveling by car
  • Visiting the vet
  • Loud noises like thunder, fireworks or airplane sounds
  • Past abuse
  • Separation anxiety

If you are the owner of a jittery dog that panics at the slightest sound or jumps with the least provocation, what can you do to calm him?  Try the following tips to calm your jittery canine:

  1. Socialize your dog.  Socialization is an integral part of your dog’s life.  You need to allow your dog meet other people and other animals, specifically dogs.  Dogs that are not socialized are more nervous and easily threatened by humans and other dogs.  While your dog is still a puppy, you should already take him out to places where he can see and meet other people or dogs.  If you have an adult dog, take him to the park regularly or let him spend a few hours in a doggy day care center once or twice a week.  Doing this can help him feel more secure and become well adjusted.
  2. Distract your dog.  Once you notice that he is becoming nervous, skittish, anxious or jittery, distract your dog with fun activities.  Play with him using one of his toys.  Or start a mini-training session just to keep his mind on something else.
  3. Exercise your dog.  High strung or jittery dogs need an outlet for all their pent up energy.  Exercise helps calm him down.  Just like in humans, frequent exercise releases endorphins that are hormones that relieve stress naturally.  Take your dog out on frequent walks.  Work out a sweat with him in the park as often as your schedule permits.  By the time he gets home, he would have used up a lot of energy and is ready to relax.
  4. Provide a calm environment.  Your jittery dog will do well in a calm and peaceful environment.  Play music that is soothing and calming.  Veer away from hard rock or “noisy” music.  Keep the volume of the television on an acceptable level.  Remember that a dog’s ears are highly sensitive even to the slightest sound. 
  5. Stay calm.  Dogs can easily detect his owner’s emotional state.  If your dog detects anxiety or nervousness on your part, whether in your actions or your voice, he will most likely mirror your feelings.  When talking to your dog, use a normal tone.  Be calm and avoid sudden bursts of movements.
  6. Massage your dog.  Dog experts say that giving your nervous pet a daily massage helps calm him down.  This is a great way to keep him quiet and at the same time bond with him. 

Jittery dogs often pace around the floor, whine, whimper, tremble, or bark excessively.  Never bribe your dog with food or treats when he is jittery.  Using baby talk will not help as well.  These methods will only reassure your dog that being jittery or skittish is acceptable behavior.

Consult with your vet to make sure that there are no medical issues causing your dog’s anxiousness.  Ask him about other tips and techniques to help calm your jittery dog.  Research on desensitizing methods and see if you can apply this to your dog.  


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