Few things are more heartbreaking than watching a dog struggle with anxiety, whether from strangers, loud noises, or separation. What’s more heartbreaking is when we, as pet owners, don’t know how to help relieve our canine companions’ fears. While we can’t sit down and explain to them why the fireworks are nothing to be worried about, we can find ways to give our pups a comforting, relaxing space within our homes.
Consider Sources of Anxiety
Every dog is different. Each has a different source of fear, and as such, you will have to design your dog’s safe space with the source in mind. Here are a few common dog fears and ways you might address them in your pup’s space:
- Fear of loud noises: Put your dog in an interior room like a closet.
- Fear of strangers: Consider choosing a windowless space or putting up curtains.
- Separation anxiety: Add a noise machine or pick a room with a TV or radio to leave on.
- Fear of a new place: Create a space that feels secluded or hidden.
By secluded or hidden places, we’re referring to a place like a covered crate. While many dogs see the crate as a safe spot, if you have a rescue dog who’s had a traumatic experience with crates, a blanket fort may feel safer for your dog.
Now, we know what you’re thinking—“Color? But dogs see in black and white!” This is a common misconception. Dog’s vision is similar to human red/green color blindness, so they can see some color. In fact, ECOS Paints recently released this interesting article about how color can actually influence dogs’ moods the same way color affects humans’ moods.
So if you’re looking for ways to give your pup a truly soothing space, consider painting it a soothing blue. Just like with people, blue is a calming color for dogs and is a color they can see, unlike green.
Use Positive Association
Difficult behavior can tempt you to use your dog’s area as the “time out” zone. However, if we start associating the room with punishments, the dog will no longer see the spot as a soothing place. The same problem may arise if you engage in doggy horseplay in the room—your dog will see the room as a place for activity instead of a place to be calm.
You’ll want to create positive but peaceful associations with the space you designate as somewhere to relax. Feeding your dog meals or treats in the space will help, as will praising your pooch when they wander into the space on their own. Remember, as excited as you may be, try to keep your praise as calm as possible.
No one wants to watch their dog struggle with anxiety. By giving your dog a place where they can feel safe, you can help them fight against it.