Dogs may develop anxiety over time from being left alone too long, being abused by prior owners, or being afraid of uncertain events and people repeatedly. This can tend to make your dog very jumpy, bark a lot, and even try to run away when given the chance. However, there are ways to control dog anxiety, and surprisingly, they aren't that different from some of the things we as humans do to calm ourselves.
Pets do experience anxiety. Both cats and dogs can develop this psychological disorder, resulting in indoor potty accidents, strange behaviors, and refusing to spend time with you. In some cases some of the symptoms can be treated with anti-anxiety medication for your dog (or cat), but you don't have to go that far just yet. Attempt to find out why your dog is anxious, and then test out some non-drug treatments, like clothes specifically designed to help soothe and calm your anxious pet.
When you see other dogs wearing clothes like little tutus, sweaters and t-shirts, you might be thinking that those pet parents just spoil their dogs; treating them too much like children. This may be, considering that the pet industry is a multi-billion-dollar industry every year. However, there is substantial evidence to suggest that clothes can calm anxious behavior in dogs, and that certain clothes are very soothing to your canine pal. You have to know exactly what is designed to calm your dog, and what is just fashion for your fur baby.
If your pooch is head-shy (i.e., he doesn't like people petting his head or seems terrified of you touching his ears), then something may have happened to him in the past that caused him to develop this anxious reaction. You can slowly train your dog to accept head pats again, but it takes patience and a calming cap. The calming cap fits over the top of the dog's head, covering the eyes and the upper part of the muzzle. The dog can still see, but the darkness helps him settle his/her nerves so that you can retrain your dog to accept head pats again. It's like being in a dark, quiet room where you can calm yourself, except this is a cap device instead of a dark room.
You might have seen a therapy dog wearing a body vest. This article of dog clothing is great for pet anxiety because it essentially gives your pooch an all-over body hug. All-over hugs have been proven to soothe humans, and in particular, children with autism when they are overwhelmed.
It is no small stretch to apply that research to dogs with anxiety, who are overwhelmed by something in their surroundings, and that such a vest can provide that sense of safety and security. Most body vests leave your dog's hindquarters and legs free to do their "doggy business", but provide that soothing pressure to the rest of the dog's body and chest.
Quite possibly one of the stranger, albeit effective, looking articles of dog calming clothing is the compression hoodie. This is essentially a bandeau of cloth that wraps around your dog's head and ears and underneath the dog's lower jaw. It is snug, not tight, but reassuring to your pooch, like a bear hug around his head and upper neck. It has a similar effect to the body vest, but covers less of the dog for a lighter effect.
(Image Credit: Pet-Agree)
If your dog were going to dress up like a cat burglar, this body suit is what he or she could wear. It completely covers your dog's entire body, but in a lightweight compression mesh fabric that is breathable and comfortable for your dog. To allow your pet to relieve him- or herself, you have to unzip the abdomen of the suit from under the tail to the ribcage and then zip it back up when your dog has finished.
This piece takes the compression of a doggy vest further by applying compression to the belly, legs, and hind end of the dog. As the dog walks around, the stretchy fabric applies a gentle rubbing sensation that feels like he or she is being petted all over. Since petting a dog is what makes him/her happy and calm, the sensation of someone petting you all over every time you move must be heaven to your pooch. As an added bonus, the bodysuit prevents excess shedding, which most long hair breeds of dogs need.
Some dogs are just weird when it comes to going outside when the weather is less than cooperative. If your dog has anxiety about going out in the rain, or about taking walks on ice and snow, you may be able to motivate him/her to go out anyway with these special doggy clothing items. One is a doggy raincoat, which keeps your dog dry all over and aids in convincing your dog it is okay to go outside when it is raining.
The other items are a set of doggy boots. They are great for snow, ice, and rain when your dog won't go outside when any of these conditions exist. Having warm, dry feet is a curious dog anxiety, but not an unheard of one.
(Image Credit: BeChewy)
While these doggy clothes can really help ease your pup into a more mellow mood, don't avoid finding out why your dog is anxious to begin with. There are animal behavioral specialists that help dog owners solve what is going on inside the minds of their dogs, and then help train the dogs out of those fears and behaviors. Use the dog clothes for starters, but then be sure to find a good animal behavior specialist that can treat your dog for these issues.
If your pup is experiencing anxiety, check out our pet anxiety solutions that are proven to calm your furry friend.