Loud noises, large groups of unknown people, other animals, young children…the list of things that can panic your pets goes on and on. But don't fret, there are several ways you can calm your pets when they begin to get overwhelmed. Like humans, dogs and cats have a fight or flight response when they feel overwhelmed or intimidated, as seen when a dog hides or a cat hisses.1
Your pet can read your energy and will act according to your feelings. Therefore, it's imperative that you stay calm when your pet begins to get anxious. Pets might act out when they get stressed, but scolding them will only make matters worse.
Watch your tone and pitch when talking.
Just as pets respond excitedly to your high-pitched voice, they will also calm down if your voice does. Speaking calmly and positively to your pets will help them relax a little. 1
Put your pet on a leash.
If your dog begins to get overwhelmed at a dog park or in a public area, keeping them on a leash can ease some of their anxiety. It will also allow you to stay calm and ease some of your stress. You can get your pet's attention more easily by keeping the leash short and letting him or her know you are there.
Keep your pet close.
If you are home or in an enclosed place, letting your pet cuddle up to you can help them relax. Let them sit near you or stand between your legs so you can both breathe easier. It is important to make sure that while you're cuddling and comforting them, you don't overdo it. If you do, you could end up confirming your pet's fears.1
Send your pets "home."
If your pet is at the vet and getting anxious, like so many do, putting them in their crate, or "home" can relax them. Being in a familiar environment surrounded by their scent can put them more at ease. Also, creating a border between your pet and the others in a veterinary office will provide them with additional security, remove them from the stressful situation and allow them to relax.1
If your pet begins to panic, it may be best for you to distract them. Whether that be by giving them treats or playing with them, sometimes the best thing you can do is pull their attention away from whatever is stressing them out.1
Have a plan.
If your pet tends to bolt when they're stressed, make sure you're thinking one step ahead of them. Always keep doors, windows and gates secured, and ask house guests to be mindful when they enter and exit your home. Also, make sure your pet is microchipped and registered with HomeAgain® – should they ever escape during a stressful episode, you can have peace of mind knowing HomeAgain's Lost Pet Specialists are available 24/7.
The most important thing you can do as a pet parent in this situation is to be attentive to your pet's needs. If they want to hide under the couch, let them. If they cower in their crate, that's fine too. As long as they're not lashing out, let your pet react the way they want – just make sure they're safe and that you're there for them.