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Games To Help Dogs With Anxiety Issues

Games To Help Dogs With Anxiety Issues

Battling Fido’s Fears: The Power of Play

As a dog parent, I know all too well the heartache of watching your furry friend struggle with anxiety. Whether it’s separation anxiety when you leave for work or a deep-seated fear of loud noises, seeing your pup stressed out can be just as distressing for you. But take heart, my fellow dog lovers – there’s a secret weapon in the fight against canine anxiety, and it comes in the form of good old-fashioned playtime.

You see, games aren’t just for fun and giggles (though they certainly serve that purpose too!). Turns out, the right activities can actually help soothe an anxious pup, build their confidence, and equip them with the coping skills they need to tackle their fears head-on. And let me tell you, I’ve tried just about every trick in the book to help my own neurotic Newfoundland, Rufus, so I know a thing or two about what works.

Sniff it Out: Scent-Based Games

One of Rufus’ biggest triggers is thunderstorms. The poor guy turns into a shaking, panting mess anytime those dark clouds roll in. But I’ve found that engaging his nose can work wonders for helping him relax during stressful situations.

Games that encourage sniffing are great for reducing a dog’s overall stress levels. Something about the act of using their powerful shnoz seems to have a calming effect, regulating their breathing and circulation. And who doesn’t love a good treasure hunt?

One of Rufus’ favorites is the “Snuffle Mat” – a shaggy little rug with all sorts of nooks and crannies for hiding yummy treats. He spends ages pawing and sniffing his way through the fabric, totally focused on the task at hand. By the time he’s found every last morsel, he’s practically in a zen-like state. According to the experts at Rover, these types of puzzle toys can be super helpful for keeping anxious pups occupied and distracted when you have to step away.

Puzzle Power: Mental Stimulation to the Rescue

Of course, anxiety isn’t just an emotional state – it can also stem from boredom and a lack of mental stimulation. That’s where puzzle toys come in clutch. These cleverly designed contraptions challenge your dog’s problem-solving skills, giving their brain a much-needed workout.

One of Rufus’ all-time favorites is the Nina Ottosson Dog Tornado – a spinning wheel with hidden treat compartments that he has to figure out how to access. It takes some serious focus and determination, which leaves him feeling accomplished and satisfied rather than anxious. And the best part? The treat payoff at the end keeps him coming back for more.

Even simpler puzzle toys like the KONG Classic can work wonders. Stuffed with peanut butter or their favorite snacks, these durable rubber chew toys provide a welcomed distraction when I have to step out the door. Rufus becomes so intent on licking and nibbling his way to the good stuff that he barely even notices I’m gone.

The Comfort of Companionship

Of course, no discussion of canine anxiety would be complete without mentioning the power of good old-fashioned comfort and companionship. Sometimes, all a worried pup needs is a soft, snuggly friend to lean on.

That’s why I’m a big fan of plush toys with built-in “heartbeats”. The rhythmic pulsing and warmth of these cuddly critters can have a seriously soothing effect, reminding anxious dogs of the comfort they felt nestled up with their littermates. Rufus practically melts into a puddle of relaxation whenever he gets his paws on one of these therapeutic toys.

And let’s not forget the magic of good old-fashioned human interaction. Something as simple as petting, brushing, or playing a gentle game can work wonders for an anxious pup. I make sure to set aside plenty of quality time with Rufus, especially when I know he’s going to be facing one of his triggers. The one-on-one attention and affection seems to do the trick every time.

Bringing it All Together

Of course, managing canine anxiety isn’t a one-size-fits-all endeavor. Every pup is different, with their own unique triggers and coping mechanisms. But by having a well-stocked “anxiety toolkit” of calming games and toys, you’ll be better equipped to help your furry friend navigate their fears.

And remember, you’re not alone in this journey. The wonderful folks at are always here to lend a helping hand (or paw!). Whether you need personalized recommendations or just want to commiserate with fellow dog parents, they’ve got your back.

So what are you waiting for? It’s time to put the power of play to work and help your anxious pup reclaim their confidence. With a little creativity and a whole lot of love, I know you’ve got this. Now go forth and get your game on!

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