Caitlin UltimoBehavior / Stress & Anxiety

6 Common Pet Fears + Ways to Comfort Your Anxious Pet

Our pets’ fear responses can be triggered by people, sounds or situations that are truly scary, or they can be set off by small things that seem completely harmless to us, but terrifying to them. A thundering storm, for instance, can be a traumatic ordeal for your dog or cat. And a small beetle crawling across your kitchen floor may be easily ignored by you, while seen as a trespasser―who must be destroyed! ―by your pet. These seemingly harmless situations will pass, but can also stress out your pet in the process.

• The Mail Carrier: It’s not the postal worker’s fault that he’s terrifying to some pets. While he or she’s just trying to deliver your bills, your pet can see the mail carrier as a threatening invader. So be kind to both animal and delivery worker and put your pet in a back room away from the front door around the time of the mail drop-off.  If you’re usually away from the house at that time, try to block off the area closest to the front door and mailbox. If your dog has yard access at that time, ensure you have the area of the post box or front door sufficiently gated off to keep your dog from charging any delivery person.

• Wind, Rain and Thunderstorms: It’s best for your dog if you also stay calm during a storm. If a firm, even tone in your voice won’t settle your pet, try using a ThunderShirt, which can help ease an anxious animal. The slightly weighted vest applies gentle pressure to your pet, which acts like a swaddle would for an infant, making your pet feel more secure.

• Bigger Animals: Animals smell fear, so if your pet has trouble around larger or “alpha” animals, you should, of course, strive to keep your pet away from other animals that might see his vulnerability as an opportunity to dominate. One solution for small dog owners is to find local dog runs that have areas designated specifically for small dogs.

• The Vet: If your cat or dog seems to instinctively know when it’s time to visit the vet and freaks out when you try to put her in the car or pet carrier, you may consider using ThunderSpray Calming Spray for Cats or ThunderSpray Calming Spray for Dogs in combination with a ThunderShirt. You can also try to help your pet build positive associations with her carrier. Place a toy or treat inside and let her enter and leave the carrier as she pleases. Experiment with a few calming methods to see which your pet responds to best.

• The Telephone, Vacuum Cleaner or Other Loud Noises: Does your pet go bonkers at the sound of the doorbell? Be sure your cat has hiding places where she can feel safe until the noise has passed. If your dog has an epic barking fit every time the phone rings, however, you may want to experiment with different ring tones to see if one type is less offensive than others. Some dogs simply have very sensitive ears. When it’s time to vacuum, put your pal in the yard or another part of the house to help buffer the offending noise.

• Everyday Household Items: Sometimes pets get set off by the oddest and most harmless things. Maybe your pet felt strongly that the dust bunny looked at him funny―and then had the audacity to roll in his general direction. If your pet is being traumatized by innocuous household items, consider checking in with your vet to see if they can identify any underlying issues.

When your dog or cat expresses signs of fear and anxiety try to avoid coddling him. Doing so can cause your pet to equate being fearful with the reward of getting affection from you, and you might end up with a very needy dog. Take care of your dog or cat when he is scared or anxious by staying calm and strong and keeping these tips in mind.