In dogs, separation anxiety is often triggered by a stressful event and can present itself in a variety of ways. But before shopping around for a solution, it's important to consult with a vet or a behaviorist to rule out any underlying medical issues and understand what the most ideal options are for your pup. According to the veterinarian and creator of
The Balanced Pet Vet, Dr. Tori Counter, DVM, the best calming aids for dogs with separation anxiety can come in many forms, including collars, sprays, toys, and treats. Which one you choose, however, will depend on your situation and your pet's preferences and you may need to do a bit of trial-and-error to figure out what approach is best.
In fact, some owners may wind up combining a few products the most optimal soothing because, as Dr. Counter notes, "Many dogs benefit from a multimodal approach to anxiety."
For food-motivated dogs, treats with calming ingredients are a great option, since they are
proven to help relax animals. "L-theanine works well with l-tryptophan to synergistically decrease the stress of the animal," Dr. Counter explains.
Similarly, she adds that collars or sprays that contain a dog appeasing pheromone (DAP) may also be useful since the synthetic pheromones used "are inhaled through the nasal passage and produce a calming effect on the area of the dog's brain that is connected to emotions and behavior."
Some pups may also benefit from a simple distraction, like a soft, lovey toy to play with or a mentally-stimulating puzzle that rewards them with treats.
Lastly, Dr. Counter stresses the importance of providing a dog with a "safe space" for them to retreat: "They need a place that they can go to if they feel vulnerable, nervous, or need to get away from the triggering event." This could be as simple as a
calming dog bed designed for them to curl up against.
With all the above in mind, I've rounded some of the
best ways to calm an anxious dog below— all of them are pet-parent approved and found on Amazon! We only recommend products we love and that we think you will, too. We may receive a portion of sales from products purchased from this article, which was written by our Commerce team
The Best Calming Dog Treats
NaturVet quiet moments calming aid soft chews are formulated to help calm a dog down. They contain ingredients that are well-known for their calming properties, like thiamine (vitamin B1), l-tryptophan, and melatonin. These chews are also free of wheat, made in the U.S., and safe for dogs over 12 weeks of age. For maximum effectiveness, these chews should be given to a dog 30 minutes prior to a stressful situation. The manufacturer recommends no more than one chew per day for dogs up to 26 pounds. Beyond that, the dose doubles, triples, or even quadruples depending on the dog's weight. Helpful review: “These are amazing! I have an 8 year old Yorkie with severe separation and general anxiety that worsens with age. These calming treats work miracles during stressful situations. I use them for thunderstorms, fireworks, airplane travel, trips to the vet and groomers, etc. They start working in about 15 to 20 minutes.”
The Best Calming Dog Collar
Available in the adjustable sizes for puppies, small dogs, and medium/large dogs up to 110 pounds, this scentless
Adaptil calm on-the-go-collar contains 5% DAP, a synthetic version of a pheromone that calms dog down when they breathe it in. This collar works for up to 30 days, continuously releasing pheromone.
The manufacturer recommends keeping it on 24/7 and only removing it for bathing and grooming. Please note that because the collar is heat-activated, submerging it in water is not recommended. This is also not a replacement for a regular collar and cannot attach to a leash. Dogs with neck lesions should also avoid this product.
Helpful review: “Bought this collar at our vet's recommendation for our highly anxious dog. We have been using it for about three months now in conjunction with medication and training. Our dog suffers from noise anxiety and will sometimes refuse to go outside if there are too many loud noises. Counter conditioning wasn't working because he would become too anxious to accept treats. Within 24 hours I had noticed a change in my dog's behavior. He seems to process things better and is easier to manage when the anxiety does strike. This collar is not going to completely eliminate unwanted behaviors, but it definitely helps manage the problem."
The Best Calming Dog Bed
You may want to make this
Furhaven bolster dog bed part of your dog's "safe space." It's designed with bolsters on three sizes that provide security and comfort, while the fourth side is open to allow the dog to easily climb in and out. The bed is available in different types of foam, including orthopedic foam, memory foam, and cool gel foam, and you can also select your choice of soft fabrics, including chenille and velvet, as well as a wide-range of color and pattern options.
Available in sizes from small to jumbo plus to fit different dog breeds, this bed has more than 1,670 five-star reviews on Amazon. It's also easy to clean, since the zippered cover can be removed to machine-wash and air-dry.
Helpful review: “Of all the dog beds I’ve gotten my dog, this is by far his favorite! The cover feels really nice and soft and the foam mattress is super comfortable (I even tried sitting on it myself). I haven’t tried to remove/wash the cover but it seems like it would be easy enough. I chose this one specifically because there’s a plush ridge around it and my dog likes resting his head on raised surfaces. It’s perfect!”
The Best Calming Spray For Dogs
If your dog might be tempted to chew on a calming collar or you'd prefer to use a calming aid more intermittently, this
Adaptil calming spray is a great choice. It contains a 2% concentration of DAP to help destress and calm dogs. Because the spray also contains alcohol, It's important to avoid spraying a dog directly. Rather, the manufacturer recommends using the spray on your dog's bedding or on a bandana ahead of a stressful event and waiting at least 10 minutes for the spray to soak in before allowing your dog access to object. The spray will last around four to five hours and can be reapplied as needed. Helpful review: "I have two rescued Dachshunds. One is laid back. The other suffers from separation anxiety pretty severely. This stuff WORKS. We use it on the Fourth of July too so he's not hiding under the bed trembling with fear. We use it when we know we will be gone for several hours so he can sleep. It has been such a lifesaver and you can use it all day...We will never be without this product."
The Best Calming Dental Sticks For Dogs
Zesty Paws calming dental sticks are a two-in-one chew, providing your dog with calming ingredients like l-theanine, hemp extract, and melatonin, while also freshening their breath with taurine and peppermint oil. The manufacturer recommends a daily serving of half a stick for dogs up to 25 pounds, one stick for dogs 25 to 50 pounds, and two sticks per day for dogs over 50 pounds in weight. Helpful review: “These are great for the dogs just prior to grooming or car rides. They calm without making them overly sleepy. The dogs like the taste as well, which is nice. I do notice their breath is also better.”
The Best Calming Puzzle Toy For Dogs
Outward Hound interactive puzzle is a great toy to give your dog to help distract them from their anxiety triggers— as they'll be concentrating more on solving the puzzle and finding the treats. While this particular puzzle is rated as an easy level one, Outward Hound also offers a range of different types of puzzle toys in increasing levels of difficulty, so if your dog is already a puzzle toy master, you may want to opt for a harder one in order to provide adequate mental stimulation. Helpful review: “This is awesome! My border collie’s level of intelligence is a part time job for me. He requires engagement and he figures out everything fast. This puzzle took him a good hour and a half to figure out the first time and every time after that, he sits with this for about an hour. He’s really calm (which he’s normally not) and concentrated with it, methodically moving pieces. I ordered a second, different puzzle a day after we received this first one. It’s easy to clean because the sliding tiles just pop right off but I’ve just been using his regular kibble in it so it hasn’t hardly gotten dirty at all.”
The Best Calming Plush Dog Toy
If your dog doesn't already have a "lovey" or a soft comforting toy, this
Charming Pet plush toy is an especially great option for dogs with separation anxiety. Not only does it crinkle, rattle, and squeak, but it has a shaker inside of it that releases a calming lavender scent when rattled. Keep in mind that while this toy has nylon seams to help prevent ripping, it's not chew-proof, so it may not be appropriate for dogs who are extreme chewers. Helpful review: “This is our very happy energetic 13 year old pup that we rescued a few months ago. He does not like being alone and he does not like the dark so night times were hard for all of us. He didn’t play with any ropes or balls and didn’t care about squeaker toys, but I wanted to get him something to calm him and help bring him comfort and boy did this do the trick!! He LOVES this toy! Since he is older and a big dog I was worried about him shredding any soft toy but this has held up really well. The plastic bottle with the beads was pretty crushed within a few weeks from him gnawing on it, but that’s okay. Every night when it’s bedtime he will grab his toy and finds the squeaker and he will squeak it until we go to bed.!” Expert: Dr. Tori Counter, DVM, veterinarian and creator of The Balanced Pet Vet