The most effective way to help your dog’s anxiety is to focus on behavior modification and training. When it comes to external factors like noises, places, people, and other pets, you can either focus on avoidance or train your dog to have a less anxious reaction to stimuli. For example, dogs with anxiety due to loud thunder during storms can benefit from training with storm sounds. These sounds are gradually increased for as long as the dog is calm, and he is given rewards as the sounds increase. Training sessions are usually fifteen to twenty minutes a day over the course of a few weeks. Eventually, the dog learns to be calm in the presence of loud thunder. Another example is training to help with separation anxiety. If you plan on crate-training your dog, then you can have short practice sessions every day and, over the coming weeks, gradually increase the duration of time that you are away.
In some cases, your veterinarian may prescribe an anti-anxiety medication for your dog. Benzodiazepine drugs like diazepam are short-acting and can help with stressful but predictable events. For separation anxiety, medications like fluoxetine and clomipramine are FDA-approved for canine anxiety disorders like separation anxiety. These are longer-acting medications and can take one to four weeks for full effect, but they are better for helping with the causes of anxiety that are more difficult to predict. Side effects for some of these medications include restlessness, hyperexcitability, and gastrointestinal upset.