| Michaela Fisher

Social Anxiety and the Holidays

As the holidays approach your dog may be put into different situations that trigger social anxiety. To help you prepare, check out this blog post from 2019!


If you have a nervous dog, you know that leaving home can be a stressful occasion, or perhaps your dog only seems to become nervous when away from home. You may ask yourself, how will pup react to people walking past another dog? What if something completely out of the ordinary happens—how do I react? Most often, these unknowns are what make leaving home the most worrisome.   Put your best paw forward with a few zen moments before you leave. (Have a moment of calm with chamomile treats and lavender sprays. ) 

On the other hand, maybe you just think your dog is a home body, but chances are pup just hasn’t learned that the world can be a pretty cool place. The best way to be prepared for the unexpected is to anticipate it, right? Learning ways to help your dog acclimate to new scenarios should always be the goal, but to get there, we’ve compiled a few tips from all around to help make the unexpected a little easier to anticipate and treat.  

What to do during new experiences 

Your pet’s threshold is described as their transition from one emotional state to another. For training, it is the transition of your dog learning to being too overwhelmed to grow mentally.[i] Ultimately, the majority of unpredictable behavior  is actually quite predictable. Thinking ahead and preparing is the best way to be a good trainer and companion. Here are several ways to make sure you are not overstimulating your dog to his/her breaking point: 

Be calm, cool, and collected 
Your dog looks to you to find how to respond to new situations. Often, pet owners will become tense or anxious without even knowing it in anticipation of how their dog will react to a specific stimulus. Your dog senses your energy and can react out of nervousness or out of protection of owner. Keep your body language and voice relaxed to ensure your dog that the situation is nothing to be afraid of.[ii]
Give them time to adjust 
Don’t force your dog past their breaking point by constantly introducing new information. Let them acclimate to new situations slowly. Give them time to explore a small area and become comfortable with one new scenario at a time. That may mean walks only get you ten feet out of your yard before you take a break to acclimate. Give your dog treats during these times to show them these new situations have benefits.[iii] 
Read your dog 
If you see your dog is becoming nervous—hair standing up on back, whining, anxious, or even abnormally calm—they are reaching their threshold. (Watch your dog, do your research, and speak to a trainer to find out how your dog exhibits stress. Learning what behavior means nervous for your dog will be extremely helpful in keeping your dog in a healthy state of mind.) 

What to do if your dog starts becoming anxious 

If your dog’s body language shows stress it is best to divert their attention. A dog’s reaction to specific instances are often due to whether they are being obedient to their owner or making their own decisions in a state of nervousness. You do no not want a dog that is stressed to make their own choices. Here are two steps you can take to refocus your dog.[iv] 

  1. Distance yourself from the situation. If another dog or unknown human begins to distract your dog, move away until your dog beings to be responsive to you again. 
  1. Change the subject. Practicing commands your dog knows well will give them a sense of normalcy and will put the focus back on you. Find the distance required for your dog to refocus on you and help them stay below his or her threshold.[v] 

Has your dog completely lost it?  

So, what do you do if your dog suddenly really loses their cool?  In this case,  remove your dog completely from the situation. Make a U-turnwhen your dog no longer listens to you and is showing severe signs of anxiety, the best thing to do is leave the situation right away. No learning will happen in such a scenario.[vi]

Take them to a safe, calm environment and focus them on you. Allow them to find security in you. Reinforce their change in behavior with our calming treats!

Learn from what happened...

And try your best to avoid it in the future. Take note of what lead up to the incident.

  • What are the triggers for your dog?
  • How is your dog trying to tell you they are nervous?
  • What are those messages? 
Work with a trainer if needed and keep socializing your dog.  A well-socialized dog will have more skills to cope with and enjoy their outings.  With less stress they ultimately have a calmer, happier existence. Working with your dog through their fears is worth it! We know, when your dog is happy, you’re happy.




[i] Richmond, M. (2013, March 13). 5 Things to Know About A Dog's Threshold. Retrieved August 8, 2019, from https://www.whole-dog-journal.com/behavior/5-things-to-know-about-a-dogs-threshold/

[ii] Nat Geo Wild (2017, March 08). Correcting the Nervous Energy | Cesar Millan's Dog Nation. Retrieved August 9, 2019, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=moXc4CHNZtE

[iii] George, Z. (2018, December 22). How To Train Your Dog To Stop Leash Pulling, Stop Barking, and Stop Jumping! Retrieved August 9, 2019, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tb3Aun49X_s

[iv] Richmond, M. (2013, March 13). 5 Things to Know About A Dog's Threshold. Retrieved August 8, 2019, from https://www.whole-dog-journal.com/behavior/5-things-to-know-about-a-dogs-threshold/

[v] Upstate Canine Academy. (2018, November 09). How to stop Dog Anxiety Fast-Dog anxiety training|Fearful dog training tips! Retrieved August 9, 2019, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1XheCwVPifg

[vi] Richmond, M. (2013, March 13). 5 Things to Know About A Dog's Threshold. Retrieved August 8, 2019, from https://www.whole-dog-journal.com/behavior/5-things-to-know-about-a-dogs-threshold/