5 Calming Activities To De-stress With Your Dog

Ask anyone and they will tell you how dogs help with stress relief. But how about helping them feel better too? If you’ve ever wondered how to de-stress with your dog, try these 5 calming dog activities to share together.

The long walks, the unconditional affection & the simple wonder at nature - our dogs can teach us a lot about how to live well.

However sometimes, just as we do, our dogs can become stressed and anxious with daily occurrences or big life shifts. So sharing in some of these calming activities for dogs is a fantastic way for you both to unwind and relax.

Not only will you spend quality time together, but you’ll both reap the rewards of a happier and healthier sense of wellbeing.

What Causes Stress and Anxiety in Dogs?

Dogs can become anxious or stressed for a variety of reasons, just like us. This behaviour is often seen as either a symptom of under-stimulation or more often as a response to a trigger.

Sometimes these triggers are small things like unfamiliar or loud noises - such as a firework event nearby. Whilst others may have larger anxieties around separation, strangers or other dogs. Anxiety can also be the result of unresolved past traumas in our dogs, which can be especially common in rescues.

Your dog might be stressed or anxious if they are vocalising frequently, pacing, shivering, being unusually destructive or other nervous behaviour. They may also lose their appetite and seem unlike themselves. If you’ve had a recent life change, like moving house or losing a member of the family, your dog may exhibit these behaviours in response.

How Common Is Stress and Anxiety in Dogs?

One survey found that around 72.5% of the dogs expressed some anxiety-like behaviours, according to their owners. So if you find your dog is feeling a little worried, you certainly aren’t alone.

Meanwhile over half of adults report feeling stressed. It’s no wonder, then, that we are in desperate need of some self-care with our furry friends.

So what can you and your dog do to unwind together?

Calming Activities To Enjoy With Your Dog

While most stress or anxiety in dogs will naturally pass as their triggers end or they become accustomed to a new routine, more serious or chronic cases should of course be consulted on with your vet.

In the meantime, there are plenty of ways that you and your fur friend can work together to find that all-important relaxation. Whilst staying within their comfort zone, you can experiment with holistic dog activities to find some shared serenity.

Here are 5 calming dog activities I’ve chosen, specifically to help both you and your beloved bestie destress and unwind together.

1.      Sound Baths or Music Therapy

Music therapy has proven to be beneficial for both humans, as well as our four-legged friends. In one study, classical music has been shown to have a calming effect on shelter dogs. Another study found that the use of music therapy ‘shows great potential as an effective and easy-to-implement therapeutic measure with many flow-on benefits to animal health and welfare.’

As one of the best activities for dogs with anxiety, the power of enjoying a musical experience together can be calming and relaxing for you both. On top of helping to block any noises that may be making you both tense, some sound baths even have healing frequencies - perfect if either of you is convalescing.

The idea of a sound bath is to let the music wash over you and enter a state of inner peace. So encourage your dog to curl up, perhaps plan this after a walk, and bring some cosy blankets in with you both.

Try some of the following:

If your dog reacts well, you could use this music in other situations to help promote calm - while you have visitors, are in the car, or while you practice separation training.

2.      Tellington Touch

Tellington Touch, or ‘Ttouch’, was developed by animal expert Linda Tellington Jones. She began this method of applying gentle pressure to provide stress relief to horses, and it’s now used worldwide by pet parents, training facilities and even by zookeepers!

Meant to strengthen the bond between humans and animals whilst promoting calm, it’s a form of massage that you can try at home. Here are 2 beginner exercises to try:

  • Cloud Leopard Touch - Rest your hand lightly on your dog’s body, with the fingers curved - as a leopard's paw might look. With the weight of your hand on the pads of your fingers, make clockwise circles along your dog’s body.
  • Ear Touches - Support your dog's head in one hand, and place their ear in between the thumb and forefinger of your other hand. With very gentle pressure, slide your thumb and finger from the base of the ear to the tip. Use clockwise, circular motions to cover the whole ear.

It’s important to respect your dog’s space here and only try these exercises if they seem willing to join in. If they move away as opposed to relaxing into the massage, simply allow them to rest on their own. Not all dogs love to be touched, especially when they are resting - so just be mindful of this.

If your dog is loving the physical contact, then you can find more about Tellington Touch here.

3.      Aromatherapy

Whilst it’s important to be careful about the essential oils you use around your dog, lavender is a safe and useful essence to employ. Not only has it always been able to help us relax and unwind, but scientists are finding it can do the same for our pups too.

One study found that dogs exposed to the ambient odour of lavender were significantly calmer during travel.

While you take a bath with some lavender Epsom salts, why not treat your dog to a calming lavender toy to help them unwind. The next morning you will both be left feeling recharged and refreshed.

Hunter Lavender Farm has a great range of lavender products available online, and they're all made using the Lavender grown locally on their farm in the Hunter Valley, NSW! 

4.      Hiking

The great outdoors has always provided an accessible and enduring form of stress relief - for both dogs and humans alike. But there’s a special quality to hiking that makes it incredibly stress-busting.

Perhaps it’s the sense of achievement when you complete your trail, or maybe it’s the peace and quiet. Or maybe it’s both! Making time for a hike is never time wasted.

For your dog, the new smells, sights and sounds will provide them with joy-filled enrichment, as well as remove any of that excess energy. To add to their role as hiking partner, you could even entrust them with carrying their own supplies in a doggy rucksack. Resulting in what will most likely be a calmer, happier dog.

For dogs that struggle with reactivity, you could try and organise hikes early on weekends when trails are mostly deserted. While the alarm might feel a little hard to begin with, the calm and quiet of the empty beauty will be worth every second.

5.      Nose Work

Putting those incredible noses to work is one of the easiest ways to provide a dog with a sense of achievement and purpose - two crucial elements to overall wellbeing. Not only can nosework be done easily around the house, by hiding toys or treats, but you can join local events and challenges to test your dog’s skills.

Look for a Certified Nose Work Instructor to get started and they will teach you how to include all sorts of interesting challenges, and progress through your training. From finding scents in a particular order to digging out hidden treasures.

Together you can focus on a common goal, switch off from the day’s work, acquire a new skill & maybe even some new friends. Or even just challenge yourselves in the comfort of your own home and give your dog that all-important job they might be craving.

I hope you enjoyed this list of calming activities for dogs. I believe it’s really important that we repay our dog’s positive effect on our lives with some extra TLC and these 5 activities are both fun and meaningful to share, especially if you have a dog that’s feeling a little stressed or anxious.

Crafted with comfort, durability and high-end design in mind, we have stylish  indoor dog beds  and outdoor  beds to suit any home. We are proud that our luxury dog beds are made in Australia, using both my own skills and the craftsmanship of small businesses.

With their comfy bed sorted, all that’s left is for you both to relax, unwind and enjoy each other’s company. Happy resting!

Subscribe to our newsletter

to receive our free downloadable guide to choosing the right walking gear for your dog