Lower your dog’s stress levels with these three genius tips from an expert trainer

Close up of border collie dog looking sad on comfy chair in living room
(Image credit: Getty Images)

As a responsible dog owner, you likely do everything you can to try to prevent your canine companion from being exposed to stressful events. However, even with the best intentions in the world, some degree of stress is part and parcel of every day life.

While nibbling on one of the best long lasting dog chews can have a soothing effect on your pup's nervous system, expert trainer Piper Novick shared a few other ideas in a recent Instagram post.

"We can’t always prevent stress, but we can provide our dogs with the time and space needed to recover and bring their nervous system back to a baseline," she says.

Read on as Novick explains how you can help your dog to recover from a fur-raising event...

1. Decompression walk: Novick says the best way to help your dog decompress after a stressful event is to offer them some off-leash time in nature that's free from triggers. "Find a low-traffic trail or park to walk your dog loose, or on a harness and long-line," she recommends. 

2. Sniff adventure: "If off-leash time in nature isn't an option for you, visit a non-pet related store like Lowes or Home Depot to let your dog sniff freely," Novick advises. For more on the powerful benefits of sniffing, this article is well worth a read: I tried a 45-minute 'sniffari', and it tired out my border collie more than a two-hour hike!

3. Yard snuffle: "If option one or two isn't accessible for you, make sniffing and foraging happen at home," Novick says. "Scatter a cup of medium-value treats in your yard for your dog to forage for and eat." You can also use one of the best snuffle mats for dogs and use it inside if you live in an apartment or home where you don't have access to a garden. 

It's important to note that every dog is different and what your dog needs to decompress may differ from what another dog needs. Don't be afraid to play around with the strategies above to see what works for your pup. 

You'll also want to give your dog plenty of time to recover — which turns out to be a lot longer than you might expect!

"When your dog experiences a stressful event, cortisol (the stress hormone) floods their body," Novick explains. Cortisol prepares their body for the fight or flight response, and activates the sympathetic nervous system. 

Even after the stressful event concludes and your dog is safe, cortisol is still racing through their body and will take a few days to completely leave their system. Your dog will need a few days (at least) to recover."

For more helpful tips for pups that are prone to experiencing stress and anxiety around every day stimuli, check out our guide to how to calm a reactive dog

Chewsday Bacony Sizzle Chew Bones  
$22.99 from Chewy

Chewsday Bacony Sizzle Chew Bones 
$22.99 from Chewy
These long-lasting bacon-flavored chews are rawhide-free and hard and durable enough to bring your pup hours of entertainment. Made from all natural ingredients, they're highly digestible and are great for aggressive chewers. 

Kathryn Williams
Freelance writer

Kathryn is a freelance writer who has been a member of the PetsRadar family since it launched in 2020. Highly experienced in her field, she's driven by a desire to provide pet parents with accurate, timely, and informative content that enables them to provide their fur friends with everything they need to thrive. Kathryn works closely with vets and trainers to ensure all articles offer the most up-to-date information across a range of pet-related fields, from insights into health and behavior issues to tips on products and training. When she’s not busy crafting the perfect sentence for her features, buying guides and news pieces, she can be found hanging out with her family (which includes one super sassy cat), drinking copious amounts of Jasmine tea and reading all the books.