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Anxious Dog Walking Tips


by Mel Deutsher


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Dog walking is a great way to keep our furry friends happy and healthy, but what do you do when your dog gets anxious during walks? It can be a stressful experience for both you and your pet, but there are steps you can take to help your anxious dog feel more comfortable during walks.

Identify the Cause of Anxiety

First and foremost, it’s important to identify the cause of your dog’s anxiety. Dogs can become anxious for many reasons, whether it’s because of unfamiliar surroundings or new people. If you notice your dog becoming increasingly nervous during walks, it’s important to take note of any potential triggers.


Having an understanding of what might trigger your dog’s anxiety can be invaluable when it comes to helping your pet control its feelings. Perhaps your pup is particularly scared of strangers or intimidated by other dogs – if this is the case, avoid taking it for walks in busy areas where there may be a lot of people and dogs around. Instead, choose a quieter area or go out at times of day when there are fewer people and animals present; not only will you be benefiting your frazzled pooch but you also won’t have to worry about other animals or people causing any stress.

dog with a worried look on face

If you must take your dog into an environment with lots of unfamiliar activity present, try to keep it close to you; preferably on a short leash so that you can quickly react should an issue arise. It is best though if you can steer clear altogether; if spotted early enough, crossing to the opposite side of the street or finding another route free from strangers and other animals may do the trick! Walking in peace with a calm self-confident pup should always be your aim.

Start Slowly

If your dog is experiencing anxiety during walks, it’s important to start slowly and gradually increase the length and intensity of the walks. This can help your dog feel more comfortable and less overwhelmed. You can also start by walking in quieter areas before moving on to busier places.

Change the attention 

Refocusing your dog is an excellent tool to help address canine anxiety, especially when it’s triggered by a certain stimulus. The goal is to divert your pooch’s focus away from the cause of fear and onto something else, such as yourself, a treat or an interesting smell. 

It should be noted that some dogs may not be able to refocus if they have already exceeded their threshold; meaning if the dog has already panicked then it’s too late for treat scatters.

This is why it’s important to focus on distraction techniques before encountering the trigger—like calling their name, commands or offering a special reward—as these activities can help keep their attention on good things instead of bad ones. 

Use Positive Reinforcement

Using positive reinforcement can be an effective way to help your anxious dog feel more comfortable during walks. This can involve rewarding your dog with treats, praise, or toys when they exhibit calm behavior. This positive reinforcement can help your dog associate walks with positive experiences and can help reduce anxiety over time.

Consider investing in a large treat bag and have it on-hand with lots of high value treats such as lickable choices like peanut butter, soft cheese and mashed banana; these types of treats produce calming effects when licked by canines. Chicken jerky is also a beneficial option as it does not make dogs messy and is made out of pure meat which offers additional pleasing qualities. To ensure success however, you must figure out what your dog loves most; assess minor preferences so that their favorite treat continues to act effectively as a distraction from the fearful behavior they were exhibiting before.

Consider a Calming Aid

In some cases, using a calming aid can be helpful in reducing anxiety during walks. These can include natural remedies such as herbal supplements or pheromone collars. It’s important to talk to your veterinarian about any potential calming aids and to only use them under their guidance.

Develop a Plan

Finally, it’s important to develop a plan for you and your anxious dog. This can involve identifying potential triggers, gradually increasing the intensity of walks, and using positive reinforcement. You can also work with a professional dog trainer to develop a personalized plan for your dog.


When it comes to having a calm and steady pup, routine is key. Walking the same route over and over can have a calming effect on your dog, making them feel safe in the knowledge of what’s about to come next. Stick to a set pattern when you can, as your pet will begin to recognize the landmarks along the way and likely enjoy revisiting them regularly. Once you find a route that avoids whatever triggers anxiety in your dog, make it a point to take that walk as often as possible.

Dog walking on dirt, looking uptight and anxious

Routine is particularly important for those dogs that struggle with nervousness or fearfulness. Even if it may be boring for you, repetition of familiar settings and stimuli will allow your canine companion to increase their level of comfort. By knowing what kind of noises or surface textures are ahead, they’ll also be less apprehensive when out on walks. Making sure your four-legged friend has enough regular exercise is critical for physical health of course; but establishing an ongoing routine helps maintain good mental health too!

In Conclusion

Anxious dog walking can be challenging, but with the right strategies in place, you can help your dog feel more comfortable and confident during walks. Remember to identify potential triggers, start slowly, use positive reinforcement, consider a calming aid, and develop a plan. With these steps in place, you and your furry friend can enjoy walks together without the added stress and anxiety.

Mel Deutsher

With years of experience working with dogs and animals, Mel provides professional and personal care for all engagements.

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