two thai ridgebacks laying on the ground

9 Activities to Help Thai Ridgebacks Overcome Anxiety

The variety of activities that can help your Thai Ridgeback overcome anxiety ensures that your Thai Ridgeback has a coping strategy in every situation.

Three words describe your favorite Thai Ridgeback dogs: Independent, loyal, and loving. But as independent as your Thai Ridgeback dog might be, they may still need some help with their anxiety. Some dogs may be more prone to anxiety, but no dog is exempt.

From physical exercise to cuddles and kisses, relief for dog anxiety can come in many different forms. Show your Thai Ridgeback dog some love with our 9 activities to help your Thai Ridgeback overcome anxiety!

Anxiety

What is Anxiety?

If your dog struggles with worrying, fear, and nervousness, they may suffer from anxiety. Dog anxiety, like anxiety in people, can be quite common, and there are many ways of countering anxiety in your dog as it arises.

Anxiety can be a normal reaction to unknown circumstances when our ‘fight or flight’ mode is activated. Adrenaline levels in the body increase, and physical reactions such as higher blood pressure, faster heartbeat, and increased alertness can occur. If it occurs more persistently, it may become an issue. 

Anxiety is caused by stimuli called triggers due to their “triggering” of anxiety. Sometimes we’re aware of what is triggering our anxiety, but may not be aware of what is triggering our dogs’ anxiety. Identifying triggers can help your Thai Ridgeback dogs overcome anxiety.

Causes of Anxiety in Thai Ridgeback Dogs

For Thai Ridgeback dogs, there can be countless individual anxiety triggers. Those triggers can result in four main forms of dog anxiety.

The first common form of anxiety is separation anxiety. This form of anxiety is a very frequent form of anxiety. Separation anxiety is anxiety that many dogs, including Thai Ridgeback dogs, may face when they are separated from their owners or primary caretakers. Separation anxiety can occur when separation occurs for extended amounts of time or from when the owner or caretaker appears to be leaving.

Another common form of anxiety is social anxiety. Social anxiety can cause your Thai Ridgeback dogs to be anxious around other dogs or people they don’t know. Thai Ridgeback dogs are more susceptible to social anxiety outside of the house, as there are more potential interactions with strangers. Still, Thai Ridgeback dogs can also face social anxiety when strangers enter their homes.

Environmental anxiety is a very common form of anxiety for Thai Ridgeback dogs. Thai Ridegback dogs may have anxiety about the environment or space itself. Environmental anxiety is often due to traumatic memories or experiences in a specific place or a place that seems similar to where traumatic memories have occurred. Thai Ridgeback dogs may also have anxiety from sounds, lights, or other intense sensory stimuli. Thunder is an environmental stimulus that gives many Thai Ridgeback dogs a sense of anxiety.

The last main form of anxiety that Thai Ridgeback dogs, or any other breed of dog, may suffer from is generalized anxiety. Generalized anxiety may not have a noticeable trigger and is very persistent. When suffering from generalized anxiety your dog may be almost constantly struggling with anxiety. Your dog may exhibit more symptoms when exposed to triggering stimuli, but often not fully leave their anxious state.

Your dog may suffer from one, or all, of these major forms of anxiety. What is important is being able to recognize anxiety in Thai Ridgeback dogs and help relieve some of the worry, fear, and nervousness from your dog.

thai ridgeback standing in the middle of the road

Signs of Anxiety in Thai Ridgeback Dogs

There are many different signs of anxiety your Thai Ridgeback can display. Many signs of anxiety mimic typical behaviors, so it is important to be aware of your dog’s behaviors when not exposed to a trigger to discern what behavior is typical for your Thai Ridgeback and what behavior is a symptom of anxiety.

We’ve put together a series of behaviors that your Thai Ridgeback may be exhibiting as a sign of anxiety.

Excessive barking or whining can signal anxiety in your Thai Ridgeback, particularly if it seems to be caused by nothing. Repetitive movement like pacing can be a sign of anxiety, as can vigorous movement such as shaking. Your Thai Ridgeback may yawn for longer amounts of time and more often when they are anxious or stressed. Drooling excessively and panting, not after exercise, is also a common result of anxiety.

Keep an eye out for changes in your Thai Ridgeback’s overall stance, as postures, and other body language cues can be excellent indicators of anxiety. If your Thai Ridgeback is more rigid than usual or adjusts more weight to be leaning on their rear legs your dog may be suffering from anxiety. The tail between the legs and ears pinned to the back of your dog’s head are also signs of anxiety or stress.

When your Thai Ridgeback feels strong emotions, especially excitement or anxiety, they may not have as much control over their bodily functions. Urination is a common result of anxiety in your dog, but it is also a common result of excitement in younger dogs, so be aware of other body language signals. Use a combination of signs to tell if your Thai Ridgeback is anxious, or just very excited.

9 Activities to Help Your Thai Ridgeback Overcome Anxiety

Anxiety symptoms can range from a minor inconvenience to extremely uncomfortable for your Thai Ridgeback. Luckily, there are ways you can help! 

Here are 9 activities to help your Thai Ridgeback overcome anxiety. Different activities may work better for your dog than others, and some activities may work better under different circumstances. Try various activities until you find a few that will work for you and your Thai Ridgeback!

Fetch

As with human anxiety, exercise is key in reducing your Thai Ridgeback’s anxiety. Exercise is known to have anxiolytic, or anxiety reducing, effects due to how it impacts endorphin releases and neural growth. It also provides a great distraction from current stressors. 

A great way to introduce exercise to an anxious Thai Ridgeback is for you to play fetch with your Thai Ridgeback. Fetch involves throwing an object and your dog running and “fetching” the object for you. 

You may already play fetch with your Thai Ridgeback dog during playtime, so playing fetch during high anxiety may bring a sense of consistency and normalcy to strange or unknown times, such as traveling. Fetch is also a great way to promote positive interactions between you and your Thai Ridgeback dog.

two thai ridgebacks playing outside

Walks

Another great way for you to use exercise as a way for your Thai Ridgeback to overcome their anxiety is to take them on walks. Walks are a way to burn energy and are less intensive than playing fetch. All of the benefits of exercise on anxiety can be obtained through a walk, just like fetch, but may be better suited for your dog. Walks can be great for older dogs or dogs with a health issue or a health problem

A consistent path you walk with your Thai Ridgeback dog can bring a sense of consistency and calmness. If the dog knows what to expect in the environment, they may feel more safe and secure. 

Walking your dog is also a great form of mental stimulation for your Thai Ridgeback dog. With all the different smells and sensory stimuli, your dog will likely be more engaged in the walk rather than the anxiety they may be feeling.

Training with Routine Commands

Mental stimulation can be an excellent tool to get your dog’s focus off of the anxiety-producing trigger and onto different tasks. A simple way to do this is to switch to training your Thai Ridgeback dog with routine commands when you notice they are becoming anxious. 

Of course, routine commands are commands that you have already taught your dog so these will vary from dog to dog. Pet parents will have different commands prioritized for their Thai Ridgeback dog. However, here are a few basic commands, as recommended by the American Kennel Club, that are used in many forms of basic training for puppies

Teaching your Thai Ridgeback puppy to come when their name is called is a very common command for your dog. Teaching the puppy with the phrase “come / INSERT NAME HERE” is a traditional way of alerting your puppy to come when it hears its name. If you are in a time crunch or are busy with another task and notice your Thai Ridgeback dog is a little anxious, it can be helpful to say “come / INSERT NAME HERE” as you are going about the house. 

The Sit command is a second basic command for your Thai Ridgeback that can be helpful when they are anxious. This command is very often taught to puppies and is frequently taught in two different ways: capturing and luring. Once your dog is taught this command, you can reinforce this training when your dog is anxious. It will provide some mental stimulation for your anxious dog

Our last command, Down, is often taught similarly to the command Sit. You can use the capturing and luring techniques to teach your Thai Ridgeback dog this command. By reinforcing this command when your dog is anxious, it provides the dog the opportunity for mental stimulation, puts their body in a more relaxing position, and can stretch out tense muscles.thai ridgeback standing in a park

 

Introduce New Commands

Introducing new commands to your dog can be another way to integrate mental stimulation into activities for your anxious dog. New commands promote neuroplasticity, or the brain's adaptation and creation of new neural pathways. It is important when your dog is anxious because the brain functions differently when it is anxious. 

Training your dog with new commands works to create new pathways in the brain and can provide some anxiety relief for your Thai Ridgeback dog. Again, as with the routine commands, this all depends on what commands your dog already knows. Different dogs and pet owners will have different prior knowledge. You can try a new command every time your dog is anxious or continue building on one command each time your dog appears anxious. 

If your dog already has prior knowledge of the three routine commands mentioned above, here are a few potentially new commands for your Thai Ridgeback dog. Leave It and Drop It are two commands that can be very helpful in reducing your dog’s anxiety, but also in reducing your anxiety as well! These commands can prevent your dog from eating something poisonous, or it can prevent your dog from chewing up your favorite book. 

Another set of commands that can be helpful to introduce when your dog is anxious is the commands Watch Me and With Me. These are ways to adjust your dog’s attention focus. Rather than focusing on the anxiety-producing trigger, your dog is now focused on you. It can reduce anxiety and teach your dog new ways of behaving.

Counterconditioning

Counterconditioning is similar to teaching your dog new commands, but instead of trying to change your dog’s behavior you are trying to change the dog’s emotion. Counterconditioning associates a new emotion with the trigger. It is often combined with systematic desensitization techniques, which change the dog’s reaction to the trigger. 

Systematic desensitization works very well with counterconditioning to help reduce your Thai Ridgeback dog’s anxiety. This form of desensitization gradually exposes your dog to the trigger to change their reaction. Your dog should always be happy and comfortable when exposed to the triggering stimuli. If they are scared, it is important to go back to a level of exposure where they are not scared. Over time your Thai Ridgeback dog will learn to tolerate the trigger. 

Counterconditioning works, as mentioned above, to change your dog’s emotional response to a trigger rather than a behavioral response. It is a type of classical conditioning (think Pavlov’s dogs salivating at the sound of a bell). It works for teaching the dog to like something that actively produces anxiety for them. 

The open bar/closed bar technique is often applied to counterconditioning. In this technique, the bar is open when the trigger appears. It means that you give treats to your dog. When the trigger stops, the bar is closed and you don’t give any more treats to your dog. It creates a positive conditioned emotional response to the trigger. Your dog should be happy and expecting food when the trigger appears. 

Combining systematic desensitization and counterconditioning is an excellent activity to reduce anxiety in your Thai Ridgeback dog. You can do this by gradually exposing your dog to the trigger, while using the open bar/closed bar technique. While this is a great activity, there are several key mistakes to notice. 

Make sure you are using extra good treats, or treats your dog likes when counterconditioning. Not good enough treats can create a weaker change in emotions in the presence of the trigger. Try these Calming Zen Chews for extra anxiety relief!

Another common mistake is getting the timing wrong. You want to make sure that you are turning the trigger into something good, not turning something good into the trigger. You want your dog to be happy at the sign of the trigger, not looking around for the trigger when you offer her food. 

Finally, ensure that you know your Thai Ridgeback’s body language and don’t go too fast. Going too fast can increase your dog’s anxiety and sensitization to the trigger instead of reducing anxiety and desensitizing your dog

With the proper training in desensitization and counterconditioning even a Thai Ridgeback puppy can work through its anxiety!

close up image of a thai ridgeback

Cuddles

Physical touch is almost as important for dogs as it is for humans! Cuddles can be a wonderful bonding experience with your Thai Ridgeback dog daily, but they can also be particularly helpful in anxiety-producing situations. 

Cuddling can reduce anxiety symptoms in dogs, particularly in cases of separation anxiety. Petting or cuddling your Thai Ridgeback dog for a short period before leaving has been known to lower your dog’s heart rate and promote a sense of calmness.

Massages

Aside from cuddling your dog, different types of physical touch can reduce anxiety. Massages can source enormous anxiety relief for your Thai Ridgeback dog

Like humans, dogs can carry a lot of stress and anxiety in their bodies. Massages can relieve some of that residual stress and anxiety in your dog. Be careful of any physical health conditions your dog may have, and work your way from your dog’s neck downward. Keeping one hand resting on your dog while the other hand massages is a good way to keep your dog comfortable.

Listen to Music

Listening to music can greatly reduce your Thai Riddgeback’s anxiety. It’s important to pick the right kind of music. Some dogs may prefer softer music to lull them into a state of calm, while others may prefer stimulating music that can keep their mind occupied elsewhere. 

Here’s an example of music that your Thai Ridgeback dog may find calming.

thai ridgeback puppy sitting in the grass

Create a Safe Space

Creating a space where your Thai Ridgeback dog can feel safe, especially a place accessible for them when you aren’t around, is a key factor in reducing your dog’s anxiety. In this space, you can include soft pillows, a comfy bed, their favorite blanket, calming music, and perhaps some treats. You can even try this Calming Cuddle Bed for extra comfort!

For dogs with separation anxiety this can be a critical space for the dog to feel safe and secure when you are not around. Building good connotations around this space and good experiences for your dog can be very important to make this a safe space for your dog

Final Thoughts

Making sure that your Thai Ridgeback dog isn’t plagued with anxiety is crucial in making your furry friend and newfound family member feel at home. Whether your Thai Ridgeback is scared of young children or bigger dogs like the Great Dane, these 9 activities will help reduce your dog’s anxiety levels. Try a few of these methods and see which ones your dog responds to best and the ones that you feel the most comfortable executing. 

Don’t be afraid to try something new! Each of our activities has its benefits. Depending on your dog's anxiety level and the intensity of the trigger, different methods may work better than others. 

I am wishing you and your Thai Ridgeback dog a stress-free day!

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