A dog getting some exercise training from their owner.

Alternatives To Exercise To Keep Dogs Calm

5 mins |

Dogs can become nervous or excited for a variety of reasons. Whether it’s due to fireworks or separation anxiety, what are the ways pet parents can keep their pets calm besides exercise? In other words, what are the alternatives to exercise to keep dogs calm?

Improving a dog’s environment, removing stressors,  switching on the radio, giving your dog attention, and using toys, supplements, or medication are all ways to help keep a dog calm.

Why Is My Dog Stressed?

Dogs, like us humans, sometimes become stressed following changes in their routine or environment. Such events are especially disturbing to dogs because they don’t understand them.

Below we’ve listed some examples of potentially stressful situations for dogs:

  • Loud sounds (fireworks)
  • Receiving veterinary attention
  • Contact with other animals or humans
  • Time away from their owner (separation anxiety)
  • Health conditions
  • The appearance of new or threatening objects.

So, now that we know some theories behind what could cause our dog to be stressed let’s see how it could look.

How Do I Know If My Dog Is Stressed?

No two dogs are the same, and when it comes to stress, it often manifests in different ways. This usually relates to the cause of the stress and how long it lasts.

For example, shorter-term stressors (such as a trip to the vet or an evening of fireworks) could make our pet temporarily stressed. In these cases, dogs might try to hide, start barking, become alert, chew on objects or try to escape.

Shorter-term stress could also provoke gastrointestinal problems such as vomiting and diarrhea. Although it’s not very nice to see, this kind of stress (short-term) is less risky for your dog’s health than prolonged stress.

As is the case with humans, longer-term or chronic stress can contribute to poor health in our pets. Prolonged gastrointestinal upset due to stress can lead to a lack of condition and weight loss. Additionally, since stress depresses the immune system, pets could become more likely to develop diseases or cancer.

What Are The Benefits Of Keeping A Dog Calm?

Keeping your dog calm means they’re more likely to be both happy and healthy. They’ll be free to express their normal behaviors and are less likely to disturb their owner in any way.

How To Keep Dogs Calm Other Than Exercise

A dog touching a radio while wearing some headphones.
A radio can be a good way to help keep a dog calm.

Exercise often makes our dogs feel more relaxed. However, during a situation that is stressful for our pet, it might not be a practical solution. In this section, we’ll explore some solutions that could help your pet to feel better.


Toys can help distract your pet from stressful situations and give them something positive to think about. Using toys is usually possible, regardless of the time of stressful situation, and can be catered to any budget. 

Homemade toys such as snuffle mats or bottle feeders can be just as interesting for your pet as more expensive shop-bought ones. Toys can also be leveled up by being combined with treats!

So, next time you have to take your pet to the vet, try bringing your dog’s favorite toy along!


If your pet suffers from separation anxiety while being left at home, leaving the radio on could help them relax. Hearing sounds accompanying them through the day could remind them of you and bring comfort. This is especially the case if their pet parents keep the radio on while at home.


For more damaging stress-associated behavior, such as damage to objects or gastrointestinal symptoms, medication could be a possible solution. A classic example of this is travel sickness, which can be helped by a prescription following advice from a veterinarian.

Remember, giving your pet medication should always be the last option. Be sure to try all other options and consult your veterinarian before thinking about medication to keep your dog calm.


Does your dog’s environment cater to all its needs? Are they able to access clean, fresh water and food when they need it? Do they have somewhere calm, warm, and comfortable to sleep? Do they have enough toilet breaks throughout the day?

The environment plays a huge role in your dog’s happiness, and the questions above should be thought about and acted on following any signs of stress.


Supplements such as pheromones can be a solution to stressful situations where the pet parent cannot be with the dog.

Pheromones can be sprayed manually or automatically, helping your dog relax. Sensitivity to pheromones varies between pets, and it’s often recommended to use this method along with another one.

Contact With Carers

Simply cuddling your pet, allowing them to sleep next to you, or any means of physical contact can help them to relax. A situation in which this could be helpful is if your pet becomes scared during storms.

Removing Stressors

It might seem simple, but sometimes all it takes to relax your pet is to give them some peace away from the thing causing them stress. Examples of these situations include freedom from younger children, louder noises (such as vacuum cleaners), and during parties at your home.

Conclusion: Alternatives To Exercise To Keep Dogs Calm

Some situations can be stressful for your pet and lead to changes in health status and the pet-parent bond. However, there are, thankfully, plenty of ways to help relax your pet. Exercise should still be a part of their daily routine, but the above solutions will help too.

So, which method do you plan to use to keep your dog calm? Let us know in the comments below!

Charlotte Stiles
Charlotte Stiles
Charlotte is a final-year veterinary medicine student at the University of Zagreb, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine. She has been a volunteer at her university's clinic for 4 years, and completed internships in Spain, Belgium, and Austria. She is also an editor of her university's scientific journal, and dog mum to 13-year-old Chiki, who she rescued from a shelter.