Dog Anxiety – What You Need To Know
July 30, 2020
Just like humans, dogs can experience anxiety. It’s not nice, but it is a normal emotion. Anxiety can affect all breeds, but just like us, it can affect individual dogs differently.
Although anxiety is something that dogs can experience on occasion, if its excessive or left unchecked your pooch can develop a disorder, which can lead to chronic anxiety and behaviour issues.
There are many causes, ranging from fear, separation or just your dog’s age.
Fear can be caused by sirens, loud noises, fireworks, strange environments or different types of clothing (hats, masks, hoodies). Some dogs show a brief concern but then can continue behaving normally.
Separation Anxiety is where your dog is unable to comfort himself when he is alone or separated from family. It is estimated that around 14% of dogs experience separation anxiety, which often results in unwanted behaviour when alone, such as destructive behaviour, hole digging or excessive barking
Age Related Anxiety can affect older dogs and is a symptom of cognitive dysfunction Syndrome, which can affect memory, cognition and is similar to Alzheimers disease in humans.
The triggers for dog anxiety are usually fairly obvious. The best way is to watch your pooch and look for causes. Once you can ascertain the cause, you can then go about working on a plan.
One of the best strategies is called counter conditioning. This will help change your dog’s reaction to stressful situations which might cause anxiety. You can do this by rewarding good behaviour and reassuring your dog when the situation arises. You may also want to speak to a dog trainer for assistance with different approaches.
Most importantly don’t punish your dog or force them to stay too close to their source of fear. Your dog can learn over time that there is nothing to fear, provided you expose them slowly and provide positive rewards when they remain calm
In severe cases where your dog has developed and anxiety disorder, your vet may recommend medication that can be used at times of high anxiety.
Thundershirts are a tightly fitting shirt that fits on your dog, the theory is that the constant pressure can help calm their nerves
Massages are a great stress release for human and dogs alike and there is nothing more soothing for an anxious dog than your touch. Try to identify the signs of anxiety and you may be able to nip it in the bud by picking them up and giving them a cuddle.
Dog Appeasing Pheromones are scents that can help to calm a dog’s anxiety. The pheromone is a synthetic reproduction of the hormone that mother dogs release to keep their puppies calm.
Calming Music can have a soothing affect on your pooch when you aren’t home, this can also alleviate noise sensitivity by blocking out noises that might be creating anxietys
Rescue Remedy and Supplements are specific mixes of natural herbs and flower extracts that may help calm your dog’s nerves. They are available in anything from sprays or supplements to put in your dog’s water.
Training lays a solid foundation for preventing and managing many behaviours and it helps to develop a healthy relationship along with developing trust.
It can be difficult to predict why your dog is experiencing anxiety and even more difficult to tell if it will result in a more concerning disorder, however a good way to prevent anxiety is to ensure that your pup is well socialised, exercised and trained.
Anxiety can lead to an excess of energy and just as regular exercise is a great stress reliever for humans, it is also a great benefit for your dog. Exercise gets rid of pent up energy releases chemicals your pup’s brains that make them feel good. Ultimately a tired dog is a good dog!
If you find that none of your attempts are able to help with your dog’s anxiety it might be time for a trip to the vet to ensure that the anxiety isn’t caused by an underlying health issue and to look at a treatment plan.