What To Do if Your Dog Has Anxiety
Have you ever wondered if your dog can actually feel things?
Is he actually sad when you leave?
Is he able to feel guilt?
Well, the answer, in any case, is yes!
Dogs, like humans, are able to experience a wide range of emotions like love, shame and even fear or anxiety, our subject for today’s blog.
Dog anxiety can affect all breeds, but it can vary from dog to dog.
Although all dogs experience anxiety from time to time, if not addressed, it could develop into an anxiety disorder, which could lead to behavioral issues.So, how can you really tell if you have an anxious dog?
And most importantly, what can you do to help?
In this blog post, I’m telling you everything you need to know about dog anxiety, its common causes, symptoms and treatments.
What Causes Anxiety in Dogs?
First a short backstory: I adopted Lenni in the middle of the Covid-19 Pandemic, which means that he and I were together 24/7.
When curfews started to lift and I had to go back to work everyday, I soon realized that something was going on with Lenni, so I decided to set up a pet camera and record my dog's reactions when I left the house.
When I came back and I saw the video, I saw Lenni howling and barking non-stop for 3 hours straight; I was horrified!
After giving it some thought, I realized: this wasn’t because he wanted to come with me or because he was bored.
Before he came to me, he was abandoned by his prior pet parents, so it made sense that this traumatic event made him frightened that I wouldn’t come back!
I started doing some research on dog separation anxiety and with lots of patience and love, I was able to train with him so that it would go away.
What I want to transmit with this story, is that the most common underlying cause for anxiety in your furry friend is the feeling of fear.
Loud noises, new people, animals or strange objects, specific situations like, in Lenni's case, being home alone or going to the vet's office can cause your dog to feel stressed and frightened.
When dogs are anxious, they usually express it through their behavior.
Peeing or defecating (even when potty trained), property damage like destroying furniture, excessive barking and howling, or even aggressive behavior are the most common signs and symptoms to be aware of.
One of the most beneficial things you can do is learn to read your Fluffy Friend’s body language.
Knowing when your dog is frightened or uncomfortable can help you avoid unpleasant situations or turn them into positive reinforcement training opportunities.
(Find out more about this in our blog post "How Do Dogs Communicate?")
What’s the First Step To Help Your Fluffy Friend?
First, dog owners should check with their veterinarians to rule out any other medical issues that may be causing the dog's symptoms of separation anxiety.
The vet will be able to guide you according to your dog’s needs.
As most anxiety disorders can be trained, here we advise you to be careful and to be certain before giving any anti-anxiety medication or drug therapy to your pooch.
Next, we advise you to talk to a dog trainer.
In our case, it wasn’t until I was investing my time and energy in training Lenni that he stopped having panic attacks every time I left the house.
I would train him by going out, starting with a very short amount of time and slowly extending for long periods of time I was outside.
Gradually, he learned that no matter how much length of time passed, I always come back.
And with time, the attacks and signs of distress stopped completely.
That’s why it's a good idea to identify why your doggie is acting the way it’s acting and, if you need help, call a dog trainer.
It’s so gratifying when the training sessions start showing results!
What You Can Do at Home?
The training process doesn’t only help with the issue directly, it also establishes trust and lays the groundwork for a healthy relationship between you and your Fluffy Friend.
I understand that getting a dog trainer might be on the expensive side.
Worry not, as there are some practices that pet owners can already integrate into their daily routine to help their pooch overcome anxious behaviors.
Anxiety towards new people or other dogs can be avoided through proper socialization.
Introducing your canine companion slowly and gradually to them can help prevent an exaggerated reaction in the future.
Regular physical exercise and mental stimulation are essential for the development of young dogs.
A stimulated dog is less likely to adopt destructive behaviors, and good nutrition is also essential for your dog's health.
You can also try to avoid or prevent situations that cause your dog anxiety.
For example, if you know your dog gets nervous around large groups of dogs, you should avoid large dog parks at the beginning.
Dogs are social animals but they would still need to get used to having many dogs around.
In general, it’s very important to keep yourself and your best friend calm.
Try to create a safe place assigned specially for your dog, where he can lie down and be relaxed in his own space.
You can achieve this by selecting a corner in your home and making it cozy with some blankets, a dog bed, and maybe his favourite puzzle toys so that it’s clear it’s for them. Also, try teaching them that being at home means being calm and relaxed by taking playtime outside.
If you want to read about some natural ways to calm your dog’s anxiety, you can click here!
Like humans, many dogs will experience anxiety at some point throughout their lives.
Although not all dogs will have anxiety that leads to a diagnosable anxiety disorder, it’s always the best option to know the causes, symptoms, and treatment options involved with dog anxiety.
Understanding these important facets can help you figure out the best way to help your dog's separation anxiety.
Do your Fluffy Friend have anxiety or behavioral problems?
Can you recognize any of the separation anxiety symptoms?
Let our community know in the comments how you deal with your pooch’s fears so that we can all learn from each other once again.
Thank you for reading, stay Fluffy,
Your MrFluffyFriend Team
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Words from our author
As a pet owner, I often found myself in a very frustrating situation: going to the internet and finding multiple unhelpful and redundant articles about the care and training of pets.
My mission is to create a community blog where you can find all types of information, training tips and tricks, focusing on natural and organic ways of pet-owning and training.
Understanding your pet is like understanding a whole new world - and I want us to discover it together!