Does My Dog Have Anxiety
Are your dogs misbehaviors really signs of anxiety? Heres what to know about anxiety and when to get help.
When you live in a pandemic you tend to notice your anxiety more you feel nervous, quick to anger, overly tired, or just on edge. Canines experience anxiety much in the same way we do, and being a dog parent with an anxious pup isn’t fun for anyone.
For some dogs, feeling anxious is a passing experience, like maybe it only occurs on Thanksgiving . But if your dog can’t be left at home alone without issues or appears distressed at any changes in their schedule, they could have a severe, diagnosable form of anxietyand will need a good treatment plan to feel better.
Here’s what pet parents should know about anxiety and how to recognize when it’s time to seek additional help.
Providing A Secure Place To Sleep
When trying to combat anxiety during the night, you should of course assess your dog’s sleeping arrangements.
Perhaps the location of the dog bed can be moved to be closer to the owner, particularly in the case of separation anxiety this could help your pet to sleep.
A well-rested dog is a happy dog, sleep is hence of very high importance towards your dog’s well-being.
Anxiety issues can become much worse particularly if it is affecting your dog’s sleep pattern.
This is as your dog when tired is more sensitive to the routine changes previously highlighted and the stress-causing stimuli become exaggerated for your pet.
Changes can be made to your dog’s ability to sleep by giving a bit of thought to their environment.
You should look to create a safe haven for them somewhere that they truly feel at ease.
Nowadays you can also buy comfy calming beds for dogs. These beds work wonders through the use of simple tricks.
One of these tricks is to mimic the fur of the mother of your dog.
That’s right, from the time your dog was a pup, being protected and reassured by their mom.
The shag fur lining to these beds is so plush that it will soothe your pet into a calm sleep frame of mind.
One other way these beds also combat anxiety is through their unique shape.
Being shaped like a donut your dog has the opportunity to nestle and burrow down in these beds.
This provides a sense of security and comfort for your pet.
Causes Of Dog Noise Anxiety
A dog’s fear of loud noises can be caused by several different things.
Firstly, it’s actually a normal reaction to be scared of something that we don’t understand, or to jump at a sudden loud, and unexpected, noise.
Dogs don’t understand what thunder is, why fireworks are lighting up the sky or why the monster with the loud scary voice is rampaging through their house.
But not all dogs are afraid of loud noises.
Individual temperament plays a part. So does genetics.
If a dog has a pronounced fear of loud noises then it’s likely that puppies that he/she has may also have the same fear.
Not all puppies, but some. Genetics is a bit of a lottery that way.
Proper socialization as a young puppy also plays a role in how confident a dog that pup grows up to be.
Puppies who are not exposed to a wide range of people, pets, experiences and environments are often more anxious and fearful in general as they never got a chance to build up any self-confidence outside of their every day environment/routine.
Sometimes a fear is triggered by a stressful or unpleasant experience.
Anything linked to this experience becomes something he may be afraid of in the future. Perhaps for life.
Phobias can be born this way.
Anxiety, Fear and Phobias…. how they’re different
There is a difference between anxiety, fear and a phobia.
The dictionary definition of each is:
Anxiety: A persistent feeling of worry or unease about something that may not have happened yet, or has an uncertain outcome.
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Avoidance Of Anxiety Triggers
For dogs diagnosed with anxiety, know what triggers their anxiety. Then take them away from these triggers if you have to.
Avoiding anxiety triggers will reduce stress on you and your pooch.
If your dog is afraid of unfamiliar dogs, avoid the dog park. If the vacuum scares the hell out of them, then place them in a room while you vacuum the living room.
Videos abound of owners teasing their dog with the thing that scares them. Sometimes it seems like harmless fun.
But what do we know? This might have a lasting effect on the dog.
Tips For Helping Your Anxious Dog
Even though your dog cant talk and tell you what is wrong, you can still see the clues it gives you. When you realize that your dog suffers from anxiety, there are some things you can do.
In some cases, your veterinarian may give your dog some medication to help with the anxiety, especially if it seems to dominate your dogs life. Staying in a constant state of anxiety isnt good for anyone, canine or human.
At Central Pet we are sensitive to the needs of our anxious guests and try to help ease their stress with quiet, low sensory spaces where they can take a break when necessary. Contact us today to learn more about our doggy daycare, boarding, grooming, and training classes. We treat your pet like family!
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How Your Anxiety Can Affect Your Dog
Thousands of years of co-evolution has made our dogs incredibly in tune with our emotional state they are aware when were feeling happy, angry, anxious, or sad This ability is what endears them to us and is an essential part of our human-canine relationship. Yet many pet owners wonder if their anxiety is the cause of their pets anxiety.
Anxiety and depression are not contagious in the same sense as infections, such as the common cold or the flu. A person who has an anxiety disorder will not give their dog anxiety per se, but a dog that is already predisposed to anxiety might begin to exhibit symptoms more often, or at a more severe level, if their owner is also anxious. Its helpful to make sure that we are addressing any anxiety of our own if we have a dog that suffers from separation anxiety, noise anxiety, travel anxiety, or other general anxieties. Not only is this important for our mental and physical health, but your dog will benefit as well its a win-win!
How To Help Your Dog Relax In The Moment:
If you think your pet is displaying consistent signs of anxiety, there are ways you can help.
The important thing to know about anxiety in dogs, especially recurring anxiety, is that there isnt a magic bullet. Below youll find some techniques to help your dog calm down in an anxious situation, and later well talk about reducing anxiety in the long term.
The first and most important step if youre seeing a consistent, high level display of these symptoms is to talk to your veterinarian to rule out possible medical issues. Sometimes dogs show symptoms of anxiety because theyre sick!
If your vet agrees that anxiety is the cause, there are a few options to help your dog relax in the moment, depending on the type of anxiety theyre experiencing.
Licking is a soothing activity for dogs, so giving them something healthy they can lick keeps their brain occupied and helps them relax. For example a toy stuffed with some canned pumpkin or low-fat cream cheese. Just make sure to account for those calories in your dogs daily caloric intake so they dont put on extra weight. Treats should only make up 10% of your dogs daily calories.
Distract them with trained behaviors:
If your dog is anxious and wont take any food to distract them, you can try engaging them with behavior commands such as sit, paw, lie down, etc. This is a great way to distract them and have them focus on working instead of whatever is causing the anxiety.
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How To Handle A More Severe Problem
Use the techniques outlined above along with desensitization training. Teach your dog the sit-stay and down-stay commands using positive reinforcement. This training will help them learn that they can remain calmly and happily in one place while you go to another room.
Exercise and mental stimulation are critical to reducing anxiety and stress. Be sure your dog receives adequate exercise before you leave. Walking the same city block each day wont reduce anxiety, but sniffing and exploring new places will.
Create a “safe place” to limit your dog’s ability to be destructive while youre away. A safe place should:
- Confine the dog loosely .
- Contain busy toys for distraction.
- Have dirty laundry to lend a calming scent cue or other safety cues.
How To Train A Dog To Stop Walking Under Your Legs
Now that you understand what triggers your dog or puppy to run across your leg, you could be thinking about ways to get your pet to stop. Start by training your dog to understand that crossing your legs isnt acceptable. When this happens, you should not ignore your dog. Tell them to lay down on their bed. Once they have done that then give them a reward for their behavior.
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Why Are Some Dogs Unsettled When Left Alone
There are many reasons why a dog may develop problems when home alone these are the most common:
- The dog has never been left alone in the home regularly or separated from a particular person
- There is something that the dog is scared of or worried by either inside the house or outside. This could be something that happens on a daily basis or something that happened only once . Dogs tend to feel much more vulnerable when they are on their own, so it is easy for them to develop specific fears, especially those who have a sensitive or nervous nature.
- An animal companion dies. Normally this would be another dog who shared a close bond with the dog who is left behind, but strong attachments can also be made with other species too, like cats.
- Boredom. Typically this affects young, energetic dogs who struggle when left to their own devices. If left alone for too long these dogs may find their own entertainment, such as chewing table legs or raiding the rubbish bins.
Dogs who have been in rescue or have been rehomed several times can sometimes struggle with being left, especially in the first few weeks of being rehomed. This is probably due to a variety of factors, including the stresses experienced while in kennels and learning to adapt to a new home.
Why Does My Dog Go Between My Legs
If your dog is getting in between you and your leg, then youre likely thinking about the reason and how you can fix it. This post will explain the various reasons your dog could be between your legs, as well as several things could be done to prevent it. Why does my dog run behind my back? The reasons your dog is able to go between your legs could be because it is scared, dependent, wants to be noticed and is experiencing an anxiety about separation, or could be protecting. It could also be due to the fact that you have taught it that getting between your legs can bring benefits. There are a lot of factors to take into consideration in determining the reasons your dog could be going across your leg. There are many other options to take to stop it.
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Treatment Of Anxiety In Dogs
Apart from the above methods of treatment mentioned in each specific cause, there are some other ways dogs might be treated for anxiety. One is the use of medication for canine anxiety. The drugs used are usually sedatives such as Trazodone or Tramadol. These are sedatives which are used for anxiety relief.
These drugs are a temporary relief and should only be used in cases of extreme anxiety in dogs. Even then they should be used in conjunction with behavioral changes which will offer better longterm solutions. Another study from The Journal of Veterinary Behavior, this time from 2014, that moderate-to-deep pressure on soft tissue positive results in reducing anxiety and promoting relaxation. This can be attained by using a pressure wrap on the dog during times of anxiety. However, it is something which should be used in tandem with other treatment options.
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How To Prevent Social Anxiety
Socialization is most successful when started early. Begin the puppy socialization process as soon as possible. This essentially trains your dog to handle itself in busy situations. A well-socialized dog is not fearful of crowds and plays well with other dogs.
Start by taking your puppy out to different places. It is best to do this after it has been fully immunized against Parvo and Distemper. By exposing the dog while still young to different sights, sounds, and people, you teach it to accept these as normal. You will have a happy, friendly dog who handles others well.
If you adopt an adult dog, you cannot be sure what it has been exposed to. Don’t worry, you can still socialize an adult dog. You should start this process as soon as you bring your new dog home.
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How To Tell If Your Dog Has Car Anxiety
Most of the time you will be able to tell that your dog is stressed out by the prospect of getting in the car.
They can do this by playing up or even resisting to get into the vehicle, or more commonly will start to exhibit signs of panic when in motion.
And regardless of breed, most dogs will display clear physical signs that they are uncomfortable.
Panting, barking, whining, drooling and in the worst case sickness and/or defecation are all clear signs that your dog is not at all happy.
And as a responsible owner, you should be aware of this and not just expect them to automatically get used’ to it after a few minutes.
Because the truth of the matter is, most simply won’t.
You also need to bear in mind that some dogs do not demonstrate their fears in as overt a fashion as others.
Some may be entirely static and staring right ahead.
While this may be far easier to deal with from a human perspective, the fact is that they could well be literally scared stiff.
Therefore as the pack leader, it is your responsibility to do what you can to make your dog’s car experience less terrifying.
Symptoms Of Anxiety In Dogs
Whether big or small, there are a vast array of different symptoms a dog may exhibit if suffering from anxiety. While some of these signs may be hard to separate from regular daily behavioral patterns, it is still important to notice when these changes arise.
Subtle changes in behavior that can be indicative of anxiety may include:
- Seeking comfort or affection
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Familiarizing Your Dog With The Car
OK, so far we have covered the essentials for how to keep a dog as happy and stress-free as possible during a car journey.
But what about the minority who simply cannot stand the very thought of getting into a vehicle?
Obviously, the last thing anyone ought to consider is picking up a panicking dog, flinging them inside and slamming the door shut.
All that would achieve is further enforcing a negative impression of the car when you should instead be looking to foster a positive reaction.
Try this instead
Walk very slowly towards the car. Reward your dog with treats every few steps as you both grow closer.
Do not open the door yet instead repeat the process several times while gradually reducing the number of treats it takes to encourage your dog all the way up next to the vehicle.
Now perform the same routine but open the door at the end. Place a treat on the seat that is accessible without requiring the dog to fully enter.
Repeat again several times.
Here is where the positive reinforcement comes in.
Place a few very tasty treats inside the vehicle that will require a little exploring to discover .
While your dog seeks them out, offer gentle words of encouragement and congratulate them for each one they find.
When they are comfortable with being fully inside the car, try closing the door very briefly.
At this stage congratulate yourself and your dog for being patient!
If you observe any stress then try and calm them down.
Why Do Dogs Have Car Anxiety
Not all dogs are bothered by vehicles, but you need to be aware that regardless of how big and brave they may normally be, car anxiety can affect any breed or variety.
Those that are not used to regular trips are more likely to present problems.
Trips to the vet or previous vehicular trauma can both be side effects of traveling, so if your dog has previously experienced anything negative while riding in a vehicle, chances are they’re not going to be eager to get back in so soon
Generally speaking, dogs exposed to regular car trips from puppyhood will take more naturally to traveling in vehicles as they age but again, it is not a totally universal rule.
Behavior can alter due to experience.
The primary reasons why some dogs suffer from car anxiety are:
- Association with negative experiences
Of these five causes, the one that most owners will be familiar with is motion sickness.
Although do consider that psychological stress can physically manifest itself by vomiting.
We will discuss how to cope with this shortly, but for the other reasons, the key problem tends to be a more general unfamiliarity and unease with car travel.
These can be relatively straightforward to solve but do remember to stay patient.
The vast majority of dogs will learn to cope.
Some will just adapt quicker than others.
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