Anxiety In Dogs
Understanding what it is and ways to help you manage your dogs anxiety
It's not uncommon for dog owners to be unaware that their beloved furry friend maybe suffering from anxiety. Afterall, there are several reasons why your dog may have anxiety which are brought on by a range of factors and settings.
Educate yourself today by reading our article on Understanding Anxiety In Dogs. You'll thank yourself.
So you've figured out why your dog suffers from anxiety and now you are need of some treatment advice. Terrific! Now it's just a matter of putting some proven practices into motion. I've got a great article that talks about a range of different plans with the help of specific dog products to get you started.
Head over to our Treatment For Anxiety In Dogs.
Recommended Dog Anxiety Products
Recommended Dog Anxiety Supplements
Helpful Advice For Anxiety In Dogs
According to experts, the three most common causes of canine anxiety are fear, separation and aging. Let’s explore the signs and symptoms and how owners can help their pets. Fear related anxieties can be caused by:
- Loud noises
- Distractions like umbrellas and hats
- New environments
- Certain things like the vet’s office, car rides and shiny floors
These situations may seem insignificant to us but can cause great anxiety in our dogs. Fourteen percent of dogs are estimated to suffer from separation anxiety. This occurs when they are left alone or separated from their family resulting in unwanted behaviors like destruction of furniture, constant barking or urinating and defecating in the house or their crate.
Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS) can be associated to anxiety in aging dogs. Similar to the early stages of Alzheimer’s in humans, there will be a decline in the memory, learning, perception and awareness leading to anxiety in senior dogs.
A loud thunderstorm or a ride in a can have an unexpected reaction on your pet. To some dogs, loud noises represent danger and their reactions will be exactly the same each and every time. Just like us, dogs have anxieties and fears and they all deal with them differently. They may not be the same as our own anxieties, but they can cause stress and physical reactions just the same.
Why Is Anxiety So Common In Dogs?
My dog Oscar suffers from anxiety. I know when he’s becoming anxious just by certain behaviors that he displays to relieve his stress. He’ll pace and groom himself repeatedly, and sometimes even become aggressive to our other dogs and other people. Dog anxiety can result in damage to property, self-harm to the dog itself or even behavior that you may think is unacceptable. Examples of this may include:
- Non-stop barking
- Chewing up furniture, walls, shoes, garbage and other property
- Defecating and urinating in the house, crate or other confinement areas
- Eating his own poop
- Aggression toward people, dogs or other animals
Diagnosis of Fear And Anxiety In Dogs
First and foremost, the best treatment for your dog’s anxiety is to discuss you concerns with your vet. He will want to eliminate conditions such as brain or thyroid disease that could be the cause of anxious behavior. These conditions may be because of a response to a toxic substance, such as lead which can be confirmed by blood tests.
If your vet detects a phobia such as anxiety or fear, he may prescribe medication. But he will more than likely make a recommendation based on what triggers the fear and provide advice on methods to implement to lessen you dogs anxieties and fears.
Some common dog anxiety problems include:
- Separation anxiety: you dog gets anxious when left on its own.
- Noise anxiety: loud or unusual noises like thunder make your dog fearful.
- Travel anxiety: cars were never designed with dogs in mind. They’re not used to the constant movement. Planning ahead will make travel more relaxing for you and your dog, whether it’s a quick trip to the vet or going on vacation.
- Confinement anxiety: when you confine your dog, it’s to keep them out of trouble. If your dog is not happy being confined, confinement anxiety may be the result.
What Causes Separation Anxiety In Dogs?
Things that cause your dog to become anxious are usually to humans "common, everyday situations", but to your dog, they are uncertain, stressful events.
Abandonment, multiple ownership or neglect are situations that are common amongst dogs that suffer separation anxiety. The dog may have been abandoned or rehomed or even eradicated completely by regularly being left alone.
Doggy treats, praise or rewards (i.e. games, car rides) can be used effectively as positive reinforcement to train your dog and are great methods for preventing separation anxiety in puppies.
Getting rid of extra doggy energy every day with long walks, runs, a game of fetch, or some other favorite activity can help to reduce separation anxiety or nervous tension. There’s a saying ‘a good dog is a tired dog’.
Punishment or positive punishment techniques to treat separation anxiety will not benefit your dog. It doesn’t tackle the source of the problem, which is anxiety. Infact, pain and dominance will make the problem worse, because pain and uncertainty will increase stress in dogs.
Natural Solutions To Help Your Dog’s Anxiety
Nonetheless, some dogs are simply anxious and they may need help quietening down before beginning dog training. For these dogs, there are a handful of natural solutions that may be beneficial. Dogs still need training too, there is no magic remedy to cure fearfulness and anxiety permanently. However, natural solutions can help a dog cope while desensitization, conditioning and long-term therapy dog training takes place.
Desensitization is the process of subjecting the animal to a stimulus starting at a very low intensity. To be effective, counter-conditioning and desensitization need to be applied together. Both are often used to change fearful and aggressive behavior in dogs and cats.
A Fixed Routine Is Best For Your Dog
It’s crucial that your dog understands that you are the alpha male or pack leader in the household and learns to respect and trust you. A regular routine for feeding, exercise, play, leaving and returning home and more regular activities helps your dog understand what to expect. Set rules and consistency will reduce anxiety and stress.
Staying Calm Is Best For Your Dog
Dogs are excellent at picking up on the energy of people around them and will be sensitive to what you are feeling. If you get stressed or anxious, your dog will pick up on that energy immediately and become anxious himself. However, their anxiety will be amplified a hundred times more! Therefore, it is important for us to stay calm and in control. Desensitization exercises and a fixed calm routine work best. Creating a calm and regulated environment to combat the anxiety in your dog is important.
It’s important to know the source of the anxiety when considering the treatment. Does you dog get anxious when they are left alone? Does your pet get anxious when confined? Do loud noises, travel or unexpected changes in routine or environment cause anxiety?
Some dogs have phobias about people (men particularly), specific situations (bath time) or certain objects (vacuum cleaner). The cause of the phobia determines the management of the treatment. For example, calming music might comfort a dog with separation anxiety, but it won’t be much benefit for a dog that gets anxiety being in crowded places.
For extreme cases there are treatments available, but before medicating your dog, try some of the options below.
Exercise is the best way to relieve stress in your dog
An anxious dog can benefit greatly from exercise, it’s great for relieving stress in humans as well as dogs. Exercise achieves two things when helping a dog deal with anxiety.
Firstly, it encourages the production of serotonin, the feel-good chemical that we as humans get from exercise. Secondly, it gets rid of built up energy and pressure that can aggravate anxiety.
Thirty minutes of exercise every day is ideal. Chewing is also great for dogs with anxiety.
Best way to distract your dog
If you dog is nervous in certain situations such as fireworks or thunderstorms, a distraction can work wonders. By engaging your dogs brain on work, it will help him focus on you and things he knows, rather than on the unfamiliar that’s scary for him.
It’s a great time to practice tricks your dog knows and can earn rewards for. Reward you dog with treats for simple commands like sit, stand roll over, sit up, lie down, shake and other tricks he enjoys. Distracting your pet with puzzle toys like a frozen Kong toy stuffed with peanut butter or a Treat Ball or Tug Jug is particularly good for dogs that are highly food motivated. By associating things that arouse fear with highly valued rewards, will make the event much less scary.
A great way to calm and bond with an anxious dog is through massage. Its also a great way to check for potential health problems. We all love a good massage and dogs are no exception. Using long, slow gentle strokes all over the body can calm your dog and make him feel relaxed and comfortable. Regular massage can help by:
- Reducing anxiety
- Helping with digestion
- Encouraging a feeling of well-being
- Reducing pain and swelling in joints and muscles
- Lowering blood pressure
- Strengthening the immune system
- Reducing muscle spasms
- Helping relieve tension and stiffness in muscles, and
- Stimulate breathing
Do no medicate your dog with over the counter human drugs. Humans and dogs have very different physiologies and dosage is very dependent on weight. Ibuprofen and acetaminophen which are human medicines are not designed for dogs and should never be given without a vet’s approval. Always consult your vet before giving your dog any medication.
Dog Products To Combat Anxiety In Dogs
Chuckit Paraflight Flyer Dog Frisbee
Not only does it fly, it floats as well. Perfect for around the pool, lake or at the park. The raised sides make picking up this flyer so easy for your pet.
With the Chuckfit Paraflight Flyer you and your best friend will have a rip, roaring awesome good time.
Kong Classic Dog Toy
Make you dog’s day by adding a frozen peanut butter sandwich to a Kong Toy for his daily challenge. There are lots of foods you can give your dog as a treat. We love stuffing a kong with grated fresh fruit or a cooked vegetables, ground meat, cheese, bananas, pumpkin, tuna or canned dog food.
ThunderShirt Anxiety Jacket
The ThunderShirt Anxiety Jacket looks like a winter coat for a dog. It’s a popular answer for dog anxiety and is a snug fitting garment that wraps around the torso of your dog and works by exerting constant pressure on his body. It will help to calm a dogs nerves for noise anxiety and travel anxiety.
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We noticed that Oscar started to show signs of nervousness and anxiety. We took him to the vet and he passed all the tests that rule out any illness. Instead of putting him on anti-anxiety meds, we wanted to find an alternative method to control his anxiety.
Has your dog started exhibiting signs of anxiety and now you are looking for answers on how to deal with separation anxiety in dogs? Then this article is exactly what you need to read. The good news is, this behaviour can be rectified using these tips.