Parents of anxious dogs know how distressing it is to see a pet struggle through each day. Dog anxiety is a real thing and is draining for pets and owners. There are solutions, though - patience, practical techniques and treats can transform a dog.
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Confidence Building As A Remedy For Dog Anxiety
Like humans, each dog is unique, so it’s important to adapt general advice to your pet’s specific needs. Building a dog’s confidence will help with most cases of anxiety, in addition to techniques that might be needed for your pet’s specific scenario. Here’s how to build confidence.
Managing The Environment
Nervousness is reduced when an environment is controlled. Remove known fear triggers, e.g. put your dog in their playpen or crate when strangers are in your house, and avoid known triggers whenever possible. This is a palliative measure to create a stable base, not a miracle cure. It is part of the whole confidence-building journey.
Agility training is a great confidence builder because:
- You and your dog improve communication skills
- Your dog gets rewarded by its alpha (you)
- Successfully completing tasks builds their confidence
- Your dog gets a sense of being in control
- A deeper trust is built
The agility activities should be slowly introduced and should initially be easy. The task is not important; the successful completion is. Each success should be immediately followed by a healthy amount of praise and tiny food rewards or brief toy time. Their joy will be palpable.
Obedience training is globally known to be a confidence builder. Routine and a regulated life build canine confidence. Start simple with ‘sit’, ‘stay’ and ‘lie down’, rewarding with food treats and toy time.
The benefits of training are improved communication, deeper trust and temporary distraction away from sources of fear.
Gentle desensitisation involves deliberate exposure to the thing that your dog fears. At that time, you feed them treats until the ‘scary thing’ goes away or your dog becomes acclimatised to it. It is vital you start at a low level and build very, very slowly over time, or you will cause a breakdown.
Here is an example: Go for a walk. Ask a stranger (strange to the dog, not to you) to participate. The stranger comes into your vicinity, not too near, and you feed your dog treats. The stranger must then move away, and you stop the treats. Repeat a few times and then stop for the day. Try again in a few days. Each time try to get the stranger to come a little closer but don’t rush it.
Start from far away - Give your dog the chance to beat their anxiety from afar. The closer the stimuli is, the hard it is to distract them, so the therapy fails.
Take it slow - Don’t rush the process. Take your time and gently increase the exposure to items that are anxiety triggers.
Never yell or punish your dog - Shouting and punishment amplify your pet’s discomfort and makes them even more anxious, making it necessary for even longer periods of corrective therapy.
Let us know how the suggestions for anxiety for dogs remedies work for you and your beloved pet in the comments below! Contact us with any additional questions you may have.