How to Deal with Dogs Anxiety: Training Guide
Dogs are such loyal and loving creatures, it's no wonder they're considered man's best friend. But what do you do when your furry friend starts to show signs of anxiety or social anxiety? While it may be tempting to just ignore the problem and hope it goes away, that's not the best solution. In this blog post, we'll learn how to deal with dogs anxiety.
Anxiety is a common problem in dogs, with an estimated 14% of all canine pets affected by it.
While some degree of anxiety is normal and even necessary for survival—think of it as your dog's "fight-or-flight" response—it becomes a problem when it's excessive and starts interfering with your dog's quality of life.
Some pet owners experience this while grooming their dog. If your dog's anxiety is severe, it can even lead to physical health problems like gastrointestinal issues, high blood pressure, and compromised immunity. In other words, it's not something you should ignore.
But there are solutions to help with your dog's anxiety.
Check out the video below and our post on anxiety dog treats.
6 Common Signs of Dog Anxiety
Excessive Barking or Whimpering
Dogs who bark excessively or whimper for no apparent reason may be trying to self-soothe and relieve their anxiety. If this is out of character for your dog, take note and you can begin to help your dog's anxiety.
Pacing or Shaking
Is your usually calm dog pacing back and forth or shaking uncontrollably? These are both common signs of anxiety in dogs.
Dogs who suffer from anxiety often chew on things they're not supposed to, like furniture or shoes. This may be their way of trying to relieve stress or soothe themselves.
Anxious dogs may start urinating or defecating indoors even if they're fully housetrained. They may also have accidents more frequently than usual. This is a sign it is time to intervene and help your dog's anxiety.
Loss of Appetite
Just like humans, dogs can lose their appetite when they're feeling anxious or stressed out. If your dog stops eating or seems uninterested in his food, this could be a sign that something's wrong.
Dogs who are anxious may try to avoid people, places, or things that trigger their fear or stress. For example, a dog who's scared of loud noises might cower under the bed during a thunderstorm.
Common Causes of Dog Anxiety
You'll need to identify the causes first to help your dog's anxiety. There are a number of things that can trigger anxiety in dogs, including (but not limited to):
- Changes in routine (e.g., a new baby in the house, a move to a new home)
- Home alone
- Loud noises (e.g., fireworks, thunderstorms)
- Unfamiliar people or animals
- Chaotic environments
- Previous traumatic experiences
- Health problems
- Separation anxiety (Does your dog poop when scared?)
- Adverse reactions to medication
- Hunger or thirst
- Car rides (Dramamine may help)
- Difficulty sleeping (Melatonin may be a solution)
- Anxiety at night can spill into the day
7 Ways To Deal with Your Dogs Anxiety
There are a number of things you can do to help your dog cope with anxiety. These include:
- Establishing a routine and sticking to it as much as possible
- Exercising your dog regularly
- Providing plenty of chew toys/bones for them to gnaw on
- Using calming pheromones (e.g., via an anti-anxiety collar or diffuser)
- Getting them accustomed to being left alone gradually (e.g., start by leaving them alone for short periods of time while you're still in the house)
- Desensitizing them to whatever is causing their anxiety (e.g., if they're afraid of loud noises, play recordings of those noises at a low volume so they can get used to them). Check out our post on helping to keep your dog calm on Halloween.
- Introduce your furry friend to a calming chew (hemp and natural herbs)
Dealing with your dog's anxiety can be challenging, but it's important to take action so that their anxiety doesn't get worse and you are actively helping. If you think your dog may be experiencing anxiety, talk to your veterinarian about the best course of action for your pup.
Additional Information - Check out this article from the American Kennel Club for helping your dog with anxiety.