Understanding and Helping Your Anxious Dog

May 4, 2024

This week is Dog Anxiety Awareness week. As pet parents, we want to ensure our furry friends feel safe and happy. However, sometimes dogs can experience anxiety, just like humans do.

Let's dig deeper into what causes dog anxiety, how to recognize the triggers and what you can do to help.

Causes of Dog Anxiety

Dog anxiety can stem from various factors, including genetics, past experiences, or a lack of socialisation during their formative months. Some dogs may be more predisposed to anxiety due to breed tendencies, while others might develop it due to traumatic events.

Common Trigger Points

Certain situations or events can trigger anxiety in dogs. Here are some common triggers to watch out for:

  • Loud Noises: Thunderstorms, fireworks, or construction sounds can be terrifying for some dogs.
  • Separation: Many dogs experience separation anxiety when left alone for extended periods.
  • New Environments: Moving to a new house or traveling can be stressful for dogs.
  • Routine Changes: Unexpected changes to their daily routine can cause anxiety.

Signs that Your Dog is Anxious

Dogs can't tell us how they're feeling with words, so it's crucial to watch for behavioural cues that may indicate anxiety.

Some common signs include:

  1. Excessive Panting or Pacing: If your dog is pacing back and forth or panting heavily without physical exertion, it could be a sign of anxiety.
  2. Shaking or Trembling: Unexplained shaking, especially during certain situations like loud noises, may indicate fear or anxiety.
  3. Hiding or Clinginess: Dogs might seek out hiding spots or become unusually clingy when they're anxious.
  4. Destructive Behavior: Chewing furniture, excessive digging, or other destructive behaviors can sometimes be a result of anxiety.
  5. Barking and Howling: being vocal when you're away from home can be a sign of separation anxiety.

Tips to Help Anxious Dogs

Once you recognize signs of anxiety in your dog, here are some tips to help them feel more relaxed:

  1. Create a Safe Space: Designate a cozy area where your dog can retreat during stressful times, away from the hustle and bustle of life. Use this space consistently to create a sense of security. Teach them to settle in a clam situation first, making sure to reinforce how nice this space is with yummy treats and praise. That way, next time you have visitors, your dog will feel comfortable retreating in their safe space.
  2. Regular Exercise: Keeping your pup active can reduce stress and anxiety. Regular walks and playtime are essential for their well-being. The physical activity and sniffing on walks also tire them out, making them more likely to have a restful, relaxing nap.
  3. Behavioural Training: Work with a professional trainer to address specific anxieties and teach coping mechanisms. This is particularly helpful for separation anxiety.
  4. Calming Products: Consider using calming aids like pheromone diffusers, anxiety wraps, or CBD treats. You can even make your own calming gummies.
  5. Alternative therapies: acupuncture, massages or music therapy can do wonders on dogs with anxiety. You can start small, by putting the radio or a soothing playlist on when you leave the house.

Seek Professional Help

If your dog's anxiety is severe or significantly impacting their quality of life, and you find it difficult to manage on your own, consult your veterinarian or a certified animal behaviourist. They can provide tailored advice and recommend appropriate interventions.

Remember, understanding and addressing dog anxiety takes patience and empathy. With the right support and care, you can help your anxious pup lead a happier, more relaxed life.

Do you have experience dealing with dog anxiety? Share your tips and stories in the comments below!


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