Does your dog’s behaviour sometimes leave you questioning if something might be wrong? Before you panic, understand that many situations may trigger symptoms of anxiety in your pets. Your dog lives in a human-run world, and there are numerous situations, behaviours and objects that they will never understand. Your dog may be particularly vulnerable to anxiety right now as we emerge from social restrictions. They are used to spending time with you at home, so your increased absence may leave them wondering what has changed and where you are going.
We know our furry friends well, sensing when they’re hungry, tired or happy and want to play. Even sickness usually presents apparent signs. However, just like in humans, anxiety can be challenging to diagnose in dogs as they can’t communicate in the same way as we do and alleviate their stress in ways that we may interpret as mischief. As a dog owner, the more you understand what triggers anxiety in your pet, the more effectively you can interpret the signals and help them destress.
Anxiety in dogs. What causes it?
Specific situations, sounds, environments and behaviours may trigger anxiety, and it’s symptoms. The cause is usually related to a new person or thing, unknown scenario or a change in their routine. Some of the most common situations are:
How can I tell if my dog is experiencing anxiety?
The better you can recognise the symptoms of anxiety in your proud pup, the better you can treat the problem and return them to their usual selves. Typical initial stress responses include lip licking, pinned ears, a tucked tail and raised hair on their back. If you see any of these in your dog, you can be sure something’s bothering them!
More severe anxiety and stress may cause the following symptoms in your dog:
- Whining or barking
- Cowering or hiding
- Sudden urination
- Damaging behaviour or aggressiveness
- Restlessness - don’t confuse this with excitement!
What you can do to help your dog
Once you have identified what triggers anxiety in your pet, implement these three strategies to improve their symptoms and hopefully alleviate their stress response.
Strategy #1: Remove their triggers
The number one method to improving your dog’s anxiety is to remove the cause. If your dog suffers from separation anxiety, do not leave them alone for long periods. Slowly buildup the time apart so they become accustomed to it. Always reassure your dog and make them feel comfortable, avoiding punishment for ‘bad’ behaviour as a result of stress. Implement proactive solutions under the guidance of your vet to improve your pup’s ability to cope. Eliminate the triggers as much as possible in the meantime.
Strategy #2: Socialise your dog
To avoid anxiety and aggressive behaviour later in life, socialise your dog as a puppy. According to veterinary experts, the best time to socialise your pup is between four and twelve weeks old. This period is critical for their development as they rapidly learn how to behave and interact with other dogs and humans, as well as their environment. For a dog to grow into a confident adult, consistent exposure to new situations in a safe way is essential. If your dog is older and missed this stage, there is still hope!
Strategy #3: Keep your dog entertained and train them to behave
When you’re not around or busy with other tasks, make sure your dog has an outlet to entertain themselves. Pure boredom may also cause anxiety. It’s hard to stress when you have a fun toy to play with and treats to enjoy.
“Training your dog to behave the way you expect is part of the process”
While not a solution for anxiety in itself, training your dog to behave the way you expect is part of the process. Used appropriately and in moderation, dog training collars are a very effective and safe option to improve your dog’s behaviour and communicate what you expect from them. Dog training collars use mild stimuli, such as a high-pitched sound, vibration or mild-static to reinforce good behaviour. Use them when taking your pup to the dog park or to control excessive barking and erratic behaviour. Over time your dog will calm down and learn to cope with certain situations without the use of the dog training collar.
A quality, well-calibrated dog training e-collar is an excellent & safe tool that can ensure training and connecting with your dog remains a stress-free experience. Dog Gear offers trusted electronic dog training collars, utilising warning tones to prompt your pup safely. With free Australian shipping and same-day dispatch, our products will be with you fast. Follow us on Facebook for the latest advice, updates and dog training tips!