Dogs can get anxious for a number of reasons. It usually happens when they are left alone at home for too long, when they are ill, or separated from their puppies or owners.
If your dog is displaying signs of anxiety, then it is important to discover the source of their distress and, of course, to recognise the signs.
If anxiety is not dealt with or eliminated when it first comes up, it can lead to destructive, and aggressive behaviour later on down the line.
Sometimes it can be difficult to spot anxiety when it firsts manifests because every dog displays it differently.
In some pooches, it might come in the form of chewing on household items, barking constantly, or hiding under furniture.
There are a variety of ways to eradicate anxiety, whether it is through medication, training, music or simply comforting it.
In this guide we will discuss the symptoms of anxiety, ways in which you can calm your dog, and how you can prevent it from becoming an issue.
Common anxiety problems
The main causes of anxiety are:
Noise - If there are any sudden loud or unusual noises, such as fireworks, thunder, vehicles, or accidents, then this can cause dogs to become fearful.
Claustrophobia - If your dog is stuck for long hours in a small cage or car it can quickly become agitated. If they end up feeling trapped, they may try to escape or flee. If they are unable to, your dog will quickly become stressed.
Separation anxiety - This can occur when a dog is left at home all day, or when you arrange for someone else to look after it when you are away.
It is more likely to happen if you are very close to your dog, for example, if they often lie on the couch or bed with you and are used to being around you everyday.
If your pet is not used to being around others, and is suddenly surrounded by unknown people, this can also create anxiety.
Some dogs get panicky or defensive if they are around canines they do not know - particularly if those dogs are bigger.
Travel anxiety - If your dog is travelling with you in a car - particularly if it is a small car - they may become stressed. Similarly, travelling in the pet cabins of airplanes can also create issues for some pooches.
Illness - Illness or depression is another hidden cause of agitation in dogs. Any health problems should be addressed as soon as your dog starts to display signs, and the cause of any underlying stress or frustration should be eliminated.
New environment - Dogs can also become anxious if sudden, major changes are made to your home or the layout of the rooms. Similarly, it may become upset if you move to a new house - so it is best to introduce any changes slowly over time. Maybe arrange for a couple of visits with your dog before making the final move.
Signs of anxiety
These vary from dog-to-dog, but in addition to the symptoms mentioned earlier, other signs of anxiety can include non-stop barking. It can also include your dog pooping or peeing in the house, crate, or confinement area, eating their own poop, or being unusually aggressive. Sometimes your pet may start moving erratically.
Dealing with anxiety
The most important thing to do when your dog starts getting distressed is to remain calm. If you start getting stressed or anxious - this is likely to make your dog worse.
However, if you communicate with your dog in relaxed, soothing tones, it is more likely to settle.
Take it to a trainer
Taking your beloved pooch to a professional trainer can help to discover the source of any phobias and ease them.
Sometimes taking your dog away from the environment in which they getting stressed can help to greatly alleviate any distress they may be feeling and make it easier to calm them.
Walking can also help to prevent anxiety issues from arising and get your dog used to socialising with other people and animals.
Sometimes being over-soothing can actually create more problems. In actual fact, it is often best to act as if nothing there is out of the ordinary and the dog will often mirror your calmness.
Sometimes slowly introducing your pooch to new situations and the things that usually cause them to become stressed.
You could use treats and toys when in those situations. For example, if your dog is afraid of being in a car, you could strategically place snacks or chewable toys in the vehicle and make the ride an enjoyable one.This can help to distract your pet while simultaneously helping them to form more pleasant associations with the journey.
Written by: Hannah Dyball