Dog Anxiety: 8 Tips to Try to Bring Calm to Your Canine
If you or someone you love suffer from anxiety problems, then you already know how difficult it can be to just get through the day. Believe it or not, however, many pet owners don’t realize that dogs can suffer from anxiety as well. This type of anxiety affects every breed of dog, just like it affects every type of human, and isn’t something that they can help, any more than their owners can. If left untreated anxiety in your pet can lead to behavior problems that it might be hard to correct. Luckily, there are signs, symptoms, and ways that you can help your dog to relax and overcome their anxiety, whether it’s natural or medication, there is help out there.
In this blog, we will go into what dog anxiety is, how it affects your beloved pet, the signs and symptoms to look for, and of course, some tips to help you calm down your canine, before it’s too far gone and causes behavioral problems galore. Now, without further ado, let’s delve in together to discover the top tips for trying to bring calm to your canine when they suffer from dog anxiety issues.
What is Dog Anxiety?
The first thing you need to know is exactly what dog anxiety is before you can ever hope to treat it correctly. Anxiety itself is defined as “the anticipation of potential danger from unknown sources,” and that saying goes for human and dog anxiety issues. In just about every case, dogs who are suffering from anxiety issues will develop behavioral problems where they had none before. The most common type of anxiety for dogs is separation anxiety, which occurs when they are left alone or have to be away from their owners for any length of time. It is possible for the dog to react to the problem that is causing them anxiety with bad behavior or forgetting their potty training as well.
Now, that we know what dog anxiety basically is, let’s delve a little deeper into the types of anxiety suffered by dogs and what the signs and symptoms are that you need to look for.
Causes of Anxiety in Dogs
From separation anxiety to certain phobias that dogs have there are a few more common types of anxiety and the causes in dogs to watch for. We will go into them briefly below.
- An illness or injury that causes your pup to be in pain
- Fear of being separated from the pet owner or being left alone
- Toxic conditions
- Infectious diseases
- Being terrified in the past
- Certain types of dog phobias
While these are certainly not the only causes of fear in dogs, they are the most commonplace. There are also quite a few phobias that your dog can have that causes anxiety as well. Those are listed below for your perusal.
Dog Phobias that Could Cause Anxiety
There are actually quite a few dog phobias out there that cause dog anxiety on a regular basis. Such as the ones below.
- Phobias of other dogs and people they don’t know
- Phobia of fireworks
- Phobia of traveling
- Phobia of men
- Phobia of stairs
- Phobia of children
- Phobia of household appliances, such as the vacuum, shampooer, fans, etc
It is always a good idea to make an appointment with your pet’s vet, if you think your pet has any of the above phobias. As there are ways they can help them to cope with their fears.
Signs and Symptoms of Anxiety in Dogs
Luckily, there are signs and symptoms that you can look for to see if your dog might be suffering from dog anxiety. These are listed and explained below. If you see many of these signs in your pet, get them help as soon as possible.
Some of the signs of dog anxiety are quite subtle, like the ones we are going to discuss below.
Hiding or Wanting to be Alone
It is possible that your pet will want to be alone if they are suffering from dog anxiety. They will hide away in a corner or stay as far away from people and other dogs as they can.
Panting and Shaking
Some dogs who are suffering from an anxiety attack will start panting rapidly and shaking all over. For example, panting after they have been out with you on a run is normal, shaking and panting when the fireworks show starts are not normal at all.
Licking or Chewing Excessively
Dogs who are overly anxious may constantly chew at or lick their fur. While dogs do this on a regular basis, it happening constantly and excessively is a sign of anxiety issues that need to be tended too.
Looking to You for Comfort
Some dogs have the opposite reaction to anxiety and instead of hiding and wanting to be alone, they seek to be comforted instead. They may jump into your lap to be petted or be overly clingy when staying up under you or following you around.
While the above signs are subtle and can be missed easily or even mistaken for something else, such as fleas in the case of licking and chewing, there are some signs and symptoms of dog anxiety that are harder to miss. Those are explained a little below, as well.
Barking and Howling that Becomes Excessive
Every dog barks and howls on occasion, some more often than others. However, if the barking and howling occur after a loud noise, and you have a hard time calming your pet down, even after the noise stops, it could very well be a sign that they have anxiety issues.
Trying to Escape
Many dogs will try to escape the area they are in, whether it’s the house, kennel, or yard to get away from whatever is causing their anxiety.
A dog that is scared will many times become aggressive. This could manifest itself as growling, snapping, or even biting. In many cases, the pet becomes aggressive, even towards his pet parent when it is scared.
Other signs that your pet may have dog anxiety are listed below and are pretty self-explanatory.
- Using the bathroom indoors when they usually don’t
- Hyperactivity and excessive energy they can’t seem to burn off
- Destroying objects such as furniture or their own bedding and toys
- Panic attacks
These are a few of the signs and symptoms you should watch for if you think your beloved pet has dog anxiety issues. Taken separately they aren’t that bad, but more than one of these symptoms can be a problem, meaning you need to get help for your canine pal.
Top Tips for Helping Your Canine Pal Stay Calm
Now, that we know what dog anxiety is, the causes, and the signs and symptoms, it’s time to move into the main part of our blog, which is the top tips out there to help you help your canine pal stay calm. Ready to find out these tips? Follow me, then.
As with anything else in the world, natural remedies are the best for dog anxiety as well. The first thing you should do, of course, is to take your beloved pet to the vet to see how he thinks you should proceed. Try these natural remedies to calm down your dog, if your vet agrees.
Examine Your Normal Routine
Before going out and buying products you think might calm your dog down, stop and consider your daily routine. Is it sporadic or do you have your pup on a daily schedule? For example, knowing when he will be eating, going for a walk, and playing every day, can help your pet settle into a routine of what to expect, thereby taking away his nervousness. This is said to work especially well for dogs who suffer from separation anxiety.
Studies have shown that not only does music seem to help humans and babies with anxiety, it can also help pets to calm down as well. Try putting on some classical music or even Beethoven to calm your pooch. There are studies that suggest it works remarkably well to calm their nerves and relieve their stress as well.
Try Using a Compression Wrap
Those compression wraps may look funny on your pooch, but they are proven to work. They mimic swaddling and cuddling your pup and even work for those pesky storms and firework shows that send many puppies into an anxiety attack.
Make Sure They Exercise
Exercise is just as good for dogs, as it is for humans. Doggie exercise, not only releases the feel-good endorphins in your pup, but it also lets them burn off any excess energy they may be feeling. Whether it’s a long day of fetch, a long walk twice a day, or just roughhousing with you in the backyard, at the end of the day, your pooch will be tired and ready to settle down. After all, a tired dog is a good dog, and that leaves no room for anxiety.
Provide a Distraction
There are certain situations where a dog can be distracted when he becomes anxious, such as at a fireworks show or during a storm. While you don’t want to try to train him to do things during these times, it is the perfect time to practice things you have already taught your canine pal. For dogs who are truly food-motivated, giving them food to distract them might help. Food, such as a bone or even a frozen Kong toy that you have stuffed with peanut butter will do the trick. Distracting your dog’s brain allows him to forget about the problem for a while, therefore, reducing his anxiety until the problem has passed.
Give Your Pup a Massage
There is nobody who doesn’t love a good massage, and your dog is no exception. You can be sure that if you massage your pet when they are feeling anxious, they will start to calm right down. Long, slow strokes are said to be best, so make sure you are massaging the right way for the best results. Remember, there are many different guides to tell you what is the best way to massage your pet on the internet just waiting for you to find and read them.
While we are aiming for natural remedies here, there are supplements that you can pick up at the store that will help to calm your canine pal. There are also many different kinds of prescription meds that your vet can prescribe. It is important to never, ever give your pet any type of anxiety meds or even supplements without consulting your vet first. You never know what their reactions could be or if you are giving them too strong of a dose. It’s much better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your pets, don’t you think?
If you are trying the remedies above and they don’t seem to be doing any good or your dog is just getting worse, then it’s time to seek out medical help. Make an appointment with your dog’s vet to be seen. Tell him the signs and symptoms you have been noticing and he should be able to help you from there. He can also help you pinpoint the reason for your dog’s stress and help you to eliminate it if at all possible.
These are just a few of the top tips out there to help you calm your dog’s anxiety before it gets out of hand. Follow the tips and if you see no improvement, please get your dog help as soon as possible for his sake and your own.
- Canna-Pet: Signs and Symptoms of Anxiety in Dogs
- Mother Nature Network: 7 Natural Remedies for Anxious Dogs
- Petcarerx: How to Know if Your Dog has Anxiety