Dog Anxiety: How to Recognise & Fix the Issue
Dogs experience anxiety, just like humans do. But only recently this issue has gained wide recognition and become a huge topic for many pet owners. And while we’ve extended our awareness about anxiety disorders in humans, we can’t say the same about our dogs. They tend to suffer from very similar symptoms that may appear hard to handle, but with enough knowledge, patience, and a few handy tricks you’ll keep your pup relaxed and happy. And we are here to help you on this mission!
Symptoms and signs of an anxious dog
Every dog is unique, so the way they communicate their distress would greatly depend on its own past experience, set of characteristics, and habits. To catch an early onset of the issue, dog owners need to pay close attention to any changes in the pet’s normal behaviour, habits, or routines. The most common signs of anxiety in dogs are:
- Destructive behaviour
- Defecating or urinating in the house
- Excessive panting or drooling
- Compulsive or repetitive behaviours (pacing or excessive licking)
- Excessive barking or whining
If your dog is showing more than one of these signs, then it can be a very strong case of anxiety. Be prepared to remove them from the situation that provokes the distress, or consult with your local vet on possible causes and treatment.
Causes of dog anxiety:
It’s very important to try and figure out the possible anxiety origin to find the right solutions for your pup’s discomfort. There are a few common causes known to provoke different types of anxiety in dogs. And knowing these can help owners to determine and eliminate the factors that could trigger the distress.
This is one of the most reported causes of stress. Dogs with this type of anxiety are unable to find comfort when separated from family members or left alone for a long period of time. Separation anxiety is often expressed in defecating and urinating in the house, barking, and destroying furniture, even if a dog is already house broken.
Fear-induced anxiety can be the reason behind triggered outbursts and excessive aggression. If a dog has gone through a traumatic event in the past, the painful memories can return as anxiety and phobias. It’s especially common in rescued dogs, where their history and past trauma may not be as clear.
With age, a dog's physical and mental state generally worsens. They may suffer from changes in their nervous system, causing confusion, forgetfulness, and other behavioural demeanour leading to anxiety.
All that we want for our furry friends is to be happy and for them to live their best lives. In a perfect world, our pups would always be around, have plenty of toys and belly rubs, and have zero signs of distress. But the reality is that sometimes anxiety is inevitable – whether it’s driven by separation, trauma, or ageing. Luckily, there are lots of great tricks and remedies that can help keep anxiety at bay.
Talking to your vet
The first thing you need to do is seek professional advice from the veterinarian. They can help with identifying the type of anxiety your dog has as well as possible triggers and causes. Additionally, your vet will help you rule out other serious medical conditions that might have similar symptoms.
They will also provide the ideal treatment plan for your dog. And since anxiety is often caused by various factors, the best way to treat it is through a combination of preventive strategies, training, and medication.
Add extra playtime and exercise
A great way to boost endorphins and ease stress is to introduce extra playtime outside. Additional loop in your daily walk or extended time spent at a park with plenty of room to run around can significantly help improve anxiety symptoms for your dog.
Include anxiety medication
If your dog develops a serious anxiety disorder, your vet may suggest introducing medication or natural therapies. These might include antidepressants as well as vitamins, CBD oil, pheromones, or aromatherapy. Talk to your specialist about the options that would suit your pup best.
Hire a professional dog trainer
There are various training strategies available to treat dog anxiety. One of them is counterconditioning. Its primary purpose is to change the way your dog responds to the source of anxiety by replacing the aggressive behaviour with a more desirable one.
Another strategy is called desensitisation. The dog is introduced to the source of anxiety, but in very small doses and at a greatly decreased intensity. Repeated exposure paired with the rewards for good behaviour can help significantly in managing anxiety. To figure out which technique will be the best for your dog it could be best to contact a professional dog trainer.
Living with an anxious dog might be challenging, but luckily there are plenty of solutions to give you both some relief. And while taking care of your pup is a priority, taking care of the environment should always be on our minds as well.
An average dog produces around 274 pounds of poop per year, and this number can be even higher in a nervous pooch. So, in order to be a responsible owner, you need to make sure that the way you clean up after your dog is as eco-friendly as it can be. Luckily, our compostable dog poop bag is just a perfect solution! They are inexpensive, leakproof and fully disintegrate in a compost. So, when choosing our poop bags, you’re choosing a cleaner environment for you and your four-legged friend.