What is dog anxiety?

I had no clue that dogs could suffer from anxiety but here I am. After adopting my lovely Ruby and curbing many behaviors due to her dog anxiety, I have vowed to help other pawrents with fur babies that experience dog anxiety since it wasn’t so easy for me to find all this information in one place.

Anxiety is a phobia where the dog thinks there’s danger around the corner whether from known, unknown or imagined scenarios. This causes the body to react to the situation accordingly.

Dogs suffering from anxiety have physical signs and symptoms which include but are not limited to:

  • Barking
  • Hiding to a safe place
  • Panting
  • Obsessive licking (paws, belly, lip licking)
  • Pacing
  • Repeated blinking
  • Yawning
  • Shaking
  • Pulling ears back
  • Whale eye (or half moon eye)
  • Shaking off whole body

Anxiety in dogs occurs at an early stage as the dog starts to mature or late due to separation or some underlying illnesses.

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Sign and symptoms of anxiety in dogs

  • Mild or severe cases of fear causing the dog to be withdrawn, always go into hiding, become inactive or exhibit passive behavior, trembling and tucking the tail between the legs.

   • Reacts weirdly to normal every day sounds like cars honking, doorbell or even the noise from other pets

   • The normal case of sympathetic autonomic nervous system activity and diarrhea

   • Licking or biting itself sometimes causing injuries or even display of aggressive behavior toward other dogs, pets and human

   • Drooling, defecating in/around the house

   • Excessive barking, restlessness and destructive behavior

Causes of dog anxiety

Although the reasons for anxiety in dogs are numerous, common triggers are:

  • Loud noises like thunder, fireworks, door clamming or construction sounds
  • People who might resemble someone who abandoned them or mistreated them
  • New people in the house
  • Bigger dogs
  • Trimming nails
  • Water like bath time or forcing them to go into a body of water like a lake or river
  • Maturing or aging

Treating anxiety in dogs

If you suspect that your dog has or is suffering from any of the signs or symptoms of anxiety, your first line of action is to visit a veterinarian. The veterinarian will be able to rule out any physical illnesses that could be triggering the anxiety. 

Once that is ruled out, contact a dog trainer to help you work on identifying the triggers and working on training cues to minimize stressful situations. 

Lastly, there are certain products that help reduce your dog’s stress depending on what are their triggers. Do they get anxious during walks and pull heavily? Get a no pull harness and bungee leash. Do they experience stress during loud noises? Get an anti-anxiety vest. Do they hate bath time? Try out a lick mat to see if it motivates them. 

Dog anxiety doesn’t have a quick fix and it takes time to reduce your dog’s stress during trigger moments but with patience and the right mix of tools, you will see how your dog improves and lives a happier life.

Check out other blog posts to find out more about dog anxiety how you can reduce your dog’s stress.

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