What to do if Your Dog has Anxiety
So, how can you really tell if your dog is anxious? and most importantly, what can you do to help? In this blog post I’m telling you everything you need to know about dog anxiety, its common causes, symptoms and treatments.
What causes anxiety in dogs?
First a short backstory: I adopted Lenni in the middle of the Covid-19 Pandemic, which means that he and I were 24/7 together. When curfews started to lift and I had to go back to work everyday, I soon realized that something was going on with Lenni, so I decided to record him when I left the house. When I came back and I saw the video, I saw Lenni howling and barking non-stop for 3 hours
straight; I was horrified! After giving it some thought I realized: This wasn’t because he wanted to come with me or because he was bored. Before he came to me, he was abandoned by his prior owners, so it made sense that he’d be frightened that I wouldn’t come back! I started doing some research on separation anxiety and, with lots of patience and love, I was able to train with him so that it would go away.
What I want to transmit with this story, is that the most common cause for anxiety in dogs is having the feeling of fear. Loud noises, new people, animals or strange objects, specific situations like, in Lennis case, being home alone or going to the vet's office can cause your dog to feel stressed and frightened.
When dogs are anxious, they usually express it through their behavior. Peeing or defecating (even when potty trained), destroying furniture, excessive barking and howling or even aggressive behavior are the most common signs and symptoms to be aware of.
One of the most beneficial things you can do is learn to read your Fluffy Friend’s body language. Knowing when your dog is frightened or uncomfortable can help you avoid unpleasant situations or turn them into positive training opportunities. (Find out more about this in our blog post ‘’How Do Dogs Communicate?’’)
What’s the first step to help your Fluffy Friend?
First, check with your veterinarian to rule out any other medical conditions that may be causing your dog's symptoms. The vet will be able to guide you according to your dog’s needs. As most anxiety disorders can be trained, here we advise you to be careful and to be certain before giving any meds to your pooch.
Next, we advise you to talk to a dog trainer. In our case it wasn’t until I was investing my time and energy in training Lenni that he stopped having panic attacks every time I left the house. I would train him by going out, starting with very short intervals of time and slowly increasing the time I was outside. Gradually, he learnt that, no matter how much time it passed, I was always coming back. And with time, the attacks stopped completely. That’s why I encourage you to identify why your doggie is acting the way it’s acting and, if you need help, call a dog trainer. It’s so gratifying when training starts showing results!
What you can do at home
Training doesn’t only help with the issue directly, it also establishes trust and lays the groundwork for a healthy relationship between you and your Fluffy Friend. I understand that getting a dog trainer might be on the expensive side. Worry not, as there are some practices that you can already integrate in your daily life to help your pooch overcome anxiety.
Anxiety towards new people or other dogs can be avoided through proper socialization. Introducing your dog slowly and gradually to them, can help prevent an exaggerated reaction in the future.
Regular exercise and stimulation are essential for the development, physical, and mental well-being of a dog. A stimulated dog is less likely to adopt destructive behaviors, and good nutrition is also essential for your dog's health.
You can also try to avoid or prevent situations that cause your dog anxiety. For example, if you know your dog gets nervous around large groups of dogs, you should avoid large dog parks at the beginning, until he gradually gets used to having many dogs around.
In general it’s very important to keep yourself and also your dog calm. Try to create a space assigned specially for your dog, where it can lay down and be relaxed in his own space. You can achieve this by selecting a corner in your home and making it cozy with some blankets, a dog bed, and maybe his favorite toys so that it’s clear it’s for them. Try teaching them that being at home means to be calm and relaxed, for example by taking playtime outside.
If you want to read about some natural ways to calm your dog’s anxiety, you can click here!
Like humans, many dogs will experience anxiety at some point throughout their lives. Although not all dogs will have anxiety that leads to a diagnosable anxiety disorder, it’s important to know the causes, symptoms, and treatment options involved with dog anxiety. Understanding these important facets can help you figure out the best way to help your dog in frightening situations.
Has your Fluffy Friend had anxiety? Can you recognize any of the symptoms? let our community know in the comments how you deal with your pooch’s fears so that we can all learn from each other, once again.
Thank you for reading, stay Fluffy,
Your MrFluffyFriend Team
Looking for some products that could help you out with your training? Check out our Online-Shop!
Here some useful products in relation to the blog:
MrFluffyFriend - Toy Sixpack
MrFluffyFriend - Dog Bowls
MrFluffyFriend - Dog Blanket
Words from our author
As a pet owner, I often found myself in a very frustrating situation: going to the internet and finding multiple unhelpful and redundant articles about the care and training of pets. My mission is to create a community blog where you can find all types of information, training tipps and tricks, focusing on natural and organic ways of pet-owning and training. Understanding your pet is like understanding a whole new world - and I want us to discover it together!