Being a dog owner is highly rewarding, but can also be very daunting! When your dog is a puppy, you never know what could be on the horizon with regards to behavioral traits. At one point or another, it is likely that you may have to deal with anxiety issues that can cause serious problems if left untreated. Loud noises, separation anxiety, phobias, and many other triggers can cause fear and anxiety, and even destructive behavior in your beloved pet. Dog anxiety is a tricky disorder to deal with that will require you to be extremely patient and persistent. If you can pinpoint the source of your dog’s anxiety, it will be much easier to manage.
How to Know if Your Dog Has Anxiety
If a dog experiences the sensation of potential danger, he will likely demonstrate symptoms of anxiety. Many dogs bond with their owners so strongly that they can’t deal with being separated from them for any length of time.
If you notice your dog is showing any of the following symptoms, it’s time to take action:
How to Keep Your Dog Calm at Home
If you suspect that your dog has anxiety, then the first thing to do is to consult a reputable vet to rule out any underlying illness. You can talk to your vet about the best course of action to take to help you deal with your dog’s anxious behavior and also to discuss treatment options. Once you have confirmation that your dog is suffering from anxiety, then you need to do your best to put a plan in place to make sure that you are creating a calm home environment for him and you could also consider a training regime to help him to overcome his fears.
When a dog is feeling anxious, he will often try and find a dark room to hide in. Ideally, you want to stop them from being able to access dark corners like the closet, otherwise, they will always try to escape their fears rather than confront them.
Create a safe place for your pup to go to when he feels nervous. Many dog owners crate train their dogs from a young age, as the idea is that they will go to their crate, as it is their own special little sanctuary. NEVER use a crate to punish your dog, as then he will think of it as doggy jail and he won’t want to go to it. Some dogs simply just don’t like crates, so a comfy dog bed in a warm corner of the room is a great option as well.
Medicating an Anxious Dog
Due to the fact that certain anti-anxiety medications can cause your dog to have an adverse reaction, the majority of dog owners prefer not to medicate their dogs to counteract anxious behavior. If you prefer to try some natural aids before turning to pharmaceuticals, here are four of the best options:
All animals have an endocannabinoid system in their bodies and CBD oil works to soothe nerves by triggering certain receptors in the central nervous system. The CBD compound is then able to enter the brain and trigger the release of serotonin, which is the mood-balancing hormone that helps combat anxiety. There are several different types of CBD-based products that you can use with your pup, so if he doesn’t like the taste of the oil and refuses to take it, then you could always try some organic CBD infused dog treats.
Have you ever noticed how you automatically seem to be in a better mood after a vigorous workout? Exercise is a fantastic stress reliever in humans and dogs alike. A dog’s anxiety is often brought on by boredom and frustration and this is mainly because they haven’t had enough exercise. In order to help your dog burn off excess energy, you need to ensure that you are taking him out for at least one long walk a day so that he is nicely worn out by the time he gets home.
Mental Stimulation and Distraction
Distraction is a great way to calm nervous dogs down, especially during thunderstorms or fireworks events, which are all known triggers for a canine anxiety attack. You can distract him with toys and dog treats and a game of fetch can get pretty much any dog’s attention. If you are concerned about leaving your dog home alone during a storm and you suspect that he is likely to become destructive, you may need to crate him for his own safety.
A Weighted Blanket
You may have heard other dog owners talking about something called a thunder shirt. This is basically a weighted dog blanket that works to soothe anxiety via Deep Touch Pressure. This type of therapy can be a huge comfort to many dogs, as it simulates being given a hug or held. Thunder shirts and weighted dog blankets have earned themselves a stellar reputation, as they can calm a nervous dog down via natural shifts in the body and mind. In fact, they are so effective that many humans who suffer from anxiety are turning to weighted blankets to make them feel secure and comforted.
Dealing with an anxious dog can be incredibly stressful for anyone, regardless of how experienced you are with dogs. Watching your beloved pup chewing his paws raw due to stress, or hiding under the sofa can be incredibly distressing and if you don’t take action as soon as you notice the signs, the anxiety is likely to worsen. With patience and persistence you can help your pup overcome a whole range of behavioral issues and if you feel overwhelmed dealing with it on your own, you can always seek advice from a reputable dog behaviorist.
Jennifer is the voice behind the FOMO Bones blog. She's pretty sure in her past life, she was a Great Dane. However, we peg her as more of a labrador. Regardless of her breed, she's a dog enthusiast who has 15 years experience training dogs and owners.