Like humans, many dogs can suffer from anxiety problems. Some dogs are simply born with an inclination to be anxious, while others develop anxiety later in life. If you have a dog that has diagnosed anxiety or has shown signs of anxiety in the past, here are some tips and tricks to help.
Is My Dog Anxious?
Dogs can’t directly communicate their feelings to owners, but there are many ways to tell if your dog is anxious. This includes:
- Shivering in the absence of a threat
- Barking and howling when the owner is away
- Running away and hiding in the house
- Breaking furniture
- Restlessness and inability to sit still
Types of Dog Anxiety
Separation anxiety in dogs is characterized by fearful or destructive behavior when owners are away. This can be a common occurrence, but owners should try and address it as soon as possible.
Some dogs are born with generalized anxiety, which makes it difficult for them to focus on learning commands and interacting with other dogs. These canines may also get upset at small disturbances, so owners will need to find ways to calm them down.
Rescue dog anxiety
Many rescue dogs suffer from anxiety after moving through multiple owners and shelters. This can make caring for your rescue incredibly challenging.
Tips for Dealing with Anxious Dogs
1. Use positive reinforcement
If your pup suffers from separation anxiety, you can use positive reinforcement to make them more comfortable with your temporary departure.
For example, owners should try giving their dog a treat before leaving for work every morning. This encourages your canine to associate your departure with joy and excitement. Treats that last longer like bones or a Kong with peanut butter are a great treat and can help to keep them preoccupied for a longer time while you’re away.
Some anxious dogs just want to be close to their owners. In this case, their anxiety may get worse when they feel they aren’t getting enough attention. Owners can remedy this issue by sitting down with their pet and giving them a gentle massage. This should help keep them at ease when they are at home.
Try adding a couple drops of diluted lavender oil to your dog’s collar before their massage. This will help them to feel even more calm and relaxed.
Dogs that suffer from serious anxiety disorders may require medical intervention. Medications such as Clomicalm or Prozac are used for dogs whose anxiety is significantly inhibiting their quality of life. Consult your veterinarian if you feel this option could benefit your dog, they will help you make the best decision for your dog’s mental and physical health.
4. Hire a dog trainer
If trying one or more of the tips listed aren’t working for your pup, owners should get in touch with a dog trainer or behaviorist. Professional dog trainers can help treat anxiety in dogs using various techniques. They may use counterconditioning, which aims to change how your dog reacts to the stimuli triggering their anxiety.
Trainers may also use desensitization training. This approach gradually introduces your dog to the stimuli that are causing their anxiety. Over time they will become more comfortable being around certain sights and sounds.
Treating your dog’s anxiety can be a long process that may require some extra help. Little Friends Pet Sitting & Dog Walking in Charlotte, NC provides top-notch care with over 10 years of experience. Whether your dog needs a quick walk midday to calm their nerves while you’re at work or 24 hours care while you’re taking that much needed vacation. Their team of pet sitters are trained, experienced, insured and bonded for your peace of mind.