When your dog acts ‘weirdly’ at times, you may laugh it off, and rightly so. But when you notice that your pet is displaying dog anxiety signs routinely and intensely, you may wonder what might be causing him stress.
Anxiety in pets can be attributed to many reasons, including experiences in the earliest years of their life. One study reveals that dogs who were brought up in a non-domestic maternal environment and weren’t exposed to urban environments during the first six months of life were more likely to exhibit avoidance behavior, a sign of anxiety.
The impact of environment may lead to a more anxious disposition in canines, making them prone to fear of a certain stimuli, such as an elevator or a car ride. In fact, fear is one of the three main causes of anxiety in pets, the others being age and separation from the pet parent.
Animals have a ‘fight or flight’ response to anything they perceive as a threat. You may see your dog exhibit a fear response in an unfamiliar environment. These reactions can be brief and not affect your pet at all. Or the reactions can be more intense, if your dog is already pretty anxiety-prone.
No intervention is needed if your dog displays anxiety upon hearing a sudden loud sound, when she is taken to a new home or when you bring a Christmas tree home every year. If the anxiety is intense and difficult to manage, specific products and therapies can be helpful.
A dog exhibiting separation anxiety may, in his owner’s absence, defecate inappropriately, keep pacing, try to escape, display excessive vocalization and even become depressed. 20-40% of dogs presented to veterinary behavioral specialists suffer from separation anxiety.
Dogs with anxiety separation symptoms such as self-mutilation need immediate attention. A dog separation anxiety trainer should be engaged as soon as possible to ensure that your pet doesn’t continue engaging in self-destructive behaviors. A routine of play, exercise and training, along with additional reinforcements like chew toys and tasty treats can help calm pets experiencing separation anxiety.
Medical and cognitive changes may cause anxiety in aging pets. Your senior dog may exhibit symptoms of separation anxiety, become very sensitive to noise or restless at night, pacing around and vocalizing.
It is important to get a proper medical diagnosis to understand the age-related changes affecting your pet. If she has cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS), she may exhibit disorientation, and display disinterest in or fail to recognize family members. A loss of perception or awareness may make senior pets anxious and confused.
What can pet parents do?
Watch out for the common signs of anxiety in dogs to determine if your pet is anxious frequently or intensely in response to a situation or trigger. Never punish your pet for acting abnormally – he may respond aggressively and unsafely.
Curing dog separation anxiety quickly isn’t challenging as long as you have a competent trainer and use the best products and supplements to address your pet’s anxiety problems holistically.
Photo by Michelle Tresemer on Unsplash