Feeling anxious isn’t limited to humans – even your canine friend can feel nervous and uneasy in certain experiences or when they feel threatened. For instance, some dogs get nervous and will bark non-stop when they’re taken to the vet or being groomed or clipped.
Dog anxiety can sometimes make your canine friend eat too much or too little, cause them to get bored or sometimes distressed, or even cause them to chew on all of your newly-bought shoes. In some cases, it can be as alarming as injuring or biting someone.
No matter what your dog faces that causes anxiety, it’s your job as the owner to know and identify anxious circumstances. After all, there are many ways that anxiety can keep them from having fun and living a healthy life, whether they’re young or old.
What Causes Dog Anxiety?
The most common cause of dog anxiety is separation, which is normal, especially when their owner hasn’t been home for a long time. If you find that the house has been torn apart when you get home or if Fido keeps on hugging your shoes when you’re about to go, this may be a case of separation anxiety.
However, your canine friend could also get startled with loud noises, such as machines, thunder, other animals, or even maltreatment in their former home (hopefully not). Basically, anyone who attempts to threaten a dog with a loud voice could be seen as a trigger for their anxiety because it instills fear into their minds.
Some dogs may also develop phobias or fears of certain things. For instance, they may not like their first trip to the vet or they may become afraid when they hear the vibrating motor of their dog clipper. Or, they may find strangers alien to them and they may hide in fear or keep barking at them. This likely happens if your dog hasn’t been exposed to the outside world as much as other dogs while they are still young.
In some cases, older dogs get anxiety more likely than younger dogs do. This is because of their likelihood of CDS or cognitive dysfunction syndrome, which is kind of like Alzheimer’s disease.
How do I know if my Dog has Anxiety?
There are many reasons why your dog could get nervous or even depressed, but it will usually manifest in destructive behavior. They could have the following symptoms:
- run around the house more often
- chew or bite on objects
- destroy things around the house
- trembling or shaking
- barking too much
- peeing or pooping indoors
- other aggressive behavior
If you find any of these signs of anxiety in dogs, your best bet is to try to calm down your dog with the following simple methods.
How to Calm Down an Anxious Dog
Calming down Fido may not be that easy because they could not cooperate as much as you want them. However, here are some methods that you can try:
1. Get active with your pet. Exercising can help them lose all that extra stress and negativity. Because you and your pet are moving together, it can be a form of bonding with your pet and they will forget about their nervousness altogether.
2. Use the right tools when grooming. Anxiety can sometimes worsen if you’re trimming their coat with a loud and noisy dog clipper. First get your dog used to the tools and the environment, gives them treats and let them know that grooming is a good experience. Use the quiet dog grooming clipper, turn the noise on and just let them get used to it. Don’t touch them with it yet, let them get used to the noise. When they are finally comfortable around the clipper then you can start shaving.
3. Petting time. Maybe you haven’t been petting your furry friend for a while due to a busy schedule – now is the time to show them some TLC! Physical contact can help them ease their mood so that they know that they are being cared for. Never underestimate the power of touch!
4. Give them space. Sometimes, your dog may not be in the mood to play with you. You may want to let them unwind in an undisturbed space if nothing else works (neither the toys or the treats did their thing).
5. Approach them calmly. Don’t react negatively or shout at them because that will only worsen their anxiety. Instead, talk to them in a calm voice (almost like one of those ASMR whisper videos) so that they know that they aren’t being threatened and are getting personal attention.
6. Have them listen to music. Like humans, pets also get a soothing sensation when they hear relaxing music, so why not try it out? PupJunkies explain that there are specific types of music that are tailored to dogs and to calming them down.
7. Try essential oils. Aromatherapy can also be a choice if you want Fido to relax. However, make sure that the oils that you are using are safe for pets and are kept in a place where your dog won’t be able to reach to avoid accidents.
8. Talk to your vet about it. If you can’t really handle your dog’s anxiety on your own and you’ve tried everything that you could, it’s probably time to get advice from the vet.
It’s best not to keep giving them treats to calm them down because this might result in overeating. Some dogs might also not want to eat when they feel anxious.
As a whole, dogs with anxiety can be calmed down if they are treated right. Provide love, care, attention, and understanding and you will surely have a dog that’s in the right mood. In general, minimizing noise and stimulants can help them to soothe and relax.
Dogs are like their owners – we all get anxious when we are faced with a bad memory or a trigger. It’s just a matter of working with your dog to reassure them constantly that they are not alone and whatever is threatening them will eventually go away or won’t hurt them. Trust is the key, as well as personal attention so that your dog will not have destructive behavior that might even hurt others.