4 April 2022
Like us, dogs can develop anxiety. Pets that are victims of cruelty, abuse, or neglect may be especially prone to anxiety. There are other less serious causes of anxiety that dogs experience from time to time. If disproportionate levels of anxiety are not addressed, a dog can suffer from an anxiety disorder, which if left untreated can result in behavioral and other issues.
Why Do Dogs Get Anxious?
Dog anxiety can have a variety of causes. The most common is fear of being home alone, loud noises, separation or abandonment, being around strange people or other pets, traveling, and aging. While unpleasant, anxiety is a normal but healthy emotion. It affects all breeds and its effect is different for each dog.
Anxiety in dogs can manifest itself in many ways. Anxiety can cause a dog to whine, bark, shiver, and whimper. You may also find your anxious pet to become destructive or hostile. It can also lose its appetite and become completely withdrawn if the anxiety is not checked.
Top Ways that Help Manage Your Dog’s Anxiety
Here are the most common proven ways to calm or manage our anxious dog.
While it is not always possible to be with your pet dog that has separation anxiety, using exercise as both a bonding activity and to tire out your pet is an easy option. Anxiety can cause a buildup of excess energy in your dog. Playing ball or taking your pet to a long walk before you leave can be beneficial.
An owner’s touch is probably the most soothing thing an anxious dog needs. Pick up, cuddle, and give your pet a good long petting.
Massage therapy doesn’t just work with humans. Anxiety tends to cause tensing of the muscles. A good massage will alleviate tension, relax and calm even the most anxious dog. Start massaging the neck and work downward. Using long strokes, massage your dog with one hand as you keep your other hand on the dog.
The power of music is beneficial to both humans and our furry friends whether you are home or in the car. Music alleviates noise sensitivity by blocking noises that bothersome dogs and create anxiety. It has been proven that dogs prefer classical and harp music which are known to have a sedating effect on them.
You can isolate your dog in a quiet space to calm your pet’s frayed nerves. There are crates designed to help dogs with a variety of anxiety factors. You may have some options for the space like quiet music playing, low lights, and some aromatherapy.
Counterconditioning is a training strategy that can be used to treat dog anxiety. It aims to change the dog’s response to the stimuli responsible for anxiety by replacing the anxious behavior or aggression with a more desirable behavior such as sitting or focusing on the owner.
In this strategy, you introduce the dog to the source of anxiety in small doses and at a decreased intensity. Anxiety is managed through a series of repeated exposure and rewarding behavior.
The best person to help you identify the type of anxiety your pet suffers from, the possible causes and its treatment is your veterinarian. Your veterinarian can employ a combination of training, preventive strategies, or medication to treat anxiety especially if caused by a variety of factors.
Most importantly, you have to be there for your dog and make them feel that they are not alone no matter what the situation they are in. You, being their safe space, will reassure thm that everything is going to be alright—and there’s nothing to be anxious about.