Dogs can get anxiety just like we can, which is why it’s so important to keep an eye out for dog anxiety symptoms. Animals might not seem like they have much to be anxious or stressed about, but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen. So, be respectful of your furry friends and help them feel relaxed and comfortable. If you think your dog has anxiety, it’s important to never ignore it and instead find ways to help them feel better.
What is Dog Anxiety?
Anxiety in dogs is fairly similar to anxiety in humans. It’s a feeling of worry, nervousness, or uneasiness. It typically occurs when your dog is uncertain of something or fears that something bad will occur.
Dogs can feel overly stressed, nervous, or fearful for almost no reason at all. It can be uncomfortable for them, but it’s a common emotion that canines experience. If your dog is only anxious occasionally, then there’s probably not a cause for concern. But if your dog seems to be stressed over every small change in life, then you should try to help them out in any way you can.
What Causes Dog Anxiety?
There are three main causes of dog anxiety: fear, separation, and aging. Each one causes dogs to react differently.
Fear-based anxiety occurs when a dog is presented with a trigger. This could be anything that scares them, such as loud noises, strangers, or unfamiliar places. Anxiety related to fear is often short-term, meaning it goes away when your dog’s fear is gone. But this can be stressful if the trigger is a part of your dog’s regular routine.
Separation anxiety is likely the most common. Lots of dogs get stressed when their humans leave them alone, which can lead to unwanted behaviors like destruction and accidents. If you spend too much time with your dog, they might get too clingy, which could result in uncomfortable anxiety.
Finally, age-related anxiety is one that many dog parents don’t consider. As dogs get older, their memory and their senses could decline. This type of change can be scary and confusing for dogs, which could make them overly anxious. Any type of change could stress a dog out and make them act differently.
Dog Anxiety Symptoms
Dogs suffering from anxiety will experience unusual behaviors. Not all dogs react the same to anxiety though. In most cases, you’ll notice your dog is acting different because of how well you know them.
Here are some common dog anxiety symptoms:
- Ears back
- Tail tucked
- Whale eye
- Not eating
- Having accidents
- Destructive behavior
While some of these can be normal dog behaviors, they’re not something your dog should be doing all the time. If your dog starts doing one or more of the above symptoms when presented with an unfamiliar situation, then that’s a cause for concern. Small anxious feelings here and there aren’t a problem, but your dog shouldn’t be stressed all the time. Being overly anxious could have long-term effects on your dog’s health.
How to Treat Anxiety in Dogs
If you’re worried about your dog’s anxiety, you should try to find ways to soothe your dog and help them calm down. Distracting them and keeping them busy is a great place to start. If your dog is bothered by a scary noise outside, try to get them to play with toys or work on training with them to avert their attention away from what’s bothering them. This won’t always work, but it’s a good short-term fix. In some cases, petting your dog might be enough to calm them down.
You should also have a safe space available to your dog. In most cases, a crate is perfect for this. Some dogs might dislike their crate, but if you always crate train them using positive reinforcements, they might learn that it’s a “safe space” for them. It should have a comfortable bed or crate pad inside so your dog can retreat to it if they’re feeling anxious. A safe space could also be something like a dog bed or blanket in the corner of a room. When they’re in their safe space, it’s important that everyone leaves them alone and gives them their desired space.
Long-term anxiety fixes are much harder to successfully complete. You’ll need to either desensitize your dog to the trigger, use stress relief products, or work with a dog trainer. If you want to get your dog used to the thing that scares them, you’ll need to slowly bring them closer to it to help them see that it’s not scary. This process could take weeks or even months for some dogs. But you need to be patient and keep rewarding them throughout the process.
If you’re looking for a product to help soothe your dog’s stress, you might want to consider talking to your vet. Your vet can help you figure out the root of your dog’s anxiety to help you decide the best treatment options. Some supplements can help relax your dog with no extra training or socialization. It might sound like a quick fix, but it won’t work for every dog. Plus, it’s still recommended that you further train your dog in the process.
Keep Your Pup Happy and Healthy!
Dog anxiety symptoms can be uncomfortable, confusing, and scary for your dog. Just because dogs have an easy life doesn’t mean they can’t get stressed. So, if they seem anxious, go easy on them. Keep an eye out for unusual behaviors and be patient while you help them relax. Dogs can overcome stressful situations just like humans can, but they need the love and support of their family members to do so.