Dogs and anxiety – spotting the signs

To the mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders 💙

One of the hardest things we face in our relationships with our furries is that when something is bothering them, they cannot tell us. Most of us know our dogs pretty well, and so will notice when sometimes behaviours change that can indicate that something is wrong, but anxiety is one of those things that can manifest in various different ways which can not always be obvious to us that this is the issue. 

As dog lovers and owners, we all wish for our dogs to be happy and healthy, and to enjoy their time with us as much as they possibly can, and so today we wanted to share with you some of the common and most subtle signs that your dog may be suffering with anxiety, so that you can help them through their difficult time.

There are different types of anxiety, such as separation anxiety – the fear of being left alone, fear of loud noises, changes in environments – such as going in the car, to the vet or simple things like a change in working hours for the hoomans.

The most common signs of anxiety tend to be:

  • barking or howling, especially when owners are not home
  • panting
  • pacing
  • shivering
  • cowering
  • digging
  • excessive licking
  • being off food
  • destructive behaviour
  • aggression
  • drooling
  • restlessness
  • repetitive or compulsive behaviour

But the more subtle signs include:

  • lip licking
  • showing the paw
  • looking away
  • showing the whites of the eyes
  • urinating or defecating in the house

Lots of these behaviours can sometimes lead us to think our dogs are being naughty, when really they’re just anxious, and it’s simply that we just misunderstand their communication. That’s why it’s so important to be able to recognise when you’re dog needs your help to give them the support they need to feel at ease, so that you can be prepared for them and for you too.

If you think your dog may be suffering from anxiety, there are lots of steps you can take to help them. The first thing would be to speak to your vet to firstly determine the seriousness of the anxiety; if the anxiety is a minor reaction to a certain situation it can be most effectively dealt with at home with little intrusion. If the anxiety gets worse or continues over a long period of time, that’s when a more serious intervention may be needed to help your furry friend feel settled once again.

A few methods available for helping with anxiety in dogs are:

  • Training and counter conditioning
  • Desensitisation training
  • Canine Behaviourists
  • Holistic Therapy
  • Medication
  • CBD Oil

The best way to threat any anxiety that may be in your four legged friend is to use a combination of techniques, and to first identify what might be the causes and triggers of the behaviour.

One thing that is for certain is that the problem won’t go away over night, it takes time, patience, perseverance and consistency.

Along with the methods used to help treat anxiety in dogs, there are also essential steps you can take to try and prevent anxiety from arising in the first place:

  • Make sure they receive regular exercise and good nutrition – this will help them feel health and stay stimulated
  • Obedience training – making sure you and your dog have a trusting relationship is key to preventing anxiety
  • Socialisation – socialising with other dogs helps your dog adjust easily to new situations
  • Learning how to read your dogs body language – being able to recognise when your dog may be feeling anxious allows you to intervene and turn negative situations into positive ones
  • Avoiding situations where your dog usually becomes anxious – if you know when your dog is likely to become anxious, avoiding certain situations can help to keep them calm.

Anxiety is something all of us and our dogs will feel at some point in life, and by learning how to spot when your dog is feeling anxious, and knowing what to change or integrate into their routine can seriously help prevent your dog from developing an anxiety disorder that has a huge impact on their life.

If you think your dog may be suffering from anxiety, act now. Our fur babies are only with us for so long and it is our responsibility to provide them with the life they deserve.

 

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