Just like humans, dogs can suffer from anxiety… So what exactly is Anxiety in Dogs? What is it like for them? Does my Dog have an anxiety disorder? If these questions have been bothering you for some time, now’s the right time to address them. How can YOU as a dog owner better help your dog deal with anxiety-related symptoms?
If your dog frequently exhibits signs of anxiety or abnormal behaviour, it is ideal to consult a licensed veterinarian for professional advice.
Here at Kohepets, we hope to help dog owners better understand anxiety in dogs, some of the common causes of it, frequently observed symptoms and some simple methods that can be done to help keep your dog’s symptoms of anxiety under control.
Why Do Dogs Experience Anxiety?
Anxiety can affect dogs of all breeds and ages. Dogs can become anxious or nervous for many reasons.
Symptoms of anxiety are especially common in dogs that have been rehomed, abandoned by their owners or have spent a significant amount of time in an animal shelter.
These symptoms of anxiety tend to arise due to the fear of abandonment, separation anxiety, travel, loud noises and when meeting strangers.
Before you start to treat your dog’s anxiety, it is essential that you find the root cause of it.
Common Signs of Anxiety in Dogs
There are many ways in which your dog can express anxiety. Some of the most common ways in which canine anxiety manifests are as follows:
- Excessive barking
- Excessive howling
- Drooling or panting in excess
- Aggressive behavior such as biting, growling and so forth
- Restlessness such as pacing
- Excessive licking/grooming
- Potty accidents inside the home
- Repetitive behaviours such as scratching, chewing or digging
- Changes in appetite
Less Common Signs of Anxiety in Dogs
- Lip licking
- Showing whites of the eyes
- Lifting of paws
- Avoiding eye contact
Dr Kate Mornment, an animal behaviourist from Australia, mentions that these subtle body language signs can signal mild signs of anxiety and it is important as they serve as precursors to deeper anxiety. She also states that if dog owners are able to pick up these signs earlier, these symptoms of anxiety are less likely to escalate into even more serious issues.
Early Detection Is Key
Early intervention can help to better manage your dog’s anxiety issues. Your dog will not be able to directly communicate their feelings to you, hence regular observation of your dog’s behaviour is key. At any point in time your dog exhibits severe or sudden abnormal behaviour, take him to see your family veterinarian for professional treatment.
Simple Tips: How to Manage Anxiety In Dogs
Developing a daily routine
A simple change in routine is somethings what you need to rid your dog of anxiety.
Dogs seem to thrive on consistency and routine. By coming up with a proper daily routine schedule which sets out meal times, potty break times, outside time and playtime, your dog will feel more occupied.
It is also essential to ensure that you bond and spend enough time with them so they do not feel lonely, neglected or abandoned. Just like humans, most dogs are social animals as well and do not enjoy being left alone. Make sure they get their playtime and cuddle time!
Greater physical contact — More cuddling
Physical contact is an extremely important part of your relationship with your dog and is also one of the best ways to reduce anxiety.
If you notice that your dog is anxious, speak to them in a soothing tone and reach out to them physically. Give them a hug, pet them, cuddle with them on the sofa, or pick them up if possible. This helps to remind them that they are loved and safe!
Ensure Your Dog is Getting Enough Exercise
Most dog owners are unable to spend the entire day with their pet but you can make your dog happier throughout the day by exercising with them.
Like humans, endorphins are released when dogs exercise. These endorphins stimulate happy, positive feelings in your dog — reducing their stress and anxiety levels! Taking your dog for a long walk, running with them or playing fetch before you leave the house for an extended period of time can really go a long way in helping dogs that suffer from anxiety.
Use Music to Calm them down
Do you often find that listening to calming music helps reduce your anxiety? The same applies for our four-legged friends as well. Music can help with noise sensitivity as it covers up noise pollution such as traffic, construction noises or other loud noises that might be making your pet anxious.
Recent studies done in dog shelters have shown that playing music reduces stress levels in dogs — resulting in a decrease in barking, lower respiratory rates and lower levels of cortisol (a stress hormone).
Playing music while you’re home or on car rides, helps to ease your dog’s travel anxiety.
According to research, most canines seem to prefer classical music, reggae and soft rock. There is also music with species-specific frequencies that can help your dog calm down! Mixing in a variety of genres can further enhance the effects as well.
Massage Your Dog
Massages are a great way to help your dog to relax. As anxiety tends to cause muscles to become tense, dog massage is one of the best ways to help ease this tension, allowing your dog to feel more calm and relaxed.
You can start with using long downwards strokes, working from the neck down. Next, massage your dog with one hand, while keeping the other on them in a calming manner. You may even locate their “trouble spots”, focusing more on those areas.
Nest Out a Cosy, Quiet Corner For Your Dog
Often “timeout” is a way to discipline your dog. However, when they are feeling anxious, isolating them in a quiet, enclosed and safe spot should help them to relax. You can find an area in your house with dim lighting and play some soothing music for them to listen to.