Many dogs suffer from fear and anxiety, but every dog reacts differently when put in stressful situations. In fact, anxiety problems can even lead to aggression and disobedience in some dogs.
To treat a dog with anxiety, first we have to find out what is causing anxiety in the first place. There are many factors that can contribute to your dog’s anxiety such as:
- Loud noises like thunderstorms, gun shots, and fireworks
- Medical conditions in the brain or nervous system
- Re-homing and separation from original family
- Being left alone
- Trauma and frighting life experiences
- Trapped or pent -up energy
- Not getting enough attention or brain stimulation
Dogs exhibit different signs when they are anxious or stressed. Some react more aggressively than others, but the signs are usually the same in every dog:
- Excessive chewing, licking themselves, or destructive behaviors like tearing up shoes, carpet, and furniture
- Using the bathroom inside the house or in their crate.
- Excessive pacing and panting
- Whining and crying
- Showing teeth and biting
- Excessive barking for no reason
- Freezing and putting hackles up
How to prevent anxiety:
The first thing to remember when treating a dog’s anxiety is understanding the fact that dogs are animals, not humans. Their brain does not develop the in the same way, nor do their behaviors or emotions.
Dogs are pack animals by nature and in every pack there is a leader, also known as the alpha. A pack is very organized, with the alpha enforcing all rules and boundaries. In a pack of dogs, everyone has a place and the alpha makes every important decision.
When you adopt a dog, you automatically bring him into your “pack.” Their natural instinct tells them that they need a pack leader and , if you do not establish yourself as one, they will take charge and become the alpha.
Dogs who maintain alpha status suffer from anxiety because they instinctively feel the need to protect and organize their pack. They will remain on high alert in case there are any unexpected dangers lurking around.
Most humans do not understand their dog and his communication style which is why owners will get frustrated. An angry owner can also lead to an anxious or nervous dogs. One way to illustrate this communication error is by imagining that you are the CEO of a foreign company. Everytime you try to tell your employees what to do, they cannot understand you because they do not understand English. Do you see how this can cause confusion?
On the other hand, submissive dogs that do not want to be an alpha also suffer from anxiety. When there is no strong pack leader, the dog becomes skittish and insecure because he thinks that there is no one there to protect him.
Knowing how to insert yourself as a pack leader is very important to your dog’s mental well-being. This can also prevent your dog from having anxiety in future.
How to fix anxiety in your dog:
- Visit your vet to rule out any medical condition that could be triggering anxiety
- Make sure your dog is getting enough exercise for his/her size and breed
- Stimulate their brain by training your dog to develop communication skills
- Establish yourself as the alpha and fulfill their need of having a strong leader
- Establish rules and boundaries
- Have scheduled feeding, walking, and play time
- Treat your dog like a dog, not a human child
By following these easy tips, you will fulfill your dog’s instinctual needs, therefore creating a confident, secure pet.