How To Help Your Dog Relax In The Moment:
If you think your pet is displaying consistent signs of anxiety, there are ways you can help.
The important thing to know about anxiety in dogs, especially recurring anxiety, is that there isnt a magic bullet. Below youll find some techniques to help your dog calm down in an anxious situation, and later well talk about reducing anxiety in the long term.
The first and most important step if youre seeing a consistent, high level display of these symptoms is to talk to your veterinarian to rule out possible medical issues. Sometimes dogs show symptoms of anxiety because theyre sick!
If your vet agrees that anxiety is the cause, there are a few options to help your dog relax in the moment, depending on the type of anxiety theyre experiencing.
Licking is a soothing activity for dogs, so giving them something healthy they can lick keeps their brain occupied and helps them relax. For example a toy stuffed with some canned pumpkin or low-fat cream cheese. Just make sure to account for those calories in your dogs daily caloric intake so they dont put on extra weight. Treats should only make up 10% of your dogs daily calories.
Distract them with trained behaviors:
If your dog is anxious and wont take any food to distract them, you can try engaging them with behavior commands such as sit, paw, lie down, etc. This is a great way to distract them and have them focus on working instead of whatever is causing the anxiety.
Where Can You Get Help
âIf you donât know how to proceed, please reach out to a positive-reinforcement-based trainer who can help you understand and truly address your petâs anxiety,â Pachel says. âThe long-term goal should be to focus on teaching coping strategies that your pet can use in those stressful situations.â
A helpful training and behavior program will focus on reducing the exposure to potential triggers , creating new, positive emotional responses as well as teaching the dog effective coping skills.
If your dog has severe anxiety, itâs likely your veterinarian will recommend prescription medication in combination with a positive reinforcement training program. But for dogs that just sometimes need a little extra help at specific times you can try an over-the-counter anxiety treat product like Composure treats, but be sure to talk to your vet first before introducing anything new to your dogâs body.
Thereâs a lot of information you can find on the Internet, but it can be tough to find quality resources when you donât know what to look for. Discover in-depth tips on how to recognize canine body language and signs of anxiety, by going to iSpeakDog.com. Reading books focused on understanding your dogâs emotions and how to ensure your dog is happy are also great steps to addressing anxiety concerns.
What Causes Separation Anxiety
It’s not fully understood why some dogs suffer from separation anxiety and others don’t. But remember, your dog’s behaviors are part of a panic response. Your dog isn’t trying to punish you! They just want you to come home!
These are some of the scenarios that can trigger separation anxiety:
- Being left alone for the first time.
- Being left alone when accustomed to constant human contact.
- Suffering a traumatic event, such as time away from you in a boarding kennel.
- Change in the family’s routine or structure, or the loss of a family member or other pet.
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Ask Your Vet About Anti
Your veterinarian may recommend prescription anti-anxiety medications . These are almost always prescribed with the recommendation of behavior modification training.
The medication type and dosage will be based on your dogs age, other medical conditions, and triggers. Medications often take several weeks to months to improve anxiety, and they often require adjustments and regular bloodwork. The minimum treatment for anxiety in dogs usually averages 4-6 months but can take years in some cases.
Medication therapy may help alleviate your dogs response to triggers and can assist in learning new behaviors. However, when medication is weaned or discontinued, their anxious behaviors may return. Medication is usually continued lifelong.
Your primary care veterinarian may refer you to a board-certified veterinary behaviorist when severe anxiety issues are noted, or if previously attempted treatment plans fail to help. It is important to learn your dogs triggers to be able to help them have a calm, balanced, and positive quality of life.
How Can I Help My Dog Handle Stressful Situations
In order to differentiate stress signs from normal behavior, you must be familiar with your dogs regular demeanor. Then you can tell if he is licking his lips because he is anxious or because he wants a treat.
When relaxed, he will have semi-erect or forward-facing ears, a soft mouth, and round eyes. He will distribute his weight evenly on all four paws. Distinguishing normal behavior from stress signs will help you quickly and effectively diffuse an uncomfortable situation.
“If your dog is stressed, first remove him from the stressor.”
If your dog is stressed, first remove him from the stressor. Find a quiet place for him to regroup. Resist the urge to overly comfort him. If you want to pamper him with petting or treats, make him earn them first by performing an activity . Responding to routine commands distracts the dog and provides a sense of normalcy. It is amazing how comforting sit, down, and heel can be to a worried dog.
If your dog becomes consistently stressed, see your veterinarian. After ensuring that your dogs behavior does not have a medical basis, your veterinarian may refer you to a trainer or veterinary behaviorist to evaluate stress-related issues. They may also prescribe anxiety-reducing medications if appropriate.
|Contributors: Malcolm Weir, DVM, MSc, MPH Lynn Buzhardt, DVM|
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Identify The Cause Of The Anxiety
Identifying triggers for separation related behaviours can be difficult, as the majority of behaviour happens while your dog is on their own. If possible, set up a camera that allows you to see what your dog is doing when youre not with them. This footage will allow you to more accurately identify any specific environmental triggers that may be contributing to your dogs behaviour such as: the sound of people passing the house, loud cars and trucks or maybe even the sound of the neighbours dog barking.
How To Treat Minor Separation Anxiety
- Dont make a big deal out of arrivals and departurestalk to your dog in a calm voice when youre leaving or returning.
- Establish a word or action that you use every time you leave that tells your dog youll be back.
- Consider using an over-the-counter calming product that reduces fearfulness in dogs.
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Having Accidents In The House
Dogs who are anxious or fearful may often have accidents in the house due to loss of bladder and bowel control. It is one of the most common dog anxiety symptoms. Humans may also have similar issues in moments of extreme fear. Notice when your dogs experience these accidents to try to identify what is triggering them. Are they happening during the night, or when someone knocks on your door?
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How Do I Know If My Dog Has Separation Anxiety
As humans, were used to battling anxiety. Whether its situational and temporary, or youve managed anxiety as a consistent part of your life, were used to working through and balancing it. We can recognize what it is and understand its effects on our life. But did you know that your dog can also deal with anxiety?
One of the most common forms of anxiety your dog can deal with is . This is where a dog becomes distressed and may act out in the absence of its owner, or the person theyre most attached to. It can be a frustrating issue to deal with, and can be a scary experience for your pet.
In todays blog post were going to discuss:
- How to tell if your dog has separation anxiety
- What causes separation anxiety in dogs?
- How to help your dog with separation anxiety
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How To Manage Separation Anxiety
If your dog is exhibiting mild to moderate separation anxiety, the goal is to remove the anxiety the dog feels from being alone. This is a gradual process that starts with short timeframes of independent activities that grow into longer time periods spent apart from the dog. Here are a few things you can do to help your dog feel secure.
Calm Exits/Entrances: When leaving or entering your house it is best to say a simple goodbye and hello or even ignore your dog. Emotional greetings, when you leave and arrive home, tells your dog that it is a big deal that you left.
Continuously Come and Go: Help your dog learn that you are not abandoning them every time you leave the house by practicing leaving and returning before they get upset. For some dogs it might require smalls steps in which you pick up your keys, walk out the door and walk right back in. For other dogs you might be able to walk outside for a few minutes before entering your home. Continue to increase the amount of time you leave as your dog gets more comfortable.
Tired Dogs Are Happy Dogs: A well-exercised dog means a happy and less anxious dog. Before you leave for a long period of time make sure your dog gets some type of exercise like a long walk or run or playing catch for a good amount of time.
What To Watch Out For
Heather Mishefske, a certified professional dog trainer and behavior consultant, notes, Anxiety in dogs can present a number of different ways and can be related to contexts such as being separated from their people, fear, and age.
Common symptoms of all categories of anxiety include: Excessive panting, drooling, pacing, barking or vocalizing excessively, extreme restlessness, destructiveness, self-harming behaviors, or even behaviors that look like obsessive compulsive behaviors, Mishefske says.
Anxious dogs pace and are generally overexcited by normal stimuli such as people coming into the room, a doorbell, and cars or people going by outside, explains Dr. Ross Taylor of the NorthStar VETS Emergency and Critical Care team. Other signs to watch for are dogs who are overly vigilant and concerned about the environment around them.
San Francisco-based dog trainer Alisha Ardiana says she watches for dogs who are unable to engage in training or do normal calming behaviors, like smelling. If the dog is unable to smell the ground, is looking around, or looking over his shoulder, the dog is concerned that something is going to go wrong, she explains.
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What Are Some Of The Indicators Of Stress In Dogs
Pacing or shaking. You have seen your dog shake after a bath or a roll in the grass. That whole body shake can be amusing and is quite normalunless it is occurring as the result of a stressful situation. For example, dogs are commonly stressed when visiting the veterinarian. Many dogs shake it off when they descend from the exam table and touch down on the ground. Dogs, like people, also pace when agitated. Some dogs walk a repeated path around the exam room while waiting for the veterinarian to come in.
Whining or barking. Vocalization is normal self-expression in dogs but may be intensified when they are under stress. Dogs that are afraid or tense may whine or bark to get your attention, or to self soothe.
Yawning, drooling, and licking. Dogs yawn when they are tired or bored, they also yawn when stressed. A stressful yawn is more prolonged and intense than a sleepy yawn. Dogs may also drool and lick excessively when nervous.
Changes in eyes and ears. Stressed dogs, like stressed people, may have dilated pupils and blink rapidly. They may open their eyes really wide and show more sclera than usual, giving them a startled appearance. Ears that are usually relaxed or alert are pinned back against the head.
Changes in body posture. Dogs normally bear even weight on all four legs. If a healthy dog with no orthopedic problems shifts his weight to his rear legs or cowers, he may be exhibiting stress. When scared, dogs may also tuck their tails or become quite rigid.
Abnormal Drooling Or Panting
Okay, some dogs are just big droolers. You cant hang out with them without getting some slobber, well All over you, however if your dog wasnt a big drooler or panter in the past, and theyve started being one now, its definitely something to look into. Drooling and panting might seem like a strange way that your dog shows they have anxiety
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Rescued From A Shelter
Animal shelters do amazing work for pets in our community every single day, but the reality is that a shelter can still be a stressful environment. Its a place filled with foreign smells, sounds, and sights. This can be an overwhelming situation for a dog, and lead them to cling to the human that rescues them from it all.
What Does An Anxious Dog Look Like
There was a meme going around social media a couple of years ago that featured a small dog on a couch. A large portion of the couch was obviously wet. The caption read, We have a little licking problem.
People thought it was funny because they didnt know the signs of dog anxiety. While the excessive licking is a sure sign, you could also see the whites of the dogs eyes , its back was hunched, and its tail was tucked. It was not a funny meme, it was sad. The dog was very, very stressed.
Another scenario. You are walking your rescue dog. You dont know much about where it came from, but it seems to have some training. However, a firetruck passes you and your dog drops to the ground. It wont get up, wont walk, wont do anything. It might be shivering or have its head down or it might be whining. The dog is anxious.
Or maybe you are at home with your dog who is a barker. It barks at everything. One minute it will be laying beside you and the next minutes it is packing back and forth, barking. It may pant a little or come back and lick you, the furniture, a toy, anything. That is a very anxious animal.
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Common Anxiety Treatments & Relief
If you think your furry friend leans on the more anxious end of the mood spectrum, its more than OK to seek dog anxiety treatments to help them cope. Wondering how to help a dog with anxiety? Try one of these over-the-counter treatments:
Calming Supplements for Dogs
Some dogs could benefit from a daily dose of calmbut what if theyre picky eaters? The best calming supplement for dogs might help ease their nerves, while perking up their mood with delicious flavor. As with any dog supplement, make sure to administer the correct dose for your dogs weight to avoid drowsiness or other side effects.
CBD Oil for Dogs
Cannibidiol is a plant-derived compound with a slew of purported benefits, one of them being natural anxiety relief for dogs. CBD responds to the endocannabinoid system, a group of receptors present in dogs central nervous system. For this reason, studies suggest that CBD might be able to calm the effects of anxiety in dogs. You can try ingestible drops or CBD dog treats for anxiety.
Dog Calming Spray
If your dog is on a restricted diet or isnt trusting of new treats, trying a calming spray for dogs might be more their speed. Just spritz the aromatic spray onto their fur, brush it through , and repeat daily or as needed. In addition to dog calming supplements that you can buy, there are also plenty of care and lifestyle tips that can improve your anxious dogs well-being.
Calming Shampoo for Dogs
How To Tell If Your Dog Has Separation Anxiety
Here are some questions to ask yourself that can help determine whether you may be dealing with separation anxiety or not:
- Is your dog destructive if left alone for any amount of time?
- Does your dog refuse to eat if left alone?
- Is their body language panicky and anxious when youre gone?
- Does your dog bark or whine excessively if you leave them?
- Does your house-trained dog go to the bathroom inside of the house if separated from you?
If you answered yes to any of the above questions then its probably worth talking to one of our veterinarians about your dogs behavior. Of course, some of this behavior can be a normal part of the puppy stage of a dogs life.
But if your dog has outgrown the puppy stage and is still exhibiting this kind of behavior, there are a lot of different ways a professional can help you find some options. Separation anxiety can be a frustrating issue to work through, but you and your dog dont have to figure it out alone.
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What Is Separation Anxiety How To Tell If Your Dog Has It
Some breeds are more susceptible to separation anxiety than others
Posted 21d ago
With lockdown restrictions now feeling like a distant memory, many of us are spending much less time at home with our pets. This could be an anxious and distressing time for pets who have enjoyed the increased time with their owners and are now adjusting to normal life again.
If you have a lockdown pup, then chances are they will struggle to adapt even more if theyre used to having you in the house all day every day.