Anxiety is an increasingly common problem for us humans. It can cause symptoms including sleeplessness, clammy hands, irritability and even chest pain. But did you know that many dogs suffer from anxiety as well?
As we learn more and more about canine behavior, we’re beginning to understand that many “problem behaviors” in pups stem from anxiety.
The triggers for dog anxiety are wide and diverse, just like they are for humans! Some dogs are triggered by being left alone. For others, it could be loud noises or exposure to unfamiliar people or animals.
And what about going to the vet? I have never met a pooch who was able to remain calm when headed out for his yearly checkup.
Could your dog be suffering from anxiety? Here are some of the signs to look for.
Signs of Anxiety in Dogs
Be on the lookout for the following symptoms of canine anxiety in your pet:
- Accidents in the house (even after being housebroken)
- Excessive barking, howling, or whining
- Destructive behavior
- Repetitive digging or scratching
- Depressed mood
- Obsessive chewing or licking
- Excessive panting or drooling
These problem behaviors can be very hard on dog owners and may have you wondering if you have an aggressive, destructive dog on your hands. But the truth is, dogs don’t want to hurt or upset anyone. They may simply be having difficulty managing their anxiety.
Here are some ways you can make life a bit easier for your anxious dog (and easier for you, too).
We’re all aware of the many health benefits of exercise for humans and dogs benefit from exercise too!
Spending time exercising, walking, or playing with your dog may help him to feel more bonded and connected with you, reducing separation anxiety.
And don’t forget the feel-good endorphins released by the brain during exercise. As with humans, these endorphins can help an anxious dog feel better.
There are a number of training strategies that can be effective with anxious dogs including counterconditioning and desensitization.
For best results, find a professional dog trainer who is experienced in one or both of these strategies.
You likely know someone (or maybe it’s you!) that chooses to take medication before a stressful event, such as a transatlantic flight. Some people take medication daily for maintenance purposes. Anxiety-reducing medications are available and can be effective for dogs, too.
Another medication you might try? Many have found CBD oil to be an effective treatment for anxiety in both humans and dogs. Always consult with your veterinarian before introducing a new medication to your pup, even if it’s over-the-counter.
As humans, we can tell others when a particular setting or experience is making us feel anxious. Obviously, your dog can’t do that! That means it is up to you to pay attention to your dog’s body language, which she will use to let you know how she is feeling.
Picking up on these body language cues can empower you to remove your dog from a stressful situation before it gets to be too much for her and may cause her to lash out.
As we learn more about dog behavior and anxiety, some products have appeared on the market to help.
One such product is the ThunderShirt. This specially-designed jacket reduces stress and anxiety by giving your pet gentle, comforting pressure while he wears it. Think of it like a wearable weighted blanket for anxious pets!
Another great solution is SlumberPod Pet. This unique portable canopy provides a dark, safe place for your pet when they need some alone time to de-stress. Made from breathable, light-blocking material that fits over your dog’s crate or dog bed, SlumberPod Pet creates a home-away-from-home for your pup no matter where you go.
You and your pet don’t have to suffer through the debilitating symptoms of doggie anxiety. Try some or all of these solutions and you’ll find that life with your best friend gets a whole lot easier...and better.