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Everything you need to know about a dog anxiety. The pet parent guide!

Brown-dog-looking-anxious advice
© Pixabay

Dog anxiety is one of the most common illnesses that affect dogs at least once in their lifetime. Every pet owner must know how to deal with this issue!

By Daniel Mar

According to vets, 20-40% of dogs suffer from separation anxiety. Dogs react the same way you do in stressful situations, but they display their emotions in different ways.

Today, most dog parents face numerous challenges when trying to deal with their anxious pets. Sadly, there is a lack of understanding with dog anxiety. As such, many pet parents have been misled to relinquish their pets or euthanise them. Fortunately for you, this pet guide will teach you how to help a dog with separation anxiety!

Causes of dog anxiety

Dog anxiety is caused by a number of factors. Among the most common reasons you can find: separation from the people they are attached to, thunderstorms, sudden changes in the environment, and confinement. Any of these situations can induce an instinct of fear that can be engraved into the dog’s memory. Eventually, this will generate a negative response from your pet each time he is in that same situation.

Some dog breeds are more prone to anxiety than others. Canines that are highly active are usually the ones that are at a higher risk of separation anxiety. Among the most common breeds that suffer dog anxiety, you may find German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, Boxers, Border Collies, and Dalmatians.

Symptoms of dog anxiety

Every pet displays anxiety differently, but dog anxiety symptoms are pretty much the same! You should look out for constant barking and howling, urinating, intense pacing and restlessness. As the condition progresses, your dog will begin to hide, and he may act aggressive, withdrawn and destructive. On occasions, your dog might attempt to escape by chewing, scratching and digging through the door or window. That is why you must first observe and learn what troubles him and see how your dog reacts.

It is important to point out that some symptoms are less visible while others are easy to spot. Therefore, before treating dog anxiety, you must find the source of the stress. Unfortunately, some dog parents misjudge their dog and they end up punishing that behaviour. Remember! This is not an indiscipline issue. It is a psychological problem that will not be solved with punishment.

How to treat dog anxiety?

First, rule out any medical illnesses. Some medical issues like urinary tract infection, kidney stones, diabetes or medication side-effects can cause dog anxiety. If this is the case, you have to get the assistance of a qualified vet.

Vets commonly recommend starting a physical exercise routine. This helps to soothe the anxiety of your dog as it helps to release some of the tension that is affecting him. Walks are incredibly entertaining and beneficial for your dog if he is suffering from anxiety. As a matter of facts, vets agree that by taking your dog to different places, you will keep your dog excited about the different scents and sights. Nevertheless, if you cannot go outside, don’t give up! Try to engage with an indoor game. Use a durable chew toy or a food puzzle to get your dog’s attention.

Teach your dog to be alone

The best way to prevent dog anxiety is to train your dog to be independent. If he learns this, he will cope better when left alone. You should begin training during puppyhood. Start by leaving your house for a few seconds, come back in and repeat the procedure every day. As days go by, continue to increase the time you spend away. Don’t stop until you reach hours at a time. During this period of time don’t forget to stay vigilant of any signs of anxiety in your dog.

Likewise, if done properly, crate training can be another excellent solution for anxiety. It should be done properly so that the dog feels comfortable and relaxed when inside the crate. This process can take some time, but it is one of the most important techniques that any dog owner should know! As you crate train your dog, don’t forget to make it pleasant for him. Use his favourite treats and toys. Don’t force him into the crate. And never leave him inside for an entire day! Unless your dog creates a safe and positive bond with the crate, your training will be in vain.

Final considerations

Treating dog anxiety requires a lot of training. That is why you must never forget that giving treats to your dog while he is anxious is a horrible mistake. He may think that you are rewarding such a habit!  With these tips, you can help your dog overcome his anxiety. Only then will he enjoy a long, happy and healthy life.