Last Updated on May 13, 2021
Nothing is worse than watching your poor fur baby become absolutely terrified by something you can’t understand. Even in humans, anxiety can be feel crippling, bringing up primal “fight or flight” instincts that can easily affect your dog. Here are a few tips about what you need to know about anxiety in dogs.
There are uncommon fears that dogs have, such as being gun shy or terrified of thunder that often gets labeled as anxiety, while there are anxiety disorders that are simply said to be attributes of certain dog breeds. Keep reading to learn what anxiety in dogs looks like and what you can do to help relieve your fur baby from the grip of anxiety.
Why is My Dog So Anxious? What You Need To Know About Anxiety in Dogs
Signs and Symptoms of Canine Anxiety
Fear, and more specifically, anxiety, may show in your dog in several different ways, depending on the type of anxiety and the trigger. Some common signs of an anxious dog are:
- Shaking, shivering
- Urinating and other accidents
- Tail tucking
- Aggressive behavior towards other dogs, people
- Hiding from you or running away.
Each one of these signs are a huge red flag that there is something wrong with your pup, meaning that he’s terrified or extremely anxious. Whether it’s a new fear or an puppy-based anxiety disorder, you will need to help your dog overcome this before it gets any worse.
What Causes Anxiety In Dogs?
As mentioned, anxiety can be formed during the puppy years or at any other time during your dog’s life. It’s not common, but even senior dogs can develop a canine anxiety disorder. For example, a senior dog losing his sight may develop separation anxiety, if he depends on your voice to guide him around.
Former Abuse, Long Shelter Life
Abuse is the number-one worst thing that can happen to any animal. Not only does it physically hurt, but there are mental wounds as well.
A heavily abused dog will likely be very untrusting of people, and perhaps, even frightened of them. This could turn into ear-based biting and other unwanted behavior from your beloved pup.
If your new pup is from a shelter and has been there a long time, or has been adopted and turned in many times, he will also likely be a little wary of you. Many times, it will take a very long time to gain trust from dogs in these situations, but if you commit, it is more than possible.
Different Canine Anxiety Disorders
Just like people, dogs can have different anxiety disorders, that are both caused and triggered by different things. Here are a few types of anxiety:
- Separation Anxiety:
When your dog is a little-extra clingy and your dog causes a ruckus while you’re at work, you may have a pup with separation anxiety. This can happen at any age, when your dog becomes so bonded with you, that he can’t fend for himself.
This can get extremely annoying, and leave you wondering what to do. As much as you’d like to, you can’t take your dog everywhere. However, you CAN get your dog some help by getting another dog, getting a professional trainer in, or by using crate training.
- Social Anxiety:
Dogs are known to be the life of the party, going around the room for love and attention from everyone in the room. But, social anxiety can cause a completely opposite reaction, where your dog runs and hides at the sight of company. This can even result in aggression towards strangers, which exceeds the normal barking behaviours.
If your fur baby is not a “people-pet”, you may not be able to cure this completely. Some animals are just more independent than others. But, you can’t have them running away all the time.
Try introducing people and animals slowly. If you have a socially anxious dog, turning them loose in a dog park full of dogs is not the best idea. Or surrounding them with loud children may make it worse.
Start slow and calm. Try and give your pup plenty of exercise before meeting new dogs if possible.
- General Canine Anxiety:
This type of anxiety can also happen at any age and can be a result of many things combined. While it’s quite common, it goes undiagnosed and ignored very often. So, if you see signs like the ones we’ve listed, your pup may be suffering from general anxiety disorder.
There are some breeds that are more prone to general anxiety than others, but their signs can not be downplayed to be breed characteristics. Here are some of the breeds most likely to have general anxiety disorder.
- Labrador Retrievers
- German Shepherds
- Border Collies
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniels
Illness or Disease
Many ailments that affect your fur baby can cause anxiety as one of the symptoms. Plus, if this is a prolonged illness or the beginning stages of a disease your dog will be able to tell and may show some anxious behavior.
Dogs know when they’re not feeling well, so they will be worried about not being able to perform their normal doggy duties like walks or being able to “protect” you from the delivery person.
Make sure you have regular vet visits to assess and treat your fur baby appropriately.
How To Calm An Anxious Dog
There are many ways that you can calm your dog’s anxiety. The first step is to get down to the bottom of what’s causing it. Then, you can get to work on implementing a healthy routine that your dog can stay comfortable with.
Here are some other things you can do to help ease your dog’s anxiety:
- Reducing triggers like shouting, fireworks, etc.
- Make your home, and most especially, your dog’s cage a quiet sanctuary for him to comfort himself.
- Using vet-prescribed methods and medications
Conclusion – Anxiety in Dogs
Anxiety in dogs is very common and can be treated when you know what you’re dealing with. You may not be able to cure it completely, but you can vastly improve your dog’s mental health by taking the time to understand what’s causing his anxiety and by using the proper treatment.
Like treating human anxiety, canine anxiety will take time and patience. Remember that it’s never your dog’s fault, it’s simply a mechanism that he’s developed. And, as his fur-parent, it’s your duty to make your fur baby feel safe.