Causes of dog anxiety
There are many reasons that dogs may be fearful, anxious or even phobic:
Most puppies are willing to meet and greet new experiences with a wagging tail and innate curiosity.Occasionally, however, the experience turns out to be a negative one and your puppy may learn to fear that stimulus.
Dogs may be fearful of experiences that they encounter for the first time. This is because they have had no previous experience of that particular situation.
Separation from social group
We humans are our pet dog’s companions. They fret when left alone. This is known as separation anxiety. Dogs may attempt to escape, bark or be destructive around the house or garden.
Pain & illness
Pain or illness cause stress. Proceed with caution if your animal is stressed or in fear through pain. Have a vet check.
Solutions for canine fears & phobias
Understand the cause of your dog’s anxiety to find a solution.
Various short-term solutions may help with your dog’s anxiety, although these may reduce stress only for a little while…
Relocating your dog to an area of your home where they avoid stress e.g into another room or a crate when visitors arrive.
Lavender scents and playing classical/reggae music can reduce stress, by calming your dog.
If your dog’s life is severely compromised by being anxious, then you may need to consider veterinary medication. Just as humans need medication for psychological conditions, so too can our pets.
Long-term solutions for the anxious dog involve de-sensitising the dog to the situations that they fear. This needs to be carried out gradually and very carefully. It is suggested that professional help be used.
Solutions to the anxious, fearful and phobic dog are given in Dr Jo’s book Dog Anxiety Problems Solved, now available on Amazon.
Thunderstorms and fireworks are common triggers of anxiety in dogs. Typical behaviours seen in response to these noisy events include:
- Hiding in sheltered dark spots like under the house or your bed
- Trying to escape from the yard or pacing the fence
- Howling or barking
- Trembling, shaking
- Seeking reassurance from owner
Dogs may fear thunderstorm the first time they experience them, especially if their experience is a negative one. They may also sense their owner’s anxiety.
You can help your dog cope with thunderstorms by trying some of the following:
- Create several “den-like” areas for your pet,as far away from the sounds as possible and allow them to select where they settle.
- Leave your lights on and a radio/music in the background to make the flashes and bangs less noticeable for your dog.
- Get your dog used to other noises in his life by creating them around your house and garden or by playing thunder noises. There are CDs created to help with noise phobias or you can download sounds from the internet and playback over speakers.
- Do not reassure your dog too much. Act as if everything is normal instead of changing your behaviour around your dog and they will be reassured that they are safe.
- If the problem is severe, then you may need to consider veterinary medication. Rescue remedy, lavender and Adaptil (dog appeasing pheromone) may also help.