Anxiety is not only a common good in humans, but animals can also suffer from it. Many of our dogs have anxiety that usually let them leave their owners and have to live in dog shelters for the rest of their lives.
Similarly, the dog also gets frightened or scared sporadically. Still, they will adapt and learn from their experience and move on. They will get used to not fearing everyday environment stimuli.
Your dog will understand that these stimuli do not cause him/her any harm – in a process called habituation. It is essential to realize that fear is a normal and adaptive physiological response to a threat.
It is an instinct of animals along with a survival mechanism. But when that fear persists, it can lead to anxiety which is not suitable for canines.
Difference Between Anxiety and Fear:
- Fear is known as an emotional and mental state initiated by a perceived threat or aversive stimulus.
- Anxiety is the state of apprehension in judging a threatening situation/condition; it may be displayed even in the absence of fear-generating stimuli. Nervous dogs usually predict most events as potentially fearful.
How Do Dogs Show Anxiety? (commonly known as the 4F’s)
It is also known as “displacement behaviors,” these are normal dog behaviors displayed out of context and an emotional expression towards any conflict.
Examples are panting when not hot, stretching and yawning when not tired, pacing with no apparent direction, shaking fur when not wet, or lip licking in the absence of food.
These behaviors are similar to humans scratching their heads when chewing on nails or uncertain and twisting rings when nervous.
Dogs usually do immobilization act to remain undetected. They want to freeze at their place more frequently. This is a common sign of distress and a clear expression of an internal conflict. It could be taken as a form of displacement behavior.
Sometimes stressful dogs show an incomplete freeze behavior as if they are walking in slow motion.
It is a fast response by which dogs remove themselves quickly from their position, and they increase the distance from their stressful and unease stimuli.
Some dogs, usually furious breeds, show over aggression due to abnormal behavior known as “Fight.” Unfortunately, it is also the most effective response, as most times, it removes the intimidating stimuli.
Although there are different individual behaviors, most dogs only use a “fight response behavior” when all the other ‘Fs’ do not work.
Anxiety can be treated with other unhealthy behaviors such as biting, biting, and chewing everything in the eyes. Stress can be cured entirely, but sometimes it can only be managed.
If you have a canine companion that is suffering from anxiety, this post is a must-read. We will outline several proven ways to support your restless dog and promote a prosperous, fit lifespan.
So let’s take a gaze at what can origin your dog’s anxiety and the most common verified ways to calm your anxious dog.
What Causes Anxiety in Dogs?
Sometimes it seems like the problem is not coming from somewhere, but it is due to some change in routine, environment, or activity. A sudden change in routine can cause dogs’ most common anxiety when returning to work: separation anxiety.
But this is not the only type of anxiety that dogs can experience with many more.
Different forms of Anxiety in Dogs
- General Anxiety: It often appears “out of the blue” for no blue reason or without stimulation, even n well-trained dogs.
- Separation Anxiety: This can happen when your dog is separated from you or other regular caregivers, moving to a new location, or schedule change. It is what people usually think when they talk about anxiety in their dogs.
- Environmental Anxiety: It often raises the risk of going out of the house or going to a specific place, such as an animal clinic. Environmental disturbances can also be caused by loud noises or frightening situations such as sirens, alarms, fireworks, or Thunder.
- Social Anxiety: Anxiety about being around different people or other dogs. It may be due to past trauma in survival or often due to lack of socialization.
Anxiety can manifest itself in some ways, including barking and trembling. You may also discover that your dog becomes ferocious or hostile when upset. Over time, if they ignore the problem, they may lose their appetite and become weak.
The most common causes of anxiety in a dog are abandonment, loneliness at home, loud noises, travel, and fear of being around strange people, children, or other pets. We have also seen restlessness in dogs that have been abused or ignored.
Anxiety is usually easily recognized in canines from their behavior. Once you have identified it, you can move on to treatment management by applying under-given ways.
7 Proven Ways to Calm Your Anxious Dog
1. Exercise Your Dog
If your dog has a separation problem, the obvious way to ease his mind is never to leave him alone. It is not a fact for most pet owners, so using exercise as a bonding time and tiring your pet is often an easy task!
Because anxiety can lead to excess energy, taking your dog out to play hide and seek or going for a long walk before you leave can help.
It is also beneficial to provide plenty of physical contact and talk during this time. And, like the human counterparts, exercise can help release stress by generating beneficial endorphins.
2. Physical Contact
A restless dog finds more comfort in being touched by its owner. Try to identify signs of anxiety in your dog and eliminate that cause as soon as possible by cuddling them on the sofa, picking them up, or giving them an excellent petting session.
As you possibly know, a massage will relax and calm even the most anxious person. Did you know that it works great even with dogs? Anxiety often suppresses muscles, and massage therapy is one way to relieve stress.
Start with the neck and work down to the long hips. Try placing one hand on the dog while the other massages. Over time, you may even recognize that your dog is getting better and calm
4. Music Therapy
Music therapy is beneficial to both humans and our canine friends. The power of music can be soothing for your dogs when they are home or in the car. Research has shown that many dogs desire classical music
5. Ensure that your dog is getting the right diet
Ensure that your dog is getting the right amount of nutrients, including carbohydrates, protein, and fats. Too high or too low nutrient quantity is harmful and life-threatening, and food anxiety can develop if your dog does not like the food.
Keep them on an excellent balanced commercial/home-made diet, whether it is any dog food, i.e., kibble, wet or semi-moist dog food. Food type does not matter until the food is rotten or not nutritious. Also, avoid a sudden change in diet.
6. Should you take your dog to a vet?
If your dog has been showing signs of being injured, ill, or weakness, or acting that way for a long time, or it has been working very oddly, the best solution would be to take it to a professional dog vet.
By doing so, you should sort out medical causes/issues and get expert advice tailored to your particular dog.
7. Get help from a dog behaviorist
If there are no medical problems, the second option is to get help from a dog behaviorist. By doing this, you should see why he is anxious or mistreating. Your dog behaviorist then tell you the solution
8. Alternative Therapies
Although there is limited evidence that alternative products can benefit dogs, the following products are non-invasive and will not cause any harm.
These are treatments that can be used alone or combined with the ways mentioned above to reduce dogs’ anxiety. Be sure to do proper research before applying alternative therapies, and also consult your veterinarian.
Dogs are treated with a helpful supplement to help with anxiety. These usually include melatonin, thiamine, and chamomile, L-theanine, or L-tryptophan. Some also have ginger to help with sensitive stomachs. These are often prescribed for general and travel anxiety.
Dog Pheromone Home Diffuser
Use aromatherapy for dogs via dog pheromone home diffusers. This therapy uses pheromones to allay fears, just as a nursing mother gives her puppies. It’s easy to use: Plug the diffuser and turn the switch on in the room where your dog spends most of his time.
The diffuser releases “dog-appeasing” pheromones, which dogs only detect. (Cats, humans, and other pets will not smell anything.)
For puppies, you can also use a lightweight collar that can be worn up to 6 months old, which helps with the inevitable separation anxiety.
If you find that the above treatments are not the answer to your dog’s anxiety problems, it is best to consult your veterinarian. There are a variety of prescription medications available for separation anxiety and destructive behavior that can be beneficial.