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Anxiety in dogs and how to help them?

Updated: Jan 8, 2022

Anxiety isn’t exclusive just to human beings, it can be seen in most species, especially intelligent species. Our access to an intelligent species is most commonly dogs and it is quite unnerving for dog lovers and pet owners when they note signs of anxiety in their pets. To begin with, one can be assured that if you’re providing ample love and care then the anxiety isn’t your fault though there are a few signs to look out for to help your pet ease its anxious nature.

An anxious dog is likely to show the following attributes:

  • Pacing

  • Excessive Barking

  • Cowering and hiding

  • Aggressive demeanor

  • Restlessness

  • Depression

  • Urinating and defecating despite being relieved outdoors

  • OCD behavior like the excessive licking of paws

Few forms of anxiety include:

  • Separation anxiety: when your dog finds it difficult to be away from you or to be by himself

  • Fearful anxiety: when your dog is afraid of loud sounds, strangers, certain spaces, children, other people in the house, or other dogs

  • Old Age anxiety: sometimes even dogs become anxious because of aging, they can’t see, smell or sense the same way which is confusing for them

  • Illness-induced anxiety: there are times dogs are unwell and because they can’t express themselves, they become anxious. Some conditions like hypothyroidism, diabetes, hearing or vision loss can cause anxiety.

Possible triggers for anxiety in dogs:

  • Being abandoned or left alone for long periods of time

  • Neglect as a puppy or in a previous home

  • Abuse as a puppy or in a previous home

  • Loud noises or new places

  • Being left with new people

  • Loneliness

  • Boredom

How to help your dog with anxiety:

For general anxiety the methods are relatively easy, it is best to create a schedule for your dog which includes walking timings, meal times, playtime, and even cuddle time. By having a

schedule, they will develop a better sense of security and have a positive outlook on a daily

basis. Creating a comfortable and safe space for them is also essential, their own corner or their own bed is a way of creating a sense of domain, where they can go when they want to relax or be by themselves and yet feel safe and at home. To counter boredom, it is important that they have a few toys that keep them engaged, from a ball to a more exciting toy like a treat-dispensing toy, the options are plenty. This also helps with loneliness since dogs tend to turn to their toys when they are alone or bored. Exercise is a great way to tire them out and relieve both stress and anxiety, regular walks, playtime, open spaces to run and play ease anxiety considerably. For more serious reasons behind anxiety, it is best to take the advice of a vet, past trauma and abuse can be erased or eased over a period of time by working with professional trainers and medical conditions can be handled by the vet to create an environment where your pet has all their anxiety issues addressed. It is very hard to see a pet suffer especially since they can express themselves, so don’t forget to do special things for them from time to time, keep healthy nutritious treats to reward them for good behavior, keep a sense of positivity around them and socialize them through play dates, dog parks and meeting new people and other pets.

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