Overcoming Dog Anxiety

anx·i·e·ty
aNGˈzīədē/
noun

 

  Dogs with anxiety lack confidence, direction, and are full of uncertainty. Many people think their dog is just shy and the nervousness they show is just them. This dog is stressed and is a behavior that needs to be taken care of. We should not be fueling this behavior but looking to overcome it. Anxious behavior will take time to surpass, but it can not be overlooked.

 

What are the signs of a dog with anxiety behavior?

  • Lack of Independence such as clinginess
  • Seeking of comfort
  • Wide eyed look in many situations
  • Avoidance such as head turns or body turns
  • Shaking, Panting
  • Excessive Licking
  • Stiff body with tail down or between the legs often
  • Frightened around everyday objects and situations
  • Hiding and Cowering
  • Trying to escape
  • Destructed Behavior
  • Snapping, and growling
  • Bathroom use inside when under duress

 

What Can Cause Anxious Behavior?

  • Rehoming multiple times
  • Came from shelter environment
  • Frightening Situation
  • Abusive Situation
  • Illness or Injury
  • Lack of Confidence
  • No direction
  • Deciphering their own Situations
  • Previous Stray dog

 

How Do We Help Our Dog’s Anxiety?

  Every dog is different and the process may vary, but this is a basic outline to start your dog on improvement.  If you dog is nervous about a situation we want to avoid comforting them. Petting them in this situation can be comforting which in turn rewards the nervous behavior. Most people want to comfort because they feel bad, but this is counter intuitive.  We want to focus on creating confidence in as many situations as possible.

  Work on providing a structure walk which is staying in “HEEL” position. If your dog is focused on you, and maintaining this position they will not be reacting to things in the environment which make them uneasy. When their focus strays we need to get it back by changing directions, and rewarding their ability to follow. Bringing your dog closer to objects that make them uncomfortable and working to get closer and closer, as long as their attention is more on you they will make progress.

  Scheduled and structured routines keep their daily life clear and to know what is expected from them. Having specific times for going out, eating, and even playing. Structured days will consist of them waiting for food, waiting to go outdoors,  and even learning to relax. This shows them direction which makes it simple for them to handle.

  Down-Stay with Relaxation is very important for them to make progress. Teaching your dog a strong down-stay position will prevent them from following you and create more independence. This can even be providing them a reward to work at and enjoy with you being away from them.  This should also be worked at around distractions so they are not trying to react to things they are unsure of. Your dog will overcome these situations making them have a higher threshold which will increase overall confidence.

  Obedience training will have our dog focused on us and if they are having fun they are not anxious. Teaching your dog agility, or even just interacting with their environment. You can also teach them to retrieve and perform obedience behaviors during play. This will not only increase confidence but will also be exercising them mentally and physically.

  Management products such as a compression shirt, lavender spray, or dog relaxation music can be used, but you should not be reliant on them. They are only to manage and not overcome anxious behavior.

  Anxious behavior is a dog with a chaotic mind that can not get stress relief. Always focusing on keeping their life as clear and directive as possible while overcoming their insecurities is our goal to overcome this common behavior.