Anxiety in dogs, as in people, is a state of mind characterized by great restlessness, nervousness and insecurity. If you have an anxious dog, it will try to get rid of this discomfort by altering its behavior. Such changes can be very upsetting and affect your coexistence. Also, an anxious dog will feel sick and may develop other problems, so it's important to resolve the situation and visit the vet before it gets worse.
THE CAUSES OF ANXIETY IN DOGS
A dog can be anxious because of many reasons.
The most common are:
Lack of socialization. Socialization is the process by which your dog learns to relate to people, other dogs and the context in which he will live. It is very important to expose our puppy to everything that will be part of his habitat, especially from the first to the fourth month of life. If we skip this phase, he won’t know how to relate, this could be cause of anxiety.
Separation anxiety. Dogs are social animals, which means they need to feel part of a group to feel safe. This is because the group increases the chances of survival, like a cub next to the mother or wolves when they hunt in packs.
As a puppy grows, his tolerance for separation increases and he becomes more independent. But some dogs that have been abandoned, separated from their mother before 8 weeks or mistreated, cannot tolerate separation from their owners because they feel totally helpless.
Spending many hours alone at home. If your dog spends many hours alone, it will get bored and likely end up suffering from stress.
Lack of attention and interaction with owners.
Fear of noises such as fireworks, thunderstorms.
Cognitive dysfunction. This problem, similar to senile dementia in humans, occurs in older dogs. In these cases, the dog feels disoriented and it is sometimes unable to recognize their home or family. These symptoms appear most often at night.
Changes in the habitat. Moving, the arrival of a new family member or the absence of someone can cause anxiety for dogs. Lack of exercise and activity.
THE SYMPTOMS OF AN ANXIOUS DOG
-An anxious dog exhibits changes in its behavior as a mechanism to releasing the discomfort that it feel. Here are some of these signs of anxiety in dogs:
-It has destructive behaviors that consist of breaking furniture, clothes and everything else he finds, especially when he is alone.
-It does his needs in the house even if he is used to getting them out.
-It requires excessive attention with tremors, nervousness or moans.
-It eats its feces to get attention.
-It mounts other dogs or people, even if he is neutered.
-It is always alert and with tense muscles.
-It barks non-stop, moans and howls.
-It shows hyperactivity in the house, jump and run all over the place.
-It licks, licks objects, the bed, the floor and he can even get injured.
-It gets sick more often. He mainly suffers from vomiting and diarrhea.
-It shows aggression.
- Mental Stimulation
One of the most effective ways to reduce anxiety in dogs is regular and constant training. It is necessary to expose the dog gradually but regularly to his source of fear, for a short period: in this way, the dog will be desensitized to the stimulus that causes the problem.
On the other hand, if you need to reduce a behavioral symptom such as constant barking or the continuos dog's whining, you could try the classic positive reinforcement: distract the dog when it is anxious and, every time it stops complaining or barking by focusing on something else, reward it with a treat or cuddles.
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One of the main causes of anxiety in puppies and young dogs is excess energy that they cannot vent fully: in these cases, a great help to reduce stress levels in dogs, can be giving them the opportunity to do physical exercise.
There are many exercises and games to do to tire the dog both outdoors and at home: the classic walk can be fine, the classic walk can be fine, but an excursion into the park can be fanniest than the usual walk in the nearest dog area. By the way: here's how you should behave when bringing your puppy to the dog area.
Cuddling works can be an anti-stress for the dog just like massages and in a similar way to the soothing vest: caresses, with their light pressure on dog’s body, encourage the body to release endorphins that reduce anxiety in the animal. Usually most loved and pampered dogs are also the most peaceful and happy ones.
- Review Your Routine
Before you spending money on products that promise to relieve your puppy's stress, consider how you can help them feel calmer.
In most cases, pet owners need to do something different to help manage and improve their dog's anxiety.
For example, having a predictable daily routine that helps your dog predict when he will be able to eat, go out, and spend time playing with you could help him feel more confident and less nervous.
This is usefull especially if its stress appears to stem from separation anxiety.
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- Music Therapy
Classical music reduces anxiety and stress levels in dogs and regulates their heart rate. During the periods of listening to classical music pieces (Vivaldi's “The Four Seasons” in particular) dogs show lower levels of stress, as can be clearly understood from the regularization of the heart rate and their behavior. In fact, dogs whine and vocalize much less with the background music and have a much calmer and more relaxed attitude.
And that's not all. Dogs get used to listening to music. So much so that, periodically dogs are subjected to musical stimulation, they end up calming down and acquiring a calm and relaxed behavior even after just two days of symphonies and quartets.
The relaxing effect of classical music is therefore seen by scholars as a good strategy for controlling dog behavior problems. An absolutely pleasant system (even for owners) to reduce the discomforts of separation anxiety and hyperaggression on a stressful basis.
Sometimes the solution to your dog's stress is as simple as 15 minutes of brushing. Many dogs love to be brushed and will spend more time with their owner.
At the same time, you will have the opportunity to bond with him and especially to observe his skin to rule out injuries or abrasions, which could be a sign of something more serious.
- Get help from a professional
If you've tried all the ways to relax a very nervous dog and haven't had any luck, try contacting a professionist for help with expert guidance. There are different figures to contact in these cases:
holistic veterinarian: can give advice from a medical point of view by administering sedatives such as chamomile, valerian and homeopathic products.
Dog trainer: his main function is to create harmony between the dog and the owner. It can be very useful in case your pet doesn't take you very seriously.
Ethologist: This is a qualified veterinarian who also specializes in ethology, a branch of zoology that studies animal behavior. For the most severe cases, this figure is the most suitable.