Same as with people, anxiety in dogs can manifest itself in many different ways. If you’d like to find out more about how to recognize the symptoms, what causes stress and anxieties, and how to treat them then look no further. We’re going to have a deeper look into the many possible ways you can detect whether your dog is experiencing anxiety. We’ll also give you advice on how to handle the delicate situation properly.
Symptoms of anxiety
Dogs cope with anxieties in different ways, and have different ways of showing it as well. Some dog owners may even miss their dog’s symptoms simply because they are less noticeable or might seem normal to them. Some symptoms, on the other hand, are quite hard to miss. That’s why we can divide them into two categories.
Subtle symptoms of anxiety
These symptoms are not really noticeable at first and are a bit less obvious. They are not as disruptive as some, and can go unnoticed for a long time. Such symptoms include:
A lot of dogs wish to be alone when they experience anxiety, and may want to move away from people and other dogs.
- Excessive licking
Dogs who are anxious may sometimes chew on or lick their fur compulsively.
- Attention and comfort seeking
While some dogs wish to be alone when they’re anxious, others want the exact opposite. They often seek comfort in their owner’s lap and can jump into their owner’s arms as soon as they get the chance.
Shaking and panting often go together with anxious dogs. While panting is quite normal after you’ve been out for a walk, it’s a clear sign of anxiety when it happens at a New Year’s fireworks display, or some other loud noises.
Overt symptoms of anxiety
While the symptoms above are sometimes not as noticeable or obvious, these next few definitely are:
When a dog is anxious it can quickly and suddenly become aggressive and growl or attack not just people it’s not familiar with, but even its owner.
- Attempting to escape
Dogs that are anxious because they are trapped may attempt to flee by digging, that’s why it’s much worse to put them in crates or on a short leash in the back yard.
- They may become hyperactive
When a dog is anxious it may experience a huge surge of energy and become hyperactive.
- Destructive behavior
What this means is you may frequently find destroyed tables, sofas, or chairs, which was not common for your dog to chew on in the past.
When your dog has anxieties it may even have a panic attack, just as humans often do in such situations. That’s why it’s really important for you to be able to recognize the symptoms on time and get your doggo the right care that it needs.
What causes anxiety in dogs?
- Sickness or pain
Anxiety can sometimes be a symptom of a medical condition your dog has. Dogs that have hearing loss, pre-diabetes, thyrotoxicosis, encephalitis or hypothyroidism can often experience anxiety. That’s exactly why you need to seek medical attention if you believe that something more serious than the occasional thunderstorms is causing your dog’s anxieties.
Anxiety even occurs in aging dogs that are experiencing some changes associated with the nervous system.
- Lack of socialization
When we make the mistake of depriving our puppy from proper socialization and experiences it needs to have, we make it more prone to anxieties and stress in its adult life. That fearful puppy may soon grow into an anxious and stressed dog when it’s surrounded with new people, or even animals.
- Past experiences
Dogs are most prone to developing fears and phobias when they’re 1-3 years old, although they can develop them at any age as well. Mistreatment, abandonment or abuse may lead to anxieties later on in their life.
- Negligence or abandonment
These two are very serious and quite common factor for developing anxieties and abandonment issues later on. They can manifest in many ways. Your dog will start by constantly seeking attention or comfort and being overly attached to you. All of this is caused by their fear of once again being abandoned or mistreated.
How to help your dog get over anxiety
Here are a few things you can do to help your dog cope with anxiety:
- Stay calm
In order to calm down your dog, you need to stay calm as well. Your furry friend responds best to cues you give him. If you are stressed and angry, your dog won’t stay in a calm state as well. One thing that’s also important is not to make a big deal out of situations and get your dog overly excited. Such situations are: leaving or coming home, or going for a walk. What’s best to do in such situations is to stay calm and talk in a calm and normal voice.
- Exercise regularly
A dog that exercises and goes on walks regularly has lower chances of exhibiting anxious behaviors. If you’ve noticed that your dog becomes more anxious when you leave for work then it would be best to walk him before you leave the house. That way your dog can get the exercise it needs to reduce its anxieties.
- Have your dog occupied
Leave your dog with a few treats, chew toys and his favorite ball before you leave. That way it can stay occupied and busy while you’re away.
- Consider taking it to doggy daycare
You may want to try doggie daycare too, especially if your dog likes it, and feels good socializing with other dogs. You have to be careful though, as in some cases it might be scary for your dog to be around so many new doggy friends, and this may activate his anxieties even more.
- Talk to your vet
Your vet will be able to suggest many more tactics you can try out with your dog. If nothing else works he may even prescribe your dog anti-anxiety medication.
The anxieties may also be caused by another illness. In that case your vet will give you the necessary medication to treat the cause of the anxiety, rather than the symptoms.