With all of the stress of COVID continuing, anxiety has become a more frequently discussed topic. Perhaps this has got you wondering, “Is my dog anxious too?” If you haven’t experienced anxiety in pets before, it can be hard to know what to look for! Anxious behaviour can manifest itself in lots of different ways in our buds. Some of the signs of anxiety are:
- Shivering or shaking
- Barking, howling, or whining
- Fleeing, hiding, or cowering
- Digging or inappropriate chewing
- Urinating or defecating in the house, and sometimes diarrhea
- Excessive licking or chewing on themselves
- Not eating
- Not settling
- Lip licking and yawning
- Showing the whites of their eyes
- Lifting one paw up (usually a front paw)
- Avoiding eye contact
Sometimes, these signs only show up during specific events, like thunderstorms or fireworks. Other times, it can be a more regular occurrence like going out of the house for a walk, or when your dog is left alone. For some pups, they may be in an anxious state more often than not.
There’s many ways we can help keep our pups more comfortable if they are feeling anxious:
If the anxiety is sound-based,try a snood!(a fitted scarf that goes over your dog’s neck and ears. Another option is using music! Put on some calming noises for your pet using your phone, the TV, or a radio.
For thunderstorm or firework phobias, try a ThunderShirt to help provide a calming effect for your pup.
If you think their anxiety is affecting their everyday life, speak to your vet and look at finding a fear-free trainer. They may prescribe medication to be taken daily or for specific circumstances that prove stressful for your pup, such as car rides, vet or grooming visits, or thunderstorms. Behaviour modification through a fear-free trainer can also be beneficial! If your pet is fearful of certain places, sounds, or things, working with positive association to counter-condition them can help! For example, if your bud is frightened by newcomers in your home, you can start by having that person stay a safe distance back and reward the dog with treats for being in the same general space. Over time, make that distance smaller, and eventually you can have the person they are fearful of start feeding them the treats.
You can use a similar process with objects, too! If your pup is nervous of having their nails trimmed, start rewarding them for laying calmly beside the nail clippers or grinder, then allowing you to pick up the clippers, then holding their paw, and so on and so forth. It’s most important to work in small baby steps, and recognise that this method will take time, consistency, and patience!
Anxiety in our pets can vary greatly from one individual to another, and there is no one size fits all answer. Some solutions may even work for certain situations with your dog and not for others! Often a combination of these tips and tricks works best to help manage anxiety. And don’t forget, we are always here to help in any way that we can!
PS: You can also always try natural treat aids like the new duck calming aid! Not only is this treat formulated to help naturally alleviate anxiety, but giving our dog’s calm and soothing attention when they are experiencing an anxiety-inducing event can also help.