Dogs are the most loyal companions that you could ever ask for. In times of loneliness, you know that they have your back. However, any dog parent would agree that having a canine in the house does come with a few challenges. For one, it can be challenging to communicate with them. And sometimes, it seems impossible to know how they feel and how you can help them – especially when they’re stressed out.
Like you and me, your dog can also experience a wide range of emotions, including anxiety and fear. By knowing the key signs to look out for, you can help your loyal companion cope better and faster. If you feel like your canine buddy might be crying out for help, there are various ways you can ease his/her worries. Below is a short guide to help you spot the signs of dog anxiety and the best ways you can deal with the situation.
Identifying the key signs that your dog is stressed
Most of the time, dog anxiety symptoms can be very subtle. There are some cases wherein the signs may seem like ordinary dog antics such as yawning, licking, whining, and barking. It takes keen eyes and years of close contact with the dog to discern whether it’s normal behavior or not. In general, here are some of the tell-tale signs that your dog feels anxious:
- Sudden change in posture – American Kennel Club points out that cowering is a sign of stress or fear. You might also notice your dog tucking his/her tail or lowering the head when he/she senses trouble or feels intimidated.
- Pinned ears and dilated pupils – Pupil dilation is another indicator that your pup feels tense. You may notice that his/her eyes look a bit rounder and bigger than usual. Besides the eyes, your dog’s ears might also appear lowered or pinned on the head.
- Excessive barking or whining – Barking and wining can mean many things. Both vocalization techniques are the usual methods used for self-expression by the canine species. When under extreme stress, your dog might bark or whine to call your attention.
- Prolonged yawning – For humans, yawning often implies boredom or tiredness. For dogs, however, it may be a sign of anxiety. If you see your pup yawning longer than usual, you might need to keep your eyes peeled for other canine anxiety symptoms.
- Loss of appetite – Sudden changes in their environment, like a new family or pack member, or other stressors can trigger temporary appetite loss among dogs. Once they feel secure and reassured, dogs can cope and return to their regular eating habits.
- The body turns rigid – When a dog suddenly gets stiff or freezes, it may be because they see something they fear. They can also freeze during dog training lessons when they don’t feel comfortable.
- Avoidance behavior – Sometimes, when dogs get approached by other dogs or people outside their usual social circle, they tend to avoid interaction by focusing on other matters. You may notice them sniffing random objects or walking away. When that happens, you have to respect his/her boundaries.
Other signs you should look out for include excessive licking, destruction of toys/furnishings, frequent urination, and panting. If you notice any of these symptoms, your next step is to trace the cause or the stressor.
Finding the cause so you can solve the problem
Spotting definitive symptoms of anxiety, stress, or fear is just the tip of the iceberg. Ultimately, if you want to help your dog cope, you need to know what’s causing the behavior in the first place. Is it because of a new puppy? Have you recently moved to a new home? Do you have noisy objects in the house? Is your dog getting anxious because you have to go away for a few days?
If you want to get to the bottom of the issue, you need to assess every possible factor. This way, you can identify the most suitable course of action to take. For example, if your dog has separation anxiety, you should consider providing him/her appropriate training lessons. Behavioral training can come handy in creating a positive association to alone time. You can try using toys, puzzles, and other objects to keep your pup busy.
Alternatively, you can find a homey and dedicated dog boarding facility, so your pet has a nice place to stay in and ensure that he/she gets proper care and attention until you return. Here at Delaware K9 Academy, dogs who stay at our canine boarding facility have a safe place to stay in for as long as needed. Also, we keep our canine guests occupied with physical activities such as walking and running.
If your dog is displaying anxious or scared tendencies from loud noises such as cars and trucks, sirens, fireworks, and other sounds, training and confidence boosting can help. Through desensitization to abrupt, loud noises, your dog can be confident that nothing bad will happen and learn to settle in. This is not an overnight fix, but continued practice will teach them that it will be okay.
Got a newly rehomed dog or perhaps a newborn? If yes, then this might be the source of your dog’s anxiety. Rover.com explains that it’s normal for dogs to get jealous. The most effective way for you to reassure him/her is through regular training. Also, you can instill positive associations by rewarding your dog every time he/she calms down after seeing his/her object of jealousy.
What happens if you do nothing to address dog anxiety?
Fear or anxiety aren’t exactly destructive emotions. In fact, these two emotions prompt humans, dogs, and other sentient life forms to react and avoid dangerous situations. However, if left unresolved, simple anxiety problems can lead to serious behavioral concerns. That’s why it’s crucial to address the issue as early as you can. Don’t hesitate to seek professional help. An experienced dog trainer can help you identify the most effective approach to use. If you’d like to learn more about address anxiety in dogs don’t hesitate to contact us.