Just like us humans, our furry friends are also likely to experience stress and anxiety during their lifetime. A 2020 study highlighted that 72.5% of dogs exhibit behaviours that could reveal anxiety, with noise phobia being the most common cause of distress.
Learning to recognise signs of anxiety or fear in your pet is the first step to ensuring your dog is as comfortable as possible. Periods of anxiety may often begin with your dog becoming more alert than usual or increase reactivity; however, each dog may react differently when frightened. If left unchecked, some animals may even become aggressive when experiencing severe distress. Sudden changes in behaviour are often the first clue that your pet is scared.
What does anxiety in dogs look like?
- Flattened ears
- Loss of appetite
- Tail between legs
- Destructive behaviour
- Becoming more vocal
What are the main causes of anxiety?
While loud noises may be a common trigger, there are a variety of reasons your dog may be exhibiting anxious behaviours. Recent years have seen an increase in separation anxiety, with many owners finding that their dogs do not cope well with being apart from them, especially for extended periods of time. This is particularly common in dogs who grew used to seeing their owners constantly during lockdown but are now struggling as they return to work. Animals can be extremely sensitive to changes in environment. Some dogs may even experience fear when socialising, whether that’s with other dogs or people. You may notice your dog becoming more submissive or even hostile on these occasions which can make walking and exercise difficult.
In some cases, certain dogs may suffer with anxiety because of a medical condition or ageing, especially if their sense of sight or hearing have been affected. Change can be particularly confusing for dogs whose senses have been dulled as they struggle to assess whether there is any real danger present. You may also find that your dog doesn’t respond well to travelling, particularly if they come to associate car or bus journeys with the vets or an unpleasant experience. Anxiety and fear can also be the result of PTSD or a response to trauma, although this is more likely in rescue animals.
How can I help if my dog is anxious?
Unfortunately, there is no one size fits all approach to curing anxiousness in our four-legged friends. If you think your dog may be suffering from stress or anxiousness, it’s always a good idea to reach out to your vet who may be able to help you assess the situation and figure out the best route of action. They may offer you anti-anxiety medication or suggest herbal supplements to help calm your worried woofer.
Addressing the root causes of your dog’s anxiety can be a lot more effective than looking for a quick fix, however you may find that many anxiety triggers are beyond your control, such as fireworks, thunderstorms, and changes in air pressure. While you can’t control the weather, there are things you can do to limit your dog’s distress. Being prepared for events such as Bonfire Night or New Year’s with noise mufflers can help relieve some of the stress caused by loud noises. Training and organised walks can be a great way to socialise anxious pets and build their confidence, especially if you’re lucky enough to live within an active community of dog-owners. Reaching out to your community through walking groups and puppy clubs can help desensitize dogs to triggering interactions and you may even make some like-minded friends along the way.
At Sooth and Settle, we want to reform the way we treat anxiety in dogs. Providing pooches with safe, research-backed stress relievers that make a real difference is what we’re passionate about. To discover more about our mission and get regular doggy updates, subscribe to our mailing list below!