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Anxious Behaviors in Dogs: Recognizing the Symptoms of Anxiety

By Canada Pooch on Jul 8, 2023

Dogs are beloved companions for many of us, but like humans, they can experience anxiety. It can be difficult to witness your pup dealing with this kind of stress, but it is essential to recognize the signs early on to help them. In this article, we will cover the causes of anxiety in dogs, how to identify anxious behaviors, and techniques for helping your dog cope. 

Causes of Anxiety in Dogs 

Anxious behaviors in dogs can arise for several reasons, and it is essential for pet parents to recognize the symptoms of anxiety in their pups. Some of these causes are related to fear, age, situational stress, genetics, and upbringing. Understanding the root cause of your dog's anxiety can help you and your dog trainer work together to develop a behavioral modification program tailored to your dog's specific needs. 

Fear-related Anxiety 

Fear-related anxiety in dogs is often a result of a specific trigger or stimulus that causes the dog to feel threatened or scared. This can include loud noises, such as thunderstorms or fireworks, unfamiliar people or animals, and specific situations or environments.

Age-related Anxiety 

As dogs age, they may develop age-related anxiety due to cognitive decline or other medical issues. Older dogs may experience increased vigilance, confusion, and disorientation, which can contribute to developing anxious behaviors. In such cases, it is vital to consult with your veterinarian to identify any underlying health issues and develop an appropriate treatment plan. 

Identifying Anxious Behaviors 

Identifying the clinical signs of dog anxiety is crucial in helping your pup overcome their behavioral issues. Symptoms of anxiety can be both physiological and behavioral, with some dogs displaying changes in body language as well. 

Physiological Symptoms 

Increased Panting and Drooling 

According to the American Kennel Club (AKC) Canine College, increased panting and drooling can indicate anxiety in dogs. These signs may occur when the dog is exposed to a stressor and can serve as a warning signal for pet parents. Monitoring your dog's behavior during times of stress can help you identify patterns and better understand your dog's anxiety triggers. 

Trembling or Shaking 

Trembling or shaking can also be a sign of anxiety in dogs. This manifestation of anxiety results from the body's nervous system response to stress. If your dog begins trembling or shaking when exposed to specific stimuli or situations, it may be a sign that they are experiencing anxiety. 

Behavior Changes 

Destructive Behaviors 

When dogs experience anxiety, they may engage in destructive behaviors, such as chewing on furniture, shoes, or other items. Pet parents must address these behaviors to prevent further damage to the home and create a safer environment for the dog. Working with a dog trainer to develop a behavior modification plan can help curb these destructive habits. 

Excessive Barking or Whining 

Excessive barking or whining can be another sign of anxiety in dogs. This vocalization can occur when a dog is nervous or scared, as a way of communicating their stress to their pet parent. Frequent barking or whining should be addressed through training and behavioral modifications. 

Body Language 

Tail Tucking and Ears Pinned Back 

Tail tucking and ears pinned back can be indicative of an anxious dog. These body language signals indicate that the dog feels threatened or uneasy about a situation. Acknowledging these signs and working with your dog trainer to address the source of your dog's anxiety can help reduce their discomfort and improve their overall well-being. 

Pacing or Restlessness 

Pacing or restlessness can also be a sign of anxiety in dogs. When a dog is unable to settle or constantly paces around the house, it may be an indication that they are experiencing stress or anxiety. Behavior modification techniques can help address this issue and provide your dog with a sense of security and stability. 

Recognizing anxiety symptoms in your pup is a crucial first step in helping them overcome their behavioral issues. Whether your dog is suffering from, fear-related anxiety, or age-related anxiety, it is essential to consult a veterinarian and dog trainer to develop an appropriate treatment plan. By addressing these issues, you can improve your dog's quality of life and help them lead a happier, more comfortable existence. 

Helping Your Dog Cope with Anxiety 

Anxious behaviors in dogs can be challenging for both the pet and the pet parent. Recognizing anxiety symptoms in your pup is the first step in addressing this issue. Some common signs of anxiety in dogs include excessive barking, whining, panting, pacing, and destructive behavior. Other indications could be resource guarding, trembling, or a change in their normal behavior. 

Professional Assessments and Treatments 

When you suspect your dog is experiencing anxiety, it is essential to consult a professional veterinarian or animal behaviorist. A qualified expert can accurately determine if your dog's symptoms are caused by anxiety or a medical issue. They may suggest various treatments and behavioral modification techniques based on their assessment. 

The Weighted Calming Vest from Canada Pooch can help alleviate our dog's anxiety. The weighted collar provides gentle pressure to reduce stress. A dog's anxiety can be managed through a combination of physical and mental exercises, which are known to release endorphins and help with relaxation. Popular activities suggested by dog trainers include walking, running, playing fetch, chewing toys, and exploring new environments. Behavioral modification and training are also crucial in helping your dog overcome anxiety

Environmental Adjustments 

Making changes to your dog's environment can significantly impact their anxiety levels. Avoid exposing your dog to triggers that cause their anxiety as much as possible. For example, if your dog gets anxious during thunderstorms, create a quiet and dark room for them to seek shelter and try using our Weighted Calming Blanket to reduce stress. 

It is also essential to be conscious of your own behavior when dealing with an anxious dog. Dog breeds with anxiety-related issues often respond to their pet parent's emotions and body language. Ensure you maintain a calm demeanor and use positive reinforcement when interacting with your dog to avoid unintentionally escalating their anxiety. 

Behavioral Training Techniques 

Behavioral training is a crucial component of managing your dog's anxiety. Dog training may involve a variety of techniques like desensitization, counter-conditioning, and positive reinforcement to modify the dog's behavior. These methods help your pet form new associations with anxiety-inducing triggers and encourage appropriate responses. 

Consistent training sessions will help your dog associate the previously anxiety-inducing trigger with positive experiences. 

Collaborating with a professional trainer can also benefit pet parents dealing with an anxious dog's behavioral issues. They can develop a customized training plan that addresses your dog's specific needs and guide you through the steps to ensure effective implementation. 

Implementing these techniques and adjustments will improve your dog's overall well-being and help reduce their anxiety. It is important to remember that treating dog anxiety may take time, and effective solutions often involve a combination of professional assessment, environmental adjustments, consistent behavioral training, and anxiety products such as anxiety vests. By being patient and persistent, you will effectively support your anxious dog and improve their quality of life. 

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