Anxiety is becoming increasingly common in dogs. The modern lifestyle provides many benefits to dogs, but there are several drawbacks, including limited exercise, endless boring hours cooped up inside and loss of their natural jobs. Anxiety and behavior problems can look similar as both result in unwanted behaviors like excessive barking and inappropriate chewing. Here's how you can tell when it's an anxiety issue:
- Chews on a variety of things, especially items that have your scent (clothes, shoes)
- Eliminates indoors, typically in multiple locations.
- Barks continuously during the day, especially with a frenzied burst in the 20-30 minutes after you leave.
- Always shows these behaviors when left alone.
- Is wild to greet you, and is still stressed, anxious and clingy when you first arrive home.
- Begins the destruction, barking and eliminating right after you leave.
- Cannot be away from you even for short periods - whines, cries, scratches at the door.
- Becomes increasingly distressed as you prepare to leave.
These are the typical symptoms of anxiety attacks that come on when you leave and are especially symptomatic of separation anxiety.
Other symptoms of anxiety attacks include intense scratching (as if digging a place to hide), hiding in closed spaces (behind a couch, in a closet), whining, urinating on oneself, shutting down (flat, overwhelmed affect), accelerated heart
rate, panting, pacing, and sweaty paws. These are signs that your dog is very stressed out and can mean he's afraid, feeling stressed or is suffering from an anxiety attack (all of which are horrible states, but which are somewhat different).
Anxiety attacks are typically prompted by the owner's absence, thunderstorms, other loud noises (for example, a train that comes by consistently), car rides, vet or groomer, and learned behavior (for example a rescue dog may panic when left
alone with an adult male based on his history). Each one of these has a different solution and not all the symptoms have to be present to qualify as true anxiety.
Anxiety issues can be corrected with time and patience. Counter-conditioning exercises are generally very helpful and there are several medications that can help if behavior modification alone isn't sufficient.
If your dog is suffering from anxiety, please enroll in our online dog training classes to get you both the step by step guidance you need to solve his problems.
Want more dog training help?
Dog Academy: Online Dog Training Programs
Campus Store: Dog Training Supplies