dogs anxiety

Anyone with a dog knows their pets are emotional creatures that experience joy, fear, anger, loneliness and stress just like we do. You can often tell a person is stressed just by looking at them, and dogs give off visual cues too when they tuck their tails, over salivate, stress-yawn, push their ears back and nervously lick their muzzles too much.

Anxiety is a natural and healthy emotion, it’s only once it starts being excessive or chronic that it can start developing into a behavioral issue. This is why it’s important to be emotionally attuned to your dog and recognize the signs. If your dog looks regularly stressed, you’ll have to make time to address the issue.

Why do dogs get stressed? Lots of reasons. Thunderstorms. Strangers. Separation from a family member they feel they should be protecting. There are three broad categories of stressors:

  • Separation
  • Fear
  • Aging

Many dogs, around 14%, experience separation anxiety. For these dogs, the disappearance of their family for long periods of time can cause unease and panic, which can lead to barking and howling, urinating and defecating in the house, and other unwanted behavior.

Dog Anxiety can also result from things your dog fears like strange objects they can’t understand (EG: hats, umbrellas), new environments, loud noises, strange humans or animals, small spaces like cars or transport crates, stressful situations or places like the vet’s office and more. A strong fear can mark a dog psychologically and cause changes in behavior, so finding ways to help your dog overcome their fears is important.

Dogs can be afflicted with various conditions and diseases as they approach their twilight years, and experience cognitive decline similar to Alzheimer’s disease. A dog’s inability to remember or perceive things the way they used to can cause discomfort and anxiety in dogs as well

Fortunately, there are actually a good many ways to help your pets relax and de-stress. Do you have any songs you like to listen to to help you unwind? As it happens, music helps dogs too. So long as the music is upbeat or soothing rather than violent or aggressive, chances are your dog will enjoy it. Dogs have been observed enjoying rock, jazz, pop, Motown, reggae and more. Studies have found that music decreases stress in dogs, so if you notice there’s a tune that puts your dog in a good mood, keep it in mind so you can use it when your dog is down.

Here are 5 easy ways to help your dog with their anxiety.

1. Switch up the ol’ routine.

Veterinary behaviorists will tell you that people who notice their dog getting stressed will have to do some thinking about how to calm them. Add something they really enjoy to their daily routine so they have something to look forward to.

A predictable daily routine helps dogs feel safe because they can anticipate when they’ll get to eat, play, go out, so they don’t worry about those things. Predictability helps pets feel less nervous and more confident, especially if their stress is being caused by separation anxiety.

2. Try CBD.

Isn’t’ CBD for people? Turns out, CBD can help dogs, cats, elephants and other animals besides. Dogs, like people, have an endocannabinoid system that responds to CBD (Cannabidiol) with similar results. People are using CBD oils for dogs and CBD infused dog treats to help their dogs deal with anxiety with positive results. One of the main reasons CBD is getting popular is that it is easier on the body than many prescription medications and doesn’t come with the risk of serious side effects.

Unfortunately, some vets are not allowed to talk to their patients about CBD. Call ahead to see if your vet is willing to advise you on CBD use, and if they can’t, seek the help of a holistic veterinarian. CBD can be helpful, but you should always seek advice from a medical professional before trying it for your first time.

CBD has been shown in various studies to have powerful anti-anxiety qualities. In addition, studies show CBD can help enhance “extinction learning” which is the process in our minds that  takes a repetitive stressful stimulus like loud traffic noises, and dials down our stress response so that loud traffic noises that startle us the first time just become background noise we can ignore.

3. Try buying a compression wrap.

Yeah, they may look a little funny, but the reason they apparently work is because they apply a gentle, continuous pressure across a dog’s back and chest; almost like a gentle, reassuring hug. Veterinary behaviorists think this gentle contact relieves stress.

4. Play your pooch some tunes!

Yes, we’ve already mentioned music, but it’s worth mentioning again because music really does help. Hard, chaotic music probably won’t be the best, but dogs are like people, they can like all kinds of music – especially if you like it too. When doing studies on the subject, researchers often find that classical music like Beethoven or Mozart can really help reduce stress and help nip unwanted behavior like excessive barking in the bud. Find out what music your dog likes and play it often!

5. Give’em the puppy spa treatment.

When you’re tense – a massage feels great. The same applies for dogs. Just like physical contact can help stressed or sad people feel better, loving physical contact can help ease anxiety and aggression in canines. This can be scratching behind the ears and a belly rub at home or gentle petting and a soothing touch at the vet’s office.

6. Seek the advice of a pro.

Dogs really can be like kids – sometimes it takes a village. If you’re finding it difficult to reduce your puppy’s stress and manage it, don’t feel like you have to solve the problem on your own.

Look for a certified veterinary behaviorist or animal behaviorist. Together you can identify the source of your dog’s stress and find ways to deal before the situation devolves into a chronic issue or anxiety disorder. A professional can help develop a strategy for changing how your dog emotionally responds to stressors so they can get back to their happy selves.

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