Like humans, it is not unusual for pets to experience anxiety. Calming an anxious furkid is no easy task and finding an effective treatment typically calls for the help of a vet or a certified animal behaviourist, according to petmd.com.
“Dogs use body language to communicate how they are feeling,” says Ashley Atkinson, CPDT-KA and behaviour consultant at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. “It’s important to watch and observe your dog for his or her own ‘communication style’ and determine what signals he or she uses to indicate anxiety.”
The signs of anxiety are vast and may also change for your dog over time.
According to vcahospitals.com, the top ten indicators of stress in dogs are pacing or shaking; whining or barking; yawning, drooling and licking; changes in eyes and ears; changes in body posture; shedding; panting; changes in bodily functions; avoidance or displacement behaviour; and hiding or escape behaviour.
Causes of Anxiety
The causes behind the anxiety your dog is experiencing can be as vast as the signs and symptoms your dog displays to show their anxiousness. Some common causes of anxiety include past abuse, loud noises, medical problems or other animals.
Separation anxiety is another form of anxiousness that is usually easier to diagnose. Typically, a dog with separation anxiety will act out while you are away, and may chew or dig furniture, howl, pace or go to the bathroom inside the house.
Tips for Calming Your Furkid
Each dog shows anxiety in its own way and the different calming techniques can have varying levels of success depending on the dog, according to Ashley.
Depending on the causes, the solution can be as simple as recognising the stressor and removing it. In other cases, you will want to seek the help of a professional who can help determine the root of the anxiety and assist in relieving it.
- Play music
Ashley says that playing music specifically developed for pets can sometimes ease anxiety, especially if your dog suffers from separation anxiety and the songs are left playing while you are away. Studies have also found that playing classical music can help your furkid calm down.
Physical activities like walking or playing fetch help both you and your dog release tension.
- Physical contact
Try petting your dog or sitting near him and check to see if his anxiety symptoms subside. Physical contact helps both humans and dogs relieve anxiety, fear and stress.
Some locations on a dog’s or cat’s body — like the feet, the ears, and the top of the head — are natural pressure points where as little as 15 minutes of massage will make a world of difference for your pet’s stress level.
- Time out
Provide your furkids with a quiet space with no stimulation where they can turn off all the input and unwind.
There are some balms and sprays specifically formulated for pets that utilise the calming properties of aromatherapy. Rub the spray or formula in between your hands and pat your palms along your dog’s back – just be sure he can’t reach where you applied the pet-safe oils so that he won’t lick anything off. Always follow the label instructions for proper use.
- Check your own state of mind
Reacting to your dog’s anxiety with nervousness of your own can cause your dog to pick up on your anxiety and heighten the problem further.
Sources: Petmd, VCA