Managing your dog’s anxiety 

Sometimes we associate a dog’s anxiety with a few occurrences throughout the year such as fireworks night and thunderstorms, however pets can suffer with anxiety all year round. In fact, pet anxiety is more common than you think with nearly 80% of pets suffering with anxiety.

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Sometimes we associate a dog’s anxiety with a few occurrences throughout the year such as fireworks night and thunderstorms, however pets can suffer with anxiety all year round. In fact, pet anxiety is more common than you think with nearly 80% of pets suffering with anxiety.

Anxiety is the psychological, physiological and altered behavioural state of an animal anticipating either an actual or potential threat to their wellbeing or life.

March has marked Pet Anxiety Month. Pet Anxiety Month aims to raise awareness of pet anxiety amongst pet owners and highlights the steps to help anxious pets. Read more to discover tips on managing your dog’s anxiety.

Causes of anxieties in dogs

Many factors can contribute to a dog’s anxiety such as breed type, genetics, personality type, lack of adequate socialisation/habituation, inappropriate experiences, concurrent diseases (e.g. cognitive dysfunction, pain) etc.

Signs of anxiety can be triggered in any of the following situations;

  • Car travel
  • Separation from humans and other animals
  • Noises – thunder, fireworks, alarms etc.
  • Unfamiliar dogs/people
  • Traffic
  • General routine such as grooming, vet visits, nail clipping, putting lead on etc.

Signs of anxiety in dogs

Dogs react to stressful situations in different ways, however there are some common signs of anxiety dogs will display which can help you to identify when they are feeling anxious. These include;

  • Tail between legs
  • Trembling
  • Pacing
  • Excessive panting
  • Ears pinned back
  • Yawning.

Are some dog breeds prone to anxiety?

Although any dog can become anxious, there are certain dog breeds that may be more prone to developing anxious behaviour which can be related to what functions they were originally bred for, these include;

  • Hunting breeds – Labrador, Cocker Spaniel, Vizsla
  • Herding breeds – Border Collie, German Shepherd, Shetland Sheepdog
  • Guarding/working breeds – Husky, Schnauzer, Tibetan Terrier
  • Toy breeds (bred for companionship) – Chihuahua, Maltese, Bichon Frise.

Preventative measures

Training is incredibly important. From an early age, dogs need careful exposure to different environments and various situations in order to build positive associations with them. This will mean they are less likely to become worried as adults.

Examples of scenarios which may help develop your dog’s confidence are; being left alone, grooming, socialising with people and dogs, familiarising them with different environments, introducing them to lots of new playthings (cardboard boxes, noisy kids toys, things that move etc.).

Engaging in even the most basic of training can help boost your dog’s confidence. Remember to reward them after they have achieved and praise them: this will help increase their confidence.

If you have concerns about managing your dog’s anxiety, please call your local practice.

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