7 Signs Your Dog Has Anxiety - Healthy Dog World

7 Signs Your Dog Has Anxiety


Anxiety in dogs, like in humans, is a normal condition. As pet parents, the best thing that we can do is to determine where it stems from and find the best way to treat our furry friend. The truth is that anxiety manifests itself in multiple ways and it can be difficult to determine whether those signs are normal everyday behavior or symptoms that you should be wary of. If you think you have an anxious dog, then you came to the right place! 

In this article, we will take a look at what’s causing anxiety in your pooch, the various signs to pay attention to, and some tips to treat your dog with anxiety. Let’s dive right in!

What is causing anxiety in dogs?

Anxiety is a usual response to stressful situations. Abandonment, trauma, stress, and separation anxiety can all contribute to anxiety in dogs. You typically see these issues in shelter dogs or rescues that have either experienced a traumatic event or have been neglected by their previous owners. These signs can be pretty evident when dogs are put in social situations where they seem uncomfortable and hesitant to interact with other people or other dogs.

How do you know if your dog is suffering from anxiety?

Thankfully, there are signs that you can pay attention to to determine if your dog is suffering from anxiety. Here are some of the most common signs:

  1. Excessive Barking/Whining - The most common trigger to anxious barking is seeing unfamiliar people or animals. Whether it’s through the window or during a walk, dogs that excessively bark or whine are usually expressing their intent for the unfamiliar person, animal, or vehicle to “go away.”

  2. Shaking/Trembling - When dogs experience fear or anxiety, shaking and trembling is a familiar response. Other triggers of shaking and trembling due to anxiety could be stress, loud noises, and strangers. 

  3. Frequent “Accidents” - The first thing to remember when this happens is to not get mad at your pup. Dogs exhibiting anxious behavior can accidentally pee or poop where they shouldn’t even if they are housebroken. While incredibly frustrating for pet parents, the key is to have patience and consider a retraining program.

  4. Aggression - One of the most serious signs to look out for is aggression. Dogs that feel anxious can, at times, display aggressive behavior as they feel the need to defend themselves. Depending on the situation, a dog may lash out and act aggressively toward humans or other animals.

  5. Restlessness - Restlessness can be a difficult symptom to pay attention to as some dogs can be naturally restless. It also doesn’t help that dogs also exhibit restlessness when they are bored. Just like excessive barking and/or whining, restlessness during stressful situations can indicate that your dog is suffering from anxiety.

  6. “Escape” Behavior - Dogs suffering from separation anxiety normally display “escape” behavior to counter feelings of loneliness and boredom. If not properly addressed, this type of passive behavior can turn into a routine response that might become more difficult to treat.

  7. Destructive Behavior - One important thing to note is that dogs do not exhibit destructive behavior to spite you. Destructive behavior is often seen as a coping mechanism to relieve anxiety in dogs. Separation anxiety, generalized anxiety, boredom, and stress are some of the most common reasons why dogs develop destructive behavior.

How do you treat a dog with anxiety?

According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), “the best way to treat anxiety is to talk with your veterinarian. Your veterinarian can help you identify the type of anxiety your dog suffers from and the possible causes and triggers. Your veterinarian will also be able to help you determine if the anxiety is simply situational, or if it is becoming an overwhelming issue for your dog. Additionally, veterinarians can also rule out any other medical conditions that could be causing your dog’s symptoms.”

If you think your pet is displaying symptoms of anxiety, here are some ways that you can help.

  • Behavioral Training

    • To combat symptoms of anxiety, training should put an emphasis on your dog’s behavioral response during stressful situations. Redirecting, desensitization, and counterconditioning are all effective ways to help your dog during episodes of anxiety.

  • Medical Intervention

    • In more serious cases, veterinarians may prescribe anxiety medication for your dog. According to the AKC, SSRIs and antidepressants are occasionally prescribed for dogs with anxiety. However, this should only be an option if behavioral training was unsuccessful.

  • Exercise

    • Providing plenty of exercise for your anxious dog helps ease their mind and enables them to spend more time with you. Taking your dog out for a walk and playing with them burns off excess energy that can be brought about by feelings of anxiousness.

Final Thoughts: Are there other ways to calm your dog down?

Another way that you can combat your dog’s anxiety is to provide calming treats. Calming treats are non-medicinal remedies specifically formulated to soothe your dog during episodes of anxiety. From separation anxiety to visiting the veterinarian, calming treats should be able to help your dog manage stressful situations. Before anything else, make sure to talk to your vet about the proper dosage to give your pup!

Hope this helps!

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