Chew That

The behaviour of anxiety

The word anxiety in pets is becoming more and more common these days. Anxiety can be seen in many different ways, as it can be in humans. When it comes to our dogs, we can see excessive barking, damaging household items, pacing, and whining, not eating, and/or being aggressive towards people and other dogs.

Let’s flip the story to humans for a minute. As an anxious human, what is it that we look for to help us ease our anxiety? When we enter a new situation that brings anxiety, we look for something or someone to ground us, to give us comfort. We do not force ourselves into the middle of a conversation, or immediately into the hands of others, we warm up, we take our time and get our feet grounded. We generally will attend a situation that will bring us anxiety with a friend or family member that will give us the support we need until we are able to relax and join into the group.

Dogs get anxious too

Now, let’s bring our pup into this story. You have an anxious dog and you are bringing him/her into a situation that you know brings anxiety to their mind. You as the pack leader, or friend, have a big role to play here. Your pup is looking to you for support, strength, and leadership. Your pup does not want to be on the end of their leash and lead towards people and situations that puts them into the spotlight of conversation and hands of others. Your role is to confidently let others know in the situation that you’ve got your pup’s back, and that no one is to touch, speak, or even acknowledge the pup’s presence until they are grounded and confident in the situation. By being strong, calm, and confident, you are taking the pressure off of your pup and allowing them to be confident in you. This is not an overnight quick fix, but it does work, and your pup will thank you for your support and guidance.

Anxiety also stems from not knowing your environment. How do pups get to know their environment? By SNIFFING! The best thing you can do for a pup who has anxiety in and around their home is to take them out for sniff walks, asI like to call them. Every day, my pack goes for three types of walks. Exercise walks which includes no fooling around, we’ve got work to do! Get our heart rate up, get their business done, and get hungry. Strolling walks, which is usually done with a friend, and at an easier pace. The last type is a sniff walk. This may not get us very far, as it usually stays around our house and surrounding area. This allows my pups to know what is going on around us. Who has walked by, who marked the area with their urine, and all the other information that they can gather through scent. This sniff walk may only last 10 – 20 mins, but I have the happiest, most grounded dogs every time we come back from it. If you have a dog that suffers from anxiety in the house, this is one activity that I highly recommend.

There are many ways to help your pup through anxiety and stressful situations. Supplements are often needed to help in the beginning stages, and can be slowly reduced as your pup becomes more settled and confident in situations. My team and I are always here to answer questions and offer our support to you when needed. Stop by either location or give a call or email, we are here to help, and we treat your pet like ours.

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