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Fear, Anxiety, And Stress In Dogs

Fear Anxiety And Stress In Dogs

Fear, Anxiety, And Stress In Dogs

In dogs, fear, anxiety, and stress (FAS) have always been common topics among pet parents; however, these days, they are at the top of their list.

It’s been a significant few years for everyone; there’s no doubt about it. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, substantial changes in workplace practices, implementation of lockdown and restrictions, schooling from home, and overall life as we once knew were altered even as we entered the new normal.

The drastic changes the pandemic implemented caused a complete restructuring of social norms, culture, and activities. With social distancing measures in place for months, a new trend was introduced among American households nationwide – bringing home a new pet to help with loneliness.  

What Is FAS?

FAS is the Fear Free term for the varying negative emotional states of distress and panic that prompt survival-based fight-or-flight responses in pets. 

  • Fear is an aversive emotional state consisting of physical & psychological responses to a real threat or danger. Fear could come at the cause of something they see, hear, smell, feel, or otherwise experience.
  • Anxiety is a generalized feeling of apprehension or anticipation of danger or threat (before the fear-evoking stimulus arrives). What if there is no response when anticipating what danger will come next?
  • Stress is the state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances. The body reacts to an actual threat, perceived threat, or trauma. 

 

Unfortunately, FAS is a real issue that has become more prominent over the last few years. In addition, old and new pets have come to associate our working from home as a regular part of their routine, with sudden changes, such as going back to the office, having the potential to cause significant stress to them.

Have You Heard Of A Pandemic Pet?

You probably know someone who adopted or purchased a pet during the lockdown. Lockdown loneliness was a real issue generated by COVID’s travel, work, and social activity restriction in the U.S. Separating a colonial society into the confinement of their homes saw the U.S. pet industry drastically increase, with forecasts expected to reach over $261 billion in 2022, up from $245 billion in 2021 to over $350 billion in 2027.

Using animals to prevent loneliness was applied to those buying and adopting new pets for the first time and those with pets already in their homes. 

According to a survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association (APPA) in 2019, 67% of U.S. households owned at least one pet before the pandemic. In addition, the confinement of COVID-causing stay-at-home orders resulted in 70% of these pet-loving families spending more time with their pets and adding new pets to the family.

Overall, the impact of social distancing saw that pets, with most of those being dogs, really did live up to the saying of “man’s best friend.” These behaviors have been no shock to researchers, with The Australian Veterinary Journal revealing that those who previously owned or purchased pets during the pandemic had improved mental health, increased quality of life, and decreased levels of loneliness. 

So, with restrictions lifting, the country’s borders reopening, and life looking like it’s about to go back to a “new normal,” what will impact our pets, old and new?

Has The New Normal Impacted Your Pets?

Gone are the days when we could leave our homes, and our pets were left feeling safe and secure in the safety of their own home.

FAS can stem into profound physical implications for your pets and your home. For example, excessive barking and scratching, unpredicted bowel movements, trembling, depression, and destructive behaviors have all been linked to FAS. 

Fortunately, there are some things you can do to mitigate and prevent FAS from developing or getting progressively worse. 

  • Early intervention is critical in preventing FAS – slowly removing yourself from your pet’s daily routine in small increments allows them to get used to periods apart from you. Whether running a quick errand or doing short periods of work at local coffee shops or libraries in the lead-up to your heading back to the office, it can help tremendously.
  • Hire a trainer. Puppy training is a simple but effective form of prevention and intervention. Whether in-home private sessions or board training, puppy training allows you and your puppy to learn skills and behaviors to prevent and mitigate FAS.
  • Set your puppy up for success. Before you leave the house, be sure your puppy has had adequate exercise and playtime. Allow them the proper amount of time to use the bathroom too. Crate them to protect them from getting into trouble and a safe space to feel confident and comfortable. Offer them interactive toys to alleviate boredom, but don’t forget- never leave anything in their crate that they can chew, destroy, or swallow!

 

Remember, pets are similar to your children and need emotional, nurturing, and skills to mature into a well-rounded adult dog. So, give your pet the love and time they deserve. Then, in the long run, you both will be happy.

How Does FAS In Pets Affect You?

Dogs love consistency and continuity, and when their routine changes suddenly, things can begin to go wrong. For example, their normal confident behavior may change to fear, they may start showing signs of anxiety when they prepare to leave home, or they may act out due to stress from their daily schedule being interrupted.

These changes don’t only cause stress to your pet but to you as well. You are sometimes leaving the pet parent with limited options for help.

How Can We Help?

Keeping your pets in a routine is critical. Their daily exercise, feeding times, and other activities are essential to feel safe and secure.

For those pet parents who don’t have the time to keep up with their dog’s schedules, we are here to help. The Packin Method offers various services to help balance your dog’s life. Whether walking on a treadmill, where the dog will use their brain and different body mechanics to make the machine move or canine fitness and bodywork exercises, we can create a custom plan to increase your pup’s confidence. 

*The Packin Method is a Fear Free Certified Professional organization. Contact us for more information about how we can help you with your puppy’s fear, anxiety, or stress. 

Nicole Packin UW-AAB, SAMP, CCWT, CCFT

Nicole founded The Packin Method with the mission to better the mental, emotional, and physical health of dogs by providing Treadmill Workouts, Canine Massage Therapy, and Bodywork. In addition, offering canine fitness education to pet parents and the community to help balance their pets' lives.

Nicole Packin UW-AAB, SAMP, CCWT, CCFT

Nicole founded The Packin Method with the mission to better the mental, emotional, and physical health of dogs by providing Treadmill Workouts, Canine Massage Therapy, and Bodywork. In addition, offering canine fitness education to pet parents and the community to help balance their pets' lives.

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