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What Is Dog Anxiety?

What Is Dog Anxiety And How To Manage It?

What is Dog Anxiety?

Anxiety is a disorder that affects many humans day in and day out, but what do you do when your dog suffers from it?

How do you ease a dog’s anxiety throughout the different stages of their life? 

For many, identifying and understanding anxiety in their dog is difficult, so to help pup parents, we wrote this blog to help you help your dog’s anxiety throughout all phases of their life.

Puppy Stage – 6 weeks to 20 weeks

When you bring home a puppy, it can be hard to look past the excitement of this new phase in your life. However, for the puppy itself, it can appear quite daunting. They have been taken away from their mother, are in new surroundings, and have no idea who on Earth you are or where they are. To them, the routine they were fostering from the time they were born till now has turned upside down.

Dogs are a creature of habit, innately instilled within them from the first day they are born. Although your puppy hasn’t been on Earth for too long, they had comfort at their mother’s side from when they were born. 

So, how do we ensure a safe and comforting environment to ease their stress now that they are home?

The first 8-20 weeks are imperative for development, so it is essential that your puppy feels safe and comfortable in their new home. Here are a few things to do to set up their welcome to make their homecoming successful.

Puppy-Proof Your Home

Puppy-proofing your home before he arrives prevents them from not getting into anything they shouldn’t, as it could be harmful or frustrating for you. Puppy-proofing also prevents a situation of reprimand, as this could easily scare a puppy that isn’t entirely used to you, knows the new house rules, or trusts you just yet.

Puppies and Children 

If you have children, teach them the best manners to play with a dog. Children can get overly excited (who wouldn’t); however, this can easily scare and be harmful if their excitement turns into something physical. 

When it is time for your child to meet your new puppy, have them sit down with a small treat in their open hand and calmly call the puppy over. Then, take the focus off the puppy by giving the child another activity. This way, the puppy can get to know the child comfortably. 

Do not force the interaction if the puppy is uninterested or signals that they are scared. Allow the puppy some more time to adjust and try again at another time. 

Creature Comforts 

If the puppy is used to a blanket or a toy from the breeder/foster/shelter, ensure that you bring that home with you so that they have something familiar in their new environment.

The first few nights, sleeping alone can be challenging for the puppy; they may begin to cry and fret. Having their creature comfort can help decrease their stress. 

20 weeks to 2 years

During COVID, the label COVID puppy or COVID dog was coined. Why? Because more and more dogs became anxious and scared of their shadows. They were cooped up inside, and although they loved the time they spent with their owners when it came to the outside world, they instantly became overwhelmed and charged with stress.

Socialization is Key

Socialization is essential for your dogs; they are, in fact, social creatures. It is good to help your dog get used to other people, other dogs, and their reflection (not really, but we thought we’d add this one in any way).

One great way to encourage this is by going out on walks. Instead of keeping to the paths you know, try a different direction. Consider visiting a dog park or two to allow your dog to interact with other dogs. Just be sure they have had all their puppy vaccines before going.

If dog parks are overwhelming for your puppy, consider registering it in a puppy socialization class where they can learn, grow, and become comfortable with other dogs their age. What A Great Dog offers great puppy classes!

Doggy daycare can do wonders for your pup for those dogs craving excitement and are natural social butterflies! They will ensure your dog expends energy, interacts with different team members, and befriend other dogs!

It can be hard to go back to work or leave the house; this is when COVID-19 puppies become the most stressed; finding new and exciting ways to get their social interaction meter up will help ease your anxiety.

Adult Dogs

Just because your dog is an adult does not mean that they will not face being anxious. It’s in a dog’s nature to feel anxiety as they are so in tune with their surroundings. Dogs are creatures of habit, so your dog will not be happy if something stirs that routine.

Traveling, moving, separating from their owners, losing their four-legged partner, and more can heighten a dog’s anxiety, but what should you do? How do you help alleviate it and show them that it is okay?

Remember that your dog needs time to adjust to moving and traveling. They may go on a hunger strike and start howling, whining, soiling, or even showing signs of aggression. Your best bet is to create a safe space for them in your new home with all their creature comforts, such as their bed, toys, food, and water bowls.

The best way to keep on your dog’s good side is to understand their triggers and provide options to prevent them. 

Senior Dogs

Like adults, when dogs become elderly and fragile, it is as if they have returned to their puppy state.

One common cause of anxiety for dogs when they reach old age is losing their eyesight. Older dogs can show signs of stress when furniture is moved when they begin bumping into things.

In saying that, to help eliminate this stress and to put them at ease, do not move the furniture. In your dog’s mind’s eye, they can still be spatially aware. Imagine if you had closed your eyes, you could still get a sense of where the furniture is if this moves, and you find out the hard way (ouch!) your panic, and the world you once had known gets skewed.

Senior dogs are more likely to get anxious around new people as they don’t have the same tolerance they once had when they were younger. They may not enjoy getting pets from strangers and, more so, can only trust those whom they live with. Senior dogs become more vocal as they start feeling unfamiliar with their area, and their hearing degrades. A way to ensure that your aging dogs feel correctly at home, comfortable, and safe is by first checking in with yourself to see whether you are aggravating the problem and in what ways you can show them that they are safe around you and your home.

Dogs can be mighty anxious; however, as their guardian, we must help with their anxiety at every stage of their life. However, it is all right to take that break you may need.  

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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