Experts advise: What to do if your dog suffers from anxiety

a dog under a blanket
Photo: Pexels/ Ivan Babydov

Dogs, like humans, experience a wide range of emotions, and that includes anxiety. This state of anxiety in dogs can affect their ability to learn as well as their reactions to new events.

Common manifestations of anxiety in dogs include destructive behavior at home and aggression toward strangers.

To help an anxious dog, it's crucial to recognize the triggers of the fear, whether it's fear of other dogs, fear of separation, or stress during thunderstorms.

Experts from the American Kennel Club have identified 10 strategies for alleviating anxiety in dogs. You can read their advice below.

Identify the cause

It is important to recognize the origin of the dog's anxiety. It can stem from various fears, lack of socialization or even cognitive decline in older dogs. It is important to observe the dog's behavior and consult a veterinarian.

Recognize the early signs of anxiety

Early intervention is key. Be familiar with the initial signs of anxiety in dogs, such as licking their lips or pulling their ears back. If you react quickly to these signs, you can prevent an escalation.

 Build self-confidence

Working on your dog's confidence can help him deal with scary situations. Establish a consistent feeding and walking routine, teach your dog to obey commands to get a reward, and consider getting involved in dog sports.

Teach your dog to relax

Teach your dog to relax on your command. Train him in a quiet environment first, then gradually introduce distractions.

Provide a safe space

Provide a safe and quiet space for your pet that will remind him of positive situations, such as playing or sleeping. You can use a cozy blanket or portable bed to keep the dog comfortable wherever he travels, whether it's to visit a friend or the vet.

Teach your dog to have fun even when he is alone

To reduce separation anxiety, make sure your dog is entertained when you're gone. Some like chew toys, while others like dog puzzles. Also, some dogs calm themselves by listening to television or the radio, so they don't feel as if they are alone.

Play relaxing games with your dog

Engage your dog in relaxing games that require mental stimulation rather than physical exertion. You can hide treats behind the furniture for your dog to find.

Reduce sensitivity to anxiety triggers

Gradually expose your dog to his anxiety triggers and associate them with positive situations, such as treats or praise. This is a very difficult step, which is why it is important to consult a professional dog trainer.

Avoid fines

Punishing a dog can make his anxiety worse. Do not punish him when he feels anxious as this can lead to increased fear and mistrust.

Avoid violent confrontations

Never force your dog to face his fears directly, as this can increase his anxiety. Instead, introduce it gradually, following the advice of a professional trainer.

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