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When dogs are going through depression or stress we often see tell-tale signs that can be mistaken as bad behavior. Habits like tearing up furniture, soiling carpets, and even aggressive behavior can be a few examples of this. But when considering options for assisting your dog’s recovery it is important to make sure that the symptoms you are seeing really are from separation anxiety and not from a medical condition. Make sure that you are keeping good watch over your dog's behavior and that you have considered any alternatives which may be causing your dog to behave badly. What you perceive as separation anxiety could really just be the result of incomplete training so be sure you know what the root cause of your dog's issues are before you act.
Care and Attention
Once you are sure that your dog is experiencing separation anxiety it is important to take the right steps so you can help your pet make a full recovery. Proper care and attention are essential for keeping a dog's spirits up. Whenever you are home try to spend time just giving your dog attention and affection. Never have a harsh or angry reaction when your dog does something wrong. These reactions can lead to a damaged relationship and cause your dog to fear you. Always stay calm and relaxed when dealing with your pet.
| |Keep Your Dog FitHelp your dog by keeping him fit physically. Try to give your dog a workout every day. Even something as simple as playing fetch can make a difference by simply giving your dog a chance to run and play outside. Exercising your dog also helps to keep them out of trouble by giving them a chance to vent their pent up energy. Using DistractionsInstead of leaving your dog with a word or a wave, try giving your dog a special treat or dog toy before you go. This will help to keep him distracted from your departure and will ensure that you leave your pet feeling happy and upbeat before you go.Making the Change
All Dogs Welcome is dedicated to helping you care for your pet. By taking these steps you can help your dog stay happy and healthy while also decreasing the likelihood of him doing damage to your house or furniture. If you suspect that your dog is suffering, don't hesitate. Find the problem and take the steps to care for your four-legged friend.
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Sometimes we can’t spend as much time as we’d like with our dogs. Our hours at work change, our lives get complicated and we’re not as home as often as we’d like to be. This can be especially tough on rescue dogs or other recently adopted animals that aren’t used to their situation in the first place. Even if our dogs are super high on our list of priorities, it sometimes happens that we can’t hang out with them as much as we’d like to. The natural human tendency is to get annoyed when dogs start chewing up our shoes, knocking over trashcans, digging holes in the backyard and annoying the neighbors. We need to fight those urges and walk a mile on their paws.
Herschel, my Min Pin, for instance gets bored easily. He’s a curious little guy and if he’s not sleeping he wants to be mentally engaged by something. That was particularly true in the year after he was rescued. These days he’s older and sleeps a lot more, but in days of yore it was not uncommon for me to return home to the contents of the wastebasket spilled all over the living room floor with a gleeful Herschel shredding various food packaging, tail wagging like he’d won the doggy lottery. I’ve had to combine several methods to make the world a less boring place for Herschel, and my path to success is just as unique as the Miniature Pinscher himself. No two dogs are alike, so you’ll have to carefully tailor a plan to keep your dog off of the boredom warpath.
Separation Anxiety: Not Just Boredom
Over the course of the next several days All Dogs Welcome will post a five part series on the symptoms, effects, types and causes of anxiety in dogs.
The topics that will be covered in these blogs will include:
Introduction to the five part series
Part 1: Preventing anxiety in your dog
Part 2: The types and causes of anxiety in dogs
Part 3: The effects and symptoms of anxiety in dogs
Part 4: Products to calm your dog
Part 5: Changing learned behavior that causes anxiety
Part 4: Products to Calm Your Dog
This installment of the 'Anxiety in Dogs' series discusses the various products and treatments available to treat a dog that suffers from anxiety related stress and behaviors. AllDogsWelcome.com does not have any vested interest in nor does it sell any of these products. The information below is provided to assist you in determining the best solution for your dog's symptoms or problems.The most obvious treatment for anxiety in dogs is actually the same as for stress or anxiety in humans - sedatives. Of course these must be prescribed by a qualified veterinarian who has examined your pet and agrees that some form of treatment is necessary. Yes, a vet may prescribe Xanax, Valium, Prozac or one of many other sedatives for your nervous or stressed out dog. But there are several concerns regarding sedating pets. Ironically sedatives can have the opposite effect on some animals and actually cause them to become more hyper and anxious. Sedatives are also known to have several side effects such as lowering the blood pressure of the animal, causing grogginess, and several others dependent on which sedative is given. So you may want to consider some of the other available options before administering these drugs to your pet.Touch:Dogs love their people and very often love each other. If you are lucky enough to have more than one dog in your home you may notice that they really snuggle together or with you. Since dogs are usually born as part of a litter they spend the first several weeks huddled in a single mass. And they really never get over the love of physical contact. If your dog is occasionally frightened by a sound or situation simply stroking him and speaking to him in a soothing tone may be sufficient. But if your dog is frequently nervous you may want to try therapeutic touch, such as the Tellington TTouch method. You can read more about the art of healing through touch at LoveEnergyTouch or view this short video of this TTouch technique being taught to young school children.There are also several 'touch' products available commercially such as the Thunder Shirt and Anxiety Wraps. I confess I've never used either of these products. But - I have very small dogs that I can easily pick up to comfort when they are stressed. Both of these products wrap your pet, much as you would hold them and hug them if you could. These products are available for all sizes of dogs and apply a gentle pressure to the dog's body that has a tremendously calming effect.Pheromones:Pheromones, or DAP (Dog Appeasing Pheromone), are equivalent to the pheromones that a female dog secretes to calm nursing puppies. DAP is formulated to have the same calming effect on dogs of all ages. It is available as a spray or as a liquid to be used in an electric diffuser. There are also pheromone collars available for all sizes of dogs. Natural Remedies: There are many natural remedies available on the market that fall into categories such as herbals, homeopathics, botanicals and vitamins or supplements. I've used an herbal product called Rescue Remedy. This type of product is useful when a specific event, such as thunder or fireworks, is upsetting your pet. I have a Boston Terrier that is petrified of thunder. I simply give him a few drops whenever a storm is expected and it does help to keep him calm. Many of the botanical and homeopathic products work the same way.There are also a variety of vitamins and supplements available to help your pet. These products contain ingredients such as dried hops, ginger root, chamomile, L-taurine, and tryptophan, to name a few. Supplements are most effective when given to your pet regularly, usually once or more per day. These are not restricted for times when a stressful situation is occurring, but rather, are intended to keep your pet in a balanced state that makes him better able to cope with stress. Therefore these products should be used for dogs that seem too have a nervous disposition, not those that are frightened only by certain situations. All of these types of products are available online and in stores. But you should do your own research to determine what specific product is best for your pet and your situation. And as always, PLEASE be sure to have your pet examined by a qualified veterinarian to assure that there is not an underlying medical problem associated with his behavior or symptoms before beginning to use any over the counter products.
Part 3: Effects and Symptoms of Anxiety in Dogs
The symptoms of anxiety can vary tremendously and will vary from dog to dog. And to make it even more complicated many of the symptoms of anxiety are actually normal behaviors in dogs, in certain circumstances and at moderate levels. For example barking, licking, chewing, panting, yawning, and scratching are all normal. But all of these should only happen in certain circumstances:
- A dog will bark at certain sights or sounds. Normal. But if your dog barks excessively and you cannot see or hear anything that is triggering this behavior it may be a sign of anxiety.
- A dog will lick himself, you, or another pet for a moment. Normal. But if licking becomes obsessive, if he is constantly licking himself, the furniture, the carpet, a toy or you, it may be a sign of anxiety.
- A dog should chew certain toys, bones or treats. It's good for them to suppress boredom and to clean their teeth. Normal. But if your dog chews or sucks whenever he's alone, or, whenever he's in a new situation, or, whenever the activity or noise level is higher than normal in your home, it may be a sign of anxiety.
- A dog will pant when being walked in the warm weather, after running around the yard, or even after extended indoor play. Normal. But if your dog goes from being calm and quiet to suddenly panting, it may be a sign of anxiety.
- Dogs yawn just like people when sleepy. Normal. But deep, wide-mouthed and frequent yawning may be a sign of anxiety.
- A dog will scratch himself. Some will even scratch at a door to let you know it's time to go. Normal. But, like licking and sucking, if your dog is scratching obsessively, it may be a sign of anxiety.
Unfortunately, each of these behaviors, when taken to the level of obsessive, compulsive behavior can also be a sign of simple boredom. And some can also be attributed to several different medical conditions.
There are several more signs that your dog may be suffering from anxiety. But these are symptoms that can also be attributed to medical conditions. They include diarrhea, vomiting, hair loss, shaking, pacing, tail chewing, hiding or seeking solitude, and becoming extremely submissive or overly aggressive. If your dog exhibits any of these symptoms try to put it in context to determine if you should seek immediate medical attention or if you should observe him for a while first.
- If, for example, you dog suddenly develops diarrhea and / or vomiting, there's a good chance he simply got into something he shouldn't have be it in the garbage, the backyard, or while you were walking. But if this condition lasts more than 24 hours seek advice from a veterinary professional.
- Hair loss will seldom happen very quickly and can mean several things including allergies, vitamin deficiencies, medical problems and stress. Again, if this condition appears and persists seek advice from a veterinary professional.
- Shaking is really a tough one. Your dog may shake if it is frightened or if it is cold. Either of those situations should be obvious to you. Some dogs actually shake with excitement at the thought of a treat or a walk or recognizing playtime is coming. But if your dog occasionally, or even periodically, gets the shakes or trembles, this can be a sign of a serious medical problem and / or severe pain. Do not ignore it. Seek advice from a veterinary professional.
- Pacing can be a sign of boredom, can become an obsessive behavior, or can be a sign of a very severe medical problem known as 'bloat.' If your dog has always been inclined to pace it is probably a stress or behavioral issue. But if your dog suddenly develops this behavior, pacing and restlessness, seek immediate advice from a veterinary professional. Bloat is life threatening.
- Tail chewing is another activity that can be a behavioral issue brought on by stress or a medical problem. It may require medical attention in either case since it is an activity that may cause the dog to create sores or open wounds on itself by chewing and irritating the skin. So if you observe this behavior with any degree of frequency, seek advice from a veterinary professional.
- And finally, any change in your dog's normal behavior or personality should be observed and considered carefully. If your normally social and loveable dog is suddenly seeking solitude, hiding, being uncharacteristically submissive or aggressive - something is wrong. If there has recently been any major change in his life, such as those discussed in Part 2 of this series, then the personality and behavior changes will hopefully be temporary as your dog adjusts to the newness of his situation. But if things in his life are relatively stable and you are not aware that something has caused him to become frightened or nervous, seek advice from a veterinary professional.
The effects of the symptoms and behaviors described above can impact everyone in the home, human, canine and even feline. And whether the cause is medical or anxiety only matters in terms of how it is treated - not whether or not is should be treated. Dogs who suffer from severe anxiety issues do not have the opportunity to enjoy the quality or longevity of life we'd like them all to have. Anxiety issues can not only cause physical health problems in your dog but can also cause depression and other emotional and behavioral problems. This of course leads to a vicious cycle. Your dog may become depressed and anxious because he is not feeling well, or, your dog may become quite ill because he is depressed and anxious.
So, if any of the symptoms described above persist you should seek advice from a veterinary professional. Even if your observations leave you no doubt that the problem is not medical. Remember, stress, anxiety, fear, and the symptoms and behaviors associated with these emotions have a tremendous impact on your dog's mental, emotional and physical health. And in severe cases can be treated with medications, herbal remedies, behavior modification and other methods that will be discussed in Part 5 of this series.
So what are some of the symptoms of anxiety in dogs? What effect do these symptoms have on their health and behavior? How do you know if these symptoms and behaviors are stress related or something else? OK, let's answer these questions.
Part 2: The Types and Causes of Anxiety in Dogs
Animals are very similar to people in many ways, including the very notion of developing phobias or irrational fears of many things. Do you know when your dog is feeling stressed? Do you recognize the symptoms of anxiety in your furry friend? Maybe and maybe not. I will discuss more about the symptoms and effects of stress and anxiety in Part 3
of the 'Anxiety in Dogs
' series. But before we get to that it might be helpful to understand some of the types of anxiety your pet might suffer from and the causes of these types of anxiety. Remember, stress and anxiety in dogs, just like in humans, can be detrimental to their physical and emotional well-being. It can seriously affect their behavior and shorten their life span. So it is essential that we recognize this condition and deal with it effectively before their health or behavior become more than we can manage!
Some of the most common anxiety triggers for dogs are listed below, along with a brief explanation of possible causes, symptoms and effects of these fears. More information regarding cause and effect will be provided in Part 3
of this series and information to help you calm your pet and alleviate these fears will be discussed in Part 4
- Separation anxiety is one of the most common reasons that a dog is surrendered to a shelter or rescue group. Your dog may display this anxiety in one of three ways: 1) destructive behavior when left alone; 2) incessant barking when left alone; or; 3) a combination of these two behaviors. Destructive behavior in your home or backyard can be, at the very least quite annoying. But it can also turn into a considerable expense in severe cases and can even be dangerous for the dog. Incessant barking can be quite the disturbance to your neighbors which might cause some serious issues between your family and the families around you. And of course the combination of these two behaviors is simply bad for everyone involved, including the dog! Unfortunately separation anxiety is often caused by the dog owners who, believing they are acting out of love and affection, make too big a deal out of entering or leaving the home. This causes the dog's excitement level to rise and adds to the likelihood of developing separation anxiety. If you've recently gotten a new pet or are thinking about getting one please refer to Part 1 of this series entitled 'Preventing Anxiety in Your Dog.'
- Fear of loud noises or other sudden sounds can be extremely upsetting in your dog. Their reaction to these sounds can actually be life threatening. Dogs have been known to jump through glass windows, jump over high fences to leave a backyard, dart out into traffic, and even jump off balconies that are several stories high when frightened by a sudden noise. Other dogs may be more likely to cower in a corner or hide under furniture. While this is unsettling for us to see, it is not fret with immediate danger. But like all anxiety even this reaction can effect a dogs overall well-being over time. Unfortunately you cannot always be prepared in advance for sudden noises such as a car backfiring, a gunshot, neighborhood kids setting off firecrackers, or even police and fire sirens. On the other hand, there are times when we are fully aware that there may be startling noises coming soon such as the darkening sky warning of a thunderstorm, the knowledge that the fireworks are scheduled to start at 9:00PM, or even the knowledge that some loud work is to be done on our own or a neighboring property. In these cases we can attempt to assure that our pets are in a safe location where they cannot do themselves harm. But as mentioned, in extreme cases of fear of sounds your dog may react in a surprisingly frightening manner. It is possible to, if not cure, at least minimize the fear and reaction for most dogs.
- Nighttime anxiety can arise in several cases. That new puppy that just left its canine mom and its litter and is spending its first night in your house will most likely have some fear for several nights. That newly adopted rescue dog, of any age, also spending its first night in your home may suffer from those same fears. Even though your home is likely so much more comfortable than the shelter or rescue from which he was adopted. And even your dog, that you've had for quite a long time now, might suffer from nighttime anxiety under certain circumstances. If, for example, you or another member of your household is not home for an evening or two, he may be concerned and wander the house looking for that person. If you travel with your pet and are spending the night somewhere that he is not used to he may also suffer from anxiety in this situation, though you are right next to him! This anxiety might present by the dog wandering around unable to relax, or incessant sniffing to examine his new location, or barking more than usual because the sounds are different in this environment, or even nervous panting. It is possible to deal with each of these situations in a way that will make you, your family and your dog more comfortable.
- Puppies and young dogs are more inclined to have a fear of the car and to actually become car sick than are older dogs. However, if this issue is not resolved in the young dog it can remain throughout their lives. Particularly if they are only taken in the car to go to the vet, the groomer, and maybe a kennel or dog sitter when necessary. We will discuss ways to deal with car sickness and to reduce the fear of riding in a car later in this series. But one thing to keep in mind is to be sure that not every car ride lands your dog someplace that he is already afraid of or not happy to be visiting!
- Dogs are less likely than cats to suffer any real fear, anxiety, or even depression over moving from one place to another with their family. The reason for this is that they are truly pack animals and consider their people to be part of their pack. So if the entire family moves together your dog may spend a considerable amount of time investigating his new home and property but will likely be just fine. Of course, there are exceptions and some may struggle a little bit with these changes. If, on the other hand, the move does not include the entire family, the dog's reaction may be considerably more unsettled. When, for example, your adult 'child' moves out and takes the dog with him this will be quite confusing for the poor pooch. He may whine, pant, even bark or scratch at doors and windows. But there is plenty that can be done to assure a swift and complete adjustment for a dog in this situation, regardless of their age.
- Fear of new places is very similar to that of moving and those fears associated with nighttime. But this can occur even if you are not staying in the new place or leaving the dog at the new place without a family member. Some dogs may become anxious when brought to a park, a store such as PetSmart where pets are allowed, or even when walked in a new area. Again, their behavior may include whining, panting, nervous licking, shaking, cowering, or attaching themselves to their person. The more places your dog goes the less likely he is to develop anxiety when taken to a new place. But if it has already happened it can be resolved with simple steps and patience.
- Anxiety when introduced to new people is not a normal reaction for dogs. Remember, they are social animals and instinctively love to be around people. But there are several reasons why a dog may become fearful of strangers. The two primary reasons are: 1) a dog that has been hurt or abused by one or more people; and, 2) a dog that has always had very few people in its life. Dogs that have been adopted from rescues and shelters and may not have had a good situation prior to you adopting them may exhibit anything from mild reluctance to absolute fear when encountering new people. A dog that, for example, may have spent a number of years living with a single person, or a couple, that has very little company in the home and does not take the dog out to socialize may also become fearful of strangers. So be sure that your pet gets plenty of socialization! But if you've adopted a dog that is showing signs of anxiety when new people are around or have a dog that has been somewhat sheltered from people you can help him feel better about people with a little effort and a little patience.
- A depressed dog is not a healthy dog and may act out in several ways, including destructive or aggressive behavior. But why should a dog be depressed and how would you know if your dog was depressed? Dogs can become depressed for many of the same reasons as people. If a family member or another pet leaves the household and does not return your dog will actually miss them and may become depressed. If your dog is bored because he is not getting enough activity or because he is left alone too many hours per day he may become depressed. Your dog may even become depressed because you are - they sense our emotions. And if your dog is suffering from a medical condition that reduces his appetite, energy level, or restricts his activity level he may become depressed. These are all realities of life, even for dogs, but don't worry. We can deal with these issues and help your pet return to his normal, energetic self.
- Believe it or not young, inexperienced dogs, especially males, can suffer from performance anxiety in the boudoir! Or at least the experts who assist with these matters refer to it as performance anxiety! I lean toward believing it is simply such a lack of experience that they simply don't know what to do. And in the males there can also be, shall we say, balance issues that prevent them from completing the performance. Although I advocate rescue and adoption and hope that the average pet owner will have all of their pets spayed and neutered, it seems only fair to be honest and admit that even performance anxiety can be overcome.
In Part 3
of the 'Anxiety in Dogs
' series we will discuss the effects and symptoms of anxiety. It is important to be able to recognize these symptoms and to differentiate between anxiety issues, behavior issues, and possible health problems in your pet.
Part 1: Preventing Anxiety in Your Dog
This installment of the 'Anxiety in Dogs" series is directed toward new owners of young puppies. It is intended to help you raise a confident and self-assured pet that is less likely to develop anxiety or become a 'fearful' dog.From the moment of birth and through the first several weeks of life, a pup is surrounded by its litter mates and a very attentive canine 'mom' who usually only leaves the litter for very short periods - to eat and relieve herself. As the weeks go by everyone in the litter will begin to open their eyes and discover their legs. But these litter mates will not necessarily develop at the same pace. As their vision and mobility improve all that adorable snuggle time turns into very active playtime. But some pups may be bigger, stronger, faster, or more coordinated than others in the same litter. And just as 'Mom' didn't intervene when some got to suckle more than others, she will not intervene if some play to rough for the others. Why? 'Mom' knows that the pups must not only learn their position in the pecking order, but must also learn to overcome problems and insecurities on their own. So for about the first eight weeks of life 'Mom' knows to let the puppies learn, explore and develop at their own individual pace and will interfere to protect her pups only if she perceives genuine danger, usually from an external source such as another animal or a stranger.
At approximately eight to nine weeks of age most puppies undergo a noticeable and temporary personality change. At this stage a puppy may change from being extremely curious and somewhat reckless in its play and wandering to become quite cautious and even somewhat shy and aloof to anyone beyond 'Mom' and his litter mates. Some may even begin to act submissive toward their larger and more aggressive litter mates.
Unfortunately this is the same age at which most breeders, rescues and shelters will allow a puppy to leave its secure little world to be placed in their new home. So the puppy's new humans need to understand that he has just made a major change in his life that adds to his confusion and even to his insecurities. But the canine 'Mom' has already given the puppy the coping skills needed to adjust to his new situation. It is imperative that the new owners not interfere with the natural learning process and development of the puppy as it transitions to understand its place in its new home. The primary responsibilities of the new owner are to 1) protect the puppy from real danger, and 2) act as the new pack leader to continue furthering the learning process. It is NOT to provide comfort at every moment during this adjustment or to rescue the puppy from scary situations.
Now the question may arise "Well how do I put that into practice in practical terms?" It's really quite simple. Here are a few pointers:
- Maintain a Calm and Positive Attitude. Animals are very perceptive regarding our emotions and attitudes. Try to remain calm and positive when interacting with your new puppy. Excitement at playtime is OK. But refrain from being too excited or nervous as you go through the steps below. Remember that dogs often reflect the personalities of their owners.
- Safety First. Be sure that there is nothing at floor level or within the puppy's reach that he might chew or swallow that would be harmful to him. Many people don't realize, for example, that the wire from the lamp on the coffee table may dangle or even rest on the floor. A puppy WILL chew this wire - out of curiosity - and could be seriously hurt. Children's toys are also quite dangerous for puppies as they often have small parts that could come off if the puppy chews. These parts could cause the puppy to choke or even to become sick. Remember, at this early stage the puppy will investigate everything. He does not yet know what he is or is not allowed to play with or chew. If it's within his reach it is fair game!
- Make the Proper Introductions. If there are other pets in your home you MUST introduce each of them to the puppy individually. In so doing you will be able to gauge their reactions to each other. The puppy may seem frightened by this. Do NOT be overly cautious and make the puppy feel you are protecting him. Just allow all of the sniffing and licking and examining to continue as long as necessary. If there are young children in the house they must also be introduced to the puppy and immediately taught the does and don'ts about how to handle the puppy. This is for the protection of both the children and the puppy!
- Understand His Investigation Process. Your puppy needs to use all of his senses to investigate his new surroundings, its contents and the people and pets already in residence. He must see, smell, hear, taste and touch nearly everything in sight. Some smells, sounds, tastes or even touches may cause him to seem frightened, yelp, or pull away. That's OK. Let him continue to investigate independently of you as long as you know his surroundings are safe.
- Restrict Space. Indoors, restrict your puppy's space to one room at a time for a while. Preferably a room you are in. Let him investigate using all of his senses. Outdoors be sure you puppy is in a fenced yard or otherwise confined area if he is not on a leash. Be aware of the size of your puppy particularly with small breeds. They may be able to easily escape from very small openings even in a fenced yard.
- Allow Mistakes to be Made. If, for example, your puppy walks right into the sliding glass door thinking he can get through it he probably wasn't walking fast enough to get hurt! So let it happen a few times. He will learn that the door has to be open to get through it. Like children puppies need to make some mistakes to learn what works and what doesn't.
- Allow Your Puppy to Feel Uncomfortable. In other words, if he seems frightened or concerned do NOT rush to his rescue. Allow the investigation to continue. Chances are he will learn to either accept whatever is concerning him or to understand that this is something he doesn't want to bother with anymore.
- Use Your Voice. Know when to use a commanding voice vs. baby talk vs. a normal conversational tone. It's great to talk to your pet as if he understands you when you are both busy in the same room. Maybe you are in the kitchen preparing his meal and he is walking around investigating the sights, sounds and smells in the room. You might say out loud in a normal voice, "oh, Sammy smells his food being prepared." That's great - he will get used to and find comfort in just hearing your voice. But when you turn on the blender and he runs under the table because the sound frightened him, do NOT resort to baby talk to comfort him. Use the same conversational tone and just tell him it's OK. Reserve baby talk for playtime if you use it at all. But as you start to train your puppy to come when called, sit, stay, etc., be sure to use a firm, commanding voice. That does not mean that you need to be harsh, angry, or even loud. Simply firm will do.
- Be Consistent. Always use the same voice and same commands to achieve a particular result. If your puppy is in a crate or restricted to a room you are not in and cries to be near you do not give in. If it's convenient talk to him in a normal conversational tone so he knows you have not left him. Do not baby talk, do not let him out for a few more minutes, and do not reach your hand in to comfort him. If it is not convenient, for example if you have gone to bed and he is crying in the kitchen or laundry room, ignore it. While this may be annoying for his first night or two it will stop more quickly if you do not give in to him.
- Be Patient. Understand that your puppy may make some of the same mistakes several times. Let him. And remember, keep him safe but do not rescue him. Picking him up to console him when he is frightened will lead to him becoming a dog that suffers from anxiety.
Some additional tips:
- Maintain a schedule for feeding time, walks, playtime and bedtime. This will help your puppy adjust to a normal routine.
- Maintain a routine, such as how and where feedings are offered. This will help your puppy adjust to a schedule and understand what is expected of him.
- Ensuring that your puppy is getting enough exercise and stimulation is a huge factor in keeping him happy and relaxed. Remember that a puppy needs to chew, both physically due to the teething process and mentally as a form of investigation and an activity. Be sure your puppy has two types of toys. Those that you play with when you engage with him and those that he likes to chew or play with on his own. It's a good idea to have multiple toys of each type that you swap out every day or so. This will help to eliminate boredom which will help to eliminate both destructive behavior and the nervousness that can arise from boredom.
- Finally, leave and arrive quietly and without fanfare. This applies to leaving the room for a moment as well as leaving the house for several hours. It's OK to let the puppy know you're leaving, even to see you leave. Simply say, in a normal tone of voice, 'Be good' or "See you later' and leave. Upon returning do not fuss or allow the puppy to become excited. Again, simply address him in a normal tone of voice. If your puppy does become too excited, jumping or barking to welcome you back, ignore him until he calms down. Literally turn your back on him and do not look at him or speak to him. Once he is calm you can engage with him verbally and then playfully. These simply steps will assure that your puppy does not develop separation anxiety but will see your comings and goings as part of normal routine. Separation anxiety is one of the most common reasons dogs are surrendered to shelters and sadly, it is a behavior problem often caused by the family that really wanted to love the dog but can no longer tolerate the behavior they caused.
The most important thing for you to remember is that your primary responsibilities are to lead and protect your puppy. Protection means making sure his environment is safe for him. Leading refers to you becoming the pack leader so that he knows you are in charge and what is expected of him.
Please check back tomorrow for Part 2 of this series: The Types and Causes of Anxiety in Dogs
Introduction to the Five Part Series
Allowing anxiety to continue throughout your pet's life effects their overall health and can, therefore, actually affect their lifespan. And as a pet lover I know how distressing it is to watch one of my pets suffer whether due to pain, anxiety, or simply being overly sensitive to their people and surroundings. So if there are relatively simple and inexpensive remedies to these behaviors we need to examine them, determine which will work for any particular pet and their particular problem, and learn to make changes in our own behavior to help our pets.
The topics that will be covered in these blogs will include:
So if you or someone you know has a dog that exhibits behavior that may be associated with anxiety or hyper-sensitivity, or if you are thinking about bringing a new pet into your life and want to assure that it can be done with a minimum of stress please continue checking this site over the next several days. Or follow @ADWBlog on Twitter to receive tweets that let you know when the latest installment has been posted.
It is believed that 10 percent of all domestic dogs may suffer from anxiety. Anxiety may be caused by many different factors and may, at times, be mistaken for or confused with certain behavioral issues. Over the course of the next several days All Dogs Welcome will post a five part series on the symptoms, effects, types and causes of anxiety in dogs. These blogs will also discuss methods of preventing anxiety from developing in your dog and calming techniques that can be employed to begin to reduce stress levels in your pet.