Anxiety and nervousness in dogs seems to be becoming more common – even in young puppies. Nature, nurture, or some combination of the two have produced increasing numbers of puppies that just tend to have a little more anxiety than the typical happy-go-lucky puppy.
We see anxiety develop in rescue dogs and older dogs that have experienced a life change too. A life event sets it off, and the a slippery slope keeps them from being able to get back to “normal” on their own, leaving their family at a loss for what to do – or worse – not sure if they can keep their dog anymore.
The kicker with anxiety is that you really can’t count the different ways anxiety manifests or shows itself – it is so varied from dog to dog. Some symptoms are easy to see – destructive behavior, nervous body language (tail tucked, body low), constant pacing/inability to relax. Others aren’t so obvious – digestive issues, inability to gain weight, skin and coat conditions, aggression.
Whatever the symptoms, or the source of the anxiety, the first steps in the treatment process are pretty much the same. Before we can do anything to help your dog overcome their fears, we have to get them stable in their obedience. Without control, and a relationship built on trust (both your dog in you, and you in your dog), we can’t overcome anxiety.
When your dog’s obedience is solid to the point where you can get their attention and ask them to complete a command even while they are showing clear signs of anxiety, then we can start working on confidence building – the next key in the process to creating a calmer, happier dog.
Using basic obedience commands that your dog has become stable with, we gradually increase the intensity of the distraction or anxiety-inducing situation. Does this mean we walk a dog with anxiety geared toward new people down a busy city street? No, not usually, lol. It means we gradually get closer to new people, all the while maintaining that level of control that solid obedience gives us.
If you’re seeing anxiety in your dog, address it as soon as you can. Call us for a free consultation and we’ll give you some no-cost advice on doing that. If you need help doing it, we’re here for that too! If your dog has had anxiety for a while, we can still help – it’s never too late to create a happier, healthier, more confident dog!
Twin Cities Area: Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 888-909-6026.
St. Cloud Area: Email email@example.com or call 888-909-6026.
Central MN Area: Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 888-909-6026.