Why is your dog anxious?
Posted 27 April 2016 12:00 AM by VetVits
Did you know?
Many dogs are sensitive to loud noises such as thunder and fi reworks and can become stressed when faced with changes in their environment such as moving house, visiting the vet or even the arrival of a new baby. Although every pet is different it is important to spot the signs that your pet may be struggling to adapt to its environment. These include changes in behaviour, sleeping patterns and social interaction.
Many dogs can become quite attached to their owners so problems can be seen when they are left alone. Neighbours may report that they’ve heard your dog barking or you may come back to destruction. Some dogs are even visibly affected when they sense you are about to leave. For example have you ever been greeted with sad eyes when you get the suitcase out!
We should try not to leave dogs alone for too long but of course it is inevitable that we will have to leave the house without them sometimes. The key is not to make leaving a big deal, try not to spend a lot of time saying goodbye and don’t give them too many clues. It’s good to get into the habit of trying to change negative associations with leaving too – give them a toy and make sure their environment is comfortable before you go. Ensuring they’ve had adequate exercise before you go will also help to prevent hyperactive, destructive behaviour so walk them first.
Frightened of noises
It is common for dogs to react to loud or unusual noises. How they react however can be very different in one dog compared to another. Some may become very vocal and hyper-vigilant whilst others will cower away in fear. Thunder, fireworks, children screaming or banging and crashing caused by DIY are just a few of the noises that can unsettle a dog. If possible take the dog away from the noise to a quieter sanctuary also try soothing the dog by stroking them. However, be mindful not to reinforce anxious behaviour by over-reacting yourself.
We shouldn’t expect dogs never to bark as this can be a way of expressing themselves however some dogs can bark excessively. Try to identify what it is that your dog is barking at as there could be a particular stressor. If the increased vocalisation is caused by trying to receive your attention, try not to pander to it as this could result in them thinking this is a good way to grab your attention. Other causes such as fear, boredom or being territorial should however be addressed. Try not to shout at your dog to ‘be quiet’ as they will think you’re joining in. Ensure your dog is not bored by giving them regular exercise and play time. It is also worth checking that the barking is not being caused by pain, if you think this might be the case get to the vet.
New household members
Bringing another animal or a new baby into your home can be stressful for your dog. Make sure to take time over making appropriate introductions, keep a close eye but try not to fuss over them. It can be easy to give more attention to the little newcomer leading to your dog feeling left out. Try not to change the relationship that you had with your dog before and continue to give them the attention they deserve. For new introductions to go well it is important to make sure your dog has adequate training first so that you can have good verbal control over them. This will also help to teach new pets the behaviours you expect.