Do you have an anxious dog? If so read on…
Helpful tips for dog owners:
Even if you do not own a canine, hopefully the adorable image today put a smile on your face. The picture is not of my personal pets. Pictures of my own pets may be found on other pages of this blog.
Fight or flight?
Perhaps you have heard the phrase “fight or flight”. I now know of a new phrase that is similar to this, yet expanded. The wording, used to describe anxious feelings, is “freeze, fight, or flight”. This is a response of the autonomic nervous system and is considered normal behavior to help animals survive.
Some dogs exhibit excessive fear and separation anxiety. Fears that do not have a cause develop around 8 to 10 months of age. The majority of phobias begin around 12 months to 36 months.
Behaviors of anxious dogs:
Below are a few of the behaviors anxious dogs may exhibit while their owners are away:
- Destructive chewing
- Urinating and bowel movements
- Barking, whining, and howling
- Digging and scratching at doors and windows
Alternatives to anxiety:
If your dog’s separation anxiety is causing you to become anxious as well, do not lose heart. There are a variety of alternatives available to help you and your pet cope. The first five methods are for moderate anxiety. The next list, of three additional options, is for more severe anxiety.
It goes without saying that you should never spank, yell, or use abuse as a method of conformity. Try these simple tricks instead.
Tips for helping moderate separation anxiety:
- Leave one of your recently worn clothing items to comfort your dog. (I have put a T-shirt on our large dog during times of high stress for her.)
- Place “busy toys” and bones in the area with your dog.
- Check your own state of mind. Are you worried about leaving your dog alone? Your dog will pick up on your anxiety and take cues from you.
- Do not make a huge fuss over your departure or arrival.
- Upon arriving home, ignore your dog for the first few minutes and then offer attention.
In the event of severe anxiety:
- Try leaving the dog behind a baby gate in one room of the house (instead of allowing your dog to roam freely).
- Take your dog for a brisk walk, before you leave, in order to burn off some pent-up energy.
- Consider a calming product for your dog. There are a variety of sprays or doggie chews available at most health food stores and pet stores.
Examples of calming chews:
Thanks to the incredibly helpful staff at Pet Pleasers Bakery, in Northeast Georgia, I was shown their recommended calming products for pets. Below are two of the items they carry for anxious dogs:
- Happy Traveler is the name of a bite-sized, soft chew. It is an all-natural calming product. You will recognize this calming aid by its blue and white bag.
- Quiet Moments is the other recommended product. Made by NaturVet, it comes in a round container and states that the ingredients include Melatonin.
Pet Pleasers ships via UPS or USPS. They have a variety of specialty home-baked treats for pets, as well as horse treats. They freshly bake and hand cut the goodies daily with the best human grade ingredients available. Their products are free from salt, artificial color, by-products, chemicals, and preservatives. Their website is:
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