It’s Dog Anxiety Awareness Week and we wanted to write a blog on canine anxiety and what it may mean for you and your furry friend. It wasn’t too long ago that this condition was not acknowledged. In recent years, canine mental health has been much better recognised. We now know that our dog’s mental health is something we need to be aware of and support.
What is canine anxiety?
Being over-excited, acting nervous and separation anxiety in dogs is not uncommon. We know that every dog is different, so will react to situations in different ways.
Canine anxiety comes in many forms and can incorporate:
- Noise phobias. While fireworks are the main culprit, dogs can also be fearful of e.g. gun shots and the vacuum cleaner.
- Separation anxiety. Some dogs find it highly stressful when left alone or when their ‘preferred’ owner leaves them in the care of someone else.
- Fear-related anxiety. Experiences like a trip to the groomers or a day out in the city can cause some nervous dogs a huge deal of stress.
- Age-related anxiety. Though not every dog experiences this, some find life harder to cope with as they get older. This is especially true for those dogs who suffer with cognitive decline.
What causes anxiety in dogs?
This is a great question. Unfortunately, we don’t always know the answer. Those who have been poorly socialised when younger are at a higher risk of becoming anxious adults. Without exposing them to different situations when young, they may be spooked by them when older. It is also true that those with little to no routine or training may find the world harder to cope with.
Some dogs are genetically predisposed to being nervous nellies.
Many owners who have taken on rescue dogs assume they have been neglected or abused due to their behavioural issues and anxiety. However, this is not always the case. For many, it will simply be that they did not have proper socialisation and exposure during key phases of their early life.
Signs & symptoms of dog anxiety
While we can all recognise the anxious dog quivering in the corner of the vet’s waiting room, some signs of stress are more subtle than this. Be on the lookout for: