Dealing with Anxiety & Stress in Dogs

Most dog owners know that their pets are complicated individuals who have their own mannerisms, emotions, and preferences. However, a lot of people still don’t understand how complex a dog’s emotions can be. Dogs are susceptible to the same stresses, anxieties and emotional reactions as humans even if they don’t understand as much as we might like.

Understanding the cause of your dog’s stress and anxiety is the biggest step to dealing with it. Emotional problems and changes can make your dog act out in ways you don’t like or aren’t equipped to deal with. This is why it’s so important to understand what makes your dogs tick and how to help them deal with anxiety and stress.

Emotional Intelligence

It is safe to say that many people, especially those that don’t own dogs, do not understand just how complex a dog can be emotionally. While it’s true we can’t reason with our dogs and describe things to them in detail, a dog is a part of the family and they have needs that go beyond the physical.

Dog owners have to have the emotional intelligence to match their dog. Dogs react in a variety of ways to circumstances and happenings much the same way as humans. For example, many people don’t like change. They don’t like their house and belongings being messed with and they don’t always like being social or having to be on their best behavior.

If you have noticed that your dog is exhibiting new negative behaviors or is acting scared or distant, consider whether anything new is affecting them. Here are some of the best examples of causes for a dog’s stress or anxiety:

  • New home situation (Moving, new family members, etc)
  • Not being given space
  • Perceived threats against their masters
  • Fear (fireworks, loud noises, etc)
  • Aging
  • Illness
  • Past abuse

Your Dog’s History

While all dogs can suffer from stress and anxiety, dogs who have experienced circumstances their owner doesn’t know about are especially at risk. If your dog is a rescue or a stray or comes from a previous situation that you can’t account for, you have to take extra steps and help your dog adjust to new circumstances.

There are also physiological contributors to stress and anxiety. Some dogs are more prone to these symptoms than others based on breed, size and general health. The best example of this is small dogs acting tough or being very sensitive to change and other stresses compared to larger dogs.

Symptoms of Stress and Anxiety

The biggest difference between us and them is that humans aren’t always good at recognizing the symptoms of stress and anxiety in their dogs. In fact, some behaviors we may see as cute or harmless are big indicators of stress. Here are some of the best known and lesser-known stress and anxiety symptoms in dogs.

  • Aggression
  • Breaking potty training in the house
  • Destructive behavior
  • Growling
  • Bared teeth
  • Pinned back ears
  • Diarrhea
  • Panic behavior
  • Prolonged yawning
  • Wide eyes

Recognizing these symptoms is the first and biggest step towards curing or alleviating the stress for your dog. As with humans, prolonged stress and anxiety is harmful to your dog’s mental and physical health.

If you have gotten a new dog, especially one where you’re not familiar with its history, it is important to pay a lot of attention to these signs. Alternatively, if your dog has recently started showing this behavior and you can’t figure out why, contact your veterinarian to discuss options.

At Riverside Animal Hospital, our expert staff can help you understand the new and old behaviors your dog exhibits and help you fix any problems that may be bothering them. If you have questions or just want to understand your dog’s needs better, contact us today at Riverside Animal Hospital.