Proper Handling of Stress and Anxiety in Dogs
Pulling up in the driveway after a long day of work and hearing non-stop barking or walking in to find your house in shambles might make you want to pull your hair out, but your dog will be so happy to see you that s(he) won't recognize your frustration. There is only so much a dog can do to contain symptoms of stress and anxiety. They are very much dependent on their human to help them during these times of trial.
Signs of Dog Anxiety and Stress
Symptoms of stress and anxiety in dogs vary widely. It can include pacing, digging, biting or chewing, excessive barking, shaking or whining. These are only a few tell-tale signs. The best way to really know if your dog is experiencing anxiety is to know how they look and act while in a complete state of relaxation. This gives you a method for comparing when behaviors seem off. Dogs can become stressed and anxious for a variety of reasons.
Dogs that are experiencing a variety of health problems will begin to show signs of stress. It can be gagging, vomiting, shedding, shaking or whining. It is best to get them to the vet if you suspect their might be a health problem and go from there.
New Surrounding and People
Moving to a new home or having a baby can trigger anxiety and stress in a dog. Do your best to give them extra attention during these transitions. It is as hard on animal to adjust as it is humans.
Changes in Routine and Schedule
A change in jobs can mean longer hours or working a different shift. Any upset in normal routines can initiate symptoms of stress and anxiety in dogs. They will work through this with a little time and patience.
Lack of Exercise
Dogs need to be exercised daily to help control natural energy levels and psychiatric health. A serious lack in exercise will begin to induce stress and anxiety.
Is Separation Anxiety Normal?
The exact answer to this question is both yes and no. Puppies and untrained adult dogs can experience separation anxiety due to trust issues and simply not having experience at life. True separation anxiety is when your dog fails to understand that when you are gone for a period of time that you will return. It can cause extreme stress and anxiety attacks. Don't be surprised to find your pillows, blankets and trash scattered throughout the house when you return! They will be so happy to see you and struggle with understanding why you are so upset at the mess.
Begin training your dog as soon as possible by taking mini-trips and returning to check on them. Vary the amount of time you are gone and the symptoms of separation anxiety will fade. Until then, put away any valuables you do not want to see torn to shreds!
Rewarding Positive and Negative Behaviors
Your dog is looking for you to be the alpha leader. It may be time to step up to the role! This is not the time to be submissive to their cuteness. Confusion and inconsistency with expected behaviors often cause the stress and anxiety levels to increase in dogs. Make sure your dog knows what behaviors are expected and stick with it. Do not give in to incessant barking or whining. Be strong.
These are the times that crate training is helpful. When behaviors get out of hand it is time to put them in the crate. The little bit of loving redirection you give them will make all the difference in knowing what you expect. They cannot read our thoughts; it's about loving, but firm actions. Be a leader :)
Instinct to Dig and Burrow
Have you ever noticed when you give your dog a tasty treat, such as a bone they will run here and there looking for a place to dig or burrow and save it for later. They feel a bit stressed that you might want their treat and try to take it back. Some will burrow under blankets during lightning storms or try to dig out from under a fence to grab the passing cat or squirrel.
Digging and burrowing come natural to dogs and it is a normal method they use to try and comfort themselves during periods of stress. Many dogs experiencing anxiety and stress will hide under beds or behind furniture. It is their way of escaping and hiding from the world.
Is There Help for Your Pooch?
There is help for your dog if they are in the midst of suffering stress and anxiety. The first step is to make sure they are physically healthy. The next few steps will involve taking a look at how much you are contributing to the problem. No one is perfect and there are times it is easy to forget that our actions and reactions effect everyone, including the family dog.
You can also help ease the stress and anxiety for your dogs by offering them a safe zone to get away and relax. BedHug Burrow Blankets attach to your own pet bed in order to provide your dog the opportunity to use natural burrowing instinct as a resolution to anxiety.
Best of luck, friends!