Anxiety in dogs can be hard to pick up, as their behaviours can be due to a variety of causes. For example, a dog who has no appetite could be having an upset stomach or experiencing anxiety. According to this ABC article, some common signs of anxiety in dogs include:
Panting and pacing (even when it's not hot)
Shivering or cowering in the corner of a house
Digging or destroying furniture
Self-harm, including excessive licking or chewing
Urinating more frequently
A general inability to settle
Types of anxiety in dogs
Your dog could be experiencing anxiety due to different things. A common one is separation anxiety, which occurs when they are left alone. Animal behaviourist Dr Kate Mornement told the ABC that dogs do not like being left alone as they often associate everything they enjoy, such as attention, play, food and walks, with people.
Some other types of anxiety include fear of loud noises (i.e. thunderstorms or fireworks), or anxiety caused by changes to the normal routine or about a valued item being taken away.
What to do if you think your dog has anxiety
If you can tell that your dog is afraid, cuddling can help to comfort them in the moment. A longer-term approach is behavioural training, which involves working to change the negative association to a positive one over time. For example, if your dog has separation anxiety and you are not able to leave them with someone else, it can help to give them something they love while you are away, such as a food puzzle. If they are afraid of travelling in the car, coax them nearer to the car every few days or weeks, and reward them each time they come closer.
In more extreme cases of anxiety, anti-anxiety medication is available to help. This is different from a sedative, which may make them appear relaxed but is really masking the problem. If you think your dog requires this or might be experiencing anxiety, speak to a vet for assistance.
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