* All Sniffspot articles are reviewed by certified trainers for quality, please see bottom of article for details *
Anxiety: humans experience it, and dogs do too. Anxiety is a normal and healthy emotion for dogs to experience from time to time. Dogs may feel anxious if they are startled by a loud noise, or if they are at the vet’s office, for example. There are many situations in which it is normal for a dog to feel anxious. However, some dogs experience high levels of anxiety that can be disruptive to both their life and yours. This may be due to past experiences, their natural temperament, fear, or age. In this article, we’ll delve into signs and symptoms of anxiety and how to manage it.
Signs your dog is anxious
Pay attention to your dog’s body language and look for these signs that your dog is anxious:
Again, it is normal for a dog to be anxious, and thus to display these behaviors, in certain situations (with the exception of aggression). However, if you notice these behaviors seem to occur excessively, or you can’t tell what’s causing them, you might have an overly anxious dog on your hands.
How to manage dog anxiety in the short term
How to reduce dog anxiety in the long term
Exercise: Depending on your dog’s age, breed and health, try to get your dog between 30 minutes and 2 hours of exercise each day. Some dogs may need even more than that. Just like with humans, exercise reduces stress, and can help keep your dog calmer overall. It can also help reduce destructive behaviors like digging and chewing.
Mental stimulation: Similarly, mental stimulation is great for all dogs, and especially for dogs with anxiety. There are lots of ways to provide your dog with mental stimulation, including games, learning new tricks, and special toys. Try to set aside some time every day specifically for mental stimulation.
Training: Ultimately, you’ll want to try to get to the root cause of your dog’s anxiety. The best course of action is to bring in a qualified trainer (the AKC has a helpful guide on how to find a dog trainer) who can help you get to the bottom of the anxiety, and help you get started with counterconditioning your dog.
Medication: You should consider medication only once you’ve exhausted all the other options, and you’ve talked to your vet about it. Medication should also be used in combination with behavior modification training. For more in-depth information, including the different types of medication, check out our article When And How to Think About Medication for Anxious Dogs.
Having an anxious dog can feel overwhelming, but with the right tools and enough patience, you can help your dog feel comfortable and lead a full life.
Trainer Review of this Article
There is so much misinformation out there, we want to make sure we only provide the highest quality information to our community. We have all of our articles reviewed by qualified, positive-only trainers.
This is the trainer that reviewed this article:
Founder - K9 Fun Club
Staff Trainer - Summit Assistance Dogs
Certified in Canine Studies (CSS), NW School of Canine Studies