Updated: Aug 28
Just like humans, our furry companions experience a wide range of emotions, and anxiety is no exception. As devoted dog owners, it's essential for us to recognize the signs of anxiety in our canine friends and understand the underlying reasons behind their behaviors. From the subtle shivers to the more overt howls, dogs communicate their feelings through a variety of manifestations that can sometimes leave us puzzled.
In this comprehensive guide, we delve into the world of anxiety in dogs, shedding light on the various ways our four-legged companions express their stress, fear, and unease. Whether it's the heart-wrenching whines of separation anxiety or the telltale signs of social discomfort, decoding these behaviors is crucial for providing the support and care our dogs need.
Here are examples of how anxiety in dogs can manifest:
Howling and Barking – Usually associated with separation anxiety, but this can occur with other types of anxiety as well.
Shivering and Whining – One of the easier tells is frequent whining. They may also tremble and place more weight on their back legs, cowering.
Panting and Pacing – Your dog may be panting and pacing from room to room without a discernable reason. They may seek out family members or continue to pace about.
Hiding – A dog may react to stress by withdrawing from the situation entirely. They might hide behind you, or find a quiet out-of-the-way area to hole up in.
Urinating and Defecating in the Home – An anxious puppy may pee and poop within the home, even if they’re fully housebroken.
Escape Attempts – Some pups may try to escape from the situation. In extreme cases, they may try to break through doors or windows.
Destructive Behavior – As a coping mechanism, dogs may chew furniture or dig holes in the yard.
Refusal of Food – A dog that has been dealing with untreated chronic anxiety for a prolonged time may begin to refuse food. They may also experience changes in their normal bodily function, such as diarrhea.
Aggression – An anxious dog may snap or even bite if they are in a fearful situation. This is more likely when the cause of anxiety is a stranger or another dog.
Anxiety in dogs can be caused by various reasons, such as:
Loud Noises - Noise anxiety or phobia is a common issue in dogs. The trigger can be any loud noise – fireworks, thunder, vacuum cleaners, construction workers, etc. Dogs with PTSD often exhibit noise phobia.
Environmental Changes - Changes in the environment such as thunder and lightning are common anxiety triggers for dogs. In such cases, the dog reacts to changes in static electricity or air pressure.
Separation - In dogs, separation anxiety (SA) is fear of being alone (away from a family member or in a kennel). Dogs with separation anxiety are destructive, extremely vocal, and prone to house-soiling. Certain dog breeds are more prone to SA.
Social Situations - Social anxiety is when a dog feels uncomfortable around other dogs or people. In such situations, the dog will respond by becoming scared, submissive, or even aggressive.
Travel - Motion sickness is possible in dogs too. During car rides, dogs feel nauseated and consequently anxious. The anxiety is even bigger if past car rides result in a vet visit or other stressful situations.
Medical Condition - Finally, dog anxiety can be caused by underlying medical problems like hormonal imbalances (thyroid or adrenal gland issues) or painful conditions (arthritis or dental disease). In such cases, the anxiety is secondary.
UnRuffled Pets® Pheromones have also been scientifically proven to reduce dog anxiety in many, many instances. Different forms for different applications.