Dog anxiety is a reality that can affect any breed. Does your dog frequently bark at other dogs? Does your dog tremble when there are loud noises, such as fireworks? These could be signs your dog has anxiety.

Oliver, my Miniature Schnauzer, came into my life in 2016. I adopted him and knew very little about his previous home. Therefore, I had to learn his personality and needs along the way.

Oliver is playful, kind, and social, but there are times when his anxiety is high. When I leave him for a few hours, he suffers from separation anxiety. He also has a hard time in particular environments like the vet or groomer.

After some research, I found ways to manage his anxiety. Keep reading to learn the signs of dog anxiety and how to manage it.

Signs of Dog Anxiety

The following are some of the signs that your dog may be experiencing anxiety: 

  • Excessive barking
  • Destructive behavior
  • Regular panting or drooling
  • Exhibiting signs of restlessness 
  • Pacing
  • Urinating in the house
  • Shivering even when it's not cold
  • Hiding under something or in a corner
  • Digging
  • Being aggressive

Types of Dog Anxiety

Fear, separation, and aging are some of the most common causes of dog anxiety. It can present itself in varying forms.

Separation anxiety can happen when your dog is away from you for some time. It can also show up when moving to a new location or implementing a new routine.

Example: Oliver travels with me. He loves traveling, but needs to be right by my side for the first day that we're in a new location. If I have to leave for even a half-hour on that first day, he will cry the entire time I'm gone. 

Environmental anxiety is a fear of a specific location, such as the vet or groomer. Loud noises like fireworks, thunder, or alarms that cause your dog anxiety also fall into this category. 

Example: Oliver loves it when I bathe, brush or trim him. Going to the groomer is a different story. He doesn't like his ears or feet touched by the groomer. More than one groomer has told me he's difficult and they couldn't finish trimming him. I had a hard time understanding this at first since he's only 9 pounds and very social. But after reading about environmental anxiety it made sense.

Social anxiety is when your dog doesn't adjust well around different people or dogs. This can be due to previous traumas, particularly with rescue dogs. 

Example: My friend's rescue dog has a difficult time being around other dogs. He refuses to play with other dogs and if a dog gets too close he will send off a serious warning growl. His past trauma is likely the root cause of this social anxiety. 

Managing Dog Anxiety

Some of the most common tips for managing dog anxiety are as follows: 

  • Learn your dog's body language. Know when your dog is uncomfortable or scared so that you turn a negative into a positive training opportunity. 
  • Socialize your dog. Regularly introduce your dog to new dogs, people, and places. This can lessen your dog's anxious responses over time.
  • Find a positive reinforcement dog trainer. Having your dog properly trained increases trust and makes it easier to socialize with other dogs. 
  • Ensure your dog gets regular exercise and proper nutrition. Taking care of your dog's physical well-being will directly impact her/his mental well-being.
  • Avoid situations that trigger your dog. If a situation that causes your dog anxiety can be avoided without disrupting your life, make an effort to do so. 

Talking to your vet about solutions is a key step in managing your dog's anxiety. There are medications for extreme cases. Your vet can walk you through options if it is something you're willing to try. There are also natural medications, such as CBD products, but I highly recommend running any of these by your vet before giving them to your dog.

Check out these articles for more information on managing your dog's anxiety:

Dog Anxiety Help - PetMD

Helping an Anxious Dog - The Bark

*Views expressed in linked articles are that of the author and not Organic Pet Boutique.

March 27, 2021 — Julie Slagter