The reason you love your dog is because of their profound ability to feel emotion. They are able to show you so much unconditional love, just because you are you (and maybe also because you feed them and give them attention!!). Yet, all your doggy emotions are shown in behaviour form – that is the way that they communicate to you. It’s easy to see the signs that they are happy and energetic, raring to go fetch another ball, or sit for another treat, but what about when they are feeling less happy? What about when they might be anxious or worried? What should you look out for that indicates they might be a little unhappy under the surface?
Anxiety – why?
Often anxiety is something we might think only applies to humans, but yes, dogs have it too. Some dogs might have a type of anxiety called ‘Separation Anxiety’. This is the most common cause of anxiety in dogs.
What does that mean? Well, you know your dog loves you when you are around, even if it’s just being in the same room as you. Often their favourite activities involve humans, such as going for walks, treats, food, and play. But when you go to work, or leave them, they can experience separation anxiety if they are not content with their own company.
Another cause of anxiety can be when your dog environment is changing. That could be the loud noises in the middle of a thunderstorm, or when fireworks are being let off nearby. Or it could be times that they leave the house to travel in the car, or go somewhere new, or even trips to the vet. Sometimes they can anxiously guard a particular spot, or toy – anything they are worried about being taken away.
Signs and Symptoms
What can you look for? You know your dog best, and so many signs involve differences from usual behaviour.
- Not eating
- Running away
- Frequent urination
- Unable to settle
Yes, the options of behavioural training and medication are real and relevant, but sometimes you can manage your dog’s anxiety, or at least decrease it, through some simple changes.
Exercise: daily exercise can really help them feel better, especially if you play games with them too!
Attention: giving them attention can really help them feel safe and secure. Thundershirts for dogs when it’s stormy work around the basic principle that it is like a hug for your dog!
Routine: having a routine helps your dog know what to expect and when – that way there are no surprises which (in their eyes) may be unwelcome
Planning: if you know there’s going to be a trigger for your dog’s worries, like a storm, and impending vet visit, or just visitors round to your house, preparing for it is a good option. This could involve making sure you are home the night of a thunderstorm, or putting the adaptil diffuser on.
Products to Help
There are different things you can try to help your dog calm down:
- Adaptil is a calming pheromone which can be put into a diffuser, but also has a spray option
- Vetafarm B-Calm chews: natural, non-drowsy, and non-sedative, this product uses L-tryptophan and thiamine
- Royal Canin Relax Care: a food with the added benefit of helping your dog calm down in stressful or changing situations – scientifically tested
- Lickimats: a food puzzle to keep them entertained while you are separated from them
- PAW Complete Calm chews: tryptophan and extensive Vit B group supplement to assist with the reduction of anxiety
There are many options out there to help you find the right one for your dog, and calm their nerves!