Does your pup act out or retreat into themselves during stressful periods? Barking, howling, chewing up furniture, and even hiding are all pretty common canine behavior. While your first instinct may be to take your dog to behavior classes, your furry friend may actually be acting out because they’re experiencing anxiety.
Dogs’ anxious antics aren’t just annoying to the owner, they can also be potentially dangerous to the dog if they don’t relieve their stress.
Think your dog may suffer from anxiety? Read on to learn the telltale signs of anxiety and what you can do to help alleviate their stress.
Types of Anxiety
In order to help with your dog’s anxiety, you’ll need to understand which type of anxiety they struggle from. Take a look at the three types below to see if your pup suffers from any of them.
This can be caused by a number of factors including loud noises, new or strange environments, or unfamiliar people or stimuli in the environment. Many dogs will react only briefly to new or loud stimuli, but anxious dogs may be affected more heavily.
More than 10 percent of dogs are affected by separation anxiety—extreme anxiety triggered when a dog is left alone or without their owner. This can manifest itself in undesirable behavior such as barking, peeing in the house, or chewing up furniture. Separation anxiety is more common in rescue dogs that have been mistreated or abandoned by older owners.
Just like humans, dogs slowly lose cognitive function as they grow older. Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS) occurs in older dogs and includes declined memory, perception, and awareness. Understandably, this leads to confusion and anxiety.
Dogs show signs of anxiety in several ways. Some dogs get loud while others try to stay silent and hide. No matter how or when they act out, there are a few telltale signs that your dog is struggling with anxiety.
Excessive Barking & Howling
Dogs experiencing anxiety will often bark and howl persistently when in distress. This barking is different from regular barking — it can be triggered by sudden loud noises or strangers and typically will last for longer periods of time. If your dog barks continuously at nothing in particular when left alone or faced with different noises or scenery, they likely are struggling with anxiety.
Destruction and Chewing
A very common habit that dogs can get into when left alone is chewing on anything they can get their paws on — from shoes to furniture. If your dog’s destructive behavior is caused by separation anxiety, they will only chew up items when you’re away from them. This is especially dangerous because they could break a tooth or swallow something toxic to them.
When anxious or left alone, some dogs pace in a certain pattern for long periods of time. Any repetitive pattern is concerning, but if it’s caused by separation anxiety it will only happen when you’re away from your pup. A good way to keep an eye on them while you’re away is to set up a camera inside the house to look for warning signs. If they pace while you’re with them, they may be nervous in the general environment.
Shaking and Hiding
Many dogs who suffer from noise-induced anxiety tend to shake, tremble, or even hide in tight spaces when they’re frightened. This is most common during extreme weather conditions like loud thunderstorms or other events that affect their living situation.
There’s no concrete evidence to support the cause of anxiety, but it’s most common in rescue dogs that have been rehomed or abandoned. The following is a list of situations that are commonly associated with the development of anxiety in dogs.
Change of Surroundings
Even if they stay with their owner, moving into a new residence can trigger anxiety because they’re in an unfamiliar setting with new smells, sounds, and possibly people.
Change of Owners
The most common cause of anxiety is a change of owner — whether it’s an owner surrender to a shelter or simply an exchange without a shelter involved. From then on out, the dog may be afraid they will lose their owner again. On top of that, a slight change in family members could also cause distress. A sudden absence of a family member due to death or moving away could trigger anxiety.
Change in Schedule
A sudden schedule change can also stress a dog out and trigger separation anxiety. This typically only happens when the schedule involves the dog being home alone for an extended period that they aren’t used to. This is more common now than ever as everyone heads back to the office after working from home for the past year.
The solution for anxiety depends on the severity and type of anxiety. For more extreme cases, we recommend hiring a professional behavioral specialist. Below are a few natural tips for mild to moderate cases.
If you have a crazy work schedule, this is probably affecting your pup in more ways then one. Not only may they suffer from separation anxiety while you’re away, they’re likely also not getting as much exercise as they need to be mentally and physically healthy. If you suddenly stop taking your dog for daily walks that they’re used to, they’ll feel cooped up, lonely, and anxious
A tired dog is a happy dog, so make sure to get them out of the house so they can let some energy out instead of laying around all day waiting for your arrival.
Similarly to exercise, dogs are social creatures—they crave one-on-one time after long days at home alone. Simply enjoying time with them after your workday will help their mental health and keep them from developing any stress behaviors out of pure boredom. You’re their entire world—they’ll struggle if they never get to spend time with you!
We usually associate tiredness with physical exhaustion, but mental exertion can have the same calming effects on your dog as physical activity! Anything that challenges them or works their brain can provide stress relief. This could include new toys, different smells during walks, or new tricks that keep their brain working.
Oftentimes, all your dog needs is a simple calming supplement to soothe their stress. Try giving your furry friend a daily hemp powder supplement to alleviate stress and restlessness. On top of that, hemp powder also improves cardiovascular function, boosts a healthy immune response, and helps maintain shiny coats and healthy skin!
Anxiety is tough on pets and their owners, but these tips could potentially help your dog overcome their restlessness. It will take time for them to unlearn their panic response, but start by combining a calming treat with these tactics to get a head start on resolving their issues.
Think your dog could benefit from a little extra help? PupGrade’s Health & Mood Enhancer is formulated to promote calmness and reduce anxiety in dogs. Made with only the good stuff and organic Hemp Seed Powder, this powder soothes stress and restlessness, all while having a great taste for your pup. If you’re ready to try it out with your dog, click here!