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Ways to Help Your Dog With Anxiety https://doglando.com/blog/ways-to-help-your-dog-with-anxiety/ Wed, 14 Sep 2022 13:47:50 +0000 https://doglando.com/?p=123206 Dogs are loving and faithful companions, but just like people, they are prone to anxiety. Why does your beloved dog transform from an affectionate and energetic friend into a ball of fearful, anxious stress? Experts consider stress, anxiety and fear in dogs as behavioral problems. These are actually three separate reactions, and it is possible […]

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Dogs are loving and faithful companions, but just like people, they are prone to anxiety. Why does your beloved dog transform from an affectionate and energetic friend into a ball of fearful, anxious stress?

Experts consider stress, anxiety and fear in dogs as behavioral problems. These are actually three separate reactions, and it is possible that your dog will not exhibit all three.

Fear is triggered by circumstances, a person or an object. Sometimes, reacting with fear is appropriate, but other times it is not. Dogs experience anxiety because they are afraid of danger or impending disaster. Anxiety may manifest both in behavior and with physical symptoms. By contrast, a dog that is under stress may experience behavior changes as well as immunological and physiologic responses. When stress is a consistent issue, dogs may develop ailments related to the gastrointestinal tract, the respiratory system or the skin and hair. Dogs under chronic stress may exhibit exaggerated fear responses as well as obsessive behavior.

Anxiety Causes

Canine anxiety may have many causes, but the most common ones are fear, separation and aging. By examining each of these causes, it is possible to determine what may be underlying your dog’s anxiety.

1. Fear

Fear is a common cause of anxiety in dogs. Typically, a fear response is triggered by unfamiliar animals or people, loud noises, unexpected visual stimuli or being in a new or strange environment. Sometimes, fear is caused by being in a specific situation, like riding in a car or a visit to the vet. Other dogs respond with fear while on unfamiliar surfaces, such as wood floors. Some dogs may have a brief fear response to these stimuli, but an anxious dog may have an out of proportion reaction that lasts much longer.

2. Separation

Researchers believe that approximately 14 percent of dogs suffer from separation anxiety. When these dogs are left alone, it is difficult or impossible for them to make themselves comfortable. In response, they may urinate or defecate in the house, bark incessantly, destroy furniture and other household goods and engage in other undesirable behavior. Dogs that were previously abandoned are more prone to separation anxiety, but it can happen to almost any dog. For instance, a sudden change to the dog’s schedule can trigger separation anxiety.

3. Aging

As dogs grow older, they may develop a condition that is known as cognitive dysfunction syndrome. Dogs with this disorder may experience issues with awareness, perception, learning and memory. In many ways, this syndrome is similar to Alzheimer’s in people. Confusion and anxiety are common signs of this condition in senior dogs.

Other, less common causes of anxiety may include a medical condition such as hearing loss, a hormone imbalance and hypothyroidism. Past trauma, such as abuse or abandonment, can crop up as anxiety throughout the dog’s life. Some dogs exhibit anxiety because they lacked proper socialization as a puppy. Dogs that were not exposed to other dogs between 14 and 16 weeks of age or that were separated too early from their mother may demonstrate social anxiety as well.

Symptoms of Anxiety

How do you know if your beloved four-legged family member is suffering from anxiety? Several symptoms are relatively common in anxious dogs. If you are observing these signs in your dog on a regular basis, this is an indication that anxiety is a chronic issue.

Among the symptoms of anxiety are aggression, depression, drooling and urinating or defecating indoors. Dogs that exhibit excessive panting, barking, pacing, restlessness or destructive behavior similarly may be suffering from anxiety. If you notice that your dog regularly engages in compulsive or repetitive behaviors, this is yet another symptom of chronic anxiety.

You may see your dog occasionally exhibiting these behaviors as the result of a specific event that causes anxiety, but when these behaviors are recurrent, it is the sign of a larger issue. Aggression typically is considered the most dangerous symptom as it may cause the dog to behave in an inappropriate manner toward other animals or people. 

Housebroken dogs may become anxious, particularly when separated from their family. This can lead them to poop or pee indoors, a frustrating situation that also can cause property damage.

Separation anxiety similarly may manifest as destructive behavior. It is common to find such damage centered around windows and doorways, but some dogs are known to inadvertently harm themselves as a result of this behavior. When a dog attempts to get out of a crate, a door or a window, they can seriously hurt themselves and require a visit to the vet.

Treatments and Prevention

If you notice the signs of chronic anxiety in your pup, then it’s time to schedule a visit with the vet. The vet can assist with identification of the type of anxiety from which your dog is suffering. This may help to uncover the possible triggers of the anxiety. Veterinarians also can diagnose any medical conditions that may be causing or contributing to your dog’s stressed-out state.

Your vet may recommend several treatment options that include training, anxiety medications and CBD oil.

Training strategies emphasizing counterconditioning may be helpful for anxious dogs. The objective of this training is to alter the dog’s response to the anxiety-inducing stimuli. Ideally, your dog will learn to substitute troubling behavior for something that is more desirable, such as focusing on the owner or sitting down.

Another training strategy involves desensitization. In this approach, the owner slowly and gently introduces the anxiety source to the dog. With decreased intensity and small doses, repeated exposure and providing rewards for positive behavior can help to manage anxiety.

A professional dog trainer is your best friend when it comes to providing additional training or counterconditioning for your pup. Ask Doglando how they can help with your anxious dog.

Additionally, your vet may prescribe anxiety medication for your dog. Common medications used to treat this condition include clomipramine and fluoxetine. When an anxiety-inducing event is on the horizon, these prescriptions may be supplemented with benzodiazepine to help alleviate additional stress.

If your dog’s anxiety is caused by cognitive dysfunction syndrome, your vet may prescribe selegiline. This drug is known to reduce many of the symptoms of the disorder. 

CBD oil is reported by many dog owners as a successful anti-anxiety substance for dogs. No scientific study yet supports this conclusion, so it may be wise to consult with your veterinarian before making CBD oil a part of your dog’s routine.

It further may be possible to alleviate your dog’s anxiety by looking for ways to prevent stress. Additionally, you may want to consider using anxiety-prevention strategies before your dog shows signs of stressed behavior.

For instance, practicing good socialization can help your dog to avoid problems with anxiety. Make sure that your dog is introduced to many people, animals, places and situations at a young age. Regularly taking your pup to Doglando is just one way to accomplish this.

Obedience training is another excellent tool for helping your dog to prevent or manage anxiety. Successful training lays the groundwork for a healthy relationship between dog and owner. With trust established, your dog may be less likely to develop anxiety down the road.

Obedience training also is critical because it helps the pet parent to become familiar with their dog’s body language. When you learn to read the signs that demonstrate that your dog may be feeling anxious, you can take a proactive approach to the situation and perhaps head off a disproportionate reaction.

Learn and Grow at Doglando

Doglando provides the ideal surroundings in which to socialize your pup. Sign up for some training as well, and you are on your way to ensuring that your dog is a good citizen that is calm and affectionate. 

Visit Doglando today to learn more about how our services can enrich your pup’s life.

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Sensory Activities for Dogs https://doglando.com/blog/sensory-activities-for-dogs/ Mon, 09 May 2022 14:14:53 +0000 https://doglando.com/?p=123162 Your family loves your dog, but it’s common for people to not realize just how intelligent their pups are. This means that it’s not unusual for families to neglect enrichment activities for their dogs. If your dog ever seems bored, on edge or restless, chances are good that they could use some more enrichment activities […]

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Your family loves your dog, but it’s common for people to not realize just how intelligent their pups are. This means that it’s not unusual for families to neglect enrichment activities for their dogs.

If your dog ever seems bored, on edge or restless, chances are good that they could use some more enrichment activities in their life. You’re probably already take them for a daily walk, but they could benefit from other activities, especially those that stimulate their senses.

Why Dog Enrichment?

Dogs aren’t meant to simply sleep away the day until someone comes home. Instead, they are built for activity. When you enrich your dog’s living environment, it improves both their physical and psychological well-being.

There are many forms of enrichment, and one of these includes sensory activities. These are any activities that are designed to appeal to any of your dog’s five senses.

Here are some ideas for stimulating all of your dog’s senses.

Smell

dog in canine enrichment program

Dogs love using their sense of smell to explore and understand the world. You can stimulate them by introducing new smells on a regular basis.

For instance, do you or someone you know keep goats or other animals? If so, consider putting an old t-shirt in their living area for a few days. Then, bring the t-shirt home and tie it to a tug toy. Your dogs won’t be able to get enough of that t-shirt.

Another activity that will stimulate your dog’s sense of smell is hiding kibble in a blanket or snuffle mat. Are you unfamiliar with snuffle mats?

Snuffle mats are the perfect way to engage your pup in brain games and to give them tasty treats. They are made with a rubber sink mat with strips of fleece knotted to it. You can make your own snuffle mat or buy one that’s ready-made.

Hide a few treats among the strips of fleece, and your dog will instantly be engaged in trying to sniff them out.

Don’t forget that your pup’s sense of smell is of primary importance. It’s actually their preferred method for investigating the world around them, so regular stimulation is critical.

Touch

dog touch sensory stimulation

Physical contact with people, an object or another animal can be a comforting sensation for dogs. It’s important to provide tactile experiences with things like petting and cuddling, but even brushing your dog’s coat can be an important tactile experience.

Another option is to take your pup for a walk along a textured or grated surface. Just be mindful of any nails or other sharp objects and ensure that the grating isn’t too widely spaced for your dog’s comfort and safety.

As your dog walks on various surfaces, he also may need some time for behavior like mouthing, digging and pawing.

Bodies of water can provide a very good setting for your dog as well, providing multiple methods of tactile experiences.

These tactile experiences will even help your pup to relax better when he gets home.

Taste

dog taste sensory stimulation

Dogs gain a great deal of information as well as stimulation from their oral senses. One of the best ways to do this is simply to offer a variety of treats on a regular basis. After all, who likes to have the same treats all the time? Make sure that you have a selection on hand to keep things interesting for your pup.

Other oral stimulation comes from a stuffed Kong toy. This is a favorite with many dogs that love to work for a tasty reward. This activity can have several benefits for pups, including reducing their stress and enriching their lives.

Another option is to use food-dispensing toys. You can make your own with some PVC pipe, an idea that comes from zoos. If these toys can stand up to bears and tigers, even the dog with the most determined chewing behavior won’t be able to destroy it.

Just use a food-grade PVC pipe with two end caps. One of these caps should be a screw top so that you can remove and replace it with ease. Use a drill to make a few holes in the PVC pipe that are just slightly larger than your dog’s kibble. Dogs love this puzzle-like activity that also satisfies their impulse to chew.

Don’t forget to also provide your dog with a nice mix of chew toys. Look for toys with knobs, spikes and other tactile features that will be especially interesting to chew on.

Sound

dog hearing sensory examples

There are lots of reasons to stimulate your dog with various sounds. One of the primary reasons is that dogs can get scared of unfamiliar sounds.

Simply dropping a bowl or flatware on the floor helps to acclimate your pup to sudden, potentially loud, sounds so that he doesn’t get so startled when such accidents happen for real. Other dog owners swear by using a blow dryer for sound stimulation.

Another idea is to get some wind chimes. Many dogs love the relaxing, melodic sounds.

Exposing your canine to different sounds at an early age can make all the difference in how your dog reacts to different sounds in the future.

Sight

dog visual sensory stimulation

When you take your dog for walks, do you always stick to the same route? Familiarity can be fun as it allows you and your pup to notice changes that occur over time. However, your dog will definitely benefit from being introduced to new environments.

On a regular basis, find new places to take your dog for a walk. A new trail or street has all sorts of new sights to see and smells to discover. When you are out for a walk or on a visit to the dog park, work with your pup on visual signals to further stimulate your dog’s sight sense.

Doglando Offers Constant Enrichment

dog diving into swimming pool

One of the reasons why so many dog parents bring their pups to Doglando on a regular basis is for the sensory stimulation. Doglando is designed to provide the ultimate in enrichment and stimulation, promising a fulfilling, and tiring, experience.

Dogs that spend time at Doglando tend to be far better behaved at home as well as being well-adjusted, happy and healthy. Contact us today to learn about how Doglando stimulates dogs on a regular basis.

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