Anxiety can be a very serious thing for your dog to have, and the signs may not be that easy to see on the surface. Which is why we’ll be helping you out so you can tell if your dog has anxiety or not.
All the symptoms that will be listed may be easy or hard to detect depending on how your dog reacts, but bare in mind that all dogs react differently and have their own ways of expressing themselves, so it’s important to look for all the symptoms in great detail to make sure you’re not missing anything your dog is doing!
As a company that specializes in helping dogs with separation anxiety (among other things), we thought it would be best if we’d show you how to actually detect the signs!
How to tell if your dog has anxiety?
We’ll start with the subtle signs of anxiety – which are still a big part of determinating whether or not your dog has anxiety. As they’re not disruptive to the owner they are harder to notice.
Panting / Shaking
Panting and/or Shaking is quite normal for a dog, especially after exercise or just being generally excited. But panting during/after loud noises such as fireworks may be a sign of anxiety.
Excessive Licking or Chewing
Dogs will lick their fur and/or chew their nails to seek comfort which is perfectly normal. If, however, you notice an unusual amount then pay more attention to it as this is also a big sign.
If your dog is experiencing anxiety then it may hide away in their bed or another retreat. They may run away and/or hide out of fear from other people or animals.
Now moving on to the more noticeable signs that should be easier to detect. Depending on where the anxiety originated, these may only be noticeable should your dog get triggered by their phobia.
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This is one of the hardest signs to miss as your dog may resort to snapping at people, biting or growling at anyone, including yourself. Aggression is a big sign of anxiety.
Excessive howling and barking
A very clear sign of anxiety is would be excessive barking and howling. If your dog starts barking following a loud noise (e.g. fireworks) and continues to bark, even after the disruption has ended, then this is a clear sign that your dog may be feeling anxiety.
When you first get a dog/puppy, it’s common for them to chew on pillows, boxes and any other furniture lying around. With careful training and discipline, this can quickly be resolved within the first few weeks of ownership – we’ve done a video here on how to can effectively stop chewing. If, however, you do notice that the situation isn’t getting any better then this is, once again a sign of anxiety in your dog.
Trying to escape
Dog’s with anxiety will dig and scratch at doors and windows as they may feel trapped and enclosed, they may also run around an excessive amount. If you notice this, we advise that you don’t lock them in a crate as this will likely worsen their anxiety.
Dogs that show signs of any of these symptoms are likely to have panic attacks. These panic attacks can last anywhere between a couple minutes to several hours and can involve any of the symptoms listed above.
So what can I do as an owner to help?
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You should never pat or praise the dog when they’re having an anxiety attack as they will associate this as something they get rewarded for (i.e. good behaviour) and will ultimately do nothing to help your dog overcome the anxiety.
The critical thing to do first is to identify what’s triggering your dog in the first place. Controlling your dog’s exposure to the issue and rewarded their good behaviour will assist in desensitising your dog.
We advise that you seek help and advice from an animal behavioural professional. If the problem appears to persist, consult a vet.
Lastly, there are anti-anxiety tablets made just for dogs and are recommended by health experts from all around the world. Don’t be tempted to just go online and order the cheapest one you find. Diphenhydramine (Benadryl) is a widely-available product and can be bought over-the-counter. While this can greatly help your dog, it can also potentially do damage – so always consult your vet first. And make sure you obtain a legitimate prescription.
For whatever reason, don’t punish your dog. Discipline and managing their anxiety correctly is essential but done incorrectly and you could risk affecting your dog in the worse possible way.
Never resort to shock collars and locking them up (where applicable).
With all that in mind, you should now be able to see all the signs of an anxious dog – and, most importantly, see if your dogs are suffering the symptoms. If you’re ever in doubt, seek professional advice from a vet or animal behavioural expert.
If we’ve helped you detect the signs then please do get in touch with us over on our social media platforms. You can find us over on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.