Anxiety in dogs and how to help

Dogs are extremely loyal, arguably the most loyal companions we could ever ask for. When you are feeling down or lonely, they are always ready to have your back. We can’t be too naive, however, because owning a dog can come with some challenges at times. Communicating with your pup can sometimes be a challenge and it can feel impossible sometimes understanding how they feel and how to help. This is especially true when your dog becomes anxious.

Just like you and I, our dogs can experience a plethora of emotions such as fear and anxiety. If you know the signs to look for, it is far easier to help them cope and overcome their feelings faster. Below is a guide to help identify the signs of dog anxiety and some of the best things you can do to help with the situation.

Identifying the key signs of stress in your dog

For the majority of the time, doggie anxiety symptoms can be extremely subtle and hard to spot. Some cases can even seem like typical and ordinary dog behavior, like licking their lips, yawning, or whining. It will take a sharp set of eyes and years of dog ownership experience to tell if it’s normal behavior or stress. Below are tell-tale signs that your dog may be feeling anxious:

  • Abrupt changes in posture – American Kennel Club points notes that cowering is a sign of stress or fear. You might also notice your dog tucking his/her tail or lowering the head when he/she senses trouble or feels intimidated.
  • Pinned ears and dilated pupils – Pupil dilation is another easy sign of telling that your dog is stressed, anxious, or in fear. Your puppy may have larger or rounded eyes, which is another sign to look out for. One final sign to look for are pinned ears back against their head.
  • Excessive barking or whining – While there are hundreds of reasons for your dog to be barking and whining, both forms of vocalizing are some sort of self-expression. Whether your dog is trying to communicate due to stress or anxiety, it’s important to pay attention to figure out why.
  • Excessive and prolonged yawning – For humans, our yawns often mean we are simply tired or bored. In dogs, however, it is often a sign of anxiety. If your puppy is yawning in excessive amounts, pay attention to their surroundings to see if there is something causing excessive stress.
  • Loss of appetite – A temporary loss of appetite can come from many different things, including new environments and other lifestyle changes. Once your dog has settled in to the new routine, schedule, or environment, your dog will return back to their normal feeding schedule and appetite levels.
  • Rigid body language – Often times when a dog suddenly becomes rigid and stiff, they spot something that makes them anxious or fearful. 
  •  Avoidance behavior – Sometimes when dogs are approached by new people or other animals who fall outside their normal clique, they attempt to avoid all forms of contact and interaction. You may notice them turn their head or turn around, or even walk the other way to avoid the scenario. Ensure to respect their boundaries if they display this behavior.

If you witness any other signs such as excessive licking, frequent urination inside, or excessive panting, take note and see if there are any contributing factors to stressing them out. 

Finding the source of anxiety so you can solve it

Pinpointing the symptoms of anxiety or fear is just the beginning. If you want to truly help your puppy cope and get over their issues, you’ll need to know the exact reason in the first place. Have you recently brought home another puppy? Did you move from an old house to a new one? Are there a lot of excessively noisy objects operating in the house like vacuums and lawn mowers outside? There are many things to consider.

You will need to assess every possible factor that contributes to your dogs stress in order to fully solve the issue at the core. From here, you can plan for the best course of action to help your pup. If your dog is fearful, you should work with a professional to take classes to help with confidence boosting. Behavioral training can be one of the best ways to create positive associations to alone time, which will help build confidence. Utilizing things like puzzles, toys, and food mazes can also help to keep your pup busy.

You may also try to seek a homey and dedicated dog boarding facility, so your pup can have a safe and comfortable place to go when you are away. Local places like Delaware K9 Academy states they keep their doggy guests occupied with physical and mental activities such as walking, running, and other brain games.

Confidence boosting and different desensitization techniques are the best way to handle puppy anxiousness when your dog is triggered from loud noises such as trucks, alarms, fireworks, and thunder, to name a few. Through desensitization training, your pup can have confidence that nothing bad will happen to them and they can learn to relax and will be safe. While this will not be an overnight fix, continued and repeated training will help them in the long run.

Have you recently brought home another puppy, or a newborn? If the answer is yes, then this may be one of the reasons your pup is exhibiting signs of stress or anxiousness. explains that it’s rather common for dogs to get jealous of new people or animals in the home. In order to relieve this feeling, ensure to give them attention and work on obedience training to increase bonding. You can also reward with positive reinforcement every time your puppy comes around the new people or animal in the home, making it a positive experience for them. This will encourage them to spend more time around you and a new friend in the home.