There are two main types of anxiety that dogs (and humans) may experience: situational/temporary anxiety and persistent/generalized anxiety. A generally anxious dog may also still become more anxious under certain circumstances. Even when Fido hears fireworks, goes on a car ride, or experiences some other distressing stimulus, he may be extra anxious.
In this short article, we will take a look at four common signs of anxiety in dogs, whether a temporary sign or persistent one and then how to treat these symptoms.
1. Making Messes in the House
Dogs who destroy furniture or your favorite pair of shoes have something in common with the (otherwise potty-trained) dog who pees or poops on your floor–these destructive behaviors are a sign of anxiety.
For some dogs, these behaviors only occur in response to something specific, such as distress over a favorite family member going out of town.
Other dogs can just seem like generally bad dogs, making a mess of the house every time they are left alone.
In some cases, this behavior can be in response to a health condition, so it’s important to check with a vet when there is a change in behavior. For example, if Fido never has accidents and then starts peeing on your favorite rug, he may have a urinary tract infection (UTI).
For the anxious dog making a mess, regular training might not work–after all, your doggy is already potty trained! Instead, desensitization or counter-training are the go-to tools of doggy whisperers.
Desensitization involves regular, intentional exposure to the upsetting stimulus. For example, if Fifi throws a fit every time Eleanor leaves the house, Eleanor can go outside for a minute and come back in, offering a treat or reward. Then, the time Eleanor leaves slowly increases. The same approach often works with sounds (start quietly) or dogs who fear certain people or other dogs (start with safe, gentle socialization).
Counter-training still involves rewards but redirecting the dog’s behavior toward a more desirable one. For example, if Spot freaks out when Timothy goes to school, then jumps all over him when he gets home, get Little Timmy to greet Spot with a treat in hand and have him sit, calm for a couple of seconds, then receive the reward.
Over time, these approaches train an anxious dog to expect a reward in response to a (previously upsetting) stimulus.
2. Barking and Aggressive Behavior
An anxious dog who barks, chases, or bites humans or other dogs can be dangerous, so the situation should not be ignored.
But this behavior is most likely also just a sign of anxiety!
Socialization and training (like the desensitization described above) can help an anxious dog.
One important note: reward-based training is important to use with anxious dogs. Not only does reward-based training generally work better than punishment-based training, but punishment can make an anxious dog even more fearful.
3. Doggy Depression
A listless, cowardly, always-sleeping, or otherwise depressed dog may actually be an anxious dog. Depression can be a sign of anxiety in dogs.
If Buddy starts acting depressed unexpectedly, seek the advice of a vet. Depression can be a sign of another underlying medical condition.
If Coco lost her favorite playmate or toy, some depression might be expected. But if she doesn’t seem to recover, and instead becomes more anxious after an upsetting experience, it might be time for doggie supplements.
Dog treats with CBD work great for training, but can also return homeostasis to the endocannabinoid hormone system.
Separation Anxiety in Dogs
Separation anxiety can occur exclusively as a result of separation from a trusted loved one, or generally anxious dogs might express even more anxiety over separation.
Separation anxiety symptoms include:
- Howling or barking when friend or owner leaves
- Howling or barking upon return of loved one
- Pacing, drooling, growling, or otherwise expressing distress when loved one is not home
- Inability to sleep without loved one present
- Aggression, destruction or using the bathroom indoors when loved one leaves
- Urinating when loved one returns home (also called “submissive urination”)
Separation anxiety can be difficult to treat. Situation avoidance works for some anxiety (like not being around fireworks if Max is afraid of them). But it can be virtually impossible for a dog to never be away from a trusted owner.
Desensitization and counter-training can help a dog experiencing separation anxiety.
Some owners have shared success using CBD to treat dogs with separation anxiety. As mentioned above, CBD can help restore homeostasis, bringing Bailey naturally into a calmer state.
Generally, the best CBD for dog anxiety is an oil that can be administered daily at the correct dosage.
Our CBD tinctures for dogs are completely natural, specially formulated for your furry friend. Give them a try for your anxious pup!