Keeping it Pawsitive: How to Prevent Dog Anxiety  

dog anxiety

Dog Anxiety

Think about that anxious feeling you get when meeting someone for the first time. You want to look just right, not a hair out place, no wrinkles on your shirt. How anxious were you the first day you dropped your kids at school? They bubbled with excitement, and you plastered a smile on your face, but deep down you worried if they would be ok. What about those butterflies in your stomach every time you see a giant rollercoaster? You don’t even have to ride one to get nervous!  

In that way, dogs are a lot like humans—dog anxiety is fairly similar, too. The Vitalize® Team is filled with pet lovers who want the best for our own dogs and yours, too. That’s why we explored the topic of dog anxiety to understand it further. We share our findings with you so you can understand your furry friends better and help prevent anxiety in your own canine companions. 

Preventing Dog Anxiety 

Preventing anxiety in dogs involves several strategies aimed at providing a supportive environment, positive experiences, and appropriate socialization. Let’s explore the best ways to prevent dog anxiety. 

Early Socialization 

Proper socialization from a young age is crucial for preventing anxiety in dogs. Expose puppies to a variety of people, animals, environments and experiences in a positive and controlled manner to help build confidence and resilience. 

Positive Reinforcement Training 

Use positive reinforcement training techniques to teach dogs appropriate behaviors, build trust and strengthen the bond between the dog and its owner. Reward desired behaviors with treats, praise and affection to promote positive associations and reduce anxiety. 

Avoid Negative Reinforcement 

We just mentioned positive reinforcement, but what about negative reinforcement?  

While there’s nothing wrong with a quick correction when they do something they shouldn’t, negative reinforcement can make dog anxiety worse. Avoid using punishment-based training methods or punishment for anxious behaviors, as this can worsen anxiety and undermine trust. Instead, try, where applicable, to reward good behavior, and respond to poor behavior calmly. 

Gradual Desensitization 

Gradually expose dogs to potential triggers or anxiety-inducing stimuli in a controlled and gradual manner. Use desensitization techniques to help dogs become more comfortable and confident in challenging situations over time. 

Provide Predictability & Routine 

Establish a predictable daily routine for feeding, exercise, playtime and rest to provide structure and stability for the dog. Consistency in routines can help reduce uncertainty and anxiety. 

Create a Safe Environment 

Create a safe and secure environment for the dog by providing a comfortable and designated space for rest and relaxation. Use crates, beds or quiet areas where the dog can retreat when feeling overwhelmed or anxious. 

Regular Exercise & Mental Stimulation 

Provide regular exercise, mental stimulation, and enrichment activities to help dogs burn off excess energy, relieve stress, and prevent boredom. Engage in interactive play, training sessions or puzzle toys to keep the dog mentally and physically stimulated. 

Seek Professional Help for Dog Anxiety

If a dog continues to exhibit signs of anxiety despite preventive measures, seek guidance from a veterinarian or certified animal behaviorist. They can assess the dog’s behavior, provide personalized recommendations and develop a behavior modification plan to address the underlying causes of anxiety effectively. 

By implementing these preventive strategies and providing a supportive and enriching environment, you can help reduce the risk of anxiety in dogs and promote their overall well-being and emotional health. 

Vitalize® Can Help 

Vitalize is a line of supplements for horses, dogs and cats with proven solutions to keep your animal healthy and performing. We know that 70% of the immune response starts in the digestive system. If we can give your animal a #goodgutfeeling, they are going to feel healthier, and hopefully not suffer from dog anxiety quite as often. 

Vitalize products are powered by AO-Biotics® Amaferm®, a prebiotic research-proven to enhance digestibility. Research shows that dogs that are fed Amaferm experience the following: 

  • 26% improvement in general health 
  • 74% improvement in skin and hair 
  • 67% improvement in appetite 
  • 14% improvement in stool consistency 

Now that we have discussed how to prevent dog anxiety, you are probably wondering what exactly causes your furry friend to feel anxious. Let’s explore!  

Causes of Dog Anxiety 

Dog anxiety can stem from various factors, including genetics, past experiences, environmental stressors and changes in routine or living situations.

Here are 6 common causes of anxiety in dogs. 

1. Separation 

Separation anxiety is a common form of anxiety in dogs and occurs when they become distressed or anxious when separated from their owners or left alone for extended periods. This often happens when dogs are kenneled or left with a sitter while their pet parent(s) are traveling. 

2. Socialization Issues 

Dogs that have not been adequately socialized or have had negative experiences with other dogs or humans may develop anxiety in social situations. 

3. Fear & Phobias 

Dogs can develop anxiety related to specific stimuli or situations. These include, but are not limited to loud noises like thunderstorms or fireworks, unfamiliar environments, car rides or veterinary visits. Dogs have great memories, and they will remember, for example, that the last time they went for a car ride, the car took them to the vet. It is a good idea to take your pet on rides that will present pleasant memories, too. 

4. Traumatic Experiences 

Dogs are a lot like people. They can struggle to let go of painful events or memories of neglect. And just like people, that can color how they behave in certain situations. Dogs that have experienced trauma, abuse, or neglect in the past may develop anxiety as a result of those experiences. 

5. Changes in Environment 

No different than humans, changes are also stressful on dogs. Moving to a new home, changes in routine, the addition of new family members or pets or disruptions in the household can trigger anxiety in dogs. 

6. Medical Conditions 

Certain medical conditions or pain-related issues can manifest as anxiety-like behaviors in dogs. It’s essential to rule out any underlying health problems that may be contributing to the dog’s anxiety. If your dog has a medical condition that causes stress, be sure to work with your trusted veterinarian to treat the condition to see if that helps alleviate any of the stress as well. 

Signs of Dog Anxiety 

Dogs can tell us more than we think if we just pay attention to their actions. Signs of anxiety in dogs vary depending on the individual dog, the underlying cause of the anxiety and the specific situation or trigger.

You likely know your dog well enough to tell if something is wrong. However, if you’re not sure what signs to look for, we’ve got you covered. The following are common signs of dog anxiety:

Tail Wagging 

Though we humans often think a wagging tail is a sign our pups are happy, wagging can convey a variety of emotions. Canines will wag their tails if they’re happy or excited, sure, but also if they’re anxious, afraid or as a sign of submission. If your dog is wagging excessively, pay attention to see if they exhibit other behaviors on this list, too. 

Though it varies from dog to dog (this isn’t a surefire gauge of dog anxiety), the direction of your pup’s wag might tell you how they’re feeling. A good rule of thumb: dogs wag their tails to the right when they’re happy and to the left when they’re anxious or upset

Excessive Panting or Drooling 

Dogs may pant excessively or drool more than usual when they are anxious or stressed. This is a stress response to perceived threats, fear-inducing stimuli, or unfamiliar situations. When dogs feel anxious or stressed, their bodies may release stress hormones such as cortisol, which can trigger physiological changes, including increased respiratory rate (panting) and salivation (drooling). 

Panting and drooling can serve as self-soothing or calming mechanisms for dogs experiencing anxiety. Panting helps dogs regulate body temperature and release excess heat, while drooling may help moisten the mouth and throat, providing a sense of comfort or relief during stressful situations. 

Pacing or Restlessness 

Dogs may exhibit pacing behavior. They will appear restless, unable to settle down or relax. Anxious dogs may struggle to relax or find a comfortable resting position, even when they are physically tired. They may appear fidgety, constantly shifting positions and unable to settle down for extended periods. Restlessness may persist even during quiet moments or when the dog is alone.  Have ou seen a dog constantly walk a fence line for no apparent reason? Perhaps this dog is anxious.  

Shaking or Trembling 

Dogs may tremble or shake involuntarily, especially in situations that trigger fear or anxiety. Just like humans that are anxious or nervous, shake, so do dogs. This is a natural response to anxious behavior.  

Excessive Vocalization 

Dogs may bark, whine, howl or vocalize excessively when they are anxious or distressed. Barking and whining are natural forms of communication for dogs, and anxious dogs may vocalize to express their feelings of fear, unease or discomfort. Barking and whining can serve as signals to alert their owners or other animals to their emotional state and the presence of potential threats or stressors. 

Anxious dogs may bark or whine in an attempt to seek attention or reassurance from their owners. They may vocalize to solicit comfort, affection, or support when they are feeling anxious or stressed, seeking proximity to their owners as a source of security and safety. 

Destructive Behavior 

Dogs may engage in destructive behaviors such as chewing, digging, scratching or tearing objects when experiencing anxiety. If they are suddenly destroying chew toys, shoes or pillows that they normally would not, something is likely causing them anxiety. 

Excessive Licking, Chewing or Salivation 

Dogs may lick or chew themselves excessively, particularly their paws, legs or tail, as a coping mechanism for anxiety. Think about humans twisting their hair or chewing their nails. Your fur friend could also exhibit increased salivation or drooling as a response to dog anxiety or stress. 

Hiding or Seeking Comfort 

When anxious, dogs may seek hiding spots. This can include attempting to hide behind furniture, under beds or in closets. Alternatively, they may seek comfort and reassurance from their owners or other familiar individuals. They’re looking for a safe space. 

Loss of Appetite or Changes in Eating Habits 

Dogs may lose interest in food or experience changes in appetite when they are anxious or stressed. Like humans, this is a natural response to anxiety. If a loss of appetite persists or leads to other health concerns, be sure to consult your veterinarian sooner rather than later.  

Potty Accidents 

Dogs that are typically house-trained might start having accidents as a sign they are anxious or stressed. They are not having accidents in the house out because they are naughty; they are trying to communicate to you that they are anxious about something, probably something outside or out of their control. No one enjoys cleaning up the accidents, but don’t discipline your dog. He or she is trying to tell you something. 

Excessive Lethargy or Hyperactivity 

Some dogs may become unusually lethargic or withdrawn when anxious. Conversely, others may exhibit hyperactive or frenetic behavior. A change in behavior is always worth a trip to the veterinarian; this is one way your canine companion can communicate. We cannot stress the importance of the veterinarian relationship. 

Aggression or Reactivity 

Anxiety can sometimes manifest as aggressive behavior or increased reactivity towards people, other animals or stimuli perceived as threatening. If your normally calm dog is being aggressive or causing you to be afraid, it could have dog anxiety issues. 

Excessive Shedding 

Anxiety and stress can sometimes lead to excessive shedding or hair loss in dogs. 

Changes in Body Language 

Dogs may display subtle changes in body language, such as flattened ears, tucked tail, dilated pupils or a tense posture, indicating their discomfort or anxiety. 

It’s important to recognize the signs of dog anxiety and address any underlying causes or triggers to help alleviate their distress and promote their well-being. If you notice persistent or severe signs of anxiety in your dog, consider seeking guidance from a veterinarian or certified animal behaviorist for further evaluation and support. 

Find the Right Vitalize Product for your Dog 

Vitalize products come in various forms including liquid, gel and powder. Find the product that best suits your dog and its needs. 

Vitalize® Dog Gel  

Vitalize Dog Gel is a prebiotic and nutrient-rich gel for dogs. It immediately supports the digestive and immune systems. It contains AO-Biotics Amaferm and MOS to help normalize gut microflora and the immune system. The Gel works fast to support appetite and hydration.  

Vitalize® Alimend® K9  

Vitalize Alimend K9 is a liquid product for dogs designed to support gastric health and GI tissue and which may relieve occasional gastric issues. In addition to Amaferm, it contains MHB3®, a patented high molecular weight hyaluronic acid that coats the stomach and supports GI tissue integrity. It also contains beta-glucans to support the gut and immune system.  

Vitalize® Dog 

Vitalize Dog is a granular vitamin and mineral supplement for dogs designed to support breeding and performance. It contains Amaferm, a prebiotic research-proven to enhance digestibility, omegas for healthy skin and hair and a high-quality blend of vitamins and minerals for daily support of any diet. 

Get your Vitalize Today!    

Help your dog stay healthy while preventing dog anxiety by getting your Vitalize today. We have made purchasing Vitalize as easy as possible.   

You can visit your local dealer to purchase Vitalize products. Locate a dealer near you, today.   

Perhaps you prefer the convenience of online shopping. Well, you can shop online or visit one of our authorized online retail partners and have the Vitalize delivered right to your front door.   

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