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How to deal with anxiety in dogs

Lots of people might think that dogs only get scared and upset during fireworks or thunderstorms, but in reality the majority of pets suffer with anxiety in one way or another.

March is pet anxiety month, so we’ve answered the questions surrounding anxiety and the steps you can take to help your dog.

What causes anxiety in dogs? 

There are several factors which can contribute to anxiety in dogs. These include the type of breed, personality, inherited attributes (genetics, temperament etc), negative experiences (which can be the case if your dog is a rescue) a lack of socialisation and concurrent diseases.

Your dog could become anxious in any of the following situations:

What are the signs of anxiety in dogs?

There is no definitive way in which a dog will react to a stressful situation, but common signs of anxiety, include: 

  • Hypervigilance
  • Withdrawal
  • Trembling
  • Lip licking
  • Ears pinned back
  • Excessive panting
  • Yawning 

small white and brown dog looking out of the window

Read More: Knowing your dog’s body language 

Are some dog breeds prone to anxiety?  

Although any dog can display anxious behaviour, certain breeds of dog might be more prone to becoming anxious, which can be related to the purposes that breeds were originally bred for. Examples of dog breeds that may be more prone to anxiety include:

  • Herding breeds - Border Collie, German Shepherd, Shetland Sheepdog
  • Guarding/working breeds – Husky, Schnauzer, Tibetan Terrier
  • Hunting breeds – Labrador, Cocker Spaniel, Vizsla
  • Toy breeds (bred for companionship) – Chihuahua, Maltese, Bichon Frise

How to help dog anxiety 

The best way to help your is training. Dogs need gradual exposure to different environments and situations from an early age, so that they can build a positive association with them. This careful exposure to different stimuli will mean that they are less likely to become worried as they get older, examples include:

  • Being left alone
  • Grooming
  • Socialising with people and dogs
  • Being introduced to new environments
  • Being introduced to new playthings (cardboard, squeaky toys, things that move etc)

At My Family Vets, we put the welfare of your pets at the forefront of everything we do. That’s why we’ve worked with vets to create Vetpro Stress & Anxiety capsules a fast-acting, high strength formula that helps to calm behaviour and reduce stress in anxious pets.

This can be used alongside a behavioural modification programme put together by a behaviourist.

For dogs that are already suffering from anxiety, the best course of action is to seek help from a qualified positive reinforcement behaviourist.

Need more info?

For more information on how to help your pet with anxiety, or any aspect of their welfare, have a chat with your local vet.

To find a behaviourist, look on the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors or the Animal Behaviour and Training Council websites for further information.

Find your nearest vet using our Find a Vet page, or speak to a vet online using Online Vets.

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