Left untreated, dogs and cats with fear, anxiety and stress (FAS) can develop a number of behavioral problems such as destructiveness, self-harm, excessive vocalisation, and biting. Without access to education, resources and treatment options for FAS, these behaviors often lead owners to surrender their pets to a local shelter, which is obviously not the answer.
According to Pet MD, these are the symptoms you can look out for.
Symptoms and Types of Anxiety in Dogs
- Mild fears: signs may include trembling, tail tucked, withdrawal, hiding, reduced activity, and passive escape behaviors.
- Panic: signs may include active escape behavior, and increased, out-of-context, potentially injurious motor activity.
- Classic signs of sympathetic autonomic nervous system activity, including diarrhea.
- Anxieties: lesions secondary to anxious behavior (such as licking and biting at the self).
Causes of Fear and Anxiety in Dogs
- Any illness or painful physical condition increases anxiety and contributes to the development of fears, phobias, and anxieties.
- Aging changes associated with nervous system changes; infectious disease (primarily viral infections in the central nervous system), and toxic conditions, such as lead poisoning, may lead to behavioral problems, including fears, phobias, and anxieties.
- Fear from a terrible experience; dog may have been forced into an unfamiliar and frightening experience.
- Dogs that are deprived of social and environmental exposure until 14 weeks of age may become habitually fearful.
- Phobias and panic may have a history of inability to escape or get away from the stimulus causing the phobia and panic, such as being locked in a crate.
- Separation anxiety: history of abandonment, multiple owners, rehoming, or prior neglect is common; exacerbating the condition may be that the dog has been often abandoned or rehomed because of separation anxiety.
Watch Cesar Millan’s tips on how to prevent separation anxiety.
Top Tips to Help Curb Anxiety in your Dog
- Exercise them every day (preferably in the morning as Cesar suggested in the video).
- Have a routine. Many professionals recommend having a strict routine that dogs can rely on. Try and feed them at the same time each day, and take them for walks on schedule. Dogs are more relaxed when they know what to expect.
- Feed them well. Paired with exercise, a good diet is an important contributor to their over all attitude.
- Be a role model and keep calm. A dog can sense your energy and reacts to any kind of change in your behavior.
- If your dog is still struggling, try consulting an accredited behaviorist in your area.