Did you know that just like us humans, many animals, including dogs, can experience anxiety? Whether it’s the nervous shakes hours before a storm, or the constant howling that your neighbours complain about as soon as you leave your dog alone, help is out there!
Unbeknown to many of our Woonona Pet Foods customers, our resident dog ‘Roy’ experiences extreme anxiety over certain noises and situations! You’re certainly not alone… When your dog is faced with a situation that he or she deems as threatening, their fight or flight response is triggered. Dogs who feel threatened in particular situations may begin to develop an increased heart rate, begin panting, shaking and howling.
Although these responses cannot be ‘stopped’ or ‘fixed’, there are techniques, services and products that can help. Firstly, look at the age and previous history of your dog. If you have a young dog or puppy, the time is now to start implementing techniques to promote your dog’s health and behaviour for his or her later years!
Have you owned your dog since they were a puppy, or did you rescue an older dog? At Woonona Pet Foods, we encourage our customers to ‘adopt, not shop’, but we understand that this can be challenging! For older dogs who have recently changed owners and environments, life can be stressful! “Who are these people” and “where is my usual bed?”. These types of changes can have a huge impact on how nervous your dog is, so it is important to take this into consideration when training them.
A familiar environment, or a safe place can be used as a beneficial tool during stressful times for your dog, therefore it is important to establish this. A nice, cosy space in the laundry or perhaps the best seat in the house on the couch. Dogs learn where they feel most comfortable, and will often gravitate towards this area, so it is necessary to use this to your advantage during stressful times.
Don’t overreact! As hard as this may be, the last thing your dog wants during a stressful situation, such as a storm, is to see his human freaking out. “Oh my gosh, my human is squeezing me extra tight, this must be bad, that storm is coming to get me!” Act cool, stay calm, and don’t overreact!
Natural Calming Treats… Roy's saviour! The Vetalogica Vita Rapid Tranquil Treats are a natural treat that tastes good and helps to maintain an emotional balance. They are packed with vitamins and quick-release tryptophan, to help keep those emotions stable. Simply feed according to the guide, before or during the stressful event or before you leave the house.
Thunder Shirts… the simple swaddle technique is a tried and trusted approach to reducing dog anxiety. The shirts use a compression method to make your dog feel secure and safe, leading to a reduction in anxiety. Thunder shirts come in a range of sizes to suit all dogs!
Adaptil… choose from a collar or a home diffuser! Adaptil releases a Dog Appeasing Pheromone (DAP) which is similar to the pheromone that is given off by female dogs when they give birth to puppies. To dogs, of all ages, this pheromone is a calming and familiar scent that can help to reduce anxiety and behavioural problems, such as separation anxiety and barking.
Now, for dogs with separation anxiety, or dogs who just generally can’t stand being without their human, it is important to take to slow. Whether you have an 8 week old puppy who just wants to be with your 24/7, or a 7 year old rescue dog who has just began to trust you, leaving your dog alone for short periods at a time will help them to develop a sense of confidence when you’re not around. Start with 10 minutes, put your pooch in the backyard, with a bed, food and a toy, and leave them alone for 10 minutes.
Gradually increase the time you leave them alone, that way your dog can trust that you will return! (Thank goodness, she’s the lady that feeds me!) By doing this, and not fussing over your dog (although difficult) if they cry or howl, not only are you are building good behaviours, but also boundaries!
I could go on for hours about overcoming dog anxiety, but for now I will leave it at that!
If you have any questions regarding this topic, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org