When we adopt or welcome a new pet into our home and family, we not only become responsible for satisfying their basic needs, such as food and shelter. We also must ensure their overall well-being, which includes their mental health.
Just like humans, dogs can experience anxiety, a state of mind characterized by great restlessness, nervousness and insecurity. Dogs that suffer from this problem will try to get rid of their discomfort by developing new habits. These alterations to their behavior can significantly change the dynamic of your relationship and affect your lives together. In addition, anxiety can also cause dogs to harm themselves, feel unwell, such as suffer from vomiting and diarrhea, get sick more often, and possibly develop other, more serious health problems.
There are many possible reasons and signs of anxiety in dogs. Some of the most common are:
1. Lack of socialization
Socialization is the process through which a dog is exposed to and learns to interact with people, other dogs and their environment. Dogs are social animals, who need to feel part of a group to feel safe, because the group increases their chances of survival. This is a trait that they inherited from their ancestors, the wolves.
Given that both men and wolves had a family-based group organization, lived in packs, and had similar diets and social skills, a natural strategic alliance consisting of hunting together was developed. This alliance improved the chances of survival of early human groups, influenced the evolution of both humans and wolves, and emerged as one of the most lasting and fascinating inter-species relationships of history: the friendship between men and dogs. Do You Know Where Dogs Come From?
Therefore, it is very important for dogs to begin to socialize at a young age, between the first and the fourth month of life, to avoid them developing anxiety later on in their lives, which can result in showing signs of aggressiveness towards humans or other dogs.
It is also crucial to avoid leaving dogs home alone for extended periods of time. The lack of interaction with their humans can cause them to get bored and suffer from stress. This can encourage them to seek attention with excessive barking, groaning, howling, tremors or nervousness.
Spending so much time on their own can also create separation anxiety. As puppies grow, they become more independent and their tolerance for separation increases. Dogs who have suffered abandonment, have been separated from their mother before 8 weeks or have suffered abuse, however, often have a harder time managing or tolerating the separation from their owners.
2. Lack of exercise and activity
A dog’s need for exercise can depend on their age, breed, size, and health status. Nevertheless, physical activity is crucial to avoid putting on too much weight and lacking endurance, which can lead to obesity. It can also prevent them from becoming withdrawn, bored or frustrated and thus releasing pent-up energy in undesirable ways, such as destructive behavior, showing signs of hyperactivity at home, jumping and running everywhere.
Fun matches are dog sport competitions held in a more relaxed environment. A fun match is the best way to evaluate a dog’s behavior and socialization skills, specially in the presence of other dogs. These events are perfect opportunities for dogs and dog parents to foster social interaction, exchange tips about dog care, training, and make friends. Dog Sports For Making New Friends
3. Fear of noise
Many dogs have a fear of strong and loud noises, such as fireworks, traffic noises, thunderstorms, the sound of the vacuum cleaner, etc. Although it can be caused by a dangerous or scary event that happened in the past, a dog’s phobia to loud noises can occur even when the animal has not suffered a traumatic situation associated with that loud sound.
Dogs with fear of noise are able to relate other events that will anticipate the noise that is to come, for example, the vacuum cleaner, a television, a group of people in the street, etc., causing them to remain constantly tense, vigilant and alert.
The most frequent dangers associated with the fear of noise in these animals is destructive behavior, such as breaking house furniture, clothes and everything they can find, especially when he is alone, out of fear. In the worst cases, trying to hide or escape the situation to reduce their anxiety can result in a dog running away from home and getting lost.
4. Cognitive dysfunction
This problem, similar to senile behavior and dementia in people, appears in elderly dogs, especially after the 10 years of life, and mostly at night. It is caused by changes in the brain that slow the mental functioning of dogs.
Genetics and other intrinsic characteristics as well as external conditions, such as lifestyle, are determinants of a dog’s life expectancy, beyond what age can predict. Although it is not possible to change the genetic factors determining longevity, knowing and understanding the aging process allows us to control the extrinsic agents that can help our dog stay healthy longer. How Do I Know If My Dog Is Getting Old?
The symptoms include reduced motor function, experiencing abnormal sleeping patterns, loss of memory to remember behaviors learned early in life, feeling disoriented and confused in familiar places of the home thus spending long periods of time in one area of the home or relieve themselves at home despite being used to doing it outside, inability to recognize their own family or not responding to calls or commands.
5. Changes in the environment
Family gatherings and celebrations are fun events, filled with laughter and chatter. They are a time to enjoy the company of our loved ones, make memories and build and/or strengthen our relationships. However, visiting relatives or friends as well as receiving large numbers of people at our home can prove to be hectic and thus stressful for the furry members of the family. 5 Tips To Keep Your Dog Calm During Celebrations
It is important to pay attention to what causes your dog stress and look for options to ease their anxiety as soon as possible. You may need to seek professional help from your trusted veterinarian or an ethologist, who studies behavioral disorders, to find the right treatment and address it before it gets worse. It may take time to figure out which are the triggers and you may need to try different treatments, including medication, but with dedication, understanding, perseverance and love, you can help your dog overcome anxiety symptoms and have a better quality of life.
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