- Gemma Johnston
Do You Have An Anxious Dog?
Updated: Apr 6, 2021
Does your dog?
Bark, howl, cry or whinge
Hides, runs away, rolls over or cowers when you or some one else approaches it
Escaping the yard
Excessively licking itself, other animals, people or object
Lacks general confidence
is very avoidant
Acts aggressively in defence
Scared of loud noises
The above can all be signs of a anxious or nervous dog
It is a common belief that when someone adopts a rescue dog, for it to be anxious & nervous, it must have been in an abusive situation. That is actually rare that an anxious dog has come from an abusive situation.
It can how ever of come from:
A home where it was babied.
It could still currently be in a home where its being babied
Its genetic make up is predisposition to be anxious & nervous.
The previous home didn’t recognise their dog is genetically like this & neglected to do any training or conditioning to raise the dogs confidence & independence
The previous owner didn’t know what to do with a dog that is genetically anxious & nervous, possibly making it worse by babying it.
You can have:
A Genetically Anxious, nervous & sensitive dog
An Conditioned Anxious dog (Owner unknowingly has caused the anxiety)
If your dog is genetically anxious, unfortunately this is the dog you have purchased, and it will always be anxious to some degree. We can however minimise your dog’s anxiety & nervousness, increasing confidence. To what degree can we increase confidence? That will be unique to each dog & owner.
For both types of dogs (Genetic or Conditioned), this requires a lifestyle change for both you & the dog (More so you if you have conditioned the issues into your dog) & teaching the dog some good skills.
A saying I like is:
“Treat a dog like a human, as it will be as demented as one. Treat it like a dog and it will shine!”
Dogs are dogs, they were bred to aid us in jobs. Hunting, herding, vermin control, guarding, tracking, retrieving and much more. We now have them on our couches & treat them as children. While a dog can provide great company & support, we shouldn’t take advantage of that unfairly & selfishly.
Now this doesn’t mean throw them outside all & don’t have them on your couches. It means:
Have rules that you stick to
Teach them important skills
Be accepting of unrealistic expectations you put on them
Take the time to learn how to read dog body language
Give them things to do that make them feel fulfilled as a dog & its breed
And DON’T baby them! That is extremely selfish of you if you do
Skills, Habits & lifestyle changes:
Crate &/Or Place Training will teach a dog how to be calm, feel safe & be okay spending time on its own
Teaching obedience so it can have an alternative behaviour to do when it feels anxious about a situation (Sit, Drop, Heel, Leash Manners).
Multidog house holds need to treat each dog as an individual so they don’t become co-dependant on another dog. This mean separating them so they don’t spend 24/7 with each other. Separate walks, separate training session, separate play time, separate cuddle time. One inside & one outside, Make this normal for them. Don’t let them rely on the other dog.
Even for single dog house holds, teach them to be okay on their own. Not just crate or place time but, being in another room without you, being in the yard on their own. Not always having to be on the couch or bed with you ALL the time. Being okay with you walking away from them when out (Drop Stay or Sit Stay)
Discourage sooky behaviour such as rolling over when someone greets them, pawing at someone for attention or being sooky when they are in trouble or something is wrong. This only encourages them to continue the sooky & nervous behaviour, not building any confidence. Instead move away from them if they are to do any of these behaviours so they can find other things to do like laying down & chilling out on their own
Habituate them to their environment so they are confident within it. This means within the home or out & about in public places