Every dog will experience anxious moments at some point – just like their humans. The trick is trying to determine signs of long-term anxious behavior vs. just a one-time or rare incident. Left untreated, some stress-related problems can worsen and lead to huge behavioral issues. This causes an unfortunate gap in your relationship with your dog.
So how can you identify anxious behaviors in your dog? Well, there are some tell-tale signs that if repeated, can give you some clues and help you figure out how to prevent and/or treat these stressful situations.
For instance, your dog might be afraid of loud noises like planes or fireworks, other animals, busy or strange places, stranger danger – or even new environments like stairs without carpet or water. Many dogs are scared at the vet’s office because they don’t know what to expect. Fear-related stress can build over time to the point where your dog is just waiting for the next scary incident to set her off.
One of the biggest stressors for dogs is separation from their humans. Whether at home, at the kennel or in another strange place, dogs who experience separation stress can exhibit behaviors like chewing on furniture, peeing or pooping indoors – or, on a personal note – completely destroying your plantation shutters when you’re not home and the Blue Angels fly over. Talk about a double-whammy. Whether it’s one of these issues or even incessant barking, panting or scratching – stress from separation is a big problem for your dog and for you.
For older dogs, stress may stem from the inability to see or hear, loss of memory or physical ability. Older dogs have been known to wander down the street and get lost – even if they’ve gone that route their entire lives. Confusion is a very stressful situation for your dog.