Anxiety – The leading behavioural problem in dogs

Mar 2, 2017

Anxiety disorders are the most common type of behaviour problem we see in dogs.

For most dogs, stress plays a key role in the development of an anxiety problem but there may also be a breed predisposition in some cases. 

It is important to understand that anxiety in dogs is a medical condition, due to a chemical imbalance in the brain. The treatment and management of anxiety disorders require specialized veterinary care and understanding. Mental health disease in dogs is just as common as in humans, and it is important to seek the correct advise.  Just as we don’t send our children to their school teacher for help with their anxiety, not all dog trainers have  the tools needed to manage a mental health patient.  It is important to also note that not all veterinarians have the correct training to deal with mental health problems. Team work between your veterinary behaviourist and a suitable trainer is the best way.

Some signs of canine anxiety to watch out for include:

  • Destructive behaviour such as digging, chewing furniture, scratching at door frames
  • Pacing or trying to escape
  • Aggression – to other dogs or people
  • Yawning
  • Avoiding eye contact or looking away
  • Standing with tail tucked under
  • excessive barking
  • excessive excitement

For us to accurately diagnose an anxiety problem we’ll be relying on you to give us essential information about your dog’s behavioural and medical history. Often we wil ask you to fill out a behavioural questionaire where we ask you lots of questions after performing a thorough physical exam and possibly blood and urine tests, especially if your dog’s treatment plan includes medication. This is a time consuming process but important for both you and your pet as problem behaviours can severely affect the human pet bond and lead to relinquishment or banishment which is not a happy outcome for either party.

Punishment should never be used when training an anxious dog as this will only further increase anxiety and this can impair the retraining process. 

To read more about things you should not do with your dog, written by a veterinary specialist click here

If you are worried about your dog’s behaviour please call us.