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Understanding Dog Anxiety and Fear – What You Can Do

Understanding Dog Anxiety and Fear

If your dog is often anxious or frightened, you may be scared, too. Many pet parents don’t know what to do during anxious spells or how to lessen the severity of them in the future. Some try to help, but they end up worsening the situation instead.

It feels helpless and hopeless because you want to see your pet happy and comfortable. Don’t give up just yet, though; you can help in more ways than you know!

Let’s talk about:

  • What can trigger fear and anxiety disorders in dogs
  • The behaviors resulting from fear
  • What you should not do when your dog is experiencing separation anxiety
  • What you can do to help as dog owners

What Triggers Fear and Anxiety?

The first thing you need to know is what can cause dogs to feel anxiety or fear. Even before you look at the symptoms and signs of anxiety, ask yourself whether any of these things are a part of your life very often or if any have happened recently.

Loud noises

Thunderstorms and fireworks are the most common triggers for dogs when it comes to anxiety. Others may include loud music, slamming doors, motorcycles, sirens, and yelling.

Changes in living arrangements

Moving to a new house and into unfamiliar territory frightens many dogs. Everything they were used to experiencing is gone. Only you remain the same. The same can be said for introducing a new family member as a permanent fixture in the house. A new baby or pet is likely to set a dog off.


Some dogs do not feel comfortable with being alone or being with someone who isn’t you. They depend on you for comfort and survival; when you leave, they have to depend on themselves or someone that they do not trust.

Other animals

Like all living beings, dogs have an instinctual drive to defend themselves against other animals. Even if you can’t see one, your dog may have smelled it.

Unpleasant events

These can be pretty minor things like riding in the car or going to the vet. Both can make your dog uncomfortable.

Past abuse

Maybe you adopted your dog from a shelter, and you find that your new pal is anxious, fearful, or agitated for seemingly no reason. If past owners were abusive, dogs lose the ability to trust humans as easily and quickly as others do. Sudden hand movements, the dark, cages, separation, and even leashes could spook them if used as a weapon and punishment before.

Behaviors Resulting From Anxiety and Fear

Aggressive behavior

This is dangerous for your dog and everyone around you. Fear drives it – your dog does not mean to be malicious. However, it still shouldn’t be taken lightly. Nipping, barking, charging, biting, growling are all signs that your dog may attack if further provoked.

Urination/defecation inside the home

We train our dogs to “go” outside. Most of them have no trouble with it once they mature out of puppyhood. If your dog resists training or has suddenly started doing this inside even though they know better, then it could be a fear response.

Destruction of objects

If you come home and Fido has shredded your throw pillows to pieces or ruined your favorite pair of shoes when he is usually mild-mannered, you can mark it as a potential side effect of the misery he’s going through.

What Not To Do

Misguided pet owners sometimes try to make a situation better, but they end up scaring their dogs even more. Even though they have the best intentions, they are making it more difficult to treat these problems in the future. This is what you should not do:

Don’t force your dog

Don’t try to force your dog to get over their fears by immersing them in the situations they’re afraid of at full force. Not only is this unhelpful, but it’s also dangerous. If prodded too much, you or someone else could be attacked. Training by immersion in tiny increments is better; still, do not do this without speaking to a professional first.

Don’t hit your dog

Now, your dog is learning to fear you and distrust you because of one moment of rash actions. How is he supposed to get better if he can’t depend on you for help?

Do not try any treatment option without talking to an animal specialist

Just because one method was right for one dog does not mean that it’ll work for yours.

How You Can Help

Your dog doesn’t have to suffer an endless cycle of misery. There are measures you can take to keep them calm.

The first thing you should do is talk to your regular veterinarian. They will be able to establish what the best treatment option is for what your dog is experiencing. This could be:

At-home methods

Things like aromatherapy and compression vests can calm your dog when nothing else will.


Some dogs are prescribed regular meds to calm them or sedative medications for car rides or events that they may find unpleasant or triggering.

CBD products

This is a fairly new treatment option that you should talk to the vet about. CBD products has already worked wonders in humans when it comes to anxiety, and more studies show that it can work for pets as well.

Helping man’s best friend overcome their fears is easier than you think. All it takes is a little bit of understanding and patience.

Source: This article is provided courtesy of

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