Recognizing Causes and Symptoms of Dog Anxiety
It would be wonderful if all dog owners were perfectly attuned to the emotional state of their pet. The reality is that we may not always recognize the (sometimes subtle) signals we are seeing.
How do you know if your dog is experiencing anxiety? In this article we will try to list some of the more common causes and symptoms of anxiety that you should look out for.
Also, in a follow up article “5 Easy Steps to Relieve Dog Anxiety” we’ll discuss some of our top tips for relieving anxiety.
Dog anxiety affects all breeds however there can be subtle differences due to individual dog temperament. In this article we will focus on the causes and symptoms, which we may observe in French Bulldogs.
Normal levels of anxiety in dogs (as in humans) are always present. It’s when the level of anxiety is dis-proportionally high and remains unchecked that it can develop into a severe disorder. If this is unrecognized by the owner and left untreated, dog anxiety can morph into more unhealthy behavioral issues.
Causes of Dog Anxiety
There can be a variety of causes for anxiety in dogs. However, in most cases there is usually one of three common elements present in the root cause.
These 3 elements are;
There are potentially many ‘fear-related’ situations that may be causing you dog to experience anxiety. This is where you need to note patterns; like the reactions you see reoccurring in similar situations.
Some examples of these may be loud noises, meeting new people or other animals, or going to new or strange environments. It may be even car rides or being in a friend’s home. Just about any stimuli may, for whatever reason, affect some dogs more profoundly than others.
Separation anxiety is much more widespread and is thought to affect as many as 1 in 5 dogs. We define separation anxiety as being a condition where the dog cannot find comfort (even in familiar surroundings) when they are left alone or separated from family members.
This form of anxiety unfortunately manifests itself in undesirable behaviors. This may take the form of relieving themselves in the house, or general bad behavior like chewing furniture or persistent barking.
With older dogs, Age-related anxiety is difficult to solve. Like humans, dogs can suffer from deterioration in their cognitive functions. Senses and faculties like memory, learning, perception and awareness will start to decline. Older dogs have been known to wander off and be lost in what were once familiar streets. This is sad, but unfortunately it’s the stage of life they are in.
Symptoms of Dog Anxiety
Here are some of the symptoms you should look out for, particularly with French Bulldogs:
- Urinating or defecating in the house – Excluding the puppy / training phase
- Uncharacteristic Aggression
- Excessive drooling
- Destructive behavior
- Hiding from owner and unresponsive to commands
- Excessive barking
- Restlessness – Missing normal sleep routine
Sometimes very anxious dogs will work themselves up so much that they pee or poop in the house, even when they have been completely house trained for years. As unpleasant as this is, you need to look beyond the situation and acknowledge that there is something else going on. Then look for what may have recently changed that is causing the anxiety with your pet.
Some of these symptoms may be the result of one-off events, but if you notice that they are becoming recurrent then you need to consider there is a more serious issue involved. This is particularly important when the symptom of dog anxiety is aggression.
Needless to say, sudden aggression can have unintended but harmful consequences when the target is another person, and / or child or another animal. Aggressive behavior such as growling or barking need to be taken as early warning signs by the owner; rather than have to regret later that remedial action was not taken early enough.
Destructive behavior is another common symptom, usually linked to separation anxiety. As frustrating as this behavior is, we must not think of it as deliberate or malicious as we would with a destructive human.
The dog is simply reacting to their heightened state of anxiety, and remedial actions need to be taken as these situations may sometimes lead to the dog harming him or herself as they attempt to break out.
For more information on what actions owners could take, please read our article: 5 Easy Steps to Relieve Dog Anxiety.
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- Understanding Separation Anxiety In Dogs: Part 2
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