5 Ways To Help Your Anxious Dog
At some point throughout your life, you’ve most likely owned, known, or encountered an anxious or skittish dog. Some simply shy away from your touch, others develop fear aggression, but the spectrum of anxious and skittish behaviors ranges far and wide. In some cases these are merely genetic traits that are associated with certain breeds, however regardless of the reasoning behind the behavior and emotion, there are always positive ways to work to ease your dog’s anxiety!
Take a car ride when you’re not going scary places
If you only take your dog in the car when you’re going to places they don’t enjoy, such as the vet or the groomer, they will always associate the car with bad experiences and in turn, will always be afraid of the car and anxious inside of it. Teach your dog that the car is a way to get to fun places! Give them treats while they’re inside and when they get out, and take them to places where they can burn off their energy and play with friends. The dog park, trails, and lakes are great places to take your dog in the car to help them begin to associate car rides with good things.
Study your dog’s body language
Your dog’s body language can give you a lot of insight as to exactly how it’s feeling, so it’s important to pay attention. Taking the time to read about canine body language and how dogs communicate with one another can help you to understand why your dog is acting a certain way and what the behavior means. If you can recognize what body language signifies fear, then you are more likely to recognize the situations, people, and animals that provoke that negative feeling within your dog.
Keep a list of the things that trigger your dog
Along with understanding body language, it’s also helpful to know what triggers your dog to behave a specific way. With anxious and skittish dogs, the list of triggers may become lengthy, so keeping a list is crucial to identifying which situations provoke negative emotions as well as their severity. By identifying the things that trigger your dog, you can then actively work to figure out how you can eliminate some of the stressors in your dog’s environment, leaving your dog a bit more at ease.
Give your dog a safe place
Just as humans like to feel safe and secure when we are feeling anxious, scared, or overwhelmed, anxious dogs like to have a safe place to retreat to as well. Creating a safe zone in your home where you dog knows it will always be out of harm’s way is a great way to get its anxiety under control. If your dog is showing signs of anxiety, show it to its safe place, make sure it’s quiet and dark, and show them that there is nothing to be scared of.
Give training a shot
A little training never hurt anyone! The professionals usually know best, so if you and your dog are really struggling to get its anxiety under control, it might be smart to invest in some training. Training will not only help your dog behave better (great for you!), but it will also increase your dog’s confidence and leave it feeling more sure of itself going into uncomfortable situations. It also helps to strengthen the bond you share and allows you to effectively show your dog that there is nothing to worry about should it become anxious.