During the COVID-19 pandemic, the term "dog life" took on a whole new meaning as dogs got used to the almost constant presence and extra attention of their owners.
However, dog behavior experts are wondering what the impact of returning to normal life in the fall will be...
Does an animal that is afraid of something specific necessarily suffer from anxiety? Is it an anxious animal who is afraid of everything?
In fact, fear is an emotion experienced in the presence of recognizable danger. Fear is necessary for survival. This allows us to make safe decisions. It is therefore normal, even if it can sometimes be exaggerated in certain contexts.
The behavior and reactions of the anxious person are similar to those of the fearful person. Anxiety, however, is a condition, a feeling that persists over time.
Moreover, it is usually secondary to expectations, and the trigger is often difficult to identify. This state of vigilance, of tension, puts the animal in a state of vigilance, which makes it difficult to adapt and learn on a daily basis.
Stress for owners
Returning to work is not only a worrying situation for dogs, but also very stressful for owners.
While humans are routine, so are dogs, cases of separation anxiety take time to resolve and require follow-up.
A question of genetics?
As in humans, according to dog trainers, certain types of anxiety are due to a genetic predisposition combined with the environment .
"The dog with separation anxiety has a genetic predisposition. Unfortunately, many people saw an opportunity to make money by breeding dogs that shouldn't have been bred because the bait was there. "origin of animals is a problematic aspect. Sometimes it can work very well, but sometimes it can lead to big problems",
Educators also warn people who adopt their dogs from unscrupulous kennels.
What can stress your dog?
There are many causes of anxiety. like the following:
The dog suffering from separation anxiety may have a genetic predisposition. Unfortunately, many people saw an opportunity to make money by breeding dogs that shouldn't have been bred because the greed was there. The origin of animals is a problematic aspect. Sometimes this can lead to big problems.
The environment in which he lives
An anxious dog living in an environment conducive to amplifying its stress can cause behavioral problems and harm to your animal.
Dogs with a painful past may suffer from separation anxiety more than others, so pay attention to their well-being and be extra careful.
Is it normal for my dog to be anxious?
At a mild level and when the cause can be identified, anxiety is completely normal. For example, your dog may be anxious when he associates a time or place with a bad past experience, discomfort, feeling insecure, or something else.
Therefore, he may worry:
- By car
- In the presence of new people
- When he arrives in a new environment
- To the vet
- When he hears certain noises etc...
In these situations, this feeling, very similar to fear, should disappear as soon as the source of the problem goes away. But sometimes the anxiety can linger and dramatically affect your dog's quality of life.
Your dog's anxiety is unusual when:
Anxiety can become a problem when it persists, even when there is no "danger" or apparent reason to worry.
In this situation, your dog cannot correctly assess how dangerous the situation is and expects a threat.
This emotion of fear , which can become almost constant, causes the dog emotional suffering and forces him to be constantly on the alert.
Often, due to this almost constant feeling of insecurity, his ability to learn is impaired and the usual techniques of training or education often do not have the desired effect.
Also, no matter how obedient your dog is, he may not be able to respond to basic requests at times that may seem insignificant.
Why is that? Because obedience does not help him to distinguish between the presence and the absence of a threat.
Depending on your character, your dog may develop a variety of problematic behaviors that are a secondary cause of his anxiety.
What are these behaviors?
For example, he may bark excessively or show aggression.
The expression of different behaviors related to fear or anxiety is different in different dogs.
Here are the most common signs of anxiety your dog may experience:
- Barking and whining
- Immobilization: for example, refusing to move forward during a walk
- Avoid, flee or hide: he always hides when you have visitors
- Exaggerated motor activity
- Increased alertness: Reacts to every noise, movement
- Inability to relax
- Scratch doors or floors
- Body Hardening
- Tail down or between the legs
- Ears and face are stretched back
- Frequent yawning
- Sighs, swollen cheeks
- defecation and/or urination
- Attention-seeking: he tries to interact with you in an exaggerated way.
Dog in a state of constant vigilance
The vigilant animal is in constant observation, alert and sensitive to the slightest change. This can often go unnoticed, as the animal may seem simply focused on something or in "watching" mode.
Anxious dogs may be dogs with a phobia of thunderstorms. If your dog shows signs of anxiety during thunderstorms or similar
What should I do if my dog is stressed?
Provide a quiet environment?
Place your pet in an environment that allows him to be as calm as possible, with as few sources of anxiety as possible.
For example :
- Put on background music to mask ambient noise
- Walk in low traffic areas
- Block access to stress areas
- Use a calm voice when talking to your dog
- Avoid stressful situations
Don't force it
Do not force your dog to enter an environment or communicate with a disturbing person. If he refuses to approach or interact, respect his decision.
Create positive situations
Offer your pet things he likes in the presence of things that cause him anxiety. For example, when visitors arrive, offer them a favorite Toy sound.
This technique aims to change the animal's emotion by changing the association it makes with something that initially evokes an emotion of fear.
Set up a routine
Try to introduce a routine into your pet's life in terms of its environment, your schedule and your relationships. Develop clear and consistent communication to avoid confusion and anxiety.
Do Not Punish Your Dog
Avoid all forms of physical and verbal punishment, as they can cause further anxiety and damage your relationship.
Even the use of the word "No", which may seem harmless to you, should be avoided. Instead, it's best to tell your pet what you want it to do, rather than just deny it. In fact, this information from you is partial (telling him "don't do that" without telling him exactly what to do), which may increase his anxiety.
Observe your pet's body language; it will show you how comfortable your pet feels.
Learn to understand him and respect his emotional state. Give him the opportunity to remain isolated if he wishes.
If your dog growls, heed his warning: stop the interaction immediately and remove him from the disturbing situation.
What medications to calm your dog?
Soothing pheromone diffusers (ex: Adaptil®)
Natural soothing products (ex. Zylkene®)
Soothing wraps (e.g. Thundershirt®)
Each animal being different, it is not possible to determine with certainty which product will suit him. But one thing is certain: experience with some of them can be very useful for your pet.
What natural solutions to help your dog?
For some time now, interest in the use of CBD based on extracts of Hemp sativa L has been gaining popularity in veterinary medicine.
CBD oil for dogs could be interesting in the management of anxious behaviors in dogs due to anxiolytic , antidepressant and sleep quality effects, help for old dogs, cats and animals at the end of life, thus reducing pain sensitivity and improving their quality of life.