Stress and anxiety in dogs: Our experience and some tips #DogAnxietyTips

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Robbie might come across as a happy-go-lucky bouncy pup, but actually, he’s got a much more sensitive side and as he suffers quite badly with separation anxiety, stress and he’s had a couple of bouts of doggy depression in his life too. This resulted in him getting a skin condition where his hair would fall out, which is really worrying. Robbie is a naturally sensitive dog, so we have to make sure he is okay in himself not only his physical health but in his mental wellbeing too.

One of the major hurdles Robbie has had to deal with was when Violet was born. Before the babies, he was the centre of attention and the star of the show. Naturally, when a baby arrives they always take centre stage and Robbie was severely affected – despite us doing everything we could to include him and prepare him for Violet’s arrival. He lost all interest in things he previously loved, like walks and playing with balls, he would lay in his basket and had the saddest expression, it was heartbreaking to see.

SIGNS TO WATCH FOR

If you are looking for signs of stress or anxiety in your dog, common signs are:

  • Aggression
  • Urinating or defecating in the house
  • Drooling
  • Panting
  • Destructive behaviour
  • Depression
  • Excessive barking
  • Pacing
  • Restlessness
  • Repetitive or compulsive behaviours
  • Sulking – lack of interest in previous activities

REASONS FOR ANXIETY

Often causes of anxiety can be:

  1. Fear
  2. Separation Anxiety
  3. Age in senior dogs
  4. A change in your circumstances – moving home, a new baby, a death in the family

TIPS & TRICKS

Here are a new things we did for Robbie that really seemed to help with his stress and anxiety:

Regular Walks – We made sure to get him outside every day without fail. Tricky to do with a newborn, but Violet soon got used to being whisked about in her baby carrier and the fresh air probably did us all some good too. We also employed a dog walker to come twice a week as then he would go out on longer walks with other dogs which gave him a chance to ‘socialise’ too.

Calming Spray – a calming spray worked wonders for Robbie – we used one made from natural ingredients and sprayed it around his bed area too.

Create a safe space –  Robbie’s safe space is under our bed so we made sure we kept the area clear for him to access and put some toys and comfy blankets down for him to sit on. Whenever he is scared or anxious he will retreat under the bed so when he’s under there we leave him and give him some space.

Lots of care and attention – We reassured him and made sure he knew he was still welcome by giving him lots of love and affection when Violet came along. He would sit on the sofa with me whilst I was feeding her and some of our friends even bought gifts and toys for him too which helped him to still feel part of the family.

Leaving TV/radio on – We try not to leave Robbie at home on his own too much, but occasionally it can be unavoidable, so we always leave the TV or radio on for him so he’s got some ‘company. It’s also said that soothing classical music can help calm dogs down so his favourite radio station is Classic FM.

A trip to the vet – If you have tried the above tips and your dog doesn’t start to perk up, it might be worth a trip to the vets to get them checked over to double check there isn’t another medical reason for their behaviour. Always best to be on the safe side and seek professional advice if you are not sure.

If you’ve got an anxious dog, I really hope that these tips help!

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