Fear and anxiety can severely impact even the most playful and lovable of dogs. There are numerous different forms of fear and anxiety, such as social and separation anxiety. Owners struggling with anxious pups want to know about treatment for these issues.
There are behavioral interventions and other treatments that can help! Below we will look at some of these anxiety issues in more detail, along with options that could treat or at least improve them.
In general, behavior modification is used to adjust a certain behavior, either decrease unwanted behavior or increase desired behavior. For example, many dogs are fearful of loud noises, fireworks, or thunder. They become upset and may try to run, hide, or seek comfort from you.
One of the first things you can do is to not provide comfort. This may seem odd. Surprisingly, providing comfort can reinforce the unwanted fearful behavior. Counterconditioning can be an effective way to modify anxiety or fear.
For my own dog, he has been anxious during thunderstorms. I have learned that if I play fetch and other games with him, during the storm, his anxiety is reduced as he is focused on play.
Several other behavioral modification techniques are available such as extinction, flooding, habituation, and management. Seeking out help from a professional trainer may be a good option to assist in the process.
Being fearful in a crowded situation, getting nervous when visiting others, or getting worked up when going to the vet are common issues related to social anxiety. Proper socialization is the best way to prevent this.
Socialization is best done at an early age (between eight and twelve weeks) in order to have a well-socialized pet. However, older dogs can still learn socialization, as well. If the dog has already developed anxiety related to social situations, you can start small and help them.
Gradual steps to get your pup to the dog park, are a good way to start. For instance, visiting the dog park and allowing your dog to walk around the outside of the fence. This will give your dog the chance to see the others playing and having fun.
Plan ways to make outings entertaining for your pooch. If taking your dog through a crowded street, follow this up with a game of fetch for just you and him. He will see that there are good activities associated with what may have been fearful.
Ultimately, reading your dog’s behavior and body language will be able to tell you what he can handle and how much at a time.
Treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Yes, even dogs can develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Often things like natural disasters (tornadoes, hurricanes, and so forth) can trigger PTSD. Other causes of PTSD could be abuse or neglect, losing a caretaker, or being involved in a serious accident.
During an obedience training session with my dog, I met a woman and her dog who appeared to have issues with PTSD. The dog had been at home alone when a gas explosion occurred in the neighborhood, causing several homes to explode or catch on fire. Her owner explained that following the disaster, the dog became aggressive and fearful.
Incorporating daily exercise, positive reinforcement, and play sessions are also an important part of treatment for PTSD.
There are several situations that can call for medications for your dog. Some dogs suffer from situational anxiety, while others may have more generalized anxiety.
Visiting the veterinarian is the first place to start. While there are many different types of anxiety medications, the vet will know which one will better suit your pup.
The cannabidiol (CBD) oil craze among people has not just benefited the humankind. CBD has also been known to help dogs with anxiety or boisterous behaviors. CBD is a natural derivative of the Cannabis plant, it is legal, and does not have the ability for intoxication.
Benefits of CBD have been shown to decrease agitation and stress responses. CBD has also been used to treat pain, inflammation, digestive issues, and immune system issues.
A friend of mine owns two Labrador Retrievers. One of them is extremely hyper and has difficulty remaining calm, especially when they have visitors. I have witnessed the benefits of the CBD chews on the Labrador. Within a few minutes of giving him the chews, he will sit calmly. His entire demeanor is more relaxed, and quiet.
Other natural treatments that can help with anxiety are exercise, mental stimulation, massages, and grooming. This also allows your dog to spend time with you, which can be beneficial in reducing anxiety and fear.
Short-term remedies such as melatonin or chamomile have been known to help with situational stressors such as car rides.