Dog anxiety: how to alleviate symptoms at show events

Dog Anxiety: Causes

According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, dog anxiety can have a variety of causes. Some of the most common causes of dog anxiety are:

  • Fear
  • Separation
  • Aging

Fear-related anxiety can be caused by loud noises, strange people or animals, visual stimuli, new environments, specific situations or surfaces like grass or wood floors, which is particularly likely at big dog shows like Crufts. Although some dogs may only have brief reactions to these kind of stimuli, anxious dogs may feel the effects more severely.

Dog Anxiety: Symptoms

So how can you tell if your dog has anxiety? There are several important symptoms to look out for:

  • Excessive barking
  • Pacing
  • Restlessness
  • Repetitive or compulsive behaviours
  • Hiding or seeking comfort
  • Fainting

Preparing your dog for events

The best way to prepare your dog for handling anxiety at a show is to talk with your veterinarian. Your veterinarian can help you identify the type of anxiety your dog suffers from and the possible causes and triggers. Your veterinarian will also be able to help you determine if the anxiety is simply situational, or if it is becoming an overwhelming issue for your dog. Additionally, veterinarians can also rule out any other medical conditions that could be causing your dog’s symptoms.

Your veterinarian will help you come up with a treatment plan. Since excessive anxiety is often caused by a variety of factors, the best way to treat it is usually through a combination of training, preventive strategies, and in some cases, medications.

Tactics to alleviate anxiety

Compression wraps - The wraps work by swaddling your dog and applying gentle, continuous pressure, which is thought to help reduce fear.

Train them from an early age - Exposure to all manner of stimuli by four to six months of age will help prevent the development of anxiety and phobias. Once your veterinarian gives you clearance, begin visiting public parks, pet-friendly stores, and puppy kindergarten classes.

Exercise them before events - As the saying goes: “A tired dog is a good dog.” Pent-up energy could manifest as unruly behaviour, anxiety, or even aggression.

Project a calm energy - Dogs are incredibly intuitive when it comes to our emotions, they can read us like a book! Nervous owners tend to have stiff body posture and cling tightly to the leash in anticipation of a negative experience. In these situations, the leash becomes a live wire, with your tension traveling right down into your pooch.

Calming treats - If you don't have enough time before a particular event to train your dog, you can consult with your vet to see if using calming treats is a good alternative option for your dog.

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