Our dogs are very sensitive creatures. In a lot of ways, they’re like giant, furry babies. That’s why it’s important we understand our loving pets. They can feel a great deal of emotion but can’t express that feeling verbally to us. Dogs may not know how to talk to us but they can tell us a lot with their actions.
Read also: “6 Ways To Keep Your Dog Happy While You’re Gone“
Here are 10 ways to understand a fearful dog.
- Body Language
- Baring their teeth
- Wagging tail
- Flattened ears
- Licking their lips
- Raised hair on the back of their body
- Random urinating
- Staying close to owner’s side
- Destructive behavior
- Physical Symptoms
- Loss of control over bladder
- Wide eyes
So how can we help a fearful dog? There are a lot of ways to help a terrified terrier or a panicked poodle! Here are several ways according to PetMD.
- If your dog has extreme panic and separation anxiety and needs to be protected until medications can become effective, which can take from days to weeks, hospitalization may be the best choice. Otherwise, you will care for your dog at home, and will need to provide protection from self inflicted physical injury until the dog calms down. You may need to arrange for day care or dog-sitting.
- Affected dogs will respond to some extent to a combination of behavior modification and treatment with anti-anxiety medication. If there is a condition that causes itchiness and/or pain, it must be controlled. Your dog may need to live in a protected environment with as few social stressors as possible. These animals do not do well in dog shows.
- You will need to teach your dog to relax in a variety of environmental settings. Avoid reassuring the dog when it is in the midst of experiencing fear or panic; the dog may interpret this as a reward for its behavior.
- Encourage calmness, but do not reinforce the fear reaction. Remember that not all dogs are calmer when crated; some dogs panic when caged and will injure themselves if forced to be confined.
- Absolutely avoid punishment for behavior related to fear, phobia, or anxiety.
- Desensitization and counter-conditioning are most effective if the fear, phobia, or anxiety is treated early. The goal is to decrease the reaction to a specific stimulus (such as being left alone in the dark). Desensitization is the repeated, controlled exposure to the stimulus that usually causes a fearful or anxious response in such a way that the dog does not respond with the undesirable response. With repeated efforts, the goal is to decrease the dog’s undesirable response. Counter-conditioning is training the dog to perform a positive behavior in place of the negative behavior (in this case, fear or anxiety).
- Teach your dog to sit and stay, and when your dog performs appropriately you can reward it appropriately. Then, when your dog is in a situation where it might show the undesirable response, have it sit and stay. The signs involved in an oncoming anxiety attack are subtle; learn to recognize the physical signs associated with the fears, phobias, and anxieties and head the behavior off before it has a chance to take over your dog’s behavior.