Dog Anxiety and Dog Fears

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Dog your dog get nervous when there’s a thunderstorm?

natural anxiety treatments for dogsPerhaps fireworks cause terror in your dog? Some dogs are not bothered by unusual noises at all, while others can shiver and shake and cower in corners, and generally behave like real sooks. And the sad thing is that we can’t explain to the dog that there’s nothing to be afraid of.

But I suppose it’s like phobias with people. I confess – I’m terrified of spiders. I know they can’t hurt me (the non-poisonous ones, anyway), and I know they’re a fraction of my size so I could beat them in any fight! But nevertheless, I become a blithering idiot if I even see a spider anywhere near me. It’s a totally irrational fear.

The same with dogs who are afraid of loud noises, I suppose.

My Rottweiler, Kara, was one of those dogs afflicted by an irrational fear of thunder, fireworks, and any sudden, loud noise.

It was a bit embarrassing, really – you’d expect a Rottweiler to be fearless. But mine was a pussy when it comes to this sort of thing!

One New Year’s Eve when I was away, Kara dug her way under the house and escaped (due to being terrified of the fireworks which were going off).

My neighbors had to pick her up from the pound the following morning. Apparently the dog catchers are out in force on New Year’s Eve because they round up many dogs and impound them! A nice little revenue booster for the local authorities. From memory it cost about $100 to get her back.

So what causes a dog to jump a 6 foot fence or burrow their way out under the house when you thought it was impenetrable?  It’s anxiety. Dog anxiety.

natural anxiety treatments for dogsAnd there are things you can do for it.

I’ve found that peppermint oil applied to the pads of her paws has some calming effect.

And a natural stress remedy also works very nicely.

Anxiety in dogs can be caused by any number of things – illness, travel, thunderstorms, death in the family, separation, or they may develop unexplained phobic or neurotic behaviour, or barking or other antisocial behaviour.

If you can identify the cause of the anxiety, then the best solution to the problem is to remove the cause.

This is not always possible, though. If your dog is experiencing separation anxiety every time you leave the house, and you work full time outside the home, you’ve got a problem! I suppose you could give up work and stay home with your dog, but sometimes we need to be a little realistic!

For this particular problem there are a number of things you can do to alleviate your dog’s anxiety when you leave – many people have found that playing soothing music while they’re out works wonders.

Mozart? – that certainly used to calm my hyperactive son down a little, so Mozart would be my personal first choice, but there are many soothing classical and new age, or even some light rock or jazz music might work – try out whatever you have in your CD collection for starters.

Another wonderful idea I read about recently is making a tape recording of your own voice and playing that on a continuous play while you’re gone.

And there are certain homeopathic and herbal remedies which really do calm your dog. So those may well assist with your dog’s separation anxiety.

Some years ago, before I bnatural anxiety treatments for dogsecame interested in natural remedies for dogs – actually it was following the fireworks incident I mentioned earlier – Kara became quite determined to continue escaping, for some reason.

I suppose once she realized she could get out, she just kept on trying. It became a behavioral issue – a compulsion, even.

Ever heard of a dog with obsessive compulsive disorder? (Just kidding, but it really was becoming a serious problem). She was even destroying part of my house in her determination to try to get through the thick wooden boards I had put up to prevent further escapes.

So I took her to the vet, as I was at a complete loss to know what to do with her. She was prescribed an anti-anxiety medication. This made Kara quite dopey, and seemed to take some of her personality away somehow. In other words, I suppose she appeared drugged. I didn’t like it at all.

Now I know that there are much more pleasant, all natural anxiety treatments for dogs, which have no nasty side effects. And they really do work just as well as the drugs.

7 thoughts on “Dog Anxiety and Dog Fears

  1. Nannette

    Thank you for the great info! I did leave the radio on all day, but, I guess since it is country music, it didn’t calm her enough! I’ll try Mozart on the radio and the peppermint oil on her paws to see if they will work, then I’ll try the Pet Calm.

  2. Tino

    My wife and I have a cocker spaniel, her name is Storm. She is nearly 10 now and has a few phobias. She hates the postman with a passion. Our lounge has a bay window and faces out onto the road. She worked it out to climb onto the top of the upright cushion of the armchair and sleep there all day. She has a full view of the front so knows exactly when the postman is due. She goes into an absolute frenzied barking session and scratches the doorpost to pieces. The other time she goes into an uncontrollable frenzied barking mode is the dreadful week of fireworks. She runs in frenzied barking circles barking at all the fireworks for hours and comes indoors and collapses in a fatigued heap!!!!

  3. JUDY

    Hi Bridgett,

    I really enjoy ALL your articles you send me. They are easy to read and understand along with many super hints and suggestions instead of all the “scientific”jibber jabber AND a bit entertaining as well. Our rescued Shi-Tzu who “thinks” she’s one of our 4 cats falls into one of the above catagories of fear/anxiety. As long as she’s with us she seems content most times, other times she barks and barks to go back in when we’re all outside with her. you mentioned “peppermint oil”for a calming effect on dogs, but how about cats??? I sure could use something for one of mine!!!

  4. Brigitte Smith

    Thanks for your comments, guys.

    Hi Nanette,

    Yes, I think Mozart will have a better effect than country music. I can really bop along to country, so I don’t think that’s the idea here!

    Hi Tino,

    Yes, fireworks can really stress dogs who are bothered by them. They are one of the worst things for dogs that don’t like loud noises and so forth. Funny about the postman, though!

    Hi Judy,

    Thanks for your feedback. I appreciate it! I don’t know about peppermint oil for cats, but I can’t see why it wouldn’t work, although they might try to lick it off, I guess, being more able to reach the bottoms of their paws than dogs can.


  5. Charla

    I have a very short-legged dashcund that can easily lick the bottom of her paws. Will likcking the pepermint oil have any weird digestive side effects? I know it is good for nasuea in humans.

  6. Ginger

    My Cocker Spaniel, Misty, had very bad separation anxiety until about age 4, when I sort of acquired my JRT, Pele. Now Misty’s fine, but Pele has always been a very nervous little dog when it comes to loud noises, and sometimes even other dogs. I think her dog anxiety stems from irresponsible neighbors who used to let their extremely dog aggressive dog get into my yard. (Because I had two dogs, I had to immediately grab their dog while they yelled at me to get my dogs in the house. They moved, lucky for me, but unfortunately they must be someone else’s problem now.) Before this, Pele wasn’t anxious around other dogs, but she has always been anxious when it comes to loud noises, particularly lawnmowers, motorcycles, or trucks driving by while we’re out on a walk. She also seems to look uncomfortable when we are out and a group of people (usually children) crowd her. Misty doesn’t mind this at all. I was reading about the PetCalm product your link recommended and was wondering if it would address all three of these issues. I was also wondering if the discomfort Pele has been showing when in a situation where many people are showing her attention at once is normal or whether it may lead to more serious behavioral issues in the future. I generally try to avoid these situations, but they occasionally come up on walks.

  7. Brigitte Smith

    Hi Charla,

    I don’t know whether ingesting peppermint oil could be harmful – hence my comment to Judy about her cats. It’s probably like most things – in tiny amounts it’s probably not harmful and could even be beneficial, but in larger amounts, it could conceivably cause problems. What about putting the peppermint oil on the bottoms of your dashcund’s back paws only?

    Hi Ginger,

    Yes, my understanding is that the PetCalm product addresses all those types of anxiety problems.

    As for Pele being uncomfortable with a group of people, I don’t think that’s particularly unusual. Some people don’t like crowds, either. And don’t forget that people are so much bigger than dogs – if they are all crowding around Pele, she could feel quite intimidated.

    As for groups of children – it’s always very important, of course, to closely supervise any children with any dog. Children are very unpredictable, and dogs don’t necessarily understand this and react adversely.


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