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Almost every dog parent has dealt with some type of anxiety in their dogs - whether it's your characteristically happy-go-lucky dog who gets frantically distressed by thunderstorms or maybe your dog who is fearful of everything from other dogs to being home alone.
For dogs, anxiety of all kinds is real and overwhelming. For all of us who love them, it's heartbreaking.
Fortunately, there are so many things you can do to support your dog and help him/her get on top of anxieties to be their calmest, happiest selves.
That's why we brought together our Dogly Advocates - seasoned, certified force-free trainers and wellness experts - in these guides to give you a deeper understanding of your dog's anxiety and step-by-step plans to help make your dog's life easier and more comfortable.
In these 4 guides on understanding your dog's anxiety in the Anxiety Channel on Dogly, you'll learn what to do to help your dogs suffering from anxiety:
- How to See Your Dog's Stress - the 10 Most Common Signs
- How to Build Confidence in Your Fearful Dog
- How to Approach a Scared Dog - Learn the Treat/Retreat "Game"
- How to Prepare Your Dog to Be Left Alone
Here's a quick overview of the 4 guides to help you understand your dog's anxiety so you can help your pup feel less stressed, more at ease...
Understanding Dog Anxiety Guide 1: How to See Your Dog's Stress - the 10 Most Common Signs
The first step to helping your sometimes anxious dog feel secure is knowing why and when your pet is stressed so you can anticipate or catch your dog's stress quickly to provide support.
In this guide, certified canine naturopath, reiki master, massage therapist, and Dogly Wellness Advocate Ranna Lynn teaches you how to read your dog's body language to know when your dog is feeling stressed and signaling you for help.
What you'll learn in this guide to reduce stress in your dog:
The 10 most frequently used stress signs every pet parent should watch for, what they look like, and what they mean...
- Pacing & shaking
- Barking or whining
- Yawning, lip licking, & drooling
- Showing gums & teeth
- Reacting with "off" bodily functions & appetite
- Reacting through eyes & ears
- Changing body posture
- Avoidance & hiding
For each stress response from your dog, Ranna Lynn explains actions to take in the moment and how pet owners can get ahead of anxieties at the first sign of distress in the future - or avoid your dog's triggers altogether when possible.
Once you know about reading your dog and recognizing triggers, what should you do with all this information?
Ranna Lynn recommends 2 overarching things to do with all you've learned about your dog's anxiety to set you both up for success going forward:
- Work with a certified, positive, force-free trainer (plus details on working with a certified separation anxiety therapist if your dog has separation anxiety).
- Stay connected and build a deeper bond with your dog now and always (with how to learn dog massage here to do that in a fun, relaxing way).
Jump into the full guide here to learn how to read and support your dog to get on top of stress and anxieties. Or, see what's next on helping your anxious dog build confidence...
Understanding Dog Anxiety Guide 2: How to Build Confidence in Your Fearful Dog
Much of what appears to be unwanted, reactive, or even aggressive behavior problems are based in fear and anxiety in dogs. To help a nervous dog behave differently we need to help your dog feel differently.
In this guide from certified positive reinforcement trainer and Dogly Training Advocate Melissa Dallier, you'll get a deeper understanding of what's behind your dog's anxiety and learn Melissa's favorite ways to help build your dog's confidence and the trust between you and your dog.
What you'll learn in this guide to build your dog's confidence:
- Why to create more predictability in your dog's life
- Why & how to prep your dog for confidence-strengthening behaviors on the go
- Why & how to give your dog opportunities for active choice & to enjoy dog-specific behaviors (including sniffaris, decompression walks, letting your dog choose a walk route or an enrichment toy...)
- 7 confidence-fortifying games/skills to try (and enjoy!) with your dog
- "Find it"/treat scatter
- "Go say hi"
- Paws up on objects
- Talk to the invisible trigger
- Magnet hand with treats
- Pattern games
You can also watch Melissa take you step-by-step through all these confidence-builders in the accompanying video in this guide.
Confidence-building takes time and commitment but doesn't need to be challenging! Dive into the full guide with all the activities for building your dog's confidence here. Or, continue to see what's next - learning how to approach a fearful dog with the treat/retreat game...
Understanding Dog Anxiety Guide 3: How to Approach a Scared Dog - Learn the Treat/Retreat "Game"
When a dog is fearful, any approach is likely to drive up the stress. That's why we all want to rethink the concept of approaching an anxious dog - you want to set the stage to let the dog approach you.
That's why the first skill positive reinforcement trainer and Dogly Training Advocate Ruby Leslie teaches a fearful, anxious dog is the treat/retreat "game." And why she shares it with you in this guide.
What you'll learn in this guide for scared dogs:
- The secret to what makes the treat/retreat approach work with fearful dogs (Hint: It gives your dog choice in decreasing or increasing the distance vs your dog's triggers.)
- 2 troubleshooting tips for all pet parents to remember in working with your scared or stressed dogs
- The step-by-step way to set your pet up for success with treat/retreat - starting with choosing the right dog treats to make it worth it in your dog's eyes
Ruby takes you through the 17 steps (don't worry - they're baby steps, broken out to be super simple!) for building a successful treat/retreat skillset.
In this guide and the accompanying video, you'll learn the steps you need to know for calming a dog using treat/retreat and for helping your dog grow from a fearful to a more secure, happy dog.
Pro tip: Ruby's go-to tip for anyone/anytime working with a fearful dog...
In any session - on this exercise or any other - if your dog gets tired, has had enough, or is becoming too nervous to learn... take a break, let it rain dog treats, and start fresh another day!
If you're ready to get into the full guide, you'll find it here. Or, keep going to see what's next up: helping your dog get used to some home-alone time...
Understanding Anxiety Guide 4: How to Prepare Your Dog to Be Left Alone
Some dogs are comfortable and snoozy with time alone while some experience mild to severe anxiety. It's a pretty good bet that many dogs are out of practice at being home alone following the pandemic and unpredictable work/life schedules.
Not only do dogs love being with their people, they love predictability. That's why certified positive reinforcement trainer, Certified Separation Anxiety Therapist, and Dogly Training Advocate Melissa Dallier created this guide to help you help your dog be prepared for time alone.
In the process, you'll get a deeper understanding of your dog's anxieties and ways to help alleviate them.
What you'll learn in this guide to reduce anxiety around leaving:
- How your dog sees change
- Why & how to establish predictable routines with your dog
- 7 steps to take with your dog to prepare your dog to feel alone time is safe, secure, and no big deal:
- Get ready for work as “normal” a few times a week - even when you're not (go to the full guide to see why & how)
- Why & how to set up a safe, quiet space for your dog to rest and sleep during the day (with lots of dog treats available)
- How to make alone time special by introducing enrichment toys, bones, and find-it games for mental stimulation
- Why & how to give your dog good mental/physical exercise before being left alone
- Why to close blinds/curtains and leave music or TV on for white noise
- How to establish an alone routine - work or hang out behind closed doors for 30 mins - 2 hours several times a week
- How to gradually increase leaving home without your dog - starting with 30 mins - 2 hours at least 3 times a week
Pro tip: If you haven't watched your dog on camera when you're away, be sure to do it now!
Melissa explains how to do it and what treatment plan to consider next depending on the behaviors your dog exhibits. First and most important, if you see any of the the signs of distress Melissa lists in the full guide, return home immediately and comfort your dog.
You'll also learn in this guide:
- General signs your dog may be out of practice being alone
- What to do if your dog shows signs of separation anxiety, any indications that being alone begins to feel overwhelming for your dog
If your dog shows signs of separation anxiety...
True separation anxiety is a complex anxiety disorder, and if after a week or so you do not see improvement in your dog's symptoms or you see an increase in anxiety, don't let it continue a few weeks. Get in touch with us here at Dogly and we can recommend a Certified Separation Anxiety Trainer as soon as possible. You can also find a wealth of resources and things to do in the 9 guides devoted to separation anxiety here on Dogly.
Jump into this guide to prepare your dog to spend any alone time with confidence and comfort. Or, if you haven't started the first 3 guides on understanding and managing dog anxiety, you can start with How to See Your Dog's Stress - the 10 Most Common Signs and follow through to How to Approach a Scared Dog - Learn the Treat/Retreat "Game" and finish with this guide on setting your dog up for alone-time success.
Check out the Anxiety Channel on Dogly
Now that you have a good understanding of what's behind your dog's anxiety and what you can do to support you pet, check out the many other step-by-step guides in the Anxiety Channel: from How to Know If It's Truly Separation Anxiety or If There's Another Explanation (the first of 9 guides on separation anxiety) or How to Get Ahead of Noise Anxiety (for the many dogs afraid of thunder, fireworks, or other loud noises).
If you want to keep learning about how to help anxious dogs become calm dogs, you can continue in the Anxiety Channel to Separation Anxiety, Crate Anxiety, or Noise Sensitivity. Enjoy working with your dog and building your pup's confidence and comfort together.
And if you need help, you can ask the Dogly Advocates in any channel or work with them one-on-one through Dogly.