Anxiety Disorders in Dogs: Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment. For every stressed dog, there’s plenty of medical and psychological help available through veterinarians, trainers, and canine mental health professionals. This slideshow will explore the signs and symptoms of canine. Can your dog suffer from an anxiety disorder? Yes! Certain breeds are more prone to suffering. Understand why and learn how to treat man's. Dog anxiety affects all breeds of dogs and can lead to serious out any other medical conditions that could be causing your dog's symptoms.
Disorder Canine Anxiety
In these cases the owner tends to reinforce the aggressive behaviour with the behaviour he uses in the previously mentioned situations such as touching, petting, pushing or throwing, talking appeasing or by verbal reprimands and through gestures and postures that include visual contact, corporal postures and emotional responses.
Dominance aggressiveness is one of the most frequent dog aggressions towards people Manteca, It is more frequent in males and in those animals that have reached puberty; signs may be seen at age 3 or less Landsberg, Depending on the motivation, there can be two types of dominance aggressiveness which can receive two different denominations: In the competitive form, the aggression is frequently done in those situations where a resource has enough value as to fight for it.
Pageat considers aggressiveness to be related with social status, or a hierarchic conflict, such as an alteration in the social relationship between man and dog which can present itself in a vague context, which is denominated sociopathy and that affects the social group and not the individual. This disorder is made of two very well differentiated elements: It is also possible that the animal demands being petted or that it stops members of the family from accessing certain places of the house Landsberg, Because of its relation with anxiety, the manifestations of dominance aggressiveness are extremely variable, from aggressive behaviour demonstrations which are well defined and that are associated to a clear affirmation of control, to very subtle vocal expressions.
The difference is how the dog perceives and uses the information obtained from the encounter. As a consequence signals such as aggressions, hierarchic urination, false pregnancies and destructive behaviour may appear between others Pageat, Aggressive behaviour may be directed to one or more members of the household, depending on the relation with the dog, their relative status and their ability to control the dog Mertens, Prior to anything else, measures involving the environment must be taken, such as physical barriers to avoid injuring human beings and also other animals, and teaching the dog how to wear a muzzle.
Punishment and confrontation must be avoided at all costs. Therapy will begin by ignoring the dog completely during a period of time, afterwards to be ignored systematically, which implies not answering to any request of interaction made by the dog as it would increase its control.
It should also be avoided that the dog repeats aggressive manifestations, detecting all of the situations in which they usually appear. The reinforcement of basic education should be done to acquire a greater control over the dog in all of the situations. It is recommended to practice obedience exercises with the leash and muzzle if needed for ten minutes on a daily basis. As behaviour modification techniques, desensitization and counterconditioning are recommended.
The time exposed to the stimulus is increased as it becomes better tolerated, avoiding at all costs an aggressive response, but if so, the treatment is to be restarted from the beginning Overall, ; Mertens, This sort of aggressiveness happens between individuals from the same species. Dogs may be aggressive towards other dogs the same way they are aggressive towards people as we have previously mentioned. There are two different forms, depending to whom the aggression is directed: When conflictive situations appear in dogs that live in groups 2 or more the most classic symptomatology is the increase in frequency of the hierarchic aggressive behaviours.
The information about the stimuli that provoke the fights is fundamental to establish how to act in these situations. This sort of aggression tends to happen in the situations that include competing over valued resources and whose goal is to establish a dominance- subordination relation Mertens, Dogs that attack unknown dogs may have different motivations. The diagnosis should be accompanied by defining the subjacent factors such as fear, territoriality, competition or a learnt behaviour consequence of a specific training or an unintentional or unnoticed reinforcement.
Diagnosing aggressiveness between dogs that know each other is more common in same sex dogs and it implies the existence of one of the two following elements: The subordinate dog may avoid encounters, give up his place to the other dog and take on submissive postures when the other dog approaches. The highest rank individual tends to respond when the submissive tries to access a resource Mertens, Treatment directed towards aggressiveness between strangers consists mainly on behaviour modification therapy.
Attacking dogs must be controlled with a muzzle and leash in public places to prevent injuries. Owners should work with their dogs desensitization and counterconditioning techniques to replace the unwanted behaviour with the wanted behaviour such as sitting. As soon as it obeys it must be rewarded with a treat. This exercise should begin at a distance that will allow the dog to stay calm and centre its attention towards its owner; this distance should be reduced as the dog is capable of tolerating the approach without showing any signs of aggressiveness.
It is convenient to practice these exercises daily in short 10 to 20 minute sessions, once or twice a day Overall, ; Mertens, In the treatment of aggressiveness between known dogs it is fundamental to inform and the counsel the owner in the meaning of the hierarchies and the canine expectations in the group, for the compliance of the proposed rules.
Therapy should be systematic and should allow the group to reorganize using its own mechanisms. The dominant one, will go through the doors first, will eat first, receive exclusive attention from its owner and will have access to its favourite resting spots Mertens, Lastly, castration has also been a recommended technique which is relatively successful, but it should be applied over the subordinate and only if its inter-male aggressiveness.
Territorial aggressiveness tries to stop intrusion in the territory Pageat, According to Mertens territorial aggressiveness is mainly protective and, because of this, can be based on fear. A fear response is triggered by a perceived threat towards a valued resource. The majority of individual approaches towards the territory will pass and disappear; however, the fact that an individual disappears may serve as a powerful reinforcement of the aggression.
It presents itself when the aggressive behaviour is directed towards a person or animal that is not considered part of the pack. Aggression may be directed towards people or animals that approach a member of the family or the property perceived by the pet.
The term perceived property is used because there is no guarantee that the dog may know the limits of the conventional property Landsberg, The key aspects of the diagnosis are that this sort of aggressiveness only shows itself towards strangers and only when they enter what the dog considers to be its territories Manteca, Signs are the typical aggressive attitudes upright ears, tail held high with constant wagging, an assertive posture with the weight directed forward, onslaught and biting and vocalization growling, barking, etc.
This behaviour can be observed in males, as well as females and it generally appears for the first time before the age of 3 Landsberg, The territorial aggressiveness behaviour modification treatment should be mainly directed to avoid damages towards people and other animals through physical barriers.
It is equally recommended to isolate the dog while there are guests and train him in the use of a muzzle. The use of desensitization and counterconditioning with the progressive approach of people, under the use of a leash is indicated. Move the exercise towards the entrance, presenting triggering stimuli such as ringing the door bell, letting guests and others in, reinforcing through treats, the wanted behaviours.
Aggressiveness because of fear is one of the ways in which the dog expresses its anxiety towards certain stimuli. An organism that finds itself in a situation from which it is incapable of withdrawing from will respond aggressively.
It will attack its adversary without going through the phase of intimidation and without controlling the intensity of the aggression. This aggression tends to be accompanied by neurovegetative manifestations Pageat, It is probably the second most frequent form aggression that lacks an organic cause and is directed towards people, after dominance aggressiveness.
It happens in the same frequency both in males and females. The efficient elimination or withdrawal of the aversive stimulus reinforces this behaviour.
Insufficient socialization lack of contact with people during the sensible period, between 3 and 12 weeks of age and inconvenient punishment or traumatic experiences are frequent causes of fear aggressiveness Landsberg, ; Manteca, At first it shows a distinctive defence aggressiveness posture, with its tail tucked between its back legs, lowered crupper, ears directed backwards and, in occasions piloerection.
It also tries to not approach the person, avoiding contact and only being aggressive as a last resource. However, a detailed observation of the animal gives clues that the subjacent motivation is fear, some authors sustain that barking frequently accompanies the signs of this behaviour Manteca, The treatment for fear aggressiveness is made of a behaviour modification program that consists of desensitization and counterconditioning.
To begin with it is important to consider that dogs should be restrained with leashes and muzzles to avoid damage to humans during their training. Foresee a whole situations that provoke a fearful response and avoid them. During desensitization and counterconditioning, exposing the animal to stimuli that cause fear should be progressive and controlled, and with the stimulus at a distance.
Prescribing psychotropic drugs see anxiolytics table, dosage and indications may be necessary to allow the dog to learn the necessary techniques to correct each type of problem. Psychotropic drugs tend to place the aggressive dog with high anxiety levels, in a more emotionally equilibrated state.
Like selective inhibitors of the serotonin reuptake, tricyclic antidepressants have anxiolytic, anticonvulsants and antiaggresive effects Crowel-Davis and Murray, Anxiolytics may be useful to control aggressiveness in dogs with history of anxious behaviour. To obtain the expected effects at treatment 6 to 8 weeks long may be necessary, while the behaviour modification techniques are applied.
This is why the use of Psychotropic drugs is an efficient tool in the therapy of aggressive dogs see table of anxyolitics, dosage and indications. Psychotropic drugs may have unpredicted effects, including the increase of agitation, which will lead to an increase in the clinical risk Reisner, , this is why they must be use with precaution. Dogs suffer from repetitive behaviour disorders which are not well defined.
Compulsive disorders in animals are related to states of anxiety and it is frequent to find these sorts of reactions in dogs that suffer stress. When the stress factor is chronic or unpredictable, the animals tend to show inappropriate or excessive behaviour responses, in order to reduce the level of excitement and consequently the harmful effect of the prolonged physiological response Dantzer and Mormede, If the abnormal behaviours are repeated, they can become learn responses when proven efficient in reducing the emotional negative response and the stress associated response.
Luescher calls them compulsive disorders and indicates that they are abnormal behaviours produced in repetitive and invariable ways, and that interfere with normal behaviour. Compulsion is defined as a repetitive and intentional behaviour manifested in a stereotyped way and that presents itself as the response to an obsession; compulsive behaviour is not pleasant, it is executed with the aim to reduce the state of anxiety Hollander, According to Diagnosis and Mental Disorders Statistics guide DSM-IV for humans, the obsessive compulsive disorder OCD is defined as the presence of obsessions and recurrent compulsions that cause a strong stress or functional alterations Jang et al.
The behavior syndrome in animals might not be wholly analogous to obsessive-compulsive disorder in humans, although they might share a similar pathophysiology. The course of this disorder is chronic and increases and diminishes in severity, frequently as a reaction to stress. We have been able to observe that in dogs there also exists a relation with mood and anxiety. The proportion in the animal population is high due to genetic causes, mainly because of the procedures of genetic selection, which include inbreeding as a common practice Robins et al.
In animals, obsessive-compulsive disorders have been divided in three categories: Conflict behaviors have been associated to restriction and impoverishment conditions, for example cannibalism, urine suction and tics Wiepkema, Empty behaviors or empty activities are unconscious actions practiced in the absence of the stimulus under which they would be expressed and that do not pursue any purpose; in dogs empty behaviors such as licking, self-mutilation and masturbation are typical Landsberg et al.
The diagnostic signals of stereotyped behaviors in dog may vary a lot, and some may be more frequent than others, such as licking the nose and lips, shaking the head, yawning, circling, pacing, tail-chasing, self-mutilation, snapping at the air, excessive grooming, and rhythmic barking Landsberg et al.
Stereotypes may have their origin in an organic disorder, thus a neurological exam and a blood analysis are necessary; and in some determined cases a complete dermatological protocol may also be useful.
If the problem began when an important change in the environment took place or it appears under determined circumstances, it is probably a stereotype with no organic cause.
For these disorders treatments combining the use of psychotropic drugs and behaviour modification techniques have been effective, especially habituation and counterconditioning Overall, The treatment mandatorily associates chemotherapy and a behaviour therapy Pageat, The reduction of anxiety, or the discovery of methods used to reduce the source of excitement and conflict are the first aspects of the treatment to be investigated in compulsive behaviours. Another important aspect to value in the treatment is the incompatibility in the dog-owner relationship, which may cause problems and in a very special way when it involves an incoherent education.
The environment in which the animal lives must be studied to make sure that the dog has the resources that will offer enough stimulation. Passwords do not match. AG Antigua and Barbuda. BA Bosnia and Herzegovina. CF Central African Republic. CC Cocos Keeling Islands. CD Congo, the Democratic Republic of the. FK Falkland Islands Malvinas.
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Armed Forces Middle East Ae. Armed Forces Pacific Ap. PE Prince Edward Island. What best describes your position? Already have an account? Short-term stress response is healthy and necessary, allowing dogs to be alert and take action eg, retreating from a stranger, scary sound, another dog. If he fusses, ignore him. Speak to him calmly, then go back to reading. You're teaching him that if you leave, you will return.
Other family members should make themselves scarce during this time: Continue to occasionally step away, gradually increasing the distance and varying the length of time that you stay away, so that eventually you can wander around the room without upsetting your dog. Each time you return, greet him calmly. After an hour or so, give him a break. Take him outside to potty and play. Hang out for a while. Then go back inside and resume his pen exercises. Begin again, staying near the pen until he settles.
More quickly this time, move along steps 4 and 5 until you can wander around the room without generating alarm. Gradually increase the length of time you stay out of the room, interspersing it with wandering around the room, sitting near him reading a book, and sitting across the room reading a book. Teach him that calm behavior makes you return, fussing keeps you away. Occasionally, step outside of the house. Remember to give him plenty of potty and play breaks: On the second day, quickly repeat the warm-up steps, until you can step outside for 15 to 20 minutes at a time, interspersed with shorter separations.
On one of your outdoor excursions, hop into your car and drive around the block. Return in 5 to 10 minutes, and calmly re-enter the house just as you have been during the rest of the exercises. Hang out for a while, then go outside and drive away again, for a half-hour this time. Be sure your dog gets a thorough potty break and playtime, then give him 15 minutes to relax after the stimulation of play. When you arrive home to a calm and happy dog, drink an orange juice toast to your graduation from separation anxiety prevention school.
If you force him to soil in the home, at worst you can cause stress-related behaviors, at best you may create house-training problems. Options may include taking him to work with you, having family members come home on their lunch hour, arranging for stay-at-home neighbors to take him out, hiring a pet walker to walk him and play with him, or sending him to a well-run doggie daycare environment. The daycare option is not appropriate for a very young pup. Take steps to prevent separation anxiety in your new dog by conditioning him to accept being left alone.
Assess your dog's anxious behaviors destructive behavior, vocalization, and inappropriate elimination to determine if the behaviors might have a cause other than separation anxiety. Understand that your dog's difficult behavior is not deliberate, and that punishment is ineffective, inappropriate, and will only exacerbate the behavior.
Miller lives in Hagerstown, Maryland, site of her Peaceable Paws training center. Laurance Parker, been here done that. Dogs enjoy treats too: Kyle Hamilton May 16, 8: I've heard how CBD dog treats could benefit your dog; reduce seizures, anxiety, pain etc. Laurance May 16, 8: My dog does not bark in 2 mths I had her. Was housebroken, now starting bad habits like spoiling on my carpet. She will do this when I go up to shower, should I just crate her while I am upstairs for a short a time?
Do not know if my original comment went thru, thanks. Had Venus for 2 mths, housebroken! Tried to crate her or gate her from living room, but my timing has been off or I give in to her and trust her. In 2 mths, have not heard her bark, no barking so do not know when she needs to go out or in distress, only whining when am not there. Also, when I want her to come, she will not get up and I have to pull her up and practically drag her to go out. So how do I get her to come when needed???
She can allieviate otherwise, but not on my rug, ugh. Pat, Thank you for the great and resourceful article. My wife and I adopted our dog, Peter, about 7 months ago. Unfortunately Peter's old mom would leave the home for days at a time leaving only a bowl of food, water and some pee pads behind for Peter to live off during that time.
We believe this lead to severe separation anxiety. The techniques in your post helped us tremendously especially once we were able to desensitize him to our leaving process getting keys and putting on shoes. One thing you do not touch on is using a crate for separation anxiety.
This is what we believe ultimately helped us the most, what are your thoughts on this strategy? Also helpful was a camera for inside the house so we could observe Peter's behaviors once we left home. This helped us identify what helped and what didn't. We didn't know much about the pet cameras or even that they existed but this guide helped out a lot: I cannot rave enough about the Thundershirt because it helps him so much.
Occasionally we come home and listen outside the house for a few minutes prior to going inside to see whether or not he is barking our of anxiety. There is a clear distinction between the days we put his shirt on and the days we don't as there is a lot more barking when we don't put it on. Thank you again for the post, separation anxiety is a terrible thing that I think can weigh on the health of animals and your article helped tremendously. I dunno, but it always seems odd to me to leave a dog alone with the running of the house.
I would think to have some place where the dog is used to being left either alone or with the other dogs of the household without the humans present. Then remember to use it regularly at times when you are home. Start with very brief absences, and return when the dog is calm. Jenny H May 22, 6: Hi, just asking if you had experience with dogs who refused to drink but eat OK, slow moving, does not bark much as before.
I have moved job to another state but my family is with him. Is this separation anxiety? The Vet cannot find anything wrong with him. Zozing May 3, 7: Hi there, my shepherd mix just had to go from living in a house with a fully open yard he could access whenever he pleases to an apartment, and we had to go back to crating when his destruction every time I left the house got out of control.
He destroyed his first crate in this apartment WE replaced it with a ProSelect which he can't get out of but he destroys anything I put in there with him, even his bed he's had for three years he is three , his longest lasting stuff animal, his metal bowl I started only leaving durable toys in there but now he goes for the bars of the kennel.
These bars are stronger unlike the old ones and he can't damage them, which has unfortunately meant that he's hurting his own mouth in his anxiety.
Today I put him in there and sat watching tv it's my day off and he was panting so fast I was afraid he was going to go into cardiac arrest. I've tried classical music but it doesn't seem to help.
He won't go in for his morning food, or if he does and I leave, he ends up knocking it all out and not eating. We tried PetRelief spray going on week four I think but it doesn't seem to be helping. If anyone could please help. I love my dog so much, but I just moved cross country and can't afford another trainer right now, and he's not good with strangers so I can't ask someone to come visit while I work I just want to help him.
I don't want him to be panicked or hurting himself. Alexz November 26, 9: GarryR16 We had problems with our dog also. He used to bark and chew shoes, table etc when we were not at home. Both my wife and I work a lot and had no time to take our Bud to dog training classes. We asked one friend who works in foster care he is always surrounded by dogs what we should do. He recommended one online dog behavior trainer.
Jason November 1, 5: I am getting a new puppy if she has separation anxiety will the fact that I have a another dog stop her separation anxiety?
Anxiety Disorders in Dogs
Separation anxiety is one of the most common and most devastating behavioral conditions diagnosed world-wide in pet dogs. In the absence of treatment. In this article Dr. Stephanie Schwartz compares separation anxiety in pets to specific emotional disorders in humans, stating that separation reactions in dogs . Dogs that suffer from anxiety have a host of symptoms, such as barking, pacing, panting, trembling, excessive licking, hiding, climbing onto you.