Common Fears in Dogs and How to Overcome Them
Anxiety is extremely common among dogs, and some breeds tend to display anxious behaviors more than others. Listed here are the eight most common anxieties and fears experienced by dogs, as well as their symptoms.
Many dogs develop a fear of loud noises, such as fireworks, thunderstorms, and gunshots. Sometimes these fears develop because the dog is improperly socialized, or because of a negative experience. Other times dogs are simply predisposed to anxiety, and environmental factors further contribute to their fears.
Symptoms of noise anxiety include pacing, destruction, escape attempts, hiding, shaking/shivering, and avoidance at the onset of loud noises.
Another common fear is travel. Moving vehicles can be scary because they are unfamiliar, can cause motion sickness, or because the dog correlates travel with a scary experience, such as a veterinary visit.
Dogs that are afraid of travel may refuse entry into a vehicle or crate, tuck their tail between their legs while in the car, shake/shiver, and engage in self-soothing behaviors such as paw licking and chewing.
Dogs may find unfamiliar structures such as stairs or bridges frightening. The main cause of these fears is lack of socialization and introduction to these structures at a young age. Fear of these structures may be unwittingly encouraged when dogs are young because it is easy for owners to pick up puppies and carry them. However, this fear develops into a serious problem when the dog reaches adult size.
Likewise, dogs can develop fears of unfamiliar objects. Examples include trash cans, plastic bags, or flags. Like the fear of unfamiliar structures, dogs may be afraid of ordinary objects because they have not been properly socialized or have poor coping mechanisms for stress.
The most common signs that a dog is afraid of an unfamiliar object is barking/aggression towards the item or complete avoidance.
Dogs are hard-wired to avoid situations and experiences that have hurt or scared them in the past. Therefore, it should be no surprise that many dogs find the veterinarian’s office to be scary. Not only are there unfamiliar people and animals, but dogs can sense the general anxiety of sick animals and worried owners. In addition, most dogs associate the vet with the discomfort of a physical exam and vaccines.
A dog that is afraid of the vet will attempt to refuse entry into the building, display avoidance behaviors, or potentially behave in an aggressive manner.
As pack animals, dogs are not equipped to enjoy long periods of time spent alone. While some breeds are more independent than others, dogs that have been bred to work closely with other animals or humans are most likely to suffer from separation anxiety.
Symptoms of separation anxiety in dogs include pacing, barking, inappropriate elimination, destruction, and frenzied escape attempts.
Unfamiliar People / Animals
There are many reasons why a dog may be afraid of unfamiliar people or animals. The most common reasons are previous bad experiences and lack of socialization. Dogs that are fearful of humans or animals will display either avoidance or aggressive behaviors. Common signs of fear include urination, rolling over onto back, face licking of the other animal, avoidance, tucked table, barking, or lunging.
Bath Time / Grooming
Finally, many dogs have a fear of being bathed or groomed. Being handled by unfamiliar people in an unfamiliar place can be frightening for dogs, especially if these animals have not been properly socialized and conditioned to the experience. Fear of grooming can lead to extreme anxiety, as well as aggression toward the groomer.
What to do about your Dog’s Fears and How WINPRO can Help
Fears and anxieties in dogs can be difficult to address, especially without the help of a professional (particularly if aggression is a symptom of anxiety). In most cases, a multi-faceted approach is best, one in which the dog is fully supported at every level.
WINPRO can provide such support with WINPRO Focus. This soft chew is intended to help dogs relax and remain calm during stressful situations, without causing drowsiness. The K-Thrive blood protein formula reduces inflammation in the gut that can contribute to anxiety. Once inflammation has been reduced, additional active ingredients of taurine and theanine go to work to provide additional support for a calm mental state.
WINPRO Focus can be provided in conjunction with other WINPRO products, and with medications or supplements your dog has been prescribed.