Anxious behaviors in dogs can be quite common. In a recent Pro Plan Veterinary Supplements survey*, 62 percent of dog owners surveyed reported they have regularly seen these behaviors in their dogs, such as excessive barking, compulsive jumping and shaking or trembling. And while these anxious behaviors are sometimes recognized as such, they often are not. Thirty-five percent of owners surveyed believe their dog's personality is among the primary causes of one or more of their dog's concerning behaviors.
It's important to talk to your veterinarian if your dog is displaying undesirable behaviors, said Jason Gagne, DVM, DACVN, Director of Veterinary Technical Communication for Pro Plan Veterinary Diets. What might be perceived as just a characteristic of a particular breed or part of a dog's personality could really be an anxious behavior that needs attention.
The Impact on Dogs and Owners
Having a dog with anxious behaviors can be hard on both dogs and owners. Twenty-five percent of dog owners surveyed said that these behaviors have impacted their lifestyle or caused a change in their routine. Changes include
Missing Out 13 percent have avoided situations that they know will upset their pet, such as car rides or walks in public places.
Rain Check 11 percent have taken fewer social outings to avoid their dog being home alone.
Wide Awake 9 percent said their sleep is affected because their dog wakes them during the night.
Home Bound 8 percent avoid traveling because it upsets their dog when they are away.
In addition, 57 percent of dog owners surveyed worry when they know there will be a situation that could trigger undesirable behaviors in their dog.
Summer is Coming
While anxious behaviors in dogs can be present year round, the summer months often include activities that can exacerbate the issue. The summer season can be a stressful time of year for dogs, said Dr. Kurt Venator, DVM, Chief Veterinary Officer at Purina. Triggers such as fireworks, thunderstorms, summer travel, house guests and more can take a toll on your pet.
Before the holidays and summer storms roll through, pet owners can help keep their pets safe, comfortable and calm with some early preparation, including
Create a Safe Space. Create a special area in your home where your dog can feel safe and secure during noisy instances. If your dog is crate trained, they may feel most secure in their crate with a favorite toy to stay occupied. If your pet is not crate trained, putting his or her bed in a quiet place during fireworks or thunderstorms might work. Try closing the windows and playing some music.
Start preparing early. Help prepare your dog by exposing him or her to recorded firework sounds. You could also do the same for thunder. This process requires beginning training several months ahead of the anticipated event and gradually increasing the volume while you reward your dog for maintaining calm behavior, so it's not a short-term fix. You can also pay your vet a visit to discuss your dog's behavior and see if Pro Plan Veterinary Supplements Calming Care is the way to go. It may take up to six weeks to see results, so give yourself plenty of time to start ahead of the holidays.
Make Them Comfortable. Help your dog feel happy during fireworks or thunderstorms by giving them a special treat, which may help establish a positive association with these loud noises. Calming wraps may help for some dogs, too. These work like swaddling does for infants and may help your dog feel secure during stressful situations.
Get Some Exercise. If your dog gets anxious when you leave the house without them, an extra dose of stimulation beforehand may help ease your departure. Providing your dog with consistent exercise - whether through walks, fetch or just extra playtime - may help alleviate anxious behaviors by reducing your dog's focus on you when it's time for you to leave the house.
Make Car Travel a Positive Experience. Before a summer road trip, get your dog used to the idea of car travel. Use a crate or dog carrier that is large enough for a dog to lie down comfortably. Use a reward such as a favorite treat or interactive toy to get them excited to get in the car and into their crate before taking a trip.
Most Importantly, Stay Calm. Our pets look to us for reassurance, so showing them that we are calm and relaxed is likely to help them understand that there is no real danger.
Dog owners can save $10 on their first order of Calming Care at www.proplanvetdirect.com now through Sept. 30, 2019.** For more information on Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Supplements Calming Care, visit Purina.com or speak to your veterinarian.