Behaviour and Training

Anxiety in dogs can arise from many things including, loud noises (thunderstorms, fireworks), separation from their owners, past history (such as dogs that were rescued through animal shelters), and changes in environment (such as moving to a new home or a new baby in the house).

Individual dogs can react differently when they perceive something as a possible threat and this can include destructive behavior, vocalization, inappropriate elimination, and hiding, trembling and drooling. Body language includes a lowered posture, tucked tail and ears.

It is important to try and address fearful behavior and anxiety early as this can intensify over time and in severe cases can develop into a phobia. It is important to not inadvertently reinforce fearful reactions with dogs (as some comforting behaviors that owners provide can act as a positive reinforcement) as this can make their behavior worse. Depending on the trigger for the anxiety or fear and degree of severity, there are many different management and treatments available to help a worried pet.

Strategies and training often is aimed at helping a dog learn to be calm, and then once they have coping strategies then we can introduce very gradually to situations with the fearful stimuli.  There are many products available to help behavior modification including thunder shirts, DAP pheromones, zylkene, CALM food, and anti-anxiety medications. Often any medications and supplements are meant to relieve anxiety to help with current behavior modification strategies, and our goal is to use on a temporary basis if possible.

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