An anxious dog can be born that way or created, so while some dogs are fearful by nature and will always need a lot of reassurance, other dogs will develop anxieties due to a bad experience or a major change in their life or situation.
Many dogs that come from a rescue are anxious, both because of their experience of being abandoned or given up to a rescue, and because of the unnatural situation of a rescue, which is generally full of other dogs that are afraid. (That’s no criticism of rescue homes, because they do a great job, but exactly the way they explained it to me).
Anxiety can be so intense for some dogs that they tremble or run and hide at the mention of the word ‘walk’, and thunderstorms and fireworks are classic situations that will set off dog anxiety.
Anxiety Problems Can be Temporary
Sometimes anxiety can be more of a temporary problem where for instance a dog that has a health problem can suddenly become anxious as they feel more vulnerable. In other cases the anxiousness will set in gradually such as when dogs get old, especially if there are younger dogs around them.
What makes dogs anxious is not always easy to understand, as dogs can react badly to almost anything. I’ve heard dog owners say their dog is scared of men, or beards, or anyone wearing a hat, or the sound of one particular newsreaders voice… the list is both bizarre and endless. If you would like to know more about how to deal with dog anxiety click on the link to read this useful article.
How Do You Calm An Anxious Dog?
If you look at the huge range of things that can make your dog anxious, from being nervous by nature, through bad experiences, to loud noises and unexplainable fears, it is perhaps not what they do that matters, but how you react to their anxiety that will make a difference to your dog.
Absolutely key to helping your dog calm down is to be calm yourself. Dogs are highly sensitive and if you tense up when they get anxious or start worrying yourself, they will pick up on that and it will simply confirm that they have good reason to be anxious. Basically, your dog will be thinking, if you are worrying too, there must be something wrong and so they are right to be anxious.
Learn to Lead the Pack
An anxious dog will also benefit enormously from you being very clearly the leader of the pack as in nature, the rest of the pack will take their lead from the what the Alpha dog does. This means that if he is calm and not bothered about what is happening, they will stay calm too.
Anxious dogs have often assumed that they are leader of the pack and therefore responsible for decision making and the packs safety. This is a very difficult job for a dog in a human world as often they don’t understand it, which means anything from the postman, to someone on a bicycle, or even on the TV could be a threat that they react strongly too.
One of the best things you can do for an anxious dog is learn how to show them that you are the pack leader and in time they will learn to trust you and your judgement, and that will automatically reduce their anxiety.