Does your dog have an anxiety problem? Does your pet seem unusually nervous, jumpy or agitated? If you’re at a complete loss, looking for answers wherever you can find them, don’t worry! The basic guidelines listed below will help you well on your way to a calmer pet!
Step One: Identify the Cause
Before you can even begin to properly treat any unwanted dog behavior, whether it be anxiety or something else, you’ll need to figure out the ‘why’. What exactly is causing your pet to feel the way he does? What changed in his environment? Once these questions are answered, you’ll have a much easier time treating the problem without fumbling around in the dark.
Step Two: Exercise
In most cases, hyperactivity is simply a result of too much energy. If a dog isn’t given an outlet for that energy, he can become destructive, run ‘zoomies’ around your house, or perform a number of other unwanted behaviors. For example, Siberian Huskies, a breed with a near unlimited energy level, have been known to dig holes, jump fences or even become a threat to other small animals if not exercised.
Work on agility training
Play fetch, hide & seek, or tracking games
Visit the dog park
Invite other dogs over for a play date
Consider obedience/dog/puppy classes
Provide plenty of interesting toys to play with.
Step Three: Behavioral Training
Ignore attention seeking behavior. For example, if your dog jumps on visiting company, he is seeking acknowledgement from them. One of the best ways to cope with that particular type of behavior isn’t to correct the dog, but to turn your back to him, completely ignoring the pup and pretending he isn’t there. If you don’t acknowledge him, eventually he’ll learn his attention seeking behavior isn’t working.
Counter Conditioning & Positive Reinforcement
Teaching skills like ‘sit’ and ‘stay’ can be rewarded with something the dog enjoys, like treats. If your pup doesn’t like to sit still, try offering an incentive!
Keep Emotions in Check
Dogs judge a situation by the reactions of their human owners constantly, almost certainly more than you think. Yelling, frequent crying or other excess displays of emotion serve only to increase your pet’s anxiety.
A loud, busy environment with loads of noisy kids running around, crowds of people, or other animals playing, for example, will make it all the more difficult to calm your pet. It is much easier to keep your furry one calm in a calm situation. The same rule applies with dog training in general, and is valued by most professional trainers.
Step Four: Seek Medical Attention
Sometimes, a dog’s anxiety level becomes so extreme, he is at risk for harming himself or others. If nothing else seems to work, you’ll want to talk to your veterinarian, and discuss the need for an accredited animal behaviorist.
If it is a medical issue causing your pup’s strange behavior, your vet can help. The might even prescribe mood altering medications for your pet, in order to calm the animal and prevent injury.