All living things are scared at some point. Of course, anxiety caused by the environment is not something that only affects people. The study we will talk about further reveals that more than 72% of all dogs suffer from anxiety and some other associated fear.
Understanding this is important for our dogs and for ourselves. Knowing how to recognize signs of dogs suffering from anxiety or some form of mental discomfort helps us give our pet a better life and prevent them from suffering.
How was this study conducted?
The study took place in Finland with a group of 13,700 dogs. The evaluation of the dogs’ anxiety was done with the help of a questionnaire where the owners had to answer detailed questions about the seven most common symptoms of anxiety in dogs, in addition to some problematic behaviors.
Below we show the researchers’ results:
- Sensitivity to noise is one of the most common symptoms of anxiety. Fireworks were the main cause of this common fear, which triggered anxiety in the dog. In addition, 26% of the cases were due to the loud noises coming from fireworks.
- A specific fear is one of the most common symptoms of anxiety. The most common were neophobia, fear of other dogs and strangers, with an incidence of 11%, 17% and 15% respectively.
- Young dogs showed a greater tendency to destroy and leave feces around the home due to separation anxiety. They also chased the tail more often and were more impulsive and restless.
- Male dogs tend to be more aggressive and impulsive, while bitches are more fearful.
- Although fear and anxiety are common in all dog breeds, researchers found some trends. Labradors, for example, do not channel aggression towards humans and mixed breeds are more sensitive to noise.
- The fear of loud noises increases with age. Storms, fireworks, motorcycles and other noises affect older dogs more.
Why do more than 72% of all dogs suffer from anxiety?
One of the reasons for anxiety in dogs is often that we do not address these problems at a very early stage, even before the anxiety has developed. It is not uncommon for the owner, due to ignorance or other reasons, not to recognize the problem or let it escalate to the point that the dog has already begun to cause serious damage or problems in the home.
How to recognize dogs that suffer from anxiety
You have already seen that anxiety does not show differences between any race, place or species. As always, prevention and early detection are the best tools to avoid having to deal with anxiety. This condition is very difficult to cure once it is established in the psyche.
You may begin to suspect anxiety or fear when your pet shows one or more of the following clinical and psychological signs:
- muscle tension
- tense posture
- worried about different situations
Recommendations for dogs with anxiety
When your dog shows any of the above signs, you should look for the source of this behavior. Here are some tips to prevent anxiety and behavioral disorders:
- Give your dog a suitable and adapted environment for the animal: It is important to find a balance between the dog adapting to a new home and your own comfort. Stressors such as loud noises, unpleasant odors or harmful chemicals can be the source of many behavioral diseases in dogs.
- Get to know your dog: It is not necessary to be an ethologist to know when your dog is behaving beyond the ordinary.
- Seek out an expert: Whether your dog’s anxiety is due to a health problem or because the behavioral problem cannot be solved at home, a professional will always provide the necessary tools to take care of the dog’s mental health.
- Establish a healthy routine for your dog: Do not let it spend too many hours alone, always go out at the same time of day and give it good nutrition, stimulation and a thousand other things that make the environment a protective factor for the dog’s mental health.
In conclusion, we can add the following: mental health is important for all species, not just humans. A study that reveals that more than 72% of all dogs suffer from anxiety means that this is something we must be aware of. In short, it is necessary to change our perception of dogs in order to take care of them in the best way.
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