“It’s so upsetting.. for me, more than the dog! “
Unfortunately, our dogs suffer from anxiety, depression, fears and phobias, just like us humans. It seems to have become more common recently, and it is a worrying trend. so let’s take a look at..
UNDERSTANDING & HELPING DOGS WITH ANXIETY.
Like I have mentioned, I am getting far more many calls from dog owners regarding dog anxiety than ever before. There are many contributions to why it has become more prevalent, and it is a complicated subject to investigate, but I will attempt to simplify it the best I can, and offer a little philosophical, psychological, and practical opinion to explain this upsetting experience.
Where to start is complicated enough, so the best place is probably the two main contributing factors..
Just about every dog problem (or human problem!) has a contribution from two main factors. You may have heard of NATURE & NURTURE. These are the two factors that affect a variety of outcomes depending on the initial elements (that nature contributed), and also the environmental influences that unfold through life (the way we, or any creature is reared, and the experiences they encounter).
NATURE offers the physiological, biological, mental, and emotional starting point. The ‘blueprint’ for any living creature. It is the DNA, passed down through the pairings of our ancestors. What we are (and dogs), is the result of thousands of random couplings through generations of reproduction. Of course, us humans have bred dogs specifically for required purposes, and these pairings have not been quite so random as mother nature might have intended. But this ‘selective breeding’ does result in both good and bad traits within the dog breeding world.
This is a subject matter that can span a very very big article, so for now, let’s just say that it has a large contribution to the outcome of a dog’s ability to cope, or not cope, with certain ‘challenges’.
NURTURE, probably has an even larger affect of the outcome. How we are raised, the environment we live in, the experiences that we encounter, and the lessons that we are taught, all contribute to our (or our dog’s) response to stress. And let’s use the term ‘stress’, as our overall description for any other way of describing fear, phobias, confusion, uncertainty, and such like root causes.
We all love our dogs. That goes without saying really, and we don’t try to unnecessarily cause our dogs undue stress, but when you think about it more openly, our dogs are a long way from where nature intended. OK, so over hundreds, if not thousands of years, humans and canines have built an alliance for the purpose of mutual benefit, but it would seem that very recently, dogs are struggling with the lives that they share with us. Even as little as 50 years ago, dog anxiety was unheard of. Maybe it existed, but nobody recognised it, or maybe I have got a little nostalgic at my time of life, but I am sure that my grandad would have thought I was crazy if I told him my dog was suffering from anxiety.
These days we live in a fast, complicated, and sometimes, very insular world. Everything that can cause us stress, but for a dog, that is a much simpler and undemanding animal, it is a million miles from where they subconsciously know they should be. It is not really surprising that they show any one of a hundred symptoms, when you look at it a little more closely. Yes, they live in a centrally heated home, with all the comforts you have provided. The regular meals, the bed, the toys, the treats, the love and cuddles.. you know what I mean. So, what an earth could they be stressing about?. Well, once again, I can write a book in an attempt to approach an answer to that question, so let’s not theorise anymore. Let’s get to the reason you are reading this. It is because you are troubled by any one of these symptoms that are indicating that your dog is possibly suffering from stress.
1. Your dog is very unsettled when left alone. (Separation anxiety).
2. Your dog wanders around and pants.
3. Your dog seems to be on ‘red alert’, and cant sit still for one second.
4. Your dog goes crazy at visitors in your home.
5. The outside world is just too scary, and your dog cant cope.
6. Firework night is the worst night of the year.
7. The most random thing can cause any number of reactions.
…the list goes on!!!
And I bet you have tried many ideas to combat these situations. like..
Plug in diffusers.
Turn the TV or radio on.
A favourite treat.
Lots of cuddles, kisses, conversations, negotiations, and promises!
and in very tough times.. medication from the vet!!
And even though some of the above ideas might stop a dog’s condition temporarily (and I have some good reports from various customers), it normally happens again, because you are addressing the SYMPTOM, not the ROOT CAUSE. YOU HAVE TO ADDRESS THE ROOT CAUSE.. NOT THE SYMPTOM.
As a dog psychologist/behaviourist, I have to diagnose the root cause for this condition. There may be elements of ‘nature’, that are contributing, but I tend to find that in most cases, it is the environment that has the greatest affect, and the good news is… we can change the environment.
Once I have diagnosed the root cause, I can then offer a strategy that will help the dog cope with the psychological or emotional issue that is causing the symptoms, and in turn, the symptoms will diminish, or even discontinue.
NOTE: I have 6 dogs. 5 of them came from customers that could not deal with their dog’s problem any longer. The 6th dog came from a rescue centre (and interestingly, was the dog that DIDN’T require any help!). All 5 dogs that came to me with issues are doing 100% better. It is not location that has helped, it is the understanding, the patience, and the correct practical and psychological approach that has achieved the results.
IF YOU WOULD LIKE ME TO SHARE MY KNOWLEDGE WITH YOU, AND IN TURN, HELP YOUR DOG. THEN I WOULD LIKE TO HEAR FROM YOU.
Think about it.. No More..
Worrying about your dog when you go out.
Coming home to find your house destroyed or a little ‘gift’ on the carpet!.
Apologising to the neighbours.
Having to explain to other dog owners “why”.
Spending money on ideas that don’t last.
Leaving your dog in a crate all day and night.
Getting your dog medicated.
Having to part with your lovely dog!!.
Let’s get on with the work!.
Please complete the form below, and let’s both start to make yours, and your dogs life, a little bit more peaceful and content.
If you would like to ask me more about my philosophy or methods, then by all means, call me, on
I look forward to meeting you both!
Glen I would just like to say thanks for all the help you are giving me with my little puppy! It really is making all the difference. I highly recommend you to anyone who needs…
Claire – Chelmsford, Essex
Thank you for your time visiting this morning to help my wife and I learn how to walk our dog and prevent him from pulling on the lead. We really appreciate it and the other…
Brian – Basildon, Essex
Glen, thanks so much for your help with Kira! Was great to see her around other dogs and can’t wait to keep working with her and see more progress. Had been to so many dog…
Sophie – Basildon, Essex