Three signs that your dog could be suffering from anxiety

With the current drive for greater awareness of mental health issues, as well as the pressures of life in the COVID-19 era, recognizing and managing anxiety is a big preoccupation. Whether you deal with it yourself or know someone who does, you are no doubt aware of the debilitating effect unmanaged anxiety can have on a person’s quality of life. However, humans aren’t the only creatures to suffer from this condition – so too can hundreds of other animal species. Unable to communicate through words, you may be completely unaware that your beloved pet dog is suffering, putting their anxiety down to simply having an ‘off-day’. To help you help your four-legged friend, here are three signs that your dog could be suffering from anxiety. 

1. Excessive licking

One of the most common symptoms of anxiety in dogs is the excessive licking of themselves, objects, or their owners, to the point where it appears to be a compulsive behavior. This is because licking is a sign of submission, and when in a pack, a lower-ranking dog will lick a dominant animal to cement their place in the hierarchy. In a domestic situation, you, as the owner, are the leader of the pack. To help alleviate your dog’s anxiety – and prevent a face full of sloppy dog kisses – make sure that your pet feels secure in their home environment by establishing a routine for walking and food, and rewarding positive behaviors with calming treats, such as those found on

2. Uncharacteristic aggression

If your beloved pet is normally the perfect placid family dog, one sure-fire way of knowing that something is not right is an uncharacteristic switch to aggression. Aggressive behavior includes any behavior involved in an attack, such as growling, baring teeth, and biting. This aggression could be directed toward yourself or another trusted family member, another animal in your household, or members of the public when out on their daily walk. A sudden switch to uncharacteristic aggression might suggest that something in the environment has changed that has caused your dog to feel stressed and therefore behave defensively; for instance, the introduction of a new partner who your dog does not recognize. To deal with aggression, don’t award the aggressive behavior with treats and toys, encouraging positive interactions instead. Or, if the problem is too significant, you could consult a dog trainer for advice. 

3. Destructive behavior

If a dog is feeling anxious, he might resort to destructive behavior, such as chewing furniture, scratching carpets, and digging holes in the back yard. This might even manifest as escape attempts, such as scratching at doors and windows. As well as being an expensive nuisance for a house-proud owner, destructive behavior could also result in your dog injuring himself and requiring expensive veterinarian treatment. To help prevent this, you might consider enrolling your dog in obedience training, which will help to stimulate your dog and distract him from carrying out destructive behaviors.  

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