Pets can suffer from anxiety just like people do. As a pet owner, it is important to recognize the early warning signs of anxiety and take steps to reduce the amount of fear and worry your animal companion feels.
Anxiety in pets can manifest itself in a number of different ways. Some dogs may become defensive when they feel worried or anxious. They may snap at strangers or bark incessantly in an effort to relieve their anxiety. Other pets may destroy the home when left alone. No matter how your pet expresses anxiety, these tips can help reduce the stress and make your four-legged companion feel more at ease.
One of the most important things you can do is control your own emotions. Pets are very perceptive, and they pick up on the emotions of their owners. If you feel anxious, your pet will respond to your fear with fear and anxiety of their own. Always use a calm voice and relaxed body language when dealing with your pet. Your calm demeanor can reassure your pet that there is nothing to worry about.
Positive reinforcement can go a long way as well. When your pet gets into a fearful situation or appears anxious, you can work to calm the animal through your emotional control and body language. When the pet reacts properly, rewarding the animal with treats will reinforce that positive behavior. By linking the anxiety-producing stimulus with a reward rather than fear, you can help your pet overcome their anxiety. Never scold your pet for being afraid - the punishment will only reinforce the fear and make the problem worse.
If your pet is anxious and fearful around new people, give your visitors a handful of dog biscuits or other treats. Pretty soon your dog will start to see new people as a source of treats and not a reason for concern. This simple trick can help you turn a negative situation around and better socialize your pet.
Desensitizing your pet to the stimulus it fears can also reduce the impact. If your pet fears thunderstorms, playing a CD with storm sounds can desensitize the animal. Regular exposure to the things they fear can do wonders - just go slow and be aware of your pet's body language.
If your pet suffers from separation anxiety, make your departures as low key as possible. Do not say goodbye to your pet and do not make a big deal out of your return. Be as nonchalant as possible - your pet will pick up on this and become less anxious over time.
You can make your pet's alone time more fun by providing plenty of toys and a treat or two. Fill a ball with treats before you leave and hide it somewhere in the home. Your pet can spend its time seeking out the treats and playing with toys while you are at work or off running errands.
Varying your routine can also help pets overcome separation anxiety. Dogs get tuned into your routine, and they start to anticipate when you will leave and return. Stopping off for a bite to eat after work or leaving for the office an hour early once in a while can help a pet who has become attuned to your habits.
Giving your pet plenty of exercise can help as well. Taking your dog for regular walks or letting the animal out in a fenced yard to burn off energy is always a good idea. If all goes well, your pet will sleep for much of the time, then wake up and play with its toys until you return home.
Last but not least, regular massage can relax your dog, improve its coat and make you both feel better. Massage activates cell function and relaxes the entire animal, reducing anxiety and making home life more comfortable for every member of the family.
Try Winnie’s Cookies treats to help your dog overcome their anxieties and fears over people, storms or being home alone. They’re also good to use for training purposes. Contact us today for all your Winnie’s Cookies needs.