Anxiety is the Root of Most Behavior Problems
Anxiety is one of the leading causes to canine behavioral problems. While a dog may have suffered from a dodgy past, filled with neglect or maybe an abusive former owner, there are often many dogs who have had perfectly good lives and still have anxiety problems. These are the cases that often leave dog owners puzzled and seeking out a professional dog trainer.
The issue of anxiety does not always have to stem back to trauma or a bad childhood (in this case, puppyhood). If we look at ourselves as humans, it’s pretty likely that you might know someone that might experience some degree of anxiety, yet they have had a well-adjusted life and upbringing. Anxiety for dogs can be caused by very subtle mistakes that dog owners make, and they are so subtle that many dog owners don’t even realize they’re making them.
Last month while working with a dog trainer in Indianapolis, I had a dog named Missy enroll in my DC dog training program. Her owners were friends with a breeder and they fell in love with Missy immediately. At eight weeks, they brought her into the home and pampered her with toys, a fancy dog bed, an abundance of food, and never ending love. It was basically a dog’s dream world.
However, at around six months, Missy started showing signs of severe anxiety. She was unable to be on her own in the house, and if her owners left her, she became destructive. They tried utilizing a crate and Missy managed to break out, frantically using her mouth and paws. Before her owners called me for help, Missy had broken out of her crate again and this time hurt her mouth so bad trying to escape that there was a small pool of blood on the carpet. Along with this separation anxiety, Missy acted very nervous around other people and dogs, and she would still attempt to destructively chew on things in the house.
Missy’s owners were at a loss with how to address her behavior, but they were also baffled on how she got this bad when all they did was treat her like a princess. Spoiling your dog isn’t necessary a terrible thing, just as long as it’s balanced with training and set boundaries. In Missy’s case, while she was given nearly anything a dog could wish for, one of the things she was missing were boundaries. It may come as a shock to many dog owners, but dogs not only need boundaries, but they also thrive from them and tend to want them from their owners!
I won’t lie and say a dog doesn’t want to do what he/she wants to do. They absolutely do! But many dogs are waiting for their owners to show them what they need to do. If a dog has no idea how to behave and their owners expect them to, then the dog is left on their own, confused and left to either establish their own rules, or live a life of anxiety and fear. Missy did not have consistent leaders, and she herself did not feel like she could take on that leadership role herself. So instead, she was left without a clue, and became anxious because of it.
Training is the best way to relieve a dog from anxiety. Training will incorporate exercise, both on a physical and mental level, and it will tighten the loving bond between dog and owner. Training teaches dogs how to live a happy life with their owners, and the owners learn how to show their dog how to succeed. Applying reward-based techniques, we were able to help Missy and her owners find the right communication between one another, and Missy was able to do the right thing because her owners showed her how to.
If your dog is experiencing anxiety, don’t coddle them or wait for them to grow out of it…it will only get worse! Get your dog and yourself in training, and find the path to behavioral success and happiness! Call 800-649-7297 to schedule an initial in-home consultation with us!