Whether you are a proud first-time dog owner, or have been taking care of pups for years, raising and training your furry friend can be a stressful experience. Especially in those vital early weeks, it is common and even normal to be very hands-on with your dog, even to the point of being overbearing.
But could it be possible that your well-meaning behaviour could actually be affecting your dog’s training? There is some evidence that suggests it could be, at the very least, a contributing factor to anxiety.
Recognizing signs of canine anxiety
Anxiety is an all too common health problem that affects dogs of every breed and age group. You do not have to be a vet to recognize the warning signs of anxiety. If your dog is demonstrating “off” behaviour or is struggling to interact with humans or other dogs, anxiety may be the underlying cause. If you are concerned about your dog, here are some potential symptoms to look out for:
- Increased signs of vigilance (such as muscle tension, excessive barking, or constantly being in a “lookout mode”)
- Panting or trembling
- Hiding or showing signs of aggression around humans, dogs and other animals
- Attempts to escape
- Changes in sleep behaviour
- A strong attachment and clinginess to his owner or certain humans
While these are common anxiety symptoms, they are not the only signs. To get an official diagnosis, or to eliminate other health issues, it is important to bring your concerns to a vet. If your dog is a rescue, or was not socialized early in its life, understand that it is at much higher risk of developing anxiety.
How your own behaviour can affect your dog
There are a wide range of reasons why a dog may develop anxiety, including actions of past and present owners.
In fact, recent studies have shown that owners who often have higher cortisol levels—a biological signifier of high stress and anxiety—often own pets with higher cortisol levels as well. Although the science is not completely settled, it is possible that your pet is able to sense your feelings of anxiety, which only increases their own stress.
Sometimes, the choices you make when it comes to raising a pet can be influenced by your own stress and anxiety. For example, some owners will put off training and socialization because they fear it may be too much for their dog to handle, or because they fear bigger and more aggressive dogs.
While in the short-term, this might seem like a way to avoid stressful situations for your dog, the harsh reality is that later in life, they are likely to be anxious and unsociable creatures.
Simply being aware of your own behaviour is a good first step. Being aware that your own stress and overbearing nature could negatively impact your animal can help ease your anxiety and allow your dog to be a dog.
Although your dog may show signs of improvement when you are able to let go of your own stress, it is not an alternative to training and socialization. If your dog struggles around other animals or is not doing well with at-home training, a professional program may be the best option.
If you are looking for a qualified professional in the Greater Toronto Area, you could consider iTrainK9, a training service with years of experience and a proven track record of success. From boarding programs to essential puppy training, they offer a versatile range of services, and can help socialize your dog during the dog training process, which is an important factor in reducing lifelong anxiety.
About iTrainK9 Dog Training
iTrainK9 is the leading dog training company in the GTA, providing the best solutions for you and your pet. We serve the areas of Toronto, Milton, Oakville, Mississauga, Burlington and Halton Hills. We love what we do and it shows in the results. Our service offerings are designed to utilize the latest expertise, best practices and products available in the dog training and pet-care industries. Our belief that each dog is different, motivates us to design programs tailored to that individual dog. We take time with the dog to understand his/her personality and behaviour and then implement a plan accordingly. We use multiple approaches to train your dog. We offer training for dogs at every level, be it a rowdy pup or a polished veteran.