9 Unexpected Things That Trigger Dog Anxiety

Wondering why your dog’s been chewing the furniture, barking, or going potty in the house recently? It could be anxiety.

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Dog after trashing house
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You rile him up when you leave the house

The more you make a fuss about saying hello or goodbye to your pup, the more he’ll feel dog anxiety—and unfortunately, many of his most destructive symptoms will play out when you’re not home to calm him down. The best thing to do? “Take your keys, say bye, and leave,” says Nicole Ellis, pet lifestyle expert at Rover.com. “The calmer you are leaving for the day, the calmer they’ll be.” When you get home, continue to keep it simple. Take off your shoes, say hello, and wait a few minutes before launching into playtime. Encourage the kids to do the same as well.

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Dog in carrier
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A family member has left

Separation anxiety is real for kids and dogs alike. Dog anxiety could be sparked by something as small as a family member being out of sight, or as monumental as a kid moving out of the house—and you could see it play out in a variety of ways. To address that dog anxiety, you’ll want to make your pet as comfortable as possible while you’re gone. Go on extra-long walks with him (which will tire him out for when he’s home alone), leave a toy to entertain him while you’re out, and consider a training class to build up his confidence. More on that later.

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Attractive female dog owner
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You’ve moved to a new home

A new place can make anyone nervous. If the symptoms of dog anxiety started after your move, consider that a likely trigger. Do whatever’s possible to make your pet feel at home in your new place. A great way to halt any destructive habit is to leave some entertainment for when you’re gone. “That could be anything from a frozen Kong toy with food inside to a snuffle mat where you hide his breakfast,” says Ellis. Building your dog’s confidence could also help. “Taking a scent class is a great way to build confidence—and a confident dog isn’t a nervous dog,” says Ellis. Most training centres offer them, too.

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Dog owner couple
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She’s switched owners a lot

Being moved around from owner to owner can obviously give a dog anxiety. Not to mention, you never know how she was treated in her previous homes, or how she was socialized as a puppy. One thing to consider? Giving her a place of her own; namely, a dog crate. “I’m a fan of crate training,” says Ellis. “It’s not mean. It gives them a den where they can curl up and calm down.” Make it more soothing by adding your dog’s favourite toy and a blanket that smells like you. Put a treat inside the crate a few days in a row and your dog will start to feel at home in no time.

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Dog yawning in bed
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You’ve shaken up his routine

If you always wake up at 8 a.m. and then suddenly stop, it might throw your pup off and trigger dog anxiety. Same thing goes for altered schedules due to back-to-school season or a new job. Do your best to get back into a routine as quickly as possible. Say, wake up at 7 a.m., go for a walk, eat breakfast, and leave calmly.

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Dog anxiety
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There’s a new noise that’s making her nervous

If you come home from work every day to find a new piece of furniture destroyed, consider that something might be triggering dog anxiety while you’re gone—construction and traffic noise especially. If you think that might be the case, make your dog’s crate extra cozy and leave entertainment, too.

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Dog with veterinarian
Photo: Zivica Kerkez/Shutterstock

He has an injury

If the dog anxiety is severe, head to the vet—it could be a sign of an injury, especially if it starts up suddenly. If it turns out to be anxiety, your vet can recommend CBD (cannabidiol) oils or other homeopathic therapies.

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Dog under a plaid. Pet warms under a blanket in cold autumn weather
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She’s sick

Just as an injury can lead to dog anxiety, so can other medical issues. Your vet can give your pet a full checkup to make sure a condition like hypothyroidism, hearing loss, or neurological problems isn’t behind the change in behaviour.

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Newborn baby with dog
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There’s a new addition to the household

As excited as you might be to welcome a new baby or start living with your partner, your pooch doesn’t know what’s going on. Suddenly, there’s a new human taking up space and your attention. Give your pet extra TLC while he gets used to the new family dynamics and the dog anxiety starts to fade.

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Reader's Digest
Originally Published on Reader's Digest