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MANY DOGS SUFFER WITH ANXIETY UNNECESSARILYFrankly I am surprised with the number of emails I get concerning anxiety. The causes are many and unfortunately real solutions are few.
In preparation for this article, I read many pages on the subject. I was appalled at the number of pages written by people that obviously had no clue. Many pages were written by people who I doubt even owned a dog. Their articles were generic in nature and lacked the experiences that would testify to someone who would have a clue as to how to cure a dog with anxiety.
CONFIDENT APPROACH TO RELIEVING YOUR DOG'S ANXIETYMy life revolves around the caring for dozens of dogs. Some of my dogs have had anxiety issues. And although I may not have seen everything, and may not have all the answers, I've dealt with it enough, that I am pretty confident in my approach and information that I provide. As is always the case @mrpitbull.com my advice is based on my experience. Your mileage may vary.
NOT EVERY CASE IS 100% TREATABLEIf the anxiety is genetic in nature, there may be little that can be done. For example: The myotonic goat, otherwise known as the fainting goat, has a genetic anomaly that causes it to faint when scared. All the therapy in the world is unlikely to have any effect. Likewise, some breeds of dogs, may be more prone to fear because of a genetic disposition. If this is the case, medication may be your only choice. Yet, I believe that with most dogs, the solution I provide in this article will result in significant improvement.
MANY TYPES OF ANXIETYI've personally dealt with many types of dog anxiety. I can't begin to tell you how many times I have had to help a puppy get over the anxiety that is created when they are moved away from their pack or siblings. Too, I note separation anxiety in dogs that I take from the kennel to my home as I rotate dogs.
I've had some dogs that are scared to death to be on a leash. They cower to the ground in fear as they are taken to unfamiliar surroundings.
UNLESS ANXIETY IS DEALT WITH A DOG IS A DANGER TO BITE SOMEONEI've had other dogs that are scared of people. Now you wouldn't think a Pit would be afraid of people. What is interesting is that this kind of anxiety can be manifested in two completely different ways. Dogs with anxiety toward people might hunker down and shake uncontrollably or they may hide behind a couch. But yet too, a dog that has fear of people, may exhibit anxiety by barking, growling and even aggression. In either case, unless the anxiety is dealt with, the dog is a danger to bite someone.
NO MATTER WHAT TYPE OF ANXIETY THE SAME SIMPLE STEPS GENERALLY WORKSome of my dogs are afraid of taking a bath. The anxiety that some dogs exhibit when placed in the water is almost comical. Bath anxiety with dogs is very common. Some dogs are afraid of loud noise or may exhibit anxiety when it thunders. Really the list could go on and on as to the causes of anxiety with dogs.
Yet it is good to know that even though there are many causes and many reason that a particular dog may be afraid of something, in many cases if not most, the same simple steps can be taken to cure dog anxiety.
MANY TYPES OF ANXIETY
Dogs are Pack Animals. The pack instinct controls every aspect of a dogs life. If his PACK STRUCTURE
is a strong one, the dog will be confident in his environment.
The key to solving many anxiety issues is to establish strong pack structure. Make sure you read my page on
PACK STRUCTURE TRAINING
PACK STRUCTURE ILLUSTRATEDMost everyone can experience a level of anxiety when faced with a stressful situation. Most people will for instance have a fair degree of anxiety when taking a trip to a foreign country. But what if there was someone who was taking care of every aspect of your trip for you? They pick you up at your house. They have a private jet waiting. There is no customs to go through. A car is waiting to take you to the villa. A staff is there to take care of every need... Would that reduce the amount of anxiety associated with such an adventure? Of course it would.
Likewise, Pack Structure is very similar. When it is well established, you become that person who takes care of EVERYTHING for your dog. But here is the important point; it only works when your dog has complete confidence in you. And he is only going to have confidence in you if you have clearly demonstrated that you are in complete control.
Going back to the illustration of the trip for a minute: If the person taking care of your needs, forgets to send the car, fails to book the jet, the villa is in a bad neighborhood... are you going have anxiety? Of course! The level of your dog's anxiety rest squarely on your shoulders. If you are a strong pack leader, your dog will trust that you have everything under control. And therefore, they will feel safe and secure.
EASE YOUR DOG'S ANXIETY BY BECOMING THE PACK LEADERI could write a book on PACK STRUCTURE, yet something comes to mind, and that is that a picture is worth a thousand words". For this reason I am going to recommend that if you are serious about solving dog separation anxiety with your pet, that you pick up a copy of Establishing Pack Structure with the Family Pet by Leerburg. The video demonstrates what Pack Structure is and how to establish yourself as the pack leader.
Once you begin to apply the techniques, you will notice your dog's confidence grow as he becomes more confident in you and his place in the pack. In my experience, many anxiety issues can be cured by simply employing effective Pack Structure with your dog.
USE ANOTHER DOG TO RELIEVE ANXIETYI learned this trick from my Uncle's African Grey. I had him for a month while my Uncle was away, I did everything I could think of to teach him how to say "I thought I saw a Putty Cat"; all to no avail.
When my Uncle returned I asked him how to teach it to say something. His answer, I did not expect. He indicated that they are motivated by jealousy. Simply stand someone else in front of the Bird's gage and tell them to say something, when they repeat it, you praise the person. Repeat the process in front of the bird and they want in on the action to receive the praise.
SEEING ANOTHER PRAISED WILL MOTIVATE YOUR DOGSo, if your dog has anxiety, while on a leash, place him in a kennel and walk another dog in front of him on a leash, praising him as he obeys commands, giving him treats. Then take out your dog and place the other dog in the kennel. Then let him try it. You may have to run the exercise a few times before the dog begins to respond.
Of course, the same thing can be done with many other issues a dog may have. I do have to say again, that your success with such a technique will depend upon the pack structure you have created around the dog. Best wishes.
BEING A PACK LEADER IS NOT ALWAYS POSSIBLEOf course I am a realist and realize that not every problem has an easy solution. I also know that not everyone has what it takes to be a pack leader and therefore will need another solution.
Recently, I was at someone house who had two small dogs. The entire time I was there, the dogs were jumping on me and my companion. The dog owner kept chasing the dogs around, hollering at them to stop. Finally she somehow got the dogs in the house. She forgot however that apparently there was a doggy door, and in seconds they were out jumping on us again. I never mentioned that I was a dog trainer and that I could solve the problem in a matter of just minutes. Yet, I could plainly see she was not up to the task. Any gains made by me would be short lived. She did not know how to be a pack leader.
Training dogs is simple. Training people to become pack leaders is another story.