Anxiety in dogs
Mini Daschound – Hugo
This is a beautiful little boy called Hugo, his dog behavior problem is he has anxiety and nervousness. When dealing with this, we need to look at the deep down causes of what is going on. He is only young, approximately 12 weeks of age and during puppy school he would hide under the chair and only come out when there was no movement around and/or the other puppies weren’t around playing. This dog behaviour is quite common in puppy school and owners tend to get worried about their young pup and why they are doing this. Its actually very common and we can work on getting this right during puppy school and beyond.
I am now working the Hugo’s mum and dad to diagnose how severe his anxiety is and how we can combat the problem without any use of medication and absolutely no harsh methods. This will take weeks of work but they are very committed to this little fellow and so we have begun.
One of the first things I have asked them to do is to simply reward only his BRAVE dog behaviour. Ignore him when he is shy, nervous, unsettled, anxious, whining, uncertain, basically anything that is not BRAVE!
They have found this hard to do as they want to comfort him, the problem is comforting him when he feels any of these ways will actually make the problem worse, not better. Dogs live in the moment, so when they feel unsure and then you praise them at that time, they will think they are being praised for that moment, hence feeling unsure. We don’t want this! Simply ignore them and they will adapt and realise that there is no reason to feel this way at all.
This way, we build the dog’s confidence and bravery in a sense. Rewarding brave dog behaviour is the key to Hugo and any other dog succeeding in feeling confident and good about things that he will experience in his world.
His world will grow over time and include many different things, which is what I’m wanting the owners to also do, expose Hugo to as many things as possible during this key time in his growing up until he is about 18 months of age. Even though they are imprinting as puppies up until about 18 weeks of age, we need to continue to expose them to all sorts of things until they are at least 18 months of age, this will really help us build our dogs up to be confident, well balanced, adjusted, easy going and less anxious in this world.
Anxious dog behaviour is important to fix, if it can be fixed, not all cases can. Consult your professional behaviourist and if you need to, also talk to your vet about key people to help your dog through this tough time of experiencing this type of dog behaviour.