Hello everyone. I wanted to take a minute to address an issue faced by a lot of dog owners: Anxious dogs. I want you all to meet Lilly. Lilly was found with her litter mate in Vilonia after the tornado that went through the area in late April of this year. When you look at the pictures of Lilly, she looks like a vibrant, happy young dog. The only problem is that Lilly doesn’t like going out in the garage. She doesn’t like riding in the car. She won’t even go out of the front door of her own house. When she gets to her training class, the moment she gets out of her vehicle, the drooling starts, almost looking like she has a water tap flowing inside of her mouth. When she gets inside, her ears are back, her tail is tucked, and she’s jumpy and wants to avoid the six pound terrier mix that’s also in the class.
I’m not writing this post to dump on Lilly but to tell you that there is hope. Lilly will now walk around the warehouse and show interest in things where as before she wouldn’t. Lilly will come up to me and take treats in the class space where before she would hardly even
sniff them. It’s taken a few weeks but Lilly is showing progress of not being completely terrified and traumatized by everything. She’s even slowly coming even further out of her shell at home as well.
I think one of the hardest parts about having an anxious dog and not knowing that your dog is stressed out by something. Granted, Lilly is a bit of an extreme case but it’s important to know what are dogs are telling us with their body language. Just like I mentioned above, ears pinned against the head is a sign of stress. The tail is a barometer to how a dog is feeling. When the tail is down or tucked, your dog is unsure, anxious, or possibly fearful of something that’s in front of him. A neutral tail or a tail that’s just kind of sitting at an even level is ok with what’s aroun
m. A tail held high is a dog that’s excited about something, either positively or negatively. The drooling is another sign of stress. It can be such a small amount that it looks like your dog accidentally lost control of their tongue and some spit slipped out, or it can look like they dunked their head in a bog kiddie pool. And Barking! Don’t forget about the barking! Dogs bark for a variety of reasons. A dog barking is a sign that they’re excited, either for a positive or negative reason but the barking that you want to look out for is the barking that is nonstop. If your dog never stops barking, your dog is constantly stressed.
The good news is that, just like Lilly, there can be improvement. Learn what your dog’s stressors are. Pay attention to what sets your dog off and find out how you can make things better and not seem to annoying, or stressful, or absolutely terrifying. While I’d be happy to help you and work with your dog, do your research when choosing a trainer to help you, if you decide to go that route. Call a bunch. Ask specific questions. Ask what their qualifications are. Do what you feel is best for your dog.
I hope you’ve found this little bit of information helpful. Have a great holiday Season!