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Dr. Rosie DVM

Problem Behaviors

Anxiety & Fear

Anxiety and fear can manifest in various ways in dogs, often leading to behavior problems that are misunderstood as mere disobedience. Recognizing these signs early and addressing them appropriately can greatly improve your dog's quality of life and your relationship with them. Here are some key strategies to recognize and alleviate anxiety, fear, and stress in dogs:

Recognizing Anxiety and Stress

  • Body Language: Pay attention to your dog's body language. Signs of anxiety may include tucked tail, ears back, panting, yawning, and avoiding eye contact.
  • Excessive Vocalization: Whining, barking, or howling, especially in situations where your dog is normally quiet, can indicate distress.
  • Destructive Behavior: Chewing, digging, or scratching excessively, particularly when you're not around, can be a sign of stress.
  • Changes in Appetite or Elimination: A decrease or increase in appetite, as well as accidents in the house, can signal anxiety.
  • Avoidance or Withdrawal: If your dog avoids certain situations or people, it might be a sign of fear or discomfort.
Dog Body Language: Understand What Their Saying

Alleviating Anxiety and Stress

  • Create a Safe Space: Provide a quiet, comfortable area where your dog can retreat when feeling anxious. This can be a crate or a cozy corner with their bed.
  • Regular Exercise: Ensure your dog gets enough physical activity to help reduce stress and anxiety.
  • Mental Stimulation: Engage your dog with puzzle toys, training exercises, or interactive games to keep their mind occupied.
  • Consistent Routine: Dogs thrive on routine. Establishing a consistent schedule for feeding, walks, and playtime can help reduce anxiety.
  • Desensitization and Counterconditioning: Gradually expose your dog to the source of their fear or anxiety in a controlled and positive way, paired with something they love, like treats or play.
  • Professional Help: If your dog's anxiety is severe or persistent, consult with a veterinarian or a certified animal behaviorist for guidance and possible medication.


Understanding and addressing your dog's anxiety and fear is crucial for their well-being. By recognizing the signs early and implementing appropriate strategies, you can help your dog feel more secure and reduce the likelihood of behavior problems driven by anxiety.

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