Anxiety Disorders – Dog Training – Dog Trainer – Behaviorist
PHOENIX , AZ AREA: (602) 708-4531
OR, if you are out of this area, inquire about a telephone or e-Lesson
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Anxiety disorders manifest with some dogs, just as they manifest in some children. Research, as well as personal observation, indicates there are biological and environmental causes. I have evaluated litters of friendly puppies of a variety of breeds, yet seeing within those litters certain pups that were very shy and even fearful, indicating a biological cause. I have read scientific articles about the selective breeding of fearful animals, proving that you can breed fearful animals if you select for that trait. However, I have also had students who have made their dogs fearful and anxious. I remember one instance where a woman had 5 dogs, all different breeds and sizes, and all of them were fearful and anxious. After working with them, separating them for a time from their owner, they all overcame their fearfulness and became confident and playful in public and with other dogs and strangers.
Anxious and Fearful Owners
Many dog owners cause anxiety disorders in their own dogs. It often starts by coddling, less autonomy, variable amounts of closeness and then avoidance, and overindulging, resulting in clingy, fearful, anxious spoiled adult dogs that constantly need reassurance to be calm. It also is a result of owners who have anxiety disorders, and their fearful and stressful mannerisms and habits unsettle the dogs in their homes. Studies indicate that anxious parents are much more likely to cause their children to have anxiety disorders. And I believe similarly, anxious dog owners can increase the risks of an anxiety disorder in their pets.
It takes more effort and awareness to properly raise a naturally anxious dog. And it is even harder to deal with an anxious dog when you are anxious yourself. Anxious dogs are more likely to whine, have eating issues, have health issues, hurt themselves, damage things, run away, panic, not listen to commands, soil the home, growl, bark and even bite. Most dog owners are in way over their heads when they obtain an anxious dog, usually treating the symptoms rather than the cause. I was discussing this recently with a student who wanted to get an electric bark collar for their dog. I said the root problem was the dog’s fearfulness, not the barking. If we overcame the fears, the barking problem would go away. Then, when I’m dealing with anxious or overly protective owners, I have to teach them new ways to relate their dogs. Sometimes I have to spend a lot of time getting to know them, finding out that they indeed are the cause of why their dogs are anxious. A lot of these folks avoid doing the very things that would cause their dogs to change, because the owners themselves have issues about being social and/ or proactive in dealing with their dogs issues.
There are a variety of techniques that can be employed to help anxious dogs. There are also a variety of techniques I use to deal with anxious dog owners. I tend to use a broad range of techniques to deal with this issue instead of just focusing on the dog. Some students are encouraged to get professional counseling, or for their families, as part of the lessons, for example.
There are ways of dealing with dogs like this. The first step is to get a professional dog behaviorist involved, instead of trying to do this yourself.