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Puppy Anxiety: The Telltale Signs Your Dog is Anxious and How to Help Them Find Their Inner Zen

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Puppies! Those little bundles of fluff and teeth that happily pee on your carpet and pounce on the cat. Little did you know they can also suffer from puppy anxiety, until it happens to you.

I’m sure you’ve pictured yourself getting endless cuddles, enjoying playful romps in the park, and having a loyal companion to share your adventures with.

But real life is a totally different kettle of fish!

You’re suddenly having to deal with a little bundle of nerves that barks non-stop at random things, chews up your favorite sweater, trembles at the slightest noise, and leaves unorthodox but disgusting presents in your new expensive shoes.

Reality’s a bummer, isn’t it?

Many dog owners face similar unexpected challenges when they first bring home their furry friends.

Let’s face it, puppy anxiety can play havoc with your nerves, and addressing it early on is essential to prevent it from spiralling into a much bigger issue.

But don’t worry, if your dog has anxiety, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re up the creek without a paddle! 

In this article, we’re going to explore the tell-tale signs that your pup is struggling with a dog anxiety disorder, and most importantly, we’ll share some tried-and-trusted strategies to help your little fluffy buddy find their inner zen.

Signs of Puppy Anxiety

If you’ve welcomed a chaotic bundle of crazy into your home, it’s hard to know what’s normal and what isn’t.

Puppy inside a basket

But for your new furry friend’s sake, it’s wise to understand when their behavior is a little different from the norm.

This way, you will be able to identify when your young dog is stressed or has some form of anxiety. Here are some common signs of anxiety in dogs:

Excessive Barking or Whining

If your new puppy constantly howls when left alone or barks and whines excessively when you’re away, they might be trying to tell you something.

Anxiety often causes pups to vocalize more than usual, which can be quite frustrating for both you and especially for your neighbors.

Keep an ear out for these sounds, as they may indicate your pup is feeling stressed, and maybe take a hint if your neighbors are giving you the cold shoulder.

Destructive Dog Behavior

Chewed-up furniture and destroyed shoes are more than just a nuisance; they could be signs that your mini-dog has anxiety .

When puppies are overwhelmed, they often turn to destructive behaviors as a way to cope.

Destructive behavior - puppy chewing on some wool

So, if you’re coming home to a house that’s been decimated, maybe it’s time to look for some fun ways to alleviate your dog’s anxiety issues.

Pacing or Restlessness

A restless puppy who can’t seem to settle down, even in familiar surroundings, may be dealing with anxiety.

Pacing, constant movement, or an inability to relax can all indicate that your pup’s mind is racing with worry.

Accidents in the House

If your usually housetrained dog urinates or defecates indoors, it could be more than just a lapse in training.

Puppy peed on the floor, puppy anxiety

Whatever you do, don’t punish your dog!

When a dog experiences anxiety, it can cause them to lose control of their bladder or bowels, leading to unexpected messes

Don’t be too hard on your naughty little friend, as they may just need some extra help to feel more at ease.

Excessive Licking or Chewing

Dogs often resort to licking or chewing themselves, their toys, or other objects as a way to self-soothes when they’re feeling particularly nervous.

If you notice your pup is excessively licking or chewing, or if there are balding patches appearing in their fur, it’s possible they’re trying to cope with their anxiety.

Trembling or Shaking

Seeing your normally fun-loving pup trembling or shaking can be heart-wrenching.

While some breeds are naturally more prone to shaking, it can also be a sign of fear and anxiety. 

If your pup’s shaking is accompanied by other anxiety-related behavior problems, it’s essential to address the underlying issue.

Clinginess and Shadowing

Anxious pups often become extremely attached to their owners, following them everywhere and seeking constant reassurance.

puppy asleep on a lap

It’s one of the key separation anxiety symptoms, and while it’s endearing to have a pup who adores you so much they’re wielded to your leg, this level of clinginess could signal they’re stressed that you’re going to leave them alone. 

Type of Anxiety in Puppies

You’ve provided a warm cozy home to live in, yummy food to eat, and the squeakiest of toys to play with, so why is your puppy anxious?

Separation Anxiety in Puppies

Can’t bear the thought of leaving your little shadow behind? Well, the feeling might be mutual! Puppies with separation anxiety are a common issue, as they’re wired to crave companionship.

Puppy lying by a door - puppy anxiety

When you’re away, your pup is left alone or separated from you, your pint-sized dog may show signs of stress, leading to anxiety-related behaviors.

Puppy Anxiety – Fear of Loud Noises

Loud noises, such as thunderstorms or fireworks, can make your pup feel anxious.

This fear can be innate or stem from a negative experience, and it’s essential to help your dog navigate this noisy world without getting too frazzled.

Changes in Routine or Environment

Dogs thrive on consistency, so when their world turns topsy-turvy, they can get a bit anxious.

Puppy hiding under furniture

Moving to a new home, traveling in a vehicle, introducing a new family member, or even a sudden change in your work schedule affects dogs, and in many cases, anxiety is the result.

Past Trauma or Neglect

A pup’s history can play a significant role in their emotional well-being.

Puppies who have experienced trauma or neglect may be more susceptible to anxious or aggressive behavior around other dogs or people.

Adopted dogs, especially, might need extra reassurance and support to overcome their fears and insecurities.

Genetics and Breed Predispositions

Not all puppies are born confident and carefree.

Some breeds, like terriers and herding dogs, can be more prone to anxiety due to their genetic makeup.

Dachshund puppy

Knowing your pup’s breed tendencies can help you understand their unique needs and better address their anxiety.

Strategies to Help Your Puppy Deal with Stress and Anxiety

We’ve worked out that your puppy is anxious and why. Now we need a plan for when your dog’s anxiety is triggered!

Here are a few tried and tested strategies that can help you tackle this terrible condition.

Gradual Desensitization to Triggers

Slow and steady wins the race when it comes to helping your pup overcome their fears.

Behavior modification through gradual desensitization involves exposing your dog or puppy to anxiety-inducing triggers in a controlled manner, slowly increasing their tolerance over time.

This approach requires patience, but it’s well worth the effort when you see your dog’s confidence grow.

Training and Socialization

The early bird catches the worm, and the same holds true for puppy training!

Puppy training

Starting early with obedience training and socialization helps build a strong foundation for your pup’s emotional well-being.

By learning commands and interacting with new people, places, and situations, your puppy will develop the confidence they need to tackle their anxiety head-on.

Creating a Safe and Comfortable Environment

A cozy den can make all the difference for an anxious pup.

Provide your dog with a designated space, such as a crate or a corner of a room, filled with their favorite toys, blankets, and a comfy bed.

This safe haven will provide a sense of security and help your pup relax when they’re feeling stressed.

Calming Aids and Supplements

Sometimes, a little extra help goes a long way.

Calming aids and supplements, such as pheromone diffusers or herbal remedies, can be beneficial in reducing your pup’s anxiety.

Consult your veterinarian before introducing any new supplements to your dog’s routine to ensure they’re safe and suitable for your pup.

Mental and Physical Stimulation

A tired dog is a happy dog, and the same goes for their mental well-being!

Providing your pup with plenty of physical exercise and mentally engaging activities, like puzzle toys or interactive games, can help alleviate anxiety.

Puppy swimming - puppy anxiety

A well-stimulated pup is less likely to resort to destructive behaviors or become overwhelmed by stress.

Natural Calming Remedies for Puppies with Anxiety Symptoms

When attempting to deal with anxiety in dogs, it’s always nice to have a little trick up your sleeve, and in this case, mother nature provides them by the bucketful.

Herbal Supplements

When it comes to calming anxious pups, herbal supplements can be a great alternative to chemical medications, providing a gentle and effective way to calm your puppy.

Valerian Root

This is one of the more traditionally known remedies, valerian root can help reduce anxiety and stress in dogs.

valerian root

It’s often used in calming treats or supplements, providing a natural solution to help your pup relax.

Chamomile

Chamomile is famous for its soothing effects, not just in humans but in our four-legged friends too.

Chamomile

Available in various forms, such as teas or supplements, using chamomile is a great way to ease your pup’s nerves.

Passionflower

Another plant-based anxiety buster, passionflower, can help reduce stress in dogs.

Passionflower

It’s often combined with other calming herbs in supplements, making it an excellent option for your pup’s peace of mind.

Aromatherapy and Essential Oils

The power of scent can do wonders for your dog’s emotional well-being.

Aromatherapy and essential oils can help create a serene atmosphere to help your pup feel more at ease.

Lavender

A classic calming scent, lavender can soothe your dog’s nerves.

Puppy anxiety - lavender oil

Use a pet-safe diffuser or a lavender-scented pet bed to help your pup unwind.

Cedarwood

Cedarwood is known for its calming effects on dogs.

Cedarwood oil

Its warm, earthy scent can help create a sense of security and comfort for your anxious puppy.

Calming Treats and Chews

Tasty and calming? The right kind of tasty treats and chews can be a fantastic way to make your dog relax while rewarding them with a delicious snack.

Look for products containing:

  1. L-theanine: This amino acid, found in green tea, can help promote relaxation in dogs without causing drowsiness.
  2. Tryptophan: Known for inducing those post-Thanksgiving naps, tryptophan can help your pup feel more at ease.
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Hemp and CBD Products to Help an Anxious Puppy

Hemp-derived products, including CBD, can provide a natural solution for calming anxious dogs.  

There are lots of products available but look for a trusted brand as they will ensure better results.

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Massage and Touch Therapy

A little TLC goes a long way!

Massage and touch therapy can help reduce stress in dogs by releasing feel-good hormones and promoting relaxation.

Calming Music and Sounds

Sometimes, all your pup needs is a soothing soundtrack to find some peace and relaxation.

Calming music or nature sounds can create a peaceful environment and help drown out stress-inducing noises for your anxious furball.

Puppy Separation Anxiety Solutions

When your puppy is suffering from anxiety, you need a practical solution, and fast! Take a look at these great ideas that really work:

Gradual Desensitization to Being Left Alone

Helping your pup adjust to being home alone doesn’t have to be a daunting task.

Start by leaving them for short periods and gradually increase the time they spend by themselves.

This slow-and-steady approach will help build their confidence and make solo time less stressful.

Crate Training

Crate training can create a safe and comforting space that your dog needs when you’re not around.

By associating using a crate with positive experiences, your pup will feel more secure when they’re home alone.

Puppy in a crate

If you’re thinking of using a dog crate to provide your stressed dog with a quiet, safe place to feel calm, then check out our article on crate training.

It’s choc-a-bloc full of useful tips to teach your dog ways of dealing with separation.

Providing Interactive Toys and Puzzles

Keep your dog’s mind engaged while you’re away with interactive toys and puzzles.

Pup with a puzzle toy

These stimulating activities can help prevent boredom and provide a positive outlet for your pup’s energy, reducing their anxiety.

Establishing a Consistent Routine

Dogs thrive on consistency, and a predictable routine can work wonders for separation anxiety.

Establish regular times for feeding, walking, and playtime to create a sense of stability and reassurance for your pup.

Hiring a Pet Sitter or Dog Walker

Sometimes, all your pup needs is a little company during the day.

Hiring a pet sitter or dog walker can provide social interaction and exercise, helping to ease your dog’s separation anxiety and ensure they’re well-cared for when you can’t be there.

Puppy going for a walk

These solutions not only work for puppies, but for adult dogs and senior dogs with anxiety.

For more in-depth ideas, check out our dog anxiety solutions article. It’s jam-packed with all sorts of tried and tested ideas and solutions.

When to Seek Professional Help For Puppy Anxiety

If your efforts to help your dog overcome their anxiety aren’t yielding the desired results, or if their anxiety is so severe that your pup is causing harm to themselves or others, it’s time to seek help from an expert.

A qualified veterinary behaviorist, trainer, or veterinarian can provide invaluable guidance, develop tailored solutions, and, in some cases, recommend medications.

Signs Your Dog May Need Professional Intervention

Keep an eye out for signs that your puppy’s anxiety is not improving or even worsening despite your efforts.

Severe, persistent anxiety, destructive behaviors, self-harm, or aggression towards others can be red flags that it’s time to seek professional assistance.

Finding a Qualified Behaviorist or Dog Trainer

A qualified behaviorist or trainer can work wonders for treating dog anxiety. Look for certified professionals with experience in handling canine anxiety.

They’ll assess your pup’s specific needs, develop a tailored training plan, and help you navigate the road to a more relaxed and confident dog.

Medication Options for Severe Cases of Puppy Anxiety

In some cases, veterinary medication may be necessary to manage your pup’s anxiety effectively.

Your veterinarian will always consult with you to discuss options before considering any medications.

Vet with a puppy - puppy anxiety

They can advise on the best course of action and ensure that any treatment is suitable for your pup’s unique needs.

Final Thoughts on Puppies Suffering from Dog Anxiety

Navigating the world of puppy anxiety may be a challenge for you and your puppy.

Embark on this anxiety-busting adventure won’t be easy.

Puppy chewing on some shoes - puppy anxiety

There might be a few missteps, trips, and downright blunders along the way, but as long as you’re patient, persistent, and keep your sense of humor, you’ll witness your pup transform into a more confident and happy companion.

Just remember to celebrate the small victories along the way and acknowledge that setbacks are just part of the learning process.

Embrace this journey and cherish the bond you’re building with your pup as you tackle their anxiety together.

Get ready to show puppy anxiety who’s boss because you and your pup are a dynamic duo that can conquer anything!

Disclaimer

All information in this article is for educational purposes only and is not meant to replace your veterinarian’s advice.

Disclaimer

All information in this article is for educational purposes only and is not meant to replace your veterinarian's advice.
Jen Smart

Transforming anxious pups with her wealth of hands-on practical experience, and qualified in the following disciplines: Holistic Healing, Canine Anxiety & Therapy, Zoopharmacognosy, and CBD Oil for Animals

Founder of Anxious Canine and proud member of the Complementary Medical Association.

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