What Not to Do When You Have a Fearful Dog

By Wednesday, November 9, 2016

A portion of this post is sponsored, but opinions are my own and 110% “pawthentic”! 

Before I adopted my heart-dog, Buck, I didn’t give much thought to anxiety, stress or fear in dogs. Sure, I’d been around pups (including some of my own) who startled at sounds or seemed nervous about certain things. But from what I’d observed, these episodes quickly passed and were nothing to be overly concerned about.

Dog mood quote

Then Buck came into our lives and I learned firsthand how challenging, heartbreaking and even life-altering it can be to love a fearful or anxious dog. As a devoted pet parent, all you want to do is to ease your pet’s suffering, and you’ll try just about anything to make that happen.

And I do mean anything!

My husband and I tried so many things and made so many mistakes with Buck. And I know we’re not alone. I hope by sharing our experiences and what not to do, it might help someone out there who’s dealing with their own fearful, stressed or anxious pup.

Buck had severe separation anxiety. So if he thought we were getting ready to leave the house, he began stalking us everywhere, staying underfoot, watching every move we made like a hawk! Needless to say, this created anxiety for my husband and me as well!

We tried “acting” like we were staying home. We’d wait until he fell asleep, then sneak out of a back door–the only door in the house that didn’t make noise. Heck, one time, we even put my truck in neutral and pushed it out of the driveway to the street so we wouldn’t have to start it and wake Buck up!

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Buck’s anxiety was hazardous to our house!

And that’s not all. For three years, my husband and I never traveled together, so one of us could stay home with Buck.

In addition to separation anxiety, Buck also had storm anxiety. If I had a business call to make during a storm, I’d bring Buck to the truck with me, put him in the backseat and start the engine so we’d have air-conditioning. For up to an hour at a time, I’d conduct business while sitting in my driveway with my dog – because it was the only place he was calm during a storm.

These examples are just a few of the countless ways we altered our lives significantly to minimize Buck’s stress. Some people might think the lengths we went to are, well, a little crazy. And looking back, maybe it was. But he was a part of our family, our lives and our hearts. We couldn’t give up on him.

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Buck in a tranquil moment.

However, I know now that working around your pet’s bouts with anxiety, instead of getting to the bottom of the problem and finding a real solution, only creates more stress for everyone. Fear and anxiety aren’t behavioral issues. They’re actually brought about by a neuro-chemical reaction in your dog’s brain. Left untreated, things often get worse.

If you find yourself making adjustments to the way you live your life in order to accommodate your pet’s anxiety, it’s time to seek a professional veterinary opinion. They can help you get to the root of the problem and recommend a variety of treatment and training options to help your pet cope.

As you’re speaking with your vet, ask about traditional therapies as well as new breakthroughs like the Calmz Anxiety Relief System. Calmz is an all-natural therapy which uses a combination of music, tones, and vibration therapy on acupressure points to calm your dog. It’s non-invasive and several leading vet behaviorists have tested on their patients with positive results.

I personally use it with my dog Chilly, who has thunderstorm phobia and generalized anxiety, and I couldn’t be more pleased with the results. We use it during storms, at the vet and in other situations that might make Chilly anxious. Using it in combination with behavior modification training, both he and I feel a lot more confident in handling things that used to make both of us nervous!

Your turn: Have you ever had an anxious or fearful dog? What “crazy” things have you done to try to help them? Share in the comments below!

This is a sponsored post. However, all opinions and anecdotes are my own, and I never promote any products or brands I don’t believe in. ~Petfully yours, Kristen

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