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How to help my anxious dog
3 replies to this topic
Posted 20 December 2012 - 07:00 PM
My male dog in an anxious dog but lately it is becoming worse. When he is anxious he shakes, whines and pants and is very clingy/protective especially of me.
So far he is afraid/ anxious around
Water feature or when the neighbour uses any of the above
He is now doing it and we have no idea why.
Is there anything I can do to help him?
Posted 20 December 2012 - 07:10 PM
I highly reccomend the thundershirt. Its an elastic coat that you put tightly on dogs when you know he will be anxious. My dog has one and its fantastic. I got it from england over ebay, but I noticed them in the pet barn (or was it pet stock) catalogue the other day. I paid $45 for a bichon sized one. Good luck.
Posted 20 December 2012 - 07:20 PM
A couple of things are happening, and the obvious one to ask is, what do you do when he gets clingy?
Do you try to soothe him and re-assure him? Because if you do, you're sending him the message that he has something to be fearful about and you're reinforcing the fear and anxiety.
The behavioural methods would go down a desensitisation path. So, the leaf blower starts up and you ignore all 'clingy' behaviour. Try asking for a sit, in a firm confident voice, and if you get it, reward the dog. This is a distract/replace strategy. Rather than allowing the undesired behaviour, you replace it with something acceptable.
Always reward and praise a dog who displays confidence and is ignoring the stimulus.
The next option is to simply crate him whenever he goes clingy. A crate is a lovely safe haven for a dog, and it means that you are not reinforcing the undesired behaviour. At some point, you'll get a tipping point, and he'll only want the crate during really big events like thunderstorms. The aim is to remove the stimulus that causes the undesired behaviour, and the reward for being fearful (that's you) and replace it with something unstimulating and neutral. Reward the dog for being relaxed in his crate.
I'd also consider discussing the issue with your vet. Sometimes medication can help with severe anxiety in dogs, and get you over the initial 'hump' of rewiring the behavioural responses.
This is probably enough to get you started - and I'd also recommend a behavioural specialist to have a few sessions with you at home. They may spot something that has triggered this in your dog, which I can't do over the net.
Hope it helps!
Posted 21 December 2012 - 12:27 AM
Anxiety and fear can be tricky and professional advice from a good trainer or behaviourist is the best form of help. Someone who understands desensitisation and counter-conditioning, to address the underlying state of fear not just suppress the dog trying to communicate his feelings.
The thinking on reinforcing fear has changed recently, a good article is here --> http://fearfuldogs.com/myth-of-reinforcing-fear/ . Reinforcing calm behaviour is a big part of it, but if you are feeling like some reading/googling, understanding the difference between operant and respondent behaviour and how to change each will get you most of the way there!
Edited by kiddies-n-kelpies, 21 December 2012 - 12:37 AM.
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