How to Recognize and Reduce Anxiety in Dogs


Dogs are happy creatures by nature. In most cases, it’s obvious when your dog is feeling sad or overwhelmed. What happens when your dog’s personality changes from joyous and carefree to somber and morose? Can dogs even have anxiety? When is anxiety in your pet a problem? Keep reading to learn how to recognize and reduce anxiety in dogs. 

Causes of Dog Anxiety

There are three common causes of anxiety in dogs: fear, separation, and aging.

Anxiety caused by fear is usually a result of loud noises, people and animals they don’t know, new environments, or certain environments, like the vet’s office.

Separation anxiety is very common and affects roughly 14% of dogs. This form of anxiety usually manifests in undesirable behavior when dogs are left alone, like destructiveness or barking.

Age-related anxiety affects dogs as they enter their senior years and is linked to cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS), which is similar to the early stages of Alzheimer’s in humans. CDS affects a dog’s memory, learning, perception, and awareness, which can lead to confusion and anxiety.

Recognizing Anxiety in Dogs

Just like people, dogs have their ups and downs. They display their anxiety with physical cues. You may see a direct, almost empty stare coming out of your pet’s eyes. The whites of the eyes may be more pronounced. Blinking may be limited. Your dog’s eyes may also turn away from you and others.

A limp tail or ears are primary signs of anxiety. Dogs that don’t feel physically or emotionally well may tuck their tails beneath their legs. A dog with ears that are normally alert may show drooping ears as well.

A vocal sign of anxiety is whining or even growling. Other signs of anxiety include lack of activity, lack of interest in food, and even a change in toilet habits.

How to Reduce Anxiety in Dogs

For dogs showing any of these symptoms, there are a few ways to try to reduce anxiety in dogs before going to a vet. 

First, try to find the root of that anxiety. Have you moved? Are you suddenly away from home more often than your dog is accustomed to? Did your dog lose a favorite plaything? Are there new noises or people that your dog might find upsetting?

Next, try to give your dog more attention. That may mean more playtime, more walks, or more cuddles. If the issue is that you don’t have the time to devote to your dog, consider dog daycare. Allowing your dog to spend time in an environment that is fun and welcoming can help relieve anxiety. Another option is training. Some dogs become anxious due to boredom. Training a dog provides purpose. It also provides excellent bonding time for both of you.

Should none of these steps prove helpful, it may be time to schedule an appointment with your vet. Veterinarians sometimes prescribe anti-anxiety meds for dogs who simply can’t get over the blues. Your veterinarian may also suggest alternative methods, like doggie massage or even aromatherapy to lift the spirits.

Fon Jon Pet Care’s Dog Daycare Can Help Reduce Anxiety in Dogs

Seeing your dog suffer from a condition like anxiety is never easy. We all want the best for our precious pets. Dog daycare or dog training could be a great option to help relieve your dog’s anxiety, and you have nothing to lose by trying it!

With more than 70 years of experience providing top-quality dog boarding, dog grooming, dog daycare, and dog training in San Diego County, we have the experience and expertise to help you keep your dog healthy and happy!

If your dog isn’t currently registered with us, we welcome you to contact us or register online. You can also schedule an appointment to meet with us and get answers to any questions you may have about our services.