Is your dog dealing with anxiety?
You know that feeling — when you are almost late for work and you are driving behind a car going half the speed limit, for no apparent reason other than to make your head explode.
In this situation, you might resort to using extreme language, obscene gestures or even aggressive behavior. After your road rage passes, you might even feel a little guilty about your outburst because it is not in your character to display such poor manners.
The road rage that some people experience actually is a form of heightened anxiety when presented with obstacles or frustrations.
Dogs can experience anxiety, as well. In fact, many dogs can act aggressive or exhibit poor behavior seemingly out of nowhere.
It can be brought on by pain, a change in routine, lack of exercise, dietary deficiencies or a combination of factors.
Many times, dogs can handle stress very well, but when everything happens at one time, they will act out. Let's say you have guests over for the holidays and your dog is not allowed to complete his normal routine.
Your Aunt Suzie is allergic, so he will have to sleep downstairs. You're busy entertaining, so there is no time for walks or much attention. You have children running around playing, making noise.
All of these things happening at once could propel your dog into a heightened state of anxiety, which could cause him to act uncharacteristically.
He might start chewing up furniture, having accidents, barking excessively, jumping a lot or digging. He might even start growling or becoming easily agitated.
If you notice any strange behavior, be sure to take a step back and ask yourself what is causing your dog's stress.
We get angry and stressed being three minutes late for work and become altered versions of our otherwise refined selves.
A dog might tolerate a half dozen things before it reaches this point of temporary insanity, but if you pay attention, you will see signs that he is unhappy or stressed.
If your dog starts yawning a lot, licking excessively, panting or scratching for no real reason, shaking off as if wet or even sniffing the ground for no apparent reason, these all can be signals of stress.
With holidays approaching, let's make a commitment to pay more attention to our beloved canines.
Make sure that if you must change their routine, you compensate with lots of extra rewards, whether they be frozen treats, new toys to chew, bully sticks, regular strolls with a dog walker or some extra attention and affection.
Andrea J. Lamping trains dogs in the greater airport area, including Sewickley, Moon, Robinson and Hopewell. She can be reached at 724-984-7829 or visit her website at www.moon-walkers.com.