As you can imagine, I get A LOT of great questions about dogs. It would be wrong of me to hog all the answers, so I have decided to start sharing them with the world! Watch for more “Q & A” posts (or join our feed) to see if we answer your question.
Q: I hear a lot about canine anxiety. Can you help me understand more about it? – Tina from Ardmore
A: Canine anxiety is behind almost every behavior problem a dog owner faces. However, a calm dog is a happy and balanced dog that is well behaved and much less likely to be fearful in new situations. Plus, your calm dog can be given many more privileges. The best ways to achieve this are:
1. Learn when to praise your dog. Praise nurtures and validates his state of mind, so when you’re giving your dog affection you’re telling him, “I love you for however you’re feeling right now.” When your dog gets overly excited DON’T PET HIM! Ignore him until he calms down no matter how long it takes and then pet him. In time your dog will learn to associate calmness with affection.
When your dog becomes fearful, do not give him affection or you’ll be nurturing his fear. He doesn’t understand that you’re doing it to make him feel better. Instead, remain as calm as possible and indifferent to what your dog is feeling. Perhaps calmly ask him to sit for you and give him a job to do. Your dog will feel your calm energy and over time he will realize that there is nothing to be afraid of.
2. Walk your dog. There is no substitute for a long walk as it provides physical and mental exercise that allows him to experience new smells and new environments. It also gives you an opportunity to reaffirm your leadership.