Signs & Symptoms of Anxiety in Dogs

A close-up of a woman calming her dog outside.
A close-up of a woman calming her dog outside. (Image: Rosanna-Parvez/iStock/Getty Images)

Dogs can get anxious about a variety of things, from thunderstorms to vet visits. Unfortunately, the symptoms of anxiety in our canine companions are often mistaken for a lack of proper manners because an anxious dog can be a destructive or noisy pooch. Once you determine the cause of your pup's fear or phobia, you can treat her anxiety to make sure she's calm, cool and collected.

Fearful Behaviors

One of the main signs of anxiety in pooches is fearful behavior. If you notice that your pup is trembling, tucking her tail between her legs or is attempting to hide or withdraw from you, she's likely experiencing anxiety, according to petMD. She may drool, pant, cower or fail to eat normally. A dog having a panic attack may bark or whimper and actively run away from the stimulus causing her anxiety. Common triggers for these fear-based behaviors include loud noises, people of a certain gender, children, pieces of clothing such as hats or glasses and even other pets.

Destructive Behaviors

The main symptoms of separation anxiety in dogs are destructive behaviors. If Lassie is tearing up your couch, curtains, furniture, carpeting or clothing, she's likely experiencing anxiety. Destructive digging, chewing and inappropriate elimination are all signs of separation anxiety in dogs, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Some dogs will eliminate inappropriately in the home and then ingest their feces due to the anxiety of being alone. Most pups experiencing anxiety when their owners depart for the day won't act destructively when their owners are present. Occupy your pup's attention with plenty of toys for her to play with when you're not around to help curb these behaviors.

Aggressive Behaviors

While most anxiety-ridden pups exhibit destructive behaviors or may self-mutilate, some lash out aggressively at others. When a pooch feels cornered, especially when on a leash, she may attack the object of her fear as a way to defend herself from a perceived threat, according to If your pooch learns that biting, snapping and growling make the perceived threat go away, the behavior is reinforced. Anxious pups who are aggressive can be dangerous to people and other pets because their behavior is unpredictable. Consult with a vet or an animal behaviorist to help you deal with these undesirable behaviors.

Curbing Anxious Behaviors

If you notice any symptoms of anxiety in your pup, bring her to the vet to rule out a medical cause for her behavior. The pain and discomfort from an illness can cause anxiety for your pooch; living in a constant state of anxiety can induce a health condition as well. Properly socialize your pooch to different types of stimuli, including strangers, children, other pets and different locations, rewarding her when she reacts calmly. Engage your pooch's attention during an anxiety-inducing event, such as a thunderstorm, with a game or some obedience training to keep her calm. Consult with your vet to see if antianxiety medication could help calm your pup, especially if her anxiety is causing her to self-mutilate or is affecting her appetite.

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