Understanding Why Your Dog is Nervous and Anxious

Why is Your Dog Nervous and Anxious?

Dogs are amazing creatures, but they may find it difficult to navigate our world, which is why we must do our best to help them adjust.

I’m sure that it often feels to our dogs that they are strangers in a strange land. When dogs are anxious, nervous, or shy, they may be hyper-aware of their surroundings. Each dog has a unique personality, which will influence their view of the world. However, we can make a difference in how our dogs see their world. This month, I will be discussing nervous and anxious dogs and the things you can do to help them. It’s understandable that some dogs can feel nervous and anxious, whether it’s due to a past traumatic experience or unintentional actions from us that contribute to their stress.

When their stress levels reach an overload, they may react in various ways, such as

  • Barking at passing people or dogs
  • Growling at something
  • Becoming agitated when they can’t see us
  • They may even try to flee or lunge at their leash.

It’s important to remember that stress can lead to aggressive behavior and that stressors can accumulate over time. Therefore, it’s not just one trigger that causes a reaction, but a combination of recent stressors. By reducing your dog’s overall stress levels, you can lower the chances of them reacting negatively in the future. 

When a dog has a ‘moment’ there is a tendency for people to FREAK out with worry, or fear when their dog startles, acts shy or is skittish or vocalizes.  And worse, humans tend to anticipate the reaction, which can even manifest these behaviors in the future.  Humans making common mistakes in these situations will never work well with a sensitive, anxious or nervous dog. To me, it’s important to understand that when a dog startles, becomes shy, skittish or vocal, it’s simply a natural reaction to something in their environment. It doesn’t hold any inherent negative or positive value.

What matters most is how the dog reacts and behaves after that initial moment!

  • Do they lash out aggressively or continue to bark uncontrollably?
  • Do they enter a state of panic and attempt to flee?

These are the moments that define our relationship with our dogs. By helping our dogs learn to stay calm and composed in these situations, we can build a stronger bond with them and ensure that they feel safe and secure at all times.

Growing confidence in your canine companion can make all the difference in helping them overcome their startle responses. With practice and patience, you can guide your dog to accept your leash guidance even during a moment of anxiety. You can learn how to encourage your dog to choose to stay by your side instead of reacting impulsively to new stimuli. By acknowledging what’s going on, you can even teach your dog to stop barking! These are powerful tools that you can use to help your dog stay calm and feel secure in any situation. And as you help your dog overcome their fears, you’ll find yourself growing more confident too!

We all know that there are many things that can trigger our dogs’ startle responses – from a loud boom to a passing motorcycle, or a stranger approaching. No matter what the cause, it’s important to have the right tools and knowledge to help your dog cope. That’s where my Pillars of Pack Leadership foundation comes in! By building confidence in your dog, we can help them tackle new situations with calm and sanity. With a little love and patience, we can help our dogs feel safe and happy no matter what life throws their way.  I have 5 Pillars, and make sure to read about them HERE!

While all dogs benefit from the Pillars of Pack Leadership, some dogs truly struggle if any one of these pillars are missing.

The Pillars of Pack Leadership serve as the foundation for helping dogs navigate our human world in a more calm and confident manner. By understanding and implementing these pillars – including structure, rituals, purpose-driven activities, spatial boundaries, and effective communication – owners can provide their dogs with the tools and support they need to thrive. When all of these pillars are working together, dogs are better equipped to handle the stresses and challenges of our modern world. Our Trained Dogs for Sale undergo my 5 Pillars of Pack Leadership foundation.

To learn more about the Pillars of Pack Leadership and receive guidance personally from Aly on working with your nervous or anxious dog, sign up for updates on our upcoming Pillars of Pack Leadership Academy Workshop: Nervous & Anxious Dog starting soon. By learning directly from Aly, you can gain valuable insights and techniques for helping your dog navigate the world with greater ease and confidence. Don’t miss this opportunity to deepen your understanding of pack leadership and build a stronger, more fulfilling relationship with your beloved companion.

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