Does your dog get anxious when company comes over? Don’t worry; we’re here to help!
Dogs who run and hide, bark, nip, and even bite at your guests may be showing signs of anxiety. Just like humans, dogs can experience anxiety. Although it can be confusing and an inconvenience, it is a normal and healthy emotion. Signs of anxiety include aggression, urinating, or defecating in the house, drooling, panting, excessive barking, pacing, and compulsive behavior. These things can make entertaining guests a bit tricky.
If you have one of these dogs that is uncomfortable and anxious around people and you would like to work on helping them get over this fear, we have a few tips.
First, we need to change your dog’s perception of strangers. To do this, invite family or close friends over who are willing to work with you and your dog. Have your guest act as nonconfrontational as possible. This includes avoiding eye contact, facing away from the dog, keeping a relaxed body posture, and moving as slowly and calmly as possible. Have your guest toss your dog his or her favorite treats. If the dog takes those treats, then have your guest toss them closer and closer until they are eventually hand feeding your dog. This process could take minutes, hours, days, and even weeks or months, depending on the dog. Let your dog move at their own pace to build up courage and let go of that anxiety slowly.
Second, walk your dog! Walking your dog is a fantastic and amazingly powerful way to get your dog feeling more comfortable outside their home environment. Walking your dog more often and in new places, will help to lower their anxiety. It also helps your dog become less anxious by alleviating eye contact and direct frontal positioning because everyone is moving the same direction, and all eyes and bodies are facing forward. Walking gives the dog something else to concentrate on. When a visitor enters your home, it’s the only thing the dog focuses on, but outside there’s so much more to grab their attention, that the stranger is often forgotten! Then when he or she does suddenly notice that the person is still there, they’re in a very different state of mind and already feeling more comfortable and relaxed.
Although outcomes will vary depending upon the dog, building interactions and frequent walking are two positive steps in helping to change a dog’s association with people and lower their anxiety. Give it a try and let your Camp Bow Wow team know your dog’s progress.
Please feel free to call us if you have any questions. We’re here to help give your furbaby the best life possible!
Suzette Tardo-Fowler, Owner