Anxiety in dogs. What exactly is anxiety, and how can we help our dog work through it?
Written by Robyn Scatena, founder of K9 Mama Natural Dog Trainer
Anxiety is an automatic response from the nervous system. It triggers the fight or flight response (sympathetic nervous system) and it CONSUMES a dog's entire reality. The moment our dog gets triggered, the body floods the system with stress hormones and tells the body that it is in a dangerous situation. It can become crippling to a dog and can distort their reality daily depending on the severity.
So how can we help our dog overcome anxiety or anxiety episodes? Well, since we know the root cause of anxiety is an automatic reaction from the sympathetic nervous system, we must learn how to turn that off. When we turn off the sympathetic nervous system, our dog comes back into a balanced state which is the parasympathetic nervous system. The parasympathetic nervous system is the peaceful or “rest and digest” state. It’s their neutral state. When the dog is in this state they feel a lot better in their body. This creates a peaceful perspective of a situation. The more often the dog relates the situation to peace rather than stress, the more we can dissolve that automatic flight or fight response.
To achieve this, we must guide our dogs into a more balanced state every single day. We can start practicing this by neutralizing our dog's triggers as soon as they occur, even the little ones such as barking out the window or getting over-excited when we get home. We also want to practice keeping our dog in a more neutral state throughout the day. This can be nurtured through many ways: clear communication, daily calming practices, light body touches, herbal remedies, chew toys, daily food enrichments, therapy wraps, calm interactions, and a peaceful environment. When this is practiced every single day, you will actually rewire your dog's nervous system and create a well-balanced, peaceful dog. Your dog will be forever thankful and so will you.
Robyn is a local dog trainer that has been rehabilitating dogs from all over the world. She has worked with hundreds of dogs with the majority being adult rescue dogs. These dogs suffered from the following: strong emotional triggers, anxiety, fear aggression, extreme trauma, phobias, possessive tendency, pack aggression, owner aggression, and every other behavior imaginable. Robyn has broadened her training beyond the typical methods of positive and negative reinforcement. She has expanded on the dog psychology-based methods of training as well. She encompasses the true nature and essence of the dog. Robyn not only understands the psychology of the dog, but much more importantly, understands the emotional world a dog lives in. She recognizes that this is the foundation of their entire reality. Understanding on a deep level the conscious side of the dog and the subconscious or automatic side of the dog is at the core of her method. She urges humans to look at their dogs as emotional beings just like us. However, she still recognizes the importance of understanding that their instincts are wild and ready to jump in and take over their decision-making. Robyn teaches dog parents how to start observing their dogs from a neutral state. The next step is to help educate dog parents to understand the root cause of their dog's unwanted, misinterpreted behaviors and the process of reshaping them. She has been dedicated to advancing the understanding of dogs since a very young age. Now she shares her knowledge through private in-home workshops. These workshops enlighten the dog's parents in a way they never thought possible.
Get in touch with Robyn
K9 Mama Natural Dog Trainer