Anxiety Disorders & Aggression in Good Dogs


Did you know that anxiety or uncertainty can trigger aggressive behavior in a good dog. This can be a big problem if a dog has an anxiety disorder. Punishing the dog will only make it’s anxiety worse. Besides, punishing a dog only addresses the behavior & not the cause. That’s a recipe for disaster.

When dog aggression is suppressed, but the root anxiety is not treated, it can manifest in different behavior.  Obsessive-compulsive behavior like obsessive licking for example.

The first step is seeing a vet. If it’s determined that your dog has an anxiety disorder, medication may bring relief. It may even be necessary to have the dog calm enough to work with. Another possible option would be a Thundershirt. A Thundershirt applies gentle, constant, similar to swaddling an infant human & has been proven to calm anxious dogs.

Having an Adaptil D.A.P.  diffuser in the home can help too. The diffuser releases a synthetic pheromone (Dog Appeasing Pheromone) that has a calming effect on dogs. You can also get D.A.P. infused collars or D.A.P. spray. My huMom used the spray for me after the fire. She felt it worked quickly if I was anxious. The people who make the Thundershirt also have a spray, but we haven’t tried it.

Once the dog is reasonably calm either through medication or by wearing a Thundershirt you can begin working with the dog in dealing with the sources of it’s anxiety through behavior modification & pawsative reinforcement.

A key component in behavior modification is understanding that we come to be anxious about the fear or the anxiety itself. Exposure to a cause of anxiety must start at the lowest levels so the dog learns that at low levels, they can cope with the anxiety. This is the only way the dog can get used to both the “stimulus” (the thing that triggers the anxiety) & the anxiety itself.

With luck, over time the dog will no longer be triggered. That doesn’t mean it’s anxiety is cured, but it is now manageable. Working with your good dog will benefit you both. Remember, an aggressive dog may just be anxious & frightened. Don’t react with anger even though that may be a challenge some times. Try to find the cause & work from there.

CEO Olivia


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