Sponsored By
An organization or individual has paid for the creation of this work but did not approve or review it.



The Nervous Dog or Dog Anxiety

Thundershirt Logo

It can be frustrating to come home to a dog that has been scratching at the door all day. It might seem like your canine companion needs more training; however, they may be experiencing anxiety, and it is important to know the different. In addressing your dog’s behavior, the key is to deal with the problem as anxiety, not as bad behavior.

One common form of anxiety is separation anxiety. Many symptoms mimic bad behavior issues. The key difference is that with separation anxiety, the behavior occurs when the guardian is not around, whereas bad behavior occurs in the presence of the guardian.

  Separation anxiety does not affect all dogs, but is common among adopted dogs.  According to the ASPCA, this may be due to the "loss of an important person or group of people in a dog’s life."

Anxious behavior can vary from canine to canine. Some may bark, howl, chew, urinate, defecate or make attempts to escape when left alone. If these behaviors occur, do not scold or punish your dog. Anxiety is a response to distress, says the ASPCA, and should be treated as such, not as bad behavior.

There are other forms of canine anxiety beyond separation anxiety. According to Doggone Safe, whose mission is to promote education initiatives for dog bit prevention and child safety around dogs, there are telltale signs of when a dog is under stress .


A single raised paw, while admittedly adorable, is an indication that the dog is unhappy. Showing the whites of their eyes at the corners or rims is another indicator that the dog is uncomfortable.

It is key to be aware of what is normal for your dog. For example, yawning is a normal action when a dog is tired. If they are yawning when not tired, however, it could be a displacement behavior, a normal behavior displayed out of context that indicates conflict and anxiety, according to Doggone Safe.

Addressing the behavior depends on the degree of anxiety your dog experiences. One key is to create a safe space for your dog, such as a crate or a dog bed. Everyone, including guests, should be made aware that the dog is not to be bothered when they are in this place.

Mother Nature Network lists seven natural remedies for dog anxiety , including massage, dog-calming, music and exercise. They also suggest a Thundershirt . These shirts provide a gentle, constant pressure, similar to swaddling an infant. This can provide a feeling of security for an anxious dog.

Another option for a mildly-anxious dog, especially one dealing with separation anxiety, is counterconditioning. The idea is to associate being alone with a positive experience. Before you leave for the day, fill a toy with treats or food. While you are gone, the dog gets to have a positive experience and may, over time, become less anxious.

Another recommendation from the ASPCA is to make sure your dog is stimulated while you are home—"Exercising your dog’s mind and body can greatly enrich his life, decrease stress and provide appropriate outlets for normal dog behaviors." A busy dog is often a tired dog, and they may spend more time sleeping when you are gone if they have been physically and mentally stimulated.

Click  here to learn more about ExpertVoice - Post-Bulletin’s native advertising program which allows local businesses to provide educational and valuable content to consumers.


Dog under blanket

What To Read Next
Get Local