11 Causes of Dog Anxiety – Do These Situations Stress Your Dog Out?

Any dog can become anxious about any situation – at any time!

With each dog having his or her own distinct personality, life history, and often sadly, negative past experiences, we can never really predict what might make our dog stressed or nervous and when it will be triggered. This is particularly the case if you’ve only just got a new dog, or have only had her for a short period of time and are still not yet familiar with her reactions to certain situations or environments.

But there are definitely particular times, places, events and situations that continually top the list when it comes to creating anxiety, and these are things that most dogs will face at some point in their lives.

Learning how your dog reacts in certain situations can help you to take actions to reduce that stress next time the event happens, by taking action to minimize and ideally completely eliminate stressful feelings and as a result, having a much more calm, comfortable, healthier, quieter, and happier dog no matter what’s going on around her, or where you might be.

In The Car

dog in car
Not all dogs are happy to go for a car ride


Most dogs are afraid of fireworks

Amongst all of the anxiety-causing situations a dog faces, fireworks has to be the most terrifying.

There aren’t many dogs out there who don’t react in some way to fireworks. Some hide, others bark, many panic and try to escape; sometimes injuring themselves in the process.

You might be one of the lucky ones who has a dog who sleeps through fireworks completely oblivious to it all – but for most dog owners, a firework event is a stressful time. Days when we expect fireworks to go off, like New Years Eve and other celebrations during the year, allow us to prepare in advance.

But there might be other times when people, in the neighborhood let off their own backyard fireworks and crackers, catching you off guard. Having a contingency plan in place that allows you to quickly calm a highly anxious dog will prevent both you and your canine from stress.


Dog and stormy sky
Dogs can often sense a thunderstorm coming

Even the most normally calm and chilled out of dogs can turn into an anxious mess during a thunderstorm. If there’s one occasion that comes up the most when it comes to stress-inducing canine behavior: it’s a storm. It’s no coincidence that the famous Thunderjacket was given that name – they were originally designed to help with the overwhelmingly common problem of storm fearfulness in dogs.

Vet Visits

Puppy at the vet

We know that vets are good people and only want to treat our dogs with the utmost care – but dogs don’t know this!

The vet, particularly a new one, is just another stranger to a dog. A stranger, in a strange place that has many strange smells. And a stranger that touches your dog in scary ways (from the perspective of a pooch) – what’s not to be scared of?

Not many dogs like going to the vet – although some are the total opposite and absolutely love it! Once a dog becomes comfortable with your vet, there’s a good chance their anxiety will naturally decrease when you walk them through the door. Good veterinarians are well versed in the ways of reducing stress in the animals they see, with many going to great lengths to make the visits as comfortable as possible. But regardless of the measures taken, some dogs will still be in a heightened state of anxiety for one reason or another.

Obviously, being at the vet gives you the opportunity to discuss anxiety related problems and to gain some advice and recommendations straight from the source. This is important. Your vet will want to know about your dog’s life history, and whether this stress behavior is limited to being at the vet, or whether it occurs at other places and times as well.


golden retriever
Choosing a good boarding kennel can make all the difference to your dog’s anxiety

There’s such a huge gap between the quality of dog boarding facilities out there, that if you don’t do your research before deciding on one it can have a negative impact on your dog’s behavior for weeks, and even many months down the track. The best of the best dog boarding places know how to relax an anxious dog, and they make a great effort to ensure that nervous dogs are catered for on a very individual basis.

At the other end of the spectrum are low cost, essentially kennel style boarding facilities that are little more than prisons for dogs. While these are often alluring price-wise for people on a strict budget, the problems they can cause in a dog can’t be underestimated. Highly stressful boarding experiences can turn even the calmest dog into a nervous wreck, while those already suffering with anxiety can see their condition worsen.

So it goes without saying: if you’re planning a vacation or have another reason to put your dog into boarding, whether it be for a day or a month, actually going to the place, speaking to the staff and importantly: looking at the exact facilities where your dog would be kept is really vital. Quality boarding places for dogs and other animals have nothing to hide, and most will advertise that they allow inspections prior to booking.

Walking on Leash

Dog on the leash
What should be a fun activity – going for a walk – can be not so fun for those dogs who become anxious on a leash.

New Environment or New Home

dog at home
Going to a new home is an exciting, yet often stressful time for any dog but it’s adult dogs who are most susceptible to anxiety behaviors when moving to a new environment.

And more so, those adopted from shelters and other rescue situations are more likely to take some time to get used to a new home.

During this time a dog can behave in ways that may not be in line with his true personality, and that’s when it’s so important to have patience and to be able to focus time and energy in assisting a dog during this transition.

That means helping to reduce stress as much as possible through gentle methods, including positive reinforcement training (and lots of love!).

Fear of strangers


Being Left Alone – Separation Anxiety

Pug dog looking sad alone


Night Time

night moon

Dog Anxiety Solutions

There are countless possible ways to tackle the problem of an anxious dog. Some are short term, such as when you absolutely must do something about a stressful car trip, while others are focused on long term behavioral modification. In both cases, a combination of positive training and anti-anxiety aids can go a long way to reducing and, ultimately, fixing the very common but very distressing issue of a dog that suffers from anxiety during certain events or situations – or in some cases, on a constant basis.

So what options do you have for anxiety reduction for your dog?

Thunderjackets or Dog Calming Vests

Although often called by the name of one brand, thunderjacket, these dog vests come in different styles and are often the first choice for people wanting to reduce dog anxiety quickly in specific situations. Very useful for storm situations, hence the name “thunderjacket”, these doggie coats are also highly useful in a whole range of other scenarios. The best vests are easy to put on and take off, so are highly portable and can be used both at home and when out and about.

Calming Collars

Pheromone Sprays and Plug-ins

Like the calming collars, pheromone sprays use similar pheromones to encourage reduced anxiety. These wall plug-ins or sprays are more suited to the home environment, while the collars can obviously be taken and used anywhere.

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