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How to recognize signs of fear in dogs

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How to understand that a dog is afraid?

Dogs at first glance seem fearless animals. In fact, they may be afraid of many points. One of the most common fears of dogs is loud noises. That is why dogs are often afraid of thunder, explosions, salutes, fireworks, shots, loud noise from the wind, etc.

Signs of fear of a dog can be: hiding behind the owner, hiding in a booth, clinging to the ground, clutching ears and tail, whining, shaking, often breathing, barking. Symptoms are usually similar in all dogs, although each dog may behave differently.

Puppies are afraid of everything new. When they are taken out for the first time for a walk, they can lie down or sit down on the ground and refuse to go. Frightened by any object, they shy away from it, the tail may be tightened, or it may spin. A puppy and an adult dog can hide between the legs of the owner, but not only from fear, but if they are too bored. A pretensioned tail is also an indicator of a dog’s fear, but there are nuances, for example, a dog is not feeling well. If the dog is not confident or too cowardly, then he can run away or, on the contrary, express aggression.

Hysterical behavior of dogs (New Year's firecracker syndrome)

The hysterical state of dogs arises in response to effects that cause fear in animals. Such influences include unexpected loud noises, firecrackers and pyrotechnic devices. The transfer of stress of this nature to animals leads to changes in its behavior, motor disorders, and autonomic disorders. Examples of neurotic conditions of dogs are considered, recommendations are given for the treatment of animals caught in similar situations.

In recent years, in large cities, the practice of veterinarians has noted previously unreported outbreaks of disease in dogs, clearly timed to coincide with the New Year holidays. Already in the first days of the new year there is a stream of dog owners complaining about the behavior and health status of their animals. Common to all cases is the acute onset of the disease with a fright associated with a sudden shot of firecrackers and other pyrotechnic devices in the immediate vicinity of the dog.

During the period from December 25 to January 25, 46 dogs with behavioral disorders and autonomic disorders that developed after a stressful situation were monitored and treated. These were dogs of exclusively middle and older age, there were slightly more females among them than males, the predominance of certain breeds was not noted.

All complaints made by the owners, as well as objectively recorded changes could be reduced to violations of three types. It:
- inappropriate behavior of the animal,
- violations of his motor acts,
- violation of sensitivity.

These changes are usually observed in combination in the same dog.. Complaints of owners of a violation of behavior usually boil down to the phrase that the dog "went crazy." In almost all cases, a traumatic situation arises beyond the threshold of the house. In this regard, most often the animal is panicky afraid to go outside, clogs under furniture, trembles, whines and categorically refuses to walk.

Another behavior anomaly is refusal of the dog from the toilet on the street while walking and a “safe” solution to the problem immediately upon returning to the apartment.

In addition, characteristic of such a pathology is more or less prolonged refusal of foodas well as, in some cases, hallucinations in a dog. They are evidenced by fear unrelated to real events, dilated pupils, eye tracking for something non-existent, ruffled wool on the scruff of the neck, aggressive growl or, conversely, plaintive whimpering. Unmotivated aggression sometimes it can be manifested by the fact that the dog begins to bite, not obeying the owner's shouts, or even attacks him. Being in a state of passion the animal often runs away in an unknown direction and not always then can independently find the way back.

Movement disorders, if they occur, are manifested exclusively by transient paralysis of the hind limbs, a change in the gait of the dog, and a violation of coordination of movement. Often at the same time, the back of the dog is brought to the side, and she, “not fitting”, beats it on various objects.

Sensory disturbances can manifest themselves as temporary blindness, in which the dog is poorly oriented in the apartment, bumping into furniture, walls, and more. In a number of cases, the loss of pain sensitivity on the legs is objectively noted.

The described set of changes arises not only after explosions of firecrackers, but also after any exposure causing fright in a dog. So, for example, the owners of a poodle (female, 9 years old) turned to our clinic after the dog, being on the street and hearing the noise of a shot, fell off the collar and ran away. She was found only after 3 hours in the basement of a neighboring house. In the apartment, she huddled under the table, she had trembling all over her body, enlarged pupils. During the examination, objectively: body temperature - 38.9 ° C, pulse - 108 beats per minute (at a rate of 65-75 beats), respiratory rate - 58 (at a rate of 25-35). During auscultation of the heart, arrhythmias were noted, on ECG sinus arrhythmia, strongly dilated pupils did not respond to light. Treatment with valocordin and diazepam was prescribed. Only on the 3rd day the animal’s condition improved slightly, however, behavioral disorders continued for about two more weeks: the dog could walk for no more than 3 minutes, after which it quickly rushed to the house. For a fairly long time, the animal made a toilet anywhere and anytime.

In another case, a collie (bitch, 5 years old) ran away from the owner after, crossing the road, she heard the noise of a sharply braked car. The dog was found after 4 hours five kilometers from the house. At the doctor’s appointment, paresis of the hind limbs was established. The animal was apathetic, refused to feed (including favorite food), there was arrhythmia, salivation, sharp molting, pallor of mucous membranes, lack of bowel movement and urination for more than a day. The treatment included intravenous administration of a solution of 5% glucose, proserin, vitamins of groups B and C. After a week, the condition of the dog was found to be satisfactory.

Symptoms of stress

Stressful condition can be short-term or chronic. For example, if a dog has stress after injections, visiting a crowded, noisy place, cutting with a clipper or cutting its claws, it’s more about short-term stress. The favorite refuses to eat from hour to day, lays a lot, does not want to play, turns his face away when trying to look into his eyes, reluctantly or does not execute the command at all.

Chronic stress develops from the frequent repetition of unpleasant situations or from prolonged exposure to unacceptable conditions - the departure of a beloved owner, moving to a new house, the appearance of a "competitor" in the house (another dog, cat or having a baby). In such situations, the signs of stress in the dog become more replaceable and do not go away on their own. The pet eats without appetite, constantly lies or walks in circles, licks any part of the body to the bald patches (usually this is the paw below the hock joint or the base of the tail), gnaws the coat. A dog can become defiantly naughty, start spoiling things in the house, defecate right in the middle of the room - all these are peculiar ways to attract attention, asking for help.

Aggression is also often a symptom of stress. Psycho-emotional pressure and physical changes that occur in the body make the dog unbalanced and tense - in this state, the pet can even bite the owner! For example, often a short-term stress is manifested in a dog after a fight - redirected aggression, which could not find a way out because the excited dog was immediately taken home.

But for most dogs under stress, not aggression is characteristic, but excessive agitation or infantility. Sometimes these conditions replace each other - at first the dog is very excited, and then falls into apathy until the next attack of "madness".

In a state of agitation, the dog may:

  • cut circles around the apartment, jump and yelp or yelp unexpectedly,
  • I’m frantically gnawing on inedible objects, eagerly swallowing food,
  • non-stop digging floors or land for a walk, fanatically, without a break, without reacting to the owner,
  • to take a trace even at home and wander around in loops, sometimes rubbing his nose on the floor until blood,
  • finely nibble yourself quickly (similar to catching fleas).

In a state of apathy, the dog can:

  • to lie awake, on one side or curled up, without long changing position or, on the contrary, constantly shifting,
  • drool, shake finely with your whole body, avoid people or vice versa, constantly demand attention, put your head under the owner’s hand, whining and pinching your ears and tail,
  • refuse favorite treats, games, walks.

Unfortunately, it is impossible to say how stress manifests itself in a particular dog until it is in this state. But an attentive owner will always notice changes in behavior, uncharacteristic behavior. Something is wrong with the dog - this is the only common symptom of stress. Often, a change in behavior indicates a disease, so in any case, you need to visit a veterinarian if the owner does not know in advance what causes stress in his dog. If the irritant is known, stress can be avoided. Or at least mitigate its manifestations.

Frequent stress provocateurs

As mentioned above, there can be many causes of stress. Sometimes these are very strange circumstances - rain on the street, meeting with other dogs, going outdoors, a new leash. Those. situations that should please or at least not disturb the dog. Perhaps the pet in the past had a negative experience that the owner had long forgotten about, but which led to a phobia - a panic fear that provokes stress. In the case of such a phobia, treatment should be prescribed by an experienced zoopsychologist, because it is almost impossible to cope with the problem yourself. It’s not always possible to even find the root of the problem (for example, how to guess why the dog suddenly began to protest when they take her for a walk?).

But there are situations for which there are universal solutions.

1. For example, if a dog stress after cutting, she needs to be friends with the groom and before going to the salon give light natural sedatives (on herbs, without hormones, according to the prescription of the veterinarian!). If the dog is afraid of the machine before the panic, you need to gradually accustom it to buzzing or learn to cut the pet with scissors.

It’s easy to accustom to a typewriter:

  • we put the switched off machine on our knees, we offer the dog a treat. Perhaps the pet will not work right away, but after a while it will definitely be decided. When the dog comes up to the person, not paying attention to the machine, we do the same, but now the machine should be turned on,
  • when the dog comes for a treat, ignoring the included machine, several times a day for a minute we drive off the machine in the face of the pet. At the same time, we do not stop feeding tasty slices. Are you used to it? You can turn on the machine and do the same, leading the back of the blade (without clinging to the wool, only accustoming to vibration),
  • Are you used to? We cut a little, without ceasing to feed and praise. They cut the centimeter - immediately removed the machine, not giving the dog time to fear. Repeated after a couple of hours. This is a long, but effective and trouble-free method. And no stress!

2. Another common situation - in a dog stress when driving in a car, even if the trip does not end in negative (if the dog is afraid of cars, because before it was taken only to the veterinarian, you need to fight with the fear of a veterinary clinic, not cars). So, the dog is definitely afraid of the trip in the car:

  • open the door and get into the car with your back forward so that your legs and body remain outside. In this position, half in the car, half outside, we create a positive emotional mood. Treats work better with some dogs, while others relax more quickly during the game. You can combine - take away the bite, give light commands (sit, voice, give a paw), treat tasty,
  • when the dog learns not to strain when he sees the car door being opened, we sit in the salon (in the chair farthest from the open door) and we invite the dog inside. The pet must jump itself (after the toy, following the owner or after the treat - it’s all the same, but the owner should already be inside),
  • when the dog learns to fearlessly jump inside, you can close the door and sit inside for some time, reinforcing a positive attitude (playing, treating),
  • Got used to the salon? You can ride, just a few meters, so that the dog does not have time to get scared. It is desirable that the owner was not driving (at first, the beloved person should be next to the frightened dog in order to give her a sense of security),

Never caress, do not talk in a soft sympathetic voice, do not pet the dog in a state of panic - the pet can decide that he will be praised. So, this is what you need to do next time, i.e. fear is good! Speak in a confident, invigorating voice, you may be slightly surprised: “Hey, what are you doing? Everything is good! I'm near!". You can pat on the croup or shoulder, shake the paw slightly - cheer up, not encourage.

  • meter by meter teach your pet for long trips. Eliminate additional stress factors, so the treatment will go faster - teach your dog to carry or box, do not use car “stinks” (for dogs they are stinks, even if you like the smell), take a litter that smells like home, hang a curtain on the door (with side of the pet). It’s great if the trip ends with good emotions, for example a walk in the forest or park.

3. And here stress at the dog when changing the owner eliminate is much more difficult. Here you can only advise one thing - a sea of ​​love! The sooner the dog realizes that the new leader of the pack loves and appreciates her no less than the previous owner, the faster she will feel safe, and the faster she will calm down.

But a person should not feel sorry for the dog or, at least, he should not show pity - if the dog feels weakness, she will never feel confidence (weak leader - weak pack). This does not mean that you need to be tough. Communicate with the dog as if you took it from the street and have no idea that it is stressful - educate, accustom it to order (from the perspective of a reasonable person, not a tyrant!), Walk a lot, offer new toys, meet friendly dogs (better opposite sex). In this situation, time is the best treatment. Someone will need only a couple of weeks, and someone will worry for several months. But having felt like a part of the pack, the dog will surely get out of the state of stress.

4. Similarly, you need to act if the dog stress when moving - a lot of love, games and toys, new positive experiences, new friends (both among people and among dogs). To minimize stress, take your favorite toys, bowls, bedding, and ammunition with you from your old home. Of course, I want to buy everything new in a new house, but it will be easier for a pet to adapt if familiar smells “move” with him.

On the day (or days) of moving the dog is better for a while to give to good friends or relatives, whom the pet fully trusts.Noisy movers, running around, taking out furniture, crashing and vanity are frequent stress provocateurs. Of course, you can lock the dog in the back room or in a box covered with thick cloth, but she will still feel the atmosphere of chaos and hear unusual sounds.

In a new place, the dog feels lost. To establish itself on the territory, a pet can start to nibble things or mark corners - do not scold the dog, it now needs your support. Show that you are unhappy with her behavior (hands on her sides, frown, slight tilt of the body forward) - this is enough. Do not raise your voice, do not beat the dog! After a couple of days, if you devote enough time to games and walking, the behavior will return to normal. Also, do not force-feed the dog - a day without food and water will not harm its health (of course, bowls should be freely available).

5. And what if the dog stress from visiting a veterinary clinic? Even on the way, the dog literally hears alarm signals with his nose: "Do not go here, here is pain, fear and death!" If the pet decided to take these messages on faith, panic disables all its logic! Therefore, it is important from the owner to maintain reinforced concrete calm - not to sympathize, not to regret, not to empathize with the dog (this attitude only confirms the pet's fears). Behave as usual - confidently and calmly. It is good if you can often walk past the clinic and sometimes go inside and go just like that, without entering the doctor’s office.

Since the treatment process is rarely pleasant, it is important to find a competent responsible veterinarian. Such a doctor will not act by force, if only to move quickly to the next client. He will spend time establishing contacts and try to earn the trust of the dog. Getting to know a doctor can be started not at the clinic, but at home - you can invite a veterinarian for simple manipulations at home (get vaccinations, remove a stone, cut your claws, treat a shallow wound). Having become acquainted with a man on his territory, it will be easier for a dog to trust him in a terrible, smelling of pain place.

Three universal ways to relieve chronic stress

They work regardless of the cause of the stress state. It is advisable to use them in combination, giving preference to the method to which the dog reacts more vigorously, with great curiosity and interest.

1. Occupational therapy - we play sports, walk a lot, learn new teams, run in the woods for a stick or “booty” (you can trace a torn bag with sausage on the ground, hide a tasty piece at the end of the path and offer the dog to overcome all the tricky loops to achieve the goal).

2. New emotions, switching - these are acquaintances, new toys, unusual goodies. Everything is interesting and fundamentally new, which will make the dog explore, study, delve into.

3. Since stress treatment is sometimes necessary immediately, here and now, it is possible to use mild sedatives. For example, an elderly dog ​​is afraid of cars or firecrackers before a panic. It can be accustomed to the smell of a car and the sound of a rumble, but this must be done gradually, and adaptation will take more than one month. But if you need to go now? Or on the nose New Year - a time of endless explosions outside the window? An old or too nervous dog can not stand it (nervous breakdown, heart attack, stroke). In this case, the veterinarian will help relieve the symptoms of stress. But it is important to remember that sedatives do not solve the problem, but only postpone the decision process for a while! You can not rely only on pills if you want a healthy and happy life for your pet.

Signals that give dogs when fear, aggression and anxiety

For example, if a dog holds his ears tight, this is a sign of aggression. If the tail is raised and a direct look is observed, it says that the dog is ready to protect itself, if necessary.

Look at the dog's pose. If dogs feel threatened, they freeze in one pose and strain all their muscles. In the same way, they avoid this threat.

When dogs are afraid or submit, they bend their head or upper body close to the ground or roll over to expose their stomach (moreover, very obedient dogs can urinate at this time).

More subtle signs of anxiety may include stretching, swaying, lowering the head, hiding the head under the tail, under the body, or behind artificial fences. Also, in conjunction with these and other signs of anxiety, dogs often raise one or two legs.

Check the dog’s eyes. Dogs that are worried can be aggressive and use this aggression against you. One has to be careful.

A direct look shows that the dog is ready to attack, if closer to it even closer. Direct gaze - not blinking eyes, wide pupils, bulging whites of the eyes. On the contrary, dogs that give up or want to avoid the threat show submissive signals. They often blink rapidly and can also completely close their eyes.

A warning: If the dog looks at you with a wide, non-blinking look, showing the whites of the eyes, then immediately look away from the dog’s eyes and slowly back off. If you continue to look at her like that, the dog will perceive this as aggression and may even attack you to protect yourself.

Look at the position of the dog’s ears. Worrying, dogs often tighten their ears as a sign of humility and fear. Also, the mouth is always closed at this time. If you notice that your dog’s ears are laying back and the dog shows other signs of anxiety, try removing it from the source of anxiety. If the ears are tight and the tail is hidden under the body, then this is a clear sign of anxiety and fear.

Refusal of food. Dogs often refuse to eat because of fear, anxiety, inconvenience and discomfort. For example, even if the dog is afraid of slippery floors, but she is forced to walk on this slippery floor, she may stop eating in this place. Dogs are often very shy. For example, they may not eat and give up pleasures when they are in group education classes. If the dog does not study at such courses and is shy, try to take private lessons or do some training on your own (and be sure to consult a specialist about how to communicate with your dog, training, exercises, etc.).

Inappropriate behavior in dogs.

Many dogs behave strangely. This is mainly due to any concern. For example, unexpected signs of aggression, frequent running away, barking, whining, refusing to walk, etc. Dogs may also try to spread their aggression to another dog. The main sign of concern in this situation is the constant sniffing of everything that is possible. Dogs are often interested in smelling an item rather than in the item itself. Pay attention to other signs of anxiety at this point.

Get to know your dog closer. The best way to check your dog’s signs of anxiety, to know its identity, and how it usually behaves, is to get to know it. What does she like? What does not like? Why is she shy among other dogs? With whom is she friendly, and who rushes and barks at? Love your dog and you will be fine.

When you can recognize signs of anxiety in dogs and know how your dog usually behaves in a given situation, you will be rewarded with a deeper understanding of your dog’s language.

Additional tips

Your dog can also show “calming signals” when faced with another aggressive dog. Your dog is trying to say something like "Cool down!". Such signals are shown by many domestic dogs, and especially dogs that participate in various exhibitions, etc. These are, as a rule, “intelligent dogs”. Signs of such signals are excessive blinking, licking and feigned confusion. A good rule of thumb for recognizing calming signals is to look for the wrong actions in the dog’s normal behavior. For example, a dog yawns when she is not tired and does not want to sleep, licks her mouth when she is not hungry and does not want to drink, etc.

A common type of anxiety in dogs is separation. That is, an excessive fear of being alone or in isolation from the owner. Separation dogs can bark or whine constantly, defecate in the house, destroy furniture, etc. If your dog has moderate anxiety due to separation, you can put it in a cage or box if possible. However, for dogs with severe signs of anxiety due to separation, such methods can be dangerous. This will require training and training.

Never use punishment as the basis of teaching methods. Only encouragement should be used, especially if the dog shows signs of anxiety. As a rule, at such moments the dog thinks only about his fear and cannot understand why he is being punished. Also, do not try to rid the dog of fear by scaring it with what it is most afraid of. She might even have a heart break. The dog can behave aggressively and bite you. Incentives will be the main incentive that will make your dog more confident and accustomed.

While a dog that is aggressive can growl and grin its teeth, a dog showing friendly behavior can also grin its teeth. This is a very dual signal. If the dog simply grinds its teeth without other signs of aggression and anxiety, it shows soothing gestures, as if smiling. Sometimes it looks pretty scary and menacing. If your dog has a similar habit, try to wean it from it, so as not to scare other people. This will help to avoid misunderstandings.

While meeting the dog, gently stroke it, sit down at the dog’s eye level and stretch out your hands to smell it. If the dog is suitable for you, just stroke it and avoid further caresses. The dog cannot be spoiled too much. Never try to hug a dog; they don't like it.

Dog aggression warnings

If the dog shows strong anxiety or the threat of aggression, immediately look away from the dog, do not move and slowly back off. In addition, if your dog is very anxious or aggressive, remove it immediately from the source of discomfort.

Always control your dog, especially when there are children around. Although dogs rarely show aggression towards children and are very patient with them, even if the child tries to harm them (as a rule, they simply leave), it is better to look after her. If the dog can’t stand it or the children mock it, it is better to completely limit their contact.

As you can see, dogs are very sociable and diverse. One can easily understand any condition of a dog by simply looking at its behavior. And who said animals don't talk?

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