New Finnish Study Shows Anxiety is a Common Trait in Many Dogs

Researchers in Finland conducted a survey of nearly 14,000 dog owners to determine the causes of canine anxiety.  They found that over 72% of dogs experience some form of anxiety.

What types of anxiety are most common, and are there certain breeds that are more anxious than others?  Here are a few key findings from the study:

  • The most common form of anxiety in dogs is noise sensitivity (fireworks, thunder, etc.) followed by fear of specific things (such as strangers, other dogs, or surfaces and heights).
  • Female dogs are slightly more likely to show anxiety and fear than male dogs (51.5%). Male dogs tend to show more separation anxiety.
  • Certain behavior problems tend to be associated with canine anxiety, including inattention, aggression, hyperactivity, and compulsive behavior (such as self-biting).
  • Some breeds are more anxious and fearful than others. Labrador Retrievers and Staffordshire Bull Terriers show low levels of fear, while Shetland Sheepdogs and Rough Collies tend to be more fearful.

The authors of the study note that canine anxiety can have a genetic basis.  However, the prevalence of canine anxiety shows that it is common across breeds and factors like training, socialization, and the home environment play a role too.

Interested in learning more?  Check out the full study HERE.

 

It’s National Walk Your Dog Week!

October 1-7 is National Walk Your Dog Week, an event designed to raise awareness about the importance of regular exercise for your dog’s health.

According to the official website, many dogs (and their humans) do not get enough exercise, which can lead to health problems like obesity as well as behavioral problems that arise from boredom and separation anxiety.

You can take the pledge to walk your dog for at least 30 minutes every day for one week.  The folks at National Walk Your Dog Week want to hear from dog owners who have taken up this challenge.  Chances are both you and your dog will be feeling better!

 

Tips on Reducing the Stress of Vet Visits for Your Dog

The website Companion Animal Psychology is a great resource for dog and cat owners interested in learning how to better understand their pets.

The site recently published some helpful advice on how to ensure that your dog is as calm as possible during trips to the vet’s office.  The tips are based on research published in the journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science, which you can find HERE.

The researchers found that many factors can increase your dog’s stress at the vet, including prior negative experiences, the dog’s individual genetic makeup, and upsetting sights, sounds, smells, etc. at the vet.

Another cause of fear is something called “trigger stacking”—the combination of stressful experiences that can go into a vet visit (being put in a carrier, being restrained, etc.).

Here are just a few recommendations for helping dogs that feel anxiety about going to the vet.  Be sure to read the full article for more information!

  • Avoid feeding before a visit so your dog will be interested in treats given by staff at the vet’s office.  Treats are good rewards after unpleasant procedures like vaccinations.
  • Bring a blanket or toys from home to help comfort your dog.
  • Stay with your dog during the exam/consultation, and any other procedures if possible.

  • Get your dog used to car rides, carriers, and routine physical handling before trips to the vet.  Nail trimming and ear cleaning at the vet’s office can help accustom your dog to being there.
  • Very stressed dogs can wait in the car rather than the waiting room.  Muzzles and sedation can also be helpful in extreme cases.

 

The Signals Dogs Use to Tell Us What They Want

A study published in the journal Animal Cognition has identified multiple “signals” dogs use to indicate when they want our attention.

Signals are defined as requests made with an object and/or a part of the body.  They also need to be directed at an individual and repeated.

After studying dozens of potential canine signals, the researchers identified 19 that clearly indicated specific requests.  The most common were related to going outside, getting food, drink or a toy, and wanting to be scratched.

Common signals include pawing at something (or someone), jumping up, and turning the head between a person and a desired object.  Many dogs will also pick their toys up and toss them a short distance or give a gentle “chomp” on a person’s arm.

How does your best friend get your attention?!

You can read the full article HERE and watch a brief video on the study from National Geographic here:

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Experts Address Pet Behavior Issues in Free Webinar

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Most dog and cat owners will experience at least a few of the common canine and feline behavior problems with their pets.  Is your cat going outside of the litter box…or does your dog experience separation anxiety?  You’re not alone, and many pet parents have the same problems.  If you’re interested in hearing some expert advice from Cornell University veterinarians, you can watch a free webinar.

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Noted animal behavior specialists from the Baker Institute for Animal Health and the Cornell Feline Health Center have posted a webinar online that addresses such common pet behavior problems as canine aggression and separation anxiety and feline house soiling and destructive behavior.

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You can watch the full webinar and learn more about how to handle your pet’s behavior issues here:

https://www.cornell.edu/video/pet-behavior-problems-webinar-nov-9-2016