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CANINE LADDER OF ANXIETY:

How a dog reacts to stress or a threat

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AGGRESSIVE DOG

Stiff body with forward weight distribution. Very still, direct whale eye (when the dog shows the whites of the eyes) stare. Pilo-erection on neck and back, with tail held up stiffly. Excessive salivation, growling and biting can occur.

SCARED DOG

Shifts weight to back legs, with head held low and ears pinned back tightly against the head. Tail tucked in close to body. Intense stare with unblinking eyes. Slow movement, shaking and growling usually occurs.

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ANXIOUS DOG

Crouches with front held lower than her back and with front paw raised. Muzzle closed tightly with occasional lip licking or yawning. Ears laid flat on her head and her tail tucked at the top, with the tip wagging nervously.

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TIMID OR NERVOUS DOG

Crawls and rolls over to expose her belly. Will squint or blink excessively or slowly. Ears laid flat on her head and tail tucked in close to the body. May urinate in small squirts.

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ALERT DOG

Shifts body away from threat, stares without blinking with ears held erect. Tail is held low and still.

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RELAXED DOG

Relaxed body posture, with soft eyes, floppy ears and a relaxed, soft wagging tail. May try to play or lean into you for a cuddle.

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Anxiety in Dogs

Some behaviours seen as problematic by owners are actually often times normal canine behaviours.

Fear and (some) anxiety are both normal responses to a threat (whether real or perceived) and some
dogs do resort to using aggression to resolve conflict, such as when protecting a valued resource against
a threat. Barking is also an essential and natural communication tool.


It is only when these behaviours become excessive, exaggerated, or
happen out of context that they become true behavioural problems

Please complete the list below to evaluate your dog's behaviour
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DO YOU CONSIDER YOUR DOG TO BE:
DOES YOUR DOG EXHIBIT ANY OF THE FOLLOWING BEHAVIOURS:
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Answering YES to any of these questions above can indicate that your dog might have a behavioural problem...

COMMON CAUSES OF ANXIETY AND RESULTING BEHAVIOURAL PROBLEMS INCLUDE:

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  • Lack of socialization and habituation.

  • Fear of being separated from owner, or fear of being left alone, also known as separation distress.

  • Conflict with people or other animals, like aggression or bullying by other pets.

  • Noise phobias caused by thunderstorms, fireworks, vacuum cleaners, trucks, new baby, etc.

  • Traumatic experiences, whether physical, mental or post-traumatic stress disorder.

  • Change in routine, environment, activity or housemates.

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  • Tactile intolerance caused by ectoparasites such as fleas, ticks, or mites. 

  • Lack of proper nutrition and clean water or competing for food.

  • Pain caused by illness, injury or disease.

A survey showed that facial injuries were more common in babies and children 8 years and younger.


It is important to teach children and parents to recognise displacement activities or warning signs from dogs, and to know about the importance of active supervision of
children and dogs to avoid potentially problematic situations.

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Canine ladder of anxiety
Causes of anxiety

BASICS TO HELP KEEP YOUR CAT HEALTHY AND HAPPY

When it comes to your dog’s emotional and physical health and welfare, consistency is key! Any sudden change in diet, routine or environment can lead to problem behaviours.

FOOD

  • Offer at least one feeding bowl per dog.

  • While set mealtimes can help with routines and monitoring intake, it can also make food delivery boring for dogs. Consider other feeding options like scatter-feeding or using food dispensing toys like treat balls, such as Kongs.

  • If your dogs fight over or guard food, manage the situation by separating them during feeding times and contact a qualified behaviourist to help you to resolve the problem.

  • Do not feed your dog scraps from the table; not only does this encourage begging behaviour which can become a problem, it can also cause unhealthy weight gain and subsequent pain-related problems.

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WATER

  • Clean water should be provided on an ad-lib basis and owners should ensure access to water during long road trips or walks.

  • It's important to provide multiple water bowls in a multi-dog household.

RESTING AREAS

  • Each dog should have his or her own bed, placed in a comfortable spot. Make it a
    house rule that dogs are never disturbed when in their beds, especially if there are
    children in the home. Having a safe space is of utmost importance to all dogs.

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STIMULATION

  • It is important to remember that dogs need stimulation and enrichment on a continuous basis, regardless of their age or life stage.

  • Exercise requirements should be adapted according to the dog’s breed, age, and health. Puppies and younger dogs may be more active, whereas older dogs may prefer mental enrichment to physical activities.

ELIMINATION

  • Dogs, especially indoor or elderly dogs, should have easy access to an appropriate area for elimination at all times. 

  • It is important to understand that illness, fear, age related changes or changes in activity, diet, environment or routine can lead to accidental or problematic elimination.

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Keep your dog happy

Your vet and behaviourist are a formidable team who is well equipped to help your best friend.

CalmEze Plus can be used in conjunction with behavioural therapy

to assist with the management of behavioural related problems

In partnership with

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