Causes of anxiety disorder in dogs

Recognizing the causes and triggers of an anxiety disorder in dogs is like the work of a detective. But the effort is worth it, because the veterinarian or animal psychologist can better help your four-legged friends, if he knows the reasons for the over-anxious behavior. In addition, dogs can become more anxious over time if the mental disorder is not treated.

A seemingly harmless event may cause dogs to develop an anxiety disorder. The causes are traumas that humans may not have noticed. After all, the perception of dogs sometimes differs considerably from that of humans. Thus, the animals perceive many smells and sounds as much more intense and can partially intuitively capture moods around them intuitively. This also makes them more sensitive to over-stimulation and, as a result, anxiety or panic states.

Misconnections as causes of fears

Frequent triggers of an anxiety disorder in dogs are so-called miscarriages. Because fear is partly a learned dog behavior that comes about through classical conditioning. The Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov discovered this learning process in an attempt: He always had a ringing bell when he gave his dogs something to eat. In the beginning nothing happened yet, when the dogs only heard the bell without being fed. But after a while, they linked the sound to feeding and began to form saliva, even if there was no food after the ringtone.

For example, with this classic conditioning, you can teach your dog important basic commands such as "sitting, " "place, " "stay, " and "come, " ensuring that your four-legged friend associates a reward with obedience and therefore behaves well. Unfortunately, this "trick" also works in the negative sense, that is: your four-legged friend learns - usually without you noticing it - to connect certain situations with pain, disappointment or other inconvenience. In doing so, the dog may accidentally notice something that has nothing to do with the pain, but that he accidentally associates with it. For example, a dog gets a blow to an electric fence, but it pays attention to the sheep grazing in the meadow. He does not associate the pain of electric shock with the fence, but with the sheep he has seen meanwhile. As a result, he may develop a phobia of sheep, bleating noises or even wool. Such miscarriages are among the most common causes of anxiety disorders in dogs.

Deprivation syndrome can cause anxiety disorder

In addition to specific phobias, dogs can also suffer from a generalized anxiety disorder. This means that the four-legged friends are generally afraid of everything and not only afraid of certain sounds, situations or objects. Deprivation means that the dogs grew up in an unfriendly environment and, for example, had no playmates or could never get used to everyday noises. The noise of vacuum cleaners or traffic noise they have never met. There was just nobody there to educate her. Later, such dogs with an anxiety disorder respond to everyday sounds and other stimuli, because all this is unknown to them and therefore threatening. In desperation, some dogs therefore show a very aggressive behavior.

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