Ask Me Anything: Understanding Canine Anxiety with Pradnya Hattiangadi

Ask Me Anything: Understanding Canine Anxiety with Pradnya Hattiangadi
Photo by JC Gellidon / Unsplash

Whining, pacing, panting and the heartbreaking look of distress on their face. We know, as pet parents, seeing your pet disturbed is a terrible feeling and the sense of helplessness that follows, only worse.

We also know that while your intentions may be well meaning, hoomans often make the wrong moves when it comes to helping their furry buddies ease their anxiety. And so, last Sunday, we decided to learn the right ways of approaching canine anxiety with our expert, Pradnya Hattiangadi.

This is the TLDR version of our AMA with her. (You’re welcome)

Let’s jump right in!

  1. Common Stimuli That Trigger Anxiety in Doggos

Every dog is different and therefore it would be incorrect to assume that the same events will trigger an anxious response in each one of them. However, in city life, the most common triggers include loud sounds (think firecrackers, construction work, constant honking, all those unpleasant noises that even make humans wince!), unfamiliar sights, strangers approaching them without prior warning and the likes. It is important to closely observe how your dog reacts to anxiety-inducing triggers, as this may not be the same as his other doggo friends.

2. Overcome Anxiety One Step At A Time

Sensitive dogs are often change resistant. And so, behaviour change becomes a slow process demanding a lot of love and patience. The only way to see progress in such cases is by setting realistic expectations. Your pet will take time overcoming their fears. It will take multiple iterations and mistakes will happen along the way but it is crucial to gauge the amount of change and the right pace for your pooch. Begin by taking baby steps and using motivators such as their favourite treats, food, bringing out their comfort toy or being there with them when you notice their anxiety peak.

Remember, never force your dog into a situation that they’re not ready to face. Forcing them will only make things worse, not better. Trust building needs small and consistent improvement. So aim for that and your baby will feel better in no time!  

3. Caring for a community dog

Community dogs too exhibit anxiety in a variety of ways. Often this shows up in reactive behaviour when they perceive a threat to their territory, food or safety. When feeding community dogs, it is always a good idea to avoid feeding them at prime areas where they can attack others. So, choose corners over entry or exit points. Additionally, if there exists the risk of your community dog attacking other dogs then always prioritise your dog’s safety by avoiding walks on that particular street.

4. Socialising

Socialising your dog at an early age is a great way to prevent anxiety in the present and future. And by socialising we mean, allowing your anxious pup to make sense of the world and all its sights, sounds and smells, at their own pace. Be careful not to overwhelm your dog as this could quickly turn counterproductive.

5. Connecting with a Behaviourist

And if all else fails, do not hesitate to contact a canine behaviourist for a consultation before the problem worsens. Often experts are better equipped to notice behaviours that we may miss in everyday life.

That’s it for this time’s recap. Stay tuned for our upcoming AMA Sessions with canine experts that help you make dog parenting easier and better.

Until next time, keep learning!