Dogs are great at sensing how humans feel. When we’re sad, they give us kisses and snuggle up beside us, and when we’re happy, they match our energy.
They are even able to sense anxiety and offer us comfort when needed. But, can it make our dogs anxious? Well, anxiety isn’t contagious, but there may be a chance that it can influence a dog’s behavior. Let’s discuss:
How do dogs sense anxiety?
Dogs can sense human feelings in several ways including body language, the tones and frequencies in our voice, and subtle signals we give off. Our posture, movement, and facial expressions can also indicate anxiety. Not only do dogs detect sounds well, but they can also smell chemical changes in our bodies. This is what people mean by “dogs can smell fear”.
How our anxiety affects dogs
Dogs react to stimuli which can include human cues. Dogs tend to feel safer when humans are confident and calm. When humans are anxious, dogs become more alert and sometimes feel anxious too. As a result, they may not get as much attention or exercise which can then cause anxiety.
Symptoms of Anxiety In Dogs
Anxious behaviors in dogs include urinating in undesignated areas, licking and chewing at the paws and skin, pacing, scratching, trying to escape. Barking or whining, shaking, excessive panting, and even dilated pupils.
Dogs sometimes take human reactions to anxiety such as tension and sharing as a challenge which can make them defensive and can even cause biting, as revealed in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.
If your dog displays symptoms of anxiety, you may alleviate them by:
- Creating a routine where you keep certain events at certain times such as feeding and walks
- Going for walks and exercising to burning off excess energy that contributes to anxiety
- Stimulating them mentally with puzzles and toys to keep their minds sharp and preoccupied
- Training and using positive reinforcement
- Giving your dog love and attention to help them feel relaxed and comfortable