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Fear aggression in dogs, symptoms, causes, treatment and prevention

Anxiety is a psychological state that is characterized by feelings of uneasiness, fear, and panic. Anxiety also has physiological effects, such as increased heart rate, heavy breathing, and trembling. Anxiety in canines is of many different types, and one common type is fear anxiety. As the name indicates, this type of anxiety arises from fear of certain situations, objects, or creatures, including humans and other dogs. Fear anxiety is quite traumatic, both for the dog and the owner, and is also rather difficult to treat. It is important to be aware of exactly what is going on, and preferably to get professional advice. Using the wrong methods to treat anxiety in dogs can backfire, as it may make the dog more scared or even aggressive.

Symptoms
Dogs display their anxiety in many ways, both conscious and unconscious. Your dog may whine, shiver, try to hide, or try to stick to your side when it is anxious. Separation anxiety in dogs – essentially a fear of being away from the owner – will usually cause a dog to stay close to the owner at every possible moment. The dog will display signs of anxiety whenever the owner is away – sometimes even when the owner is in the house but in another room. Chewing and other destructive behavior is common in such cases. Noise anxiety in dogs is also quite common, and will lead to many of the same symptoms being displayed whenever there are loud noises, such as firecrackers or heavy machinery. Sometimes aggression is also a symptom of fear and anxiety. Anxiety aggression in dogs is different from territorial aggression and other types of aggression, and this distinction is important.

Causes
The causes of anxiety in canines are varied – sometimes it may simply be the result of a lack of socialization as a puppy. Puppies that have not been introduced to a variety of people, animals, objects, sounds, and situations often grow up to develop anxiety problems. Similarly a puppy that has not been accustomed to being left alone may develop separation anxiety if it is suddenly left alone for long periods of time. At other times however, a single traumatic event or frequent abuse may be the cause of an anxiety problem.

Treatment
A lot of patience is required to treat anxiety in dogs. It is impossible to force a dog to overcome its fear. The dog must gradually be brought to understand that the cause of its anxiety is really no threat to it. It is generally advisable to consult a professional dog trainer or dog behaviorist for such a problem.

 
  Submitted on November 10, 2009  
 
 
 
 
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