It would be great if dogs could simply tell us what’s bothering them, but that is NOT the case. Often, their stress comes out as undesirable behaviors, like furniture chewing, aggression, barking and much more. I chatted a bit with Jody Cracco, owner of Doggy Playcare in Saratoga Springs, NY, who shared one of the main reasons that dogs are so anxious these days. She also shared a simple drill we could do with our dogs to begin easing that anxiety.
A SPIKE IN ANXIOUS PUPS. Jody shared that during covid, the “pack” was all together. This was true for the new puppies we brought home, as well as our pups who have been with us for years. As we try to get back to normal, dogs are having a terrible time navigating this.
DOGS WANT TO WORK. One of the things our dogs love to do is WORK. Jody shares the fact that we likely cater to them more than they work for us. That is not a natural routine for a dog. A natural routine would be “work, reward, rest”. When dogs fall out of that routine, they begin getting confused and this is where the anxiety sets in.
WHAT WE CAN DO TO HELP. We can help that anxiety by getting our dogs to work for US. One simple way to begin is to play, what she calls in training, “The Name Game”. Call your dog by name, give them a treat, and then ignore them. Allow them to go lay down, and then call their name again, and repeat. Once they start working for you, they are no longer in charge, and their anxiety begins to subside.
If we, as humans, had a better understanding of how to communicate with our dogs in a way that they could understand, it would make all the difference in their behaviors. Doggy Playcare offers dog daycare five days a week, as well as various dog training programs. The programs address behavioral issues, anxiety, basic obedience and therapy dog training. More information on the services available can be found here.