Dogs with Anxiety

Happy Mother’s day! A special shout out to my mom and all pittie moms! Bella and Misha may not be mothers, but they did get spoiled at dinner tonight with leftover pieces of salmon. Poor little Misha definitely deserved it after the day she had.

Misha usually seems like a happy, carefree dog. However, the littlest things can send her into a panic. Today, we were enjoying the weather outside. Bella was sleeping, and Misha was just wandering around the yard. I’m not really sure what she heard or thought she heard, but she ran for the door. This dog usually just stands there and stares at the door until someone lets her in, but this time she jumped at the door trying to get in. She was absolutely terrified. She did not care that we were all outside. Misha wanted to be inside where she felt safe. Misha has very bad anxiety.

It really struck me one night when we took her and Bella for a walk. She loves her walks, most of the time. We passed one house that had 2 dogs in the back yard that were barking at us. (I don’t blame those dogs. We were walking past their yard, and they couldn’t see us through the privacy fence.) My dad and I decided to try walking them down the sidewalk on a busier road so that we didn’t have to upset the other dogs again. Misha fell apart in seconds. A couple was also walking down the sidewalk and the cars were too loud for Misha to handle. She was panicking. I was worried that she was going to back out of her harness, which she has done before. Bella was happily greeting the couple. I finally got Misha to walk back the way we came. We explained to the couple that Misha had previously been abused and has a hard time with loud noises and strangers.

We continued our walk. Misha was finally calming down, then a large truck pulling a trailer turned a corner. I’m not sure if the trailer hit the curb, but it made a lot of noise. Misha pulled me around the car we were walking past and into someone’s yard. If I had dropped the leash she probably would have ran straight home. She spent the rest of the walk home with her tail between her legs.

All I could think about was how exhausting it must be to live in that little dog’s world. She really has come a long way since we first got her, but she still has her bad days. Some days, like today, she doesn’t want to go outside because there are loud noises. It would be so much easier if we could explain to her what the loud noises are, but we can’t. All we can do is comfort her and remind her that we will never let anything hurt her.

Dogs with anxiety need a safe place to go when they are upset. For Misha, she feels better if she can be inside. Sometimes, she will find one of her humans. Other times, she just wants to be left alone. If you have a dog with a traumatic past, learn what their triggers are and what they need when they are scared. For some animals, they want to be able to hide. My cat is afraid of storms. It is the one time he seeks comfort from me. He either wants to hide his face in my arm or hide under a blanket. If he can’t see, then nothing can hurt him.

If you have an anxious dog or are considering adopting one, please remember that it takes a lot of love and patience. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither are well adjusted dogs. Some of their fears will probably never go away. My cat is now 15 years old and is still just as afraid of storms. Just love them and make them as comfortable as possible until the “storm” has passed.


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