Anxiety problem or training problem?
22nd October 2012 | By Dr. Tracey Henderson
Why is it important to determine the difference?
So the owner can be referred to the appropriate professional for help – e.g. Veterinary behaviourist, dog trainer, or obedience club.
- Pets with anxiety disorders display behaviours that are either:
- Abnormal or irrational.
- Normal but are excessive in intensity, or occur in inappropriate circumstances.
- Disruptive to the household.
- Generally detrimental to the health and welfare of the pet, you or the community.
Facts about anxiety:
- Recent studies have shown that 1 in 5 dogs and cats have an anxiety disorder.
- Anxiety is a welfare issue – mental illness is an extremely unpleasant experience.
- Anxiety is a medical problem, not a training problem.
- Animals with anxiety disorders have an imbalance in the neurochemicals in the brain.
- Animals with anxiety problems rarely ‘grow out of them’, but generally tend to get worse.
- Early intervention and treatment will help to improve the outcome for you and your pet.
Examples of anxiety problems:
- Separation anxiety.
- Aggression towards people, dogs, other animals.
- Phobias – to noises, situations and thunderstorms.
- Fearful behaviour.
- Compulsive disorders such as tail chasing, flank sucking and shadow chasing.
- House soiling.
- Urine spraying.
- Aggression towards people, cats or other animals.
Anxiety problems can’t be solved solely by obedience training – a veterinary behaviour consultation is generally required.
Pets with training problems display behaviours that are generally normal behaviours that are socially unacceptable (either to the owner or the community).
Examples of training problems:
- ‘Bad’ manners – eg. Jumping up.
- Barking (in some cases).
- Pulling on the lead.
- Boisterous behaviour.
- Furniture scratching.
Training problems can generally helped by trainers and/or obedience clubs.
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