Do rescue dogs have anxiety? The Ultimate Guide

“I’m Marking My Territory!” – Leg Lifting

It’s normal for your dog to want to thoroughly explore his new digs, including sniffing every square inch of your home and property. However, he may be tempted to mark his territory, particularly if he smells another dog. This behavior shouldn’t be confused with being housebroken: dogs that have been trained properly may still mark their turf.

So what’s a frustrated pup-owner to do? Experts suggest eliminating this behavior by spraying the dog with water when you catch him in the act. It won’t hurt him, but most dogs dislike it and will stop mid-mark. The key to success for nearly every behavior-correcting exercise is repetition: eventually your dog will learn that this sort of thing is unacceptable.

In addition, when your dog marks areas within your home, be sure to use an enzyme cleaner to treat pet stains. In addition to cleaning the soiled area (and eliminating the unpleasant odor), it will remove your dog’s scent, so he won’t be tempted to mark over the area repeatedly.

Helpful tip: Just as we do with small children, puppy-proofing your home is a great way to ensure your dog’s safety while creating a comfortable and worry-free residence for both of you – the less anxious your dog is, the less chance of him acting out. This goes for all adoptees: even older dogs can benefit from a safe and hazard-free environment.

“Hands Off My Food!” – Food Aggression

Chances are your furry friend had to battle it out when it came to chow time in the shelter, so he’s probably not used to having his own bowl for drinking and eating. Since he’s unaccustomed to the new dining arrangements, he may not understand the concept that no one is going to take his dish away from him, and may react badly if another dog or person gets too close to him while he’s eating.

If your dog is showing signs of aggression, including growling, baring his teeth, snarling, lunging or even biting during his mealtime, chances are he’s still feeling insecure that his food might be in jeopardy or taken away.

Reassure him by moving his bowl to his crate, the bathroom, or another small enclosed area (such as the garage, porch or laundry room) and don’t disturb him until he’s finished eating. Over time, he’ll realize that he doesn’t need to guard his food.

Helpful tip: When it comes to meal-time with your pup, consistency is key: at the heart of food aggression is your dog’s anxiety over his supper. Keep it simple and feed him the same time every day – dogs have an amazing internal clock and crave rituals and routine. Creating a regular feeding schedule will help alleviate his anxiety while curbing his aggressive behavior.

Similar to food aggression, resource guarding is a canine behavior that exemplifies a dog’s ‘ownership’ over ‘his’ things, such as toys, food, and even people. This sort of possessive behavior is commonly recognized in rescue dogs, particularly because they were forced to share (and often compete) for everything in the shelter, including the affection of a human being.

Once you bring your dog home, he may attempt to guard you from another pet, family member or visitor – in his mind, you belong to him and he doesn’t want to share or even let anyone near you (he may also have a favorite toy that he is overly possessive of).

If you notice signs of resource guarding, fear not; there are certain behavioral techniques you can use to correct the issue. The moment he begins to show signs of this behavior, remove his access to the catalyst, including toys, beds, food, his blanket, and people. For example, if your pooch is curled up next to you on the couch but then begins barking when your spouse enters the room, put the dog on the floor immediately.

After repeatedly being removed from a favorite object or person, he will make the connection that this sort of behavior is undesirable. However, if the problem persists, you may wish to consult a professional dog trainer for expert assistance.

Helpful tip: It’s especially important to bond with your rescue dog in the early phases to develop trust and build a strong relationship. This will happen naturally as you create rituals, get to know one another, establish boundaries, and of course, show them affection. However, how you react to their misbehavior is crucial: physical punishment is never an option, neither from an emotional or humane standpoint.

Besides the potential to harm your beloved pet, you can permanently damage the bond you’ve created. Research proper methods to discipline your pet and educate yourself as a fur-baby parent; if you need resources or assistance, contact your vet or a licensed dog trainer for professional guidance.

TIME & SPACE: Has your dog had enough time to adjust?

If you recently adopted your dog, say less than 3 months ago, then you need to give him more time to adjust. The first few days after adoption is going to be stressful for any dog.

Give your dog the time and space he needs to adjust on his own terms. Rushing this process will only backfire.

Please read our 3-3-3 rule to understand the transitioning period all rescue dogs go through. Be patient, give your dog time to get to know you and her new home.

Anxious Shelter Dog Was Even Scared Of Collars And Leashes | The Dodo Foster Diaries

You come home to find that your dog has escaped his crate and destroyed the couch. Or pacing and drooling in his crate so bad it’s flooded with saliva. And maybe the neighbors complain your dog is barking all day long!

Many first-time dog owners never heard of separation anxiety in a dog until they are faced with the reality their dog has SA (separation anxiety).

I honestly never realized separation anxiety was an issue for dogs until we adopted our dog JJ in 2010 (pictured above). JJ would bark and drool excessively in his crate when we left even for 5 minutes. And if we left him out of his crate, he would urinate in the house, even though he was potty trained.

If I left the house, and my family was still at home, he would still be visibly stressed, waiting and staring at the front door until I came home.

This behavior slowly got worse and when I took him to the vet for his yearly checkup, the vet explained to me that these were all separation anxiety symptoms. She immediately suggested giving him Fluoxetine, which is basically Prozac for dogs. I trusted my vet and agreed to start him on the Fluoxetine. It seemed to help, but certainly didn’t “cure” him.

I know from personal experience how frustrating it is when you have a dog with extreme separation anxiety. You will find all the tips and information you need to help your rescue dog and his separation anxiety, right here.

I also highly recommend reading I’ll be Home Soon: How to Prevent and Treat Separation Anxiety by Patricia B. McConnell Ph.D.

Separation anxiety is a psychological disorder that manifests in excessive barking, whining or crying, chewing, digging, urination, defecation, and other destructive behavior that is accompanied by excessive panting and drooling when the dog is left alone.

Before you assume your dog has separation anxiety, consider ALL of your dog’s behaviors. Just because your dog misbehaves by chewing on the furniture, or urinating on the carpet when you leave him alone in the house, doesn’t mean he has separation anxiety. He most likely is just bored or not fully potty trained. After all, he is there all by himself with nothing to do.