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What is Extreme Fear and Anxiety?

Excessive fear and anxiety is a common problem in dogs. Anxiety related disorders can take many forms. Separation anxiety associated with the dog being left alone is the most common; some experts estimate that about 14 % of dogs suffer from this disorder to some extent. Other common triggers for anxiety behaviors are loud noises, riding in the car, or any confined space. Excessive anxiety, especially toward a specific and inexplicable trigger, is called a phobia. Dogs can develop phobias in response to unlikely triggers like people with glasses, children, or even toasters. Excessive anxiety and phobias in relation to different people and strange situation are commonly the result of poor socialization at a young age. There are several specific windows in a dog’s development when socialization is very important: between eight and fourteen weeks of age, when puppies first start to become shy of strangers, and between five and eight months,  as they may develop fear and aggression toward unfamiliar groups of people. It is extremely important to expose dogs as much as possible to new situations and people in these time periods, always in a non-threatening way so that they feel comfortable and safe and don’t develop irrational fear or anxiety triggers. Occasionally dogs can acquire unusual phobias later in life especially during a stressful or traumatic time period. Genetic factors can also play a part. Many dogs are predisposed to develop anxiety disorders based on their breed or temperament. Fearful behavior can quickly turn into aggression, so dogs with anxiety disorders make less good pets and can even be dangerous, especially around small children. Dogs that develop fear or anxiety can sometimes be reconditioned to reduce the behavior to a manageable level, however this requires more work than initial socialization when a puppy’s age makes him predisposed to adjust and learn new information.

Fear is a normal response to some situations, but extreme fear or anxiety in dogs is a sign of behavior problems. Anxiety related behaviors can become aggressive quickly, so teaching your dog to avoid these responses can be a very important part of training.

Extreme Fear and Anxiety Average Cost

From 60 quotes ranging from $200 - $1,500

Average Cost

$300

Symptoms of Extreme Fear and Anxiety in Dogs

These are some of the signs that might indicate your dog is excessively fearful or anxious.

  • Pacing
  • Posturing with flattened ears and tail between the legs
  • Cowering and hiding
  • Hair raised on the back of the neck
  • Drooling
  • Trembling
  • Panting
  • Whining or whimpering
  • Yawning
  • Dilated pupils
  • Excessive grooming
  • Chronic barking
  • Chewing on objects such as furniture or shoes
  • Incontinence of bowels or urine
  • Growling
  • Snapping

Types

These are the most common types of anxiety in dogs.

  • Separation anxiety – occurs when the owner leaves or whenever the dog is left alone
  • Noise anxiety – loud noises such as thunder, fireworks, or noisy trucks
  • Travel anxiety – becomes anxious riding in the car
  • Confinement anxiety – reacts negatively to confined spaces
  • Phobia – unexplained anxiety reaction in relation to various triggers
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Causes of Extreme Fear and Anxiety in Dogs

Many factors can be related to excessive fear and anxiety in dogs. These are some of the most common.

  • Poor socialization in early life
  • Predisposition due to breed or temperament
  • A stressful or traumatic event
  • A medical condition or illness
  • Age related degeneration in the brain
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Diagnosis of Extreme Fear and Anxiety in Dogs

Most anxiety disorders develop in the first year and a half of a dog’s life, so this is the time to watch your dog closely and discuss any abnormal reactions with the veterinarian. Anxiety disorders are first diagnosed through the careful attention of the owner, so you should watch your dog and document unusual behaviors in a log if necessary. The veterinarian will examine your dog physically to determine if there is a medical condition that could be causing or contributing to your dog’s symptoms. If you have any information about the dog’s breeding history or the temperament of the parents this will be relevant. In older dogs, past experience can also be extremely important since a history of abuse will often give the dog a lifelong predisposition toward anxiety. Some dogs may also develop more pronounced anxiety as they age.

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Treatment of Extreme Fear and Anxiety in Dogs

Depending on the severity of the problem, the veterinarian may give you training exercises to do at home or recommend an animal behavior specialist for more extensive reconditioning. The best way to react to signs of anxiety in your dog is not to encourage it. Petting or comforting the dog may be the most natural response for an owner, but the dog will see this as encouragement to continue. Putting a dog through his typical training routine during an anxiety attack may seem harsh, but it will help assure the dog that things are normal and can discourage the behavior in the future. To the dog, you are the leader of his pack, so if you act as if everything is fine, the dog will assume this is true.

Dogs with more developed anxiety disorders and phobias may need to be desensitized by exposing them to a mild version of the trigger first. Through repeated exposure and training the dog will become desensitized and learn there is nothing to fear. Treats and rewards for good behavior can help to reinforce the process. In extreme cases, classes or private sessions with a behavior therapist may be necessary to help your dog overcome anxiety. This is especially true if your dog is older and has a history of abuse.

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Recovery of Extreme Fear and Anxiety in Dogs

Proper socialization can usually reduce symptoms of anxiety in young dogs before the disorder becomes a serious problem. Older dogs that develop isolated phobias can often be retrained also. If the dog has a very anxious temperament, you may need to maintain a carefully regimented response to anxiety behaviors and continue long-term training exercises to manage the problem. Rescue dogs or older dogs with severe anxiety may be difficult to retrain regardless of the effort you put in. You may have to compensate for this by avoiding situations that trigger anxiety as much as possible. The veterinarian may be able to give you medication for isolated instances, especially car trips.

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Extreme Fear and Anxiety Average Cost

From 60 quotes ranging from $200 - $1,500

Average Cost

$300

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Extreme Fear and Anxiety Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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dog-breed-icon

husky/beagel

dog-age-icon

Five Years

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Unknown severity

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Anxiety

my puppers has always had trouble with other people, he isnt aggressive, but he wont approach anyone and barks, paces and doesn't like people at all. He has never been hurt or had anything traumatic happen in his life, if anything he is spoiled beyond words. I have had him since he was a puppy and he has always been this way with anyone new he meets and it takes him months to even approach someone new even if they are around everyday.. I have no idea how to help and it breaks my heart to see him like this.. is there anything I can do?

Aug. 4, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. While it may be a little bit late to change that behavior if it has been going on for five years, it is possible. The best thing to do would be to work with a trainer, as they can identify what his triggers are, and give you ways to react so that he does not continue, if possible. If you do not know a good trainer in your area, your veterinarian can recommend one for you. I hope that all goes well for your dog.

Aug. 4, 2020

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Cavalier King Charles Spaniel mix

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3 years, almost 4

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Unknown severity

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Anxiety

Hi, my dog has anxiety and I am unsure in how to help him. Not only does he have separation anxiety when me and my family have to leave the house, but he’s scared of just about anything. He’s scared of bowls, some plates, vacuums, and more. I have a feeling that the reason he doesn’t drink much water is because of his fear. I recently bought a set of stairs for the bed because I noticed it was starting to strain him from jumping up and down it. He refused to touch it and proceeded to bark at it. Whenever I touched it he would flinch. He tends to flinch at a lot of things he doesn’t like.

July 25, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Your dog sounds like he is anxious to the point where he may be suffering from it. It would be a good idea to have a veterinarian look at him, and discuss anti-anxiety medications for him. Being that afraid of everything is no way to spend time, and there are some very effective anti-anxiety medications that might help him. I hope that all goes well for him.

July 25, 2020

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Labrador Retriever

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Eleven Years

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Unknown severity

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Anxiety, Excitable, Excessive Drinking, Panting

A couple of weeks ago, my family and I came home from vacation to a normal dog. A couple of days later she starts freaking out, panting, shaking, etc. it’s like she’s seen something that’s scared her. The Fourth of July is far gone, and I don’t understand what is causing her to freak out. Our veterinarian prescribed her Xanax awhile ago for thunderstorms and high anxiety, but she still isn’t calming down. She is currently fighting a staph infection. We think her hearing is the problem, but we can’t pinpoint what truly is going on. So, why is my dog suddenly spastic and anxious?

July 16, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I'm sorry that she is having that problem. Something may have happened that scared her while you were gone, or she may be hearing things that you cannot, as dogs often do. It would probably be a good idea to have a thorough physical examination with your veterinarian, as there may be a source of pain. They will be able to help figure out what medications may help to calm her down and make her feel better again. I hope that she is okay and feels better soon.

July 16, 2020

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Rose

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Boxer

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3 Years

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Serious severity

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1 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Aggression
Barking

I am fostering a dog with some issues, she was in a shelter, adopted and then surrendered to a rescue. She lunges and barks at people, cars and other dogs, she has even snapped as me when trying to correct her behavior. She is currently seeing a Behavior Specialist, who has her on medication (which doesn't seem to be working very well). She gets along with the people in the house and my personal after spending 3 months being crated. Is there another option to help getting her to be happier and friendlier dog. She has always been a frequently bathroom dog, she will urinate 2-3 times on a small walk and BM 2-3 depending the area.

Aug. 19, 2018

Rose's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

These cases can be difficult and it is important to work with a professional to help curb the bad behaviour, however I would recommend reading the training guides below and trying to implement the concepts with Rose; also near the end of each guide there is a section to follow up with our certified dog trainer if you have any other questions. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM https://wagwalking.com/training/stop-being-fearful https://wagwalking.com/training/stop-attacking https://wagwalking.com/training/not-attack-strangers https://wagwalking.com/training/not-attack-other-dogs

Aug. 19, 2018

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Stan

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chihuahua mix

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7 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Shaking
Panting
Hiding

I recently moved out of my parent's home and took my dog with me. My parent's house in the only home he's known prior to this. He is having a difficult time adjusting. He will follow me around and shake uncontrollably. He will hide in small places around the apartment. He has also become increasingly stubborn, not listening to us when we call him (even if we're making direct eye-contact with him). He's even refused to eat from time to time. These symptoms seems to intensify at night. We visit my parent's place often and the behaviors have started happening there as well. He's always been a fearful dog but happy and comfortable in the home. It has been two months since we moved and his anxiety seems to be getting worse.

Aug. 13, 2018

Stan's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

This certainly seems like a behavioural issue and you need to work with a trainer to overcome this anxiety which Stan is suffering from; there is no quick fix or other solution I can recommend to you as each case is different. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM https://wagwalking.com/training/behavior

Aug. 13, 2018

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Tippy

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Mix

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11 Months

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Submissive

We adopted a 5 month old puppy back in June. She had a rough start in life and was found in garbage when she was a few weeks old. She was sent to a foster home which she remained there until April 2019 when she was 8-9 weeks old and was adopted. She was only with the adopted family for 2 weeks before she was returned to the same foster home as she was at prior to adoption. We know in this foster home there were about 13 other dogs our dog remained with this foster home until we found her in June of 2019. We received videos and updates through the adoption process and our puppy appeared to be active and happy. We got our sweet little girl June 30th , 2019 she seemed shy and scared but she had been in a kennel across country from Texas she we never worried. She was potty trained and a great eater. She was pretty shy with us but started to come around we started dog training with her in July. She is very smart and really caught on quickly to commands. Although she really keep having this submissive spells where she was scared. We talked in higher tones to her and really had to keep doing this to avoid the submissive behavior. We noticed when it was time to put leash on she would drop to the floor and pee herself (every time). Yet once we were out the door for a walk she loved them. With our trainer we started introducing her to other people very slowly and allowing her to warm up to them and not force anything. She really started to have this fear, submissive spells more and more it will come out of the blue. Meaning we can go to bed one night put her in her kennel she is happy and we go to wake her up in the morning and she is afraid wont come out of her kennel and is peeing herself. We usual can get the leash on her and she will then come out and go outside. Now it is December and we have a dog that we don't know what dog we will have each day. One day she is fine and then the next days she is scared, wont eat, wont go outside, and is peeing herself. My partner and I fear she has had more trama in her life then we knew when adopting her. Could it have been the foster home as she was only with the one other family 2 weeks and yes they returned her since she nipped at them in fear. We are such an animal person but she is becoming so tough. We are afraid to take her anywhere as the smallest thing will set her back and we are at square 1. I would like to take a vacation but can't put her on them. As what if we are gone and she wont come out of her kennel, wont eat etc.. We find ourselves getting so frustrated because this behavior is a roller coaster ride. We have to walk away from her to calm down as fear showing our frustrations will make her worse. I wish we could know what it is that triggers her and how we can help her as she will be a year old the end of January and just want her to be happy. DO we put her on meds?

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Lottie

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Labrador Husky, Terrior, Boxer

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18 Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Shaking
Incontinence
Seperation Anxiety
Tail Between Legs
Hiding

We adopted Lottie as an 8 week old puppy and immediately began kennel/crate training. She has never suffered any "negative" or consequential experiences in her kennel - it is never used as a punishment, she is never yelled at or corrected in her kennel, and we have always given her treats and her dinner in her kennel. We use it as her safe space. Regardless, Lottie is perpetually frightened by the space. At just the command to go she gets low to the ground, shakes, and sometimes runs away leaving a trail of urine behind her. The kennel is in the kitchen and she will not even enter that room of the house. IF she does, she looks as though she is in physical pain. The last few months she has gotten worse and this behavior has even spread into other parts of her life. If you say the word "toy" she will immediately cringe, get low, and run to a safe space. I have a lot of experience in training dogs and I have never seen such an aversion to the idea of play. We used to play with her all the time, and it was as if one day she had decided that she would get in trouble at just the word. The only "BIG" change in Lottie's life that I can recall is moving her from our bed to her own bed (right next to us). She was kennel trained from the beginning, but would cry and cry all night. Occasionally, we would opt to put her in bed with us and she loved that. We don't let her in the bed anymore ever and she seems to think that this separation from the pack is punishment that has spilled over to her worthiness. We try everything. This fear/anxiety is effecting her life and it is sad to see.

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Sadie

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American Pit Bull Terrier

dog-age-icon

3 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Anxiety, Agressive, Tempermental

I have a 3 year old female pitbull who is now anxious, temperamental, and needy... she has 2 toys she will carry around every day all day for the last 3 days I had to lure her in with her toy to my bed. Now she will growl at other dogs in the house the minute they come in the room. She follows me everywhere I go needing to be next to me... I have a 2 month old baby girl I just gave birth to July 16th, I wondered if my pit was feeling like being nanny dog is to much also? I'm not really sure but my pit is not the same...

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Moose

dog-breed-icon

Whippet mix

dog-age-icon

3 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Voluntary Isolation
Pacing,
Ears Down
Excessive Grooming
Flinching
Whining
Hiding
Tail Tucked
Yawning
Growling
Shaking

I adopted my dog Moose when she was around 3-4 months old from a Humane Society. They told me she was part of a litter given up to get the mother fixed for free and she went straight into foster care right away until she was ready for adoption. Her and one of her male siblings were the only ones left and they were very, very attached to each other. Both very fearful of people but when they are alone they go CRAZY playing like any normal puppies would. When we got them out of the kennel they both ran under a desk and hid there, only to come out when we dragged them out. Obviously with their case I would ideally have taken both of them, but I was not in a position to have two dogs. Since adopting her, it took her almost two weeks to willingly leave her kennel and the entire process has been extremely slow and difficult. I have had her for 3 years now and within the past year she has just become trusting enough with me to come up to me. To this day if anyone even tried to her she would flinch and run away as if they were only trying to hit her, even people she has known almost as long as me. She comes up to people like she really wants them to touch her but as soon as they try to she freaks out and runs away. She regularly has fits of shaking for no reason, so intense it shakes the whole bed or couch. Her tail finally started spending more time untucked than tucked within the past 8 months. But when she is around other animals, she loses almost all her inhibitions about people. She runs and plays and jumps and even barks on occasion. But her anxieties are still so bad she spends all her time alone in my room away from the noise (thats my best guess). Even if I am the only person home she will be upstairs in my room all day long. I cant even think of training her because she runs in fear anytime i give her that much attention (but if there are other animals she gets jealous and will push others out of the way for it). I am in college and have moved into a new house with a roomate who has a cat, Moose and the cat are best friends and play often, but she is extremely fearful of guests and noises. I want to be able to help her but i dont know how, because it seems that having another pets only masks her issues slighltly.

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Koko

dog-breed-icon

Shepherd/husky/pit

dog-age-icon

8 Years

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Aggression
Licking

I adopted a sweet 6 year old mixed breed dog (did DNA testing she's part Australian Shepherd, German Shepherd, Husky and American Stafford Terrier) named Koko. I volunteer at our shelter and handled her on several adoption events. She was/is playful and has a sweet personality. As I was waiting for her to get chipped before I brought her home, they took her to another room, was bringing in others to help, and grabbing muzzles. I must have waited for 15 to 20 minutes before the brought her out and said they couldn't chip her and good luck, she's a runner and escape artist. I was like oh no. I took her to my vet the next day (after she took off running and getting out of her collar). The vet took her to the back room and after several minutes, brought her back out said I should take her back, she's a bad dog and will probably bite people. One of the techs said the same thing. I said she was great at home so they decided to have me sedate her and bring her back the next week. I brought her to the vet after giving her the meds and when I got there, she got loose and took off running at the vets. One of the techs opened the door and she went in. They gave her a shot of something to calm her down more and she still was fighting and being aggressive. They did manage to get her rabies shot and again, told me I would do best to get rid of her. I talked to a vet friend of mine who told me to not give up yet, find another vet. I did and this vet was very patient and worked with her as best as he could. He figured out that she is just very fearful and she does not like being held down which I did notice at home. I can say hugs to her and she takes off running knowing I am going to hug her. She tolerates it but shows anxiety when I do but I am trying to show her it is ok. They gave me meds to sedate her but they have failed to work so far. I am taking her back again with new meds (over counter the night before and 2 more meds a few hours before and a half hour before). I am thankful this vet works with us but wish I could do more. I've had her for 2 years now. I nor the vet can clip her nails without her getting overly scared. She has not bitten anyone as of yet which I am thankful for. I try to touch her paws at home and she won't let me touch them. I have to make Saturday morning appointments so I am able to be home to give her the meds to take her to the vet.

Extreme Fear and Anxiety Average Cost

From 60 quotes ranging from $200 - $1,500

Average Cost

$300