What is Jumpy?
Your dog may be jumpy for various reasons; observing your dog will help you to determine the cause of his jumpiness. If this is a new behavior for him and it does not relent, consult your veterinarian for advice. He may be jumpy due to the following:
- Environmental causes
- Hearing and/or vision impairment
- Stress and anxiety
Upon gaining an understanding of why your dog is jumpy, you can work with him to minimize this reaction in him.
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Why Jumpy Occurs in Dogs
Your dog may be jumpy for the following reasons:
These are things outside of your dog that can lead to his being jumpy. For example, the doorbell, vacuum cleaner or another loud noise can lead to jumpiness in your dog. He may feel startled as a result of those sounds.
Hearing and Vision Impairment
If your dog is having trouble with his vision or hearing, he may not notice that a person or another animal is coming near him and he may become surprised. In particular, as your pet adjusts to the change in these important senses, he may experience a nervousness not typical to his personality. There are things that you can do to help your dog be more aware of your approaching him.
Stress and Anxiety
Changes to your pet’s routine, a change in the household dynamics or an illness can all initiate jumpiness in your pet. If your canine is used to having companionship and the household changes, he may be jumpy as he adjusts to the differences. Anxiety due to changes or due to illness can also bring on less relaxed behavior.
Your dog may be experiencing dental pain, pain from a growth or from an injury that could cause him to jump as the pain hits. A veterinary consult can shed some light on discomfort that may not be evident to you but that is causing your pet to be uncomfortable.
What to do if your Dog is Jumpy
Upon noticing that your dog is jumpy, you will want to observe when the behavior occurs. If it is only the result of a loud and/or surprising noise, you can expose your dog to the noise and work with him to become comfortable. For example, in the case of the doorbell resulting in his jumpiness, you can put his leash on and have someone else ring your doorbell. Should he respond by being jumpy, it is best to ignore him. This will help him relax in response to the sound, as he will see that you are not reacting to the noise. If your dog is repeatedly exposed to particular sounds it will help him become desensitized to it. You can also reward him when he does not react to the sound. For example, if he remains calm when the doorbell rings, give him a treat. This will create a connection that when the doorbell rings it leads to positive things.
Should your dog’s jumpiness appear to not be tied to particular sounds, you will want to look for signs that he is having trouble with his hearing and/or sight. If his vision or hearing is impaired, he will not be aware that people are coming toward him which can cause him to be more easily startled. You can test your dog’s hearing by clapping loudly and seeing how he reacts. It can be challenging to determine if your dog is experiencing hearing loss in one ear or if the hearing loss is not complete. You can try testing with soft sounds close to each ear and gauging his response. Your veterinarian will be able to help you to determine if your dog is having trouble seeing or hearing. Hearing tests can be conducted and the ear canal will be examined. X-rays may be taken to gain an understanding of why your dog is experiencing issues with his hearing. If vision loss is suspected your veterinarian will conduct an ophthalmic examination which will help to determine if your dog has experienced vision loss, the extent of the loss and the reason it is occurring.
Should it be determined that your dog is experiencing hearing or vision loss, it is best to come up to him slowly and with your footsteps heavy. This will give him a better opportunity to hear you coming and he may feel the vibrations on the floor from your footsteps. Knowing that you are coming will help to minimize his anxiety. Jumpiness brought on by other sources of stress and anxiety may take more time to pinpoint. A careful observation of your dog and a recollection of recent household changes may indicate the reason for the jumpiness. In addition, if your pet has other symptoms like refusal to eat or lack of interest in exercise or outings, the veterinarian can evaluate him for dental pain, arthritis, or injury.
Prevention of Jumpy
It is always important to feed your dog a well-rounded diet and ensure that he receives plenty of exercise. To help him avoid being jumpy, it will be helpful to not reward any jumpiness that he displays. For example, if he reacts every time the doorbell rings, your instinct may be to shower him with attention and attempt to calm him down. He may see this attention as a positive thing and continue to be jumpy when the noise occurs. Observing that you are not concerned with the doorbell (or other sound) and offer no reaction when the sound occurs, will help him to see that there is nothing to worry about. In addition, being rewarded for not reacting to the sound will help your dog make a positive association to the sound when it occurs.
An annual wellness check, which will include full examination, blood tests and urinalysis can help to avoid the progression of illnesses that may occur. Your veterinarian can also give advice on how to aid your pet with vision or hearing loss.
Cost of Jumpy
The cost of your dog’s jumpiness will depend upon what is causing the behavior. When the cause of your dog’s reaction is environmental, the cost to overcome this reaction is minimal and will require more of your time than anything. Should your dog being jumpy as a result of hearing loss, the cost for the condition will average around $350. For vision loss the cost will average around $500, depending upon the area where you reside and its cost of living.