Nervous in Dogs

Why is my dog nervous?

What are Nervous?

Dogs can become nervous for several different reasons. Some dogs or breeds are naturally more nervous, especially toy breed dogs. Fear can also cause your dog to be nervous or anxious. Just like humans, dogs can suffer from phobias and they will need a professional trainer to learn how to cope with those phobias. 

Lack of proper socialization, separation anxiety or trauma can also cause your dog to be nervous. These dogs are lacking confidence and will need your leadership to help them through the situation and learn how to be secure in any situation.

Pain, sickness and neurological changes can all be attributed to your dog acting nervous. Sometimes we do not understand the signals that our dogs are trying to convey and what appears to be simple nervousness can be something serious that will need a veterinarian to assess and treat. Possible causes of why your dog is nervous include:

  • Pain, sickness or neurological changes
  • Fear, anxiety or phobia
  • Negative past experiences or trauma
  • Lack of socialization
  • Separation anxiety

Why Nervous Occurs in Dogs

Pain, Sickness or Neurological Changes

Your dog cannot communicate whether they are in pain or not. Instead, they will use vocalization and body language to let you know what is going on. If your dog is suffering from pain or sickness, you may think they are simply acting nervous. They may pace, tuck their tail, hang their head, act restless or even shake. If this is unusual behavior for your dog, you need to take a few minutes and go over your dog. Also, call your veterinarian for an appointment to make sure that your dog is not seriously ill or hurt. 

As dogs age, they will experience changes to their neurological system. You may notice them shaking or losing their balance easily, staggering or even walking in circles. Some people mistake this behavior for nervousness, but you will want to have your veterinarian check your dog over to make sure that there is no underlying issue that needs to be addressed. 

Fear, Anxiety or Phobia

People do not realize that their dog can suffer from a phobia. This generally occurs when they associate something with a bad experience. When confronted with their phobia, they will act nervous. Fear of certain people or situations will also cause your dog to be nervous. Anxiety can cause your dog to hide and act nervously or even to become ill because of the stress they are feeling from their anxiety. 

Negative Past Experiences or Trauma

Dogs that have been abused or mistreated, either physically or mentally will naturally be more nervous because they lack confidence and do not know what to expect in certain situations. Reassurance and training can be helpful for dogs that have had negative past experiences.

Dogs that have had a trauma occur will remember that trauma and when confronted with similar situations may exhibit nervousness. If you are aware of what the trauma was, you can work with your dog to make similar situations positive and happy to help them move past the trauma.

Lack of Socialization

Puppies and dogs need socialization with other dogs and with humans. When they do not get this socialization at an early age, they will be more timid, fearful and nervous. Generally, if a dog is not given proper socialization prior to 14 weeks of age, they probably will be nervous around people and in new situations.

Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety can be frustrating for dog owners but you will need to understand what is causing your dog to become so nervous when you leave them. Dogs that have been abandoned, have had multiple owners or have been neglected will tend to be more likely to exhibit nervousness from separation anxiety.

What to do if your Dog is Nervous

If your dog has not shown any signs of nervousness before, you need to make an appointment with your veterinarian. There may be an underlying cause that is making your dog appear nervous. 

Your veterinarian will perform a physical examination and order diagnostic tests to ensure that your dog is not sick or in pain. If an illness or condition is found, your veterinarian will discuss what was found as well as what the best treatment option will be for your dog. 

Dogs that are suffering from fear, anxiety or lack of socialization will probably require a professional dog trainer who specializes in nervous dogs. You may also look into speaking with a canine behaviorist about your dog’s problems. They may be able to help you teach your dog how to be more confident.

Prevention of Nervous

Socialize your dog by allowing them to have positive experiences with other dogs and people. This will show them that new experiences are not to be feared. You may want to carry little treats or special toys with you to hand to people to give to your dog. This will teach your dog to expect good things from people.

Obedience training will also help boost your dog’s confidence and create a bond between you. Provide your dog with a secure and positive home environment so they grow into a confident and well-adjusted, mature dog.

Cost of Nervous

Depending on your dog’s condition and your location, the cost to diagnose and treat your dog will vary. Dog trainers and behaviorists can range in price from $50 a session to $200 a session. Some trainers will offer public classes that are cheaper. To diagnose and treat pain, illness or a neurological disorder can cost anywhere from $100 to $2500.

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