BEHAVIOURAL DISORDER IN DOGS: PATIENCE IS THE KEY TO THIS LOCK

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Dr Gautam Anand
If you have noticed that your pet becomes irritate, incessantly growls, and gets anxious, then all these are warning signs for behavioural disorder in dogs. Just like you teach your kids the good and bad and be patient with them, the same holds true for your furry kids. Be patient with them and handle behavioural disorder like a pro! –by Dr Gautam Anand
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) in humans is characterised by excessive anxiety and worrying for every small thing. It is quite similar for your pets as well. When your pet becomes over anxious, aggressive, and over reactive to everyday situations, it is referred to as GAD in dogs. The reaction may vary from mild whining to full panic attacks. Although anxiety is a normal emotion, when it starts overpowering all other emotions it becomes a problem.
Flaws become the cause

Illness or injury: If your pet is unwell whether that’s an infection or a physical injury, there are high chances he’ll be irritated. These behavioural changes are temporary and will fade away. You need to be extra patient and loving!
Over pampering: We all love to pamper our pets and why not! But when this pampering turns into over-pampering it can become problematic. It is good to be protective, but you must know where to draw the line. Don’t become over protective. It may lead to behavioural disorders.
Separation: It is often seen that your pet would follow you from one room to another. Some pets constantly seek reassurance that the pet parent is within their sight. Pets today have become an integral part of the family. They are used to being surrounded by the family most of the time. Now suddenly if they find themselves in an empty house or in a new surrounding (a dog boarding, etc.) there are chances that their behaviour would see a fluctuation.
Caging or confinement: If your pet is not used to being leashed or tied up and suddenly you do that, behavioural changes are normal. Chances of pets getting stressed and agitated increase if they’re caged, confined or tied up.
Getting home a second pet: The more the merrier! If you also believe in this and are planning to get a new pet into your family, you must consider talking to your vet. There are chances that your current pet may feel insecure and ignored on arrival of the new member in the family. This may become the reason for his aggression or anxious behaviour.
Fear of unknown: Dogs have different kinds of fear. Some of them may fear strange noises while others may fear new surroundings. These fears can act as triggers which can lead to behavioural disorder.
Look out for these warning signs
The common signs and symptoms of behavioural disorder in dogs include – panic attack, restlessness, anxiety, and whining.
Your vet knows the best
If you feel that your dog has been exhibiting any of the above mentioned symptoms, it is advised that you must consult your vet. After all, prevention is better than cure!  The vet would perform an entire physical examination of your pet. In addition, you would also be required to tell him/her about the history of the symptoms. The vet might suggest a blood chemical test and a urine analysis for further confirmation.
Healing with your love (and some medicines of course)
If your dog has been diagnosed with behavioural disorder, you don’t have to lose heart. It is quite common that dogs get affected by this disorder. The good thing is that with medication and counseling the situation can be got under control.
Your vet would be the best judge because he/she knows the medical history of your pet. There are chances that your vet might prescribe some anti-anxiety medications in combination with a behaviour modification programme. You can also take help of certified dog consultants or a veterinary behaviourist. The medication may take a few weeks to show effect. Thus, you need to be patient.
Ensure that you avoid punishing your pet. Never cage or confine your pet. Take time out with them and indulge in a play session. Do activities that they enjoy – a drive, long walk, or a tug of war session. Reward your pet and try ignoring minor behavioural fluctuations. It would be good if you act in time, because if left untreated these conditions may reach levels of severity.
(Dr Gautam Anand is a practicing veterinary surgeon and cardiologist with an experience of more than two decades in companion animal practice. He is a trained cardiologist from the University of Luxembourg.)

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