Not everyone believes anxious animals are a thing. Some don’t believe animals are capable of anxiety. They propose that only humans get anxious.
If it looks like a duck (anxious duck, hah!)
But you know the saying – “If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck – it’s a duck!”
I have lived with and worked with animals I call anxious. And I bet you have, too.
Read this fascinating NPR article by Barbara J. King, Ape Dread, Dog Worry: Animals and Anxiety. King shares stories of chimpanzees, elephants and dogs with anxiety and even PTSD from events in their lives.
Good animal trainers and behaviorists have helped. So have I! Seems like they work from a physical standpoint and I work from an emotional/memory point of view.
I’ve met family animals who are stressed:
- When their people go on vacation.
- When they’re left alone in the house.
- Going to the veterinarian. In fact, many times when I see an animal at the Veterinary Holistic Center, I have to reassure them before we start the session. I tell them, “This is as bad as it’s going to get. No weird probing. You’ll wander around the room for a while. We’ll connect just like I’m doing now and I’ll share your information with your person. It’s okay to relax.”
- It seems like it’s part of their personality. They’re just more nervous.
- Some tough experiences have left their mark. Many are rescued animals who are adopted into loving families.
Enjoy these “Success Stories” of animals I’ve worked with.
Our dog, Honey has been extremely anxious with some tough behavioral issues. We used Maribeth’s Postcards From Your Pet to connect with Honey while we went on vacation. Maribeth sent me periodic reports of how she was reassuring Honey all was well and we’d be back.
Returning from vacation
When I went to get Honey, it took her a second to recognize me. Then she went NUTS!!!. Wagging, whining, jumping on me (she never does that) and giving me kisses. She went back to give the dog, Ky love before leaving.
Honey jumped into the car without fear and sat in the front seat just staring at me the whole drive home. She was VERY happy.
Settling in without anxiety
Since being home, she settled right in. She is now walking down the stairs to go for a walk without any hesitation. There’s no more chasing her around to get her down the stairs and leashed up. She’s been very calm and happy. I felt like she didn’t believe I was coming back for her, and now that I did, she feels more secure.
Before the trip she would really harass me for a walk directly after dinner, now she’s waiting and patient like she knows the walk will come.
Terra and Chi
Very stressed cats
Whenever we left for a vacation our cats, Terra and Chi, have always been very stressed. I worried about them while we were gone. Our pet sitter was kind and conscientious, so my take on it was that the cats were experiencing separation anxiety and/or perhaps thought we wouldn’t return.
They wouldn’t eat properly
They wouldn’t eat properly, they were frightened, they hid, etc. When we returned from long weekend trips, both had lost weight. The pet sitter always reported that they were hiding from her and didn’t want much, if any, interaction. The pictures she sent always showed them hiding.
It was going to be a long week
This time we were going away for a week so I was really worried. I emailed Maribeth for help and she responded right away. She explained that she would be regularly checking in and communicating with Terra and Chi while we were gone, as well sending emails to me regarding their “chats.”
Not so anxious and more interactive
Each time the pet sitter reported in about the cats (with pictures) she said they were much more relaxed and interactive and were actually eating well! I could see the difference when I looked at the photos. Chi was out and visiting with her and had his tail in the happy position (over his back). Terra was more relaxed as well.
A less anxious human
For once, I was actually able to relax and not worry while on vacation. After we returned, the pet sitter said this last pet sitting for Terra and Chi was the best one she had experienced. I couldn’t have been more pleased with Maribeth’s help!
Marne, the foster dog
My foster dog Marne was very scared and withdrawn. I asked Maribeth to connect with her to give her positive reassurances.
Not much interaction with others
Maribeth saw that Marne came from a situation where she didn’t interact much with people or other dogs, even though there were dogs in the yard with her. She was confused about living in the house with Kris, the other dogs and the cat.
“Why is Kris touching me??”
She even asked Maribeth, “Why is Kris touching me??” Maribeth explained that petting is how people express love and affection to their animals.
From anxious animals to relaxed animals
Maribeth suggested Marnie relax, enjoy the petting, play with Marvel (another dog in our house) and even grab a toy to play with. This was her new reality.
Right after our call, Marnie grabbed a toy and started chewing on it without me doing anything! She’s finally understanding how good she’s got it here!
Got an anxious animal? I can help!