Wednesday, March 16, 2016

What do canine and human anxiety have in common?

I met this beautiful dog at a wedding - her presence made everyone else less anxious!

We’re increasingly aware that – like people – companion animals can suffer from severe and debilitating anxiety. Earlier this month journalist Patrick Lenton, himself a sufferer of anxiety, shared what he learned about hisanxiety through his own dogs Virginia (Ginny) and Ernest.

For Ginny, her triggers were exhaustive and long. For Ernest, his triggers were Ginny. We discovered that despite all the training we did, when the dogs were being triggered into their red and sometimes orange zones, they were no longer using the same parts of their brain where all the training existed. They were using something more primal and incoherent: literally the only options left were fighting or fleeing. It was a revelation – our dogs weren't naughty, they were anxious.
This is a beautifully honest article and one with a message – punishment of anxious beings just doesn’t work. We need to focus on removing triggers and keeping them out of their orange and red zones.

(Thank you to SAT reader Kerry for sharing the link - you can read the full article here).

And if you want to read more about canine anxiety here are some of our most popular posts on the topic: