A nervous dog owner has revealed some warning signs that your pooch could be suffering from anxiety.
Yasmin El-Saie received her Chihuahua, Chilli, as a wedding gift from her ex-husband in 2012. But it wasn’t long before she noticed the pup exhibited signs of anxiousness.
Describing the 11-year-old dog as ‘highly reactive’ to outdoor stimuli, she said she ‘recognised his anxious soul’ because of her own mental health struggles.
Years of holistic learning have inspired Yasmin to share her journey of living with an anxious dog through the ‘I am anxious too!’ campaign on Chilli’s Instagram page, where she posts tips to calm anxious minds of humans and dogs alike.
And now, speaking to MailOnline, the content creator has shared some key signs of nervousness for fellow dog owners to look out for.
According to Yasmin, these are some tell-tale signs your dog has anxiety:
- Licking lips
- Frequent yawning
- Pinned back ears
- Tucked tail
- Raised hackles
Yasmin explained that Chilli was never the most calm dog, and having never had a pup before, she failed to see the initial warning signs.
Veterinary Advisor, Dr Cheri Honnas explained that these signals are just a few ‘body cues’ to look out for.
The advisor, to Bone Voyage Dog Rescue, explained: ‘Some signs of stress include showing the whites of their eyes, ears pulled back, raised fur, excessive panting, and frequent yawning.
‘If your dog seems to avoid eye contact or appears ‘downcast,’ it’s often a response to your own body language and emotions, rather than a sense of guilt on their part.’
Dr Honnas explained that vocalisations, such as growling or frequent barking and whining, could be another signal.
She said: ‘Recognizing this sign and giving them space is vital, as it can prevent misunderstandings and protect both the dog and those around them from unintended reactions.’
The vet advisor also urged dog owners to monitor their pet’s movements, if they abruptly halt or become rigid, they could be exhibiting extreme stress. Similarly, if your pooch is restless or constantly pacing, it could indicate agitation.
Although Chilli experiences a range of these symptoms, Yasmin explained that his temperament has actually helped to calm her own anxiety.
She said: ‘At home he supports me and he is very loving. It’s that physical contact and even when we’re out as soon as I stroke his fur its a very reassuring feeling. It really brings me into the present moment doing whatever.’
She explained that wanting him to be less anxious while they two are outside has ‘forces’ her to be calm and ‘work on herself’ as a result.
Yasmin has various techniques to help Chilli manage everyday life, for example, when the two are out he wears a bright yellow lead and bandana which reads ‘keep your distance’ to inform people he is a highly reactive dog.
Issuing advice to fellow dog owners, Yasmin said she engages in lots of healing techniques to help Chilli and herself.
On Chilli’s Instagram page, @chilliwawa, the dog can be seen relaxing next to singing bowls, enjoying nature and taking much-deserved naps.
If you notice your dog is anxious in public, she advised: ‘As soon as they experience it you remove them and you make sure that they’re in a not stressed environment and you give the dog a chance to calm down.’
While there are various ways to help your anxious pup, from healing techniques, to behavioural therapy, to medications, Dr Honnas advised ‘always consult your vet first’.
She added: ‘Being in tune with your dog’s non-verbal cues is paramount. Address any signs of distress immediately, and when in doubt, always seek professional help.’