You are not alone. Your dog or cat may be suffering as well.
Pets have similar phobias to owners. Among the most common are their fears of loud noises such as thunderstorms and being separated from their owners. Another is the dislike of being alone.
"That is Abby," said Michele Zeno of Lake Township, Ohio, introducing her dog. "She constantly wants attention."Abby was found, along with her 14 puppies, and taken to the Stark County Humane Society where Zeno got her. Whether or not that has anything to do with her dependency, Zeno isn't sure."Abby has attention-seeking behaviors," she said. "She is always pawing at your legs, biting at your feet, and doing anything else to get your attention. If you scold her, it is OK with her because she succeeded in getting your attention. She also has a lot of anxious nervousness."
NO RATIONAL REASON
What causes these behaviors in pets?
"The same types of anxieties people have can be manifested in both cats and dogs," said Dr. Terry White of Green Animal Medical Center in Lake Township." It is not unusual at all. Anxiety is based upon a number of different factors."
A variety of dogs get very anxious about thunder and lightening storms. White said there have been several studies done to find out why animals have these types of fears, but researchers have yet to come up with a rational explanation.
"This goes along with many anxieties in people," he said. "Most anxiety attacks are not based upon rational reasons. Has that dog been hurt by thunder in the past? Probably not, but for some reason they can become very anxious."
White said animals sense weather patterns before humans. He said that with some clients, the dogs go into such panic attacks that they need medication to help them through it. But, another dog in the same house, or next door, won't be bothered at all."
We really don't know what triggers some animals to become anxious and others not," said White. "But anxiety issues are very common."
Sometimes, he said, anxieties are a learned behavior. If an animal was abused, the pet may be nervous around a person who similarly matches the physical characteristics or voice pattern of the person he had an inappropriate contact with in the past.
"One of the main things we deal with is separation anxiety," he continued. "The pet can manifest this through a number of things. Sometimes there will be changes in behavior (chewing on household items, defecation or urination in inappropriate places). A dog who would never tear up anything in the house, now all of a sudden is left by himself, and you start to see these manifestations."
Fortunately, there are things you can do to help your pet relax, said Dr. Melanie Butera of the Elm Ridge Animal Hospital in Lake Township, Ohio.
"The first thing to do is check with the vet (veterinarian)," she said. "It could be a medical problem and not anxiety, especially if it is a urination problem the pet is having."
Medications such as Clomicalm can be a big help say the doctors. It is not a tranquilizer, but more of a doggie Prozac. However, there are other alternatives, they said, such as talking calmly to the pet or taking it to a day care center where it can make new friends.
John Maurice of Osnaburg Township, Ohio, owner of Dog Help Training and an animal behaviorist, said there is no magic to helping pets through their anxieties. Separation anxiety, he said, is the most common reason animals get anxious, basically because many dogs don't like to be left alone.
"If you let your dog be in charge, he can get very destructive. You need to go back to the fundamentals of leadership at home."
You have to make your pet learn to earn everything, including being petted, said Maurice. If you give your dog attention when he wants it, he will learn to expect it all the time, including when you are gone."
It is important for you to be a good leader to your pet."