Anxiety in dogs is a sign of intelligence


Stephani Bradley

Dog experts claimed anxiety in dogs is a sign of emotional intelligence.

When we walk down the street and pass someone who has a dog, it is almost a given to want to pet, stare or even compliment the furry companion. Sometimes, the pet will find you just as interesting and will request to be pet. This is a blessed time, the type of interactions that make a day. You wonder why you were the chosen one, destined to pet this wonderful creature on this wonderful day. You have to ask yourself, “Do they know?” Does this intelligent, wonderful creature understand that you were having a bad day, desperately in need of comfort. Are dogs more intelligent than humans?

Well, when it comes to such a philosophical question, we often find ourselves in over our heads. Let’s start simple; I believe dogs are more intelligent than we give them credit for. The reason why I believe dogs are intelligent, intuitive creatures is because of the obvious, proven anxiety they experience.

Anxiety is a disorder seen best in humans, defined by a set of symptoms including but not limited to: extreme feelings of fear or worry and dread for everyday life. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America website, these feelings are often uncontrollable, excessive and irrational, interfering with the victims daily life and making it extremely hard to cope.

Anxiety in dogs is often characterized by aggression, drolling, depression, destructive behavior and compulsive behavior. On the American Kennel Club website, they claim anxiety in dogs often comes from fear, separation and aging. Ways to treat an anxious dog include common tactics such as training with counter conditioning, changing the way an animal associates things, and using the reward system to change the negative emotions to positive, such as anxiety with fireworks, loud noises or eating.

Anxiety in humans is often treated similarly, but individually. Therapy, medicine, CBD and many other methods are always surfacing to best treat anxiety, but there is no true cure. Anxiety, both in humans and dogs is stemming from an innate, psychological malfunction in the brain, the constant over awareness of yourself and your surroundings.

When a dog is anxious, it is afraid of irrational things, stemming from their over awareness of that such thing. Oftentimes, anxiety is placed on the scale of autism, alongside many other common disorders. Anytime the brain functions abnormally, it is called atypical, in contrast to the term neurotypical.

The proof that dogs experience anxiety, depression and other mental abnormalities proves that animals, dogs in specific, have the ability to think for themselves and be aware of themselves.

The classic joke seen on America’s Funniest home videos is to put your pet in front of a mirror and see what they do. Ignoring the common case of animals barking, biting, scratching or jumping at the mirror thinking the reflection is another animal is common, but there have been many accounts of animals understanding that the reflection is their own. The understanding that they exist with other conscious animals is proof enough that animals are intelligent, just as much if not more than humans.

Anxiety is only one piece of the puzzle we have for our favorite furry companions.

Next time you see an animal cowering in fear of the fireworks, you can comfort them with the knowledge that they understand fear, happiness, pain and sadness just as well as you. Then you can secretly ask the question we all do, “Can you talk?”