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Why Your Italian Mastiff Experiences Anxiety

There are many reasons your Italian Mastiff experiences anxiety. Generally, anxiety is the body’s natural emotional response to fear. It’s a feeling of imminent fear or apprehension. Also, anxiety can be an emotional response to stress or an unpleasant situation. Although humans are susceptible to anxiety, animals, including dogs, also experience anxiety in different situations.

While one person can define dog anxiety as the reaction to sudden loud sounds like fireworks, others may see it as fear of strange people or situations. An Italian Mastiff might experience anxiety in an enclosed place or when it’s alone. Additionally, anxiety in dogs can be caused by accidents, huge crowds, thunderstorms, and fireworks. Regardless, anxiety is a coping mechanism for Italian Mastiffs when faced with a threat or fearful situation.

Anxiety is uncomfortable and overwhelming, but it is a healthy reaction typical of every dog. Although uneasiness affects all breeds of dogs, it may affect each dog differently, including Italian Mastiffs. This dog is a special breed of dog known for companionship and protection.

An Italian Mastiff's average lifespan is 10 - 12 years. When these dogs experience constant stress, it can lead to anxiety disorder with behavioral issues. The condition usually starts as a mild howling, which they use for regular communication towards other animals before extreme aggression to humans and other animals.

So, why does an Italian Mastiff experiences anxiety? An Italian Mastiff may experience stress because of fear, separation, aging, separation, and fear. Awareness of why your Italian Mastiff experiences anxiety might help you rejuvenate your dog’s energy and help you manage it.

In other words, you must know the common reasons your Italian Mastiff experiences tension to keep it comfortable and secure. For example, you can place your Italian Mastiff on a Calming Cuddle Bed to reduce stress, anxiety, and fear when you leave your house. Also, you can give your dog calming Zen Chews, which can help your dogs relax when they feel stressed and anxious.

To know why your Italian Mastiff experiences anxiety, keep reading this article to find out everything about your Italian Mastiff anxiety.

Examples of Anxiety in Italian Mastiffs

Anxiety in Italian Mastiffs manifests in different ways. It usually starts gradually before progressing to extreme behaviors. In other words, Italian Mastiffs have some unusual conduct that is considered normal within the range of a dog’s age, size, and breed.

Also, certain behaviors are a bit beyond the range of what an owner might consider normal. These attitudes are usually challenging and uncomfortable to manage for the owner. The third category of animals’ behavior is abnormal. These happen due to some psychological or emotional problems of the dog. The owner needs to seek help from dog therapists or veterinarians to manage the behavior problem in such a situation.

Despite the close relationship between man and dog, it cannot be easy to communicate with them. Undoubtedly, If you suspect your dog might have anxiety, It is best to pay attention to some signs and symptoms of anxiety in your Italian Mastiffs.

The following are the examples of anxiety in Italian Mastiffs according to American Kennel Club: aggression, panting, urinating and defecating inside the house, destructive behavior, drooling excessively, excessive howling or barking, depression, random pacing, restlessness, compulsive behaviors, digging, shivering, self-harm, uneasiness, and hiding.

Other behavioral signs such as lip licking, lifting a paw, looking away, and showing whites of the eye can be mild signs of anxiety. These behaviors are usually precursors to enhanced anxiety symptoms and signs. These anxiety signs may occur occasionally, but others can become recurrent over time, resulting in severe issues. Of all the symptoms of anxiety in Italian Mastiffs, the most dangerous or worrying sign is aggression. The other common signs include panting, defecating, and urinating in the house.

Aggression

Aggression is a hostile or destructive behavior towards a person or an animal. Italian Mastiff aggression can be direct or indirect toward people or other animals. Indirect aggression often happens when a person comes between the dog and the cause of the dog’s aggression, such as another animal. Direct aggression is when the dog barks or howls at a person. These aggressive behaviors can lead to unpleasant situations for humans and dogs.

It’s vital to determine the root of aggression before treating or managing it. Aggression in Italian Mastiff can be due to territory demarcation to other animals, depression, loneliness, fear, pain, frustration, prey drive, or pain. If the guardian doesn't recognize these symptoms, you may push your Italian Mastiff to the extreme. That makes it more challenging to manage aggression except with the help of professionals.

Meanwhile, there are certain behaviors of Italian Mastiffs that look like aggression. When owners cannot differentiate between harmless behaviors and aggressive behaviors, it can lead to mismanagement. Also, it may inadvertently make the guardian push the dog to the extreme. The following tendencies indicate some typical dog behaviors similar to aggression.

Rough play

Rough play between dogs is considered normal as it helps them socialize. It can be intense or loud, but owners should encourage it as long as the dogs enjoy it and don’t inflict injuries on themselves.

Physical discomfort

Sometimes, a dog may give a soft howling or barking sound consistently. It may also roll over on its stomach, cower, and whimper or snap. An Italian Mastiff that suddenly shows these signs may be ill or in severe pain. You should be wary, especially if these acts are unexpected. The solution is to visit a veterinarian with your Italian Mastiff.

Mouthing

Mouthing in dogs is typical behavior, although dogs might bite out of fear or aggression. The standard mouthing in Italian Mastiffs is how they interact with people and their fellow dogs. When puppies play, for instance, they may nip harder, but it is not as painful as an aggressive bite. That isn’t a sign of aggression but a sign of stimulation.

Panting

Panting is generally normal among dog breeds, including Italian Mastiffs. You might have noticed your dog pant in the past due to rough play or vigorous activity like running. When your dog lies down after this, it means it needs a break and will bounce back to life soon enough. However, constantly gasping for air, especially without doing anything, can be a sign of anxiety. It is one of the first symptoms of a fearful dog. Things that can cause excessive panting in your Italian dog include pain, respiratory disease, allergic reaction, phobia, and heatstroke.

Urinating and Defecating

Pet owners often complain of their Italian Mastiff urinating and defecating annoyingly around the house. Even though the first assumption of many outsiders is that the owner didn’t give the dog the proper home training, it is one of the common signs of anxiety in Italian Mastiff.

Anxious dogs frustrate themselves up to the point that they defecate or urinate in the house even when they know the right thing to do. These undesirable actions are unpleasant for owners, involving coming home to destroyed properties or a stinking house. It also happens when you leave your dog alone for a long time.

Causes of Anxiety in Italian Mastiffs

Italian Mastiffs do not start undesirable behaviors out of the blue. According to Merck Veterinary Manual, if your Italian Mastiff has started exhibiting some strange behaviors, there are many causes for it. With all that being said, the common causes of anxiety in Italian Mastiffs include separation anxiety, fear of unfamiliar people, phobias, aging, and other fear-related signs.

Phobia

Phobias in Italian Mastiffs involve sudden and abnormal behaviors that lead to panic and fearful behaviors. Italian Mastiffs learn most fearful reactions from different devastating events. Phobias often develop over time in Italian Mastiffs with constant exposure to a particular event.

According to American Kennel Club, phobias result from previous, often repeated experiences, but it takes just one incident for dogs to seal their reaction to fearful events, resulting in phobia. Examples of dog phobias include storms, thunderstorms, sound, injection, darkening sky, and fear of strangers.

When an Italian Mastiff is exposed to a previously experienced frightening situation, it may pace, whine, bark, or hide. Once your Italian Mastiff experiences a phobic event, any similar situation may generate some abnormals reaction. However, you can use Calming Spray to reduce the effect of this stress on them.

Since phobias are learned over time, Italian Mastiffs can unlearn them with proper management and control. Also, constant exposure to previous fearful events, phobias may reduce, increase or remain at the same level. Meanwhile, pet owners’ responses to dogs’ phobias might increase the problem by encouraging or adding to the reaction.

For instance, a guardian might punish the dog for pacing around or getting angry by shouting. These actions have the effect of aggravating the behaviors inadvertently. When you tolerate your dog’s phobias for too long, they can lead to intense anxiety.

Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety occurs when a dog experiences extreme distress and loneliness when they are separated from their owners. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), Separation anxiety is one of the common complaints of pet owners. It occurs when dogs become angry because of separation from their guardians or owners.

Often, there is a strong relationship or attachment between the dog and the owners or guardians. Signs and symptoms of separation anxiety are extreme in Italian Mastiff. These may include violent escape attempts and the destruction of household items like furniture, foot mats, and pillows.

Italian Mastiffs exhibiting separation anxiety might also defecate indiscriminately, urinate, dig, bark, howl, and chew. When that happens, some people misconstrue it to mean lack of house manners. Some dogs become suddenly apprehensive when their guardians prepare to leave, while others seem depressed and sad. Some Italian Mastiffs might even try to prevent their guardians from leaving.

When a guardian eventually leaves an Italian Mastiff suffering from separation anxiety, the dog will begin to howl or bark and display some undesirable behaviors within a short time of being alone. When the guardian returns from their journey, it acts overly excited as if it’s been years they have gone.

When treating your Italian Mastiffs with separation anxiety, the best is to know the root or underlying cause of the dog’s anxiety. When your Italian Mastiff shows signs of separation anxiety, it’s because it finds it hard to stay alone. So, you can start the treatment by teaching it how to enjoy and survive being alone. That may include allowing the dog to enjoy time alone playing in the sun.

Fear of Unfamiliar People

Another reason your Italian Mastiff might exhibit anxiety is meeting unfamiliar people, especially those who look strange or smell different than those the dog sees very often. Many dogs generally show signs of stress when they see people for the first time. However, when your dog becomes excessively aggressive towards strangers even when you are there, it calls for concern.

In the case of unfamiliar people, the individuals involved appear like an intruder to the dog, and it may activate its coping mechanism to deal with the situation. This behavior might include mild howling at the person. The dog might attempt to flee, hide behind curtains or any enclosed place. When you notice the sign, your dog is trying to tell the stranger that, “I don’t know you, so don’t come close to me.” Other symptoms of fear of strangers include shaking, shutting down, rolling over, lowering head, and staring.

Italian Mastiffs also exhibit fear of strangers by displaying aggressive behavior towards the strangers. For instance, they may bark or howl at unfamiliar people repeatedly. Other behaviors are showing teeth, charging at the stranger, growling, biting, snapping.

Fear of strangers, according to a study, is caused by genetics. Unpleasant experiences with strangers in the past can also make your Italian Mastiff exhibit some anxiety behavior. By teaching your dog behavior modification calmly, you can transform it into a people-lover and increase his confidence.

Aging

Anxiety disorders sometimes occur due to a decline in their age. That is often irreversible as aging is a natural phenomenon in all living things. Anxiety in older Italian Mastiffs is from the malfunction of many body organs.

Aging is usually associated with cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS). Veterinarians use the acronym DISHAA (disorientation, interactions, sleep-wake cycles, house soiling, and activity changes) to diagnose cognitive dysfunction syndrome in dogs. Other signs of aging include renal failure, pain, sensory decline, endocrine disorders, hypertension, and other diseases. If a dog loses vision at old age, it may exhibit fearful behaviors if it can’t sense the person coming.

In addition, anxiety and agitation are also parts of the symptoms of aging in Italian Mastiff. Its effects - confusion and fear - in senior dogs are similar to the early signs of Alzheimer’s disease in humans. Guardians and owners must recognize these signs when they show up to take proactive measures or inform the veterinarian in asking owners about behavior at each visit.

Other Fear-Related Anxiety

Your Italian Mastiff can exhibit anxiety in response to the fear of things or different situations. For example, loud noises, animals, strange items, or places can trigger some fear in your dog. Similarly, specific conditions, such as being in a car for the first time, the vet’s office, the woods, or on grass, can make your dog agitate. However, reactions to these stimuli are usually brief but may extend in anxious dogs.

For example, your Italian Mastiff may howl to other animals to declare their presence. It signals that they own the place and that any transgression from outside will result in a threat. The coping mechanism of howling is a way to keep predators away. Also, your Italian Mastiff may react to loud sounds, thunder, such as sirens, ambulances, music sounds, or musical instruments.

Undoubtedly, one of the leading causes of anxiety in Italian Mastiffs is separation anxiety. Many studies and research have backed up this claim. According to the American Kennel Club, about 14% of dogs experience separation anxiety.

In a 2020 study published in Scientific Reports, researchers studied 1300 pet dogs and found 72.5 percent with anxiety symptoms. Noise sensitivity appears to be the most common anxiety trait, with 32% of dogs showing noise fears. Fear comes second with about 29%, and separation anxiety symptoms and aggression were more prevalent with 5% and 14%, respectively.

Furthermore, another study has shown that poor treatment of dogs during training or harsh training methods can increase the dog’s aggression by 2.9 times more than an adequately corrected dog. It also led to an increased risk of aggression to strange people coming to the dog’s household for the first time.

Conclusion

Dog anxiety is a natural reaction to a fearful or threatening event. The Italian Mastiff is a dog breed known for its guardian quality and protection, thanks to its enormous size. However, it experiences anxiety like any other dog.

Anxiety can be unpleasant for both the Italian Mastiff and the owner. Imagine your dog making a horrible noise at night. Or picture yourself coming to a messed up or stinky home. That can be overwhelming and devastating. Some of the anxiety symptoms of Italian Mastiffs may include fear, aggression, destructive behavior, panting, cowering, howling, barking, etc.

One important thing to know is that anxiety behaviors don’t occur on their own. The common causes of your Italian Mastiff anxiety might be any pain, phobia, aging, fear, separation anxiety, and fear of strange places or individuals.

The key to helping your Italian Mastiff with its anxiety issue is to understand its root causes. That will help you take the proper steps so that you can sleep well at night, and come back to a clean home. Most of all, it will help your Italian Mastiff with its rejuvenation!