Photo of White Peekapoo dog

Signs Your Peekapoo is Anxious and How to Help

Introduction

 One thing that all pet owners hate is when their dog faces anxiety. Our pet parent instinct just can't handle the fact that our beloved puppy is dealing with anxiety. We want to do everything in our power to help, but sometimes we just don't know where to start. One breed that particularly falls victim to mental health problems is the Peekapoo. This breed is a cross between the Pekingese and the Poodle breeds; it stands at about 11 inches at the shoulder and can weigh up to 20 pounds. In this blog post, we're going to explore key signs that your Peekapoo puppy is feeling anxious. Then, we'll dive into three outdoor and three indoor strategies to help combat their anxiety and maximize their comfort. Let's get started!

pekingese dog

Anxious Dog Sign #1: Body Language

The first and most diverse signal that your Peekapoo is feeling anxious or stressed can be found through their body language. Body language is a significant indicator of emotion, mood, and current temperament in humans and animals alike. The posture, positioning, stance, and facial expressions of a subject can give you much insight into how that subject is feeling. This applies directly to canines, too. Let's go around the different key parts of body language that you need to look for in your dog.

Your Dog's Tail

The first major anxiety zone in your dog's body language is found in their tail. Dog's tails have a keen ability to "interpret the dog's emotions and intentions", says the American Kennel Club. The speed, direction, and height of your dog's tail all play a factor in determining how they feel. Let's go through the different tail variables.

Doctor holding her Peekapoo

The faster the wag, the more aroused your dog is, just like when your dog is meeting you. When the tail is wagging to the right, it could indicate your dog is feeling positive about something; if it's wagging to the left, that could mean he's feeling negative about something

Finally, the position of your dog's tail relative to the ground can play a role in how they feel. If their tail is pointing to the ground or tucked between their legs, this is the surefire sign that your Peekapoo puppy is experiencing anxiety at the time. Contrastingly, if your dog's tail is held up high and proud, it means they're feeling assertive and confident.

Your Dog's Facial Expressions

The next critical area of your dog's body that could signify that they are feeling anxious or stressed is their face. These are visual cues that can directly indicate certain emotions, but it's important that you know which ones to look out for.

The first part of their face to pay attention to is their ears. According to Spruce Pets, a leading pet care company, "the position of your dog's ears can change based on their emotions." A dog's ears go back when they are feeling nervous, or anxious. They appear to be pinned to the side of their head, instead of naturally resting as they usually do. This could also be a sign that your dog is feeling fearful or wary about something.

Peekapoo with facial expression

Another essential facial cue that you should look out for is in your dog's eyes. It's called whale eye. This is when you can "see the whites of [your dog's] eyes," says Dr. Marty. He adds that it happens when your dog is "looking away with their face and making eye contact with their eyes." According to him, whale eye happens when your Peekapoo puppy feels uncomfortable, anxious, or stressed. Another eye-related facial cue is when your dog is avoiding eye contact with you. The American Kennel Club states that this means "the pup is reacting to your voice and body language and thinks something must be wrong."

Here are a couple more miscellaneous facial signals that can indicate an anxious dog. If your dog is excessively yawning or licking their lips, this may not just mean they are tired or hungry. Sometimes, these facial cues are representative of an anxiety-ridden dog. Another one of these facial signals is excessive drooling.

Anxious Dog Sign #2: Separation Anxiety

One subset category of anxiety that appears in many canines is separation anxiety. It's just as troubling as its counterpart but brings along with it a different set of signs and symptoms to look out for. According to People.com, over 50% of pet parents believe their dog suffers from separation anxiety. That's a lot of anxious dogs! WebMD's pet health center asserted that separation anxiety happens when "a dog that's hyper-attached to their owner gets super-stressed when left alone" for a long period of time. The attachment is so strong that when the pet owner leaves, the dog feels like a part of them is missing. It's a serious condition that requires patience and effort to overcome. Let's explore some of the telltale symptoms of separation anxiety.

Destructive Behavior When You're Gone

The first alarming signal that your Peekapoo puppy might be facing separation anxiety is destructive behavior. If the house is destroyed when you return, there are socks everywhere, and furniture has been chewed, then it's likely your puppy is facing a tough battle while you're out of the house. That same attachment they have to you is something that your dog heavily relies on for comfort during the day. When you leave, their security blanket is gone and that causes anxiety to swell up in your dog. They don't know where to direct that anxious energy, so they end up resorting to destructive behavior.

Dogs making a mess

Another facet of this destructive behavior can be urinating or defecating in the house. Even if your dog has just gone outside before you leave, you may still end up returning home to a house littered with pee and poop. Why does this happen? What does it have to do with separation anxiety? When your dog is anxious, a fight-or-flight response is produced. During this response, more adrenaline is made in their bodies. Dr. Turnera Croom told Bustle that, while this allows the dog to get out of that feeling, it also "[relaxes] the bladder and anal sphincter muscles, allowing waste to release."

Anxious Behavior As You're Leaving

The next worrying symptom of a dog experiencing separation anxiety is anxious and stressed behavior as you're getting ready to leave the house. Dogs are pretty smart, and they can tell when certain things are about to happen. When they see a leash, they know it's time for a walk. When they smell their food, they know it's time to eat. That's why when your dog hears the keys, they know you're about to leave the house. If they are suffering from separation anxiety, this is when it will kick in.

You'll see your dog pacing around the house as you grab the keys. They may be trembling beside you as you're walking to the door. They may keep pawing at your legs, urging you not to leave. All of these behaviors are indicative of a dog who is facing separation anxiety. As we mentioned before, your dog has formed an ultra-strong attachment to you. When you leave, that attachment is threatened and your dog feels anxiety.

Barking and Whining While You're Gone

Another telltale symptom of separation anxiety is excessive barking or whining while you're gone. According to Assisi Animal Health, this is one of the most common signs of separation anxiety amongst canines. In mild cases, dogs will vocalize continuously for up to 15 minutes after their owner leaves; you might have neighbors complain to you once you return home. In more severe cases, the dog will whine or bark for longer than 15 minutes or will vocalize intermittently and settle down between episodes.

Peekapoo standing facing camera

In any case, the reason your dog is doing this is because they want to express their discomfort and get some attention. It's an almost compulsive behavior in dogs to whine and bark when they are anxious. They need someone to hear their agony, hoping that someone will be you.

Outdoor Strategy #1: Go Hiking With Your Peekapoo

The first outdoor activity that can help your Peekapoo overcome their anxiety is hiking. Unlike walks, hiking provides your canine with a scenic environment to take in while they get their exercise. Let's examine why hiking is such a beneficial activity for your dog's mental and physical health.

The primary advantage of hiking is that it helps keep your dog "mentally balanced." Instead of laying down alone while building up anxiety, your dog gets the opportunity to do something engaging and interactive. Hiking reduced their stress, anxiety, and hyperactivity by increasing serotonin levels in the brain. This serves to stabilize your puppy and refresh their mental health. The beautiful, natural setting of a hike will bring about peace within your Peekapoo, eliminating any sense of stress or anxiety they might have had.

Another reason hiking combats against anxiety is because it strengthens the bond between pet and pet parent. The relationship you have with your Peekapoo gets furthered as you navigate the terrain and climb mountains together. The thrill and achievement of doing something together builds your bond, and that serves to fight against any potential anxiety.

Here is how to go hiking with your Peekapoo puppy. Go online and search for local trails, national parks, and other hike-able terrains near your area. If you're willing to travel, there are some beautiful national parks in nearly every state, and almost all of them allow pets on trails. Once you've found a suitable hiking location, get some supplies together. You'll need a portable bowl, some water for you and your pup, their collar and leash, and maybe some food if you'd like. Dress comfortably and think about getting a harness so your canine is comfy too. Head on over to your hike and get started!

Outdoor Strategy #2: Go to the Dog Park

The next outdoor strategy that will help your Peekapoo puppy overcome their anxiety is a trip to the dog park. This is a surefire way to get your puppy out of their anxiety and into a positive state of mind. Let's take a closer look at why socialization might be the solution to your dog's anxiety. We all know that socialization is a critical part of any dog's development. They need to be exposed to a variety of environments to ensure a well-rounded temperament is raised. However, socializing your puppy can actually help fight their anxiety! A veterinarian in Texas supports the conclusion that socializing your dog "helps maintain lower stress levels." By playing with other dogs and expending their energy, your canine will have forgotten all about their anxiety and will be enjoying their day.

Peekapoo playing with a ball in grass

Here's how to plan for a successful trip to the dog park. Get your dog's leash, collar, or harness. Grab a few of their favorite balls or toys to play with at the dog park. Pack some water, treats, and a bowl in case your puppy gets thirsty or hungry. It might be a good idea to pack some poop bags for when your dog chooses to go to the little dog's room. Search online for local dog parks, and check to see when they're open. Make sure the weather is okay and plan to go on a nice, sunny day. Once you get to the park, let your puppy off their leash to go meet their friends. Keep a close eye on them to make sure they're not getting into any trouble.

Outdoor Strategy #3: Set Up a Treasure Hunt

The final outdoor activity that you can use to fight against your Peekapoo puppy's anxiety is setting up a treasure hunt. This is an interactive activity where you hide several treats around a maze of objects, and your dog is then tasked with finding each treat using just his nose. It's a fun and enjoyable game that will not only stimulate your dog's mental and physical capacity but will also reward him with treats. Let's look at why a treasure hunt is so effective against symptoms of stress and anxiety.

A treasure hunt is essentially glorified scent work. Scent work, or nose work, is when a dog is tasked with finding objects and treats using only their sense of smell. It's not only an activity for K9 police dogs, however. The average dog can benefit greatly from doing scent work. After an intense session of scent work, "the dog will have a sense of peace." This sense of peace serves to minimize feelings of stress and anxiety, and tire the dog out into a relaxed state.

Here is how to set up a treasure hunt for your dog. Get several of your dog's favorite treats. We recommend our Calming Zen Chews; they're ultra-relaxing. They feature natural and pet-safe calming agents, such as Chamomile, L-Theanine, and L-Tryptophan. These work to bring comfort to your canine via a tasty treat. Find an open space and litter it with obstacles. These can be objects of any nature - be creative! Now, scatter the treats throughout the area. Once it's set up, let your dog go! They'll smell the treats, and gravitate towards them. make sure to shower your dog with love once they find all of them.

Indoor Strategy #1: Train Calm Behavior

The first indoor activity that can help your Peekapoo overcome their anxiety is almost a cheat code for us pet parents. It's training calm behavior to become a command in your Peekapoo. Believe it or not, this is possible! While it takes some time, effort, and patience, you can train your dog to fall into a calm and peaceful state via positive reinforcement and shaping. Let's look at one way to teach your dog calm behavior.

The easiest approach to training this behavior is spontaneously catching your dog in the act. When you notice your puppy displaying behavior that you consider to be calm, use your clicker and treat your dog to something tasty. This will help them associate the calm behavior with a positive reward like a treat. Then, as they start exhibiting this behavior more and more often, begin to add a cue word just before the response. As your dog is about to relax and lay down, say the cue word so they hear it. Once the response happens, then administer positive reinforcement and your dog will strengthen that behavior. Over time, your dog will be able to settle and calm down on command.

Indoor Strategy #2: Play the Which Hand Game

The next indoor strategy to fight your Peekapoo's stress and anxiety is another scent work-based game: the which hand game! This is a rewarding game that engages your puppy in something positive and meaningful instead of letting them sit idle and grow anxious. Here are two reasons why this game is so effective at battling anxiety. First, the which hand game offers your canine a fun outlet of "mental stimulation." Those anxious energies are usually present because your dog has nothing to do, i.e separation anxiety. By having them take part in something productive, those negative feelings are replaced with positive reinforcement and peace. The next benefit of this game is that it "builds your dog's confidence." One of the main reasons why dogs are fearful and anxious is because of the lack confidence in themselves. This game strengthens that confidence and prepares your Peekapoo for life.

To play the which hand game, all you'll need is a few treats and your Peekapoo puppy! Put a treat in one of your hands and then close both fists. Show them both to your dog, and allow them to smell each hand individually. Once they begin to show an interest in a certain hand, open it. If it's correct, reward your puppy with a treat and some love!

Indoor Strategy #3: Take a Nap With Your Peekapoo

The final indoor activity that can help your dog alleviate their symptoms of stress and anxiety is a nap. That's right! Taking a nap with your canine can chemically help both of you boost your mental health! Let's take a look at how this works. Sleeping with your dog releases the chemical oxytocin in both of your bodies; this is the chemical that "reduces stress and elevates your mood." This serves to combat anxious feelings and regulate your dog's mental health. This effect also works in reverse, as "74% of pet owners report improvement in their mental health from pet ownership." This is commonly known as the pet-effect.

Conclusion

There are two steps to effectively overcoming dog anxiety: recognition and treatment. The first half of this article was dedicated to educating you on the signs of anxiety, so that you can recognize it as soon as it appears. The second half of this piece focused on arming you with treatment options, so that you can truly help your canine. What was your favorite strategy? Was there one we missed? Let us know!

Back to blog