Why Irish Wolfhound Puppies Experience Stress and Anxiety

Three Irish Wolfhound laying on the floor



The Irish Wolfhound breed is known to be one of the most calm, dignified, and courageous dogs. They're considered gentle giants, measuring in at 30 inches at the shoulder and weighing up to 120 pounds according to the American Kennel Club. However, like all dogs, these canines can be prone to experiencing stress and anxiety, especially when they're puppies. It hurts us as dog owners to see our furry friend dealing with anxiety and to not know what to do about it. Fear no more! In this article, we're going to go through the many signs and causes of stress and anxiety in Irish Wolfhound puppies. Then, we'll arm you with a variety of strategies to bolster the mental health of your puppy. Let's dive right in!

Irish Wolfhound 101


As the Irish Wolfhound Club of America states, the Irish Wolfhound is a large dog; a rough-coated and shaggy-browed hound. As this breed was originally bred for hunting by sight and chase, most Irish Wolfhounds are exceptionally athletic and require ample exercise. That along with their large size, makes them an unfitting canine for apartment living. The ideal home for these sight hounds would have a large, fenced-in backyard that allows them to gallop around.

Despite their large frame, the Irish Wolfhound is known for its gentle nature. Human companionship lies at the core of their development, but that growth is stunted when their environment and care is not nurturing.

Dog Time further contributes to our description of this sight hound by adding that the Irish Wolfhound is a "gentle giant" who gets along with everyone, including "children, other dogs, and... even cats." Like many dogs, this breed thoroughly enjoys long walks, which are critical to maintaining their physical health. However, the Irish Wolfhound is not the ideal watchdog. He does not bark as an alarm, and although he possesses a great size that could threaten any intruder, this sight hound lacks the aggressive temperament to do so.

Now, let's jump straight into the many reasons your Irish Wolfhound puppy might be feeling stress and anxiety!

Irish Wolfhound puppy sitting on the ground

Fear-Related Anxiety


The first and most frequent cause of stress for any puppy is fear incited by external stimuli. The American Kennel Club states that this is when a canine is introduced to something unfamiliar in their environment, such as "loud noises, strange people, or [even other] animals." Even specific, traumatizing situations such as the "vet's office or car rides" can provoke a young pup into feeling anxiety and stress. What's happening here is that your Irish Wolfhound puppy is reacting to a stimulus that he believes is somehow threatening his safety. As Tractive put it, "fear is a natural instinct that protects us" by making us aware of potential threats that come our way. PetMD expounds on this by adding that fear promotes the "response of the autonomic nervous system," preparing the body for the freeze, fight or flight syndrome. It's an intrinsic part of life that is designed to keep us safe, both in the wild and in our everyday lives. However, this fear becomes a problem in the domesticated lives of canines when it causes debilitating anxiety, even when there is no real threat present.

Signs of Fear-Related Anxiety

Now that we have a basic understanding of what fear-based anxiety is, let's explore the various signs that your dog might be experiencing this.

Canna-Pet writes that a puppy suffering from fear or noise-based anxiety will likely:

  • Stand frozen in place
  • Whine and bark
  • Pace back and forth
  • Pant or salivate excessively
  • Tremble and shake

If you notice your puppy displaying any of these signs, try and pay attention to what external stimulus might have caused this. Look to eliminate that stimulus to help your pup's mental illness.

Separation Anxiety


The next cause of stress and anxiety in Irish Wolfhound puppies is something that plagues all dog breeds, regardless of age: separation anxiety. A study conducted by CertaPet concluded that a whopping 76% of dogs suffer from separation anxiety! So, what exactly is separation anxiety in dogs? Essentially, it's the rise of stress and anxiety in a canine when he is separated from the person that he's most attached. When experiencing separation anxiety, your puppy develops a sort of co-dependence to your presence; when that presence is taken away, the puppy is lost. They feel as though a part of themselves has left, and this quickly spirals into feelings of stress and anxiety. As Patricia McConnell told the American Kennel Club, we can think of separation anxiety as the canine "equivalent of a panic attack." Let's delve into some of the telltale signs that your puppy is suffering from separation anxiety.

Irish Wolfhound sitting in grass field

Anxious Behavior As You Leave

The first anxious behavior that indicates separation anxiety in your Irish Wolfhound puppy is how they react when they notice you're about to leave the house. Like many dogs, these sight hounds are smart. Their association and reasoning skills are effective, and that helps them understand when certain things are about to happen. When they smell their food, they know it's dinnertime. If they see their leash, they get ready for a walk. In the same way, when your canine hears your keys or sees you putting on your shoes, they understand that you are about to leave the house. If they're a victim of separation anxiety, this is when that anxious behavior will kick in.

As the American Kennel Club asserts, one of these anxious behaviors is "pacing, whining, or trembling" as you prepare to leave the house. Pay attention to your puppy's body language as you're walking out. They may keep pawing at your legs to urge you to stay, or start pacing around the house as if they don't know where to go. Each of these behaviors is indicative of an anxious dog who is likely suffering from separation anxiety. As we mentioned, your puppy has developed an ultra-attachment to you. When you leave, it's like taking away their security blanket. As such, it's quite understandable why a canine would display these behaviors as you're leaving.

Destructive Behavior While You're Gone

The next warning sign that your Irish wolfhound puppy is dealing with separation anxiety is destructive behavior while you're gone. When you return home, if the furniture is chewed on, the trashcan has been emptied onto the floor, and there are socks everywhere, then it's quite possible that your furry friend is suffering from separation anxiety in your absence. Your dog strongly relies on your presence for comfort and security throughout the day, especially in their puppy years. When you leave, though, that layer of security is gone and inevitably causes anxious and stressed feelings to build up in your pup. They don't know how to deal with this energy, so they end up throwing themselves into destructive behavior.

A corollary symptom of destructive behavior is urinating and defecating around the house. It's likely that you took your puppy out to use the restroom before leaving them alone, yet for some reason you still return to a house full of pee and poop. Why does this occur? Let's look at it from a biological lens. When anxiety wells up in your canine, their body engages in a fight-or-flight response that produces an upsurge of adrenaline. Dr. Turnera Croom told Bustle that although the adrenaline helps your dog escape from their anxious mindset, it also "[relaxes] the bladder and anal sphincter muscles, allowing waste to release."

Before labeling torn up furniture and potty accidents as symptoms of anxiety disorders, consider a few things. Is your pup fully potty-trained? Have they been thoroughly house-trained? Remember, they are just puppies. These are adult behaviors that take time to learn. One of the best ways to confirm what's really going on is to videotape your dog while you're out of the house.

owner petting his Irish Wolfhound

Barking and Howling While You're Away

The final telltale signal of separation anxiety in your Irish Wolfhound puppy is barking and howling while you're gone. According to Assisi Animal Health, howling is one of the most common signs of separation anxiety among canines. If you have neighbors complaining of your dog barking and howling for hours throughout the day, it might signify a struggle with stress and anxiety. However, barking and howling are also your dog's primary means of communicating with the world, so vocalization alone is not a surefire sign that your dog has this mental illness. As per the American Kennel Club, when howling is accompanied by another one of the aforementioned signs, then it's likely your dog does have separation anxiety.

Your dog howls and barks because they feel the need to express their discomfort to the world, in hopes of getting someone's attention. For many dogs, it's a compulsive reaction to howl and bark when they're feeling anxious. They desperately need someone to notice their anxiety.

Strategies to Combat Stress and Anxiety


Now that we've familiarized ourselves with the two primary causes of stress and anxiety in Irish Wolfhound puppies, let's move on to how we can help. There are a variety of ways you can approach the challenge of mental illness with your canine. In this article, we're going to prepare you with two outdoor and two indoor methods to alleviate stress and anxiety in your pup. Let's get into it!

Irish Wolfhound laying on floor with sad look in it's face

Outdoor Strategy #1: Visit the Dog Park


The first way you can help your Irish Wolfhound puppy overcome their negative feelings is to take a trip to your local dog park! This is a powerful way to displace those anxious and stressful feelings with positive stimulation and engagement. As the Reed Animal Hospital put it, socialization teaches your dog to react to the world around them in a healthy way, "without fear or aggression." A big part of a puppy's development is shaping their temperament into a well-rounded part of their personality. Without exposure to unfamiliar stimuli, your puppy is far more prone to experiencing fear-related anxiety. By taking them to the park, letting them interact with other dogs and humans, and otherwise promoting their interaction with the outside world, you help your puppy build a greater tolerance for unknown things that might show up in their everyday life. Then, the next time an unfamiliar external stimulus appears in their environment, they'll have developed a resistance to immediately responding with fear.

Here's how you can plan a successful trip to the dog park. Grab your dog's leash, and collar or harness. Take along a few of their favorite toys or balls to play with at the park. While some dog parks offer canine-friendly water stations, yours may not. Make sure you pack some water and a bowl in the likely case that your puppy gets thirsty. Also take some poop bags with you for when your furry friend needs to use the restroom! Check the weather and your local dog park hours to plan your trip on a sunny day that the park is open. Once you arrive, let your puppy free! Make sure you're keeping an eye on them as they play with others to ensure they don't get themselves into any trouble.

Irish Wolfhound puppies playing together in park

Outdoor Strategy #2: Go Sunbathing With Your Puppy


The next outdoor strategy to help battle feelings of stress and anxiety in your Irish Wolfhound puppy is to go sunbathing with them! It's a basic fact that mental illness is biologically caused by an imbalance in chemicals in the brain. This same logic applies to your canine, too. There are either too few or too many of a certain neurotransmitter in your dog's brain that are thwarting their mental health. One of these neurotransmitters is called serotonin, and it is often referred to as the feel-good chemical, says the Cleveland Clinic. They further state that normal serotonin levels help you "feel more focused, emotionally stable, happier and calmer," while low levels can cause depression and anxiety. When your dog is suffering from stress or anxiety, it's highly possible that it's because their serotonin levels are out of wack! That's why sunbathing is the perfect outdoor activity to alleviate this. According to Positive Pets Boise, exposure to sun rays actually "stimulates the production of serotonin in... your furry friend!"

Here's how you can safely sunbath with your canine. Find a spot in the grass that is facing direct sunlight, and put down something comfortable for your dog to lay on. We recommend using a Calming Cuddle Bed! It features premium joint support, and is made from 100% pet-safe material. It's totally breathable, and offers cooling technology that regulates your pup's body heat. Our bed also absorbs weight and transfers pressure away from key areas to provide optimal support for your dog's hips and ligaments. Once your pup is comfy, begin the relaxation! Try and limit your sun time to one hour, as any longer puts your dog's skin at risk.

woman hugging her Irish Wolfhound

Indoor Strategy #1: Give Your Puppy a Dog Puzzle


The first indoor activity that will help battle your puppy's mental health issues is targeted at dealing with separation anxiety: giving your dog a puzzle! Interactive dog puzzles are mechanical toys that are made up of various simple mechanisms for your puppy to engage. These include buttons, sliding panels, and other moving parts. When the canine interacts with the correct mechanism, a treat is released! This solution is both simple and effective. We know that separation anxiety is caused by being alone and unengaged; that's what prompts the destructive behavior. By offering your puppy a positive outlet to occupy their mind, it transfers your dog's idle attention towards something constructive instead. They are no longer plagued with thoughts of stress and anxiety because they have something more important to do!

For even more relaxation, fill the dog puzzle with Calming Zen Chews! They are the ideal therapeutic snack for your dog to enjoy. Zen Chews feature all-natural and pet-safe calming agents such as Chamomile, L-Theanine, and L-Tryptophan. These work in concert to lower the stress and anxiety levels in your dog and produce a calm state of mind.

Indoor Strategy #2: Take a Nap with Your Pup


The final indoor strategy that can help battle your puppy's stress and anxiety is taking a nap with them! As we saw with sunbathing, sometimes mental issues are caused by chemical imbalances. Thus, we should aim to use strategies that work to strengthen the chemical makeup in our dog's brain! Physical touch does this well, as it causes a release of oxytocin in your dog's body. This study confirms that oxytocin - also known as the love drug - plays a central role in regulating anxiety, mood, and stress. By napping with your furry friend, you promote this positive reaction to occur for an extended period of time.

Wrapping Up


Raising an Irish Wolfhound puppy into a well-matured adult can be a fun, exciting, and fulfilling experience. However, that experience is threatened when our furry friends deal with stress and anxiety. That's why knowing the root causes of these mental health issues is critical; in younger dogs, it might be fear-related stress or separation anxiety. In either case, once you've identified the problem, the burden falls on you as the dog owner to take action. That's why we included a few effective strategies to help you combat stress and anxiety in your canine: socializing your pup, sunbathing with them, offering them a dog puzzles, and napping with them. Try each one and see how your Irish Wolfhound responds! Every canine is different, so be patient and work with yours to overcome their stress and anxiety feelings together.

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