My name is Kamala, and Mortimer, or ‘Morty’ to his friends, is our very lovely but very anxious big dog. Morty is a Collie cross and is about 10 years old now. He came to live with us when his old family moved to Australia a couple of years ago when he was 8.
Mortimer means the world to us and he is very much a part of the furniture!
How does your pet show they are anxious?
Sadly ‘Mortimer’ is severely noise phobic and anything from rain on the windows to cars going past can make him very upset. This can range from general restlessness to extreme shaking and obvious fear which will often result in him hiding in his ‘safe’ places which depending on the level of perceived threat will vary from the cupboard under the stairs to the shower!
When did you first spot signs of the anxieties in your pet?
‘Morty’s old owner let me know about his anxiety so he arrived with the behaviour already very established.
How do these anxieties make you as a pet owner feel?
It’s so sad to see him so distressed as there seems to be very little comfort that we can offer him.
What would it mean to you to help your pet cope with these issues?
It would be amazing if we could help him to overcome some or all of his issues as it very much limits his ability to function when he is having an anxiety episode.
Why is it important to highlight these issues to other pet owners?
It’s so important that owners are aware of how their pet may be impacted by noise and where possible desensitise them to the noises that upset them so they become part of normal life. In Morty’s case, his noise phobia was so established by the time he came to us that all we can do is try to minimise his distress and make sure his safe places are accessible and that his Adaptil collar and plug in are regularly replenished.
Do you have any top tips for others facing anxiety challenges with their pet?
Make sure they have a ‘safe place’ such as a den or in Mortimer’s case the cupboard under the stairs or the shower to go to in times of anxiety as a result of noise they find distressing. Use pheromones (Adaptil collar and plug-in) as a way to provide reassurance in the way their mother would by releasing the Dog Appeasing Pheromone from the mammary area after birth. Do also consider using a ‘Thundershirt’ or similar as wrapping them also helps to make them feel secure. Find out what works best for them in terms of offering additional reassurance. Mortimer tends to be worse if we make a fuss of him so we don’t react to him when he is upset other than to put on his Thundershirt and we just let him go to wherever he feels safest. If we react to him it seems to re-enforce his fear but all dogs are different so it’s important to understand your own pet and their individual needs.