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Discussion Starter #1
My dog has issues with anxiety and overstimulation that surface in the presence of new people, new environments, certain objects etc. but also sometimes for no obvious reason. His displacement activity of choice is to hump your leg (or attack the object). The longer he does this the more agitated he gets and it progresses quickly to 'gnawing' on your leg with the side of his mouth.
Normally he is relaxed in the house but not over the last few days. As far as I can tell nothing has changed in the house or surrounding environment, his exercise regime has not changed, neither has my schedule or his food, we have had no visitors, there have been no obvious events on walks or in the house that might have caused him distress. It's got to the point this evening where he can't stay 2 minutes in a room without humping your leg!
As it is, when he does this I calmly put him in the hall and leave him for 10 minutes to calm down. Then I let him back in as if nothing happened. He comes in and seems calm for about 15 seconds, then the eyes glaze over and he goes straight for the leg again.
I have been trying to keep him occupied with toys, games, etc. but he is not interested at all. Offering anything or encouraging him to play with a specific toy simply provokes more anxiety. He has multiple walks which tire him physically, but his exercise has to be limited due to arthritis. Training seems to overstimulate him so much it just makes the problem worse - even if he starts off calm soon he is lip-licking, looks agitated and within a few minutes will go to hump your leg. I've tried ignoring him and also acknowledging him when he is calm, neither of which have had any effect - the situation escalates either way.
This phase will pass, but I wondered if anyone had any experience with similar dogs? If so, was there anything that you did that helped your situation? That could be changing the way I respond to the behaviour when it occurs or any changes in his day to day management to lessen his overstimulation and anxiety.
Many thanks!
 

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What has happened right before he starts acting anxious? Is it always at the same time of day or does it vary? Is it everyday? Maybe if you keep a journal for him you'll see a pattern. How old is he? I would have his thyroid checked. If that checks out he could just have anxiety. I have it and it sucks. Sometimes you are very anxious but you don't know why. You could try some calming herbs, like lavender, mint and chamomile. Maybe a thundershirt would help too.
 

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Thanks for your response! He is about 6-7 years old. It is often the evening although can be at any time of day; it's just more obvious in the evening because I'm sitting down to work, not moving around and keeping busy. I wondered if it was a boredom thing (too much energy left in the evening, so his tendency to become overstimulated is more noticeable) but haven't noticed a correlation with how much interaction he's had during the day. He's not reliably better or worse for having more or less play time, walks, one-on-one company, etc., so perhaps it's not that.
His thyroid hasn't been checked (hyperthyroidism is rare in dogs and he's showing none of the clinical signs aside from excitability, which is pretty non-specific) but is certainly something to consider so thank you for the suggestion!
 
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