Anxiety is the most common mental illness across the U.S, it affects 40 million individuals in the United States that are aged 18 or over, and is something many of us have to deal with or have dealt with in the past.
But what about our lovely whippets? Do our whippets get anxiety and are they anxious dogs?
Well, in this post we’re going to answer exactly that, to help you better understand your whippet’s mental health and what you can do to help if you have an anxious whippet.
When a whippets exercise needs are met, they are calm and quiet dogs that love nothing more than relaxing on the sofa with their owner.
They are obedient dogs that are relatively easy to train, making them an excellent pet for the family and a great companion.
However some whippets are known to be quite anxious, but why is that?
Let’s find out…
Why Do Whippets Get Anxious?
Anxiety can be something that’s genetic within your whippet or an external event that is triggered in your pet. Genetic anxiety is something that’s passed down through genetics, if your pet’s parents were anxious dogs then there’s a chance that your pup could be anxious too.
This is why it’s important to ensure you’re buying your puppies from a reputable breeder that looks after their dogs and treats them as they should be treated.
However, this makes up for a small percentage of the whippets with anxiety, and usually, your whippets anxiety is caused by something external.
Here are some of the common causes of anxiety in whippets:
This type of anxiety is the most common in whippets, these dogs are known to be nervous and anxious when they’re left alone or broken apart from their owner.
It’s an anxiety that’s caused through the fear of being separated from a particular person, causing your pet to shake, whine and become agitated in thought that you may not be coming home.
Another common reason for anxiety in whippets is loud noises, these are things such as fireworks, door slams and other noises that can give your whippet a fright.
Dogs are naturally fearful of these events and even associate them with lower noise levels too, such as rain or strong winds. This is why dogs can become anxious when they sense a storm coming.
Other Dogs / Animals
Your whippet can start to experience anxiety if he’s had a bad experience with another dog or animal.
For example, if another dog has ran up to him whilst off a leash and been aggressive towards your pup then you may start to notice your whippet is more anxious around other dogs.
This is a traumatic experience for your furry friend, after all, whippets are very small dogs that are often timid and shy around other dogs, so when confronted or attacked this can be very traumatic and take years to overcome.
Training your whippet is a crucial part of being a dog owner, whether that’s basic training to learn simple commands or more intense training for racing or working whippets.
However, poor training can lead to serious anxiety in whippets that they sometimes never get over.
You should NEVER discipline your whippet whilst training (or at all), this will result in your pup becoming fearful of you and you’ll not stand a chance of gaining his trust back.
You should be able to train your command through assertive commands and strong gestures that instruct your pup what to do.
How To Help Your Whippet Through Anxiety
If you’ve got a whippet that does have anxiety, don’t worry – there are a couple of ways you can help your whippet deal with their anxiety and get them back on the right tracks.
Treats & Toys
Giving your whippet a dog treat every time you leave is a great way to help them manage their anxiety.
Using dog toys which stimulate their mind and keep them occupied is also a great way to help your whippet manage his anxiety.
Use toys that they love and can play with for hours on end until you return.
Leaving your whippet with a piece of old clothing such as a hoodie or sweatshirt which has your scent on can comfort your pet whilst you’re gone.
Dogs with separation anxiety like to feel like you’re around, so some of your clothes to help them settle works like a charm.
Don’t Leave For Long
If you’ve got an anxious whippet, don’t leave them at home for very long. They are going through a period of uncertainty so try to not leave home for extended periods if it can be helped.
Of course, we all have commitments, but trying your best to comfort your whippet whilst he’s going through his anxiety by being there by his side is important.
Try A Crate
Using a crate to help your whippet with anxiety can be super effective. Crates are seen by dogs as a safe haven for them to sleep, relax and be comfortable.
It’s their own space when they can unwind and rest without feeling uneasy, perfect for dogs that suffer from anxiety.
Does It Matter If My Whippet Is Anxious?
Owning a nervous dog is a big responsibility because when anxiety strikes it can be overpowering and sometimes lead your dog to bite.
This means you need to be super careful when taking your whippet for walks and ensure you have control over him at all times by walking him on a leash.
Aggression and fear are closely related in dogs, often the times what dogs strike is when they are riddled with fear or anxiety, so if your whippet is anxious you need to be very careful.
However, once you and your whippet work through his anxiety, it’ll be much more enjoyable for the both of you as he will no longer be nervous on walks, and you’ll be able to trust him around other humans and dogs.
Will My Whippet Be Anxious Forever?
Just because your whippet has anxiety now, doesn’t mean he will have it forever. Often dogs go through phases of anxiety through either an event that’s happened or something unexpected, such as a family member leaving home to go to university or school.
This may not seem like a big deal at the time, and you may not consider your dog’s emotions about this event. But this can really upset your dog and cause them to become anxious and nervous as they may fear you won’t return too.
These events that are often overlooked may cause a temporary bout of anxiety in your whippet, so when you spot your whippet acting a little strange it’s important to reflect on any events that may have happened recently so you can comfort him and help him get back on the right tracks.
Whippets are incredibly sensitive and connected to their emotions, they can feel when you’re in a good mood, and when you’re in a bad mood.
This means that any disruption in their world can seriously impact them and trigger anxiety, depression and other illnesses. Anxiety in dogs needs to be looked at on an individual basis, as some dogs have a much more severe case than others.
If your pup has experienced some trauma in his life such as being attacked by another dog, this can take years to overcome and constant work to get him back to normal.
In most cases, your dog’s anxiety won’t last forever, and they’ll start to overcome this dreadful mental illness, but it takes patience, time and a lot of effort from their owner and family.
How To Socialise An Adult Whippet
One of the best ways to help your whippet overcome nervousness and anxiety is by ensuring that they are well socialised.
This means taking them for walks with other dogs, humans and allowing them to experience as much as life as possible.
Not only does this build confidence, but it’s a great way to help your pup overcome his anxiety because he’s met other dogs and people before, so won’t be afraid or nervous when he meets new friends.
We have a full post on the importance of socialising your whippet which details why it’s a crucial part of training and how to go about it to ensure your pup is confident, anxiety-free and an all-round healthy dog.
So, are whippets anxious dogs? No, they’re generally happy, care-free dogs that are a pleasure to own and love.
However, some whippets do experience separation anxiety, which is anxiety fuelled by the fear of their owner or companion not returning and abandoning them.
This is the most common type of anxiety in whippets, it’s often when they are puppies and they’ll typically grow out of this, but it can linger into their adult years and cause problems down the line if not treated.
As a whole, whippets are not anxious dogs, but they, like all dogs, can experience anxiety throughout their lifetimes just like any other dogs.
Whippets are sensitive, emotional dogs which means anxiety and depression can be triggered by events that you consider minor, so it’s important to be aware of this and always comfort and take care of your whippet when they’re going through a bad patch.
Hopefully, you’ve enjoyed this post and learned a thing or two about whippet anxiety.
This is something many humans and dogs suffer from, it’s an awful illness that can take a long time for dogs to get over, so taking proactive steps to prevent anxiety in the first place is a great idea.
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Hello. I’m Luke- the founder of WhippetCentral. I’m somewhat of a whippet nut and have been for most of my life. In that time, I’ve owned and raised numerous whippets. Bonnie is my latest girl; she is currently eight years old and keeps me very busy! Understanding the need for whippet-specific content, I decided to create this blog to share what I have learned and to share my expertise regarding owning and raising whippets – the right way!