Table of Contents
Like humans, dogs can exhibit a wide range of emotions and behaviors in any given situation depending on their environment, past experiences, and genetics. A fairly common, but puzzling, behavior seen in dogs is the tendency to hide behind couches. If you’ve found yourself asking, “Why is my dog hiding behind the couch?” then you’re not alone. Many pet parents have faced the same situation.
Let’s delve deeper into this behavior, understand its causes, and explore how to manage it.
Understanding the Behavior
1. Seeking Comfort and Security
Just as humans might have their favorite cozy corner in the house, dogs too might find solace in a particular spot. The space behind the couch can provide warmth, darkness, and a sense of security.
2. Natural Instinct
In the wild, canines would often seek out dens or enclosed spaces to hide from predators or to rest without the threat of being attacked. This instinctual behavior can manifest in domestic dogs as well.
3. Medical Issues
Sometimes, the inclination to hide can stem from a health issue. If a dog is in pain or discomfort, it might hide to deal with its discomfort in solitude.
4. Fear and Anxiety
Loud noises, unfamiliar guests, or changes in the environment can lead to anxiety in dogs. One of their coping mechanisms might be to retreat to a familiar, safe space, like behind the couch.
If your dog only hides under the couch when a thunderstorm is happening, then check out our article on home remedies for dogs scared of thunderstorms.
Tips for Dogs Displaying Scared Behaviors
If your furry friend shows signs of fear or anxiety, address the issue gently and patiently. Here are some helpful tips:
1. Provide a Safe Space
Ensure that your dog has its own comfortable space, like a crate/kennel or a dog bed, where it can retreat to when feeling overwhelmed. This should be in a quiet, dimly lit part of your home.
2. Desensitization and Counter-conditioning
This involves exposing your dog to the source of its fear in controlled, low-intensity doses and pairing it with positive reinforcements.
3. Avoid Punishment
Scolding or punishing your dog can increase its anxiety. Instead, employ positive reinforcement techniques.
4. Engage in Play and Physical Activity
Engaging your dog in physical play can help divert its mind from the source of stress and can be a way to let out pent-up energy.
5. Consult a Professional
If your dog’s anxiety is severe, consider seeking the advice of a vet or a dog behaviorist.
Home Remedies for Anxiety in Dogs
For pet parents inclined towards natural remedies, there are several home options to explore:
1. CBD Oil and CBD Treats
The use of CBD (Cannabidiol) for pets has been a topic of considerable interest.
- Mechanism: CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system, which all mammals have. It can help regulate mood, pain, appetite, and more.
- Application: CBD can be given in the form of oil, treats, or capsules. The choice largely depends on your dog’s preference.
- Dosage: It’s crucial to get the dosage right. Starting with a lower dose and monitoring your pet’s response is advised. Typically, the dosage is based on your dog’s weight: 1-2mg/kg for most conditions, although it’s been used as high as 4mg/kg for anxiety.
You can find out more from our article on CBD Oil for Anxiety in Dogs.
2. Calming Herbs
Herbs like chamomile and valerian root have been traditionally used to alleviate stress and anxiety in both humans and animals. They should only be used under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian.
- Chamomile: This herb has anti-inflammatory, muscle-relaxing, and ulcer-protective properties. You can prepare chamomile tea and let it cool before adding it to your dog’s water or meal.
- Valerian Root: Known for its sedative properties, it can help calm an anxious dog. Valerian root can be given in capsule form or as a tincture.
3. Lavender Oil
Lavender is well-regarded for its soothing scent. While it’s beneficial, there are methods to ensure its safe use:
- Diffusing: Using a diffuser in the room can help spread the calming aroma of lavender. Make sure it’s not too intense, as dogs have a much stronger sense of smell than humans.
- Direct Application: A drop or two on your dog’s collar or bed can help, but be sure not to apply directly to the skin, and always dilute it.
Massaging your dog can be therapeutic for both the pet and the owner. Gentle, rhythmic strokes can help soothe an anxious dog. Focus on areas like the neck, back, and behind the ears.
While these home remedies can be effective, remember that every dog is unique. What works for one might not necessarily work for another. And before administering any new remedy, always consult with a veterinarian. They can provide guidance on dosage, potential interactions with other treatments, and any other considerations specific to your pet’s health and well-being. The safety and comfort of your pet is important to you, and you have the ability to ensure your dog feels secure even without hiding behind the couch.