Anxiety has become an increasingly prevalent issue in the human world. However, what many people fail to realize is that our beloved canine companions can also suffer from anxiety. Anyone who has experienced anxiety firsthand knows the overwhelming sensation of shallow breaths, a tightening chest, a racing heart, and a hazy perception of the world. Now, imagine your furry friend going through the same experience.
Let us introduce you to Chilli Chihuahua. He exudes vitality, strutting alongside his trusty sidekick Sukhi (an even tinier Chihuahua), and his devoted content creator, Yasmin El-Saie. But life isn’t always smooth sailing for Chilli; he’s what’s known as a reactive dog, someone who experiences anxiety and finds everyday situations overwhelming and stressful. “I had no idea that dogs could face mental health issues,” Yasmin shares with a sigh. She continues, “And it took Chilli’s anxiety for me to realize that I, too, experience anxiety! It was as if Chilli became my mirror, reflecting back the intense state I found myself in. Every time I stepped out of the house, I could feel my heart racing, dreading the outside world. And I could see it in his tense little body, bracing himself for the unknown.”
Over the years, Chilli and Yasmin have forged a remarkable bond, working closely together to provide Chilli with the support he needs. “I never wanted Chilli to become a dog that is so unmanageable that I have to leave him at home. I always wanted Chilli to be a part of my life as much as possible, while respecting his needs and boundaries,” Yasmin explains.
Yasmin has developed coping strategies for both herself and Chilli. For instance, she never leaves home without a dog bag. “The bag serves as Chilli’s safe haven, a cozy retreat where he can seek solace when the outside world becomes too overwhelming. Additionally, his yellow gear signals to people that he requires space. Strangers approaching him is something he’s not comfortable with.” Embracing a yogic lifestyle, Yasmin incorporates meditation, sound therapy, and breathwork to regulate her own nervous system. “It’s fascinating to observe Chilli’s response to practices like meditation, Reiki healing, and sound baths. He chooses which experiences he wants to engage in, and witnessing his relaxation and receptiveness is truly remarkable.”
Years of learning and training have inspired Yasmin to share her journey of living with an anxious dog through the “I am anxious too!” campaign on Chilliwawa’s Instagram account and website. Each week, Yasmin and Chilli offer valuable tips and insights on how to support and initiate healing for your furry friend and yourself. “I love utilizing social media to raise awareness for such an important cause. People need to understand that not all dogs are relaxed and easily approachable. When a dog reacts unexpectedly, it often leads to misunderstandings and judgments of the dog being labeled as bad or aggressive. It would be wonderful if more people were aware of dog anxiety and reactivity, enabling them to prevent and manage challenging situations for dogs. We simply need to learn how to better understand them!”
Join the campaign by following Chilliwawa’s Instagram account and stay tuned for Yasmin and Chilli’s weekly tips and insights.