Anxiety, once considered solely a human experience, is now recognized as something that affects our furry friends too. Just as humans can feel the tightening of the chest, shortness of breath, and the world closing in during anxious moments, dogs can also suffer from anxiety.
Allow us to introduce you to Chilli Chihuahua. This lively little pup struts alongside his sidekick Sukhi, an equally tiny Chihuahua, and their content creator, Mummy Yasmin El-Saie. But life isn’t always a walk in the park for Chilli. He is a reactive dog, one who experiences anxiety and finds everyday situations overwhelming and stressful. “I never knew that dogs could have mental health issues,” shares Yasmin with a heavy sigh. She continues, “It took Chilli’s anxiety to make me realize that I am just as anxious as he is! Chilli became like a mirror reflecting the extreme state I found myself in. Every time I stepped out of the house, I could feel my heart racing, fearing the outside world. And I would witness it in his tense little body, bracing himself for the unknown.”
Chilli and Yasmin have formed a unique bond over the years, working closely together to support Chilli in any way they can. “I didn’t want Chilli to become an unmanageable dog that I had to leave behind at home. I always wanted him to be a part of my life as much as possible while considering his needs and boundaries,” explains Yasmin.
Yasmin has developed coping mechanisms for both herself and Chilli. For instance, she never leaves home without a dog bag. “The bag serves as Chilli’s safe haven, like a cave with a door that allows him to retreat when things become overwhelming in public places. Additionally, he wears his yellow gear to signal to others that he needs space. He’s not comfortable with strangers approaching him.” Embracing a yogic lifestyle, Yasmin incorporates meditation, sound therapy, and breathwork to calm her own nervous system. “It’s fascinating to observe how Chilli reacts to practices like meditation, Reiki healing, and sound bathing. He chooses which experiences he wants to be a part of, and it’s truly incredible to witness him relax and receive.”
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 provide valuable tips and insights on how to support and initiate healing for both dogs and their human companions. “I love that social media enables me to raise awareness for such an important cause. People are often unaware that not all dogs are calm and approachable. When a dog reacts unexpectedly, the person may not understand and hastily judge the dog as bad or aggressive. It would be wonderful if more people were aware of dog anxiety and reactivity, helping us prevent challenging situations for our four-legged friends. We simply need to learn how to better understand them!”
Join the campaign by following Chilliwawa’s journey and gaining insights that can make a positive difference in your dog’s life.