Is that hydrant out to get you?

Many pups enjoy jumping into the middle of a pup mosh and having fun and creating chaos. Chasing toys, getting scritches, and treats is all apart of the fun. Sometimes however, puppy moshes aren’t always an easy place for pups or handlers. Having a large number of other pups, handlers, bystanders, and the constant chaos can make it difficult to focus and have fun. For pups and handlers with certain types of anxiety disorders, these things can make it more difficult or lead into a panic attack.

A panic attack is a distinct episode of high anxiety with fear or discomfort. It develops abruptly and has its peak within 10 minutes. During the attack, the person can experience multiple physical and psychological symptoms, have difficulty concentrating, or difficulty functioning. Some of the symptoms you may see include:

  • Palpitations, pounding heart, rapid heart rate
  • Sweating
  • Trembling and shaking
  • Shortness of breath, sensations of choking or smothering
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Abdominal distress or nausea
  • Dizziness, light-headedness, feeling faint or unsteady
  • Feelings of unreality or being detached from oneself
  • Fear of losing control
  • Fear of dying
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Chills or hot flashes

People will not usually have all of these symptoms. It is not always easy to tell whether a person is having a panic attack as the symptoms can be similar to a heart attack. If you’re not sure whether the person has an anxiety disorder, seek medical assistance.

How do you help?

  • Start off by letting the pup or handler experiencing a panic attack that you are concerned and willing to help them. DO NOT CROWD the person – this can make things worse.
  • If you are not familiar with the pup or handler, alert a mosh monitor.
  • Move the person to a quiet area away from all the excitement and ask them whether they know what has happened.
  • Remain calm.
  • speak clearly, slowly and in a reassuring manner.
  • Be patient.
  • Avoid any negative reactions.
  • Panic attacks are frightening, but not life threatening.
  • Reassure the person that they are safe and that the symptoms will pass.
  • Assess for suicide. Suicidal thoughts may not be as evident as extreme anxiety, however, there is a risk of suicide in anxiety disorders. Therefore, be alert to any invitations to ask about suicide.
  • If need be, breath with them to help them slow their breathing.

If a pup or handler is afraid they may experience anxiety at a pup mosh, check to see if there is a “quiet area” or smaller mosh area that doesn’t have as much excitement. Allow the pup or handler to take their time to engage in the mosh and the activities. Stay well hydrated. Keep within eye contact as much as possible, by staying by their side or remaining in place so the pup knows where to go right away should they start to feel anxious and need to feel safe – having to search around for their handler can intensify the anxiety


If you or someone you know is in crisis or thinking about suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Trained counselors are available 24-hours a day.

Learn about the warning signs for suicide at http://www.suicidology.org/resources/warning-signs

Learn more about anxiety disorders at http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxiety-disorders/index.shtml.


References
-American Psychiatric Association (2000) Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, fourth edition, text revision (DSM-IV-TR). Washington, DC.
-Arsenault-Lapierre, G., Kim, C., and Tureck, G. (2004) Psychiatric diagnosis in 3275 suicides: a meta-analysis. BMC Psychiatry. 4, 27.
-Kitchener, B.A., Jorm, A.F., and kelly, C.M., Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Missouri Department of Mental Health, and National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare (2009) Mental Health First Aid USA.

Authored by boy tom, MHS

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