Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Stress and Your Dog

We all experience stress in our lives from time to time.  And our dogs are no different.  They can experience stress from any number of things.

Some common causes of stress for dogs are:

  • Change or lack of routine
  • Loud noises inside or outside the home
  • Living with anxious and highly stressed humans
  • Isolation and lack of proper  socialization
  • New or different situations
  • Lack of physical exercise and mental stimulation
  • Fear of something
  • Harsh and unfair corrections
  • Loss or addition of family member

How to Recognize Stress

Not all dogs experience stress from the same cause. So you have to keep in tune with your dog and watch for the obvious and less obvious physical signs that your dog is stressed.

Common Signs of Stress:

  • Cowering
  • Pacing
  • Whining/Barking
  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Yawning
  • Panting
  • Drooling
  • Shaking
  • Chewing or licking obsessively
  • Sniffing
  • Refusing food
  • Hiding or running away
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Seizures

Subtle Signs of Stress:

  • Pupils dilated
  • Licking lips
  • Furrowed brow
  • Veins more prominent in face
  • Tense muscles
  • Sweaty paw pads

How to Deal With Stress

If it’s possible to leave or remove your dog from the stressful situation, then do so. If you cannot then you’ll have to remain as calm as you can. The calmer you are, the more likely your dog is to follow suit. Just as with a fearful dog, you don’t want to baby dogs and reinforce their feelings. However I have personally found a slow firm massage or stroking does help my dogs when they are stressed.

How to Avoid Stress

A well balanced dog gets plenty of exercise, has many different experiences, visits many different places and meets new people and other animals. This doesn’t mean a balanced dog will never be in a stressful situation, but the number of potential causes of stress should be less.

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