Just like people, dogs can also become stressed. We all want what is best for our pets, this includes providing them an environment that is stress-free and positive for their health. Dogs use body language and warning signs to communicate with their owners and human counterparts to show that they are stressed. These signs include growling, barking, and pacing, to name just a few stress indicators.
In order to keep your dog both happy and healthy, you need to know some of the common triggers and warnings of stress in your dog to prevent unwanted issues and adverse health effects. Below, we will cover some of the common indicators of stress within your furry friend, along with methods you can implement to help relieve the stress that your canine companion is experiencing.
Causes Of Stress In Dogs
Loud Noises: You may notice that your dog behaves strangely whenever it storms, there are fireworks, or loud noises outside of your house. These unnerving sounds can wreak havoc on your dog’s nerves and cause an enhanced stress-related response within your dog. It is important that you remain calm and not fearful of the noise.
When your dog is being nervous or having a stress-related response, they do not need love or positive reinforcement, they need a leader with strong body language. This is why remaining calm and strong when your dog is fearful of something is the answer to helping them overcome their fear. Your dog looks to you as the leader of the pack, if they see that you are not fearful and you are not scared of a loud noise or a thunderstorm, it will make them feel confident and less scared.
Change in Living Situation: Moving can put a lot of stress on you and also on your dog. In addition to moving, simply rearranging furniture or placing objects outside of their usual place can trigger a stress response within your canine companion. It is important that you comfort your dog and show them that everything is okay.
Change in Family: Dogs do not deal with change very easily. Introducing a new member into your family can be stressful for your dog. This new member could be a new baby, a pet, or even your spouse leaving for a business trip can cause your dog to feel stressed. Changes in family composition resemble changes in “pack” roles which causes your dog to feel stressed.
Punishment: Dogs want nothing more than to make their owners happy. Using harsh punishment can lead to your dog feeling stressed and anxious. This can eventually lead to aggressive behavior within the dog. Even if your dog has made a huge mess or engaged in unwanted behavior, it is important that you maintain a positive attitude and do not use harsh punishment techniques. Never hit your dog or yell at him; instead, use a firm verbal tone to correct the behavior. Positive reinforcement is always better than negative reinforcement.
New Items in the House: If you have recently purchased new furniture or have introduced a new scented candle into your home, you may notice that your dog appears to be stressed out. Any change to the dog’s home environment can cause a stress response and make the dog feel overwhelmed. Sit with your dog and show them that everything is fine.
Separation Anxiety: Being left alone can cause your dog to be stressed. The dog is an animal that needs social contact, especially with its personal family and owner. When the puppy is born, he must spend two to three months with his mother and herd since it is from them that he will learn most of the things he needs to become a balanced dog. When he comes home after his adoption, we usually spend a lot of time with him, but with the day-to-day obligations that appear in our lives, we are forced to leave him alone for long periods of time.
Signs Of Stress In Dogs
Pacing and Shaking: Dogs are known for shaking after their bath or after they roll around in the grass or mud. Their whole body trembles and shakes to remove debris and water from their fur. However, this response can also occur if the dog is stressed. Dogs, much like people, also shake when they are nervous. You may notice that your furry friend engages in this behavior when you take him on a trip to the vet. In addition to shaking, you may notice that your canine companion is pacing back and forth. This is another sign of stress and anxiety in dogs.
Whining and Barking: Vocalization is a common response in dogs, no matter what circumstance they are in. However, if your dog is stressed, you may notice that its whining or barking is louder than usual. It is believed that dogs engage in this behavior to provide themselves with a sort of self-soothing effect.
Yawning, Drooling, and Licking: In addition to yawning when the dog is tired or bored, you may notice that your dog yawns when it is stressed. Typically, dogs that yawn due to stress yawn in prolonged and intense intervals compared to dogs that yawn when they are tired. You may also notice that your dog is drooling more or licking excessively. This is also a type of self-soothing.
Eyes and Ears: If your dog is stressed, you may notice that its eyes are wide and it has dilated pupils. This is also a common stress-related effect in humans. In addition, they may be blinking more rapidly and showing the white part of their eyes. You may notice that your furry friend also has his ears pinned back against his head.
Panting: Dogs tend to pant when they are hot, excited, or when they are stressed. If you notice that your dog is panting and he has not recently engaged in physical activity, it may be a sign that your dog is stressed about something in its environment. It is best to comfort your dog and show them that they are ok.
How To Help A Stressed Dog
While there are tips to help soothe your dog if it is stressed, it is always best to first see your veterinarian if your dog has a change in behavior. This way, the vet can rule out any underlying medical issues and ensure that your dog is in optimal health. Additionally, they can provide you with tips to help your dog lower its stress level.
Mental Stimulation and Exercise: It is important that you provide your dog with ample mental stimulation as well as physical exercise on a regular basis. Physical activity is a great way to reduce stress in dogs as well as people. So, take a walk around the block or go to the park and play a quick game of fetch with your dog.
Create an Escape Zone: Your dog needs an area that it can retreat to if it is feeling anxious or stressed. This area needs to be set apart from the rest of your home or apartment to provide your dog with an escape. You can place your dog’s favorite toys and blankets in this space to make him feel even more safe and secure. If your dog retreats to this space due to a storm or other loud noises, you should sit with him to calm him down. Your presence will help your dog realize that everything is ok.