Stress is a commonly used word to describe an uncomfortable feeling of pressure and strain. Causes for stress may vary from person to person and different situations may trigger it. Interestingly, the same applies to lovely canines. Yes, dog’s can get stressed as well.
Since you probably know how stress affects yourself and how it makes you feel, you want to help your pet as much as possible, right? Dog’s can’t tell you when something is stressing them, so you have to learn to read signs.
Signs Of A Stressed Dog
Dog’s can suffer from stress. Just like humans can suffer from stress, dogs can go through the same phases and emotional reactions. Therefore, it is important to learn the signs so you can know what triggers this emotional occurrence in your dog.
Most common stress triggers include sudden and harsh changes in the dog’s environment, lack of opportunities to demonstrate breed-related behaviors or punishment-based training methods. Although the number of things that actually cause a dog’s stress are outside of owners control, there are many things you can actually do to reduce stressors in your canine’s everyday life.
But, before you learn the ‘how’ of dog’s stress, you should learn the ‘why’ that implies most common triggers and signs of stress.
Top Ten Common Sings Of A Stressed Dog
Stress can affect a dog’s life in numerous ways. Moreover, it may have negative effects on health and even on the lifespan in the dog.
For example: When your furry friend is under stress, his body will instantly release an excessive amount of norepinephrine, known as flight hormone, which can alert gut bacteria and furthermore interfere with GI tract motility. Moreover, some dogs can experience short-lived stress, while others will have to deal with chronic stress.
1. Shaking And Pacing
You have probably seen your dog shake after a bath, rainy walk, or a roll in the grass, right? And there is nothing unusual about it. It’s a normal doggy reaction, even need. That whole body shaking movement is adorable and amusing, unless it’s a result of stressful situation.
For example: some dogs will shake during the entire 4th of July, while others just can’t cope with veterinarian check-up and visits. So, if you see your dog shaking without any obvious reason to you, he is going through some kind of stress.
2. Barking or Whining
Both barking and whining are a form of dog’s way to communicate with the world around him. Moreover, vocalization is normal form of dog’s self-expression.
Dogs that are afraid or tense may whine or even bark often to get your attention or to self-calm.
3. Licking, Drooling, And Yawning
Yes, dogs yawn a lot, especially when they are bored or tired. But, did you know that they tend to yawn when they are stressed as well? Luckily, there is a difference here: a sleepy yawn is calm and short, while a stressful yawn is more intense and prolonged.
Also, some dogs tend to lick and drool excessively when they are nervous.
4. Eyes And Ears Changes
Just like in humans, a lot can be seen in the dog’s eyes. Therefore, stressed dogs just like stressed people may have dilated pupils and blink rapidly. Also, they may even open their eyes wide and show more white (sclera ) than usual.
In relaxed and happy dogs, ears are usually relaxed or alert, while when in stress they can be more alert and pinned back.
5. Changes In Body Posture
In general, dogs bear even weight on all four legs. So, if your dog is healthy and he had no recent injury recently, but he shifts his weight to his rear legs or cowers, he might be going through some stressful situation. Also, dogs tend to become quite rigid when stressful or they may tuck their tails.
You have probably heard someone saying how they have lost their hair due to stress in their life. The same rule, kind of, applies to dogs. When dogs become nervous they will shed a lot, or they will ‘blow their coat’. Take a good look at dogs when you visit veterinarian the next time – you will notice that they shed a lot. That’s all because of stress.
Shedding is not that noticeable in outside settings, such as visiting a new dog park or have long walks, but without any doubt – shedding always increases when a dog is anxious.
Dogs usually pant during the hot summer days. Furthermore, they tend to pant when they are excited. But, they are prone to panting whenever they are going through some form of stress.
So, if your canine just got back from a 5-minute-walk and he is panting enormously, the chances are that he might be stressed.
8. Loss Of Or Decreased Appetite
If your dog east normally and all of sudden he starts refusing food, or he eats just a little, this could indicate that he is under a lot of stress. Of course, if your dog starting displaying nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea, you should definitely call your veterinarian and schedule a visit.
Sometimes it’s just more serious than just an upset stomach. Stress may be an underlying cause of why your dog is not excited or happy to be given his favorite treats.
9. Hiding Or Escaping
Animals have a tendency to hide when they are experiencing something unknown or when they are scared of something. Therefore, if you notice that your dog goes with next to you all the time, or even hides behind you the chances are that he is under a lot of stress. As a means of escape, they may engage in diversion activities such as circling or digging.
10. Changes In Body Functions
Dogs can feel a sudden urge to go to the bathroom when they feel stressed. Therefore, your dog may feel less in control of his body functions. Sudden urge means that it can happen anytime in any place, so your dog may have an accident here and there.
Instead of thinking about punishing hum, think what may be the underlying reason for this behavior and try to prevent it from happening again.
Also, not that common, but still relevant sign of stress in dogs can be aggression. So, if you notice any of the signs or mix of them, you should monitor your dog and contact your veterinarian. Also, don’t be surprised if you feel a little stressed yourself, but you need to be above the situation.
Remember that you should try to keep as calm as possible, as dogs can also sense stress in their owners. So, once you have learned that your dog is under stress you should know how to help him relieve that stress.
How To Relieve Stress In Dogs?
If you want to help your dog to relieve stress think about the following steps:
1. Learn Why Your Dog Is Stressed
The first step is usually the most difficult one. However, this step is the most crucial one. You have to learn what makes your dog anxious.
Dogs can feel stressed for many reasons, including separation from their humans, awkward noise, strange situations, strange people or even possible trauma from the past. Make sure that you observe your pet and find out what triggers stress in your dog.
2. Remove The Stressor
Of course, once you learn what makes your dogs stressful you should immediately remove your dog from any situation that caused the stress. Also, never force the dog to interact if he doesn’t show any interest in doing so.
3. Build Trust
Make your dog feel comfortable by providing a crate or a shelter located near you. This way your dog will always have a safe place to go to. In general, your home should always be a safe and calm surrounding, including you, your family member and furry family addition.
Strained relationship within the house or major change can be quite stressful for your dog. That being said, you should always bear in mind that the biggest problems are sometimes within the household.
4. Take A Walk
This may be an instant way to help relieve stress. After all, you can’t go wrong with a long walk. Being outside is such a stress-reliever both for you and your canine.
Make sure to have regular walks in the mornings and evenings, because exercise is a great way to keep your dog physically and mentally stimulated.
5. Boost Self-Confidence
Always reward your dog’s nice behavior. Once you start rewarding him, he will start feeling more confident and secure in his actions. Reward him with a treat and praise him often.
Make sure that you use positive reinforcement training to boost his self-confidence.
6. Have A Routine And Stick To It
Dogs thrive when they have a strict routine. They love order, regular walks, and well-deserved meals. After all, deep down they are all working dogs.
Use routine to empower your dog to be more confident, secure, and willing for the unknown. Therefore, stick to a routine when it comes to feeding times, training sessions, and playing times. Routine is also good for the dog to learn what is expected from him and at what time. Besides, your dog will look forward to spending time with you.
Diagnosis Of Stress In Dogs
If you are not sure that your dog is stressed, but you do notice that his behavior is different from day to day, you should contact your veterinarian.
Sometimes, your veterinarian is the only one who can check if there is an underlying problem, like brain disease or thyroid, which can be caused by exposure to toxic substances. Therefore, a blood test needs to be conducted to rule out such a possibility. You may expect for your veterinarian to prescribe medication for anxiety, fear, or phobia.
If you are up for something different, yet effective, you can talk with your veterinarian about CBD for anxiety. The veterinarian may recommend what will suit your dog based on the types and triggers of behavioral techniques that you can use to alleviate the dog’s stress and anxiety.
Signs Of A Stressed Dog – The Takeaway
You know your dog better than anyone else. Therefore, you are the one who can distinguish the dog’s change of behavior just by learning their demeanor. That being said, it’s important to know signs of stress in your dog.
If you feel that’s needed, find professional support and talk with a dog trainer, who will work both for you and your dog.