Just like people, dogs can get stressed from time to time. And while there are plenty of external elements that can get our dogs stressed, sometimes we, the owners, can create that stress without even realizing it. No dog owner wants an unhappy dog and this is why it’s important to take notice and learn what causes stress in dogs in order to avoid it.
Causes of stress
There are plenty of situations that can stress out a dog. One of the most common ones occurs when the dog is left alone for long periods of time. Dogs are social beings and they require company so if they spend too much time alone, not only do they feel lonely, they also feel scared.
Change of residence is another common stress trigger. Whether you’re moving to another place or simply putting the dog in a kennel, a strange new place will make the dog feel quite uneasy. Another big change for a dog is when a member of its ‘pack’ leaves or a new one shows up. A dog recognizes your family as their pack, so a death of a family member can be very stressful for a dog.
Other situations which can cause stress in dogs include traveling in a car, unless the dog is used to it from a young age, as well as loud sounds and music seeing as their hearing is rather sensitive.
How to spot it
While it can sometimes be beneficial for a dog to face a stressful situation as this will teach them how to cope with new things, it’s still best to avoid stress. There are plenty of signs and symptoms which show that a dog is stressed, so it’s best to learn how to recognize them in order to help your dog and make things easier. There are plenty of clear signs of stress such as panting, pinned ears, whining and howling, sweaty paws and even diarrhea, constipation, excessive shedding and/or drooling, decrease in appetite and increased sleep.
It’s very important to learn what your dog’s usual behavior is so that you can notice every change in their behavior and eliminate the cause. For example, you know that dogs regulate their body temperature through panting and you know your dog always pants after running in the park; if the weather is cold and your dog hasn’t been running but it’s panting, it might mean that it’s stressed out for some reason.
How to calm your dog
There are many ways which can help prevent a dog from getting stressed and even when they do get stressed, owners can help them calm down. The first thing to remember is to try to avoid any stressful situations and not to push the dog. So, for example, if your dog doesn’t like water, you shouldn’t throw them into a lake as this will be extremely stressful for them.
If it’s simply impossible to for you to spend enough time with your dog, it’s recommended that you hire someone who has experience in pet minding to spend a couple of hours a day with your dog so it doesn’t get lonely. Always make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise as physical activity will help it feel relaxed.
Another important thing to have in mind is the fact that dogs can sense their owners’ emotions. This means that they can easily pick up on what you’re feeling and become anxious alongside you. So try to calm yourself down and automatically you’ll calm down your dog as well.
In case your dog is constantly stressed and the symptoms are becoming more frequent and more serious, it’s time to consult your vet. It’s the owner’s responsibility to make sure their pet is healthy, so pay attention and make sure your dog is living a happy life.