Stress In Dogs
Stress and stress situations are not restricted to any one particular breed of dog. The problem of stress can be linked to many training and behavioral methods. It can be linked to our misunderstanding of what makes the dog tick.
It is something that most dogs will endure from at some stage of it’s life, and certainly be at different levels. Some with very small stressful situations, and others will have it for ever. The positive method of training, can in many ways reduce the level of stress for the dog, but often even the most positive method can produce stress levels (so know your dog). Fear, anxiety and confusion are the instigators of stress, and these can occur even with the best of intentions.
Physical conditions can also create stress. Ageing, poor diet, illness, heat, cold spells can all add stress at a physical level. Mental stress can cause physical traits. These can usually be diagnosed fairly easily. Loss of appetite, diarrhea, loss of energy, a temperature, fits of depression, or my dog is just not right.
Some signs of stress; To identify stress, we need to look at the whole dog;
1. Are the ears back?
2. Is its tail down and under it?
3. Is the body lowered as if cowering?
4. Is it panting rapidly more than normal?
5. Does it tremble when you take it out of its home environment?
6.Is it whining or repetitious barking?
7. Shaking as though wet?
8. Avoiding eye contact?
The above are some signs and there are many others.
The barking and whining can be caused by different stress situations. The dog has been left alone, that it is bored or has not had enough mental stimulation. When the owner goes to work, often then barking occurs and we have the barking neighborhood menace. This stress has to be looked at and the owners have to find ways to re-leave the stress on the dog.
The dilation of the dogs eyes are a good indication of stress and at the same time the dogs body going hard. Some freeze on the spot. Fear can cause the stress. The dog fighting can be caused by stress. Socialized dogs can stress and create a stressful situation. They fight. Then flight. Has your dog ever run from a stressful situation? Biting dogs will bite when frightened or stressed. When your dog shows signs of stress try to workout what is causing the build up to the stress.
Some relief to your dog can be achieved by a long slow stroking along the back of the dog. Go the full length of the dog very, very slow several times.
Our dogs temperament, character goes along way to which the dog handles stress or stressful situations and this can be a genetic trait also.
What can we do to remove stress?
Some signs of a dog trying to calm themselves can be seen by turning the head away from another dog (avoidance) which wants to confront it. You can do this with your dog by turning it away in a positive manner. Normally when dogs approach each other they rarely meet nose to nose. They move around in a curved line and sniff rear ends while standing side to side, allow this interaction to happen.
Some dogs move towards another slowly and you can approach it calmly and positively also to reassure the dog. Don’t move along as if your afraid that something may happen. When a young dog or a less socialized dog comes along wanting to play, watch the dog being approached it may see the dog as a threat and act accordingly.
To gain a worried dogs confidence it is best to avoid direct eye contact. Another method is to turn the head or body away from the dog. Glance at the dog occasionally to reassure it that nothing is going to happen untoward it.
A stressed dog will often give a quick little lick of the tongue and this also can be related to pain. Removing the cause of the stress is of course the answer, that’s if we know why.
A barking dog, may do it when you leave the house or someone next door too close to the fence line, certain noises or even at one particular time of the day or night. This is when you have to work out how to rectify this problem. Firstly remain calm and in a quite manner to deal with it and this will also help the dog to be less stressed.
Probably one of the things we always have to consider is the dog being treated as a dog. They like a pack structure (not at the top), discipline, fair and consistent, exercise and socialization. Plenty of fun and wholesome food, clean water and a dry area to sleep.
Finally there is many things associated with stress and various ideas on how to react to it but try and stay calm and don’t fuss over the dog or pander to it, show good, calm leadership.