Dogs are the best companions; one could ever ask for. They are unconditionally loyal, affectionate, and just bursting with personality. Science has proven time and again that pet dogs help relieve stress in so many ways. When you get home after a long day at work, being greeted happily by your dog quickly dissolves all your worries and exhaustion.
But dogs can sometimes feel anxious or stressed, too. Changes inside the home, new interactions, loud noises, boredom, and other possible causes can make your dog behave in unusual ways. Here’s how to detect signs of stress in dogs and be able to help him the way that he helps you.
Signs of Stress in Dogs
1. Pacing and licking.
One of the most critical signs of stress in a dog is when it starts pacing and goes on and on. Pacing, or walking a repeated path, can be a sign that your dog is agitated. This dog behavior can manifest in situations such as when you’re attempting to get your pet acquainted with someone or another dog. Licking is another habit usually seen in a stressed dog. Known as a type of avoidance or displacement behavior, your dog is most likely trying to distract itself from what is bringing on stress by focusing on licking its genitals or similar behavior, such as turning away.
2. Changes in eyes and ears.
If your dog is exposing the white parts of its eye, or if its eyelids are peeled back and eyeballs appearing popped, he could be telling you that he’s not at all feel at ease. In the same way, a dog’s ears tell you a lot about its emotional state. When a dog’s ears are pulled back and flat against its head, this is another sure sign of stress. In some dogs, the ears may not be pulled back, but rather, appear more perked up and rigid when they’re feeling anxious.
3. Drooling and panting.
Even if the temperature is relatively low, canines exposed to a stressful environment may produce more saliva than normal and pant more than usual. Dogs that are feeling nervous could experience a rise in body temperature, not unlike us humans, resulting in excessive sweating, which can be noticeable on their noses and paw pads.
4. Loss of or decreased appetite.
Come feeding time and your dog refuses to eat, or just eats very little, this could indicate that he is under a lot of stress. If there is nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting, you should definitely consult a vet immediately. The situation could be more than just an upset stomach. Stress may be an underlying cause of why your dog isn’t as excited to be given his favorite treats.
5. Barking, growling, and whining.
Our dogs express themselves and communicate with us and with their fellow canines through vocalization. But if the barking, growling, and howling becomes excessive or happens for no obvious reason, there may be something that your dog is feeling agitated over. Dogs usually bark unstoppably when they are feeling separation anxiety.
Some other signs of stress in dogs include shedding,
yawning, hiding behind the owner, tucking the tail between its legs, and
aggression. If you see any or a combination of these signs, you may start
feeling a little stressed yourself. It’s important to remember that you should
try to keep as calm as possible as dogs are also able to sense stress in their
How to Relieve Stress in Dogs?
Consider the following tips on how to de-stress a dog:
1. Understand why your dog is feeling stressed.
Identifying the cause of stress is the first step to helping an anxious dog. Dogs feel stressed for reasons such as separation from their human owners, strange people, situations, and places, noise, boredom, and possible trauma from the past. Observe your pet carefully and find out what triggers signs of stress in your dog.
2. Remove the stressor.
For very obvious reasons, you should immediately remove your dog from any situation that has caused apparent stress, such as when there’s new pets or people around. Never force a dog to interact if it doesn’t show any interest in doing so.
2. Establish a safe space for your dog.
Provide a crate or a shelter located in a safe space where your dog could retreat to if it’s feeling anxious. Your home in general should offer a calm environment. Strained relationships within the household or any major change can be quite the stressor for your sweet pet.
3. Take a walk.
As an immediate way to help relieve stress, you can never go wrong with a long walk. Outdoor play and exploration will help him “blow off some steam,” so to speak. Make sure to schedule regular walks in the mornings and evenings as exercise is a great way to keep your dog physically and mentally stimulated.
4. Give your dog a massage.
Don’t underestimate the wonders of petting and rubbing a nervous dog. Dogs love being touched on the head, the chest, and back. Rub and massage him with long strokes while soothing him in a quiet voice to help him relax. Give him praises if he finally stays calm.
5. Promote independence.
Empower your dog to be more independent by helping him engage in activities that are mentally stimulating and will gradually boost his confidence. Regular sessions on basic dog training is an effective way to reduce dog anxiety and improve general dog behavior. You may be tempted to show sympathy when he’s acting out due to stress. Instead, reward him with treats when he’s calm even when you’re not around.
6. Establish and stick to a routine.
Stick to a regular schedule when it comes to playing times, feeding times, and training sessions. A routine would help him learn what sort of behavior is expected of him. Your dog will surely look forward to spending time with you and gradually learn to be able to play and have fun even if he’s on his own.
Stressful situations sometimes can’t be avoided. And at some point in their lives, most dogs feel nervous and anxious. As a responsible dog owner, you should be able to quickly detect critical signs of stress in a dog and know exactly what to do to help alleviate the tension.
Sometimes, separation anxiety could be much too stressful and if you’re worried about your dog refusing to eat or exhibiting aggression or withdrawal due to stress, it would be better to take him to the vet who can diagnose any underlying cause or disease of the problem.