Stressed Out! WOOF!

August 21, 2018

Is your dog suffering from stress? There could be a few hints in the way your dog behaves in certain situations. Pets Training & Boarding takes a look at stress and how you can help prevent the onset of worry.

The Oxford Dictionary describes stress as; Pressure or tension exerted on a material object. … 2A state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances.

I think all owners can related to these feelings, but interestingly enough so can our dogs! This is commonly called anxiety, however with some canines, this ‘stressed’ feeling isn’t enough to warrant a full-blown anxiety attack or a reoccurring issue. Some pets will just suddenly feel tension or fear for an unknown event or something happening that is out of routine.

It’s also very important to note that if your dog is showing these symptoms more often than not or is showing these symptoms for a specific event and the response is consistent, seeking professional help is advised. You can help train your dog that specific events are nothing to be afraid of – think nail clipping, a trip to the vet, or other dogs. But seeking help is paramount.

For those dogs that are only slightly ‘stressed’ and not suffering from anxiety, some basic preparations can help reduce this uneasy feeling.

It’s Ok to feel afraid of certain things and events, just like with humans. However, when this turns into a full-blown fear that exhibits anxious behaviour, veterinary treatment and seeking help from a professional dog handler is warranted.

Symptoms of stress

  • Pacing/shaking – shake it off! Many dogs when they are feeling slightly stressed will shake and pace. Even well-trained canines can be a handful at the vets if they are feeling uneasy, shaking and trying to pace around the clinic “Rover, SIT”.
  • Moon eyes – Dogs that are feeling stressed or uncomfortable will show the whites or moons of their eyes. If you notice this startled look it is important to remember that your pet is telling you they are not happy. This is vital with pet ownership. There are many photos on social media that show a happy child tightly hugging a dog, where the dog is clearly stressed about the situation.
  • Yawning/licking lips/drooling – they are not hungry or all of a sudden extremely tired…if your dog starts yawning or drooling or licking their lips, they could be feeling stressed. Many dogs do this when going for a car ride, at the vets or sometimes when being asked to stay on their bed!
  • Shedding – Just like with the shake…many dogs will shed it off. It’s incredible that even after a good groom the amount of hair your dog can drop when feeling fearful or slightly stressed.
  • Body language – Dogs that are feeling stressed will have their ears laid back on their head and may go into the cowering stance and attempt to make themselves look as small as possible. Some will lie down in a submissive pose, or tuck their tails between their legs.
  • Panting – If your dog is panting and you have not done any exercise this is a sign of stress. Check out the environment and what is occurring…is the cat perhaps perched on their bed? Or something else triggering this response.

Symptoms of more extreme stress or anxiety

  • Hiding or escaping
  • Shaking/trembling
  • Urinating
  • Consistent symptoms

If your dog is stressed, remove them from the situation and remember big pats and lots of happy talk. Then when you reintroduce your dog to the stressful event make it as fun as possible for them.

If your dog is scared of the vet, go there for a visit without a vet examination. Talk to the vet nurses about treating him/her. You need to ensure your dog has more positive experiences with the situation than negative ones (those thermometers are not very positive!). If the good outweighs the bad, the stress will dissolve and you can help prevent anxiety that can be a much deeper problem to solve.

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