Dogs can become stressed too!
Whether you’re stressed out due to a job, become stressed when meeting new people or you get anxious when your daily routine is disrupted, most of us experience some level of stress in our daily lives. To reduce this stress, some seek comfort in the company of friends or perhaps relieve this stress by cleaning or blowing off steam with physical exercise. Since we know how stress makes us feel, it’s only normal to want to alleviate our pet’s stress as well. With this being said, our furry friends can’t speak their mind so how does one tell if their dog is stressed? Continue reading to find out the signs of anxiety and ways to relieve your dog’s stress as well.
- Pacing or shaking: A dog’s full body shake can be overlooked as normal except when it occurs as a result of a stressful situation. A common example would be when you take a visit to the veterinarian, many dogs “shake it off” after descending from the exam table. Additionally, dogs tend to pace when agitated and may walk in a repeated path around the exam room while awaiting the veterinarian’s arrival.
- Whining and/or barking: Vocalization is a normal dog self-expression but again, may be intensified when under stress. In a state of nervous tension, dogs may whine or bark to either get your attention, or as a way to soothe themselves.
- Yawning, drooling, and licking: Dogs do all of these on a daily basis but when these behaviors get excessive, stress tends to be involved. A stressful yawn will be more prolonged and intense than a sleepy yawn one. If their drooling and licking is that much more extensive, this could be due to nerves.
- Changes in eyes and ears: Similar to stressed people, stressed dogs could have dilated pupils and blink rapidly. Dog’s ears that are normally relaxed or up and alert are pinned back against their head when stressed.
- Changes in body posture: If a dog that normally bears even weight on all four legs shifts their weight to the rear legs or cowers, this could indicate stress along with the tucking of their tails between their legs.
- Shedding and panting: Although less noticeable in an outdoor setting, shedding can increase when in a stressful situation. As dogs pant when hot or excited, if you notice they are panting and have not had any exercise, this could indicate that they are experiencing stress.
- Changes in bodily functions: Nervous dogs can feel a sudden urge to have to go to the bathroom and refusal of food/loss of bowel function are additional stress indicators.
- Hiding or escape behavior: Some tense dogs may literally move behind their owners to hide or nudge their owners to prompt them to move along. In terms of escape, dogs may engage in diversion activities like digging or slink behind a tree or another object.
So the question is … how can we help our furry friends handle their stress? Below are seven proven ways to calm your anxious dog:
- Exercise your dog since anxiety can cause an excess of energy.
- Physical contact from their owner will soothe your dog’s anxiety such as picking them up, cuddling on the couch, or giving them a long petting session.
- Massaging your dog will relax and calm even the most anxious dogs since anxiety often causes tensing of the muscles. Massage therapy helps to alleviate this tension.
- Music therapy has proven to be beneficial for both humans and our canine friends as the power of music can be calming and relaxing.
- Time-out time can help give your dog some isolation to calm their frayed nerves. One idea is trying a ZenCrate for these time-outs, where the space serves as a general escape pod for your furry friend.
- Calming Coats/t-shirts apply mild and constant pressure to your dog’s torso similar to swaddling a cloth on a baby. This is recommended for dogs with anxiety induced by travel, separation, noise, or meeting strangers.
- Alternative therapies can be used alone or combined with those above to be more effective when calming your dog’s anxiety. Be sure to do ample research before implementing alternative therapies such as supplements, home diffusers, or homeopathic remedies to name a few.
It’s important to remember that stress isn’t always bad and may actually be used as a protector. Nevertheless, stress is a part of everyday life for us and our dogs, which is why we should learn how to deal with it in the best way possible!