Dogs are amazing creatures that bring us joy and happiness in many different ways. They wag their tails, jump up and down, and make us laugh with their playful antics. But just like humans, dogs can experience stress too, and it's important for us as their caregivers to recognize the signs.
So, what does stress look like in dogs? Well, it can manifest in a variety of ways. Some dogs may become more clingy, and seek constant attention, while others may withdraw and become more distant. Some dogs may pant excessively, pace back and forth, or lick their paws excessively.
Other signs of stress in dogs include changes in appetite, digestive issues, and excessive shedding. You may also notice that your dog is more irritable or aggressive than usual, or that they're not as interested in playing or going for walks.
Dogs also show communicate feelings with their bodies. Understanding their cues can help us recognize when they're feeling stressed or anxious. One common sign of stress in dogs is a lowered body posture. This can include hunching over, tucking their tail between their legs, and flattening their ears against their head. Some dogs may also avoid eye contact or turn their head away from you. On the other hand, some dogs that feel anxious may have a tense body posture, with their muscles stiff and their ears and tail held high. They may also pant excessively or drool more than usual. Which signs they show depend on the dog and their particular situation. Other signs of stress and anxiety in dogs include pacing, shaking, or trembling. They may also exhibit destructive behavior, such as chewing or digging, as a way to release their pent-up energy and anxiety.
But the good news is that there are many things we can do to help our furry friends manage stress and feel more relaxed and happier. Each dog is different and the treatment for stress and anxiety is will also vary depending on the triggers and the dog’s personality and temperament, and a few other factors. Not all solutions work for all dogs, but here are some things to consider.
We can provide our dogs with a safe and comfortable environment that's free from loud noises and other stressors. This can include creating a designated "safe space" for them to retreat to when they need a break, such as a cozy bed or crate.
Another way to help our dogs manage stress is through positive reinforcement training. By rewarding good behavior and teaching them new skills, we can build their confidence and help them feel more secure and in control. For some dogs play and exercise are stress reducers.
Finally, it's important to give our dogs plenty of exercise, love and attention in a way that the dog finds comforting and helpful. For example not all dog find pets comforting when they are stressed. So, know your dog.
In conclusion, while stress can certainly impact our dogs, there are many things we can do to help them feel more relaxed, happy, and secure. With a little love, patience, and attention, we can help our furry friends live their best lives and continue to bring us joy and happiness for years to come. Remember, our dogs rely on us to keep them happy and healthy, and by paying attention to their body language and providing them with the care and support they need, we can help ensure that they live their best lives.
If your dog’s stress is chronic and impacting the family contact a certified and fear free practitioner to help you. For more information set up a time to talk at https://calendly.com/petamorphosis/15-minute-service-consultation.
Debbie Lewis, MS
I educate and support people as they deepen their understanding of their pet's behavior to create happy, healthy pet-people relationships.