Signs Your Dog is Stressed and How to Relieve It | VCA Animal Hospital

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stress is a commonly used word that describes feelings of tension or pressure. The causes of stress are extremely varied. maybe you’re stressed about your job, nervous when meeting new people, or anxious when your daily routine is interrupted.

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To reduce stress levels, you can seek comfort in a variety of ways. perhaps you will find solace in the company of a trusted friend. perhaps relieve stress when you are busy with routine tasks like cleaning the house. Or maybe you blow off steam with physical exercise.

Our dogs can get stressed too. Since we know how stress makes us feel, we also want to help relieve our pet’s stress. However, our dogs do not express their feelings, they do not hang up the phone or have a tantrum, so how can we know that they are stressed? signs of anxiety in dogs are often subtle. in fact, some stress-related behaviors mimic normal behaviors.

what are some of the indicators of stress in dogs?

walking or shaking. you’ve seen your dog shiver after a bath or roll around in the grass. that full body movement can be fun and is quite normal…unless it happens as a result of a stressful situation. for example, dogs are often stressed when they visit the vet. many dogs “shake” when they come off the examination table and hit the ground. dogs, like people, also walk when agitated. some dogs walk a repeated path around the exam room while waiting for the vet to arrive.

whining or barking. Vocalization is a normal self-expression in dogs, but can be intensified when under stress. dogs that are scared or tense may whine or bark to get your attention or to calm themselves.

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yawning, drooling and licking. dogs yawn when they are tired or bored, they also yawn when they are stressed. a stressful yawn is longer and more intense than a sleepy yawn. dogs can also drool and lick themselves excessively when they are nervous.

changes in eyes and ears. stressed dogs, like stressed people, can have dilated pupils and blink rapidly. they may open their eyes wide and show more sclera (white) than normal, giving them a startled appearance. ears that are normally relaxed or alert are held back against the head.

changes in body posture. dogs normally bear even weight on all four legs. If a healthy dog ​​with no orthopedic problems shifts his weight to his hind legs or shrinks, he may be stressed. when frightened, dogs can also stick their tails in or become quite stiff.

detachment. show dogs who become nervous in the show ring often “fly their fur off.” dogs also shed a lot when they are in the veterinary clinic. Although less noticeable in outdoor settings, such as visiting a new dog park, shedding increases when a dog is anxious.

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panting. Dogs pant when they are hot, excited, or stressed. If your dog is panting even though he hasn’t exercised, he may be stressed.

changes in bodily functions. Just like people, nervous dogs can feel a sudden need to go to the bathroom. When your dog urinates shortly after meeting a new canine friend, he may be simultaneously marking territory and reacting to stress. refusal to eat and loss of bowel function are also indicators of stress.

avoidance behavior or displacement. when faced with an unwanted situation, dogs can “get away” by focusing on something else. they can sniff the ground, lick their genitals, or just roll over. ignoring someone may not be polite, but it is surely better than being aggressive. if your dog avoids interaction with other dogs or people, don’t force the issue. respect your choice.

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hide or escape behavior. an extension of avoidance, some uptight dogs literally move behind their owners to hide. they can even push their owners to get them to move. As a means of escape, they may engage in diversionary activities such as digging or digging, or they may sneak behind a tree or a parked car.

How can I help my dog ​​handle stressful situations?

To differentiate signs of stress from normal behavior, you must be familiar with your dog’s usual behavior. then you can tell if he is licking his lips because he is anxious or because he wants a treat.

When relaxed, it will have semi-erect or forward-facing ears, a soft mouth, and round eyes. It will distribute your weight evenly on all four legs. Distinguishing normal behavior from signs of stress will help you defuse an uncomfortable situation quickly and effectively.

If your dog is stressed, first remove him from the stressor. find a quiet place for them to meet. Resist the urge to comfort him too much. if you want to pamper him with petting or treats, have him earn them first by doing an activity (for example, sitting down). responding to routine commands distracts the dog and gives him a sense of normalcy. it’s amazing how comforting it can be for a worried dog to sit, lie down and walk.

If your dog is constantly stressed, see your vet. After making sure your dog’s behavior has no medical basis, your vet may refer him to a veterinary trainer or behavior specialist to evaluate for stress-related issues. They may also prescribe medication to reduce anxiety if appropriate.

As with humans, exercise can be an excellent stress reducer. Physical activities like walking or playing fetch help both you and your dog release tension. It’s also good to provide your dog with a safe place in the home where he can escape from anxious situations. everyone enjoys a quiet place to retire.

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And finally, remember that stress isn’t always bad. Fear is a stress-related emotion that drives us to avoid potentially dangerous situations. so stress can actually be a protector. Regardless, stress is a part of everyday life for us and our dogs, so we need to learn the best way to deal with it.

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