Signs Your Dog Might Be Stressed and How To Manage It
Owning a dog has been proven to carry a wealth of benefits for our mental health and well-being, but have you ever noticed any behavior changes in your dog that you might not associate with them being stressed?
Similarly, to humans, dogs can start acting differently by seeming tense, by acting up, becoming overly clingy and/or distant with you and the rest of the family. Dogs are just as capable as their owners at getting worked up and stressed out, therefore, it’s important to recognize when they need some help from their best friend and companion to help them get over the issue that is bothering them.
In order for you to recognize when your pet needs a helping hand, we’ve listed some of the most common signs of stress seen in canines. We’ve also got some handy tips for you to read up on that cover some of the causes and ways in which their stress can be managed/alleviated.
1. Look at Their Ears
Depending on the breed, dogs’ ears will differ, but something that remains the same is the way a dog’s ears react to stress. They respond in one of two ways; some will become more erect, or ‘alert’ if they feel anxious, while many canines will lay their ears flat or pull them back.
Pet owners are advised to simply take note of the natural, usual positions of their dog’s ears. By doing this, it will let you know if, at any time, they move into a position that implies stress.
2. Look at Their Eyes
If your dog’s eyelids are peeled back and their eyes appear wider, exposing more of the white area, stress can often be the cause. You may well observe a crescent-type shape of white when they are looking left and right, referred to as the “half-moon eye.”
They may also do this when they are excited, but you will be able to tell the difference between excitement and worry.
3. Do a Pregnancy Test
If you have been trying to get your dog pregnant, then they may well start acting differently if there’s been a success with impregnation. If you think your dog is pregnant, you should book an appointment to visit your veterinarian. This will ensure that your pooch and her babies are all safe and well.
4. Excess Barking
If your dog begins to bark more than usual in certain situations, this could be because of something stress-related. Some dogs may own other various aggression-associated issues, but don’t rule out stress as one of the reasons why they are barking excessively.
You may also find that they don’t necessarily bark a lot, they could instead growl more, whimper, whine, or even markedly pants – these are all known, common indicators of an anxious dog.
5. Altered Eating and Toilet Habits
Very much like their human counterparts, one very common sign that your dog is stressed is when they lose their appetite. They can also need to do their business less/more frequently too as gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea and constipation can be brought on by anxiety.
6. Look at Their Tail
By observing how your dog’s tail is positioned, you can tell a lot about whether they are stressed or not. If it loses its regular position it could be because of stress, so if their tail is between their legs then you need to address the situation they are in.
7. Body Language Says A Lot
The fact of the matter is that the whole body of a dog can/will be affected by stress. There are a number of other factors to bear in mind, such as:
- Lip and nose licking
- Excessive drooling
- Itching and scratching
- Unwarranted shivering or shaking
- Irregular coat shedding
- Tense muscles
What Makes My Dog Stressed?
Realistically, there will be some causes of stress that are blindingly obvious, such as loud noises like fireworks or big groups of excited children encroaching on their space. For many dogs, these types of situations are quite nerve-racking.
Furthermore, you might find that your dog becomes stressed out because of things like:
· A change of routine: Many dogs crave routine, therefore, if it is disrupted, they can get anxious about it.
· Lack of mental stimulation: Animals need mental stimulation, and while each dog might need more/less playtime and exercise depending on their breed and personality, being mentally stimulated helps to reduce stress.· Strangers: All dogs have different personalities and temperaments, so how much they enjoy interacting with strangers and other people, in general, is down to them. they may not like being petted a lot, or being around young children, or strange hands.
Could Post-Traumatic Stress Dog Disorder Be an Issue?
If you are the lucky new owner of an adopted dog, then you might have been informed of a traumatic past they had. If this is the case, additional care and intervention might be needed to help them with their issues.
How Can I Help/Manage My Dog’s Stress?
· Use Prevention First: By minimizing any potential stressful environments that your dog can get into, for example, crowds and noise, you are preventing stress.
· Stay Fit: Giving your pooch plenty of exercise along with lots of mental stimulation is vital for their mental well-being.
· Create a Safe Zone: Provide your dog with a place that they can associate with as being their own private ‘safe zone’. This can be a pillow, crate, matt, or something along those lines, but as long as they associate it with being somewhere to feel safe and calm, then you’re doing the right thing.
· Use Effective Training: When you enroll your dog in some degree of training, this will give them a better understanding of certain scenarios and how to behave around others. Remember to take training slowly and get it right.
Lastly, if you feel that you four-legged friend has been consistently struggling with something you feel is stress-related, call your vet for professional medical assistance.