If you’ve ever experienced stress and anxiety, you know how debilitating it can be. If left untreated, thinking, feeling, expressing, and functioning can become a difficult chore rather than an exciting prospect. What if I told you dogs experience the same thing?
That’s right, dogs can feel stress in much the same way as humans. “My dog’s never been stressed!” you might be thinking. While we hope that’s the case, stress can present itself in many different ways, making it difficult to spot. Especially because your dog can’t sit down and tell you when and why they’re stressed. That’s what we’re here for!
Here are a few behaviors that may signal that your pup is stressed.
Think about a time when you’ve been upset or stressed. Did you bite your nails? Pull out your hair? Break something? Well, when stressed, dogs can demonstrate incredibly destructive behavior. Chewing on furniture, ripping up pillows, or otherwise destroying items in your home can be a serious sign of stress.
Now, please do not get this confused with a puppy chewing on things they’re not supposed to. This is normal behavior that your pup will grow out of with time and training. However, if this destruction is happening as a direct result of them being left alone or around new people or animals, this could be a sign of stress.
Just as with humans, stress can manifest as aggression toward people or other animals. Frequently, dogs will give off signals that they are uncomfortable in a situation. If these signals go ignored, this stress can build-up, resulting in your pup lashing out. This can be incredibly dangerous and can be corrected through behavioral training.
Have you ever seen a dog run and hide when fireworks go off during the 4th of July or when a stranger walks into the home? Your dog is coping with stress through avoidance. This is similar to the human “fight or flight” response. Your dog perceives a threat, whether than be physical or a sound and runs away. If at all possible, limit interaction with that stressor as to not overwhelm your dog.
Barking, whining, and other vocalizations are a dog’s primary way of communicating with their owners. Though it is most often just self-expression, increased vocalization can be indicative of stress and anxiety. If you notice this happening when certain triggers are presented, it may be more than your dog “talking”.
Loss of appetite
If there’s one thing dogs have in common is a love of eating. If you find that your dog has stopped eating or is eating much less than normal, stress could be the culprit. However, there are other factors that could contribute to a loss of appetite. It’s important to consult with your vet to rule out any health problems.
Now, what causes dogs to become stressed? Well, there are a few reasons for this.
Unfamiliar people or environment
Have you recently moved? Maybe introduced your dog to new people coming into the home? This could be a huge source of anxiety for many dogs. Pups, like humans, thrive off routine. When you introduce your pet suddenly to new stimuli, it can be incredibly overwhelming. This may be the reason for anxious behavior.
Dogs have incredibly sensitive ears. In fact, dogs hear twice as many frequencies as humans and from further away. It would make sense that noises humans find loud are much more alarming to dogs. As fun as it is to have fido at the festivities, it may be more beneficial to leave him home to relax.
Dogs not only require physical stimulation but mental as well. When left to their own devices, they can become bored, causing them to act out. Provide stimulation in the form of mental games to prevent your pup from causing a ruckus.
You’ve looked at the symptoms and established that your dog is experiencing stress-induced behaviors. What now? Don’t worry, we won’t leave you hanging.
Remove the trigger
The first step in reducing your pet’s anxiety is to remove the trigger. For instance, if your dog becomes aggressive when new people enter the home, put him in the other room. Create a safe space for your pet, free from triggers, and filled with their favorite things, like toys they are allowed to chew on and games that can distract them. The main goal is to separate them from the trigger.
Visit the vet
As we’ve discussed, there could be underlying health issues contributing to your dog’s behavior. Before taking any rehabilitative actions, seek the guidance of a vet. This will ensure that money isn’t wasted and any health problems are taken care of. Once they receive a clean bill of health, you can proceed with other, more intensive methods of training.
Incorporate a calming supplement
If your pet is suffering from stress and anxiety on a daily basis, it may be time to incorporate a calming supplement into their routine. We highly recommend PupGrade Health and Mood Enhancer. Made with Organic Hemp Powder, Passion Flower, Chamomile, and more, this powder supplement promotes calm energy and decreases anxiety. On top of that, it’s anti-inflammatory, improves cardiovascular health, boosts a healthy immune response, and encourages shiny coats and soft skin. It’s good for your dog’s body and mind. Click here to order yours!
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