What are the critical signs of stress in a dog, and what can be done? You might not think about it often, but your dog has thoughts and emotions as people do. Dogs can get excited and joyful and can easily be playful when in the right mood. Likewise, your dog can also be fearful, anxious, and stressed when put in uncomfortable situations.
Critical Signs Of Stress In A Dog. Is it Separation anxiety?
Some dogs have separation anxiety, meaning they cannot handle being separated from their owners for some time. Other dogs have trouble in cars, as the experience of being in a car can be highly unfamiliar and terrifying to dogs, especially younger ones.
Some dogs might become stressed because they are not being cared for properly. With these many reasons why your dog can be highlighted, you might feel at a loss as to what you can do. Thankfully, there are many ways that you can help reduce stress in your dog, no matter what the situation is.
What Are the Critical Signs of Stress in Dogs?
Humans can usually identify when they are stressed and communicate it with others so that people around them know what is happening. Sadly, dogs cannot speak about their feelings as much as owners would like.
As the dog owner, this leaves it up to you to determine how your dog is feeling based on how it behaves. For example, some of the signs that your dog is stressed can include things such as:
- Excessive barking or whining
- digging and chewing
- Tense muscles
- Excessive tail wagging
- And more
Critical Signs Of Stress In A Dog. Other symptoms
Because each of these symptoms can be caused by another issue, you will have to ensure that there isn’t anything else going on in your dog’s life to cause these issues. If nothing else is causing these issues, then you can confidently determine that your dog is stressed out.
The next step will be determining why your dog is stressed. There are some situations where the cause is apparent, such as your dog being in a new environment or the dog’s owner not being there.
Other situations are slightly less obvious, such as when your dog needs to be let outside more. Regardless of what is causing the stress, there are a few things that can help every dog.
Critical Signs Of Stress In A Dog. What Should You Do During Car Rides?
Many dogs are scared of being in the car for long periods. It is an unfamiliar experience for dogs that can be very difficult to get used to. Sadly, this can often result in your dog vomiting in your car, which is something that nobody wants to deal with. However, several ways you can reduce stress in your dog during a car ride.
For instance, if your dog isn’t used to riding in cars, you should help it get used to the vehicle. In many cases, the stress from riding in a car comes from the unfamiliarity of it.
You can help your dog get more familiar with your car by helping your dog into the car and letting them sniff around. As they sniff around, praise your dog to let it know that a vehicle is a safe place and that it is okay.
Critical Signs Of Stress In A Dog. Car Sickness?
If your dog is highly stressed about being in an enclosed space such as your car, you might need to praise your dog with treats that they love. It would help if you continued doing this every few days, even increasing the amount of time spent in the car to let your dog eat meals in the car.
This helps your dog’s brain correlate the car to positive experiences, such as praise and food. Over time, your dog will slowly get used to being in the car.
Once your dog is a little more familiar with being inside the car and is comfortable, you should start taking slow and short drives around your neighborhood so that your dog can get used to how a moving vehicle feels.
Praise Your Dog
It will help if you continue giving your dog praise and treats throughout the ride so that they can correlate the car with positive experiences. As your dog becomes more comfortable with being in the car, you should start taking longer trips that your dog will enjoy.
For instance, taking a long drive to a dog park, visiting a friend’s dog, or someplace else your dog will enjoy. In some situations, you might want to go to the exact location, but you should take longer and different routes each time.
Not only does this desensitize your dog to the car, but it continues to help your dog correlate it with good experiences. Before you know it, your dog can handle car rides without an issue.
What Can You Do If Your Dog Has Separation Anxiety?
Despite how intelligent dogs can be, there are some things that they cannot comprehend. , even if you only went outside to get the mail.
This is often thought to be caused by the fact that dogs do not understand that their person will be coming back. This is relatively normal for dogs; however, some dogs have more difficulty coping.
Some dogs will panic when their owner leaves the house as if the owner is never coming back, resulting in destroyed furniture, clawed doors, and more. This is known as separation anxiety in dogs and is a huge source of stress for those affected. Thankfully, there are some things you can do to help your dog cope.
When it comes to more minor cases of separation anxiety, there’s a lot that you can do. For instance, you shouldn’t worry about leaving or coming back. Instead, ignore your dog when it is trying to greet you and wait a few minutes to pet your dog.
Keep Your Dog Calm
This will help it realize that you leave the house isn’t a big deal. You can also help your dog calm down when you are away by leaving clothes that have your scent on them with your dog. When your dog becomes stressed that you aren’t there, it can sit with your clothes for comfort.
Depending on how young your dog is, you can work to establish a particular word or action you say or do every time you leave so that your dog can understand that you are coming back.
If your dog has much more severe separation anxiety, you will have to consider other options besides the ones above. In this case, you should create a space for your dog that it deems safe.
This space should limit your dog’s ability to be destructive while still allowing for your dog to move around and get its energy out. For example, having a room with locked windows and toys and a door that can lock is an excellent place to set up your dog’s safe space.
Inside that room, you should also consider placing some busy toys that can serve as a distraction for your dog. In addition, you should also put some dirty laundry or another safety cue in the room so that your dog understands that it is safe, even if you aren’t there. These are just a few ways to reduce stress on your dog while you are away from home.
What Can You Do When Other Dogs stress your Dog?
In some situations, your dog might have a form of social anxiety. This can be seen as either very passive behavior or very aggressive behavior. If your dog is more tolerant, it usually means that it is a little less scared but still stressed. This can show itself as hiding, trembling, tucking its tail in, and being passive. On the other hand, in more stressful situations, your dog can switch and become aggressive.
This can appear relatively obvious, such as snarling, growling, lunging, loud barking, etc. Thankfully, there are ways that you can help your dog understand that being around other dogs is not so terrifying.
One of the most helpful things you can do is introduce socialization at a slow pace so that your dog does not get overwhelmed. Make sure that there aren’t too many people or dogs around, but enough new things that your dog will get used to the feeling of being around people or animals that are unfamiliar.
You will want to make sure that you keep a good watch on your dog to ensure that it behaves appropriately. Dogs that are stressed tend to act out in more ways than one.
Generally, if other dogs stress your dog out, the only thing you can do to reduce stress when it meets other dogs is to desensitize your dog to that experience slowly. It might take time, but before you know it, you can take your dog to the pet store without worrying about what will happen.
What Are Some General Things You Can Do for Critical Signs Of Stress In A Dog
In a few cases, your dog’s stress might not be caused by a trigger. It could be pent-up stress from several different things, such as being in a new location or not having enough exercise.
You can do many general things to help your dog feel more comfortable in your house or any location. Just as young children need a security blanket at times, dogs can also benefit from a version of a security blanket.
It can be pretty easy to make one yourself. All you need to do is take a blanket or towel, make sure that it has your scent or another calming scent, and give it to your dog when stressed. This has been shown to help your dog calm down. Sometimes, your dog might actively seek out the security blanket on its own when it learns to associate the security blanket with comfort.
Training Your Dog
If your dog understands commands such as “sit,” “down,” and “heel,” you can use this to your advantage. Sometimes, dogs are stressed because their situation is unfamiliar, and that unfamiliarity is something that your dog cannot handle well.
When this happens, you should remove the dog from the stressor as best as possible, though this might not be applicable, and try to restore normalcy by talking to your dog in your normal voice. For some dogs, just hearing the usual commands can help them understand that things are every day and everything is okay.
Some dogs are stressed because they do not have an outlet for their energy. Unless your dog is stressed because of an immediate trigger, such as being in a car or you not being there, you can help your dog calm down simply by taking it for a walk.
Similar to humans, a simple walk around the neighborhood can help you calm your dog and allow it to realize that everything is okay. You should also ensure that you are feeding your dog regularly.
Your Dog’s Routine
Most dogs enjoy a routine that gives them something to base their time on. However, if you have a strict routine performance set up for your dog, you should ensure that if you make any changes, they are slow and not sudden.
Dogs also respond to touch and voice. While you shouldn’t overly pamper your dog, just hearing your voice in a calm, normal tone can help your dog realize that things are okay. After all, if you, the owner, aren’t stressed out about anything, there’s nothing to worry about.
If you can, there are specific ways to pet your dog to help it calm down. Moving your hands in circular motion has been shown to help reduce stress in your dog, and thankfully, there are many sources available that will help you understand how to reduce your dog’s anxiety with just a touch.
At the end of the day, if your dog is still stressed after you have made sure to provide any means to calm it necessary, you should look into medicines.
There are some dog medicines that you can find over the counter that can help in certain situations. Still, in a more chronic stress condition, you should consider talking to the vet about a form of anxiety medicine for dogs. Unless there are obvious signs of an underlying cause for your dog’s stress, this should be one of your last resorts.
What Shouldn’t You Do?
Some things can make your dog even more upset and stressed out. You should always avoid making the situation worse, especially when trying to help your dog calm down.
For instance, you should never punish your dog for being stressed. That would be the same caliber as punishing a person for being worried about a situation they are physically unable to comprehend.
More often than not, when your dog causes damage to your house because of stress, it is a panic response. Your dog is trying to understand what is happening and isn’t trying to punish you. If your dog does end up destroying things when stressed, it should instead indicate that this is a severe problem that needs to be attended to.
You should also ensure that if your dog is suffering from separation anxiety, you shouldn’t crate your dog. This can result in injuries as your dog desperately tries to escape.
Critical Signs Of Stress In A Dog. Music Can Help
It would help if you also left radio or television noise on or considered some music-specific for de-stressing unless you have established that as a safety cue for your dog. Also, another dog won’t help you out, as your dog is reacting to the fact that you, its owner, aren’t there, not loneliness. It would help if you also didn’t rely on obedience training to solve your dog’s separation anxiety, as it is not a matter of disobedience but relatively stress and fear.
While it might seem counterproductive, you shouldn’t pamper your dog when it is stressed. This can accidentally justify your dog’s concerns, reinforcing the behavior. Likewise, it would help if you didn’t speak to your dog in a harsh, angry voice, as this won’t make matters any better.
Instead, it would help if you talked to your dog like any other day. This can help establish a sense of normalcy in your dog, which can help it realize that things are okay and that the world isn’t ending. After all, dogs do have some ability to comprehend situations and attitudes.
If the dog senses that you are stressing about the dog being stressed, it won’t do anything well. Staying calm, talking calmly, and generally acting calm and confident will help reduce stress in your dog.
By ensuring you understand how to deal with your dog’s stress in several situations, you can rest assured knowing that your dog will live a much more comfortable and stress-free life.