Chronic stress in your dog causes him to exhibit abnormal behavior. He experiences a decline in appetite, prefers isolation, shows increased aggression, and looks insecure. Stress causes systemic and self-mutilating changes in him that shapes his physical and psychological response. You may find these changes in your dog as irritating or inconvenient while he is gradually slipping into a stress-filled life and illness. Take steps to prevent stress in dogs before it turns out to be a pet killer.
Prevent Stress in Dogs: Avoid Triggers
Make sure your pet is not subject to common triggers that cause anxiety and stress in dogs.
- Separation anxiety: Avoid keeping your dog isolated from the family for long.
- Social anxiety: Ensure your dog has optimal social exposure.
- Traumatic experience: Protect your dog from physical and mental abuse, injury, and distress.
- Loud noises: Assure him of your presence and show unfazed behavior when there are fireworks, thunder, or other types of loud sounds.
- Housing triggers: Do not change his bedding or sleeping area too frequently.
- Family changes: Reassure your dog of your love and care when there is a new addition to your family so that he may not feel upset.
- Routine changes: Stick to the routine life of your dog and avoid frequent alterations.
Prevent Stress in Dogs: Shun Punitive Measures
A dog is a dog and you cannot make him behave like a man. Punishing dogs with an excessive zeal to discipline can make them feel stressed. Misbehavior is apparent when we allow them to express their instincts in an uncontrolled way. For example, if you leave table scraps, your dog may want to eat the same. If you punish him for this, he is more likely to be stressed, as he is not aware what is right. He does it because of his natural instinct.
Similarly, avoid punishments, hitting, or shouting loudly at your dog for failing to follow you during the training.
Prevent Stress in Dogs: Make Him Independent, Self-Confident
You can make your dog immune from stress by giving a boost to his self-confidence and independence. Let your dog feel confident, comfortable, and relaxed both with you and without you. Teach him to engage in activities and stay calm when you are not with him. Give him reassuring attention when you go out to prevent separation anxiety from taking over. Reward him when he stays settled and does not lose his composure.
Prevent Stress in Dogs: Mend Your Ways
Your dog is more likely to become stressed, when your behavior is unpredictable and inconsistent. A responsible pet parent may consider changing the following behaviors to prevent stress in their furry friends.
- Forcibly hugging or kissing a dog that is comfortable with petting and stroking.
- Invading his personal space, interrupting his sleep or rest, and restraining forcibly.
- Telling your pet “no” without showing an alternative.
- Using multiple commands for one behavior. A dog cannot understand different words even though with the same meaning.
- Resorting to complex words to communicate.
- Relying only on words to reassure your dog and not using relaxing physical posture and eye contact.
- Turning stressful and inability to cope with anxiety before your pet.
- Staring or pointing fingers at your dog, who may consider it as a confrontational sign.
- Too much friction and disturbance at home keeping the ambiance tensed.
Prevent Stress in Dogs: Understand Dog’s Instincts, Drives
Find out important drives and instincts of a dog. These are part of his natural behavior and suppressing them may cause anxiety and stress. Allow adequate freedom to your pet to satisfy drives within a reasonable limit. A satisfied and calm dog is less susceptible to stress.
Prevent Stress in Dogs: Physical, Mental Stimulation
A dog needs daily exercise to stay physically and psychologically stimulated. It also allows him to spend time with you, steer clear of obesity, and get better social exposure – all that play a part in cutting down the risk of stress in pets. Daily playtime assures him good times with family while providing him an avenue to release the pent-up energy, which may end up in building stress in your dog.
Prevent Stress in Dogs: Look for Signs
If you are aware of the signs of stress in your dog, you are better placed to act fast and prevent stress from overtaking his life. Your action can save your dog from becoming a victim of chronic stress, leading a traumatic life of fear and anxiety.
Try to make your dog feel relaxed and assure him of your presence and care as soon as you see the following signs of stress in him.
- Excessive licking of lip or nose
- Changes in appetite
- Tail remaining lowered or tucked between legs despite no clear threat
- Frequent and recurrent digestive problems
- Increased nervousness, aggression, barking, howling
- Too much yawning
- Body posture indicating fear or apprehension
- Pinned-back ears
- Abnormal panting, digging, chewing
- Shedding, sweaty paws
- Tense body position
Prevent Stress in Dogs: Focus on Leash Behavior
The absence of proper leash training may cause stress in your dog. When not taught properly to walk on a leash, your pet may pull it quite often forcing you to redirect him. Restraining him too much may lead to stress in your dog. All that you need is to understand the natural need of your dog to smell and inspect everything that he comes across while walking. Don’t yank him, but allow him reasonable freedom.