7 Signs your Dog is Stressed (and How to Relieve it)
When your dog becomes stressed, it can be extremely distressing for the whole family.
Stress in dogs presents itself in a variety of ways and is triggered by many different factors.
Some dogs are more susceptible to developing stress and anxiety from birth. For others, there may be things that happen in their life that spark their stress. Stress is often prevalent among adopted dogs moving from shelters to their forever home, due to the upheaval and possible mistreatment they have faced during their lifetime.
Whilst you may understand how to deal with and adapt to stress in yourself, or your friends, it can be challenging to know how to cope with this in dogs.
Causes of Stress in Dogs
There are a variety of causes of stress in dogs. However, the most common is simply old age. As your dog gets older, they may likely become confused. Dogs struggle to express the emotion of confusion, which inevitably leads to stress and presents itself in various ways.
Fears and phobias are also another huge cause of stress in dogs. Phobias can present themselves at any time throughout your dog’s life, often triggered by a traumatic life event. Although challenging to overcome, there are many specialists you can work with to help ease phobias in dogs.
Separation can also cause stress and anxiety in our dogs. Separation anxiety generally occurs following significant life changes such as moving home.
Signs That Your Dog is Stressed
Often, your pet will not comprehend how to express themself. This is why there are a variety of symptoms you should be looking out for.
Barking and Growling
Barking is a perfectly normal communication tactic. Dogs have a variety of barks, some of which you will be very much used to. Some dogs bark to tell you they are hungry; others bark to say hello to the friendly postman.
However, if the barking becomes excessive, your dog is likely trying to tell you something.
Growling is often a clear sign that something is causing your pet severe stress. It should be taken seriously if it becomes a regular habit of your dog.
Although yawning is usually attributed to tiredness, excessive yawning can be a clear sign of dogs’ stress. Stress yawning is much more frequent and prolonged; usually accompanied by pacing and other anxious behaviours.
Drooling and Lip Smacking
Drooling and lip-smacking are symptoms of stress in dogs, which are easy to miss. Both of these are often expected at both social occasions and mealtimes.
When presented with a bowl of food, a small amount of drool is nothing to worry about. However, if you find pools of saliva around your home, it is a clear sign of a stressed dog.
If you have ever taken a nervous dog for a trip to the vets, you will be well aware that dogs shed their fur when anxious. This is why prolonged periods of stress can result in a great deal of hair loss for your pet.
Unusual Toilet Habits
Every dog has accidents from time to time, but it could be a sign of nerves or stress in your dog if the accidents are becoming more frequent.
The unsettling feeling caused by stress or anxiety can throw your pet off their regular routine, meaning they are more likely to have an accident in the home. You may also notice that accidents become more regular when you have visitors, a clear sign of a stressed dog.
Stress may even present itself as an upset stomach or diarrhoea, as it frequently can in humans.
Aggression and Destructive Behaviour
Stressed dogs do not know how to communicate. Stress in dogs is often combined with anxiety and nerves, leading to your dog being in a great deal of pain and craving attention.
Often, stressed pets are much more likely to lash out, growl and snap at your family or at visitors. They are also more likely to destroy things around the home and damage furniture.
Cowering and Hiding
When dogs begin to feel uncomfortable in their own home, it is a clear sign that your dog is suffering from stress. Especially when you have guests in the house, your dog may be tempted to find a quiet hiding place. Sometimes under a table or rushing into other rooms. A dog that cowers or hides is often displaying nervous and stressed tendencies.
How to Resolve Stress in Dogs
If your dog is showing any, or a combination of the stress symptoms, you should always seek assistance from your vet.
Your vet will likely recommend a combination of factors to help relieve the stress your dog is currently under.
The number one anxiety builder in dogs is an irregular exercise routine, or even worse, complete lack of exercise. A dog that does daily activity will lead a longer and healthier life.
Some dogs find silence extremely stressful. Merely playing the radio on a quiet volume throughout the day could result in you arriving home to a much calmer pet.
Calming supplements are great natural stress relievers.
Calming supplements are usually taken with the main meal of the day and can be mixed into the food for ease. These supplements should help ease anxious behaviours and can be particularly good for dogs transitioning from a shelter into their forever homes.
Consider Your Body Language
Dogs are incredibly intelligent creatures and are very receptive to our body language and emotions. Reacting angrily and negatively to their stress or anxiety will only exacerbate the issue.
If your dog gets anxious or stressed around groups, try to avoid them wherever possible. When introducing your pet to new people, do it gradually, making the transition a measured one. Use the same tactic when introducing them to new dogs.
Remember, no two dogs are the same and stress doesn’t have to be a lifelong pain for your pet. A few simple lifestyle changes should make your dog much more content.