Signs of stress in my dog

Signs of stress in my dog

We all love our dogs and want what’s best for them but sometimes we don’t understand how stressed our dogs really are.

Dogs do communicate with us own so many ways we just don’t always see the signs. It’s important to watch their face and pick up the subtle cues.

Picture a child cuddling their dog and holding on quite tight. Our dogs are usually good and won’t bite but sometimes they’re giving you a direct message that they’re feeling uncomfortable,

A dog in this situation may have their ears turned back and slightly down, their head will be turned away and they may be air licking or licking their lips. They may also have moon eyes where they are looking away and you see the whites of their eyes on one side. Many people mistake the lip licking or air licking as giving kisses... they’re not. Dogs sometimes needs space. Allow them to option to walk away and come back when they’re ready.

Stress is a commonly used word that describes feelings of pressure or strain. There are so many causes of stress and we all feel overwhelmed at times. Think of the tools you use to release your own stress. You may go for a walk or talk to a trusted friends do strong physical exercise or go to the beach or a forest. Meditation is also a great stress reliever.

So how do we reduce stress from our dogs lives?

Firstly try and work out what is causing the stress and what are the signs. Look for the following:

  • Pacing or shaking
  • Whining or barking
  • Drooling, yawning or licking
  • Changes in ears or eyes
  • Changes in body posture
  • Shedding (trust me a lot of dogs shed when they visit us at the vet clinic)
  • Panting
  • Changes in bodily functions (think diarrhoea or excessive urination)
  • Hioding or escaping
  • And avoidance or displacement behaviour where they avoid a stressful situation by sniffing the ground, lick their genitals or simply walk away
So what are the signs of a happy dog?

When relaxed they will have semi erect or forward facing ears, a soft mouth and round eyes. Hewill have his weight evenly distributed over all four paws.

If we know our dog is stressed and we know the reason we can start to focus on helping them.

In some cases a dog trainer or behaviouralist is required. You can always start with some simpletips. Is your dog bored? If your dog is food motivated you can increase his enjoyment of meal time. For some dogs dinner is the highlight of their day so don’t make it over with in 30 seconds. A quick easy one is a scatter feed. If you dog eats dry food just grab a handful and throw it across the room, deck or grassy area. The dog has to use his natural scent to find the food.

Try puttying it a slow feeder bowl. A cheap option is to use an old muffin tray and turn it upside down and put his food in there. He has to lick around the mounds to get it our. The muffin tray can be used the right way up buy putting his food in all the individual trays. This takes a lot longer to eat. If he finds this easy stick a tennis ball on top of each mould with the food under it. Eventually they work it out.

Just like meditation dogs like relaxing music. You can buy CD’s or download relaxation music for dogs or cats on Spotify and play when you are out of the house. If nothing else the neighbours will think you’re very cultured.

We use relaxation music for pets in our dog at cat wards in the vet clinic.

We also use a product called Adaptil which is replica of a pheromone that dogs relate to as feeling calm and safe. We have it ion diffusers in the wards and spray on their bedding.

These are simple tips to try but as I mentioned a behaviouralist may be required.

Always see your vet first to ensure there are no underlying medical issues.

And remember exercise is a great stress reliever for you and your dog.

See you at the next class

Why is there a vet nurse at our training sessions?

Why is there a vet nurse at our training sessions?

You may not be aware but veterinary nurses are very skilled and trained people. We spend many years studying and getting hands on experience in the vet clinic.

A vet nurse is an allrounder we do medical nursing, surgical nursing, dental nursing,

radiography nursing , triage and emergency nursing and we answer the phones a lot and clean up a lot of animal mess. Nurses also work at reception and support our clients with advice on preventatives (think worming, heart worm, ticks and fleas) we also help with diet, nutrition and weight loss. Nurses also run puppy preschool training and help with basic behavioural training. So what can they bring to a fitness training session.

Vet nurses are also skilled in dog breeds and age related issues. Many popular breeds today are known as brachycephalic which is the dogs with the squashed in faces. These breeds can include French bulldogs, cavaliers, cavoodles, boxers, Tibetan spaniels and so on. These breeds are usually friendly and adorable dogs but they do have restricted airways, stenotic nares and elongated soft palates. An important fact to mention here is that each individual dog will have varying degrees of this condition.

It’s important that each brachycephalic dog is checked by the vet nurse before their first fitness training session to determine what level they should exercise at. 

Apart from restricted breathing they can also overheat faster and can be

prone to be overweight which will also cause them to overheat quicker and have a lower fitness level.

Other conditions that can factor into your dogs training can be age related. We have puppies whose growth plates haven’t closed over yet so we monitor the length of exercise and duration. Bigger breed pups can take up to 18 months for their growth plates to close. We also get geriatric dogs with arthritis. Exercise is great for them but slow and steady is very important.

When any dog is starting a new exercise routine we monitor them closely. Look for signs of fatigue including sitting and not wanting to walk any further, excessive panting and possible aggression if they are in pain.

You are here to work out as well so if you want to train harder but your dog doesn’t we’re happy to rest with your dog while you continue to work hard. It’s important that you both benefit from a Barking Mad Fitness class.

If you have any questions or concerns about your dog breed please contact us anytime and we’ll be there to answer any of your questions.

What do Facebook and walking your dog do have to do with each other?

What do Facebook and walking your dog do have to do with each other

We all know the drill we take our dog for his daily walk but all he wants to do is stop and sniff everything. It can get annoying as we’re on limited time and he needs his exercise right? 

Well maybe there’s a better way to look at it.

Dogs noses are very sensitive and are at least 1000 times more sensitive than ours. And the part of a dogs brain that is devoted to analysing smells is about 40 times greater than ours.It really is their superpower. 

When your dogs stops to smell a post or tree it is smelling the dogs that were there before him. He can tell if they’re male or female, desexed or not, their age and when they were there. 

As I mentioned in the title it’s just like us flicking through Facebook and knowing where our friends have been and what they’re up to.

Sniffing each others butts is in fact a way of greeting each other it also gives all the above information and can even tell them what the dog ate as his last meal. Sounds gross I know but way faster than shaking hands and asking what you’ve been up to. 

Dogs also may sniff the ground to let another dog know that they are not a threat. Sniffing the ground or the air gives them so much information which is really enriching and fun for your dog. So next time when you take your dog for a walk don’t be in a hurry to get to your destination as quick as possible. Trying slowing down and allow your dog to take the lead with where he wants to go. You may find it’s relaxing for you too. 

If you think about it our dogs don’t get a lot of choice in their day. We decide what food they’ll eat and even when they’ll get fed. We choose when they can go out for their walk and where they can go. Maybe it’s the park or the beach and all choices are great but wouldn’t it be nice if we could just let our dogs have some choices. Letting them choose what speed to walk at and when they want to stop and smell things is such a bonus for them. They’ll enjoy their walk so much more and will help strengthen the bond between you both. 

Try it next time and see how your dog responds. This may be a new experience for him so don’t be surprised if he looks confused. Just keep doing this on all his walks and he’ll adjust quickly and be a much happier pooch. 

Happy trails