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

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