Your dog may be suffering from stress without your knowing it. Even though canine stressors differ from human stressors, dogs suffer from stress, depression, anxiety, and psychological issues. Research in 2010 showed that stress has an impact on a dog’s longevity and health.
“There is evidence to suggest that the stress of living with a fear or anxiety disorder can have negative effects on health and lifespan in the domestic dog.”
Symptoms of Stress in Dogs:
Before I set out to list the reasons for stress in dogs, you need to be clear regarding the evident symptoms of stress in dogs.
1. Excessive Licking
2. Loss of fur
3. Panting in times of stress/challenges
4. Nibbling on carpet or other repetitive habits to shed stress
7. Behavioral changes
9. Diseases (lack of appetite, diarrhea, allergies, vomiting)
10. Attention-seeking behavior (staying close to you always)
Reasons That Trigger Canine Stressors:
Whenever a great or even a small scale change enters your life, each of your family members is affected. Some dogs can adapt easily to changing situations while others are rigid and stubborn in the face of changes.
At an early age, problem-solving activities and exercises can provide mental and physical stimulations to dogs. Along with that, socialization is important at a young age. These steps are helpful in the long run as dogs learn to adjust to new social set-ups.
Curing stress and anxiety in dogs by giving your dog melatonin should be followed after consulting the veterinary.
1. Change of Environment:
If you have recently moved to a new place or have been traveling for a long time, the dog can feel stressed. If your dog feels frightened to socialize with new people or new dogs, your dog might be suffering from stress.
Better socialized dogs have greater adaptability and can accommodate to a new environment well.
Just provide a comfort zone to your dog at the new place by positively reinforcing his adaptive behavior. You can develop good memories for the dog at the new place for him to adjust quickly.
2. Lack of physical & mental exercise:
Hyperactive dogs or intelligent dogs need a lot of exercises and mental stimulation to keep them engaged. As soon as they are ignored, or there’s a lack of physical activities in your dog’s life, he will get bored and stressed out.
Physical exercise is a practical and proven solution to stress in dogs.
3. Separation Anxiety:
Separation Anxiety is common dog problem that requires serious attention. Dogs seeking your attention and protection should be made confident that you will return early each day. They can be engaged in doggy treat toys, chew toys or other puzzles that take hours to get solved. Be careful because in some dog breeds, anxiety due to your ignorance can take a form of stress and depression.
4. Loss of family member/fellow pet:
Losing a loved one is never an easy-to-overcome situation. Dogs understand their owner’s emotions well. In tough situations, they are as much stressed and lonely as we are.
Treat them with love and care. Follow their already established routine. They will soon adjust to the stressful situation.
5. Lack of attention:
When you are busy in life at all times, the dog will feel lonely and stressed. If you used to give attention to your dog, and have suddenly got busy in life due to your new baby or new life-partner, the dog will feel ignored and left-out.
6. Punitive Training Methods:
Using shock collars or harsh training methods are no more recommended by vets and dog training professionals. Your aggression may fear the dog to silence and loneliness. The dog can feel stressed around an abusive owner or trainer. He may try to hide from the owner or the trainer to avoid training routine.
Be very careful when you hire a dog trainer.
Moreover, training methods and techniques should be suitable for dog’s natural abilities and behaviors.
7. The irregularity of routine:
Changes in the daily routine of a dog from physical activity to sleep time rituals can put the dog under stress. Why? The dog may interpret the changes as your lack of interest in him. Dogs decode changes in attitude through actions, not words.
8. Temperament of Owner:
Aggressive owners or anxious people can often stress the dogs with their attitude. The dog’s abilities should match owner’s requirements because if a dog has aggression in nature, he cannot curb the behavior right away through training. There are few techniques to be followed to curb the unwanted behavior.
Hyperactive dogs or well-socialized dogs can feel lonely when kept on a leash all the time. Chaining them is not a solution. Unleash them a little bit to experience the fun. Get the stress out of their minds.
Besides this, don’t leave the dog lonely for long durations.
10. Fear of the unknown:
At new places, around new people and new dogs, in new situations, dogs feel fearful and resistant, at first, due to fear of the unknown. Don’t we humans experience the same?
The unknown is what’s not predictable.
Giving your dog confidence and building a comfort zone around him will tone down his fears. You can positively reinforce your dog by rewarding him for facing new challenges.
1 Applied Animal Behaviour Science. July 2010, Volume 125, Issues 3-4, Pages 157-162