Help Your Dog Cope With Stress

Help Your Dog Cope With Stress

While we all understand how important it is to effectively manage our stress, we often fail to realize how important it is to help our dogs do the same. What parts of our life will increase the stress of our companion pets? Here are a few examples:

Divorce

Behavior Problems in Children

Death

Moves

Children Moving Out

Loss of Home

While these are all naturally occurring in our lives, their collective impact can be very negative for both us as well as our dogs.

Signs of Stress in Dogs

There are several signs your dog may be suffering from heightened stress. While many of these signs are also connected to other problems, these are things you may see with your dog when there is stress in the home environment. Here are a few of these symptoms to watch for:

Self Chewing – while most companion pets will chew a little as a form of cleaning, excessive chewing is indicative of high stress.

Destructive Behavior – While some dogs are naturally inclined to some destructive behavior, this would be in excess of what’s normal for your companion pet.

Separation anxiety

Refusing food, treats or to open mouth

Diarrhea or constipation

Avoiding eye contact, keeping tail between legs or acting unusually shy

Remember, these are indicators but are also common in some dogs normally. If you see an increase in these behaviors, that’s when to start evaluating whether or not there are new additional stress factors in the environment that may need to be dealt with.

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Physiological Effects

Every biological organism will have physiological reactions to stress. These can include:

Ulcers

Stress related diarrhea

Stomach Upset

Skin irritation

Helping Fido through Stressful Times

While we may just have to muscle through stress, we can often help our pets so they remain happy and healthy. Here are some tips on how:

Spend quality “happy” time with your dog. – Dogs are often loved because they empathize when their master is having a hard time. While this may help the master a little, if this is habitual it has a severe negative impact in the psychological wellbeing of the animal. Just like you might fake happiness with a toddler, do the same thing with your dog to help reduce their stress.

Consider boarding your dog. If you are in the process of moving, renovating your home, or cleaning up after a natural disaster, consider boarding your dog during the process. While pets are great at adapting to new environments, they don’t deal well with the change process. Removing them from a chaotic environment will help reduce their stress.

Being around other animals will help decrease stress. Take your dog to a dog park or enroll her in a doggie daycare to get the necessary socialization and reduce the stress felt.

We all want what’s best for out families, including out pets. Don’t forget to consider the stress your dog feels when things aren’t normal at home and help give them the attention needed to successfully cope will it too.