How to Relieve Stress in Dogs
Helping You to Reduce Your Dog's Stress Levels
Stress is something we can all understand. Whether it is work or home-related, people experience stress daily.
Thankfully, there are a variety of ways to express and expel that frustration and bad energy.
Some people choose to take up a hobby, which can restore your emotional and mental health, while others put their all into exercise, physically exerting negative emotions, and tiring their bodies.
We are often so wrapped up in our troubles. We fail to notice that our furry friends may be suffering too!
Dog also feel stress. It may be difficult to imagine what a dog has to be anxious or frustrated about, but they live, breathing creatures, no different from you or me.
It’s important to always remeber that dogs feel happiness and sadness and can experience stress in various situations, dog anxiety is a serious issue and should be treated as such.
It is your job, as their owner, to recognize your pet dog may be feeling discomfort or fear and help them get over it.
And it’s important to understand and acknowledge that you may be doing something wrong, making your dog feel this way, and that's okay
Everyone makes mistakes, and parenting (dog or otherwise) is a continually evolving journey with many road bumps.
Once you realize your dog is suffering, your next steps must be to find the solution to help reduce their troubles and anxiety.
Recognizing Anxiety in Your Pet Dog
There are many tell tale signs that your dog may be anxious or stressed. Here are some of the indicators you should make sure to watch for when trying to diagnose your dog's strange behavior.
If the symptoms are severe and your dog seems disturbed, either physically or mentally, seek medical advice from your veterinarian as soon as possible. What may seem like stress can be something much more dangerous for your pets.
Knowing when to seek professional help is vital to the long-term health of your furry friend.
A vocal dog can be the first indicator of stress, especially if your pup is usually relatively quiet. Whining, growling, barking, or whimpering are signs that your dog is displeased, annoyed, angry, scared, or generally anxious.
Dogs make noises to get their owners' attention, as it is one of the only ways they can communicate their discomfort. Keep an eye on your pup and watch for signs of physical ailment, such as limping or elevating a paw.
Your pets crying may be justified, especially if something is hurting. A vocal animal may also be seeking emotional comfort.
Whatever their reason, constant or persistent vocalization is something you should make sure to look out for.
2. Body Language
Dogs can show anxiety or discomfort through body language, just like humans can. Where a relaxed and content dog might snooze away on the couch or rollover to present its belly for a scratch, an anxious dog might cower in a corner, shake uncontrollably, or pace around a room, looking disorientated.
If your dog usually enjoys a ride in the car but now whines loudly, that might be an indication that they experienced trauma while in a car, on-route to the vets, for example.
If they used to greet guests at the door but now cower behind your legs when new people enter the house, that might be an indicator that a previous visitor may have abused or hurt your dog in some way, regardless of why it is your job as their owner and companion to figure out the root of their stress and either remove the stressor or train your pup to overcome their fears.
A dog's behavior, good or bad, is a clear indication of how they are feeling. If you have a well-trained pup who suddenly starts going to the bathroom inside the house, this can be its way of showing displeasure or anxiety.
If your dog begins to exhibit destructive behavior, such as ripping up socks and shoes or destroying your walls, floors, and furniture, this is an unmistakable cry for help and a clear sign of anxiety.
Dogs do not typically become destructive right away so that behavior is probably showing itself only after a lot of time has passed.
Taking your pet to the vet to eliminate any chance of sickness is crucial, as a painful, underlying condition can be the root of your problem.
This is a solution best solved sooner rather than later, as destructive behavior can quickly turn into aggression, making the situation dangerous for small children and other pets within your home.
4. Physical Changes
A change in your dog's physical appearance and habits should be cause for alarm.
Things like constant, prolonged yawning, consistent scratching, panting and licking, large amounts of shedding, and excessive drooling are all habits to look out for, mostly if they were not prevalent before.
Bald patches in your pet's fur due to itching, biting, and licking itself is an extreme form of stress and should be examined by your vet or a pet behavioral specialist.
Smelly breath and cloudy urine can be an indicator of an illness that a professional needs to treat.
5. Changes in Attitude and Demeanor
If your once friendly dog is suddenly acting cold or hostile toward you, this may indicate they are stressed or in pain.
Refusing food or being picky is also an obvious sign of anxiety or some other issue, primarily if your pet is usually motivated by food.
Doing their business in the house, ignoring you when you call out to them, and refusing play/cuddle time is also cause for concern.
How You Can Help Calm Your Dog Down?
Recognizing that your dog is experiencing anxiety or discomfort and acknowledging that they may need support are the first steps to help put your pet on the road to recovery.
The following are just a few ways to relieve stress in a dog with anxiety.
Stress, anxiety, and aggression can stem from a lack of exercise. Dogs are inherently energetic and require physical exercise and mental stimulation.
This can easily be achieved through multiple daily walks, interacting with other dogs, playing an exhilarating game of fetch, or from simple, interactive playtime, using a variety of dog toys.
Exerting energy, especially before bedtime or before leaving for extended periods (i.e., work), can leave a positive impact on your dog. Without proper exercise, dogs may feel the need to entertain themselves, including ripping up things like the couch cushions or hiding socks around the house.
It is, therefore, imperative that dog owners make the time to give their regular dog exercise.
This is one right way to eliminate these behavior problems. It's essential to get your dog active through exercise. This will help your dog stay both physically fit and mentally fit.
2. Crate Training
Designating a safe space for your pet is very important for their well-being. A crate is a perfect solution, especially when working long hours, as your pet will feel secure in their own space, cuddling with their favorite toys and blankets.
If you have kids, this can be a great way to teach them boundaries. If your pup wanders into its crate, that means it wants to be left alone.
It is vital for everyone in your household to understand this concept, as it will assist your dog in feeling they have their little safe haven whenever they need it, easing their anxiety and stress.
Studies show that many genres of calming music can help relieve anxiety in dogs. Soft rock, reggae, and classical music seem to be a fan favorite among pups.
The soft melodies and tones of these genres act as ambient background noise, lower stress levels, and reduce anxious tendencies, such as barking, scratching, and pacing.
This method is most useful when leaving for long periods and helps ease separation anxiety in most dogs.
Playlists can be found on YouTube, some mixes running for twelve hours at a time! Many YouTube channels also make albums and playlists, with ambient background noise, such as nature sounds, soft rain, and people talking quietly.
This can add an extra security level for your furry friend, making it feel like someone is home.
4. Hemp Oil
Hemp Oil has gained popularity in the last few years. Although it was always marketed to humans as a natural form of pain relief, with few side effects, Hemp has quickly gained traction in the pet community as well.
Companies have begun making all-natural treats infused with Hemp oil to help calm anxiety and stress in dogs.
Besides calming your pet mentally and emotionally, Hemp is an anti-inflammatory, beneficial for old dogs with arthritic issues.
It can provide some sense of pain relief to pups with chronic illnesses and physical disabilities. Hemp also helps with sleep disorders (doggy insomnia is a thing!) and has a calming effect on distressed and agitated dogs suffering from anxiety.
5. Evading Stress Triggers
If your dog cannot seem to get over their fear or anxiety, avoiding their triggers would be the only logical solution.
If your dog is scared of people, avoid having large gatherings or loud parties at your house. It would be wiser to invite just a couple of friends at a time to allow your furry friend to start trusting again on its terms.
If your dog becomes anxious around other animals, avoid taking it to the dog park. Instead, opt to have a one-on-one doggy playdate with another owner, where your pup can slowly regain its confidence and playful nature.
With time, dedication, and patience, your dog may even be able to handle playing at a dog park!
It may seem inconvenient and unnecessary to take such precautions, but it is essential to learn how to read your pet's body language and do what is best for them. That is what being a dog owner is all about.
6. Calming Dog Bed
Pet owners should consider that a calming dog bed is a great stress reliever, especially for dogs with separation anxiety.
Make sure you create a safe haven for your dog in your home with a donut shaped dog bed, which is wildly popular in today's saturated pet market.
Their popularity stems from the bed's swaddling technique, which is meant to help an anxious or stressed dog feel safe, warm, soft, and secure, significantly reducing your dog's stress level.
Dogs like humans love to snuggle up and feel warm, cozy and safe!
A calming dog bed is a perfect alternative (or rather, the next best thing) to constant cuddling with their favorite human.
So why not try buying calming beds for dogs, to help ease dog stress at home and combat separation anxiety in dogs
Conclusion - Calming Your Dog and Reducing Their Stress Levels
Dog stress and separation anxiety is not an abnormal occurrence. It is especially common in many dogs that live in the city, that are cooped up all day with little to no exercise and attention and lots of loud noises in their environment.
Although ordinary, that does not mean we, as owners, can allow ourselves to abandon or dismiss our pet's feelings. You need to find a way to help your dog as soon as is possible.
This is because anxiety in dogs can escalate quickly for many pet dogs, if not treated, to help reduce the root causes of dog anxiety, can soon turn into a very anxious dog.
It's essential to help minimize dog anxiety as the behavioral issues associated with this are reported to be the leading causes of dogs' re-homing in today's society.
This upheaval of re-homing does not help with dog anxiety in the long run for the dogs themselves.
It is essential to stay vigilant and watch for signs of stress, anxiety (separation or otherwise), fear, or trauma in your dog.
It is equally crucial not to rule outlying issues, such as an illness, injury, or disease. Visiting a licensed vet is your best bet in finding any problems that need immediate attention and cannot be ruled out as an option.
If your pet dog seems to be lacking physical attention or mental stimulation, it is your responsibility to entertain, educate, and spend time with them to help your dog feel better about life.
It is easy to disassociate yourself from the situation, blaming work for your shortage of time. However, this is not something you can explain to your dog, even if you tried.
Besides noticing your dog's distress, be sure to act on it and get them the help they need. Like humans, dogs are prone to depression, which will only further their stress and anxiety.
Getting to the root of the problem is your job as their guardians and their friend. Dogs are precious and help to de-stress us, so you should return the favor!