Events such as moving house, going on holiday, or changes in the family can be stressful both our dogs and for us owners, but even little things like car journeys, meeting new people, going to the vet, separation and loud noise levels can cause our four-legged friends to feel stressed and anxious.
It’s important to try and recognise the signs of stress in your dog, and use a variety of tricks and solutions for calming them.
As you watch your dog in different situations, you’ll start to notice when he’s not truly comfortable.
Different breeds and personalities may exhibit their anxieties in different ways – for example, more outgoing dogs might take it out on their surroundings in a physical way, whilst introverted dogs might internalise their anxiety with vomiting or diarrhoea.
Some of the symptoms your dog may exhibit if he’s feeling anxious or stressed are:
• Panting: If your furry friend is panting for no obvious reason (he’s not too hot and he hasn’t recently done any physical exercise), then there’s a good chance he’s feeling stressed.
• Sweating from the paws: Just like humans, dogs can sweat when they’re feeling anxious or stressed. Keep an eye out for wet paw prints on the floor.
• Pinning back ears: If your dog is feeling anxious you might notice him pinning back his ears. You may also notice a dipped head, lower body posture, or see him shifting his weight to his back legs.
• Yawning: Long, intense yawning can be a sign that your dog is stressed.
• Excessive shedding: This can often happen at the vets. Your pooch may shed his coat more than usual when he’s feeling anxious.
• Excessive barking: This might indicate tension. Look for patterns around when the barking occurs to see if you can find – and avoid – the trigger.
Other tell-tale signs of stress include:
• Lip or nose licking
• Excessive chewing
• Whining or howling
• Aggressive behaviour
• Refusal of food
Intense or prolonged stress can cause health issues for you dog, just like it can for us humans. There are a few simple things you can do to help minimise your dog’s anxiety, but if you’re still worried we’d recommend taking him to see the vet or call our vet for some free advice.
Routines: Just like people, dogs like routines. If your dog has a set pattern for eating, walking and playing, you’ll find he’s much more content and better able to deal with minor stresses.
Space to feel safe: The confinement of a crate or dog bed can be the perfect place for your dog to feel safe and relaxed. Moving house? Try adding some clothes carrying your scent to his bed to help him feel safe.
Exercise: Relieve tension and stop your dog’s anxiety with regular exercise. Play in the garden, go for a long walk – just get active.
Spend time together: Dogs are inherently social creatures and boredom and loneliness can make them anxious. Spending time with your dog is a win-win – it relieves stress in both of you!