7 Signs Your Dog Experiences Stress and How to Relief it - Pooche Supplies

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7 Signs Your Dog Experiences Stress and How to Relief it

January 01, 2020 4 min read

Anxious looking dog lies on a sofa

When noticing a change in your dog’s body language, it’s important to understand what the cause might be. Every dog expresses fear, anxiety, and stress differently and for every dog, different strategies might help to relieve these feelings.

Read on to learn about the top 7 signs that your dog is experiencing stress, followed by 7 things you can do to calm your dog. 


How to tell if your dog is stressed or anxious?


Like humans, every dog is different in how they express stress and anxiety. However, below are the top 7 signs that your dog is stressed:


  1. Your dog might lick, yawn or pant excessively.
  2. Open their eyes wide, to the point where their sclera (the ‘white’ of the eyeball) is highly visible.
  3. Barking or whining for no apparent reason
  4. Your dog hides behind you, a tree, or another object.
  5. Your dog’s body language can be a clear indication of stress. Tucking their tail and/or cowering, should alert you to look closer.
  6. Excessive shedding. You might have noticed that your dog leaves behind a lot of fur when visiting the vet since this is a stressful event for most dogs.
  7. Shaking or trembling might be another symptom of stress.

 yawning brown dog


What is my dog stressed or anxious about?


The list of what might cause your dog to feel stress or anxiety is vast. Some causes can be relatively easy to detect because your dog shows an immediate reaction after a certain event. For example, your dog dashes behind the couch when hearing the loud noise of a passing garbage truck or barks excessively after the first blasts from the New Year’s Eve fireworks.


But the reasons why your dog might show stress or anxiety can also be obscure.

A dog that continuously barks without a clear reason can be challenging to understand. In these cases, you should try to dig deeper by taking your dog’s history into account if known. Has your dog had a bad experience with other dogs and he spotted another dog you didn’t notice? Or maybe you have a senior dog, who has dementia and gets confused sometimes? 


Dogs also can sense stress in you, which in turn can stress them. If you are calm and relaxed, your dog will most likely mirror your state. If you are worried, stressed, or anxious about something, these feelings can transfer to your dog. If you notice tension in yourself, try and let go of it and watch your dog for changing reactions as well.


However, if your dog continues to show signs of acutely stress-levels and anxiety and you are unable to alleviate these, talk to your vet for detecting possible reasons.

happy dog jumping on the grass with a toy between its teeth 


7 things you can do to calm your dog


  1. Play classical music: as a matter of fact, studies have shown that slow and quiet classical music does not just have a relaxing effect on humans, but also on dogs. There is also music, that has been developed just for dogs. 


  1. Try Dog Appeasing Pheromones (DAPs): a mother dog produces this kind of pheromone a few days after she has whelped. It helps to bond with their baby pups but has also shown to have a relaxing effect on dogs.


  1. Draw your dog’s attention away from being fearful: get your dog’s favourite toy outside and distract him or her with a game. Also, another way to distract your dog is with interactive and mind-stimulating toys like the Kong Wobbler, Kong Classic or any similar food maze dog toys.


  1. Untrained dogs express signs of anxiety more often than properly trained dogs. Many professional dog trainers agree that trained dogs show less anxiety and behavioural problems. With proper training, you can teach your dog not to be stressed or fearful about loud noises, going to the vet, or being overly excited about seeing other dogs in the park.


  1. Calm your dog by petting him or her: you are your dog’s most important attachment figure. Being close to your dog, petting and talking in a soft voice to him or her can soothe your dog's stress. But be careful not to show worries or stress yourself. Your dog will absorb it and feel encouraged to stress. If you fear, you could transfer the worry about your dog to your dog. Instead, do the opposite of petting your dog in this situation (point 6).


  1. Leave your dog alone for some time. It might sound harsh to ignore your dog when he or she is stressed, but by doing so, you convey to your dog that there is nothing to be afraid about and everything is perfectly normal.


  1. So-called Thundershirts can ease your dog’s anxiety as well: it’s the same principle as swaddling an infant to help them settle. Thundershirts apply pressure around your dog’s body, which can help them to stay calm.


black-tan dog panting 

Before resorting to supplements or even medication to ease your dog’s anxiety or stress, there are many other alternatives that are proven to be effective remedies. Avoiding triggers, training your dog, or preparing for stressful situations can significantly help to alleviate stress and anxiety. However, you should consult your veterinarian or a behaviourist if your dog experiences severe anxiety which cannot be eased by you or the tips outlined above.

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