Updated by Sheryl on Sep 17, 2021
Humans can feel anxious and stressed from time to time, and so can your dog! They may be stressed out by your neglect, diet, exercise, etc. So how can we help them relieve their stress?
Wait a moment...It’s okay for your dog to feel stressed once in a while. It’s persistent stress that causes dog parents to worry. Prolonged stress in dogs can cause serious problems like anxiety and destructive behavior.
Being their parent, you are their biggest support when it comes to fighting stress. To help your dog relieve stress and be calm, you need to identify the symptoms.
By knowing what stress looks like in dogs, you can help them relax and avoid the situations that are causing your dog to stress out.
To know whether your dog is stressed or not, you need to be fully aware of your dog’s usual behaviors. Only then can you notice a change in their behavior and can find a way to prevent it.
You know your dog pants when he’s tired, after a run in the park, or it’s too hot outside. But, if you notice him panting even though the weather is normal and he has not exercised yet, he might be under stress.
The first thing you can do to ease your stressed dog is avoiding stressful situations inside or outside the house. You can install a safety gate in your house to give separate space to your dog and keep excited children away from his reach.
As with people, exercise is great for the mental well-being of a dog. A long walk in the park, playing fetch can help them release stress. And you may need a retractable dog leash for him!
Keeping your dog entertained and engaged with things he likes will distract him from things that cause him anxiety and stress. You can give him food puzzles, toys that have treats inside them, or play some indoor games with him to comfort him. Here comes a smart dog chasing toys for your little friend.
Right training allows you to communicate with your dog while making them feel safe and secure. Continuous training with positive reinforcement helps dogs to eliminate their feeling of fear, insecurity, and uncertainty.
You have to be really nice and calm with a stressed dog, especially during his training. Try not to raise your voice, and don’t panic if he takes time to respond. You might scare him and cause more stress to an already stressed dog.
Don’t punish your stressed dog if he shows destructive behavior. Punishing a stressed dog may be able to stop him from growling but he will choose to do something instead like biting or snapping.
There are many calming supplements available for dogs in the market. Like any anxiety calming aids, these supplements can make him a little drowsy and help to relieve stress. There are some over-the-counter supplements for dog anxiety treatment which means you don’t need any prescription for that. But it's always recommended seeing a vet to make sure your dog actually need supplements to relieve anxiety and stress.
You can buy a Thunder shirt for your dog. These are anxiety vests that wrap around the torso and apply gentle, constant pressure giving the dog a snug-hug feeling.
Thunder shirt anxiety vests have similar effects as hugging a distressed person or swaddling a crying infant.
A dog can feel stressed out when they are bored, scared, anxious, and frustrated. Your dog might be feeling stressed out because of the following reasons:
Separation anxiety is the most common reason for stress in dogs. Dogs are social beings, and they need companions. Like people, when they are left alone for a long time, they feel lonely and scared. Whining, barking, howling when you are leaving the house may indicate signs of separation anxiety. See a behaviorist for separation anxiety treatment.
Dogs are susceptible to loud noise. Fireworks, thunderstorms, and construction works may contribute to stress in dogs.
Whether you’re moving into a new apartment, sending your dog to a dog kennel, or rehoming a dog, change of residence can trigger stress in dogs of any age group. If you see your dog peeing often or throwing up inside the house, it might be because he is stressed out for the new place.
Like people, dogs can also become stressed when they are bored. Lack of exercise, lack of human touch, and affection can make them feel frustrated and anxious, which causes stress.
A dog recognizes you and other members of your family as his ‘pack’, and when someone leaves or a new one comes up, it often causes stress and anxiety in dogs.
Whether it’s because of trauma from the past owner or your dog is territorial, meeting new people can make him stressed out. The best thing you can do is not to force him to become friends with new people. Take things slowly. Give him some time.
Apart from these reasons, a dog can become stressed from always being around a stressed family member. They reflect the stress levels of their owners as they can sense it when things are not right.
Do your best to comfort your stressed dog and see an animal behaviorist or a vet. He might prescribe some calming supplements for dogs if needed.
But remember that little stress in everyone’s life is helpful, including dogs. It teaches them how to deal with difficult situations. Stress induces fear which makes us find solutions to avoid dangerous situations. Our dogs should learn to shake the stress off.