Much like people, dogs are prone to feeling pain, getting sick and even experiencing varying levels of stress.
Stress can cause your pup to become anxious or depressed. It can even affect your dog’s physical and mental health, much in the same way as it does to people.
Stress can manifest in many ways. The signs can vary, depending on the age of the dog and the type of situation your pet is facing. Some of the typical signs of stress include:
- Excessive barking
- Running off to a corner when there are guests inside the house
Pinpointing possible culprits
There are several potential sources of stress in dogs:
- It could be as simple as a loud noise or an unfamiliar object
- Stress could be one effect of aging
- Some dogs experience stress every time they are brought to the vet
- The frenzy of activity during the holidays, when there are several unfamiliar people roaming around the house, can be stressful to pets
- A dog may feel disoriented and uncomfortable when traveling to a new place
Dogs have their own ways of reducing their stress levels. You can pick up cues by watching how your dog copes with these situations. In some cases, however, your dog may not be able to handle it on his own and will need to rely on you to help him effectively find relief.
Try out these simple tips to help you and your pet relieve stress and achieve peace and comfort in any situation.
1. Spend time with your dog
Stress can cause both people and pets to feel jittery. To combat this, you can try channeling that loose, nervous energy toward an activity instead. Physical activity, whether in the form of exercise or play, helps shake off some of this excess energy.
- Go for a brief 20-minute walk with your dog or play a quick game of fetch. Not only are these activities great for improving your dog’s health, but they can also help you spend some quality time with your pet, which can strengthen the bond that you share.
- Just like in humans, engaging in some form of physical activity can inspire social interactions which provide positive emotional or behavioral benefits. Try visiting a dog park where your pet can play with other dogs. In addition, sign him up for training or agility classes where he can learn commands and practice obedience with a trained professional.
With these options, your pet gets accustomed to being around other dogs as well as other humans, and will not feel as stressed whenever meeting someone new both outside and inside the house.
If there are no parks or training facilities available in your area, you can just have fun at home. Dance with your pet or play some indoor games. Have a fellow dog owner pay a visit to your house for a playdate with your own dog. This can help your pet become more accustomed to having human and canine guests in his home.
Overall, the aim is to get you and your canine moving to shake off the negative vibe, to become focused on an activity to eliminate anxiety, and to become used to being around people and other dogs.
2. Create a safe spot at home
Thunderstorms, fireworks and parties are potential sources of stress for some dogs. It’s best to create a safe zone, a quiet place inside your home where you can reassure your pet when stressful situations are taking place.
You don’t have to build a safe zone just for your pet. It can be any secluded space, such as a particular bedroom. Place a few familiar items in the space such as your dog’s favorite blanket or toy. These will help reassure your pet during stressful moments.
There are also delicious dog treats and bones that you can buy for your pet to help distract and relax them. A ThunderShirt, for instance, is a fit garment that is designed to soothe pets when worn. Think of it as something that works the same way as your own comfiest pair of pajamas help you wind down and become more relaxed at night, ready to slip into a good night’s sleep.
3. Make sure your dog is perfectly healthy
Your dog’s diet can also be a potential cause of stress.
Imagine eating fast food items, or excessively greasy, salty or sweet foods, every day. Not only will the practice cause you to put on more weight, but it could also put your health at risk. Being unhealthy and sick can cause you to feel sluggish and unable to do what you want or need to do.
The same goes for dogs.
Check reviews and study ingredient lists carefully before you go out and buy food for your canine. Ask your dog’s veterinarian for recommended food and dog health care products. Premium grade dog food and supplements may cost more, but choosing only the finest products can keep your dog healthy and stress-free.
In addition to feeding your dog the best quality food, always remember to consult his veterinarian regularly for more advice on preventing disease, following a balanced diet and maintaining the proper activity levels.
Taking extra care to help a dog work through stressful experiences is every responsible pet owner’s responsibility. Try out these simple tips to ensure that your dog faces new, unfamiliar or anxiety-inducing situations like a champ. Remember: A healthy, socialized, busy and well-loved pup is a happy and stress-free pup.
Farah Al-Khojai is the Managing Partner of Pet’s Delight. A passionate entrepreneur, Farah holds a Bsc in Government from the London School of Economics. She is always on the lookout for new opportunities to develop and grow the pet and equestrian retail and wholesale market in the UAE and beyond, and is proud to be at the helm of the first and the largest pet care provider in the market representing world-class brands including Orijen, Applaws, Hunter, Savic, Flamingo, Ruffwear and Rogz.