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Knowing the signs of stress on dogs is important for every dog owner to be familiar with.  The most common signs of stress in dogs include pacing, yawning, licking his lips, tucking his tail between his legs, pinning his ears back, shivering, excessive panting, dilated pupils, excessive barking, excessive licking, chewing, red eyes, shedding, aggression, vomiting, diarrhea, sweaty paws and digging.  A dog under stress may exhibit one or more of these symptoms.  Once you see the symptoms and know that your dog is under stress, the key is to figure out what is causing the stress and then help your dog cope with it.

Why Do Dogs Become Stressed?

Dogs become stressed for various reasons such as going to a new place, meeting a stranger or another dog, being left alone, loud noises, going to the vet or groomer, etc.  Early socialization can help your puppy to adjust to new situations as an adult.  Exposing him to as many different people, friendly dogs, places and sounds as a puppy is so important.  If this didn’t happen or there is still a situation or location that causes stress to your dog, conditioning him to the thing that is causing him stress can be a solution.

What Should You Do If Your Dog Is Stressed?

When your dog is stressed, one of the most important things that you need to do is stay calm.  Dogs are so good at reading us, so if you are nervous or upset because your dog is stressed, he is going to pick up on that and it will cause even more stress for him.  It’s important to stay calm and not console him.  If you console your dog when he is stressed he sees this as a reward and therefore, without realizing that you are doing it, you are actually rewarding the behavior which makes him feel that he is showing the appropriate behavior for the situation.


Signs & Symptoms Of Stress On Dogs

  • Pacing
  • Shaking
  • Whining
  • Barking
  • Yawning
  • Drooling
  • Licking
  • Ears pinned back
  • Eyes open really wide
  • Cowering
  • Shedding
  • Panting
  • Inappropriate urination
  • Trying to escape or hide

If your dog is showing one or more of the above mentioned signs of stress in dogs, the tips below can help you to reduce the stress to make your dog comfortable again.

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Tips For Reducing Stress In Dogs

1. Condition Your Dog To The Situation

If there is a situation or person/people who cause stress for your dog, for example men wearing hats, conditioning your dog to be around men wearing hats can help him.  To condition a dog to accept a new situation, start from a distance where your dog will show no reaction to what it is that you are conditioning him to, in this case, a man wearing a hat.  If your dog is comfortable 200 feet away, then start at 200 feet away from the man wearing the hat.  If your dog shows no reaction at that distance, reward him and move a bit closer.

Each time that your dog does not react reward him.  If he does react, move back a bit, wait for him to settle and reward him again.  Do not rush the dog to accept the new situation, each dog will be different in the amount of time that it will take him to accept the new situation.  It could take a day of training or it could take a week or even months.  It all depends on the dog and the situation that you are conditioning him to.

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2. Redirect Your Dog’s Attention

If your dog is stressed by loud noises such as thunder, never console him or act nervous around him yourself, this actually reinforces the negative behavior and your dog will think that he is behaving appropriately.  Act as if everything is fine.  Try to distract him with doing some training or by doing an activity that he normally likes.  If he’s very stressed and redirecting his attention to something else doesn’t work, there are shirts called ‘Thunder Shirts’ that are made for situations like this.  Thunder shirts work by targeting several pressure points on your dog’s body.  These pressure points relieve stress and can cause a calming effect for your dog.  If you do not have a Thunder Shirt you could give your dog a massage to try to calm him.

3. Boost Your Dog’s Confidence

Find activities to boost your dog’s confidence.  Giving your dog a job can be a great way to boost his confidence.  His job can be as simple as doing some obedience training or you can teach him to do things like bring you your slippers or the newspaper.  Having a job, even a simple one, can be a great boost for any dog, which will help in reducing stress in dogs. Sign up for a class in a dog event that you think that your dog may enjoy. There are so many dog sports and events to choose from. Explore a few to see which one you and your dog enjoy the most. This is a great way to boost your dog’s confidence while having fun at the same time.

4. Provide Proper Exercise

Make sure that your dog is getting enough exercise.  Exercise is a great stress reliever for us humans and it is equally as good for dogs too.  Take your dog out for a nice walk in the park or a run in the field.  Proper exercise has a way of making us all feel so much better!

Some dogs need more exercise than others. If your dog is a couch potato, he may only need a good half an hour walk. If your dog is a higher energy dog, he may need a few hours a day where he can run and play and get rid of that built up energy. Explore some dog friendly trails or visit a dog friendly area where your dog can run and play. Set up doggy playdates with other dogs that your dog enjoys being around. Your dog will feel better when he gets out for some exercise and you will too!

5. Play Calming Music

Play some calming musicCalming music can reduce stress and make us and our pets more relaxed.  So, turn on YouTube or put on a nice calming CD and sit back and relax with your dog.

6. Use Pheromones

Use pheromonesPheromones are naturally produced by mother dogs and have a calming effect on her puppies.  There are now synthetic versions of pheromones available to help stressed pets.  Pheromone collars seem to work the best as they are always with the dog.  You can also get plug ins and sprays too.  Studies have shown them to be a positive way to reduce stress in pets.

7. Take Your Dog For A Veterinarian Exam

It is also important to note that if there is no obvious source of stress for your dog but he is still exhibiting some of the symptoms of stress, you should take him to the vet for an examination as the stress could be caused from an illness.  If no medical reason is found for the stress that your dog is experiencing, it would be wise to consult with a dog behaviorist in your area for some guidance in reducing stress in dogs.

Related Article:  9 Tips To Help Your Dog Deal With Anxiety

Stress in dogs is common, just like it is with people. But by knowing how to help ease the stress, your dog can work through the stress and get back to being his happy and carefree self again.

*Disclaimer: All information presented here is intended for entertainment purposes only. It is not provided in order to evaluate the temperament of a dog or set up a training plan for a dog with severe behavior issues. The author, publisher, and contributors accept no responsibility for such use. Anyone having a dog with severe behavior problems should consult with a dog behaviorist or dog trainer immediately to prevent harm to themselves and other people or animals. 

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