What Causes Stress in Dogs?

Many people, even the most caring and dedicated dog owners, are quite unaware that dogs too can get very stressed. Stress in dogs can be triggered by a variety of reasons and it’s important to know what those situations are, so that you can avoid them as much as you can.

The effect that stress has on people is similar to those it has on dogs and if you’ve ever been under stress (and I’m sure you have), you know how unpleasant it is. So, take a look at the following situations that experts say are the most stressful for dogs and try to minimise your dog’s exposure to them.

Causes of Stress in Dogs

Saying “no” all the time

It’s normal and natural to correct your dog’s behaviour by saying “no”. However, if you keep repeating it, without offering an alternative, your dog won’t know what to do and will become stressed. The first several times it will stop its behaviour temporarily, but without a clear idea what is expected of it, it’ll become frustrated. So, you need to show your dog what it needs to do if you don’t want it to continue with undesirable behaviour.

stress in dogs

Punishing it for behaving like a dog

This is particularly important when it comes to puppies. Dogs are usually quite playful by nature and when presented with an opportunity to amuse themselves, they are likely to break some of the rules. This means that you should not leave your food or socks lying around, as the prospect of having fun with such items will probably be too much for your dog to resist.

stress in dogs

Simplify your verbal commands

Your dog is not familiar with synonyms, so you shouldn’t use a range of verbal commands for the same action. Although you would like your dog to perform the same routine regardless of whether you say “Fetch!”, “Bring it!” or “Get it”, it can only get confused. Instead, you should choose simple, preferably one-word commands, such as “sit”, “stay” or “come”, so that your dog can be sure it is doing the right thing. Otherwise, it will understand that you want it to do something, but it won’t know what, which will lead to frustration.

stress in dogs

Provide comfort

There are certain situations which might be trigger stress in your dog, such as going to the vet or groomer. Once your dog recognises you’re taking it to the vet, for example, it’s probably going to start to whine and tremble. That’s when you need to provide comfort but if you keep repeating something like “It’s OK”, your dog will associate it with a stressful situation and start panicking even more. Instead, you need to help it relax and deal with such stressful situations.

stress in dogs

Tackle the fear of abandonment

If you’re planning to go away on business or holiday, you can expect your dog to feel abandoned. This is a normal and natural reaction to being left behind. You need to find someone you can trust and who likes your dog to look after it while you’re gone. Alternatively, you can turn to professionals who organise reliable pet day care.

Don’t stare at it

You don’t like people staring at you, so why would you do that to your dog? It’s quite unsettling and your dog might easily interpret it as a signal for fighting, which naturally causes it to become stressed. So, don’t stare at your dog in any situation.

stress in dogs

Body language

One of the most common stress inducers is finger pointing/shaking, especially if you lean over your dog in a menacing way. When this action is accompanied by a raised tone, your dog is bound to get stressed. Very often, your dog will give you what seems to be a guilty look, but it’s actually one reflecting confusion and stress.

canine stress

Avoid waking it up

Like humans, dogs don’t like being woken up for no good reason, particularly if you shout at them or shake them. So, unless there’s a very good reason for your dog to wake up, let the sleeping dogs lie.
It turns out that dogs share much more with humans than we might think. Most of the situations that dogs find stressful would have a similar effect on us, too. That’s why we need to be very careful about how we treat our beloved friends and help them live their lives with as little stress as possible.

Written by Diana Smith – Pics from Pixabay.com