Don't Stress: Treating Stress in Dogs

When we are stressed, our hearts race, palms sweat, we have butterflies in our tummies and often feel overwhelmingly pressured. The same goes for dogs. But the difference is, dogs can’t tell us how they feel. They use body language. So the easiest way to tell if your dog is stressed is look at changes in his behavior.

Some common signs include:
stressed dogExcessive grooming or lickingIllness
Being vocal – incessant barking
Inappropriate toilet habits e.g., accidents inside
Destructive behavior
Changes in appetite and drinking habits
Shyness or avoiding contact
Restlessness or trembling

And there are many reasons he might be stressed:

  • Illness
  • Thunderstorms or loud noises
  • Moving home or being put in a boarding kennel
  • Addition of another pet or family member
  • Travelling
If your dog is prone to stress the key is to control, calm, relax or distract him when he’s in a stressful situation, so he will realise there is nothing to be stressed about.

Some simple strategies:

If your dog suffers from separation anxiety, try to distract him before you leave so he will be focused on the distraction rather than you walking out the door. A kong filled with kibble is a simple and reliable strategy.

Moving home – take familiar items to the new house (or boarding kennel) such as bedding and toys, water and feeding bowls.

Thunder storms/fireworks – Allow your dog to stay in a quiet secure place, e.g., Laundry or his kennel and consider desensitizing techniques and calming formulas which have been shown to be very effective.

If symptoms persist, of course, you should contact your vet as there are also medical solutions for dogs that suffer undue stress.