We all know that dogs add happiness to our lives. Even after the longest of days, coming home to a wagging tail and sloppy kisses somehow makes everything okay again. But did you ever wonder if your dog has had a bad day? The fact is that dogs experience stress too. Sure, they didn’t have to attend to a sick child, or deal with the cable company, or give a big presentation at work, but stress in dogs is as real as it is in humans.
Who’s the best person to help them deal with this stress? You!
Common Signs of Stress in Dogs
The first step to helping your dog is to be able to identify common symptoms of stress. While your dog may have his or her unique behaviors or symptoms, veterinarians agree that there are a number of common signs that indicate your dog may be experiencing stress.
- Excessive itching
- Digestive problems
- Housebreaking issues
- Aggression issues
- Lethargic behavior
- Isolating him or herself
- Decrease in appetite
- Destructive behavior
- Excessive shedding
Of course, some of these behaviors and symptoms can be attributed to a number of causes beyond stress. If your dog is scratching excessively, it could be fleas, diet allergies, or any number of other issues that are bothering him or her. However, once these other possibilities are eliminated, it’s important to consider that stress may be the root issue.
So How Can I Help My Dog Relieve Stress?
It turns out that you can help your dog relieve stress in many of the same ways your relieve stress for yourself. If you’re seeing one or more signs in your dog that they may be stresses or overly anxious, try some of these ideas to get them back to their old, playful self.
Go for a Walk
You know how that workout helps you burn stress after a long day? The same goes for your dog. A long walk is not only good for his body, it’s good for his mind, too. Your dog gets to spend quality time with you and burn off some nervous energy. This activity can be especially helpful if he is kept inside most of the day, for example, while you’re at work.
Check His Diet
Are you feeding the right food for your dog based on his size, age, and breed? Different dogs need different nutrition. Talk to your vet about what diet is right for your dog. If you do change foods, make sure you gradually transition to make it easier on his digestive system.
Also, make sure your dog is getting enough water. Dehydration can cause a number of issues that can lead to, or worsen, stress.
Give Him a Happy Place
Have you ever noticed how your dog likes to sit in his kennel, even when you are home? Dogs like the comfort and security of their own bed or “cave.” Make sure your dog has a place he can call his own – a cozy corner away from high-traffic areas in your home, loud stereos and TVs, or other stress-inducing environments.
Establish a Routine
This is especially helpful if your dog is in a new environment or if you are introducing new animals or people into your home. Dogs, like humans, can be creatures of habit. By feeding, walking, playing, etc at scheduled times, dogs can anticipate what is going to happen next in their daily lives. The comfort of routine can also aid with separation anxiety issues.
We all love our dogs, but when life gets hectic, they can often be the ones that sometimes get ignored. Remember that you are your dog’s favorite person in the world. Their only desire is to please you. All they ask in return is a little bit of your attention, everyday. It doesn’t matter if you play ball or just cuddle up to watch a show; your dog will feel better when you have time to focus on him.
As always, consult with your vet if you see strange behavior or symptoms in your dog. Your vet is the first and best resource to solve problems. We’d love to hear your suggestions for how you like to relieve stress in your dog. Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and share your best tips with us!