HERE ARE 5 SIGNS OF STRESS IN YOUR DOG YOU MIGHT NOT EXPECT:
- Shedding. Sure, most of our dogs shed most of the time, but during times of increased stress you’ll notice tufts coming off your dog in big puffs.
- Yawning. Of course we all yawn when we’re tired, but did you know your dog will yawn–often accompanied by a squeak or whine–when stressed? This is one way your dog is trying to calm himself when he feels himself getting stressed.
- Pacing. A stressed-out dog might walk back and forth. Imagine the old sit-com portrayal of the expectant dad pacing the waiting room. It’s the same thing; your dog is trying to blow off steam and expend that nervous energy.
- Hiding. If your dog ducks behind you, scoots under the bed, or crawls behind the couch, she’s not feeling confident. In these instances, if your dog chooses to hide behind you, provide comfort as much as possible, but if she’s in a closet or under the bed, it’s OK to leave her alone and wait her out.
- Drooling or panting. If you haven’t run a couple miles and your dog is drooling or panting? She’s stressed. It’s just like when you’re in a period of stress and your breathing becomes shallow.
For Coop, it’s definitely the panting. When he’s panting, I know it’s time to swoop in and help my guy. In fact, it’s so exaggerated in Cooper that as soon as I see the corners of his lips pull back, I know he’s about to start panting like crazy, and his stress shows in that grimace.
Watch for these signs, then step in to counteract them before your dog melts down!
HERE ARE 3 WAYS TO HELP YOUR STRESSED-OUT DOG:
- Remove the stressor or remove your dog. If something (fireworks, bicycle, crowded sidewalks, hot air balloons) causes your dog acute stress, either remove the thing or remove your dog. We’re not talking permanent avoidance; you’ll want to plan some training to help your pup in the long-term. This is just short-term management to help your dog get through the moment.
- Provide comfort. Recently someone told me she doesn’t want to “coddle” her dog when she’s hiding from fear. Imagine saying something like that about a baby or child. No one would ever dream of saying something like, “Oh, your kid’s terrified of lightning? Well, you should never comfort a frightened child! It’ll just reinforce her fear!” If your dog, your friend, your partner, your child, whoever, feels scared, provide comfort. The end.
- Implement interventions. For daily anxiety management, we give Coop a dose of CBD. We’ve been using Veritas Farms for a while and are still happy with it. For stressors that are unexpected or particularly acute–fireworks, thunderstorms, company visiting, whatever it is for your dog–other options include the Thundershirt and hormone diffusers like ADAPTIL. For stressors you can plan for–vacuuming, company visiting–you can organize a bunch of interventions, like combining a CBD dose with a Thundershirt or removing your dog to a cozy corner with a Kong stuffed full of his favorite things or a snuffle mat to take his mind off his nerves.
None of those are a substitute for training, of course, but for dogs who are wired for stress, training simply can’t mitigate all the stress your pup will ever experience. For instance, Cooper is trained not to attack the vacuum, but it still stresses him out when I run it. So, I use a ton of interventions.