How best to look after a stressed dog – by Laura Barns

How best to look after a stressed dog
by Laura Barns – Vet-medic

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Dogs, just like people, can get stressed. However, it’s not always obvious as to why a dog is stressed, and obviously they can’t tell you the problem. If not treated, this could become a serious issue that could impact on the health of your dog. Here are some key tips for dealing with a stressed dog…

Determine what’s causing the stress

The first step to reducing your dog’s stress should be to work out what’s causing it. Now, there could be a million and one reasons your dog is stressed but there are some key indicators that you should keep an eye out for.

Dogs are big on routine, so a break to that routine could be a major cause of stress for them. If they are put in kennels, for instance, this will be a big disruption to their regular routine. They are also very sensitive to frightening behaviour, so if a person or another dog intimidates them, then they could easily become stressed. Not getting enough rest could also be a cause of stress, just as it would be us humans. Similarly, too much exercise could cause a dog to become stressed (although too little can also be the problem!).

Other causes of stress could include being left alone, a chaotic household, lack of freedom, or even too much attention from its owner. It can be difficult to work out what’s making your dog stressed, so just keep an eye out for unusual behaviour and try and note what caused it.

Obviously the best way to reduce stress is to remove the source of the stress, but there are other things you can do to help.

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Ensure it gets enough rest

As we mentioned earlier, if humans don’t get enough sleep then they can become stressed and the same is true for dogs. Ensure they have somewhere comfortable to sleep and are allowed the chance to get the rest they need. If you have children who enjoy playing with the dog, make sure they don’t wake up the dog if it’s asleep.

Look into some anti-stress dog products

There are plenty of natural methods to use, but you can also purchase anti-stress products to help calm down your dog. You can buy a number of dog products online, such as anti-stress spray and capsules that use essential oils, herbs and other ingredients that can naturally reduce your dog’s anxiety. Sites such as vet-medic.com have numerous products to choose from, many of which can also be used on other animals too.

Avoid punishing your dog

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It’s not too difficult to understand why punishing a dog may make it stressed. Smacking a dog is never advisable, but even techniques such as spraying water at them can still cause an influx in stress hormones in the dog. This can be a particular issue if you have a dog that was once in a dog shelter as they may have had an abusive previous owner. If they’re doing something wrong, then a simple yet stern instruction should suffice or an intervention without being rough or shouting at the dog.

Stick to a routine/get back into it quickly

Dogs are creatures of habit and love routine, so you should develop one as soon as you can and stick to it wherever possible. This includes feeding and exercise times and even when they should be going to bed and waking up. However, it’s virtually impossible to stick to a routine every single day, so don’t be too worried about occasionally breaking it. If you do disrupt the routine, make sure you restart it quickly so that the dog doesn’t become confused and anxious about what it should and shouldn’t be doing.

There are numerous other methods for reducing stress in dogs, but it’s important to make their environment as relaxing as possible for the most part. Some stress can be good for a dog, as they would naturally experience some stress in the wild, but the key is to try and limit the amount of stress and helping to subsequently reduce the stress levels afterwards.