April is Stress Awareness Month in many countries. We think of stress in relation to humans but did you know dogs are suffering from stress more now than they did say fifty or sixty years ago?. Although people are more aware of the dietary, medical and social needs of a dog these days, more dogs are stressed.
I came across an article printed back in 1999 in the Adelaide Advertiser which stated, 'The scourge of the millennium, a stressed life style, is striking down the family dog.' It was predicted stress would be the biggest problem facing dogs in the future. There is plenty of current research to back this prediction. The hectic lifestyle of owners is blamed.
How can the owner's lifestyle stress their dog? Problems caused by the owners' lifestyle include -
owners working long hours and dogs getting bored and lonely at home
owners too tired or busy to walk their dog regularly
dogs not getting enough mental stimulation due to their owners being too busy to play and interact with them
too much noise in the dog's environment
lack of routine or interruption to routine resulting in walks (if they happen at all) and feeding at irregular times
stressed out owners. Dogs pick up on this stress.
large number of people, noisy children or adults
nowhere to retreat to if feeling threatened by unfamiliar children or adults
no yard to run around in
Signs a dog is stressed A dog may show he/she is stressed by -
chewing and ripping up electrical cords, clothing, couches, cushions, garden hose, vegetables from the garden and other items (Puppies may chew things they shouldn't but can be trained out of such behaviour.)
demonstrating separation anxiety
barking, growling, whimpering or whining excessively
aggression (to other animals or people)
soiling or wetting inside the house
excessive chewing of his/her skin
Destructive behaviour can be a symptom of stress Giphy
Over the last decade the idea of 'doggy daycare' has become more popular. Especially if they work long hours, some owners now leave their dog at a daycare centre where they are able to play with other dogs and they get attention from human dog lovers.
Others arrange for their dog to stay at the home of a pet sitter or the sitter comes to their house for part of the day to interact with their dog and take him/her for a walk.
Other ways to help lower a dog's stress level Dogs may be helped by -
yawning at it
company of a compatible pet
medication prescribed by a vet (in addition to other strategies)
playing games with your dog
plenty of exercise
avoiding stressful situations such as fireworks, loud noise, crowds
Regular exercise helps reduce stress in dogs Pixabay
As well as ensuring a dog's physical needs are taken care, owners need to make sure to take care of their psychological welfare too.