Can you tell if your pet is stressed?

Signs of a Stressed Dog by D. Kim Sinclair-Ivey

Dogs show us many signals when they are not comfortable in a certain situation.  These signals are displacement behaviours or calming signals and are used by dogs to help calm them down or signal to us that they are stressed.   They are very subtle, and many of them are either missed or misinterpreted by humans.

Here is a list of calming behaviours that dog regularly do;

  • Head Turning – right or left. It can occur in a number of contexts, such as an approach from another dog or you pointing a camera at your dog.  It can occur quickly (and he looks forward again) or the turn can be prolonged and held.
  • Squinting – This is a way of looking in the direction of something, someone, or another dog without making eye contact.
  • Turning Away – This includes head turning and involves turning of the entire body.
  • Licking of The Lips or Nose – This will be quick. It is like a flick of the tongue, but deliberate.
  • Freezing – Stopping all movements.
  • Walking Slowly – Very deliberate slow motion.
  • Play Bowing – When the dog who is bowing is fairly stiff he is trying to convey a bit of discomfort, not necessarily, “let’s play.”
  • Sitting or Lying Down – A sudden sit or drop with or without giving you his back (turning away).
  • Yawning – Most people associate this with being tired, not so.
  • Sniffing – If the dog suddenly starts to sniff the g round or the air. Do not misinterpret this as something he loves to do.  This is displacement behaviour.  The dog is uncomfortable.
  • An Arc Approach – A this is a less threatening approach made by a dog. A Direct front on approach is more of challenge behaviour.
  • One Paw Lift – Usually used with other behaviours above.

General Rules to Follow

Dogs are very intelligent and they are masters at reading body language. Avoid all situations that lead to aggression during the behaviour modification process. . They will learn things from every interaction.  Never give your dog a reason not to trust the situation you have placed him in.  It will be that much more difficult to get it back after something like that NEVER reach over a fearful dog, especially if he is cornered or has no escape. Call him to you as you squat down, turn your body sideways (so you’re not facing him), avoid eye contact (look at the floor near him, but not at him), and stretch out your arm with your hand held nearly at ground level, palm up and open.

Leave sleeping dogs lie.  Call him from a distance, whistle, or make the “kissy” sound so that you do not startle him.

Always consider your dog when company comes to visit. Avoid any situation that makes your dog uncomfortable.  Maybe it would be better to put him in another room or a crate if he is stress by crowds.

Wait until your dog relaxes before you pet him/her or say it is okay.  Calmly remove the dog if the reaction is too great.  Reward when they finally do calm down.  If you reward or coddle during the stressful event you are actually reinforcing the behaviour.

Never physically correct or punish your dog for being fearful .Harsh treatment will damage the trust bond between you.  Trust is the most important element with fearful dogs.

Never ever leave a fearful, stressful dog alone with children.

Our very own Broome Natural Wellness shop, at the Boulevarde can offer some wonderful remedies for stress.  One item is Pet Calm Eze. This remedy is for anxious animals, stressful events and timid pups.  Give it a try and let us know how this works for your dog so we can let everyone know.

Paying Attention