Stress in dogs – 5 ways to help your dog manage stress

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Is your dog stressed?

Just like for us humans, living with continuous stress is not healthy for our dogs. Stress not only affects our dog’s behaviour it can also affect our dogs physical health causing stomach ulcers, decreased immune system and cardio-vascular problems.

So how can you help your dog cope with the stress they experience? In this blog we will go through 5 ways to help your dog manage their stress – getting enough rest, creating routines, getting to sniff, chewing and of course not being in discomfort or pain.

Stress in dogs

5 ways to manage stress

Let’s take a nap

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Just like us, dogs need to get enough rest and sleep. Without enough quality sleep the effect can start to impact their lives.

Dogs need more sleep than humans. Puppies need around 20 hours of sleep in a day and adults depending on their age between 12-15 hours a day.

Quality sleep for dogs is when they get to have multiple sessions along a day of 45 minutes or more with uninterrupted sleep reaching REM.

During sleep, dogs process the events they have experienced, which not only is a stress release but also enhances their learning. This is why it is so important to let sleeping dogs lie.

Creating solid routines

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Having routines is like heaven for dogs. It gives them a sense of safety that they can predict what happens next and when it will happen.

Dogs, much like us humans, tend to stress in unpredictable situations, as it leaves them with a feeling of not being able to control the outcome, which is highly stressful.

Creating routines for your dog makes them feel more in control of their own life and makes them feel calmer because they can predict what will happen next (Read this blog to learn more about how to give your dog more choice in their everyday life).

Let’s go on a sniffari

sniffing

Sniffing is an essential and very natural behaviour for a dog and has countless benefits.

Sniffing releases dopamine in our dogs’ brain, which calms them down. Sniffing also lowers a dog’s pulse.

Furthermore, by letting your dog sniff the cortisol levels in your dog’s body also decrease. Cortisol rises when the dog is feeling stressed, which is why it is so important to do activities after a stressful event, that can decrease cortisol again.

Sniffing is also mentally engaging for dogs, stimulating them in another way than physical exercise. Daily sniffing adventures is therefor very beneficial for your dog (Get our 30 enrichment ideas here).

Let me chew

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Have you ever watched your dog engage in a good chew?

You can almost feel the satisfaction of getting to really use those canines.

For dogs, chewing is not only very satisfying it also releases endorphins (feel good hormones), relieves stress, boredom, frustration and anxiety.

Change between different chew options (if your dog’s stomach can handle it) to keep your dog engaged in chewing.

Managing pain and discomfort

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Pain can strongly affect a dog’s behaviour.

If you notice sudden changes in your dog’s behaviour it is important to first take your dog to the vet and rule out any pain indications.

Dogs communicate differently than humans and many dogs will only give you very sudden signs that they are in pain.

Pain also causes stress in your dog, which again can affect their behaviour and possibly make their physical state worse. Be aware of these small sudden signs that your dog might give you and if you notice anything it is always better to take your dog to the vet and get him/her checked.

Long term pain and stress can cause permanent changes in your dog’s behaviour.

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One comment

  1. […] If you think of a fear of your own you know how hard it is to get rid off, it is the same for our dogs. The next tool you need is therefor a good portion of patience. Respect your dog’s communication and don’t push any further. Reward for the steps he/she has made so far. By doing that you are giving your dog some control of the situation and he/she becomes more calm. Stress is often a bifactor when it comes to fear, and does not help the learning process for your dog. Read more about stress in this blog. […]

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