Today’s writer is Robbi Hess, Story Editor at Positively Woof. Robbi is sharing tips on how to notice signs of stress in your dog and how DOGTV programming can help alleviate that.

Pet parents are as attuned to their fur-baby’s emotions as they are to their human friends and family member’s emotions. It’s no surprise then, that we notice when our dogs are suffering from stress or anxiety. When we notice that our dog is anxious we want to do what we can to alleviate it and to make our dogs as comfortable and happy as possible, right?

If you’re new to pet parenthood, you may wonder how to notice signs of stress in your dog. Some are evident in changes in your dog’s behavior. If he is chewing the furniture or your shoes or clawing the door and that’s behavior that is out of the ordinary, he could be anxious. Some anxiety manifests itself in health issues like vomiting, diarrhea or even hair loss.

Here is how to notice signs of stress in your dogs (and what you can do to help!)

When you notice signs of stress, look to changes in the family dynamic or your dog’s environment that could be the trigger for his anxiety.

  1. Is your dog not as interested in his food as he was? A decrease in appetite could be a sign of stress. If you notice your dog is not cleaning his bowl, consider whether there are other signs of anxiety or changes in behavior that are going along with that.
  2. Does he prefer spending time alone? There are times when our dogs “just want to be alone.” If your dog is normally social, but is now isolating herself, she could be under stress.
  3. Diarrhea and vomiting. If your dog doesn’t normally have an upset belly, this physical sign could be caused by stress.
  4. Unexpected aggression. A dog who is undergoing or enduring stress and anxiety may have a change in personality. A normally placid and happy dog may bark or bite and exhibit other signs of aggression toward humans and/or dogs.
  5. Sleeping more. Just as humans suffering depression tend to sleep more, so too do our dogs.

If you notice any of these signs above or any other change in your dog’s behavior that has you scratching your head, it’s not a bad idea to call your veterinarian and talk with him or her.

Life changes or other changes in your dog’s environment could be causing stress and these changes could include:

  1. A new pet in the house
  2. A move
  3. A new human partner or a baby in the house
  4. Being left home alone for many hours during the day when, perhaps he wasn’t home alone before 
  5. Exposure to loud noises
  6. Not getting enough exercise
  7. Changes in her routine. Something as simple as Daylight Savings Time and it’s hour time change difference could cause a change in your dog’s routine and this could cause her anxiety until she becomes accustomed to the new routine

What can you do to alleviate your dog’s stress & anxiety?

If you’re like most pet parents, seeing your dog exhibiting stress and anxiety leads to your being anxious about him. You will do whatever you can to calm him down and provide him with sensory enrichment to calm him and bring him back to his usually happy self.

Provide a safe zone. If your dog’s environment has changed he may be seeking his “safe zone” and you can provide that for him. Move his bed to a space he can call his own and a space where he will have a getaway. Take your cues from where he is lying down most often and put his bed and toys there.

Spend time with your dog. If there has been a change in your work routine or other family dynamic changes your dog may not be getting the attention she’s accustomed to. Dogs truly are creatures of habit and if they’re used to cuddling with you on the couch before you leave for work in the morning, but a change in your work schedule means you’re rushing around and dashing out the door without that morning snuggle, your dog may become anxious. Create a new routine for snuggle time. Our dogs want to be with us and be near us — that is a bottom line fact. Carve out that time.

Enrich the environment. Imagine if you were home alone all day in a silent house. Or imagine if you’re home alone all day but your ears are attuned to the noises outside the house — a dog barking, a car horn honking, a delivery truck idling in the street, fire or police sirens, a lawn mower — you get the picture. Your dog will hear these noises because his environment is silent and they will lead to barking or other anxiety-ridden behaviors. Turn on DOGTV to be his sensory enrichment companion while you’re away. The sights and sounds of the programming will be his companions while you’re away and will draw his attention away from the unfamiliar noises outside his environment.  

Physical fun. A tired dog is a good dog! Find time to play with, or take a long walk or a run and tire your dog out. You will both benefit from the physical activity because you’ll both be healthier and you will be spending quality time together. It’s a win-win!

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