We Might Be Stressed But Our Dogs Shouldn’t Be
It’s natural for us to have stress in our lives, even when we don’t want or need it. But have you considered whether or not your stress is causing your dog stress? We’ve all done this before without even being conscious of it. We come home, walk in with frustration, toss our belongings down and ignore the dog that’s been anxiously awaiting our return. They felt stress all day because we were gone and now they’re stressed because we’re neglecting them.
A study conducted by researcher Dr. Kun Guo, from the University of Lincoln’s School of Psychology, found that “previous studies have indicated that dogs can differentiate between human emotions from cues such as facial expressions, but this is not the same as emotional recognition. Our study shows that dogs have the ability to integrate two different sources of sensory information into a coherent perception of emotion in both humans and dogs. To do so requires a system of internal categorization of emotional states. This cognitive ability has until now only been evidenced in primates and the capacity to do this across species only seen in humans.” Read the full Telegraph article here. Being able to understand our emotional needs, dogs can easily be affected by our emotions. Aside from your emotional state, there are direct ways that your actions can cause a stressed out dog.
So we’ve talked about how your stress can make your dog stress, but what about the environment you live in. Living in a dysfunctional home that is full of tension, is not a healthy environment for your pet. Again try to imagine how you feel if there was constant fighting or slamming of items, yelling and arguing around you. It would make you nervous and fearful. That’s how your dog feels, even if you’re not directing the negative emotions towards your dog. A hostile environment is not good for you and is certainly not good for your dog.
Your dog needs to have consistent training, not only does this set them up to succeed through their behavior but it also helps control their actions in a moderate way. Dogs get confused when you’re yelling at them for something they did yesterday without being punished for. The stress in dogs comes from not understanding what they did wrong and why it was wrong. When you’re consistent in training them where they’re allowed, where to use the bathroom, what not to eat or chew on, etc., they can live stress free in your home because they’ve been told what the rules are. When you’re inconsistent, then the rules constantly change, which is bad for your dog’s mental state and adds a lot of confusion for them.
Dogs need to exercise. If you think about how good exercising makes you feel, then consider what it does for your dog. Not to mention that exercise, breaks up their day and gives them an adventure when you take them for that walk around the neighborhood or to that friendly dog park. Letting them release their energy by going for walks, or runs, does as much for them as it does for you. So soak up the sunshine more with them and you’ll both benefit.
Living in a mess can be just as much of a nightmare for your pet as it is for you. Sure it might seem like fun for your dog, when they have to jump and walk around items that are sprinkled all over the floor, but it’s actually a potential safety hazard for them. Organizing your home for your pet is a good excuse to keep the space clean and clear. Your dog will be happier when it has space to roam around and play freely without the risk of injury.
Tips for Dog Stress Relief
Pet MD has a great list of stress relief for dogs. The list is made up of simple things that you can do that should provide ways to relax and calm your dog down.
• Play music
• Aromatherapy and essential oils
• Physical contact
• Give them a time out
• Check your own state of mind
This list is a great way to keep your dog calm and happy no matter what type of stress and anxiety your dog might have. Having a clutter free home, also gives them the space that they need to move around and play. Taking them on regular walks or to the dog park frequently helps relieve any of the stress that they may be carrying (even if you’re unaware of them feeling stressed). More than anything, consider your actions and behavior towards your dog and remember, creating a healthy emotional environment, will help with your dog’s mental state.