You suspect that your dog does not particularly like being surrounded by strange dogs, that he has a hard time when he is alone at home, and that storms scare him. But, is it possible to recognize stress or anxiety in your dog in concrete signs?
Why you should let your dog sniff quietly during the walk
Although canine stress (such as stress in cats or in humans, to give two examples) sometimes it is much more complicated, the truth is that yes there are signs that we can learn to identify to recognize anxiety in our dogs.
Signs that your dog is stressed
Dogs have two ways of communicating how they feel: with its body language and barking. And both help us to recognize when our dog is feeling uncomfortable or, directly, stressed.
“If your dog licks his muzzle suddenly, without it being related to food, or if he yawns for no apparent reason or out of context, it may indicate that he is stressed, “explains Virginia Rueda, a canine ethologist.
Similarly, if your doggy comrade stays practically still, does not move, it can also be a response to stress. Other times, the signs are more subtle: such as certain facial features (more puckered and rigid), narrowed eyes or flattened ears, and backwards, those that reveal that our friend is uncomfortable.
And those barking: is it stress or does he want something from you?
Dog barking can confuse us: although your friend uses them, above all, to talk or communicate with you, the truth is that they also bark when frustrated, or as a warning sign. And, also, if you feel stressed. Now, not all barks sound the same.
To find out why your dog is barking and how to distinguish a bark, for example, seeking attention, another that denotes stress, you have to look at “the tone, strength, and intensity of vocalization, because it will be different,” says David Menor, doctor in Ethology and member of the group of Clinical Ethology of the University of Córdoba.
According to Minor, while attention seeking bark tends to sound higher-pitched, and your dog emits it in barking chainsWith pauses in between, to evaluate your response (“Has it worked?” “Did I get my human to throw the ball at me?”), an anxious or fearful bark will sound more serious and guttural.
Another key to distinguish it: “The barking of a dog that feels stress can be monotonous and repetitive; and mix with howls or moans “; notes, for his part, the veterinarian, Germán Quintana.
And next time you want to hug your dog, think about this
It’s no secret: we know that many dogs find it stressful and anxious to stay home alone. While other dogs prefer not to interact too much with others in the park and that we just throw the ball at them.
But is there something we humans do a lot that stresses our dogs, even if we do it with the best of intentions? Rueda is clear: hug them. And he explains why: “As with the vast majority of animals, dogs need let’s respect your space”
But people tend to hug them as if they were our partners or our child, “something that, quite simply, the vast majority of dogs do not carry well”, the canine ethologist emphasizes.
In other barks: your dog needs his own space; and he prefers that you approach him or that you interact with him in a less intense, calmer way. In fact, there is science behind this discomfort: your dog (evolutionarily) is designed to run or get away from danger; at least, this is your first defense strategy, Explain Stanley Coren, a professor emeritus at Columbia University and an expert on dog behavior.
And when we hug a dog, no matter how good our intention, what we do is (literally) immobilize our friend; prevent that innate escape strategy. Which, according to Coren, increases your stress levels. There is an additional problem with those hugs: “The fact bring our face so close it can also be problematic for our dog “, adds the canine ethologist.
It is true: there are dogs that tolerate it, but the fact that your friend stays still while you hug him, insists Rueda, does not mean (far from it) that he is liking it. Rather the complete opposite.
You already know: The next time you want to cuddle your dog, keep this in mind: you may be making your friend unhappy. The advice: save those hugs for human members of your family, friends, and lovers. Since, most likely, your dog friend prefers that you show your love with a caress on the ears, a loving word, a reward, a good walk or throwing the ball for the umpteenth time.
If you don’t want to miss any of our articles, subscribe to our newsletters subscribe to our newsletters