Understanding, Identifying, and Coping with Canine Stress

Sep 7, 2021

stressed dog tongue flick

Turning away and licking the nose are both signs of stress in dogs © Don Hanson

Just like us, our dogs can and do experience stress. And just as stress can make us feel afraid, hyper, edgy, or irritable, it can do the same to our dogs.

As a pet behavior consultant, I have observed that most behavior problems with pets, especially the more serious, such as aggression and separation anxiety, are related to one or more stressors in the animal’s life. It is a well-established fact that chronic stress can have a detrimental effect on our behavior, health, and overall well-being. If we want our dogs to have long and healthy lives, in my opinion, we also have an obligation to understand stress and its impact so we can do whatever is necessary to minimize stress in the lives of our canine friends.

Whether stress is “distress” or “eustress,” physiologically, the manifestation of stress in dogs is similar to that in humans, with the same negative and positive effects. Stress can make an individual ill, suppress the immune system, cause behaviors that damage relationships with others, and increase arousal. This increase in arousal dramatically increases the probability of inappropriate and even aggressive behavior.

(Issue 49, July 2021, pp.12-19). Read article