If your dog is overly stressed, it can affect his overall health. The best thing to do is to simply avoid the things that stress him out. However, we can’t always avoid stressful situations for our pups. There are a few different techniques that you can use to relieve stress.
Dogs like to chew when they are stressed, so provide them with something yummy and dog safe to chew on. If he doesn’t seem interested in his regular chew toys you can add a little peanut butter to it to entice him. You can also give him a Kong filled with some treats. Food is a great technique for most stressful situations – just be sure that he isn’t getting over fed. If he doesn’t have something to chew on he may decide to lick and chew on himself.
You should always make sure that your dog has something dog safe to chew on but that may not be enough to completely relieve his stress. If your dog is stressed because of boredom or separation, then food will probably not be enough. The next thing to do is to add exercise and play. You may not be giving him enough exercise – his work out/play session is not done until he is panting on the floor and wiped out. If you throw his favorite toy and he still goes after it then he’s not done yet. Getting this kind of exercise will help with some behavior problems and it will also help to relieve stress. Distracting your dog with play will help your dog to realize that he doesn’t have to worry since you are clearly not concerned.
Sometimes your dog just needs a quiet place to relax. If your dog is stressed because of too much excitement, give him some peaceful time in his crate in a quiet room and leave him something to chew on. The crate is his den – his safe haven and he will feel safe in there.
If your dog is stressed and feeling insecure, he will want his mommy/daddy security blanket. He may sit on your foot or crawl in your lap. This is fine but it’s important not to fuss over him. You will be not only rewarding the behavior but also communicating to him that he was right to be scared in the first place. He is going to pick up on your emotions so you need to be nonchalant. If you are acting casual and maintaining a sense of calm, your dog will start to relax. During these stressful times you can have him do tricks for a treat. Use a treat to lure him so that he is sitting or lying down without touching you and then give him the treat. Give him a treat reward periodically only while he is relaxed. You don’t want to encourage the stressful behavior.
We also recommend the ThunderShirt for dogs who have frequent bouts of anxiety and stress, whether caused by thunder or any other factor. Read our post about ThunderShirts here.
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Be wise… Bewaggle!