Dogs and Mental Stress

Is your dog stressed out?  First let's discuss stress and what it actually is.  

Mental Stress - A form of stress that occurs because of how events in one's external or internal environment are perceived, resulting in the psychological experience of distress and anxiety (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984). Mental stress is often accompanied by physiological responses (Cacioppo, 1994)

Stress can be caused by anything that we or our dogs perceive as an issue that is difficult to deal with.  Stress is a bad thing; it is seriously tasking on the body.  If you have dealt with stress in a big way then you understand what it can do; not only to your mental state but your physical capacity as well.  

So what can cause stress in our dogs?  Anything.  Each and everyone of our dogs is different.  How they deal with the world around them is just as individual as they are.  My man Luke who is now gone was a stress monkey.  Meaning that there was a great deal that he stressed about.  Stress can be triggered by monumental events in life or tiny day to day things.  The important thing is to keep stress away as far as you can.  

I have heard many owners tell me about their dogs and how they have to live separate lives.  Each dog in a different room; alone all day because they don't get a long.   That is most definitely a stressful environment for a dog.  This is a choice that some humans make for their dog but it may not be the best situation for any of these dogs.  Sometimes placing a dog is a much kinder thing to do.

Dogs that are under socialized can lead a very stressful life.  Those who are left alone all day for hours and hours at a time can be stressed.  But like ourselves, each deals with it in their own way.  So what one dog can deal with does not mean that another can.  It is important that we know our dogs and understand what they can deal with.  

Stress was a trigger for Luke's epileptic seizures; I tried very hard to keep stress out of his life as much as possible.  Elsa does not stress about too much although she is a very serious caregiver with a watchful eye over me; so she does worry about my well being and whereabouts.  Any sign of emotional turmoil from me and she kicks into gear.  Once she feels that I am okay then she relaxes once again. She can also become stressful when dogs that she perceives as scary or a threat to her are near; because she was seriously attacked out of nowhere. 

Stress is serious.  We hear this all the time don't we?  

5 Signs that your dog is stressed

10 Human behaviors that stress out dogs

Know your dog and what they can deal with.  Actually as I finish this blog, Elsa and I are now heading to the harbor for a walk.  There will be feathers there and they most definitely stress you out, yep feathers.