I just ran across a short article titled, “7 Surprising Ways Your Dog Says ‘I’m Stressed” and glanced at my canine companions. They were in the deep sleep of their mid morning nap after their sunrise run and healthy breakfast. Django paws twitched while dreaming and Jasmine lightly snored. Nope, they did not look stressed, but I read the article anyway and thought, “Hey! That applies to me.”
The most clear indication of stress is aggression. I don’t know about you, but when I am very stressed out I have to make a conscious effort to be nice. I can be snippy, snarly or downright mean.
Avoidance. This is not “me time” or relaxation, but the deliberate choice to avoid a certain person or environment because that particular stimulus induces stress. Can you think of an example? Maybe I’m a bad mom, but a children’s birthday party invitation to Chuck E. Cheese used to get me to exclaim, “Pappie can take you to this one.”
Loss of appetite/ Gastrointestinal issues:
Even though the pendulum can swing in the other direction, if I am feeling overwhelmed with too many tasks, I find it difficult to take the time to enjoy a warm, nourishing meal and relax afterwards.
Licking lips/ excessive yawning:
Ok. I don’t do these things. But I do clench my jaw. I do have trouble sitting still at my desk for a long period of time. What do you do? Pull your hair, bite your nails? We all have our weird little ways of showing stress.
It turns out that the best way to help your stressed dog is also the best way to help yourself!
Have a “safe” area.
In general, helping a stressed dog isn’t unlike helping a stressed human. Avoid over stimulating environments, provide plenty of healthy food, exercise, and love, and take time to rest. You’ll be sure to reduce your dog’s stress levels—along with your own.
I think I just might take some cues from my sweet puppies as I wrap up the year and dive into the holiday season. While I may not wag a tail or give such slobbery kisses, I can definitely share the love in my own, very human, way.