Monday, September 24, 2012

Is your Dog Stressed out?

Even the most well socialized and polite dogs can get stressed out; can you tell when your pooch has had enough? Here are some tips for identifying stress in your dog.
Dogs can become unreasonably stressed out anywhere. You could be at a local festival with people and dogs everywhere or at home where the distant sound of fireworks can send even the most confident canine over the edge. It’s important to be able to identify stress in your dog and help him/her manage it.
Here are a few signs that many dogs will demonstrate:
1. Your dog won’t eat.
This happens all the time. Fido is happily accepting treats from you or strangers and suddenly he’s full. Well your best friend might actually be too uncomfortable to eat. If your dog was previously eating and stops suddenly it’s best to assume he’s upset and take him out of the situation for a well-deserved break.
2. Your dog is no longer able to perform easy obedience cues such as Sit or Shake A Paw.
If your dog knows a cue like Sit then he/she should be able to do it. Dogs will often stop listening to cues when stressed out or over excited. We all know what over excitement looks like so if your pup is just standing stock still and unable to offer a sit then he’s probably had enough.
3. Your dog is offering appeasement signals such as yawning, looking away, lip licking and blinking. He could even be lying down or showing his tummy (not for a belly rub as often mistaken).
Make sure you are familiar with your dog’s language. If you don’t know how to spot calming signals then please take a look at Sarah Kalnajs’ “The Language of Dogs” DVD or Turid Rugaas “Calming Signals” DVD. It’s very important to be able to identify these things.
4. Your dog has frozen still and won’t move.
This one can be difficult as you need to evacuate your dog out of the situation without making him more fearful. I will often use my happy voice and find the path out with the least amount of traffic. You can try using a hand target to get your dog up again but if they’ve frozen it may not work. Depending on the dog you could try gently touching him/her or picking him/her up. Please note that a fearful dog can be dangerous and to keep your own safety in mind. If you watch body language closely you shouldn’t find yourself at this stage.
Remember that it doesn’t matter where you are. If your dog is in distress then please take him/her out of the situation ASAP this includes dog training classes and dog parks. Bites can be prevented with a little bit of knowledge.

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