Stress Overload in Dogs: How to Recognize the Signs and Help Your Dog Feel Better

Like us humans, dogs can get overloaded by stressful, unpleasant, or scary situations. Over a day's or a week's time, minor stressors add up & can make dogs overreact to things they usually tolerate. When referring to dog behavior, we often call it trigger stacking; I like to call it stress overload.

Learn to Recognize Your Dog's Stressors

  • Keeping an eye out for things that stress your dog will help you know when stresses might be adding up.

  • If you see your dog overreacting to everyday life, think about what might have happened lately to make your dog feel out of sorts.

  • Remember, it's up to your dog to decide what's stressful!

Common Stressors for Dogs

  • Veterinary visits

  • Unfamiliar people and situations

  • Other dogs

  • Loud sounds, fireworks, thunderstorms

  • Changes in household patterns & schedules, moving to a new home

  • Cars, trucks, bikes, strollers, skateboards, children playing, etc.

  • Doorbell, visitors, parties, delivery people, large crowds

How to Help Your Dog Get Through Stressful Times

When your dog is stressed, make life a little easier for them, and help them avoid additional stress for a few days.

  • If walks are stressful, walk at quieter times, limit walks, and keep your distance from any stress triggers.

  • Your dog may want more alone time. Honor this and let them decompress.

  • Your dog may want more time, attention, and snuggling. It's never wrong to comfort your dog if they seek it out.

  • Add more enjoyable activities to counteract stress: more games, treats, toys, and chewies!

Dogs are said to live in the moment and be happy-go-lucky-- not necessarily true! Many dogs work hard to fit into our world and to be resilient in the face of unpleasant situations. Help your dog by paying attention and following their cues to help them recover from stress.

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