WE PLANT THE "SEEDS OF IDEAS" IN DOG OWNERS MINDS - THESE IDEAS EVENTUALLY BLOSSOM INTO A BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF DOG BEHAVIOUR - Sally Hopkins
WE PLANT THE "SEEDS OF IDEAS" IN DOG OWNERS MINDS - THESE IDEAS EVENTUALLY BLOSSOM INTO A BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF DOG BEHAVIOUR - Sally Hopkins

SYMPTOMS OF STRESS

This page consists of the following

  • physical symptoms and efects
  • illnesses and medical conditions associated with stress
  • emotional symptoms and effects
  • mental symptoms and effects
  • behavioural symptoms and effects
  • common default stress behaviours

 

When a dog is "F.A.S.E.D.U.P" (or "Stressed") it causes the levels of Thyroid, Hypothalamus, Adrenaline and Testosterone in its body to rise very quickly, triggering a variety of symptoms like those listed below.

These lists are not definitive and must not be taken out of context.

For instance, just because your dog is sniffing the ground as it goes for a walk does not mean it is "fasedup" and doing a displacement activity. Far from it, the dog is more likely enjoying one of its most finely tuned senses and is "reading the newspaper"! However, if your dog sniffs the ground while you are training, the sniffing may be a displacement activity and a calming signal as the dog attempts to relieve the stress it feels while doing this exercise or piece of equipment (for instance while doing the weaves in Agility).

Remember, every dog is different and displays different combinations of symptoms

PHYSICAL SYMPTOMS & EFFECTS

  • Fast, shallow irregular breathing due to the increased need for oxygen - may lead to hyperventilation.
  • Excessive panting to reduce the dog's body temperature.
  • Heart pumps faster
  • Movement stiff, jerky and unnatural - the dog loses its athleticism and has restricted mobility.
  • Tension in its muscles - For instance around the corners of the mouth; jaws and teeth clenched; neck and shoulders tense; upper back hunched; tension in its rear end and tail. All this tension may make the dog more prone to muscular problems and injuries.
  • Tight skin
  • Dilated pupils
  • Staring (sometimes bloodshot) eyes - often small and "piggy" like from the tense muscles around the eyes.
  • Sudden appearance of dandruff on the dog's coat - this dandruff is particularly obvious in dark coloured dogs.
  • Excessive and sudden hair loss - not to be confused with a dog moulting naturally.
  • Mouth either dry, foaming, excessively drooling or pale gums
  • Sweaty pads on the paws - the dog may slip and slide on a wooden, tiled or slippery floor covering.
  • Trembling
  • Chattering teeth
  • Drooped head and low body posture
  • General restlessness and an inability to relax and settle - unable to sleep deeply and "recharge its batteries".
  • Increased metabolic rate - continually underweight and hungry (often leading to persistent scavenging or stealing).
  • Inefficient digestion - absorbs less nutrients into its system.
  • Loss of appetite - refusing tasty, smelly food treats.
  • Excessive thirst
  • Vomiting
  • Eliminates and urinates ("wees and poos") more than normal.
  • Raising its hackles at the slightest provocation.
  • Increased alertness and sensitivity of its Senses
  • Ignoring the fact that it is exhausted or in pain and keep going for longer than normal - either distance, speed, hunting, or fighting.

ILLNESSES & MEDICAL CONDITIONS
ASSOCIATED WITH STRESS

  • Skin problems
  • Cancer and tumors
  • Allergies
  • Reactions to vaccines
  • Colitis
  • Diarrhoea
  • Arthritis
  • Fits
  • Strokes and heart attacks
  • Stomach problems
    and indigestion
  • Inefficient immune system

EMOTIONAL SYMPTOMS & EFFECTS

  • High anxiety
  • Frustration
  • Anger
  • Insecurity
  • Depression
  • Helplessness
  • Powerlessness
  • Loss of hope
  • Uptight
  • Panicky
  • Edgy
  • Irritable
  • Lonely
  • Unnerved
  • Unsettled
  • Disorientation
  • Still agitated after
    a threat disappears

    (see 10 Minute Rule)


MENTAL SYMPTOMS & EFFECTS

  • Muddled perceptions
  • Lowering of self esteem
  • Loss of mental agility
  • Poor concentration
  • Poor decision making
  • Wavering attention span
  • An inability to listen
  • Inconsistent communication
  • Poor memory and recall
  • More accident and mistake prone
  • Reluctant to adapt to change
  • General lack of self control
  • Mental fatigue
  • Short burst of energy rather
    than sustained mental endeavor

BEHAVIOURAL SYMPTOMS & EFFECTS

  • Fearful
     
  • Pulling on lead
  • Wanting to play roughly
  • Rapid eye movement
  • Fidgeting
     
  • Unable to sit still
     
  • Pacing
     
  • Restlessness
  • Vigorously "shaking the stress"
    from its body

    (similar action to when a dog
    shakes water off its body)
  • Overreacting to touch, smell,
    sound or movement

     
  • Extreme reactions to situations
    that are "normal"
  • Lack of concentration
    and unable to learn

     
  • Unusual sexual behaviour
    such as mounting cushions,
    dogs of either sex, people's legs
  • Change in dietary habits -
    Reduced eating
    Increased eating
    "Comfort" eating
  • Vocalising -
    High pitched barking
    Howling
    or Whining,
    often for no apparent reason
  • Displacement activities For instance -

    Displaying some of the Calming signals (eg. Slow movement, freezing on the spot, sniffing the ground) to try to calm down either the situation, or the dog/human that is over "FASED".

    The dog trying to "run off" the stress by either -
    - having a "mad dash" around the house, garden or field,
    - chasing its tail, reflections, passing traffic or people, etc.

    Scratching either themselves or their environment.

    Chewing themselves or their environment.

    Excessive licking of themselves

    Digging

    Snapping at the air (like catching imaginary flies)

    Grabbing hold of something and not letting go (the dog's jaws seem locked)

    Urinating and marking excessively

    "Nagging" other dogs by chasing and grabbing their fur around the neck, and preventing them either running freely or "reading the newspaper"

 

To conclude, here are -

THE MOST COMMON "DEFAULT" STRESS BEHAVIOURS IN DOGS

These often occur when the dog's "Long-term Stress Glass" is overflowing

 

  • Trying to escape the situation by either running away, or
    "switching off", ignoring everything and everyone around it
     
  • High pitched incessant barking
     
  • Spinning in circles
     
  • Loss of self control
  • Unable to relax or sleep properly
     
  • Inability to learn or concentrate
     
  • Over reactive
     
  • Unprovoked aggression

 

If you find that your dog is showing symptoms like those listed on this web page over a period of time, then it is highly likely that you need to look at ways of reducing these levels of long-term stress.

 

 

This web site has been written by Sally Hopkins (unless the author of the web page is stated otherwise).

 

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