Human Behaviors That Stress Out Your Dog

Your dog can become stressed for a variety of reasons. For example, dogs on leashes typically feel stress when they encounter another dog, especially not on a leash. This is probably because it’s difficult to greet the other dog in a natural fashion while being tied to its owner. But there are triggers by humans that most pet owners do not realize can create stress for their dog. The veterinary publication dvm360 has compiled a list of stress triggers for dogs, and some of them may surprise you.

10 Ways to Stress Out Your Dog

  1. Punish him for behaving like a dog. Your canine companion is a creature of opportunity, and the best way to prevent him from taking advantage of opportunities to misbehave is to not leave tantalizing items within his reach. Ensure the only opportunities you provide your dog are ones he can succeed at.
  2. Tell her “no” over and over. If your dog is doing something she shouldn’t be doing, telling her “no” will probably cause her to stop the behavior temporarily. However, saying no to a dog without offering an alternative turns your “no” into merely an interruption, not a request or demand. It is best to show your dog what you want her to do instead, so she doesn’t turn back to that behavior.
  3. Give her a variety of commands for a single behavior. Many pet guardians assume their dog speaks English, and use different phrases interchangeably as commands. Your dog may know you are commanding her, but isn’t quite sure what you want her to do. Train your dog with simple, preferably one-word commands and use only those words to communicate to prevent confusion.
  4. Tell him, “it’s okay.” Many pet guardians use this phrase in situations where your pet knows he is not okay. Trying to comfort your dog by saying “it’s okay,” will become a verbal cue to panic, rather than cope with an anxiety-producing situation.
  5. Pull his leash. A dog that is properly trained on a leash doesn’t typically do a lot of pulling, so if you are constantly yanking to redirect him, it may be time to refresh his leash manners. It’s important to understand that your dog will naturally stop and sniff as often as possible. Be patient with your pet and allow him a reasonable amount of time to smell-inspect his outdoor territory.
  6. Hold him while you hug or kiss him. Canines don’t naturally get these forms of affection and can be confused by them – especially when the hugger/kisser is a relative stranger. Dogs can feel restrained by being hugged or held and kissed, so it’s best to stick to stroking and petting, which dogs usually can’t get enough of.
  7. Stare at her. Most people are uncomfortable being stared at by other people, and the same can be true for your dog. Dogs view staring as a confrontational signal, which naturally triggers a stress response. There’s no need to stare at your dog unless you are returning her gaze.
  8. Point or shake your finger at her. The finger shaking stance is an automatic stress-trigger for dogs, especially since you are normally doing it while standing over her in a menacing posture and using a tone of voice that signals displeasure. Many guilty dog looks come from pointing your finger, but your dog may actually just be feeling confused and stressed.
  9. Tell him to “get down” when he jumps up. If you use the verbal cue “down” to ask your dog to go from a sit to a lie-down, it’s not going to work in a situation where he is jumping on a person or something else. Try training him to stop jumping by using the command “off” instead to prevent confusion and stress from trying to understand your command.
  10. Wake her up. Unless there’s a pressing reason to wake up your dog, try to avoid it. Being shaken or shouted awake is stressful for all of us.

 

For more on how humans trigger stress in dogs, visit Dr. Karen Becker’s article here.