Just like humans, dogs can become stressed for multiple reasons. For instance, a dog can feel stressed when they’re on a leash and encounter another dog - especially if the other dog is leash free and roaming at its own free will. The reason behind this is probably because it’s hard for our furry friends to greet each other while they are pretty much attached to you 4-6 feet away.
We, as pet owners, can create a lot of stress in our dog’s life that a lot of people don’t acknowledge or even realize. Which is why we have created a list outlining 10 different ways a pet owner can trigger stress in their dog. Some of them may even come as a shock to you!
- Punishing him for behaving like a dog.
Dogs jump at every opportunity, especially when you give them the chance to misbehave by leaving enticing items in their reach that they will take advantage of. Basically, don’t lead your dog into temptation. Don’t leave food or scraps where your dog can snatch them and don’t open the door to your room where he can chew on the finest shoe leather you have to offer. Dogs are going to chew and the act of chewing actually helps clean, plus strengthen his teeth. So, instead of punishing your dog for what comes natural to him, direct that behavior into a healthy habit….chewing on a bone, for example.
- Telling your dog “no” repeatedly.
Constantly telling your dog “no” will only stop the problem temporarily. Your dog will take your “no” as just an interruption. He won’t take your verbal response as a request or demand to stop, unless offer him an alternative. Showing your dog what you would like him to do instead of what he’s doing wrong will likely increase your chances of him not misbehaving in the way he did.
- Giving your dog multiple verbal commands for a single behavior.
A lot of pet owners think their pet knows English. They believe that when they say, “drop it” and “leave it” that their dog knows they mean the same thing, when really, they don’t.
Train your dog to acknowledge simple, single-word commands, and then only using those words to interact with your dog will help create less stress for him. For example, some good single-word commands are sit, come, down, stay, etc. If you’re using a variety of commands with more than one word or connotation, you’ll be creating stress for your dog. They are aware that you want them to do something, but are unsure of what you’re trying to say based on how often you change up your command words.
- Telling your dog “it’s okay.”
This tends to be a common phrase used when something that clearly isn’t okay in a dog’s head is about to happen. For example; going to the vet when they are clearly not a fan. When the vet’s building is in site, you start to hear your poor pup whine and whimper. That’s when you begin to comfort him by saying, “it’s okay,” but really what you’re doing is reassuring him that you are in fact going to the vet, and his stress level skyrockets.
“It’s okay” has become the two words dogs hear and panic. Instead of trying to comfort your dog with those two words, try teaching your dog to learn to relax, and dealing with situations that he isn’t too fond of.
- Pulling on your dog’s leash.
If you are constantly feeling like you need to pull at your dog’s leash, then it’s possible you need to retrain your dog on their leash manners. Your dog will naturally stop and sniff everything that he possibly can, dogs are curious creatures. What he needs from you is that you be understanding and patient. Allow your dog to inspect his outdoor territory for a reasonable amount of time without pulling at his leash.
- Holding him while you hug or kiss him.
Your furry friend can often be confused by expressing affection the way people do with kisses and hug - especially when the person squeezing and smooching on him is a stranger. Not only is he puzzled by this action, but your dog is also being restrained and unable to move when being hugged, which increases his stress level more.
It’s the same for humans; you wouldn’t want a big stranger to come and hold on to you, never letting go. It doesn’t exactly scream loving or an effective way of building trust. It’s best to stick to petting your dog, unless he doesn’t squirm and is comfortable being hugged or smooched all over.
- Staring at your dog.
Just like people, dogs aren’t comfortable being stared at. They usually view staring as an aggression, which triggers their stress level. It’s not necessary to stare down your dog unless you’re simply gazing back at him.
- Pointing or shaking your finger at your dog.
When you’re pointing or shaking your finger at your dog, it’s usually because he has just done something bad and you want to point it out to him. You’re standing over him in an intimidating way and your voice does not imply that you’re pleased, but how does your dog interpret this behavior? In all truth, this guilt trip doesn’t help your pet feel guilty, it only makes them confused and stressed.
- Telling your dog to “get down” when he jumps up.
Telling your dog to “get down” when he jumps up takes us back to point #3 with the single-command words. In most cases, pet owners use the word “down” to ask their dog to lie down or sit. Therefore, if you use the word “down” while your dog is jumping on you, or someone else, it’s not going to work. Instead, try and train him with the word “off!” A single command word leads to less confusion for your dog instead of telling him a command word that means 2 different things.
- Waking your dog up.
Being woken up by someone shaking you is stressful for all of us. If you grew up with siblings, you can surely relate to that stressful and annoying act of being shook awake. Try to avoid waking up your pup in this manner unless there’s a pressing reason.
We do a lot more than we realize to cause stress to our dogs. It’s time to revamp our command words, and help our furry friends live a long, stress free life.