If your dog stresses you out, the first step is to identify which behaviors are causing you stress in the first place. Does your dog have destructive behavior? Are they constantly barking? Do they have separation anxiety? Once you identify what is causing you stress, a dog trainer can walk you through fixing those behaviors, reducing your stress.
Destroyed slippers, broken vases, chewed-on furniture… and endless time-outs for the canine “felons” committing these crimes. Sound familiar? You’re not alone. Countless dog parents experience behavioral issues, including separation anxiety, OCD, aggression, guarding, etc.
Some dogs exhibit problematic demeanor at a very young age, while others develop alarming traits as they get older.
A few things that can affect your dog’s behavior include whether they were neutered/spayed, how they were treated as a puppy in a kennel/puppy mill, and how their owner (you) treats them.
The worst-case scenario is when a dog attacks other people in the household. It’s especially scary when a dog growls at the kids. It’s also nerve-wracking when strangers are in close proximity.
Bringing a new dog into the family is exciting, but at the same time, it can be stressful for both the owner and the dog.
In this article, we will go over why bringing home a new dog can be incredibly stressful. Then we will cover what you can do to alleviate the stress.
Bringing Home a Dog Can Be Stressful
You’ve picked up your pup from a kennel/animal shelter and are probably very excited! However, the new role as a pet parent can throw you off a little: You may feel lost and unsure of how to raise your new pet.
Here are a few things that are probably stressing you out.
The Confusion of Discipline
Different people have different methods of disciplining their pets: some find it unnecessary to yell while others see nothing wrong with raising their voice to let their dog know that a certain action or behavior will not be tolerated.
Some dogs will exhibit poor behavior the moment you bring them home:
- High separation anxiety.
- Guarding their food.
- “Barking back” if they are not happy with their owner’s rules.
- Biting if you try to get something out of their mouth that they are not supposed to have.
- Not to mention the short attention span every puppy has.
As you can imagine, pet parents may not get to relax as much, as this young furry fella will demand attention and constantly invite its new mommy/daddy to play.
Lack of Sleep
Sleepless nights, anyone? Some puppies have a hard time being locked in their crate at night. They also need to go to the bathroom frequently throughout the night (pups cannot control their bladder like their adult canine counterparts can).
All the issues above will bring a lot of stress and frustration to any parent, but can be corrected with proper training.
We will cover training in a moment, but first, let’s figure out what issues are causing the most stress for you.
Which of These Issues is Causing The Most Stress?
A canine mental disorder that develops at a young age and is connected to the dog’s fear that it will be left alone, which is highly undesirable.
Excessive licking, chewing randomly on things, and non-stop barking are a few signs of extreme anxiety and can be frustrating for any dog owner.
Also called “Resource-Guarding:” A serious behavioral problem that can result in a real-bite situation.
Dogs that are displaying such demeanor tend to guard anything from food to their owner and growl when you are near their most valuable possession: food bowl, toy, crate, or even a pet parent (yes, they can regard you as “their property”).
A dog’s response to being reprimanded or simply being told “NO!” if it’s being too mischievous. It reacts like that because it feels the owner’s negative energy and becomes nervous. When a dog barks back, it’s usually just feedback to your emotions.
Some dogs can be more sensitive than others, as each of them has its own personality. Any pet parent should pay attention to the way their pal reacts to things (especially if we talk about reprimanding) and adjust their demeanor accordingly.
It will do more good if an owner is calm and assertive while getting their point across. Shouting will produce more anxiety in an already nervous canine baby.
Does your dog do a lot of tail-chasing or constant digging in one spot? You might be witnessing signs of an obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), which has to be addressed soon. Otherwise, it can get worse and be transformed into a deeply depressive (or worse-aggressive) state.
OCD and anxiety typically go hand in hand. Because of this, the best thing you can do is try to redirect/distract the dog when an episode of OCD strikes. Sometimes professional help from a trainer might be necessary to fix the most difficult OCD cases. We will talk more about training options later.
One in four Americans is diagnosed yearly with depression. Dogs are no exception to this rule. A canine depressive disorder can be developed because of unfair or even cruel treatment in an adoption facility or puppy mill. It can also be caused by neglect/ignorance from an owner.
A depressed dog might suddenly look very sad, lose interest in doing things it previously couldn’t get enough of (playing with toys, cuddling on the couch, chasing squirrels in the park, etc.), have less energy, and sleep a lot more.
Dog depression shouldn’t be taken lightly, and help from a professional behavioral specialist might come in handy.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder:
Reasons for PTSD in dogs are very similar to the reasons behind depression: cruel, heartless canine treatment. Consequently, fear of people and loss of trust (if a puppy was abandoned). If that’s the case with your furry friend, it must go through behavioral training therapy, and, in some cases, antidepressants have to be also administered.
This is the most severe case out of all the behavioral issues a dog can have. It will affect the dog’s well-being and the safety (and sometimes, even life) of its human companion.
A person’s actions can trigger an aggressive episode, or it might be a hormonal imbalance in the brain. That’s why it is crucial to conduct a mental health screening together with spaying/neutering as soon as possible to prevent future attacks.
Relieve Stress Quickly By Using a Dog Trainer
Now that we’ve talked about the main reasons some dogs cause stress for their owners, have you been able to identify which specific issues are causing you stress? The first key to easing the stress caused by your dog is to figure out what exactly is causing you to stress in the first place.
Once you’ve been able to identify the issues, it’s crucial to be consistent with training, have a proper reward system in place, get them plenty of exercise during the day to release some of their energy, and remain as calm as possible if challenged by the fur baby.
Ignoring or going into another room could convey to the dog that its behavior is ineffective and not appreciated. Dogs are just like kids: they want to see what they can get away with and how far they can go in being mischievous.
However, if your dog isn’t simply seeking attention from their poor behavior, it might be time to call in a dog trainer. This is why taking the time to figure out the exact behaviors that are causing you stress is so important. You can explain it to the trainer so they know which behaviors to fix.
A dog trainer can assess the situation and follow with necessary positive reinforcement steps. An owner should always be on the “same page” with a trainer and follow all the required guidelines to achieve the desired outcome.
In some severe cases, as we’ve already mentioned before, prescription medications can be the “missing puzzle piece” and a much-needed solution to change a pup’s life for the better.
We Know It’s Stressful – Hang In There!
Whatever your dog is doing that’s causing you stress, just remember that dogs are great at reading your energy and responding to what they read.
Be sure to give your dog all your love and attention while remaining assertive. Reward right away if the desired behavior is observed (this is something a trainer will help you with).
We know that owning a dog can be stressful. You’ll need a lot of patience and perseverance to start noticing favorable changes, so hang in there! It’s tough, but it’s definitely worth it. In the end, you will be rewarded with a lot of wet kisses and evening cuddles.
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