As our new norm continues we are all trying to manage with social distancing, staying safe and healthy. Our thoughts are with all of you and your families – especially your fur-family.
We have received numerous inquiries lately about dogs acting differently and how they may be feeling the effects of COVID-19.
Stress is being felt by all-humans and canines.
This article discusses how to be aware of stress within your dog and yourself..
With our lives shifting to new routines and boundaries we are all figuring out how to manage. Some are stuck at home, working or not working, helping children with their online schooling and being limited in activities. This new norm could impact you personally and create stress. I’m aware of stress and have studied ways to deal with it not only in humans but also in canines.
Many of you that know me are aware of the many positions I hold. One is as a Mental Performance Coach, where I help young athletes and business leaders have the skills and coping mechanisms to stay focused when times get challenging. If you are feeling stress and want some tips to cope please visit my blog.
One of my volunteer roles is as a canine Evaluator for the St. Johns Ambulance Therapy Dog program. What we look for in a therapy dog is the ability to deal with many things – different people, situations, noises, etc.
We are not only observing stress signs in the dog, but also the humans, as the dogs will be affected by it. We want to share with you some calming signals your dogs may be showing that may tell you they are feeling stressed or anxious. Here are just a few:
Whining or barking
Vocalization is a normal way for your dog to express themselves but this may increase in frequency or intensity if your dog is stressed. Dogs that are stressed may whine or bark to get your attention, or, as is the case with most of the stress behaviours, it is their way to help calm themselves.
This is normal behaviour for dogs, but if it’s not hot or you’ve just finished a run or fast-paced playtime, then the panting may be a sign of stress.
Yawning or “Shaking it off”
If your dog is in a stressful situation, you may notice them yawing even if they haven’t just woken up, or you may notice a dog “Shaking it off”. A typical example of this is when the vet has just finished checking them out and their feet are firmly on the floor again.
Licking themselves excessively
Licking to clean themselves is another normal dog behavior, but excessive licking – to the point where their fur is coming out or their skin is getting aggravated – is not healthy and indicates stress.
Licking lips of “Air licking”
This is a calming mechanism that your dog can use to distract themselves from the situation that is stressing them.
This is just a partial list, but are the most common easily observable behaviors. Not all dogs will do all of these behaviours, it could be only one that they use on a regular basis, or they may act differently depending on the situation. Watch your dog when you notice these signs and learn ways to gently and positively distract them. Maybe take them for a walk so you both can get exercise, play fetch, do some tricks or obedience to get them mentally and physically stimulated.
We continue to support the front line services and those stuck at home by providing the dogs and puppies stimulation, socialization, and regular bathroom breaks. Our daycare is open and ready to help.
We look forward to the day we and things get back to normal. Until then stay safe, stay home and stay healthy.
Take care and stay healthy.