Stress Levels in dogs.

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Mattie
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Stress Levels in dogs.

Post by Mattie » Wed Apr 20, 2011 5:19 am

Hopefully this will explain a dog’s stress levels easier, we can only teach our dogs if their stress levels are well down, once they start to go up a dog will find it very difficult if not impossible to learn.


You walk your dog every day, starting off with stress levels being well down at zero, this is what happens.

Day one - Your dog's stress levels are at 0, you are having a lovely, relaxing walk when you come across another dog that races up to your nervous dog. Your dog's stress levels jump up to 6.

Day two - After a night's sleep your dog's stress levels have now dropped to 4, so your dog is still stressed from the loose dog you met yesterday. Your walk is a little stressful because your dog is not as relaxed as he should be. You meet another loose dog, your dog's stress levels then goes up to 10, you now have a very stressed dog.

Day three - As your dog was really stressed yesterday his stress levels have only dropped to 8 over night, still a very stressed dog. Meet another off lead dog and his stress levels go off the scale, he can't cope and shuts down, when a dog shuts down many owners think their dogs have got used to off lead dogs and think their dog is now fine, in fact, in this shut down state your dog is very dangerous.

Day four - Your dog hasn't relaxed over night, he is still very stressed and racing round with stress, you don't know what to do with him or to help him so you take him for another walk, thankfully you don't meet a loose dog and to your dog the walk was a lot better, his stress levels haven't gone up, he hasn't shut down and the walk has helped your dog because it was stress free even though your dog was very stressed anyway.

Day five - After the lovely walk you had yesterday you are looking forward to another today, your dog's stress levels are now down to 10, much better although still far too high. You meet another dog, again he shuts down because he can't cope.

Day six - You are now getting desperate, you don't understand what is happening with your dog, one day he is fine the next he wants to kill every dog he sees so you are also very stressed and many owners give up and stop walking their dogs. You go for a walk and don't meet any dogs.

Day seven - Your dog's stress levels are now down to 10 because he didn't meet another dog yesterday and doesn't today, 2 good days.

Day eight - Your dog's stress levels are now down to 8, so much better even though he is still very stressed, you don't meet another dog again.

Day nine - Your dog's stress levels are now down to 6, you have a much calmer dog although still stressed, he meets another off lead dog and he jumps back up to 10.

As his stress levels are now back to 10, including today, it will take your dog 6 days for his stress levels to go to 0 if he doesn't meet another off lead dog.

That is put very simply, it does help us understand stress in our dogs, how it happens and how long it takes for the stress to get back down again. Depending on how long a dog has been stressed will affect how long it takes for the levels to come down again. My foster dog was a very stressed dog when he came, it took him nearly 6 weeks to become relaxed and to be the dog he should be.
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Nettle
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Re: Stress Levels in dogs.

Post by Nettle » Thu Apr 21, 2011 3:03 am

Thank you for that, Mattie, it should help a lot of people to understand. :)
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Noobs
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Re: Stress Levels in dogs.

Post by Noobs » Thu Apr 21, 2011 8:23 am

Having this information when I first started working with Murphy was so helpful. Thanks for posting!

RileySit
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Re: Stress Levels in dogs.

Post by RileySit » Thu Jan 05, 2012 5:47 pm

First post, just joined. This... explains... so... much... :oops:

I was wondering why some days I was able to walk without much of an issue and the next he was tearing to get free of his harness despite being usually very responsive to my commands. Sadly almost every walk we see a dog off it's lead and he is extremely afraid of other dogs, but is 'bred' to fight over flight. I'll keep looking around the forum for help with my specific situation though.

Thanks so much for helping me understand Riley more :D

reactive123gsd
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Re: Stress Levels in dogs.

Post by reactive123gsd » Tue Jan 17, 2012 1:33 pm

Wow this is a really good thread! I remember reading on one site that after a stressfull moment a dog needs to relax about a week (no training, no long walk first two days)to get his stress levels to lower. What do you guys think? One trainer told me to help my pup learn to deal with stress like "new environments" he needs to constantly go to new stressful places every day. Would you think that a dog might "shut down"? Stress is supposed to be a normal thing in life, but my pup get stressed over little things.... So how to get a dog to deal with stress? Should we get a dog stress levels down to a certain point before adding more stressors, then wait that they go down again, and add more?????? Hmm

JudyN
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Re: Stress Levels in dogs.

Post by JudyN » Tue Jan 17, 2012 3:06 pm

reactive123gsd wrote:What do you guys think?
Definitely let your dog's stress levels subside after a stressful event. Imagine one day a tarantula leaps out at you and scares you silly... The next day, you'll probably be far more reactive if a house spider wanders across the room. To get over your fear of spiders you need to start by looking at pictures of small ones, build up to being the far side of the room from a medium one, and so on, each stage only introducing a level of stress you can deal with. Same with dogs, gradually introduce them to new experiences that they can cope with, and build up.

There are times when stress is inevitable, such as unpleasant experiences at the vet's, but these will be much easier if your pup has learnt that the vet's is a good place where he gets lots of fuss and treats. Also, a dog will be able to cope with new experiences if he trusts you and believes that you won't force him into scary situations (imagine looking at that spider from a distance knowing you can retreat if you need to, as compared to being dragged towards it). It takes time to earn that trust.
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jacksdad
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Re: Stress Levels in dogs.

Post by jacksdad » Tue Jan 17, 2012 5:55 pm

reactive123gsd wrote:Wow this is a really good thread! I remember reading on one site that after a stressfull moment a dog needs to relax about a week (no training, no long walk first two days)to get his stress levels to lower. What do you guys think? One trainer told me to help my pup learn to deal with stress like "new environments" he needs to constantly go to new stressful places every day. Would you think that a dog might "shut down"? Stress is supposed to be a normal thing in life, but my pup get stressed over little things.... So how to get a dog to deal with stress? Should we get a dog stress levels down to a certain point before adding more stressors, then wait that they go down again, and add more?????? Hmm
I disagree with the idea of "getting a dog to deal with stress". they shouldn't have to "deal" with it anymore than we should have to "just deal with it" if at all possible.

Rather I believe the goal should be how do I help my dog over come feeling stressed in X situation. Or work to prevent X from happening so your dog doesn't get stressed. which you do depends on what is causing the stress. Over coming feelings of stress is accomplished by making sure your dog doesn't feel it's life is threatened by X (take into account dogs perspective, not your's here) and then changing the dogs association. X mean fun, good things or does X mean scary, stressful, life threatening because of how the "introduction" when the first time it was encountered.

depending on the dog, the traumatic event, and a whole bunch of little details, how long it takes a dog to relax can take as much as a month. I agree that maybe laying off training the next day might be reasonable, but it just depends on what happened. I am not so sure I agree with No walks. IF you can't take your dog somewhere safe not associated with the "event", I can see that. But as a general rule, not so sure I agree with that. Exercise helps relieve stress, it also releases feel good hormones. both these things help over come a stressful event faster.

If your pup is getting stressed over little things it could be your moving too fast, expecting more out of him/her than it's capable of doing at it's age. maybe it's going through a fear period. then there is how you are introducing new and novel things. are you doing it in a safe, fun and rewarding manner or did your trainer essentially tell you to take a sink or swim approach.

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Re: Stress Levels in dogs.

Post by ClareMarsh » Sun Aug 04, 2013 9:58 am

For people who find images easier than text, this is a good representation of how stress builds and dissipates in dogs:

http://www.watchmychops.com/content/stress-dogs
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