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9 Ways Owners Can Unknowingly Stress Out Their Dog

Every dog owner loves and craves to be the best friend for their four-legged pet. After all, dogs can provide us great comfort and emotional support with their presence and help us cope with anxiety, loneliness, stress, and general nervousness. Sometimes, we go out of our way to make the life of our dogs better and happier. Someone might want to serve their lovable pooch with a variety of delicious treats while others could dress their dog in cute costumes.
However, sometimes even a harmless habit on our end can be damaging to our dogs and can even stress them out. For instance, did you know that hugging a dog too tight may make them feel ill at ease? Read on to find out different ways you could be unknowingly stressing your dog out. These points will help you built a better relationship with your furry friend.

1. Leaving your dog alone too much may cause separation anxietypet owner, dog, stress, alone

Many dogs are totally comfortable spending time with themselves. However, if your dog shows signs of separation anxiety every time you leave them alone in the house, then maybe it’s time for you to be a little cautious. According to the American Kennel Club, around 14% of dogs experience separation anxiety. The mental strain caused by this may lead your dog to behave in unnatural ways: peeing where they shouldn’t, barking incessantly, and ruining furniture. If you are concerned about your dog’s separation anxiety, plenty of anxiety medications and treatments can be given to them after consultation with your vet.

2. Wearing sunglasses or hats in front of your dog may make them stressed out

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We may not realize it, but wearing sunglasses or hats around your dog may be stressing them out. According to leading vets, dogs depend on seeing people's eyes to understand what they are about to do and what they are focused on. When you cover your face, it makes your dog feel uncertain about what is going on and might make them feel nervous.
While it may not be possible for you to completely let go of wearing sunglasses or hats, what you can do instead is not to go overboard with them in front of your dog. Also, if you are wearing them with the dog around, try and give them as much attention as possible so that they feel reassured.

3. Don’t stare too long at your dog for they may feel uneasy

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It is natural for us to gaze lovingly at our adorable pup from time to time. However, dogs DO NOT like being constantly watched, vets say. Even if your dog is doing something cute and hilarious and you can’t take your eyes off of them, they might feel that they are doing something wrong. So, while it’s okay for you to pay attention to your dog when they are playing, it's best to avoid staring at them for too long as they are bound to feel uncomfortable.

4. Tight hugs may make your dog feel uncomfortable 

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Yes, we know that sometimes it can be irresistible to not hug your dog when they're lounging on the sofa or curling up in bed. However, embracing a dog too tightly can make them anxious. Dogs like snuggling but they feel restless if they are being held too tightly. It gives them the feeling of being stuck, which leads to anxiety. So, the next time you're cuddling with your dog, just make sure that your embrace is gentle and also leave some wiggle-room for your pooch.

5. Loud music can overwhelm dogs

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Veterinarians say that that loud music or electronics can make dogs feel uneasy and may also hinder their hearing. We must remember that dogs have sensitive ears and hence loud noises can be extremely overwhelming for them. In fact, if the music is too loud around them, they might become fidgety and nervous, and eventually turn really quiet.
If you must play music in front of your dog, just make sure that the volume is low. If your dog is with you at a loud party or a family gathering, provide a comfortable and quiet place for them to relax.

6. Pet costumes can make dogs uncomfortable

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Dressing up your dog in fancy costumes can give pet owners a high. After all, they do look even more adorable than usual with a colorful dress on them. However, outfits can stress dogs out, animal experts warn. According to them, many dogs are not comfortable with wearing any kind of outfit as it makes them feel constricted. Even when you make them wear a simple item such as a jacket, it is unnatural for them and they are likely to feel uneasy in such a scenario.
When you are making your dog wear any form of clothing, it is advisable that their tail is free and they aren't overheating. Most importantly, the outfit shouldn’t prevent a dog from relieving themselves.

7. Your dog may feel stressed out if you are feeling stressed out yourself

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According to a new study, dogs mirror the stress of their owners. “If the owner is stressed, then the dog is also likely to mirror that stress,” says Lina Roth, a professor at Linkoping University in Sweden and the author of the new study published in Nature’s Scientific Reports. The study, which was focused on measuring levels of cortisol (a stress-related hormone) in dogs, found that the owner’s personality influences a dog’s cortisol levels rather than the dog's personality itself.
Now, it isn’t easy to just not feel tensed when you are going through a turbulent time emotionally. But keep in mind that your dog might be aware of your stress and it may affect the animal as well. That being said, the research doesn’t indicate any long-term effects dog owners’ stress may have on their pets. The researchers, in fact, say that “your dog is a social support for you, and you are a social support for the dog”.

8. Fireworks can also harm a dog's senses

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As we mentioned above, loud music can make dogs uncomfortable. Most pet owners these days are aware of the fact loud fireworks can overwhelm their dogs. However, what many might not know is that fireworks can also harm a dog's other senses. According to experts, the smell and the sight of fireworks can terrify many dogs and lead to an increase in their heart rate, along with a rush of adrenaline and a rise in stress hormones circulating through their bodies.
If you have to go out to watch fireworks, keep your dog with someone trustworthy who will make them feel safe. You can also try out some medication to keep them calm after consulting your vet.

9. Traveling can make some dogs anxious

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Traveling excites most of us, and what could be better than to see the world with your four-legged furry friend, right? Well, you might be surprised to know that for many dogs, traveling is a distressing experience. The abundance of new smells, new sights, and a new environment isn’t easy for them to experience, and can be overwhelming for them.
When you do take your dog along with you on your next trip, let them first get used to the inside of the car or crate. Also, don’t forget to pack their favorite food and toys so that they remain comfortable throughout the trip.
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