Saturday, April 7, 2012

Stress in Dogs?

April is National Stress Awareness Month.

Do you have stress in your life?

Do dogs get stressed out, too?

YES! Stress affects pets just as it affects humans, although they do not always show it in the same ways.

For example, some pets are just naturally more stressed out than others - their lives are faster-paced or filled with more stressful things. Different pets have different stress levels and, like us, they all handle stress in different ways.

Dogs are like that, too.

Some dogs are just innately "wound up" and very vulnerable to stress. Others are hard to rattle and remain calm and collected throughout almost anything.

One thing to note is that some dogs are very in tune with their people. These dogs pick up on the stress levels of the humans around them and in turn feel that stress. So if you have one of these kinds of dogs, your stress from a bad day might affect your dog as well.

How can we help our pets "de-stress"?

Some pet owners feel guilty about leaving their dog home alone, so they leave the TV or radio on to reduce stress and keep the dog company. For a long time it was thought that this would help keep the animals from getting stressed out. But studies show that this actually does more harm than good! Leaving the TV or radio on will certainly create "noise," but it will not necessarily create a relaxed environment for your dog. In fact, TV and radio can actually CREATE stress for our pets due to the drastic changes in programming content, volume level and the random mix of musical styles.

Interestingly, research shows that some music can actually soothe pets (similar to music soothes people). Studies prove that music helps relax our pets and researchers have even pinpointed some very specific characteristics in the music that work best.

Dogs seem to react best to classical music. Dogs will actually bark less - especially when they listen to the music of Bach. Classical harp music has been shown to help alleviate stress in cats, dogs, chimpanzees and other animals.

In recent pet anxiety studies, house pets responded favorably to classical music under stress-inducing situations, often slipping into a very serene and peaceful state of mind after only a few minutes of listening. Certain instruments and sounds were more effective than others. But for the music to actually calm our pets, it must create a consistently smooth, soothing dynamic from start to finish. That means there should be no abrupt changes in tempo, volume or rhythm.

A few years back I blogged about a music CD especially for dogs. Learn more........

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