The human-animal bond is a mutually beneficial and dynamic relationship between people and animals that is influenced by behaviors essential to the health and well-being of both.
This includes, among other things, emotional, psychological, and physical interactions of people, animals, and the environment.
The veterinarian’s role in the human-animal bond is to maximize the potentials of this relationship between people and animals.
On the other paw, there are many things that can stress out our canine companions. For example, dogs on leashes typically feel stress when they encounter other dogs, especially if the other dog is off-leash. This is usually because it’s difficult for our best friends to greet each other while tethered to us. In spite of the wonderful bond we share with animals, what many people don’t realize is the extent to which we, as pet parents, can create stress in our own dog. Here are some common, and maybe surprising, stress triggers.
1. Punishing him for acting like a dog
Your canine companion is a creature of opportunity, and when you give him opportunities to “misbehave” by leaving tantalizing items within his reach, he’ll take advantage. Translation: don’t leave food or scrapes where he can smell or see them.
2. Yelling “no” over and over
“No” may stop the behavior temporarily. But unless you show your dog what you want him to do instead of what he’s doing, chances are he’ll be right back doing it.
3. Conflicting verbal commands
Many pet parents assume their dog knows English, and therefore knows that “drop it” and “leave it” mean the same thing, or that “get it” and “bring it to me” are the same.
Train your dog to respond to simple, preferably single-word commands (sit, stay, come, down, pee, poop, etc.) and then use those words to communicate. Otherwise, you’ll create stress in your dog because he knows you want him to do something, but he doesn’t know what.
4. Don’t say “its okay” when its not
Don’t ever say this phrase when something decidedly not okay is about to happen. Instead, help your dog learn to relax and cope with anxiety producing situations.
5. Over-pulling his leash
Anticipate that your dog will naturally stop and sniff as often as possible, and pull you in the direction of someone or something interesting. Be kind and understanding – allow your furry friend a reasonable amount of time to inspect his outdoor territory and pick up his pee-mail without yanking him towards your destination.
6. Hugging and holding too tight
It may feel good to you, but many dogs really don’t get these human expressions of affection and can be confused. Unless your dog is remaining contentedly still on his own while being hugged or kissed, it’s best to stick to stroking and petting, which most dogs can’t get enough of.
7. Staring triggers
The canine species views staring as a confrontational, sort of a “Let’s get ready to rumble” signal, which naturally triggers a stress response. There’s no need to stare at your dog unless you’re returning his gaze.
8. Shaking your finger
The finger pointing/shaking thing is a universal stress inducer for dogs. That’s probably because it’s usually done while you’re standing over your pooch in a menacing posture, or while you’re speaking in a tone of voice that signals your displeasure. Many a guilty dog look is the result of the finger-pointing thing, but your pet isn’t so much feeling guilty as uncomfortable, wary, confused, and yes… stressed.
9. Saying “get down” when he jumps up
If you use the verbal cue “down” to ask your dog to go from a sit to lie-down, it’s not going to work in situations where he’s jumping up on your or someone else (or a piece of furniture). Train him to stop jumping with the verbal command “off” instead.
10. Rude awakening
Unless there’s a pressing reason to awaken your four-legged family member from a nice snooze, try to avoid it. Being shaken or shouted awake is stressful for all of us.
Really appreciate that you wrote this. More and more need to see this. I’ll share this with my colleagues so that they can see and know what are some common etiquettes that should be followed when around dogs.