Five Stressors for Dogs

We humans are extra stressed during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it's important to check in with our precious pooches. Our dogs can pick up on our stress which can amplify their every day stressors. Below are some common stressors for dogs we should all be aware of.

//1// Using multiple verbal cues to indicate the same behavior.

There are many ways to tell your dog to quit a behavior, such as barking. We often use "shh!", "stop!", and "quiet!" Dogs get confused when more than one word is assigned to the same behavior, and will continue that behavior out of confusion. It's best to come up with one specific word to apply to a command.

//2// Saying "it's okay" to calm a dog's anxiety.

When our dogs are anxious we often say "it's okay" to comfort them. Instead, we're actually training them to think the opposite. If we use this phrase in conjunction with something they don't like - thunderstorms, going to the vet - they learn to associate the phrase with things that aren't okay. Saying "it's okay" comes to mean something bad is about to happen and can make a dog even more anxious.

//3// Restraining a dog to give him affection.

Each dog has a different threshold, and most dogs do not understand hugs. A dog who does not like hugs may still love to snuggle. Snuggling is often on their terms and can feel less restrictive. Respect your pet's personal boundaries.

//4// Having a lack of rules and boundaries.

Dogs thrive on consistency and routine and find great comfort in it. Scolding a certain behavior one week and letting it slide the next can be very confusing for a pup. The next time the animal will not be able to anticipate the human's reaction to the behavior which can be really stressful. If your dog is not allowed on the couch, then he's not allowed on the couch.

//5// Making eye contact with a dog you don't know.

Dogs view loving gazes shared with their humans and being stared at by a stranger differently. Some dogs consider extended eye contact from a stranger to be a challenge which increases their stress response. Try to avoid eye contact when meeting a new dog and give him time to get to know you.


  1. Wow I have never thought about saying it's okay and dogs learning that it means something bad. I know that I do that!

  2. Great tips - it's amazing how much people don't know about how their own behavior affects dogs! One thing I read in a dog training book that made an impression on me was: don't pet a dog when it barks or something you don't like in an attempt to quiet him or her as this is in fact rewarding it for the behavior. I give a command to stop barking and "wait", and then I pet as a reward if he continues being quiet.
    Anyways, dog training and behavior is fascinating :)

  3. Your pup is so cute! Thanks for sharing these tips :) Our little rescue is having a hard time adjusting to us being home all the time - the kids can be a bit rough which he's not a fan of, so trying to teach them their cuddles are too much for him is tough, but we are getting there I think!

    Hope that you had a lovely weekend :) We all stayed home and stayed safe, hope you did too.

    Away From Blue

  4. I am sure my dog has some anxiety during this time. We are home all the time and I am sure he doesn't know what to do with himself.