Veterinarians share 11 ways you're stressing out your dog without realizing
Everyday activities pet owners do may unknowingly cause their dogs stress.
Wearing sunglasses and hats around your dog can make them feel uneasy.
Give your dog attention, but staring at them or hugging them too tightly can be stressful.
Wearing sunglasses or hats can stress out your dog.
Veterinarian Gerardo Perez-Camargo, vice president of research and development at Freshpet, told Insider that wearing sunglasses or a hat can actually bother your dog.
"Dogs rely on seeing people's eyes to understand what they're going to do and what they're focusing their attention on," said Perez-Camargo. "Covering your face can make a dog uncertain of what is going on."
Though you may not be able to ditch sunglasses and hats entirely, try lavishing your dog with positive attention while wearing shades to reassure them that everything is OK.
Moving furniture can confuse and worry some dogs.
Veterinarian Mary Gardner, cofounder of veterinary hospice Lap of Love, told Insider that for some dogs, especially older or visually impaired dogs, moving furniture around the house can cause stress.
"Dogs use their memory and smell to get around the house; they have usually built a map of the space in their heads," said Gardner. "Moving furniture around can cause them anxiety because they don't know where things are."
If you have an older dog or a dog that tends to dislike changes in their environment, try moving furniture gradually and one item at a time.
Staring at your dog may make them nervous.
Sara Ochoa, veterinarian and veterinary consultant for DogLab, told Insider that gazing at your beloved pup may actually stress them out.
"Dogs do not like to be constantly watched. Even if you're staring at them because they're acting cute, your dog will likely think that they're doing something wrong," said Ochoa.
Though you should definitely pay plenty of attention to your dog while playing, try not to stare too much while they're lounging on the sofa or curling up in bed.
Tight hugs may be stressful for dogs.
It can be hard to resist locking your dog in a loving embrace, but holding on too tightly can make dogs anxious.
"Dogs like to snuggle, but they don't like to be held very tightly. Feeling as if they cannot get free can be stressful for them," said Ochoa.
When cuddling your dog, make sure to be gentle and leave enough wiggle-room.
Loud music can make dogs uncomfortable.
Veterinarian Jessica Kirk told Insider that loud music or electronics can overwhelm dogs and interfere with their hearing.
"Loud noises can be very unpleasant for dogs' sensitive ears, causing many of them to become stressed and uncomfortable," said Kirk.
Keep the radio volume low when your dog is in the car, and make sure your pet has a quiet place to relax during loud events such as parties or family gatherings.
Pet clothes may look cute, but many dogs don't enjoy playing dress-up.
Your dog may look adorable in a sweater vest, but Kirk cautioned that even the cutest pet outfits can stress dogs out.
"Many dogs don't like wearing clothing, as it may feel unnatural or constricting to them. Even items like jackets and snow booties may make them uncomfortable," said Kirk.
Pet owners should be particularly wary of any clothing that prevents a dog from relieving themselves, constricts their tails, or overheats them.
The smell and feeling of fireworks can be stressful for dogs.
Most dog owners are aware that the sound of fireworks can be upsetting to their pets; however, fireworks can offend a dog's other senses as well.
"Not only are fireworks loud, but the feeling, smell, and sight of them can also be terrifying to dogs," said Kirk.
If possible, allow your pet to stay home with a trusted human when you go out to watch the fireworks. Your vet can also suggest medication that may help keep your dog calm.
A new kind of treat or food can upset your dog's digestion.
Dog owners who try to spoil their pet with a new type of fancy dog treat or food might inadvertently cause them to experience some stressful digestive issues.
"A dog with an upset stomach or itchy skin issue due to a diet change will definitely be stressing from the inside out," said Kirk. "Switching food or treats should be done gradually over a long stretch of time."
If you want to treat your dog to a one-time special treat, try feeding them a small amount first and waiting to see if they tolerate it before serving them the full portion.
Smoking near your dog can stress them out.
Smoking around your dog can make them unhappy and may lead to medical problems.
"Dogs have a very keen sense of smell, and what may be a mild smell for us becomes a much stronger and unpleasant sensation for them," said Perez-Camargo.
Perez-Camargo added that prolonged exposure to cigarette smoke can lead to health problems in dogs, such as respiratory and nasal infections and even cancer.
Travel can be overwhelming for some dogs.
You may love the idea of seeing the world with your fluffy friend at your side, but travel can actually be nerve-wracking for pets.
"For many dogs, traveling is stressful," Kirk told Insider. "They have to deal with new smells, new sights, and new environments. Just because you are there with them does not mean that your canine is not worried."
If you need to travel with your dog, allow them to grow accustomed to being inside a car or crate before the big trip. Be sure to pack plenty of their usual food and toys to keep them comfortable on the road and at your destination.
Older dogs may not like being petted unexpectedly.
An unexpected cuddle can actually be stressful for older pets.
"When a pet is losing their eyesight or hearing as they get older, they can become easily startled," Gardner told Insider. "Even the sweetest dog can snap when someone pets them unexpectedly."
If you have an older dog, make sure they can see or hear that you're nearby before petting them, and avoid touching any parts of their body that may be arthritic, such as their paws or joints.
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