Puppies Get Stressed Too

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Puppies Get Stressed Too

An Independent Puppy

Dealing with Fleeing Pup

Pups Adolescent Behaviors

Socializing Your Puppy

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Leader of the Pack

Like you, your puppy can become stressed. Learning how to read his stress allows you to help him cope with a situation better.

Stress signals
Stress signals can range from mild to severe. If you notice and act on the mild ones, you may never see a severe stress signal. Mild signs of stress can be as subtle as your pup closing his mouth. For example: he's sitting next to you, mouth open, relaxed, and a friend your pup has never met approaches. As the person nears, your pup closes his mouth. If you noticed that signal you'll now know that your pup isn't totally comfortable. Other mild stress signals your pup may exhibit: looking away, lowering his tail, lowering his ears and pulling them back slightly.

A pup who is stressed by a situation, for example, being at the veterinarian's office or at a new puppy class, may pant even though it isn't hot, shed excessively and sweat from his paw pads. You'll see little damp spots on a dark, tile floor.

Most pups will never exhibit anything more than these low level, normal signs of mild stress. Fearful pups, or pups who are temporarily overwhelmed by something, may squeal, urinate and try to hide. If your pup shows this reaction, please speak to your veterinarian. There is a lot you can do to help your puppy overcome feelings of stress, but in serious cases it may not be a do-it-yourself project.

What to do about mild stress
There's a few ways you can help your puppy feel more comfortable. In the above example, where someone new approaches your puppy, you might decide to pull a treat out of your pocket and have the new person feed it to your pup as an introduction. Or you could get up and greet your friend warmly, thereby signaling to your pup that all is well. Thirdly, you can keep one eye on your pup and ask your friend to allow your pup to come to him, rather than your friend reaching down to the pup.

Say you missed that early signal, and the person kept approaching. Now your puppy may pull his ears all the way back, lower his tail more and attempt to move away. Or he might freeze in place and lower his head. You might notice wrinkling on his brow and muzzle – this is from tension.

At this stage it might be a good idea to get some distance between your pup and the new person. Just stepping a few feet away may be enough to relax your pup. Then you can do as before, use treats and a relaxed attitude to encourage your pup. Another option is to get your pup to focus on you and practice a few upbeat "sits" and "comes," with food rewards to help him get past his concerns.

Every pup gets nervous from time to time. Noticing his stress signals and reacting in a helpful way allows your pup to grow into the most confident, stable puppy possible.

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