Stress and Anxiety: Not Just a Human Concern
It’s common knowledge that stress and anxiety can lead to additional health concerns in humans and, at times, a decreased quality of life — and even death. Stress wears the body down and can lead to ulcers, high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes. We’re often inevitably surrounded by stressful situations and triggers and are encouraged to take up yoga, meditation and other practices that can help us lead a more Zen-like life. Guess what? We’re not alone. Stress and anxiety are detrimental to our dogs’ health, too.
How Do Anxiety and Stress Affect Dogs’ Health?
Research indicates that stress and anxiety do indeed have ill effects on our dogs. Pennsylvania State’s Dr. Nancy Dreschel of the Department of Dairy and Animal Science conducted a study that involved 721 dogs. She interviewed owners and studied the dogs’ behaviors, quality of life, and how and when they passed away.
Participants in the study owned all sizes, shapes, weights, ages and breeds of dogs, and each completed a 99-question survey about their dog. Dr. Dreschel felt that results were pretty conclusive that stress and anxiety can have a significant negative impact on dogs’ health. Interestingly, dogs described as having poor behavior, lived shorter lives than those that seemed easy going, and these are also the same dogs described as fearful and anxious. The more well-behaved dogs were said to be, the longer their life spans.
Dr. Dreschel summarizes her work by saying, "It was hypothesized that stress caused by living with anxiety or fearfulness has deleterious effects on health and lifespan in canines. The ﬁndings indicate that fear, speciﬁcally the fear of strangers, is related to shortened lifespan."
How Can I Reduce My Dog’s Stress and Anxiety Levels?
Clearly, we all want our canine companions to live long, happy and fulfilling lives. While they can’t join us in a structured yoga class or guided meditation, all dogs can benefit from basic obedience training. It can keep them safe, enhance your relationship with them and provide enjoyable interactions with the one they love the most — you! You can even join us for fun classes where we focus on learning tricks or agility! Both are great for your dog’s mental stimulation, physical fitness and bonding with you.
But if we read into the study mentioned above, training can also lengthen your dog’s life, especially when you can help them overcome anxiety triggers. Many dogs do suffer from fear of strangers and anxiety, including separation anxiety and situational anxiety. Basic obedience is not enough for dogs coping with these emotions. Here at Head of the Class Dog Training, we are specially trained to work with dogs with separation anxiety and can help you work through many other emotional and fear-related challenges your dog exhibits, as well. Read more about our separation anxiety training, led by a Certified Separation Anxiety Trainer.
Whatever behavioral challenges you are facing with your dog, give Head of the Class Dog Training a call. We can discuss classes or one-on-one training options that best suit your needs and help put you and your dog on the road to that healthy, more Zen-like life.
Winchester's Premium Professional Pet Training
Lisa Marino, CPDT-KA, KPA-CTP, PMCT, has taken her varied teaching experiences and applied them to helping owners understand and train their beloved four-legged family members. She has more than four years’ experience leading group dog training classes at Best Paw Forward in Hartland, WI, and opened Head of the Class Dog Training LLC in Winchester, VA in 2012, where she conducts group classes and private lessons, as well as helps owners to modify their dogs' problem behaviors.Lisa earned her CPDT-KA in 2012, is a 2015 graduate of the prestigious Karen Pryor Academy and is a Pat Miller Certified Trainer.