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Owner stress and pets

With times getting tough and more and more owners losing their jobs and their money, dog owners are going to find it harder to give their pet the financial care they sometimes require. Furthermore, the stress and depression these owners are in, is also picked up by their animals.

While dogs in particular have been given particular regard for being stress relievers and emotional aids through thick and thin, it is also true that stressed owners affect their dog’s behaviour and way of life.  Dogs pick up human behavioural cues quickly and easily and this quickly alters their own behaviour. Take an extreme case for an example – a man yelling at another man in the same room as his dog – does the dog know his owner isn’t yelling at him? If he is already a fearful dog, how is this sort of ongoing behaviour around him ever going to help – even though the owner is probably unaware it is affecting him. In the owner’s mind, he is aiming this loud dominant tone at his friend – not his dog! Dog’s take any tone from an owner to be directed at them. This was an extreme example, but you could quickly see that even slight changes in human behaviour and vocal tone can quickly change a dog’s behaviour. An anxious owner is much more likely to have a dog with separation anxiety, just like a stressed owner is much more likely to have a dog that can’t sit still and is poorly behaved, while an owner than tends to yell and react to people a lot is much more likely to have a fearful or aggressive animal.

Many studies have also shown a strong link to stress in owners causing stress in their pets, which then leads to the medical condition known as IBS or Irritable Bowel Syndrome.  Just like owners can get this condition from being constantly stressed or anxious, so too can their dogs. This problem is also known as spastic-colon or nervous colon as it is basically due to anxiety rather than a functional defect with the bowel. If you suspect your animal may have this condition (and it is much more likely for him or her to have it if YOU have it), then you would notice intermittent bloating, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain may also be present.  This is just another reason to try and decrease your stress and anxiety levels around your dog.

Try and let your dog comfort you and if you can save your stressed actions for outside the house away from your family and pets! Let your dog be your stress relief, pat him, cuddle him (this will lower your blood pressure and change your mood), take him for walks – as this gets you exercising which also puts in you in a better frame of mind, and if you are ever lonely – he will always be there for you. Just realize that this is a two way street and he requires a non-stressful, happy environment to live and be nurtured in.

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