Canine stress in a nutshell — why does it occur, how can it be recognised, and what can be done to alleviate it?

Claire Hargrave
Sunday, April 2, 2017

Every item that an animal encounters, whether animate or inanimate, is a stimulus. If an animal has had the opportunity to learn to remain relaxed in the presence of that stimulus (to habituate) the stimulus will be one that, for that specific animal, maintains a state of emotional neutrality. Alternatively, if the stimulus initiates any form of emotional response (whether positive or negative in its nature), the stimulus becomes a stressor. As the majority of domestic dogs live in close proximity to human owners in a socially and physically rich and diverse environment, exposure to stressors is an inevitable part of the domestic dog's life. However, the impact of these stressors can be severely detrimental to both the emotional and physical welfare of the dog. These welfare infringements can place considerable constraints on the affected dog's behavioural repertoire and its capacity to behave in a manner that is consistent with an owner's and the general public's expectations. Such failures to meet behavioural expectations is a common factor in requests for the relinquishment and euthanasia of dogs. A previous article provided a general discussion on stress in companion animals; this article examines the prevalence, recognition, avoidance and resolution of stress in dogs.

Canine stress in a nutshell — why does it occur, how can it be recognised, and what can be done to alleviate it?
Canine stress in a nutshell — why does it occur, how can it be recognised, and what can be done to alleviate it?

Subscribe to get full access to The Veterinary Nurse

Thank you for vising The Veterinary nurse and reading our archive of expert clinical content. If you would like to read more from the leading peer-reviewed journal for veterinary nurses, you can start your subscription today for just £26.

Subscribing will enable you to:

  • Stay up-to-date with current thinking and best practice in veterinary medicine
  • Enhance your knowledge and understanding of all key clinical topics
  • Achieve the mandatory requirement of 45 hours' documented CPD over a three-year period
Subscribe now

Already registered? - Sign in here

Keep up to date with The Veterinary Nurse!

Sign up to The Veterinary Nurse's regular newsletters and keep up-to-date with the very latest clinical research and CPD we publish each month.