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