What is stress?
Stress is a state in which an organism reacts to external or internal stimuli (stressors), thereby directing energy to deal with dangerous or extreme situations. Stress is a normal reaction of an organism whose purpose is self-sustainment.
But if the organism is too long or too often exposed to stress, we can define it as a set of physical, chemical or emotional stimuli from the environment that induce an inadequate adaptation in the individual, or cause a physiological tension that can contribute to the development of the disease.
Stress is not subject only to man, but to all living beings, even plants – stress is a reaction to danger.
What happens when the body is under stress?
At the moment when the organism is found under the influence of stressors, the sympathetic nervous system activates the center of the brain (hypothalamus) that produces and if necessary releases hypothalamic hormones (stress hormones). One of these hormones is corticotropin releasing hormone (CRH), which directly travels to the pituitary gland.
Pituitary gland releases adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) or corticotropin – a peptide hormone that stimulates the formation and elimination of glucocorticoids (especially cortisol) from the adrenal cortex.
The feedback mechanism keeps the cortisol secretion within well-defined overall daily limits. In addition to cortisol, adrenal cortex also produces other hormones, such as testosterone. Testosterone has an anabolic effect on muscle building and mental state. High levels of testosterone are associated with an increased manifestation of aggression in males.
The first reaction of the body to stress, whether it is stress-induced emotion or physical effort, is the release of adrenaline. Adrenaline is a neurotransmitter due to which tension, blood pressure, blood sugar and body temperature increase, breathing accelerates, stops digestion, spreads pupils and respiratory tract.
These biochemical reactions bring the organism into a state of intensified activity and prepare the animal to fight or escape. Therefore, stress is extremely important for survival in nature.
Of course, the body can not remain in a state of tension and alertness for too long, so too long exposure to stress, fear or shock can have negative consequences for the body, such as exhaustion and illness.
A constantly elevated level of cortisol weakens immunity, affects digestive system diseases such as stomach ulcers and chronic diarrhea, and can cause damage to the adrenal gland after a long time. It also affects reduced reproduction (mating), which is evident, for example, in animals kept in zoos, and on behavioral changes (moods) and mood.
What people hardly accept and do not actually understand (or do not want to understand) is that problematic behaviors are in most cases caused just because of stress.
Causes of stress
• Direct threat by humans or other dogs, such as anger, anger, aggression
• twisting of the leeward, forcing into a certain position (often on the back, the so-called “alpha roll”),
• too many expectations during training or in everyday life
• too much physical activity, exercise
• Insufficient physical activity
• hunger and thirst
• Inability to perform physical needs such as performing an emergency when it needs to
• Ambient temperature – heat or cold
• pain and illness
• Too much noise
• loneliness and isolation, pre-stay in indoor or enclosed spaces
• sudden situations and changes
• Too excitement during a game with people or dogs
• lack of space or time to rest
• Traumatic experiences whether these are accidents or are caused by poor and harsh treatment
• so far
• Unwanted interaction with humans or dogs
Signs of stress
• Signs of pausing and calming (so-called calming or relaxing signals)
• The inability of a dog to calm down, restlessness, walking from one place to another. Fixation to toys, balls …
Unfortunately, many such dogs are considered simply “hyperactive”.
• Excessive reactions to certain events
• Combing, often wrongly diagnosed as an allergy
• biting and licking of the paws and parts of the body, often wrongly diagnosed as an allergy
• Decaying hair, dandruff
• catching the tail, people entertain us while the dog is suffering
• barking, wrapping, whining without a clearly visible reason
• Gastrointestinal disorders – diarrhea or constipation, vomiting, anorexia
• intense scent from the mouth or whole body
• muscle tension
• Smile, often completely misinterpreted as dominance
• Loss or an increase in appetite
• frequent need for emergency
• sweating (on paws, wet paw prints on the floor or at the veterinarian on the table)
• Allergies – Many are caused by stress just as people think they need to change their food
• aggressive behavior
• displacement behavior; Use of other behaviors or actions when we are looking
from the dog to do something, for example we ask the dog to lie down, and the dog stretches or gives a paw, it scratches, turns
view and similar.
• fixation to light or shadow
• poor quality of hair, after prolonged exposure to stressful situations, the quality of the hair becomes poor, brittle, fragile
• uncomfortable breath of the body or from the mouth
• Inability to concentrate
• Males often penetrate the penis
• The “downturn” of the buttocks as when the dog has worms
Sometimes signals such as yawning, sneezing, shaking (like when a dog exits from water) and the like can mean stress relief, not stress alone.
How to reduce the impact of stress on dogs?
In order to reduce the stress and the bad influence of stress on our dogs, it is necessary to understand their behavior, to learn what they are trying to communicate, how they feel and what they want, to recognize when and if anything is too hard for them, what excites them, whether they are tired and maybe they hurt something.
When we learn to recognize which things or situations in the dog are more difficult to bear, it is much easier to react appropriately – remove the dog from the situation and the environment that is too stressful for him or change our behavior towards the dog. It is also very important to know the difference between excitement and behavior caused by stress.
It is also extremely important that socialization helps a dog learn how to deal with everyday situations in the world in which they live. By socializing, we build and reinforce their self-esteem.
In addition, it is important to consider whether our wishes and ambitions are worth putting our pets in situations that are not so pleasant to dogs, such as dealing with sports and various kinological disciplines.
Of course, we do not want to say that you should not, or should not be, deal with it, but it is important to know how to stand or stop when we recognize in the dogs some of the stress symptoms mentioned above. Our goal should be fun and genuine enjoyment in the company of each other, which is far more valuable than any awards and trophies.
People like to live in the belief that the way in which their dogs live is good, if not better than what they themselves choose. But the fact is that it’s far from what people think. As rough as it sounds, we humans in a way are forcing dogs to get used to our way of life, to life in an enclosed space, despite the fact that some live outside.
We change their natural habits and needs, we apply them to our own, we teach them behavior that must be in accordance with human rules, often with a dressage, choking their natural instincts.
Dogs do not require much. The most important thing for them is to be what they are – dogs; to have food and water, to use their instincts and instincts, to have society, time for rest and entertainment.