Most dogs aren’t shy about showing their true emotions, but service dogs can be a whole different breed. Since they are specifically trained to be helpful, quiet and calm, it may be hard to recognize when they are experiencing strong emotional sensations. In fact, dogs are a lot like humans in that they acutely feel despair, love, joy, rage and stress, along with a host of other common emotions. Even if your service dog doesn’t wear his emotions on his sleeve, it doesn’t mean he isn’t feeling them. There are several ways you can determine if your dog is feeling stressed, some being more obvious than others. Read through this guide from the experts at USA Service Dogs to learn how to recognize signs of strain and tips to help relieve it.
Recognize the Signs of Stress
The team at USA Service Dogs can teach you how to register a service dog and how to recognize stress signals that service animals may be exhibiting. Failure to notice the signs could result in long-term physical and emotional harm to the dog. Some signs of stress may also be health-related concerns with your dog, so be sure to check with a veterinarian. Start with a thorough examination of your dog and carefully check the following areas.
• The Eyes:
Check your service animal to see if their eyes are glazed or dilated. When their eyelids are pulled back and white appears, it likely means stress. You might also notice a white crescent moon shape in the side of their eyes as they look back and forth. While seeing the color red isn’t much better, it usually just means the dog is tired and needs a bit more rest.
• The Ears:
A dog’s ears can tell you a lot about their emotional state. Stress often triggers dogs to pull back on their ears so they almost appear flat against their head. This is the more common appearance of a stressed dog, but some animals may also respond by keeping their ears in a tight, erect position. Knowing your dog and how they usually hold their ears will help you determine which position is more likely to indicate stress.
• The Mouth:
There are several things to look for in the mouth region, including snarling, drooling, clomping the jaw and panting (shallow or heavy). Check to see if their lips are curled back to reveal their teeth, which is a sign that your service animal might be stressed enough to bite.
• The Tail:
One of the most common signs of stress in a dog may be evident in the tail. When it’s tucked between their hind legs, it’s a good indication something is wrong. A tail may also be wagging at the tip or straight down, which may indicate a problem.
• The Body:
Your dog may not indicate any of the above signs of stress, but may exhibit it in an entirely different way. Some animals have unexplained shaking or shivering, excessive shedding, tense muscles and lots of licking. Take these signs seriously and consult with a veterinarian to determine if they are a health-related concern or your dog’s way of showcasing stress.
Get Your Dog Proper Help
Reduce the stress in your dog’s life by avoiding exposure to large groups of people, or loud areas. Ensure they get plenty of rest, healthy food and physical stimulation. If you have any concerns about your service animal, consult with a trained veterinarian to find the best possible solutions for their overall health and well-being. USA Service Dogs can help you with gear you need to ensure your companion animal is prepared, as well as information on registering a service dog. Contact USA Service Dogs with any questions at (888) 656-DOGS.