When our Newfoundland heard thunder or the Fourth of July firecrackers, he used to tremble and whine and then dash in between my legs to find refuge.
In his later years, when he was too old to chase the squirrels in the backyard, he used to plop down on the ground and take puffing breaths in disgust.
Our dog was a mild mannered one and he almost never acted out in an objectionable way.
Although all dogs feel stress as well other emotions, some dogs do not act as nicely as a Newfoundland would.
Some can act out offensively.
It is necessary, therefore, to recognize the ways in which dogs show stress and take precautions before a dog's actions get out of hand.
When my son adopted an adult dog, the dog kept marking everything and anything in his apartment.
An extended physical checkup showed the dog to be healthy, but this dog had been moved from home to home, getting rejected by each family.
He, therefore, was marking his territory out of stress and for fear of another rejection.
This behavior was not good for the dog or his owner, because the owner needed to keep a respectable enough house and the dog could have developed kidney and urinary tract disorders from urinating continuously.
My son's dog finally adapted to his surroundings with the help of a trainer and a very patient owner.
As in people, a certain amount of stress in dogs is necessary.
Otherwise, how would they let the owners know they need to be taken out on a leash or that they are hungry or that they need attention? It is important to recognize the symptoms of excess stress in a dog so the owner can reassure or take care of him.
Defecation and urination that are not due to physical illness are probably the most objectionable ones, as well as overreaction and aggressiveness.
There are also lesser signs of stress in dogs that are sometimes not evident to an untrained eye but can lead to unpleasant complications if allowed to persist.
One of those signs is nervousness.
Nervousness is there when a dog is easily startled or is jumpy.
Another sign is restlessness.
If the dog is constantly moving around, fidgeting, and reacting to every single noise, he is restless.
Restless dogs also tend to pull on the leash when taken out on a walk or they bite on the leash.
Another sign of stress, on the contrary to restlessness, is freezing.
In this case, the dog is so stressed that he cannot move.
Some dogs may carry this much further, shutting the outer world totally and living inside themselves just like a depressed human being.
Excess stress in dogs may also show itself in overeating, appetite loss, poor concentration, forgetting what he has learned, incessant noisemaking like barking or whining, and destroying objects.
Some claim that stress in dogs exhibits itself in allergies, unpleasant body odor and bad breath, dandruff and other skin problems, drippy nose, eye color changes, and teeth snapping.
Dogs have complicated skills for communication.
The subtlety of their body language and the way they exchange information requires the owners' willingness to observe and recognize the indications of stress, so they can come up with a solution for a happier existence.
Human owners owe it to their dogs to be attentive to their well-being.