Understanding the Link Between Human Energy and Canine Anxiety

staff member and dogs on splash padWritten by Laurie Yost, owner of Playful Pups Retreat

Playful Pups Retreat is proud to be a Fear Free certified facility. Laurie also holds the highest level of certification through PACCC (Professional Animal Care Certification Council) with a CPACO certification (Certified Professional Animal Care Operator).

Dogs are often referred to as man’s best friend, and for good reason. They offer us companionship, loyalty, and unconditional love. But have you ever considered the impact of your own energy and emotions on your furry friend? As pet care professionals, we are seeing a growing number of dogs at Playful Pups Retreat who have anxiety, are nervous with new people or in new environments, or are lacking confidence in social situations. As human anxiety rises, so does that of our canine companion. Research suggests that the energy and anxiety we experience as humans can significantly influence our dogs’ behavior and emotional well-being.

Numerous studies have explored the intricate bond between humans and dogs, shedding light on the ways in which our emotional states can affect our canine companions. One such study conducted by researchers at the University of Vienna found that dogs are highly sensitive to human emotions, particularly negative ones. The study revealed that dogs exhibited more stress-related behaviors, such as licking their lips and yawning, when their owners’ displayed signs of anxiety or distress.

But how exactly does our energy and anxiety transfer to our dogs? Dogs are incredibly perceptive animals with keen senses, including the ability to pick up on subtle changes in our body language, tone of voice, and even our scent. When we are feeling stressed or anxious, our bodies release cortisol, a hormone associated with stress. Dogs can detect these chemical changes through their acute sense of smell, triggering their own stress response in turn.

Furthermore, our behavior and interactions with our dogs can also contribute to their anxiety levels. For instance, if we are constantly tense or on edge, our dogs may interpret this as a sign of danger or threat, leading them to feel anxious or uneasy themselves. Similarly, inconsistent, or unpredictable behavior from their owners can leave dogs feeling uncertain and anxious about their environment.

In addition to our direct influence, environmental factors such as noisy or chaotic surroundings can also impact our dogs’ stress levels. Studies have shown that exposure to loud noises, crowded spaces, or unfamiliar environments can trigger anxiety in dogs, especially if they perceive these situations as threatening or overwhelming.

So, what can we do to help alleviate our dogs’ anxiety and promote their well-being? Firstly, it’s important to be mindful of our own emotional state and how it may affect our dogs. Practicing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or meditation can help us manage our stress levels and create a more calming atmosphere for our furry friends.

Consistency and routine are also key components of reducing canine anxiety. Establishing a predictable daily routine and providing a safe, comfortable environment can help reassure dogs and minimize their stress levels. Additionally, receiving regular exercise and mental stimulation can help channel their energy in a positive way and reduce feelings of restlessness or anxiety. We offer a Day Stay program and Enrichment Doggie Daycare at Playful Pups Retreat, both of which are great options to help your dog by adding exercise and enrichment into their routine each time they visit us.

Furthermore, seeking professional help from a veterinarian or experienced dog trainer may be necessary for dogs with severe anxiety issues. These experts can offer guidance and support tailored to your dog’s specific needs, whether through behavior modification techniques, medication, or other forms of therapy.

In conclusion, the bond between humans and dogs runs deep, and our emotional connection extends beyond mere companionship. Our energy and anxiety can profoundly impact our dogs’ well-being, influencing their behavior and overall quality of life. By being mindful of our own emotions, providing a stable environment, and seeking appropriate support when needed, we can help ensure that our beloved canine companions lead happy, healthy lives. The Playful Pups Retreat team of pet care professionals are skilled in working with dogs with anxiety, or who may be lacking confidence. Check out our innovative Pawsitive Experiences training program to learn more about how we can help.