High Anxiety

April 30 | 1 Comment

What, Me Worry?I’ve been feeling somewhat anxious lately and decided to do a little research to help alleviate my stress. I was extremely happy when I ran across this article titled “Got Stress? Pet Consultant Dogs Do.” Imagine my disappointment when I realized the talk was given to allow a dog park to be built near a little league baseball field in Maine and not just to focus on canine well being. But still, there are some interesting tidbits for you to ponder.

BELFAST, Maine – Just like their human owners, dogs suffer from stress.

“The big reason for stress in dogs is our inability to understand what they are saying,” Don Hanson told about 50 pet owners gathered at the Abbott Room of the Belfast Free Library on Saturday.

As I like to say to my father, “What part of woof! don’t you understand?” Apparently, all of it.

Hanson, a dog behavior consultant, pet trainer and owner of Green Acres Kennel Shop in Bangor, was invited to discuss dog behavior by the dog park subcommittee of the Friends of Belfast Parks.

Hanson told the dog lovers that close observation is required to detect signs of stress in their pets.

Identifying behavioral signals given by dogs during group play could have a role in the success of the dog park.

A few behavioral signals and their meaning:

Lifting of back leg while tilting forward – “If you don’t get out of the way, you will be my property”

Laying with belly exposed – “Good touch, no bad touch”

Flashing teeth – “Check out how well my Crest Whitestrips are working”

Direct eye contact while growling – “Are you available for dinner?”

Sitting while pawing the air – “I’d like a taste of your ice cream cone”

A pug with a gun – “Your candy or your life”

Construction of the park is on hold while committee members and the Belfast Little League iron out some problems. The fenced park will be built next to the baseball field, and league organizers are concerned about safety and smells.

I understand the concern, boys can be rather smelly.

Committee member Carol Good said that the group has raised $39,000 for the park and that the fence and other materials had already been purchased. Good thanked those who supported the project and said additional funds were needed to complete the first phase of construction.

Hanson said the biggest problem when dogs are stressed is aggression. He said some dogs can cope with stress well while others handle it poorly. He said pet owners had to learn how to recognize the “calming signals” dogs revert to when they are stressed out and owners should attempt to remove the dog from that particular situation.

Who doesn’t get stressed out after going 0 for 4 with 3 strikeouts? The only way I get over an outing like that is a stop by the local Bruster’s for a hot fudge sundae. Without the hot fudge…because that can kill me.

“Your dog has a part of the brain for rational thought and learning. When your dog is really stressed, the operating system for learning is turned off,” he said. “Stress can become chronic, and when it becomes chronic, it becomes an issue.”

Excessive sniffing, yawning, averting its eyes, licking its nose, squinting and scratching are among the most easily recognized calming signals, he said.

Based upon the amount of time I lick my privates, I must be on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

“Humans are really ignorant of the needs and ways of communicating with dogs. We expect a dog to come into our house and understand English,” Hanson said.

C’mon, humans should know by now that we only speak Latin.


One Response to “High Anxiety”

  1. giacomit on April 30th, 2008 5:05 pm

    Too cool, go doggie

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