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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Recognizing Stress

A few years ago, my shy dog, Murphy had to see a vet specialist about a
As the vet and I spoke at length, Murphy stopped pacing, sat down and
looked like he was about to fall asleep. It seemed odd to me. How could my
nervous dog sleep in this strange, scary place. Surely he wasn't
comfortable enough to dose off.
I know that yawning is a stress indicator in dogs, but sleeping??

Then I listened to this on NPR:
"...restraining animals can sometimes trigger this super-slowing of the
heart rate, that in some instances can actually lead to fainting, and that
super-slowing of the heart rate triggered by restraint is probably an
anti-predation thing.."

My Murphy wasn't strapped to a table or anything. But he was trapped on a
leash, in a small room with a strange man, with no escape available to him.

I started looking around the internet and found several references to
stress and sleep. See below

Of course, most vet visits can't be avoided. But if your dog is falling
asleep at the pet store, at pet therapy visits, during training classes,
at other people's houses, etc.. Then it might be prudent to examine
weather or not the drowsiness is stress related. If it is, it might be best
to avoid the endeavor or at least figure out a way to make the occasion
less stress inducing.

"...Decreased activity. Some stressed dogs will take a �stress nap�, they
will just shut down and go to sleep, as a way of dealing with stress..."\

"By falling asleep, animals can cope with stress by avoiding it."
"When your dog is stressed out, it may fall asleep more often just to avoid
"Sleeping excessively: Every dog has a different energy level so excessive
sleeping may be
difficult to recognize. This is a sign of chronic stress, shutting down and
seratonin depletion."\

"..going to sleep may indicate that a dog is overstressed"
"I frequently see extremely stressed dogs who are sleeping or resting"
"not sleeping or excessive sleeping"

Note: the above references also provide great general info on recognizing
stress in our pets*

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