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We all want what is best for our dog; we want them to be happy and healthy. But how do we know if they are happy given that they don’t speak our language and can’t tell us how they feel. Sometimes we just assume the dog is fine with a situation or should be fine with it.

I talked before about how dogs have very little choice about what happens during their day and how that affects them. We take them to daycare, a grooming or vet appointment or lodge them when it suits our schedule, but how does your dog experience it?

Dogs do show how they feel for those whom are able to observe. Dogs show their emotional state through body language, their posture and their behavior. To know if our dog is okay, we have to look for signs of FAS—Fear, Anxiety and Stress. We know that some level of stress is normal and that not all stress is bad, but dogs that experience extended periods of severe stress will suffer psychologically and physically. And dogs make poor decisions when they are stressed.

At A Walk in the Park, we have instituted policies to make the experience easier for the dogs. We make sure all the dogs arrive in the morning, so they are on the same routine. Having an energetic dog come in late afternoon, when the other dogs are getting tired, for instance, would create a stressful situation. Also, having the staff get the dogs curbside prevents the dogs from being confined too closely together in the lobby, which can be stressful for them. In addition, our having an attendance policy keeps the dogs familiar with our environment and reduces stress. As an owner, you can reduce the stress for your dog by allotting plenty of time when dropping them off. Your own anxiety about being late will transfer to your dog.

Please email us with any questions or comments.

Dirk Broersma