"If you're chronically stressed, your dog could be too..."
Human anxiety can significantly affect dogs, primarily because dogs are highly attuned to human emotions and body language. Dogs are known for their ability to sense and react to subtle changes in their environment, including the emotional state of the people around them.
Emotional Contagion: Dogs are capable of picking up on human emotions through cues such as body language, facial expressions, tone of voice, and overall demeanor. If a person is anxious, stressed, or fearful, a dog can sense this and may mirror those emotions, potentially leading to increased anxiety or stress in the dog.
Changes in Routine and Behavior: Anxious individuals may exhibit changes in their daily routines, behavior, and interactions with their dogs. This can disrupt a dog's sense of predictability and stability, potentially causing confusion or anxiety in the dog.
Tension in the Home Environment: If there is constant tension, arguing, or a stressful atmosphere in the home due to human anxiety, it can create an uneasy environment for the dog. Dogs may become more vigilant, stressed, or on edge in response to the heightened emotional atmosphere.
"If you're chronically stressed, your dog could be too..." The National Geographic reports
Lack of Positive Interaction: Anxious individuals may find it challenging to engage in positive interactions with their dogs, such as playtime, walks, or affectionate gestures. This can result in a decrease in positive reinforcement and bonding, potentially leading to behavioral issues or feelings of neglect in the dog.
Changes in Vocal Cues: An anxious person may have a change in their tone of voice, speaking louder, faster, or with more tension. Dogs are sensitive to changes in vocal cues and may interpret this as a signal that something is wrong, causing them to feel uneasy or stressed.
Overprotection or Overbearing Behavior: Anxious individuals may become overprotective or overly cautious about their dogs' safety, well-being, or behavior. While well-intentioned, this behavior can result in restricting the dog's freedom and social experiences, potentially causing behavioral issues or anxiety in social settings.
Reinforcement of Fearful Behavior: If a dog perceives its owner as anxious or fearful, it may interpret the situation as a potential threat, reinforcing its own fearful or anxious behavior. When parents stroke, praise and encourage dogs during displays of anxiety or trepidation, this can encourage and reinforce the idea that anxious and fearful behaviour is appropriate in that context.