April 28, 2015
Your dog secretly loves Taylor Swift. And while the haters are gonna hate (hate, hate, hate, hate), there’s no judgment here. ”Shake It Off,” after all, is the biggest-selling dog stress relief anthem of all time.
Think about it; stress is everywhere. Your life, my life – it’s really no different for your dog. While we humans have a rolodex of stress release rituals, it’s doubtful your dog can dive into a good book or pour itself a Pinot while walking. They can only shake it off. So, maybe you’re tired of hearing the song over and over, but it’s a dance your dogs do daily.
So if you’re anything like me, you’ve already joined the collective Chicago cheer for winter’s (eventual) end in anticipation for the (full) arrival of spring. But springtime can mean more than rising temperatures to your pet; it can also be saturated with a steady stream of stress. No matter how much your pup wants to play (play, play, play, play), spring stress can be overwhelming. Recognizing some of the season’s triggers can, at a minimum, help reduce the amount of stress your pet has to endure.
It seems these bushy-tailed brats never miss a beat. Their only mission is to tease and taunt your pet from the bottom of a tree trunk before scurrying up into the branches, leaving your dog excited and confused as to why they themselves cannot climb the tree. While nearly impossible to avoid, you can help protect your pet by not letting them take off after the squirrels, only to hit the end of their lead. The sudden jerking halt could harm your pet’s neck or vertebrae.
While warmer weather means spending way more time outside with your pet, just remember, so is everyone else. If your dog gets overexcited when it sees other dogs, try and scan the area ahead when walking. You might have to be lightning on your feet, but try and cross the street or change corners before your pet sees a potential playmate.
Also, be wary of gated front yards. Dogs left outside by their owners are often bored, waiting for excitement. Don’t let their boredom cause your pet stress.
Everything comes back to life in the spring. Construction ramps up, landscape crews are mowing and blowing, and overall, more people are on the road, which means more car doors slamming, engines revving and even parallel parking accidents.
These sounds can be stressful to your pet, often times startling them out of sniff land. If you live in an area with heavy traffic or construction, try walking away from it in order to gain a more pleasurable experience for your dog and yourself.
Spring can certainly seem like an obstacle course at times, determined to make you stop cruising and moving along, but recognizing your pet’s stress can also help you recognize yours. Increased engagement in the environment you and your pet walk can certainly help take your mind off whatever might be bothering you.
Who knows? Your furry friend might just make you a Taylor Swift fan, or better yet, teach you how to shake it off a bit more easily yourself.
What new stresses do you encounter with your dog when the weather warms up, and what do you do to deal with them? Tell us in the comments!
Joseph ‘shakes it off’ with Albany Park dogs daily. He’s written for two of the largest LGBT publications in the South, The GA Voice and Out & About Nashville. When he’s not helping your pup navigate spring stresses, he enjoys live music and is secretly a Taylor Swift fan, too.