How To Help Your Dog’s Emotional Issues

Many of us consider our dog a member of the family because of the joy and the unconditional love they give us.  But sometimes, you may feel annoyed by their restlessness and may wonder why they suddenly become difficult to deal with.  Are you puzzled by what your dog is thinking?


How A Dog’s Brain Works

Emory University conducted a study in 2013.  Under the scan, with the dog awake, unsedated, and unrestrained, they observed how their brain works.  And because dogs can’t talk and can’t respond to whatever questions they are about to ask, they follow on the dog’s behavior.


With the help of a dog trainer, a dog named Callie was taught how to walk up steps and get into the MRI.  She even learned how to wear earmuffs to protect her sensitive ears from the noise the MRI scanner makes.   Well, it seems a lot of hard work and patience before they were able to have her cooperate and be steady in the scanner.


Based on their research, they found prominent similarities between the structure of a dog and a human brain.  Another resemblance is the function of the caudate nucleus.  The caudate nucleus is responsible for the storing and processing of memory, and how our brain learns.


Your caudate plays a key role when you think or get excited about the things that you enjoy – food, music, date, money.  In dogs, the caudate is activated when your dog gets excited once you make hand signals indicating food or play.  It is also activated once the dog smells its owner or a familiar human.

Like us, dogs can also experience grief, depression, anxiety, stress, and other mental and emotional issues.  The only difference is they can’t tell us how they feel at the moment and they can’t ask for help.


How To Know When Your Dog Is In Distress

A dog trainer says that sometimes it’s hard to tell whether the dog is stressed or anxious.  Signs are often very subtle but could be

  • Compulsive licking
  • Decrease appetite
  • Continually isolating himself from other pets
  • Sleeping more than usual
  • Feeling lethargic
  • Becoming aggressive with other animals or other people


How You Can Help Your Buddy

Consulting a veterinarian the moment you notice some behavioral changes should be a thing to consider first.  He can confirm or rule out any suspicion of underlying medical issues.  Your vet can recommend management techniques to help lower your dog’s stress level.



Exercise is best for you and your dog.  Playing regularly with your dog is a positive bonding activity.  It can help your dog relax and calm down as he has your attention and love.  You can do a game of fetch.  Hiking, walking, and running is also great for your dog.


Mental Enrichment

Providing your dogs with puzzle toys or playing scavenger hunt is a great way to enrich your dog’s mental agility.  It is also an obedience training.  Taking a trip to the park is also good for your dog’s social life.  You know just like us, dogs need social life especially when they are bored.  Having nothing to do to use up their energy can turn them into a destructive beast, chewing up your shoes, tearing up the wall or anything that gets in their way.  Keep your buddy busy if you don’t want to see him throw a temper tantrum.


Dog Space (Safe Zone)

There are days when your dog also wants some time alone.  Having his own area in your home would mean a lot to him.   Parties can make him feel overwhelmed, so he needs a place of retreat.  He can run and hide in his comfort zone if he needs to escape or when he is under stress(like during thunderstorms).  It is a place where he feels safe.  He also needs a security blanket such as a toy to comfort him.   Frequently checking on him is also a reassurance that you are there for him.


Great Body Massage

Want to know another aspect where dogs are like humans?  They, too, love an excellent soothing massage.  Some books and classes teach how to massage your dog the proper way.  What else can beat a relaxing massage?



The food you’re giving your dog is also an essential aspect of his health and wellbeing.  Be sure that you’re giving him a properly balanced diet for his age and the activity he engages in.  I told you, dogs are very much like humans.  They also need good quality and balanced food and a healthy lifestyle.  Not having so can also lead to anxiety and stress.


It’s vital that you know your dog well.  You should be aware of the activities he likes the most.  Does he love walking, playing, or watching TV? Does he enjoy meeting other dogs when in the park?  Does he get along well with others?  Is he eating enough?


If you’re still not sure, it is always best to consult your vet.



Berns, G.  (2013, October 5).  Dogs are people, too.  Retrieve from