Stress is the body’s way of responding to any kind of demand or threat. When a dog feels threatened, his nervous system responds by releasing a flood of stress hormones which includes adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones rouse the body for emergency action. The heart pounds faster, muscles tighten, blood pressure rises, breath quickens, and all senses become sharper. These chemical changes increase strength, stamina, reaction time, and enhance focus.
This is known as the “fight or flight” stress response and is the body’s method of protection. When working properly, stress helps your dog stay focused, energetic, and alert. In emergency situations, stress can save your dog’s life.
Stress happens every day for many reasons, including learning new things or practicing known behaviors to perfection. Without stress responses, your dog would probably not learn.
But beyond the comfort zone, stress stops being helpful and can start causing major damage to your dog’s mind and body.