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What sort of tired is your dog feeling?

Updated: Feb 27

We knew it without knowing it.

Different things tire humans, and we can be refreshed by rest, or a change of activity. It seems to me that the same applies to our dogs.

Social Fatigue

All dogs need some level of social connection, although introverts need less than extraverts. Our dogs can feel social fatigue when their socialising is:

* too difficult - the other dogs have poor social skills, or poorly matched skills e.g. different play styles.  Our dog constantly moderates their own behaviour as they try to ignore, or move away from the other dog.

* too much - too many people/ dogs and/ or goes on for too long.

* too little - not enough contact with people/ dogs, or not often enough. As a result their skills fade and they can only cope with short social periods.

Emotional Fatigue

Think about the last time you cried a lot. It's emotionally AND physically exhausting. Your whole body experiences it!

A dog which is an emotionally taxed state for a long period will become very tired. Anxiety, frustration, aggression, confusion, excitement, trauma are all full body experiences. There is the hormonal bath of the emotion which affect how the dog feels internally. There are also physical effects e.g. a tensely held body and high energy emotional behaviours e.g. fence running, incessant barking.

There may also be self damaging displacement behaviours like excessive licking.

Physical Fatigue

This is the tiredness experienced after physical activity.

How much activity a dog enjoys/ can tolerate and the type of exercise varies according to the individual dog and the situation at the time (e.g. hot conditions, how much exercise the dog has already had, age, weight, general health, soundness etc).

Not enough or poor quality sleep can also mean that they tire more quickly.

Pain Fatigue

Anyone with chronic pain will tell you how tiring it is.

There is the feeling of the pain, more pain when attempting to move, frustration of struggle, and compensation by other body parts which can lead to further pain e.g. limping puts stress on other limbs.

Inability to rest well will add to the fatigue.

Mental Fatigue

Give your dog a chance to use his/ her brain and they will become tired.

Training sessions, walks where they can use their noses and investigate the world can all be mentally tiring. Note that if your training sessions lead to frustration and confusion for the dog, they will tire more quickly. A good reason to hone your training skills!

More than one of these can affect your dog at any time. This can make them less able to tolerate/ enjoy situations they might be able to tolerate/ enjoy if they were appropriately rested.


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