This blog is very much ‘outside the box’! In fact, it’s a topic I’ve never heard talked about!
Human athletes can suffer injuries not only from training overload or injury but as a result of too much emotional stress! Sure! Why not?
The blog that enlightened me on this subject was https://www.themanualtherapist.com/2020/01/top-5-fridays-5-emotionalliftstyle.html
“It is well established scientifically that our adaptation to our training loads is influenced (positively & negatively) by biomechanical factors (how we move) as well as various emotional and lifestyle stressors.”
Top Five Emotional/Lifestyle Stressors that Increase Injury Risk
1. elevated academic stress
2. elevated emotional stress
So, if we know that emotional stress can impact a human athlete, why would this not be the same for our canine athlete?
What might stress the canine athlete with the potential to impact performance?
A stressful journey to the practice or competition? Maybe the dog is prone to car sickness. Flying cargo (while necessary in regards to some travel destinations) can’t be as calming as staying at home. Different rules, expectations, noises, etc. in a hotel situation. Being subjected to interaction with unfamiliar dogs. Variable temperatures, food, hydration status, etc.
Of course, one has to take into account emotions and stress of the owner / handler as well. Dogs are masterful at picking up on their owner’s emotions. Naturally it makes sense that a distraught, distracted, stressed-out, nervous, angry, worried, or tense owner could dramatically impact the emotional calmness of the dog.
What to do? I think it simply comes down to awareness. What can you do to make the dog calm and comfortable in each situation? Can you arrive earlier than need be to the competition / location if long stressful travel is required? Bring sheets, blankets, beds from home to normalize the ‘smells’ in a new location. Maybe try a dog appeasing pheromone spray, collar, or plug in. Keep yourself in check in regards to your emotional status. Protect your dog from run ins with other dogs (or people) that might stress your dog.
All in all, it’s a topic worth contemplating! I’d love to hear your feedback!