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Tuesday, 3 June 2014

All stressed out

We have an eight year old rescue entire German Shepherd who has been living with us since January this year. He has settled in well at home, but we are now concerned that he is showing signs of stress.

He moves his ears back when we stroke him, put his lead on or approach him, and he used to pant a lot. He also constantly bites his dew claws and sometimes his front claws. Is this also a sign of stress?  Should we get his dew claws removed? Or is it best to leave him alone and hope it will all settle down?

Any advice or ideas will be very welcome.

Mel Edwardes, via email.


  1. Chewing the feet and nails can be a sign of a low-grade toxic condition of the system. This is often due to unsuitable diet, frequently food allergy or intolerance.
    I suggest a hypoallergenic diet which is low in fat and protein but high in complex carbohydrate (from whole grains) and chemical-free. This should be fed sparingly. You will probably benefit from some expert advice on how to do this. This should reduce the irritation and help to make him more settled.
    John Burns BVMS MRCVS
    Burns Pet Nutrition

  2. Hi Mel,

    If your dog is showing signs of stress then you are going too fast for him. Take your time in teaching him that the things you do with him are fine. Use positve reinforcers to do this.
    If his ears go back when you stroke him it's because he does not like it. Most probably you are stroking him "over" the head. Dogs not not like this at all, but have learned that humans do it and tolerate it. However it is always better to stroke a dog from the side or on the front of the chest as this also calms them.
    If you are unsure about your dog's body language and signals, then seek advice from a qualified behaviourist in your area who is able to professionally assess your dog's character also based on his previous history. This is particularly important for rescue dogs as you do not necessarily know all that he has been through.
    If you need any more insights do feel free to contact me.