Stress isn’t good for any of us, including our dogs. Being animals, there is a range of things we put them through that they don’t understand. Examples of things that can stress out your dog are car rides, being left alone (separation anxiety), a trip to the vets, and other new or unfamiliar situations. All dogs are different and things that stress out one may be another one’s favorite thing and how they react to the stress is different too. Reactions can consist of destructive behavior, incontinence, barking, curling up, and even aggression. Body language and the condition of your home are the best ways to see whether your dog is suffering from stress. Luckily, the methods to control your dog’s stress levels can work for all kinds of situations and reactions. Today, we will be looking at eight ways you can de-stress your dog.
Exercising your dog is essential for both their physical and mental health. When it comes to reducing stress, playing with your dog or taking them for a long walk is a brilliant and easy method to improve their mood. Not only is it an enjoyable experience for your dog, but it tires them out, making it easier for them to rest during times of stress. It can also help to get them used to certain situations. If your dog gets stressed when strangers enter the home, but they are okay when strangers aren’t in their territory, making sure they socialize with different people and animals can be a great way to get them used to it and may improve their reaction in their own home.
Making sure your dog is mentally stimulated can be as effective as tiring them out with exercise. Using these methods alongside each other is the best way to reduce their stress levels. Toys, where dogs need to work for food rewards or ones that are extremely tough and great at tolerating your dog’s strong jaws, are the best kinds.
You may think that having a crate or locking your dog away in one isn’t fair, but it is actually a great way to relieve them from stress. As long as your dog has been raised using a crate or is happy in one, they will see that area as safe and secure. This is particularly useful during the transportation of your pet. Just like their wild wolf ancestors, dogs enjoy having a ‘den’ where they can hide and feel comfortable. A crate can provide them with this comfort and by doing so, it can relieve them from unnecessary stress.
A Security Blanket
Having an item, such as a blanket or a toy that you use to make your dog feel secure is a highly effective method of reducing their stress levels. Making sure the item already contains your scent will really help when it comes to calming them down in a stressful situation. To help them relate this item to a happy time, use it daily and have it near you during good times such as play or cuddle time.
The way you behave towards your dog when they are showing signs of stress can really affect how they react. Keeping yourself together and remaining calm is the best thing you can do for your dog when they aren’t feeling themselves. They know you very well and if you are panicking or over-comforting them, they will think that something is wrong and their stress levels will continue to increase. As hard is it might be, you should avoid comforting your dog when they are stressed as this is out of the ordinary and can confuse and stress them out more. Make sure you reward them when they show positive signs of improvement during the situation, this way, they will eventually learn to associate the scenario with positive reinforcement. This is particularly important if they are put in the situation on a regular basis.
Some people think that sedating your dog is an effective way to de-stress them, but this can be dangerous and won’t help them learn that they are actually safe. Luckily for them, there are much safer and more natural alternatives that can be used to calm your pet down. One method that has proven to work very well is the use of cannabis oil. Not only does it reduce your dog’s stress levels, but it also provides a range of other benefits such as pain relief and reducing inflammation. If you want to know more about using CBD oil for your dog, then follow the link to read more.
Desensitizing Your Dog
Sometimes, you can make your dog desensitized to the trigger of stress. This can take a lot of time and patience, but it isn’t impossible. For example, if your dog doesn’t like other dogs and reacts badly to them, then try to introduce them to animals that are smaller and less intimidating to them (females are usually best as they aren’t as dominant or threatening). Making sure you do this in a controlled, closed space is essential.
Putting on calming sounds, music or just a slow radio station is a very simple yet effective method of de-stressing your dog. It has been proven to work with many animals. It works best if your dog has separation anxiety or hates being left at home alone. Having relaxing tones on in the background can provide a lot of comfort to your pet while we are absent. Some owners just leave the television on if they are running errands or doing the school run. It just provides a little bit of companionship when they are feeling alone.
Most of the time, the way our dogs behave are due to the way they have been brought up. As hard as it can be, making sure you get your dog used to common situations that trigger stress from a young age is the best way to reduce problems when they become adults. If your dog is well socialized, has been gradually left alone, and has been on many car journeys, but still reacts negatively, then this can be an inherited trait, however, this doesn’t mean it can’t be fixed.
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