Thursday, October 18, 2012

How to Calm your Dog

Dogs and puppies sometimes become excited and exhibit behaviors that are undesirable or even chaotic. This is especially true during stressful times such as thunderstorms, fireworks and other atypical experiences. Stressful moments, however, can also occur during seemingly benign, everyday events such as when the doorbell rings, or when you walk your dog near a high activity area such as a dog park or children playing.

There are several quick calming behavior aids for dogs and techniques you can use in many situations. Perhaps the most available (and inexpensive) calming technique is simply to yawn. A yawn signals calm to a canine and often triggers your dog to yawn as well, which physically calms it. Another simple tool is a food filled toy that a dog can chew or “worry” on – such as the wildly popular Kong. Just fill the toy with delicious treats and freeze. Then you can take it out and give it to your dog to distract, entertain and calm your pup in a variety of circumstances.

Here are some additional tips and strategies to help you calm your dog during specific stressful times.

High Activity – Massage Can Quickly Calm the Situation

It is not always possible to avoid walking or driving your dog past an area of high activity. When that happens, calm your dog by using a Swedish massage of your pet’s skin known as T-touch. This is a light massage of the skin using slow circular movements from the top of the pet’s head to its tail. This will calm Fido, and you can massage your dog standing or sitting.

Doorbells – Desensitize Your Pup to This Trigger

It is part of a dog’s nature to bark to alert a family to intruders and to warm would-be threats that there is an active “protector” on the scene. Nevertheless, some canines become so excited that become overcome with excitement and will not stop barking. To compound the issue, they are often too excited to obey your command to sit and stay so you can let your guest into the house.

You can keep your pet calm when the doorbell rings by desensitizing it to the sound while linking the sound to a substitute action. For example, teach your dog that a ringing doorbell does not always mean a guest at the door. And start linking the doorbell to a substitute action, such as displaying a desired behavior or getting a training treat. However, if you have many visitors, it might be better to focus on displaying a desired behavior instead of treats, or you might end up with a chubby dog.

Thunderstorms – Take the Edge off these Intense Experiences

Anxiety during thunderstorms is not only common, but it can also become worse as your pet grows older. The reality is your pet is physically more sensitive to thunderstorms than you are. Its keener hearing allows your pet to hear the storm at a greater distance than you can. Moreover, a dog’s nose can detect changes in the odor of the air that precedes a storm, while its ears are more sensitive to changes in barometric pressure. That means that the changes to air pressure a thunderstorm brings can actually cause your dog pain in its ears. It’s understandable why this experience can cause so much anxiety for your four legged friend!

You can desensitize your dog to the sounds of a thunderstorm by playing a CD with sounds of a thunderstorm. Play it at a very low volume during the day and gradually increase the volume over several days or weeks. Be sure you go about your regular daily activities. Ignore any displays of fearful behavior from your dog while also distracting it with a playful activity such as playing fetch.

In addition to desensitizing your dog to the storm, you can also purchase a dog thundershirt for the actual event. These shirts apply pressure to trigger points of your pet’s body, which has been shown to have a calming effect on many dogs. These shirts can also be used to alleviate fretfulness during travel or other out-of-the-norm, anxiety-enduring experiences.

Fireworks – Be Prepared to Protect Your Friend

If you cannot take your dog somewhere away from the sounds of Fourth of July fireworks, then prepare your dog. Make sure it gets plenty of exercise that day. Closing the windows and drapes will also help. Provide your pet with a place to retreat where it feels safe. If you can stay with your pet, then play with it if it is willing to do so. If you have to leave your dog alone, leave some calming music playing softly and leave it with toys. Make sure your dog has its collar and tags on because frightened dogs sometimes squeeze past a human and bolt out a door when one is opened.

Day-to-Day Life – Better Health Can Mean a Calm Pooch

Dogs are like humans in that they have different temperaments. While some dogs are extremely calm, others are higher energy and be easily moved to anxiousness or distress. In some cases, this could be a sign that your dog requires more exercise. In others, your dog could be displaying signs of a nutritional imbalance, in which cases it would be wise to incorporate a quality canine multivitamin into your dog’s daily regimen. There are also dog supplements specifically formulated to help calm your dog that can be used daily or during times of high stress.

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