If your dog doesn’t get the chance to fully relax and let go of his stress, the chances are high that on tomorrow’s walk he will react much quicker to a trigger or be more fearful than usual. This is because there is only so much stress a dog can carry around before he can’t tolerate anymore, once he’s hit his limit all bets are off. You’ll most likely think he’s suddenly aggressive, reactive or scared for no reason when the truth is he’s had his fill of stress.
If you are struggling with separation anxiety or attention-seeking behaviours from your dog, then helping your dog to chill out will make the prospect of being alone a little easier to do. A dog who is relaxed is in a better frame of mind to learn how to be alone and settle down.
So this is my wee guide to providing your dog with relaxation, you can deploy one or more of these after every walk regardless of whether you think it’s been stressful or not. Even if you’ve had a quiet day at home then still use one or more of these, as a little extra relaxation never hurt anyone did it.
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1. Have A Snooze Who doesn’t feel better after some quality sleep? Give him plenty of time to rest, sleep if needs be. Ensure he has access to his bed at all times so he can take himself off to snooze.
2. Enrichment Toy Provide a mental puzzle. Use one of these, your dog will get lots of lovely treats while, flexing his brain and in turn help your dog to relax before having a good snooze. My go-to favourites are a Lick Mat and a Snuffle Ball.
3. The Ear TTouch T-Touch® a method of gentle bodywork you can use on your dog to help with a number of training, behaviour, and illness problems. The Ear Touch which is perfect for calming your dog down after a stressful event and can help refocus them too. Plus it’s really nice for us humans too. My two dogs have big floppy ears and I love nothing more than tickling and playing with them. So the T-touch makes it even more soothing for them. This contact will also help promote confidence between you as your dog learns to trust your hands and touch.
4. A Dog Nose Sniffing is the ultimate mental exercise for every dog. It’s great for tiring out your dog, helping calm them down after a stressful event and it’s what they were born to do! Erick loves nothing more than putting his nose to the ground and following it. 30 minutes of letting him do this means I have one tired dog.
Relaxation for reactive dogs Edinburgh
Sniffing Games to make include-
Activity Boxes – If like me you have a random selection of cardboard boxes laying around then you can turn these in to a search and sniff game. Simply grab a box and make sure all the flaps are folded in so you’re left with an open box. Then scatter one or two treats in each box, then get your dog and encourage them to find the treats. You may need to help them out by showing them with your hands.
Once your dog has mastered the search you can make it harder by getting crumpled up paper and placing it in the boxes, then hide the treats under the paper so your dog has to sniff under the paper – use as much or as little paper as you like.
Toilet, Wrapping Paper & Kitchen Paper Rolls – In a flashback to your Blue Peter days I want you to start using your cardboard tubes up! Very simply fold over, scrunch up the end of a tube, pop a few treats in and fold over the end. You can give the tube(s) to your dog or you can hide them around your home.
Treat Hunting – Get 10 to 15 pieces of kibble or treats. Place the treats around a room – in plain sight. i.e. on chairs, shelf edges, next to furniture etc. Let your dog in the room and say ‘Find’, You may need to show him the general location of each treat while he learns to play the game. After a few goes at this game you can make the hiding places harder by using different heights, popping a treat inside a shoe, place on top of an opened drawer.
See you don’t actually have to do a lot to help your dog chill out, you will no doubt know that letting go of stress helps your emotional state and how you physically feel. Your dog is no different.
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