Simple techniques to de-stress your pooch

As responsible pet parents, it is imperative that we keep our pooches stress-free. Here are ways to keep your pooch happy and calm at all times.
Non-threatening approach
When approaching your dog, always approach sideways without looking directly at your dog’s eyes. Never use threatening postures or noise – such as arms in air,
running towards the dog, leaning over the dog, high excitable or raised voice. Keep your tone
calm and gentle, keep arms down, body slightly sideways and head turned to side – your dog is more likely to approach you without fear or feeling threatened.
If the dog does not come to you when you crouch, do not force him/her; respect your pet’s wishes to be left alone.

Noise level
If your dog is afraid of deafening noises, fireworks, thunderstorms, loud humans, etc do not try to comfort him while he is showing fear (or you will be rewarding the fear); ignore him and only praise him when he is not showing any signs of fear; this should help him to feel a little calmer.

Visitors’ time
When visitors come, make sure they do not fuss over the dog. Tell them to ignore your pet until he calms down. Have the dog sit in the same room as you and the visitors but give him something to do. Make sure children leave the dog alone when s/he is eating or resting.

Right harness
Try using a harness (unless there are medical reasons not to) and a wide soft, flat collar when walking your dog. Never attach a lead to collar if your dog pulls, as this puts your dog at the risk of spinal damage, thyroid damage or blindness. Use the harness and teach your dog not to pull before using a lead on the dog’s collar. Collar should fit so as to cover two vertebrae and harness must be wide, comfortable and well-fitted.

Caring while walking
When out walking, be careful if you see other dogs or people walking towards you. If your dog is insecure when others are approaching, you may need to help him a little. Cross the road or turn around and go in the opposite direction. This will help your dog to learn to trust you.

Happy and safe environment
Enrich your dog’s environment (indoor and outdoor) with plenty of toys and things he is allowed to play with, chew up and destroy if he wants to. Things that are safe such as old shoes, toys (hard and soft), cardboard boxes, old containers or bottles, paper, plants to smell etc.

Nutritious diet
Make sure your dog is on a good diet. Hair or blood analysis can be performed on your dog to determine if there are any areas that need attention or a particular nutrient; it will also tell you the toxin levels in your dog’s diet.

Fresh water
Filtered water is preferable to tap water as most of the harmful chemicals are drained out. Dogs can develop behavioural problems if they have too much toxins in their body.

Kong dog toy
The Kong can be stuffed with yummy food that your dog likes. When stuffed, place in the freezer and give it to your dog in a frozen state. This will keep him occupied for hours (though some dogs don’t like it frozen); after eating it, your dog will be very tired and most likely to sleep for an hour or two.

Treat balls
These are balls or cubes that you can stuff with dry treats. Your dog has to find ways to get the treats from the ball. This can be a mentally stimulating pastime for your dog and keep him busy while you are preoccupied with something else.

Rescue remedies
A few drops of Rescue remedy can be placed in the dog’s water or food if he is feeling a stressed or worried. DAP diffusers are also available from veterinarians which help to calm highly stressed dogs.

T-touch
This is a gentle form of massage. Slowly stroke your dog in small circular movements, starting at the head and moving slowly down his body. This should take about 10 seconds. Do this for about 20 minutes a day for the first week, 15 minutes a day for the second week and then 10 minutes a day for the dog’s entire life. This will also build a stronger bond between you and your dog.

(Nicole Mackie has experience in handling, exhibiting, training, observing, studying and sharing her life with dogs, gaining many qualifications, such as canine behaviour, canine psychology, general animal science and experience veterinary nursing).

www.dogsandpupsmagazine.com; www.facebook.com/Dogsandpupsmag

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