By Dr. Pamela Fisher, DVM
We live in a high stress world. Pets feel the ups and downs of stress in our daily lives. It is important to recognize all the signs of stress in our pets. Some subtle signs of stress and anxiety include tail down, head carried low, eyes shifted down, lack of focus, digestive and/or skin issues. A few options to help lessen their stresses are giving them jobs to do and fun exercise. Dogs love to be working companions! Their jobs may include playing with their toys, and doing their commands to learn calm confident focus. Always treat or verbally reward for calm acceptable behaviors. These daily routines help maintain our pet’s emotional and physical balance. Pets enrich our lives while teaching us many life lessons.
Food quality and quantity is very important to help our animals feel their best. I recommend diets that mimic what an animal would eat in the wild. This includes high quality grain free, unprocessed freeze-dried or frozen nutritionally balanced foods. Remember, “You are what you eat!” Excess weight stresses the body in many ways, so please keep your pets lean and use fresh vegetable treats. Always read the labels of food/treats to make sure you are feeding them highest quality meats and vegetables.
Play games like Find It or Hide & Seek, using kibble or treats. You can feed your pet their whole dinner by having them look all over the place for it, or running back and forth to small plates of food.
Exercise is very important to provide new situations to gain confidence and release stress. Always take along 100% meat treats to work on focus and fun commands during walks and encounters with other people and animals. Ask to “Sit” and reward with a treat. I like using the “Touch” command to help encourage confidence in shy dogs who are afraid of hands moving towards them. Rub a little scent of a treat in the middle of your hand, hold hand palm up letting your dog investigate. After your dog touches his or her nose to your hand pair it with the word “Touch”. Do this a few times daily and then move your hand to different positions to make it a game!
Positive Training & New Tricks - Chill Out Fido is a great book for focus training, available on our Products Page. Does your dog show interest in new toys only? Try hiding certain toys for a few days, just leaving him or her with a few to play with. Then you can switch them out every couple days, giving your dog that excitement each time you bring a new toy out from hiding.
Give your pet a job to do:
1. Go to mat or bed, stay until released by command like “OK.”
2. Wait (before eating, going out the door)
3. Distract with a food filled toy dispenser
*Caution using food rewards & food dispensing toys with multiple animals in the house unless animals are crated.
Proper technique is very important when de-stressing a dog. Our FAQ Page has specific tips for different stressful situations one could face and the best way to address them. This way, your dog is sure to relax and heal him or herself in the easiest possible way. We recommend spraying Calm My Pet products on your hand and pet onto dog’s fur, and/or spray in their water bowl. It is very important to use Calm My Dog on all dogs in the household. Calm My Stress works great for stressful situations, such as separation, storms, at the kennel and vet visits. Use Calm My Stress before, during, and after any of these events to soften the stress in your dog’s life. Playing Calm My Pet Music while you are home and away also gives them a great sense of comfort and has healing properties. Using these techniques with Calm My Pet products, your dog will be on the road to living a happier and healthier life!