5 ways to calm your dog

As a Puppy Parent, its important to be a Calming influence on your pooch. But what if your dog seems frequently anxious? Just like figuring out why a newborn baby is crying, you need to learn the signals that may causing your dog to be stressed out. 

 When I first bought my dog, I did a lot of reading to find out why he was a bit anxious.

As it turns out,  Papillons were designed  as a royal guard to the Belgian and French royalty., starting in the 1200s.

Their remarkable hearing and sense of smell would pick up the signs of predators entering the courts… So their genetics  predispose them to guarding and barking as their predisposition.

Sable, my Papillon, thinks its his job is to warn me of any predators nearby.. Due to his diminutive stature, hes also quite afraid that they will attack, so he is often pretty anxious and reactive to any noise or strangers nearby.

Perhaps he heard about his ancestor, Coco… He was owned by the ill-fated Queen of France, Marie Antoinette. She took the dog with her to the guillotine at the Place de la Concorde where he witnessed her execution!

Now my dog has not gone through this sort of trauma, thank goodness…and luckily, I havent told anyone that if they dont have enough bread, eat cake!

Have you ever wondered why your Fur Baby seems anxious and what the signs of stress are?

Some common reasons why OUR Canine crew become anxious are:

 1) Physiological needs not being met

 2) Boredom and under -stimulation

 3) Perceived threat of danger

 4) Change of schedule

 5) Separation anxiety

So, here are the 5 ways that we can quickly calm and relax our dog so that we can all live in harmony:

  1. Physiological needs not being met.     

Check to make sure the dog does not have to go potty, has fresh water and food, and the temperature isn’t too hot or cold.  No dog is going to be calm if it is not comfortable.

We let our dog outside regularly for potty breaks, and change water and food daily.

 I just purchased a cooling vest, which he wears in the summer when we go for walks in the heat. His fur can make him have a tendency to heat exhaustion…

Bring a water dish with in case your dog becomes thirsty when walking outside in the sunlight.

Check with a veterinarian if you think they are unwell. Dogs often do not display signs that they are feeling ill. Instead, look for signs and symptoms that they are anxious:

Look for fever, limping, itching, hair loss, or diarrhea  to signal illness or injury. My dog has a voracious appetite so when he turns his nose up to a nice piece of chicken, we start looking for signs of illness.

  1. Boredom  and under stimulation

While many toy dogs are thought to be sleepy lap dogs, the Papillon is an extremely intelligent breed and needs lots of mental stimulation. 

Whether your dog is Einstein or not the at the top of his class intellectually, they can still get bored…

To stimulate the dog, think of fun games to play with him,  provide him with chew toys.

Give them the opportunity to perform what their natural genetic tendencies are…

Papillons were bred as  ratters historically, so Sable is allowed to chase the squirrels in our backyard.

This decreases his anxiety, although the Squirrel sure looks more stressed out from the  encounter!

If your pet is a from the Herding , Working or Sporting group, provide the dog with the opportunity to perform its natural tendencies.

 If the dog gets bored and frustrated, it will get into mischief and possibly be destructive in your property.

They could dig in the yard and urinate  and deficate in your house if they are bored

Bored animals who are  not provided with a job to do,will find one on their own.  They may start guarding your property, biting strangers and barking excessively when neighbors walk by. 

To stimulate the dog mentally and intellectually, I take my dog to challenging dog classes…

Agility, fly ball, and dog trick classes will provide endless opportunities to problem solve , run around and providing them with socialization.

There are dog classes for all sorts of categories and ages  of canines,..

If you or your dog are limited physically, try Rally Obedience or Scent classes that do not require running or jumping. If this is too expensive for your budget, consider doggy play dates with friends or join a free meetup group with other dog walkers.

One of the best ways to cure boredom and under stimulation is to exercise your dog.

Daily walks are important for the dogs physical and mental health…especially if it’s a dog breed that is naturally active…

Examples of high energy breeds are border collies, Siberian huskys, Australian shepherds, Russell terriers and Alaskan Malamutes. 

A positive outcome for you is that its a great opportunity to get aerobic exercise and to bond with Rover.  A tired dog is almost never an anxious dog. 

Be creative and mix up the type of exercise  to keep it fun and rewarding for your pet.

3) Perceived threat of danger..

 Some dogs are anxious about other people or animals in their territory. 

Papillons are a small toy dog with a big attitude.  They will run right up to a large dog and bark in its face. 

Sable is actually telling the dog that he doesn’t like him being in his territory…

This usually doesn’t go over well, when a 9 pound dog starts barking in the face of a Great Dane! He was knocked across the room and whimpered in the corner after that encounter.

For safety’s sake,   teach reactive animals to keep their distance when strangers come to the door. 

 If the dog spots another dog or stranger while on a walk, we often cross the street or walk in a curved path around them, so it avoids some of the perceived threat to our animal..Walking directly towards a stranger can be perceived as a predatorial approach and cause anxiety in the dog.

When we leave the house  for a few hours we turn the radio on loudly so our dog  does not hear  outside bumps and noises that can cause him to bark and be upset.

 If he barks too much at the window, we close the blind so he doesn’t view passerby’s .

Remove temptations and distractions that make your dog bark or get anxious

If your dog has been attacked by another animal in the past, you may have to put them through conditioning therapy to lessen their anxiety. Our dog has been chased by larger canines that consider him a prey animal. This is why he is very careful when there are taller dogs nearby.

4) Change of  Daily Routine

Dogs who live in the home with you actually are more relaxed when they know what their schedule is and what to expect from their daily routine .

They are less anxious when they can predict potty break time, scheduled walks, feeding time, and play time.

This is especially important when an adopted dog first comes into the household or you are teaching Potty Training.

Don’t stick to a totally Inflexible schedule, as the dog will then get stressed out if the routine changes, as life does demand some adjustments to scheduling at times.

Many dogs predict the time you go to work and leave them alone, creating separation anxiety as that time draws nearer…

 o little changes in the structure routine can prevent them from predicting negative outcomes.

5) Separation anxiety

Dogs are pack animals and do not like being separated from their humans.

Toy dogs, in particular, can suffer from the”Only Child, Small Dog syndrome+ and expect to be taken with their Mom and Dad everywhere they go. 

You might notice drooling, barking, whining, urinating and destructive behavior as signs of separation anxiety.

Desensitize your dog to  feeling anxious about your departure.

 Don’t give them too much attention prior to leaving and when you return to your home. If you make a big production before you depart and upon your return, it actually confirms that they should feel anxious.

Provide them with lots of exercise opportunities  before you leave so they are tired out .

Give them a dog treadmill and let him exercise some stress away.

Take your pet to a doggy day care and play groups while you are gone.

Finally, give your dog  a relaxing massage.   Studies have shown that massage can lower the heart rate and blood pressure.

Touching your pet will cause the body to release oxytocin, a hormone that causes sensations of bonding and love.

 Sable comes up to me regularly and starts rubbing against me as a hint that he wants a massage. Then he flips over and shows his belly.

 The little happy groans he makes means he is distressing and enjoying the hands on love.

So, be a Calming Influence on your dog and learn to look for these 5 causes of anxiety.  Creating harmony in your family unit will be worth the effort. 

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