I get asked quite often, "why does my dog seem afraid?" or "why does he hide so much?" and more often, "why is my dog so hyper, I don't understand."
If a dog appears hyper, it may indicate boredom or a need to burn off energy, necessitating walks or playtime. A behaviorist can assist in determining whether overstimulation within the household is the issue. Dogs may retreat to a quiet place to relax, but if they engage in excessive activity, they may require exercise to release energy. A long walk, including time for sniffing and exploring, can be beneficial.
Excessive stimuli within the home can cause health issues, such as gastrointestinal problems. A quiet place, such as a bed or crate with a blanket, can be provided to allow dogs to relax and escape overstimulation. If a dog is anxious, providing chew toys and a peaceful atmosphere can help, especially if the dog has a strong parasympathetic nervous system. Neuroscience has taught us that the sympathetic nervous system is responsible for increasing the dog's arousal in response to stress and the parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for counteracting the arousal and calming the dog. But sometimes we have to teach them this. No yeling at the dog, or punishing him or sticking him outside is going to teach hm anything. He will only be confused as he was trying to communicate to you what he needed.
To teach dogs how to relax, a quiet retreat space can be set up with a soft bed, chew toys, and treats. Blocking off the room with a baby gate allows the dog to explore and learn that the space is for them alone. Avoiding loud noises elsewhere in the house, such as loud music or movies, helps the dog recognize that the retreat space is always available to them. Meditation or spa sounds can help dogs relax, and with time, they will learn to use their retreat space when needed.
There is so much more to teach on this subject, just call me if you have any questions. There are more methods to teach a dog to calm down and feel safe. Dogs all learn in different ways.
BUT HOW CAN YOU TELL?
The signs of fear, anxiety, and stress (FAS) can vary from pet to pet and are directly correlated with the intensity of these emotions. While some stress is normal, chronic stress can negatively impact your pet's health. It's essential to recognize your pet's FAS signs and take steps to soothe their fears to prevent further escalation.
Pets may display subtle cues through their behavior and body language. Cats tend to withdraw and become quiet when stressed, while dogs may exhibit more obvious FAS signs such as whining, pacing, or avoiding eye contact. Chronic stress can lead to changes in behavior patterns, routines, and even health issues like inappropriate elimination or overgrooming.
FAS triggers for pets can stem from environmental or social interactions, such as encountering new situations or meeting unfamiliar people or animals. Improper housing situations, inter-cat aggression, and loud noises like fireworks and thunderstorms can also cause stress in pets. Pets who lack proper socialization or whose mothers were anxious or nervous during pregnancy may be more prone to FAS.
Recognizing your pet's FAS signals and understanding their triggers can help you prevent and soothe their fears in the future, ultimately improving their overall well-being. Seek a behaviorist should you need help in translating the information and communication that your dog is giving you.
I am excited to tell you that I am attending a 3-day "dog behavior" conference by Victoria Stillwell, one of the world renowned dog trainers and dog behaviorists. I am so excited!
Since I was a little girl, I have always been able to connect with pets in a special way, almost right away. Like the pets had a sixth sense that I was not going to hurt them and I understood them. I have been that way ever since. I have gone into client's home and have been told that the pet would hide and within a minute the pet came out, on it's own, and came right up to me, gave me a kiss and let me hug him. The pet was telling me that he knows that I am an animal person, that he knows that he can trust me and that I won't hurt him; and personally, that means the world to me.
I can see when a dog is in distress, is having gastric issues due to stress and anixiety and which specific breeds are prone to this as well. I can tell when a dog is sad and can usually figure out within a short time why he is sad and how to correct it. I have connections with certain Veterinarians that will help me diagnose what I recognize as behavior issues THAT CAN BE CORRECTED so that he beome a happy dog. Some dog need medication and some dogs just need a change in their environment or their shedule.
I rescued a 6 month old lab mis from Waveland Mississippi in 2009. He was emaciated, terrified of people, very fearful and didn't trust anyone. He was used as a bait dog and was found tied to a tree, surrounded in his own feces and no water in the back of an abandoned house, that police say, was clearly used for dog fights. But that dog came right up to me, laid his head on my shoulder and asked me to help him. He lived with me for 11 years, until he paassed away of cancer 2 years ago. He was always in some phase of rehab, never completely trusted anyone that he didn't know really well. He was never affectionate, he didn't like when I tried to give him a hug and he rarely a kisser (I love doggy kisses), but he did know that I was going to help him and never leave him. On the day that I had to put him to sleep, I sat on the clinic's floor sobbing. My dog, still always a little anxious, was a pacer...he was pacing and walking in circles waiting for that first dose to calm him down. Finally, while I was still sobbing, he came and sat down directly in front of me and laid his head on my shoulder. He had never done that before. This time, he knew he needed to rescue me.
So I have decided that I am going to take my "special spidey senses" and put them to to work so that I can help other rescue dogs overcome fear and anxiety; so that I can teach pet parents what they aren't rcognizing and hopefully make the pet and the household a better place for everyone. Starting tomorrow I am attending a 3-day conference on all things dog behavior from helping an abused and rescued dog learn how to get his self-confidence back, to solving a mysterious puzzle of why dogs react certain ways to stimuli that most don't realize.
Nonie's Pet Care's 2023 campaign is to get the dogs out of the house, get them moving on walks and to sniff all of the smells in their neighborhood, play with our ball launcher for fun exercise and lots of love and attention. Keep those dogs healthy, not laying around the house all day an keep them out of the Vet's office.
But dog behavior has always been my passion knowing that I had this special "spidey sense".
And I cannot wait to get started.
Dog walking Take-away from the Conference
Attending the conference of the National Association of Pet Professionals, which encompasses all pet industry businesses, not just pet sitting, was a great investment!
We have brought pets of all species into our homes and into our hearts and making them part of the family. We love them and care for them as if they were our children. We buy them clothes, we take them on airplanes and in restaurants; we take them to the doctor if anything seems wrong and we buy them dog food without dyes, fillers and chemicals, because it can cause illnesses.
Having said all that, I am struggling to figure out why our/my city and my neighborhoods aren't taking part in the daily dog walking part of the industry, that is so huge around the country. It is such a healthy and loving thing that you can do for your dog while you are at work. It helps with separation anxiety, boredom deterrent, helps prevent early onset of arthritis and it is a fun heart-healthy activity as well. Everyone knows the power of a dog's nose, so just like we enjoy scrolling through Instagram, the news, our Facebook feed, Twitter, Tic Toc...going on a walk is the same feeling for your dog. They enjoy the stroll and smelling all of the multitude of scents in their neighborhood.
Back to the Conference; the majority of the 100 or so people that attended from all over the country and a few from Canada, told me that their dog walking business is as big, if not bigger, than their traveling-pet-sitting business. Now other cities have much different terrains, they take dogs on hikes up moutains or through trails; we don't have that here. The weather is different, cost of living if different, cultures are different and probably several other elements that I am not thinking of at this moment. But why do we [my City] leave our dogs to sit at home all day, bored, sleeping and lonely. Some owners have doggy-doors which are great for not forcing them to hold it all day, but they are still bored. Maybe your dog rips up sofa pillows or his dog bed or maybe he digs wholes in the backyard or rips up your garden. Really? HE IS BORED! Dogs need stimulation, enrichment, activity, exercise...why are you leaving them home?
My business has a strong travel-pet-sitting business but our dog walking services are seldom used and it breaks my heart. The regular dogs that we dog walk every day or 3 times a week, etc., are so happy when we take them on a walk around the block, half a mile or a mile, depending on the cold, the heat and the health and age of the dog. It is incredibly sad to walk by a house and have a dog sitting in the window barking or crying to be outside too. But I promise that your dog is happy, tird and had a great time when we bring them back home.
If we can spend the money on the very best food brand, the best pet care, the best orthopedic dog bed [all good things] then please, please give your dog something to look forward to each day, 4x/week or whatever you choose. I know that you want your dog to be happy, you love them.
Give them the gift, the joy of a walk a day. Please.