Calm Dogs are Happy and Healthy Dogs – Something you dream of ?

Being Calm is a much overlooked emotional state for our modern dogs. We have hurried lives ourselves often and this can impact upon them. They can have a quiet , but often not always calm , day and then everyone comes home, it is noisy or busy , anxieties of our day are shed in a cuppa or a glass  of wine as we relax, we may walk the dog to relax ourselves and give them the exercise they need but are we engaging? Are we watching for THEIR needs on the walk? Often I see walkers on phones or for a 20 mins not engaging once with their dog.

For an anxious or unsettled dog, or a dog with medical issues, being naturally calm is not their default.

As for Puppies!! Well we all know what happens when they don’t get enough calm time. They  become demanding, shouting, attention seeking and bitey. This can soon become a learned way, develop a behaviour to access attention or “feel better” and sometimes develop into a dog for whom THIS is a default.

So What can we do ? How can we get this? Just a few images of how my dogs are encouraged to get some rest in between fun (and that is the key).

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I am privileged to be working with a range of colleagues to support dogs to gain this calmness. Currently I am working with the Absolute Dogs Team to become a ProTrainer. Their view is that Calm is essential.

“Calmness s a concept that cant be overrated”

“Arousal levels is made up of lots of little exciting, anxiety inducing or worrying events until their [stress]  bucket is full”. [and their behaviour becomes “Hyper” or over the top]

“Teaching Calm default, a calm existence, a generally calm way of being keeps the [stress] bucket empty”

[by using a calm protocol, having more happy fun events than excitable ones  and complementary support] “When something arousing/challenging happens the bucket doesn’t overflow – it tops up a bit because the dogs brain has learned to calm to empty it”

(quotes from Tom Mitchell from the Absolute Dogs Programme.)

So how do we know if our dogs arousal (excitement, anxious) bucket is overflowing or close to doing so?

What are the signs? Do you recognise any of these? 

Lunging and barking     Destructive    Barking at the slightest thing   

separation anxiety    Not listening (or hearing) what you say   mouthing or biting  

attention seeking with any of the other behaviours, not giving up

humping – toys, people, cushions, air …           zoomies      not eating 

What can we do?

There are 3 types of calm according to the Absolute Dogs Team.

Passive calming – using snuffle mats, Kongs , Treat Balls, scent puzzles

Encouraging Calm (we call it “settle”) catch them genuinely settled and offer a little treat or a calm touch eventually adding a cue helps to get them settled in an environment they find arousing. I love to add music to this time, adding a sensory memory that can be invoked . This is a great way to help calm whilst you are absent or during the night or  in another room. Our favourites are Islands by Ludovico Einaudi ,  The Essence Deva by Premal, The Music Within by  Sat Darshan Singh,  Anand Bliss Snatam Kaur.

Creating a set of uninterrupted spaces – different specific rooms or beds creates a Calmness Protocol a default multisensory quiet place.

tilly crate rest
Tilly in her day rest place

Rest Perhaps the most important of the “Calmness Triad”. A crate, or bed, a safe place. No play here, no interruptions, a place to choose to sleep. Dogs need lots of sleep to process learning and the myriad of sensory inputs during their day. Children need to respect this place and we as adults can use this for the dog to take time away from children or busy homes.

In busy homes a crate cover may help Jo Pritchard (Paws boutique Tamworth) specialises in products to help with creating calm have a look at her beautiful Crate covers

https://pawsboutiquestudio.co.uk/crate-covers

How do you create these calm places?

Calm dog only zones    

  Time outrest , boundary games (see Absolute Dogs Ebook). Value the time in these places, short at first then extend until it becomes a choice, like Tilly above.

Game on- Game off – have fun to tire the mind, managed arousal, fun, but use a start and stop cue… “1…2…3…GOOOO ” and finish with a calming stroke ” all done” .

“Ditch the Bowl” use the majority or even all their dry food allowance (or an alternative for fresh fed dogs) for the games and activities, working for your fun is satisfying and tiring.

Exercise and fitness – manange both the high arousal, fun and fast activities with the managed calm fitness Lola Loves the balance board or even an empty box !lola 2 feet steplola box 2 feetlola sit step

What about the over-aroused, anxious or dog with reactive behaviours ? How else can we help?

Complementary therapies

As an Animal Therapist and Integrated Trainer  I see the signs above of over-arousal or reactivity most days either professionally or out an about. I often suggest trying one of a range of interventions wither commercially available or as one of my modalities.

For information here are some ideas:

For a whole range of information about the following and some shared posts on a range of Canine wellness and therapies have a look at our partner FB page

https://www.facebook.com/pg/peacefulpawstherapy/posts/?ref=page_internal

Bach Flower Therapies for dogs with historical trauma or a general anxiety or fear, these gentle therapeutic essences can be combined into a personalised recipe to enable the body and soul to work with the needs, I have seen amazing results , have a look on the FB page for Bailies story ...and Genghis below – you can see his peace.

Reiki Especially combined with Bach and energy balancing can help manage the calm in over anxious dogs.

Botanical Self Selection – also known as Zoopharmacognosy.  This is very powerful to give the dog some choice about the herbs and aromatics they wish to choose for their specific needs. Every session I take part in is a joy to see and then the calm from the animal after is a joy to see.  Look at Genghis just relaxing into Jasmine and Valerian.

Crystal therapy –some dogs are amazing at being clear about the crystals they need and wearing them as an attachment to a banadana or cage attached to the collar can really help.

Jo at Paws Boutique is currently developing a Bandana to carry a crystal safely or a piece of muslin with a Bach remedy or a self selected essence. We are working with her – watch this space

https://pawsboutiquestudio.co.uk/bandanas-bows/

Offering and finding what they would like is vital …

Below Genghis is Working with Tracy from Calm Creatures

http://www.calmcreatures.co.uk/

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Commercially available Products 

I also work alongside Niki at the Norfolk Apothecary and her AniScentia range. The products are mostly Organic and all self sourced and she creates each product personally using her skills as a Master Herbalist and Aromologist/aromatherapist as well as many years experience as an Animal Therapist.

I have tried all these anxiety and calming  products with great success for my own and clients dogs.

http://www.thenorfolkapothecary.com/panic-anxiety

My Animal Matters – Rachel Windsor Knott Is also another brilliant source of not only Self Selection information but very high quality products. Aimed at both Therpaists and especially interested Pet owners her shop and website and FB pages are a great source of information.

http://www.myanimalmatters.co.uk/

Her anxiety/hyperactive  kits are very useful

http://www.myanimalmatters.co.uk/product-tag/anxiety/

http://www.myanimalmatters.co.uk/product-tag/hyperactive-behaviours/

 

Finally … If you would like some help to support calm in your puppy or your older dog. Please ask, we can offer:

Therapeutic support

Training and Games

1-1 support 

Classes

Remember – Calm Dogs are Happy and Healthy Dogs

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