Top Tips to help your stressed or nervous dog
Fear is a behaviour as with us humans can help dogs recognise danger and be able to react to it, once fear takes over your dog, it may be difficult to do things like walking in the park, going to the vets and dog groomers, maybe even having people around to visit and also being left alone.
Adem Fehmi's Top Tips
Exercise your dogs appropriately - exercise is really important before we expose our dogs to a potential stressful situation. Like humans going to the gym, it can reduce nervous energy.
Diet - A good diet such as Barking Heads can help reduce your dogs stress.
Slow and steady wins the race! Go at your dogs pace and use a positive reinforcer, make sure your dogs comfortable, a good sign your dog is comfortable is if they take a treat or play with a toy. Its very important to keep these sessions short and sweet, be patient and consistent, over time building up your dogs exposure, creating positive experiences. Remember, don't be afraid to go back a step if required and make sure to always finish on a positive note.
Fears, phobias and anxieties can be complex behaviours so if you feel you are struggling with your dog, don't be afraid to seek professional behavioural advice. A professional behaviourist will be able to set you up a program which can help your dog live a stress-free life.
Hugging your dog
Although our dogs are domesticated animals, it is important to remember that they might not always like the same forms of affection as us humans. Whilst some breeds and individual dogs will actively seek out a cuddle, many will tolerate but often not overly like being 'bear hugged', especially around the neck and head area, or picked up and cuddled. Some dogs will also very much dislike being picked up and/or hugged.
Signs such as pulling away, and even lip curl, growl, or perhaps even nip or bite to try and avoid the action. Other signs that indicate that a dog might be uncomfortable are yawning, licking their lips, displaying 'whale eye' (where their eyes are wide and you can see the whites), and turning away even if they do not move away fully.
Ideally we should look to almost 'ask' a dog before we offer affection by calling them to us and petting them slowly and gently. This gives us owners a chance to see if the dog is willing and happy to engage and receive our affections. Personally, I would avoid picking up or hugging any dog that you do not 100% know enjoys this type of affection, and children should always be taught to respect a dog's personal space as they are much less likely to be able to read the warning signs. For children especially, a bite can leave a long lasting scar and fear of dogs.
Dog Behaviourist & Trainer, Adem Fehmi & Barking Heads
*The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian or other qualified pet health provider with any questions you may have regarding your pet’s health*