It’s no secret that adopting a pet is a big commitment. New dogs can be a lot of work, and we happily do it knowing we will be rewarded with a new best friend. The bond we develop with our dogs provides us with many mental and physical benefits. We strive to start them off on the right foot and ensure their physical well-being is considered in addition to their physical health. There is significant value in taking time early on to address your dog’s mental health, to ensure they develop into resilient and happy dogs and hopefully prevent fears and anxiety.
Here are some tips and tricks every pet parent should know, to help their dogs become happy, comfortable, and relaxed around new situations.
Tip #1: Ensure your dog is up to date on a physical examination with your veterinarian.
Your veterinarian is your best partner in ensuring that your dog is in the best of mental and physical health. We want to make sure Fido doesn’t have any health conditions that may increase their fear or anxiety, such as pain or discomfort, as we introduce them to new situations.
Tip #2: Slowly introduce new situations, people, and objects and make it a positive experience.
You may have a holiday gathering coming up, and Snowball hasn’t been around kids yet. Children can be unpredictable and make sudden loud noises. You want to take ample time before the event to provide early, slow and positive exposure to children. Start with giving Snowball lots of treats when kids are across the street, ensuring that Snowball remains relaxed. Repeat this step a few times on separate occasions. Eventually, work to slowly decrease the distance between Snowball and the kids. If Snowball appears anxious or fearful, take a step back, and take a little more time before getting closer. Work up to having the children provide treats to Snowball. Eventually, we want Snowball to think “Hooray! Treats!” whenever he sees kids to create a positive association.
Tip #3: Do not punish if your dog appears scared, or anxious.
Veterinary behaviorists agree that dogs should not be punished when demonstrating anxious, or scared behavior. Fear and anxiety are emotional responses. They are in distress. Instead, it is important to stay calm and provide a way for your dog to have an escape or a way to move away from the potential source of fear. They need to approach at their own pace.
Tip #4: Keeping your dog busy can help them relax!
Commonly overlooked needs for dogs are mental and physical stimulation. Dogs thrive when they are provided with opportunities to use their senses of smell, their brain, and some of their natural instincts on a regular basis. Providing your dog with a food puzzle, puzzle toys, or teaching them tricks are only some of the common ways that can be used to enrich their lives and prevent boredom while reducing stress and anxiety. In addition, dogs require regular physical activity for their well-being. Simply going outside in the backyard is not enough. Consulting with your veterinarian is the best way to tailor your dog’s exercise regimen to their physical abilities and your lifestyle, which will also benefit you physically as you make sure their needs are met.
Tip #5: Use Adaptil® to provide a sense of comfort and security during challenging, or novel situations.
When mother dogs have puppies, they produce a pheromone called the Dog Appeasing Pheromone (DAP). DAP helps make the puppies feel safe, and secure and decreases stress and anxiety. Adaptil® products use a copy of the DAP to provide a sense of comfort and security to dogs of all ages while helping them feel relaxed. Adaptil® is clinically proven to help reassure dogs during challenging, or new situations. Adaptil® Calm collar and diffuser provides continuous support for 30 days providing your dog with reassurance and calming messages. Visit adaptil.ca to learn more.
Tip #6: If you want more support:
Your veterinarian is a great resource to provide advice specific to your pet. Another great resource would be the Fear Free Happy Homes website (www.fearfreehappyhomes.com). This site provides a wealth of information regarding anxiety and stress in general, in addition to how to help your dog in particular situations.
Learn more about Adaptil® and how it can help your four-legged friend stay calm and relaxed no matter what’s happening!