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Tips to calm your dog

DOGS and puppies are easily aroused or stressed by their environment and the best way to prevent a dog from being wound up, aroused or stressed by a situation is to avoid the situation in the first place, i.e. if your dog is easily aroused by children playing and a lot of activity, then do not take your dog to school when collecting children or to a children's playground or any other place of high activity. This will only arouse your dog more, which can take hours to calm down from.

Places of high activity can also be very stressful for your dog and he may not cope too well with the situation when stressed. If your dog barks, salivates, holds tail low, cowers, whines or becomes highly active in these situations, then it is probably because your dog is not coping. It is up to us as their owners to help them out in these situations and intervene by taking them away from the environment or even better, avoid placing our dogs in situations where they cannot cope.

Stress can cause many problems in dogs such as loss of weight, fears, phobias, anxiety and many more problems. Prevention is better than cure.

T-touch is an excellent form of relaxation for your dog. This is a Swedish massage of the skin. The massage is not a deep muscle massage but is done by massaging the skin in very slow circular movements from the top of the dog's head to its tail. If you dog will not lie or sit, then just massage the dog standing, eventually the dog will learn to lie down and enjoy the therapy. This is very calming for your dog.

At first you will need to massage your dog for about 20 minutes a day until he gets used to it, then reduce the time to 15 minutes, then 10 minutes and then you will eventually get the time down to just 5 minutes a day to do the therapy. This can be down while watching television or any other time you are sitting relaxing.

Another calming tool is the kong. This is a toy, which you can stuff with yummy food treats. These are great pacifiers for your dog. We use fish and cream cheese to stuff in them, as most dogs seem to like these. However you will need to experiment on what sort of food your dog likes as a special treat.

Once you have established the foods your dog likes, you can then stuff them into your kong and place in the freezer. When you give the kong to your dog, it will be frozen. This frozen kong will keep your dog amused and emotionally stimulated for an hour or two and when that is finished he will be tired and most likely sleep for a while.

The stuffed kong is excellent for the type of dog who likes to hang around you at your dinner table begging for food. You can just place him in his own bed with his stuffed kong while you are eating and your dog should leave you alone in peace to eat your meal.

The kong is also good if you are going out of the house for a couple of hours, as you can leave your dog with a stuffed kong to keep him busy while you are out. This will help keep his stress levels low and help prevent anxiety.

It is also great when visitors come, as the stuffed kong can also be a special treat, keeping the dog away from sniffing around or jumping on the visitors. It will also help to lower the arousal he may feel when people come to visit, especially if children visit. However make sure the children understand, they must never take the kong from the dog.

The kong is also great for puppies who like to chew a lot. The frozen kong helps to num the sore gums of the new teeth pushing through and will also keep your puppy chewing on something he is allowed to chew on. This will keep him happy and amused for many hours of the day.

One last tip to help your dog to calm down, is yawning. You have probably seen how dogs will yawn when a little stressed in order to calm themselves. We can also use this simple behaviour to help calm our dogs. If you want your dog to settle down with you, but your dog is finding it hard to settle, it may be because he is still aroused by the daily activity. If you just yawn for a few minutes, you should see your dog begin to settle and lie down. He may even start yawning to help himself settle.

There are many things we can do to help our dogs to calm down and these are just a few tips to help you. However they are tips that work and if you apply them all, you should begin to see a change in your dog's behaviour as he becomes more content, more mentally stimulated and more relaxed. - Nicole Mackie

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