Our dogs experience anxiety for many different reasons. Luckily, through a regimen of assertive training and helpful calming products, we can help them acclimate to stressful situations. If you are bringing home a new puppy or shelter dog, moving to a new location, or altering your dog’s schedule, purchasing a pheromone based product may help your dog to adapt more quickly.
Appeasing pheromone products for dogs come in spray, diffuser and collar form. Several popular brands include Adaptil (formerly known as D.A.P.), Comfort Zone, and Sentry. The science behind these products is simple. During nursing, mother dogs release a soothing pheromone to help calm pups as they feed. Applying a pheromone collar to your pet allows them to experience this pheromone in slow, steady doses throughout the day, improving their overall sense of well being. This is extremely helpful in insecure dogs that experience generalized anxiety in various different situations.
For dogs with specific anxieties, fears and behavioral issues, a spray or diffuser may work better. Some dogs get extremely anxious in the car. Spraying the seat 20 minutes before your car trip can help ease panting, restlessness, crying and car sickness due to fear. Dogs who are anxious at home in situations such as visitors coming to the door, respond well to pheromone diffusers placed close to the problem area. In this example, the diffuser should be plugged in close to the front door. The downside to sprays and diffusers is that they are only effective in the immediate area where they are being utilized. The calming effect does not move with the pet, as in the case of the collar.
The herbal product, Rescue Remedy does not contain pheromones; rather it is made up of five flower extracts for owners who prefer a holistic approach. Reviews of such products are mixed. It seems that for dogs whose issues are relatively minor, a natural product such as Rescue Remedy may provide some relief. The effects are probably similar to a human drinking a cup of herbal tea to unwind after a tough day. If your dog suffers from severe stress, fear or obsessive behavior, choosing a pheromone product will likely garner better results. Pheromone collars, sprays and diffusers can be used together to maximize the calming effects.
Dogs develop anxiety and unwanted behaviors when they are insecure. While pheromone products and herbal supplements may provide some relief, there is no substitute for professional training. A good trainer will teach you, the owner, how to recognize the symptoms of anxiety and how to be proactive in helping your dog to overcome them. Dogs need consistency and leadership to feel secure when there is a major change in their life. As a species, dogs crave leadership and routine. When they do not know what to expect out of a given situation, it is quite normal for them to react with fear, anxiety and unwanted behaviors. This is a leading cause for dogs being relinquished or returned to shelters. The good news is, with consistency, confidence, anxiety relief products and a competent trainer; your dog can acclimate to just about any situation.
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For most pet parents, taking their pooch on a walk is a relaxing and enjoyable experience; a chance to further connect with their companion. However, for some it’s the most dreaded part of their day! For those with dogs who are leash reactive, walks are stressful and short, sometimes at awkward times in the day just to make sure conflicts are avoided. Leash reactivity is more common of a problem than most people think, but what exactly is it?
Leash reactivity, or sometimes referred to as ‘leash aggression’ is exactly what it sounds like. Dogs who are on leash become aggressive towards other dogs or people, but why? Some dogs are afraid, or maybe had a bad experience with another dog in a similar situation, they weren’t socialized properly when they were puppies, sometimes they’re just very eager to meet another dog and come off too strong, the list goes on. The big reason, at least on walks, is not being able to greet each other properly. Picture two dogs in an off leash scenario, how do they come up to each other? Most come in at an arc (rainbow shape), loose bodies and soft eyes. They sniff each other’s faces then rear ends and carry on. Now picture two dogs meeting on a side walk, on leash coming head to head. There’s no room and usually no time for a friendly greeting, and almost always direct eye contact is forced which is seen as a threat, tugging and pulling to meet each other grouped with the apprehension and stress of the owners-one or both dogs react in a less than desirable manner.
There are many things that can be done to remedy leash reactivity, some suggest the use of a head halter or doggles (goggles for dogs!), choice training; there’s an entire laundry list of things to try. What’s most suggested is consulting with a trainer (CPDT), behaviorist (CAAB), or vet behaviorist (Dip ACVB) that has had experience with fear and aggression in dogs, and uses force free or positive reinforcement training methods. Not only will they train your dog, but they will train you as well to make sure everything remains consistent during and after their time with you. Some of that of course falls on you, you have to keep working on the training or it will not work!
Know the signs, do your research, find what works for you and stick to it, you’ll see a huge change in your companion sooner than you think!
We can help you with your reactive dog. We offer group reactive dog training classes and we have experienced, certified trainers who can work with you to deal with your dog’s behavior concerns including leash aggression towards other dogs and people. Contact email@example.com to learn more our classes.