If you feel stressed, so will your dog, so the main approach to dealing with stress in your dog is to address it in yourself. The calmer you are, the more your dog will reflect your state of mind and relax as well.
Here are some tips, in no particular order, to help you to adjust your mood positively.
- Interact with your dog: Take your dog for a good walk. This will not only relax and please him but gives you great exercise and cardio benefits as well. A tired dog is a happy dog!
- Grooming and affection Take some time out each day to stroke and groom your dog. Play some games with him. There are many balanced games you can play, even inside your house, that your dog will love and that will occupy his mind in a positive way. For ideas, see my post on ‘Structured Play’.
- Take a short break: If your day is hectic and busy, have a break for just 5 minutes. Maybe walk outside and take a few deep breaths. Deep breathing helps to relax the mind and body. Really look at the scenery and let it fill your mind. You could read a little, chat to someone you know will be cheerful, even do a couple of stretching exercises.
- Meditation This is a wonderful way to alleviate stress. Just a few minutes a day will lower your blood pressure and help to relieve anxiety and depression.
- Play calming music Your dog will respond to calming music as much as you do, and it can help enormously in reducing stress levels.
- Mindfulness This is all about being aware of the moment and taking time to accept yourself and who you are. Like taking a break, mindfulness helps us to keep life in perspective and to view it more positively. Your dog always lives in the moment and you can learn a lot from him.
- Get involved Having a sense of purpose and focus is important to our emotional well-being. Try developing a new hobby if you have time, volunteer to help others or join a new club.
- Nurture your human relationships: Don’t forget that although your dog will give you unconditional love, devotion and as much of his time as you will let him, your relationships with people are important as well. Make a resolution to see your friends regularly and get to know some new people.
- Get support if stress becomes too much. Nobody can do everything alone so don’t feel you can’t share your stresses with others. Talk to friends, family and/or support groups if you feel overwhelmed. Others do care and will be only too happy to support you.
- Flower Essences. When faced with a stressful situation, Australian Bush Flower ‘Emergency Essence’ is wonderful for reducing stress levels, as is the more well know Bach’s ‘Rescue Remedy’. These are equally useful for dogs and people and flower essences can be helpful for relieving a wide range of emotional and physical symptoms. Contact me if you’d like more information.