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  • Writer's pictureHannah Johnson

My Dog Is Stressed, What Should I Do?!

Stressful Events - Aftercare

We all know stressful events can happen, and although we try as hard as we can to prevent them, some things are out of our control. Loud noises happen, like crow scarers, thunderstorms and gunshots. Car collisions can happen or even just an emergency break can be enough to stress our dogs. An off lead dog running up to your dog causing a reaction, or even worse a dog attacking your dog. We try our best to keep our dogs safe, but the reality is, you cannot protect them from everything. What we can do is provide the best aftercare possible. Follow our guide below to help your dog recover as best as they can after a scary or stressful event.





Ditch The Walks

Don’t stress about walking them for a day or two, let them have some proper decompression time. Now this doesn’t mean no exercise at all, you could maybe play some games in the house to get their bodies moving, but let’s just limit uncertainty as much as possible to limit how much stress they are exposed to. I still don’t want them to do strenuous exercise though, 15-20 mins of light exercise would be good here. Remember intense exercise, although a positive stress, is an added stress none the less.


Remove Stress

Anything that your dog finds stressful, remove it form their routine for a few days. Is nail clipping stressful? Ditch it. Grooming? Ditch it. Going in the car? Ditch it. Vets? Ditch it IF SAFE TO DO SO, only move this if it’s just a routine appointment like a yearly checkup, if it’s something more urgent then this will take priority. Please be sensible here and we have to decipher which is the lesser of two evils in this example. But if it’s just a checkup, can it be moved back a week to give them more time to decompress?



Provide Enrichment

Get creative with your enrichment, and provide as much as you can. As your dog isn’t getting as much exercise right now we still need the brain to have an outlet. Anything that promotes sniffing, licking or chewing is perfect as these activities all release chemicals in the brain which help

your dog to calm down. Here are some examples:

  • Snuffle mat

  • Lickimat

  • Kongs

  • Westpaw products

  • Pawzler

  • Dog Puzzles - such as Nina Ottoson and K9 Pursuits

  • Scatter feeding

  • Hiding treats around the room for your dog to find

  • Hiding toys for your dog to find

  • Play hide and seek with your dog


These are just a few ideas, there are loads more ideas which can be found on the Facebook Group “Canine Enrichment Ideas”.


Many of these products you can find on Pawfecta’s website!


Calm Training

Pick any training games which promote calm behaviours, such as Cover It, Almost Got It, Boundary Training, Crate Training etc.



Chill Together

Spend some time relaxing with your dog, just watching TV, if they like to curl up with you on the sofa or in the bed then perfect. Just do something to chill with them, even if you’re playing a nice relaxing video game or reading a book while your dog is chilling next to you that is perfect. And I bet it would do you some good to have some chill and downtime to!


Massage

Massage is an excellent way to help your dog decompress if they are comfortable with being touched. If you aren’t sure where to start, there is an excellent massage course you can find on The Canine Fitness App by Veterinary Physiotherapist Olivia Sinclair: https://canine-fitness-app.passion.io/


Getting Back Out

When you have had a day or two off walks and you want to start getting back outside, I would recommend picking a quiet spot for that first walk. If you have a secure field in your area that would be perfect for the first day or two. If you have a friend with a super well socialised and calm dog then a walk with them would be a good idea. Try to avoid super excitable dogs at this point, a calm dog would be the best option here. Then gradually increase their exposure to normal life again, start with a walk where you might just see a few things, then the next walk a little bit more and carry on like that until you are back to your normal walking routes.

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