July 05, 2021

Could this REALLY save pets from stress?

Could this REALLY save pets from stress?
Dr. Chris Brown

Light up the incense and play those whale sounds, ‘relaxation training’ is coming to save your dog from common stressors like thunderstorms, fireworks and even vacuum cleaners. But what is it and does it really work?!

It’s incredible just how many dogs and cats cower in fear at sounds we almost take for granted. And it’s often hard to watch them shaking and hiding in fear. But there may be a very human solution. The most recent Journal of Veterinary Behaviour suggests more research be done into ‘relaxation training’. Want to know how it works? Well so do I…

Well, it’s actually how it sounds. Here are the basic principles. First of all, induce relaxation with massage or long slow pats when there isn’t anything stressful around. And while they’re having their massage, use a word that they can then associate with this calm state. Perhaps it’s ‘chillll’ or ‘sleeeeepy’. Repeat over the course of a few weeks while giving a reward (with their favourite treat) each time they show the signs of relaxation like slower breathing, floppy body posture and ears and eyes that are calm. Keep saying the word before you give a treat. Don’t give a treat if they are distracted and overly alert. Just wait until they are back in that relaxed state.

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Then, that relaxation key word should become their cue to chill once just a hint of those stressful situations arise. They’ll know the rewards and the chance of a massage from you should follow…

Come to think of it, I'd probably sign up for relaxation training myself. Massage and snacks? Ah yes please...

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