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canine stress management techniques


I have been ‘a dog guy’ my entire life. They and I understand each other. Some call it “Being able to speak Dog”. As with human-to-human interaction that actually means more listening than speaking.

Thus, when the article below arrived in my e-mail, I recognize its truths. Dogs fully live in the moment without fretting over past or future. Most excell at relaxation, but apply extreme vigor to their exercise periods.

This applies far more to confident dogs, who are usually larger than average. Those are the ones I am attracted to. Among the top dogs in my history for that was Opie, my 125-pound Newfoundland runt who is responsible for my interest in Mastiff relatives.

Beagle Brain, our Beagle/Lab rescue is a bit on the nervous side to be a model for stress management. If your dog experience is more like the latter than the former, the lessons below will not apply as well.

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Follow Your Dog’s Lead on These Five Stress-Busting Behaviors

Looking for a new way to combat stress? Your “go-to” methods probably include activities like deep breathing, exercise, yoga and meditation. But there are a few more things you can try to ease anxiety and stress, and they come courtesy of man’s best friend.

If you’re a dog owner (or just a dog lover), then you’re probably familiar with some classic behaviors that bring your furry friend simple joy and pleasure.  Now it’s your turn to follow your pup’s lead for simple ways to de-stress. Here’s how:

1. Get the Zoomies

If you’ve lived with a dog for any period of time, you likely know about the “zoomies.” That’s when, for seemingly no reason at all, your dog starts running around at top speed, sometimes in wide circles, either indoors or out. After several minutes, he simply stops, tongue out, panting, eyes saying, “Doggone! That was fun!” From puppy days to adult years, most dogs engage periodically in this zoomie behavior. It’s an excellent way for them to burn off steam.

Picture your most stressful days: Conflicting demands on your time, multiple deadlines, mind brimming with to-do’s. When you’re feeling overloaded, what’s the first thing that usually gets nixed? For many, it’s the trip to the gym or other exercise. But according to your dog, that’s the last thing you should do. Instead of letting the steam fester, let it go! Take a brisk walk, run some laps, attend your favorite fitness class…whatever works best to decompress.

2. Obey Your Olfactory Sense

Anyone who has ever walked a dog knows about the sniffing. From a particular blade of grass to almost every tree, dogs love to linger and experience the world through their extraordinary sense of smell.

It’s true that a dog’s olfactory capabilities are far stronger than a human’s. A dog has up to 300 million olfactory receptors in its nose, whereas a human has only 6 million. And the part of a dog’s brain that processes smells is proportionally 40 times larger than in a human brain. But, that’s no reason to ignore one of your most intense senses.

Use your sense of smell to ease stress by seeking out pleasant aromas. Aromatherapy is a holistic practice that uses natural plant extracts to promote health and well-being. Popular essential oils for de-stressing include rose, clary sage, frankincense, lavender, bergamot, marjoram, ylang-ylang, lemon, geranium, orange, sandalwood, chamomile and vetiver. Just massage your preferred oil blend into your pressure points to alleviate tension and bring an almost instant sense of calm.

3. Don’t Keep Quiet

Over the years, you’ve probably gotten quite familiar with the different barks your dog can make and the distinct meaning of each one. You know the difference between a happy bark asking you to come out to play, an attention-getting bark to signal an empty water bowl or an excited bark to greet an arriving family member. You also know when a bark means business, such as when a stranger rings the doorbell or a neighborhood dog crosses your lawn.

Whatever the reason, your dog knows it’s better to bark than to keep things bottled up inside. And the same goes for you. Expressing your emotions is an important way to ease stress and build stronger relationships with your loved ones.

4. Stick to a Routine

More often than not, a dog’s day is fairly predictable. He’ll wake up, eat, do his business and exercise all in a similar order and on a regular schedule. According to experts, a good way to help a new dog settle in at home is to quickly establish a schedule. And knowing what’s going to happen each day can help keep anxiety at bay for both dogs and people.

Try rising at the same time each morning. Stick to a regular exercise schedule. Get into a daily rhythm with household chores and routines. This simple structure can add order to your life and give you a sense of accomplishment.

5. Live in the Moment

Perhaps you’ve heard the quote from Master Oogway in Kung Fu Panda, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery and today is a gift…that’s why it’s called the present.” These wise words from one animal are a true reflection of another—your dog.

By nature, dogs really seem to live in the present and make the most of each moment. Whether it’s eating, sleeping, exercising or playing, they are all in on what they are doing RIGHT NOW…enjoying it to the fullest without worrying about anything else.

Plus, dogs are so often models of true grace. Take, for example, the many dogs rescued from horrid conditions and terrible treatment who go on to love and trust and enjoy happy lives. They don’t hold grudges. They forgive and keep an open heart.

Living in the moment with grace and openness may come easier to dogs than to humans, but modeling this behavior will move you toward a happier, healthier, more stress-free life.

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The advertisements below came with the e-mail. I included them here as a way of thanking the producers of the article. They are, by the way, one of my favorite dietary supplement providers… high quality stuff with proven results on my body.

– Ted –

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