Monday, March 18, 2013
During waking hours, most dogs go a mile a minute. There's guarding the home, or at least barking just to let their owner know they're on the job. Then it's off to make sure squirrels, outside cats or other critters are properly reprimanded if they step foot in the wrong yard. All of that takes time and energy, and sometimes it's nice to just relax and enjoy some dog approved activities with their favorite human. That’s the one thing dogs enjoy more than anything else!
Being involved with your pet helps to strengthen your bond and build trust. What's great about dogs is you don't have to spend a lot of time doing an activity with them. They don't ask much from us, and spending some extra time puts them on top of the world.
A Slow Walk
Many dog owners walk their dog on a daily basis, but not necessarily as a way to relax. Since I have a dog enclosure where my dogs can hang out, do their business and enjoy the day, our walks are mainly a way I can give them some mental stimulation. Dogs get tired of the same old thing day in and day out. They like a set routine, but they also enjoy an impromptu outing now and then.
A slow walk around the neighborhood or on a trail is a good way to relax. Let your dog sniff around under the bushes, while you enjoy the fresh air and everything nature has to offer. After all, if you're too busy to stop and smell the flowers once in awhile, it really is time to slow your world down a bit. There's something about being on a slow walk with your dog that helps both of you relax from the rigors of the day. Take your time, and if you find a bench where you can sit, enjoy some quiet time with just you and your dog.
Not all dogs need a good combing, but they do need attention paid to their toenails, teeth and ears. Most dogs enjoy a good brushing, and combing your dog can be a relaxing activity. My Siberian Husky, Cheyenne, loved being brushed. She would patiently lie on her side while I combed, and combed, and combed. Then, she'd roll over so I could do the other side. Brushing or combing your pet is a good one-on-one activity you can do with your dog. It also helps lower cortisol levels for both of you. Cortisol is a hormone secreted by the adrenal glands, and high levels are unhealthy for us, and our pets.
If you have never given your dog a massage, it might be a good idea before you begin to talk to your vet and read this RPO article: How to Give Your Dog a Massage. You can also find good information online and in books. Massage therapy has some really good benefits for pets. It's another great way to build a bond with dogs. However, my dogs just enjoy a casual rubdown from time to time, even if it isn't a true massage. I rub their legs, paws, tummy and sides. Your dog learns that your touch is soothing, and when you need to trim toenails or inspect his body, he's more likely to allow you to poke around. Whether you give your dog a true massage or simply run your hands over his body, either one will help him relax. Don't forget to reward him with some CANIDAE dog treats after you've finished his massage.
If you don't allow your dog on the couch or in your chair, sit on the floor with him. Watching TV together and cuddling makes him feel safe, and is a great way to help him relax as he sits or lies by your side.
To a dog you've bonded with, your voice is one of the sweetest sounds. I talk to my dogs all the time. If you can't think of anything to talk about, pick up a book and read out loud to your dog. It doesn't matter that he can't follow the plot line. The only thing he cares about is listening to you. Like our smell, listening to our voice is comforting and relaxing. Soft music is another relaxing activity most dogs enjoy just as much as we do. Keep the volume low, and while you listen, give your pet a nice massage.
Like us, dogs can become stressed, and even anxious with daily life. They need some quiet time, too. Spending just a little extra time with your pet makes them happy, and it can also help you relax after a long day at work.
Top photo by Cedric Ramirez
Bottom photo by Berkeley T. Compton
Read more articles by Linda Cole