It’s that time of year again- fun for some, but dreaded by many dogs and their families.
Lots has already been written about this, and for the usual and very good advice, I recommend you check out Dogs Trust and RSPCA websites (links below).
Once you have implemented all that, here are a couple of other ideas, that I think don’t get talked about enough, and that I highly recommend you try:
Dogs have a much better sense of smell than us humans, and essential oils can have a very powerful effect.
It’s crucial though to dilute the oils well. Ask your dog before using any essential oil on or near them:
Open the bottle and hold it a foot or so away from their nose- watch their reaction. If they move away, this oil is not the right one for them!
Their reaction might be more subtle. Maybe they just turn the head away, or even just keep looking the other way.
Remember that what has a mild smell for us, could well be overpowering for your dog. Always provide an opportunity for them to walk away.
The oils should be a very high quality, please don’t buy a cheap one- it could contain anything! Aromatherapy is a science and an art- there are many low quality products out there that will not help your dog and could potentially harm them!
My favourite oil to calm and relax dogs is Lavender.
I buy my oils from Do Terra, they are an amazing quality, and I like the whole company ethos. Their oils are definitely not cheap, but a bottle will last you a long time.
And if your dog doesn’t like the smell, you can always use it for yourself (away from your dog).
Do Terra also do some wonderful calming oil blends that are safe to use with dogs (again: well diluted), these are Serenity and Balance.
How to dilute and how to use?
If you have a diffuser, this is the best way to start. How many drops depends on your diffuser, the oil you use and personal preference. Start with 1-2 drops and take it from there. If your dog doesn’t mind it, you can increase the number of drops if you wish.
For topical use (on your hands while you massage or stroke your dog, or applied as 1 drop of the dilution to the bottom of the back feet):
It depends on the oil, some are much stronger than others, but a good guideline is: 1 drop essential oil to 1 teaspoon of carrier oil (I usually use fractionated coconut oil, it’s liquid and has no smell of it’s own, but you could use any oil that’s suitable for cooking or use on skin).
2. TTouch and body wraps
Everybody should know TTouch!
It?s a series of techniques that (amongst other things) can help animals to overcome fears, be more confident, and can help them to settle down in stressful situations.
There are lots of different TTouches. A simple one to start with is the Clouded Leopard:
Place your hand on your dog’s skin, anywhere they feel comfortable, and use your middle 3 fingers to make gentle circles. Aim to move the skin over the underlying tissues with as little pressure as possible. This isn’t a deep muscle massage. Make a circle and a quarter: imaging the face of a clock. Start your circle at 6 o’clock, go clockwise all the way round, past 6 o’clock until you reach 8 o’clock. Then gently move your fingers to a different area.
While your fingers make the circle, keep the heel of your hand gently resting on your dog’s body, and place your other hand gently on a different part of your dog’s body, too. This gives a much greater feeling of connection, completeness and calm.
This is much easier when you learn it in person from a qualified TTouch instructor. I would highly recommend it to any dog owner, whether your dog is fearful or not.
We are very lucky to have the wonderful Rachel Jackson at Well Balanced Animals on our doorstep. Find her at https://www.facebook.com/wellbalancedanimals/ and watch out for her courses!
3. Comforting your dog
For years the advice has always been that we are supposed to ignore our dogs if they panic and to just ensure that they can’t hurt themselves. The thinking behind this was, that we may inadvertently reward and reenforce their anxious behaviour, and make things worse for them in the long run.
I?m not sure many people have ever listen to that advice, because: how do you not comfort your dog when he panics? Exactly!
The key point here is your own state of mind at the time.
If you are reasonably calm, then you can be a calming influence for your dog. You can model that there is nothing to be afraid of, and you can certainly do that while snuggling with your dog.
If however you are very upset about your dog being so anxious, or you hate the sound of fireworks yourself, then you may not be able to be a calming influence for your dog. If you are trying to be calm on the outside, but are actually really stressed underneath, and you?re almost patting your dog in a panic, this is not going to help. Your dog will pick up on your stress and will feel that he was right all along and there is reason to be scared.
In that case it’s better to do something completely different and try to take everybody’s mind off the fireworks.
How about going to the kitchen and making some bone broth? Smells delicious and comforting, and is excellent for settling nervous stomachs (dog and human alike!).
What are your tips for coping with fireworks season?
I’d love to hear them!
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