December 29, 2021
Dogs are in tune with our feelings – sometimes before we are; but how good are we at reading their expressions and body language to give them the same courtesy?
A dog’s breed may give indications about its general temperament but that often fails to paint the entire picture. Past trauma and their general personality also play a huge role.
If you recently adopted a dog and are unsure how to make them feel at home and at ease, we’ve curated some top tips to help you be the best dog parent to your new family member. If your dog is generally high-strung, these tips can help too!
Common signs of anxiety in pets:
A normally easy-going pup can exhibit signs of anxiety during or after stressful circumstances. A recent move, a new baby in the house, or even construction near your home can all be short-term stressful events that get easier with time – and don’t worry, their rambunctious personality will start to shine again as they chill out.
Crates mirror caves or dens which is where dogs lived through their evolution. If your dog burrows under blankets, likes to sleep with all the lights off, or curls up tight into the corner of their bed – they may be comforted by a crate.
You can try crate games – engaging in their usual sensory activities like stuffed toys or snuffle mats while inside the crate also tells their brain “hey, we have fun in here” or “let’s go see if we left any treats behind”.
If you are uninterested in crating them for training purposes but want to offer up the crate as a sort of optional bedroom for them, just leave the door open at all times. Chances are they will snuggle up in there more often than not.
Like us, dogs are dynamic so a one-size-fits-all may not be the most effective strategy. Here is a list of some good techniques; you can mix and match or try them all!
When training anxious or reactive dogs the time spent in a training session can be stressful on its own so prioritize a ton of positive reinforcement and short times working on their stressors. Roughly 20-minutes of straight training is more than enough for one day. Of course, they still need their normal physical exercise as well.
Most dogs are built for lots of physical exercise (of course there are exceptions and yes, we’re looking at you bulldogs). This is part of the reason they may not seem fully spent after an extra, extra long walk. Mental energy is in a different category altogether and wears out your dog way more than anything else can. So, give your dog time after training to refuel, hydrate, and actually sleep instead of just a short rest!
Be patient! Rome wasn’t built in a day. For adopted dogs, there is tremendous jumps in how comfortable they are at 3 days, 3 weeks, and 3 months as they begin to settle in to their new home and life. Asking them to trust you is a very big deal and happens over time. When they look to you for comfort and begin to rely on you for their best interests, reward them with lots of affection and treats and know that their trust may ebb and flow at the beginning but soon they will understand you are their person and likely start to relax and unwind.