Riley here. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been a little stressed lately. There are a lot of changes in our house. Mom is about to have a human baby, and I think we are moving. I see boxes everywhere. I have no idea where we are going but I hope I am not about to be left behind.
I know I’m not the only urban canine encountering life changes. Some of my friends at the dog park were telling me their humans are not around as much lately which is causing stress. A big yellow bus comes by and scoops them up. As any dog will tell you, with fewer people around to pay attention to us, we can get lonely, bored, or anxious.
When I get nervous, I whine, bark, pace, or chew on things (like these boxes). That’s when my dad knows I need some canine guidance and support. He’ll give me one of my favorite toys, like a filled Kong or a Busy Buddy. Sometimes I’ll get yummy chew toys like NylaBones and Bully Sticks too. Interactive toys like the Busy Buddy give me something to focus on. My parents even give me my meals in puzzle toys, which is a lot of fun for me. Whether it’s mental or physical exercise I will enjoy it and my dad says it’s good for me.
To prevent me from getting nervous in the first place, my family tries to keep me on a regular schedule. They keep my feeding times the same and give me dedicated time to get attention and drain some energy. I don’t know what I would do without my daily morning walk through the park or my play time before bed.
I also know that when I’m feeling the most nervous and whine or show my family I’m upset, I never get any physical praise or attention. Instead they either ignore me or redirect my attention to these games we play. One of them is called GO GET IT. My dad has me come to him using the TOUCH command, then he will toss treats around the house and I get to scavenge for them.
I didn’t realize this, but my human tells me that when I get attention (like petting or belly rubs) for being nervous or anxious, I am more likely to be unstable in the future. I know it’s hard for mommy to play along, I can see she just wants to pet me and make me feel better. I did a quick search online apparently it checks out amongst other leading professionals in the dog training and behavior field. I guess dad knows a thing or two after all.
Here’s a video of me de-stressing with my Busy Buddy! I would love to see pictures or videos of all of my doggy friends too. Post them to our Facebook or Instagram pages with the hashtag #stressrelief.
Crossed paws, your friend for life.
Marc Elias, ABCDT is the CEO (Canine Executive Officer) of Pooch Pals, the New York-based pet training and care service. After six years of experience working for corporations, Marc sought a less traditional role aligned with his background in client services, operations and marketing, paired with his love of animals and helping people. Today, Marc Elias is the Canine Executive Officer of Pooch Pals LLC with a dog training certification from the Animal Behavior College. Marc and his Goldendoodle Riley are active pet therapy volunteers certified by the Good Dog Foundation. Pooch Pals is committed to positive reinforcement dog training. They believe in creating a positive culture in New York City’s pet community, and they welcome clients who are as passionate as they are about receiving personal service for their dogs including positive reinforcement training.