During stressful times, it’s easy to be so wound up in the moment that you aren’t able to take a breath and relax. However, here’s something that could give you pause – you could be stressing out your furry friend! Dogs are particularly susceptible to our emotions, and if you aren’t careful, you can increase their anxiety with your own. The good news is that there are various ways that you and your dog can de-stress together for a mutual feel-good family moment!
1. Learn Some New Tricks
Sometimes, a distraction from your stressful situation is exactly what’s needed. Teaching your dog a new trick, or practicing old tricks, is a great way to take a moment to de-stress while staying mentally stimulated. Regardless of your dog’s obedience level, there are a variety of tricks that you can teach your pretty pooch. If you haven’t mastered the basics (such as sit, stay, lay down, shake a paw and come) then focus on those first. If you feel like you’ve mastered those, look up new tricks you want to teach – the internet is full of helpful resources. Need some inspiration? Try these:
Once you and your dog have mastered the new tricks, you can even apply for one of the various AKC Trick Dog titles.
2. Jam Out Together
Studies from both the psychological and medical fields have found that music can greatly impact the human brain and our nervous system. But did you know that music can also help to soothe your four-legged friend? While any genre of music might help you to relax, it’s important to note that your dog may only feel some calming benefits with classical tunes. De-stressing to the likes of Mozart and Beethoven may not be your ideal, however grab your pooch and snuggle them during a symphony – you might be surprised at how much more you enjoy the tune.
3. Improve Their Hygiene
Typically in a stressful moment we look for ways to pamper ourselves. However, what about pampering your canine companion instead? While you may find that some pampering activities aren’t relaxing during – the end result makes everything worthwhile.
As humans, when we give our time and effort to others, our bodies start producing the “Happiness Trifecta hormones“, which explains why we feel better just by helping others.
Here are some classic ways to help with your dog’s grooming:
- Give them a warm bath with pet-approved shampoo & conditioner
- Trim your dog’s nails
- Brush your dog’s hair to help distribute their natural oils (make sure you get the right brush for your breed)
- Learn how to give your puppy’s teeth a good brushing
- Carefully trim any extra hair around their eyes and the pads of their feet
A clean and pampered pup is a happy one!
4. Snuggle & Massage
Snuggling your pet is one of the easiest ways for you both to de-stress. Whether you do this on the floor, on the couch or in bed – it’s all about taking the time to squeeze your puppy a little bit longer and a little tighter.
While you are snuggling, why not take the time to give your buddy a massage too? Massaging not only releases tension in your dog’s muscles, but it can also help to encourage blood flow and soothe sore joints and muscles. Make sure that you are using very gentle circular motions and soft petting techniques. Just like giving a human friend a massage, try to focus on the muscles that get the most usage, such as your dog’s neck, shoulders and legs.
5. Eye Contact
During any of the above recommended activities, and if your dog likes it, try to keep eye contact as much as possible. It’s been found that eye contact with your tail wagging companion can increase oxytocin in both you and your dog. Oxytocin is the “feel good” hormone, and therefore will give you both a boost in good vibes. Oxytocin is also the hormone that promotes the feeling of bonding within the brain, making it easier to feel close and connected to your canine friend.
Being a dog owner, you always have a faithful friend who is ready to cozy up to you and help you through any stressful situation. And that’s why, when your anxiety starts to creep in, remember that taking care of your dog can help you take care of yourself. Enjoy these little moments to de-stress with your dog, and soon your worries will be behind you.
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