The difference between tired and over tired. Imagine your state of mind while going for a nice relaxing walk on a sunny day. You may come home refreshed and ready to start a new project. Now, think about a time when you didn’t sleep well and then had a long busy day at work. You may remember being more irritable, quick to overreact, foggy brained or maybe even hyper as you reached over tiredness. This is like how your dog acts when they have had too much emotional, mental, and physical stimulation. A tired puppy taking a nap may provide a reprieve from sharp teeth and busy antics, but an over tired dog can lead to increased vocalizations and anxious behavior such as jumping, mouthing/biting, pacing, panting and destructive chewing. While physical exercise is essential to the health and wellbeing, of our dogs, the amount of exercise needed is specific to the individual dog We need to remember exercise alone is not a solution for problem behaviors. The general recommendation is an hour of play time and exercise each day to sufficiently keep dogs in a good state of physical fitness. How we exercise our dogs is critical to their physical and emotional wellbeing as is our relationship with them. High arousal activities, while providing exercise, can release high levels of adrenaline. Adrenaline can affect behavior in both humans and dogs. Physical exercise can give off a temporary high and this can show up as overstimulation at home, during training, or even while visiting a friend’s house. You may notice your dog paces, whines, or barks incessantly, they might jump on you at random times or become mouthy, often showing dilated pupils. Sometimes they might stare at you or fixate on something like the cat or other dogs on walks. These are all signs of high arousal and highly aroused dogs are stressed dogs. Stress affects our dogs just as it affects us. High arousal activities like playing fetch over and over, rough housing, chasing the kids, and play sessions that are too long should be avoided. Never allow your dog to chase a laser pointer as this triggers prey drive that’s never fulfilled. This can create obsessive compulsive behaviors and can cause reactivity to flash of light such as the reflection of your phone. Continuous highly physical activities increase your dog’s stamina which creates a dog that requires more and more exercise to satiate them. Soon you will find yourself with a dog that requires several hours of physical activity and will run you ragged.
So, what do we do with a dog that has too much energy or displays over aroused behavior?
If your dog takes part in high arousal, highly physical activities, we recommend rest days to allow the stress levels in the dog’s body to decrease. Keep play sessions short with training or another mental stimulation activity in between. Try to end your play session while your dog is still eager to play and only start play when your dog is doing something you want, like laying calmly or chewing on an appropriate toy.
Fall brings some wonderful changes; brisk evening walks with your dog, autumn decorations, curling up on the couch to watch your favorite Halloween flicks to name a few. With the changing of the seasons comes some notable adjustments for your dog too. Below are a few things to help you and your dog prepare for the upcoming autumn season.
Keep an Eye Out for Wildlife
Be extra vigilant this time of year of your dog’s off leash whereabouts. If you live in a more rural area where wildlife is prominent, it may be second nature to keep your eyes peeled for deer, moose, coyotes or even bear. Don’t forget about the smaller animals like porcupine and skunks, all very busy with their winter preparations. These animals could pose unwanted threats to your canine.
Colder temperatures and shorter days often mean less time spent outside, which could decrease the amount of exercise your dog is getting. This could be especially perilous on older dogs with arthritis. It is recommended short and consistent exercise for arthritic dogs, if possible, such as shorter walks multiple times a day rather than long winter walks. Additionally, moist heat therapy can decrease pain and promote good blood flow and healing.
It is also that time of year when many of us will break out the antifreeze to keep our vehicles running smoothly. Take extreme caution in keeping your pets away from this harmful substance, as pets are attracted to the sweet smell of the chemical ethylene glycol found in antifreeze.
Also, be sure to follow your veterinarian’s recommendations on tick, flea, and heartworm prevention.
With temperatures dropping, rodents will be searching for warmer housing. If you use pesticides to keep rodents away from your home, make sure you place deterrents in pet free areas, as these chemicals are often lethal to your animals. Mouse poisons are formulated to attract rodents and can unfortunately entice your dog or cat as well. Even if you do not use these products, but your animals spend unsupervised time outside, it is helpful to be aware of the dangers these chemicals pose.
Back to School
With many children doing schoolwork online and at home this fall, you may be finding more school supplies on your floor than usual. Be mindful of where small items like markers, crayons and erasers are placed in your house and keep them out of reach from your dog. Don’t let your dog eat your homework!
Halloween Costumes & Candy
Halloween is right around the corner, and you have been dying to try out your pup’s lion mane costume to capture that perfect smile for the camera! With all the fun, spooky activities, the last scare you want is realizing your dog has eaten the fabric or buttons from their costume. Not to mention the candy corn and chocolate marshmallow Jack-O-Lanterns they may think would be a perfect dog treat. Go for the trick instead! Consult with your vet if you believe your dog has ingested harmful substances that could be toxic to their system. It is a good idea to never leave your pet alone in their festive wear, and make sure your dog can move about freely and is not restricted in any way.
As we head into the holidays, remember to take care of yourself too and make it a habit to relax when you can. Your dog can sense any stress you may be feeling, so unwinding benefits you both. Rest assured, 2020 is soon coming to an end but it is not over yet! Most importantly, we hope you have a safe and fun autumn.
I am your host, Connie Watson owner and trainer here at RockyTop Hearts!