Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘stress’

Little Bear the dog in front of the Christmas tree

Little Bear and the Christmas tree

With the Christmas holidays around the corner, I’m counting down the days to a week off.

In my head, I’m imagining something straight out of a John Lewis ad.  All Country Living magazine festive with everyone laughing around an elegantly dressed table laden with fantastic food, fine china and posh crackers.

I’m enough of a realist to accept that it will be more like something out of Fawlty Towers, but I’m a relentless optimist too. Somehow, my deep desire for the fantasy Christmas has blocked out the fact that it will most likely be a few stressful days of last minute shopping, wrapping, cooking, cleaning, bed making and entertaining various house guests sandwiched between two 300 mile round trips to pick up and drop off family members.

Stress 

Sad though it is to admit, Christmas is stressful and if we’re stressed, you can bet our dogs will be too. Especially fearful dogs like Annie who take comfort in the certainty wrought through routine and anxious dogs like Little Bear who can quickly get hyper.

Having lots of visitors can be exciting, but it can also be over-stimulating for some dogs and ours are no exception.  In our eagerness to make sure everyone has a full glass and a plate of something tasty, we can too easily overlook the subtle signs of stress from our dogs.

Retreat

We’re taking radical action this year. We’re sacrificing the comfort of guests for the comfort of our dogs. We’re donating one of our sofas to a charity so that the dogs can have their beloved crates back.

Having a safe space to retreat to is really important for dogs all year round, but especially at Christmas. I’ll also be stocking up on Adaptil refills for the diffuser and there will be some stuffed Kongs and deer antlers on the treat menu to give them something to focus on while we’re playing hosts.  It’s no magic bullet, but knowing that the dogs are happy will at least be one less thing for me to stress about.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Hands up if you’ve ever ended up in tears as a result of your dogs’ behaviour.

If you’ve said no I’m willing to bet that you either have a well-balanced dog & stumbled innocently upon this ode to the reactive dog while getting your canine net hit (you’re very welcome by the way :-)) or you’re a man. Sorry to stereotype here, but our dogs have pushed Other Half to the limit and he’s not blubbed once, so I’m assuming it’s a predominantly female thing.

Yep, I blubbed.  In public. I blubbed as I trudged through the woods while rummaging in my dog walking bag for tissues without bits of dog biscuit on them and overall failing miserably to put on a brave face.  The incident which sparked this bout of self-indulgence was wholly avoidable, but I got it wrong. So did the other owner but she must have a hide like a rhino as she didn’t seem to give a damn that her dog had just caused utter chaos.

Dive bombed

The scenario played out like this. We’re wandering through the woods when I hear a woman call her dog. I can’t see the dog but call Little Bear to me and seeing her bend down, I assume she’s put the lead on her dog so I did the same.

There’s nothing worse than letting your dog run up to another one that’s newly tethered – not only is it rude, but if that dog has been put on a lead for a reason, your dog is now in possible danger.

Lead aggression is a common problem and is, if you think about it a logical, if not desirable reaction. We all respond to stress with a split second ‘fight’ or ‘flight’ decision, but leads take away the flight option, which for a stressed dog only leaves one course of action.

Three guesses how Little Bear reacted when a super excited Mini Schnauzer raced straight into his face through the ferns. Yep. He went nuts. Lunging, growling and barking and all the while this little dog kept on coming back.  His owner wasn’t a bit bothered and didn’t even try to recall him!

Unable to fend him off I had to resort to picking LB up, something I hate doing as it’s a further confinement, but while being relentlessly dive-bombed I was left with little choice. Said hooligan then started jumping all over me while his owner just puffed on her cigarette and shuffled off without him – charming!

Getting it wrong 

There are so many things I did wrong. I should have turned tail and headed in the other direction. I should have called to her to check if she’d put her dog on the lead. If she hadn’t, I would have let LB off the lead as he’s met this dog before without incident. I should have thrown some chicken on the floor for the marauder and run with LB the other way. I should at least have given her a piece of my mind… but of course, in the stress of it all I did none of those things. Instead, I ranted and raved and then cried hot tired tears while wondering if I was ever going to be able to get my darling boy to a state of calmness.

The whole incident is in such stark contrast to the progress he’s been making lately that I think it was even more upsetting than it might have been. It’s left me under a cloud and kicked off a headache that looks like it’s settling in for a long stint, but we’ll plough on. I may get it wrong frequently, but the biggest mistake I could ever make would be giving up.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: