In my day to day profession, calming a dog is a skill that I would say I use about 80% of the time. Many of my pups already have natural triggers that are prevalent in this beautiful city of New York, the official concrete jungle! Between the millions of people, the “forever construction”, as there tends to be constant construction at least in the Greenwich village, and the natural triggers that dogs have (men, kids, skateboards, squirrels, large dogs, small dogs etc.) you will have your hands full on any given occasion if you or your walker does not KYD (know your dog) or know how to either avoid or soothe them from any of these anxiety causing scenarios.
In my previous profession I had a role in the Anti-Money Laundering Dept. of a major financial firm. They coined the acronym “KYC” which means to “know your client”. This was a policy that was trained to the Financial Advisors so that they could easily identify any suspicious activity and give us a heads up before any serious fraud or damage to the client’s account or the firm’s reputation occurred.
That’s a transferable skill that I’ve brought with me to this role as a professional dog walker and one that I encourage dog owners to know as well.
Considering the fact that our furry companions do not speak English, it’s not only important that they understand us and our commands, but that we also understand them as well.
That’s why we at the Golden leash like to provide you with the same walker and are pet first aid certified so that we can bond with and really get to know your pup. This helps us to easily identify any unusual behavior vs. typical behavior, and give you a heads up and/or a vet recommendation where necessary.
For instance, I walk a pup that likes to stall…..like every few steps. A random walker or an uninformed owner may just find it annoying or think he’s being rebellious. But while I understood that he’s communicating that he wants to stop and sniff something or he has found a spot to use the bathroom, I also learned that he was trying to tell me the direction that we are going towards is too noisy for him. He could see and hear construction trucks from a mile away and would stall. So l learned that in order for him to remain calm, we need to find quieter streets for me and him to enjoy his walks.
Another thing as a walker is that I try to put myself in their shoes. Small dogs are very very close to the ground so even the calmest dog can get anxiety if he’s in an overcrowded noisy area. Additionally, if you’re too close to the curb and a monster truck goes by they’ll get nervous as well. Therefore, a good way to soothe them is to either pick them up if the area towards your destination is overcrowded, and stand a few feet away from the curb when you approach a red light. You want as much space between your pup and other people as possible when you’re out on your walk. It helps them to feel at ease and keeps their cute little toes from being stepped on as well.
Another typical trigger is skateboards. Some dogs feel threatened by them, some don’t like the motion, or the noise. A key soother here is a treat. If you have a dog that gets unhinged when he sees a skateboard, it’s key to carry treats with you while you’re out on your walks. Especially during the summer or really nice weather days when the skateboarders are out. This will help to give your pups a nice distraction and take their attention off of the skateboard and onto the treat. After awhile, their reaction level should not be as intense.
While all of these scenarios are anxiety causing, some dogs just have anxiety in general if they are left alone for too long. While medication is often recommended for treatment, music has also been proven to help reduce anxiety in dogs. However, soothing sounds of nature or classical music is optimal as opposed to any type of music. So if you’re planning to leave your pup for an extended period of time, you may want to create a play list on your ipad to play while you’re out and leave them with a nice treat or a stimulating toy.
Eventually your pup will begin to have some positive associations with your leaving for a few hours as opposed to getting stressed.
For your convenience I’ve attached a YouTube video that I have used that is wonderful because it plays soothing sounds for 6 hours that will help to relax your pup while your away. If you drive, you may want to create a playlist for the car for trips to the vet or groomer if your pup gets anxious before these visits. The second link is for an actual “First TV Channel for Dogs” called Dog TV.
Additionally please visit this site below for some stimulating toys. Again, KYD! Some pups are super intelligent and can get really bored because they like to learn and like challenges. Therefore, if you have a chewer, get him some tough challenging toys to chew on. If you have a thinker, get some brain busting toys. Here are some links to some great stimulating toys for your pups.
Lastly, be mindful of your own energy when you’re walking or interacting with your dog. Try to remain calm as possible when you see a possible trigger approaching so that your dog won’t pick up on your stress and get anxious. They’re excellent at picking up on your energy and will respond accordingly.
And as you know, provide lots and lots of love and soothing talk and praise to help your pups know that everything is going to be alright.
With these tips you’re sure to have the happiest pups ever!