Living That City Dog Life
This city can feel like an ever-changing obstacle course. Whether it’s having to reroute your morning walk around construction, noisy neighbors waking us up at 6AM, or getting stuck on the L Train just before the Bedford stop, this city was basically built to induce anxiety in us. And unfortunately, our dogs.
Dogs get stressed for many of the same reasons we do. Change of routine, meeting new people, lack of exercise, boredom, and being away from us. You know, life.
How can you tell your dog is stressed? You know your dog best, so you know when they’re acting off. Some tell-tale signs it might be anxiety are:
Ears back with wide eyes
Tense muscles and jumpy skin
Tucked tail and whining
Stress affects us both physically and mentally and the same is true for our dogs.
Our dogs pick up on our emotions. All of them. Why do you think dog yoga has become so popular?
When we are stressed, our dogs feel it too. Deep breaths may not solve everything, but shaking off the workday before walking in your door can be key to helping your dog calm for the evening.
De-Stressing Your Dog
Now that we’ve achieved nirvana, how can we help our dogs get there too?
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Physical + Mental Exercise
Going on a walk is more than just a pee break. Sights, sounds, and smells are mentally stimulating for your dog.
Sometimes we can’t add an extra block to our walk, so pivoting to their mental tiredness can be key to keeping them chill.
Things like slow feeders, treat balls, and puzzle toys are all perfect ways to make them work for their treats.
You can even create a mini-scavenger hunt around your apartment! Sequester them in their crate or bathroom, hide some treats around your apartment, and release the hound. If they’re not super food-motivated, try wrapping your dog’s favorite toy in a towel or hiding them under blankets.
Teaching a new trick is guaranteed to make your dog mentally exhausted. It’s work to learn new things!
Treats, Toys, Reducing Noise
Treats can provide more than just a satisfying snack. Ingredients like L-Tryptophan, St. John’s wort, and Thiamine are great for providing them with a sense of overall calm.
There are so many options for calming treats out there, but these three are my tried-and-true go-to’s for helping dogs deal with anxiety:
Some non-food options include:
//Pheremone Collars are great for creating a bubble of good vibes everywhere your dog goes. Vets offices use pheromone plug-ins to provide the same effect in their waiting rooms.
//Heartbeat Toys like this one by Smart Pet calm dogs through the heartbeat. Often used with puppies, these toys can work throughout your dogs life.
Whole Body Solutions
Stress affects us all over, but particularly we see stress affects the digestive system. Going the other way, the foods we eat directly correlate to stress levels.
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Kibble is packed with carbohydrates, processed meat, and preservatives. These ingredients are not easy for their bodies to break down, and quickly elevate blood sugar levels to cause a peak-and-crash kind of energy.
By feeding (or even just adding!) fresh, whole foods to their diet you can help lower their stress. Ingredients like salmon are known to increase Omega-3’s, an amino acid responsible for reducing inflammation and a natural mood elevator. A lot of the ingredients that will help keep them calm are recommended for humans as well, like chamomile, lavender, and bone broth.
We’re All In This Together
Stress and anxiety are a natural part of life. Unfortunately, they not only affect our mental health but they can take a toll on us physically as well.
Our dogs are one of the best things we have in our lives to help us de-stress. They keep us committed to a routine, we feel hugely accomplished when we take care of them, and did we already talk about how just petting them literally releases serotonin?
We can return the favor by keeping our cool and helping them find balance in this hectic place we call home.