Dogs share many human attributes and you probably know some people who do not handle stress as well as others.
If you have an easily stressed dog, or if your dog does not “bounce back” from stressful events as quickly as most dogs, all is not lost. You have more tools nowadays to explore, reduce or mediate stress than ever before!
First off, we believe that easily stressed dogs are the perfect candidates for clicker training. Click and treat training includes trust and confidence building exercises, intellectual challenges, bonding and cooperation by example. Just Google “click and treat training” to read up on this approach. YouTube videos are everywhere and the approach is not limited to dogs – watch a YouTube video of a horse, cat, bird or other species…the information is very similar.
Keep in mind that stress is cumulative, so cleaning up stress as it occurs, bringing the pet back to baseline following a stressful event may help reduce the accumulated stress if/when a second stressful event occurs in a short amount of time.
As an example, a recent client (husband and wife) that works in NYC 4-5 days a week has been taking “Max” to work, but trucks going by on the street, loud noises, etc. were throwing Max into a highly stressed state which then affected the day.
One aspect of our solution included teaching a lengthy eye contact duration, and, following a truck/loud noise, the owners would stop, and pull Max off into a nook or cranny, and spend 60+ seconds practicing loving / gentle / soft / adoring :) eye contact. By bringing Max’s stress level down following this model, they have been able to get to their office with a less stressed dog. Now, Max spends most days meeting, greeting and relaxing at work instead of arriving stressed and spending the first hour + overcoming the stress from travel.
Again, since stress is cumulative, it is helpful to address stressful moments, reduce that stress before the next stressful event occurs, so that each event stands alone.