Friday, 21 November 2014

Canine Behaviour & Massage : A Holistic Approach

Alex and I held our first Canine Behaviour & Massage workshop at Earthed Barn, Fletching with the theme of 'Coping with Canine Anxiety'. 

Sarah & Sam arranging the chairs at the Barn

The Barn was full of dog lovers who were there to pick up some tips, learn a relaxing massage routine and to generally meet and chat in a cosy relaxed venue. Among those who attended were Dr Birgit Ahlemeyer, a holistic vet, Mandy Fischer, an oestopath, Alison Ridley, owner of Doggy Delights plus many caring dog owners who wanted to learn as much as possible to help their dogs. 

Some of the group at the Barn

Alex spoke about how :
  • Anxiety can be inherited or can derive from a deprived early environment perhaps nutritionally, physically or socially. Food consumed is linked to the ability to cope and learn for example
  • Dogs cannot rationalise like humans or exercise escapism
  • Inconsistency in their home environment can also lead to this behaviour
  • The dog should not be forced to confront their fears and the environment should be made as relaxed as possible
  • A routine should be established, anxious behaviour should be ignored where possible and normal behaviour rewarded
  • Pairing the fearful situations with something positive
The latter brought us very nicely to demonstrating a short but effective relaxation routine that could be performed on an anxious dog.  This time Mr Sam was the model but looked anything other than anxious.

Sam showing how it is done to be a relaxed dog

I started my section of the workshop by asking everyone to stand up and look anxious.  As expected, shoulders went up, jaws were clenched and bodies were held tense.  This was to demonstrate how behaviour and posture are so closely related.  In an anxious dog their back often bows, their tail may tuck in holding their back end stiff, their neck may shorten.  Like their owners, being anxious makes their bodies tense.

So we demonstrated a quick routine that everyone could do on their dogs to help calm them donw during thunder or firework seasons.

It seems that this routine has already had an effect on at least one dog as I received an email saying "This evening my dog started his usual quivering (a loud fire alarm test upset him up the yard today when we were passing) and I decided to sit down calmly and do the massage stuff I learned last night at the anxious dog seminar.It really helped!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you so much. He seemed to like it and calmed completely....then fell deep asleep and I sat there calmly reading a mag until he woke 2 hours later"

Can't ask for better feedback than that.

Everyone chatting at the end of the workshop

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