The Christmas days and also the pre-Christmas period can be stressful for our dogs as well. They just feel that we humans are also in the year-end rush. But even on the holidays themselves, when family is visiting and the house is full, it can quickly become a stressful affair for our dogs. If the quadruped is then by nature rather nervous, easily excitable or anxious, then it becomes all the more difficult for him.
However, there are ways you can help your dog relax, even when things get a little busier. Since Tessa also gets nervous quickly, especially when other people are around and the mood is a bit more “excited”, I like to support her in these situations with isometric exercises.
How do isometric exercises work?
In isometric exercises we have a targeted muscle contraction and relaxation without an active muscle movement. The contraction and relaxation is triggered by the light pressure of the person’s hand. In addition, the self-awareness of the body is promoted. The dog has to concentrate on itself and its body and thus gradually lowers its state of excitement. Body and mind are always in close interaction. And so, with isometric exercises, by making the body aware, we can also bring about mental and spiritual relaxation.
By the way, it makes sense if you don’t start building up the isometric exercises at the moment of stress itself, but before. So your dog already knows them and they can be used as conditioned relaxation. In the following I will introduce you to various isometric hand movements that you can very easily implement with your dog.
Isometric exercises to reduce stress in your dog
For the exercises, your dog should always stand on a non-slip, level surface.
The first position:
Crouch behind your dog first. Now place your hands on the sides of your dog’s thighs. With your right hand, apply light pressure on the thigh to the left. You will feel your dog tense the muscles and counter. Hold this position for about 3 seconds and do not bounce. Now slowly let go again. Now apply light pressure to the right with your left hand. You will again feel your dog tense his muscles and counter.
Hold this position again for about 3 seconds and then slowly release.
The second position:
Now squat in front of your dog so that you are looking at each other. Place your hands on the sides of your quadruped’s shoulders. First, apply light pressure to the shoulder with your right hand. You will now again feel your dog tense the muscles and counter. Hold this position for the time indicated in the training recommendation. Don’t feather or increase the pressure. Slowly release and apply light pressure to the other shoulder with your left hand. When you feel that your dog is resisting, hold this position again for the time indicated in the training recommendation and then slowly release.
For the next grip, place your hands on your dog’s chest. Now apply light pressure as if you were pushing it away from you. Hold the pressure again for the time indicated in the training recommendation.
Make sure that the pressure you apply is never strong or jerky. Give your dog a chance to loosen up in between.
How often and for how long?
Start with 3 repetitions of 3 seconds per exercise once a day.
The great advantage of isometric exercises is that you can do them anytime, anywhere and in really any situation with your dog. What tips do you have to help your dog relax in stressful situations? Feel free to share them with other dog lovers in the comments!