Modern life can mean that our once relaxed pooches now feel the stresses of daily life as much as we do. Long gone are the days of being in the fresh air, hopping on tractors or rescuing sheep from mountains. Nowadays, unless they earn their pawket money as a working dog, they are likely to have a hectic social calendar, rushing around town with their human and feeling the strain. It’s time for these pups to put their paws up and read our ultimate guide to dog relaxation below!
Massage your troubles away
We all know that humans love a relaxing massage with essential oils, but did you know that your canine pal might also benefit from a massage? Known to reduce pain and stress in humans by improving circulation and flexibility, it’s likely that dogs would see the same benefits. Not only beneficial for physical health, it is also the perfect time for you to have some me time with your best pal – what dog is going to not want to get all that attention from their human? Be careful to follow a guide or get professional advice as you don’t want to hurt your pet - if your dog doesn’t like it, stop.
Relax with a spa day
For the more pampered pooch who likes to just sit back and be waited on, salons are now offering spa treatments such as pawdicures and mud treatments to our tired and stressed pooches. When a busy social life is bringing down your dog, try a relaxing spa bath infused with green tea and aloe vera to massage the skin and relax joints and muscles. Or maybe a soothing vanilla and blueberry facial treatment and head massage – while wrinkles will not be reduced (which is great as we love them in dogs anyway), deep ones in certain wrinkly breeds do need a regular clean to keep them supple and healthy.
Up your essential oils
Lavender oil has been shown in studies to lower the heart rate, triggering a calming response in dogs. It is great for dogs who suffer from travel anxiety as well as being beneficial for a variety of skin conditions. For the ultimate in relaxation, drop some of the oil on their bed - don’t put it directly on their fur as, like many oils, it can be toxic if ingested.
A clean start
Though your dog might groom himself or his other canine pals, a wash and brush up from his favourite human will really make his day. Of course, only do this if your pet enjoys being groomed, otherwise it’s best to leave it to the professionals – no dog wants to be stressed on their very own pamper day!
Dog-appeasing pheromones have been on the market for a few years now; synthetic versions of the hormone that new mothers make while nursing their puppies, they can calm nervous dogs down and reduce anxiety levels. Older pups may well find this mother love useful if they are stressed.
A little night music
Listening to music is known to calm anxious canines down, but before you get out your Guns and Roses vinyls, have a think about what your pooch would actually like to listen to. A study by the University of Glasgow and the Scottish SPCA found that by playing a selection of classical music to dogs in their rescue centre, heart rates were lowered and stress-related behaviours such as barking were reduced. Before you say that your dog isn’t a Puccini pup, worry not – they also responded to soft rock and reggae. Time to get your Bob Marley tracks on low and see how your pooch responds.
Laughter is the best tonic
You know when you are having a bit of a laugh with your dog and they show you their goofiest grin? Well, while we like to think that our dogs have the best sense of humour and are laughing with us, not at us, science hasn’t always agreed! However, Nobel Prize winning ethologist Konrad Lorenz has discovered that dogs show a type of laughter during play which is sometimes misunderstood as panting. He says that laughter is also vocalised through body language, so next time you are having a play with your pup, look out for paws forwards, head down and rear end up along with a waggy tail to see if your dog is enjoying it as much as you are.
While we think of pampering as perfumes and paw massage, many pooches prefer more dog-related relaxation. At the top of the list is exercise. While donning our trainers and lycra may not be our idea of relaxation, it is the single most important thing that a dog needs to be healthy and happy. You don’t need to let them just run either; use exercise as bonding time where you have lots of fun – and if that means splashing about in the water with them or getting muddy, well that’s a dog’s life!
Know your poses
The downward dog pose is not only for humans, we have shamelessly stolen it from the natural stretching posture of our canine pals. The first thing a dog does in the morning is have a lovely stretch, so why not go a step further and join your pooch for some serious bonding time. Great for smaller dogs who can be lifted in poses such as the Warrior, larger dogs can join in with stretching and all of you can rest together while practicing quieter poses. It may be better to attend a professional Doga class as you may just end up rolling about on the floor laughing. Although what would be wrong with that?!
We hope we have given you and your best pal lots of ideas about how to de-stress! If you are looking for the perfect place to spend some quality time together, why not have a paw through our selection of dog-friendly holiday cottages across the UK?