It’s All Very Stimulating
It’s All Very Stimulating
Let’s face it, we as humans are pretty switched off at times. We’ve created a whole heap of noise, smells, big, small and fast moving things in this world – Something which many of us have become completely desensitized to over our many years on this planet. Furthermore, we get a full explanation and understanding of why things are so smelly, fast or noisy meaning we often find it easier to cope, tolerate and accept life the way it is.
- We can walk down a busy road and be blissfully unaware of numerous cars zipping past, including huge buses and lorries chucking out fumes we barely smell and all we think about is the inconvenience of crossing the road.
- Enter a busy park with lots of other excitable dogs, crazy-nutter children, speeding bikes and stinky picnics and all we think to ourselves is “Blimey, I hope we can find a space to set up our own Picnic blanket!”
- Embark on a walk with high winds, heavy rainfall or even just at night and our biggest worry is keeping our glasses dry so we don’t walk face first into a lamp-post (it only happened once!)
The point being, there’s a lot in this world that we’re completely switched off from. Now…
Take a young animal that hasn’t been in this world for a very long time, some of them might have fantastic hearing due to their fantastically fantastic ears. Or maybe a super sniffy nose which has been bred for hundreds of years to be able to find the faintest of smells. Better yet, incredibly keen eyesight that picks up every movement, capable of catching little rodents or anticipating the movement of livestock.
These little individuals are your dog!
The poor blighters have been thrust into a human world with zero explanation for any of it and many of whom have heightened senses beyond our imagine. Enter a state of overstimulation…
If you’ve ever been on a walk with your pup and been at the mercy and frustration of them
– Barking at you
– Barking at others
– Zooming in circles whilst you hold on for dear life
– Excessive jumping up/Pulling
– Lead/ Ankle/Sleeve biting
– Erratic and completely unfocused
– Sitting/lying and refusing to move
– Suddenly refusing food
– Crunching, chewing sticks or anything they can get their teeth on
The list goes on…
Our pups are looking to cope, and often behaviours that are described as bad behaviour can easily be signs that our pups are struggling in a situation. I LOVE teaching my clients about constructing their walks to reduce overstimulation and to keep pups at a point where they can learn and process the world at their own pace.
Many of our working breeds can find this particularly difficult but it’s our job to steer them through this world so they make it to adulthood as happily as possible. Happy Dog = Happy Owner.
Stopping overstimulation entirely is an unreasonable expectation to make of yourselves, but helping Pups to cope, picking up on early signs are an absolute game changer. When walking try these handy tips to avoid overstimulation.
- Cling to the edges of an environment where bushes, long grass and trees can help to get your dog sniffing and not watching outwards too much.
- Use a longer lead or longline to allow your dog to move and sniff in a more relaxed way.
- If approaching busy areas try to provide yourself with space so as not to over-expose
- If you see your dog starting to struggle and you can’t remove them from the situation take a handful of tasty treats and scatter them around your dog to search for. (It’s a good idea to practice this outside of these situations so it works when you need it. “Find it!”)
- Mix up your walk and take note of your dogs behaviour in different environments/surfaces etc. (Not all pups are the same!)
- Practise settling and sitting down in areas so you and your dog can take stock of surroundings and take a little time out. You might even want to take a tasty chew with you for this time.
- Take a break for a while from areas you may have stress in at the moment and just focus on enjoying your walks. There’s no rush!
Puppies and adolescent dogs (Bloody Teenagers!) often suffer the most at the hands of Overstimulation – simply because they’ve yet to mature and have little experience. Guide them through life and you’ll have a dog who in adulthood can cope with the life we humans have created. It’s important that we keep our own stress and frustration levels down so we can help our dogs out instead of lose patience and temper with them. Remember, your dog is a product of his/her environment and that includes you too!
If this feels like your pup and you’d like help achieving calmer walks, don’t be afraid to get in touch!