Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Party Protocols for Challenging Dogs

By:  Drayton Michaels, Urban Dawgs

With graduations and wedding season approaching no matter if it is family, friends or perhaps new folks coming in for a visit from out of town; when you have a party or a holiday event and a big dog that may be challenging you need a plan to reduce stress! Even friendly dogs can cause stress by jumping, or reacting at party sounds or perhaps simply just being in the way while you are attempting to entertain and feed your guests.

These protocols can help not only to reduce your stress but also recue the stress for your dog. By challenging I am referring to a dog that may have some stress about visitors, get very excited, may have mild apprehensions, or perhaps is just a strong dog that needs some guidance with meeting many people coming into the home. I consider a “big challenging dog ” to be 50lbs and up and then it also depends on who is handling the dog as far as how challenging. This will also work for any sized dog that may be “challenging” as it is defined here.

The plan was originally designed for a family that has sons, young men in their early 20’s living in the home. Their dog is roughly 70 pounds and well trained yet has some stresses with new people and or people coming into the home. The after the event they emailed me a one sentence reply, “thank you it all went very well”.

Obviously a one or two person house hold or with young kids under 16 most likely could not attempt this. In that case just get the dog tired and manage and do your best to adapt the counter conditioning part with a gate system or avoid the commotions of incoming guests and manage the dog in another part of the home in addition utilize the strategic feeding protocols and the herbal calming support listed below if you cannot do the meet n greet aspect.

Tranquility Blend by Animal Essentials

This is an herbal calming agent that has worked wonders for my own dogs as well as multiple clients’ dogs of all sizes, breeds, mixes and behavioral pathologies. This is an essential part of all my protocols where dogs need to have stress reduced. Humans get to have a drink or two or what have you to feel less stress, so why not help dogs out with something safe and non-toxic?
Most times when you combine exercise, strategic feeding, some herbal assistance by way of calming agents, and allowing the dog to greet people at least a little bit with some counter conditioning things go much smoother. Work as a team and have fun!

The day before

The day before the party event make sure you have a very active day with your dog.

• Lots of playing with training mixed in. Sits and waits and looks and touches all make play time more mentally stimulating so the dog is more tired by the end of it.

• Lots of training as you go…meaning issues cues and waits all day as you work with your dog Again this makes him more tired as he is “thinking” and “working” all day long.

• Walks and outing in new places will also really tire out dogs. Make sure at least one of his walks the day before is a considerable walk 20 – 30 minutes or more - in a new area where he smells to his hearts content. Do lots of training and prompt charging on this outing as well. All this will translate into a tired dog.

• Meals are to be eaten the day before out of well-stuffed Kong’s. These should take the dog 15 – 20 minutes to unpack also “busy work” by dissecting the Planet Dog Orbee or other types of food puzzle toys will also be a good idea throughout the day. 3 – 5 “puzzles” that are 10 – 15 minutes each add up to over 30 minutes of “work”. ☺

• No Tranquility Blend the day before! Try it 3 – 4 days prior to the party event if you’d like to see how it works. You’ll need him wide-awake and ready for his day of events the day before.

Day of holiday event

Start out his breakfast meal with a medium dose of Tranquility Blend. Half of what they recommend for his weight. Don’t feed him his entire breakfast; give him half you want him hungry for later.
Depending on when the guests are arriving and assuming they are all arriving relatively around the same time the dog needs a decent 20 – 30 minute walk or two – at least two 20 minute sessions of play – be mindful of treats for training – food scraps etc…We want the dog hungry and tired when guests arrive.

The dog should be getting food rewards for Recalls – counter conditioning i.e. seeing or hearing something that startles - mark YES & reward - or dog is eating out of a work to eat toy. No Free Food!

You want the dog pretty darn hungry when the guests arrive and when you are all planning to eat. So keep an eye on food intake day of party.

• About 30 – 45 minutes prior to arrival of guests give the dog a small snack in a bowl with half the dose of Tranquility Blend mixed in.

• If you can get in a 20 minute game of fetch, tug or a play session where the dog get’s their heart rate up for 20 – 30 minutes this to helps quite a bit.  Read the entire article

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