Stress vs relaxation

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Shalista
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Joined: Tue Feb 17, 2015 10:04 pm

Stress vs relaxation

Post by Shalista » Tue Oct 17, 2017 5:52 pm

Hey so I’m trying to find ways to help Bax destress. Normally I’d take him on lots of walks but the area I live in is not really safe to be walking alone in. Theee is however a FANTASTIC hiking spot a mere fifteen minutes away from my house. We’re talking a big gorge with beautiful waterfalls and lots of stuff to splash and sniff in. My question is this.

There’s probably going to be people there and Bax is currently iffy with people. It might make him even more stressed being around them. Then the car tide is still MORE stress. Would it be counter productive for me to take him? I don’t want to stress him out in my attempt to destress him.
Baxter (AKA Bax, Chuckles, Chuckster) Rat Terrier, born 01/16/13

DianeLDL
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Location: Maine USA

Re: Stress vs relaxation

Post by DianeLDL » Tue Oct 17, 2017 10:27 pm

Shalista,

Since it sounds like Bax has similar social issues as Sandy, I would say to hold off on going to this fantastic park, at least with Bax. I believe it migh stress him out even more with the people, and possibly other dogs. After his last encounter, I don’t think it would help and may even add to his stress. Also, the sound of the waterfall being something different, may just add to it.

I think the best way to help him may be to spend as much time playing with him. Is he a lap dog? Sandy can lie on my lap for an hour. I wrap his favorite blankie around him, and it is comforting.

I would keep him in familiar territory for now. Our neighborhood in Albuquerque isn’t a good one for me to walk in either, so maybe shorter walks, just more often. Maybe start with 10 minutes in an area where you both feel safe. And, stick with that. Walking to the same place may be boring to you, but it may give Bax a sense of comfort returning to a place that he knows. It might help destress.

Also at home try the DAP diffuser that JudyN suggested. I don’t know if it did Sandy any good when I tried it in Maine, but it might help. Also, the white noise with you at home may help him relax as it’s familiar, too.

It’s going to take time, lots of cuddling, and patience to help him destress. I think being with you and you feeling confident will help Bax. I notice that Sandy tends to sense my fears or my confidence. And, I don’t know if it’s the same with you and Bax, but since I walk with a cane, and I’ve fallen a couple of times, Sandy seems to feel he needs to protect me. :x

I slipped at a rest stop when it was starting to rain. And, I started yelling for OH to help me up. It’s hard getting up with a dog on top of me. That’s what Sandy does. When I’m down, he gets on my back and barks. Two nice young men wanted to help me up, but we yelled at them to get away (probably could have been nicer tone) but we were afraid that Sandy would bite anyone who came near me. :roll:

The park with the waterfall sounds great, but maybe in the spring will be better. By then, Bax will be established in his new home and neighborhood, and he may be ready for an adventure. And, even then, I would introduce Bax to it slowly.

It’s going to take time, patience, lots of cuddling and love to help Bax distress. Maybe find a new toy you can play together at home. Or I think there’s a game with toilet paper rolls or something like that. Or, hide some treats and let him search for them.
JudyN is better at finding past suggestions for games to play at home which will keep Bax occupied and comfortable in his new home and surroundings. And, give him something positive and fun for him to do with you. :D

Diane
Sandy, Chihuahua mix b. 12/20/09

Shalista
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Joined: Tue Feb 17, 2015 10:04 pm

Re: Stress vs relaxation

Post by Shalista » Wed Oct 18, 2017 4:18 pm

Haha Bax is strictly no touchy. He wouldn’t cuddle if his life depended on it. As far as defusers I’ve tried a bunch. He did adaptil, has tried some natural remedies, and even got some pills from the vet and none of them earned as much as a yawn sadly. Wish I could just plug something in for him and walk away but I guess it’s not to be. :(
Baxter (AKA Bax, Chuckles, Chuckster) Rat Terrier, born 01/16/13

DianeLDL
Posts: 832
Joined: Sun May 19, 2013 4:16 pm
Location: Maine USA

Re: Stress vs relaxation

Post by DianeLDL » Thu Oct 19, 2017 12:25 am

Shalista,

Adaptive and the natural remedies didn’t work for Sandy, either. They said to put into his water, but he doesn’t drink that much. Today, he didn’t eat and vomited several times. Finally, at 4pm, he finally was able to eat some dry kibble and drink water and keep it down. I think our living in hotels, motels, and lodges for nearly 4 weeks where he was always in the same room with us, and now he is alone in the living room/kitchen that he isn’t adapting to bring back home as quickly as I had hoped.

So, I’m also dealing with tryin to help Sandy de-stress. And, he is due for his yearly vet check up with his rabies booster, and that always stresses him out. He freaks out so much. If I’m holding him, he tries climbing over my back. The last two visits, he nearly got away when OH was leashing him in the car. And, he is not streetwise. We always ask for first appointment in the morning and they have a room ready to take him straight in. As you know he doesn’t do well with other dogs, and since before the shelter, he had been in a home with a cat, and they kept the cat and let him go, he hates cats, and they always have a cat in a cage there for adoption. So, we are not looking forward to adding that stress.

As I mentioned, maybe just walk him in the sena area for a while for short periods to help him feel more comfortable. Also, try different times. I know you work, but maybe earlier in the morning or later in afternoon when there are fewer people and dogs around. OH takes Sandy onto the Air Force base near us. We discovered that around 9:30am (we are both retired) there usually is no one in the huge lawn in front of the officers club. Sometimes, people come and let their dogs off leash, but mostly it’s deserted. OH feels bad that he hasn’t been able to take Sandy there since our return.

I think also keeping to a routine might help Bax to keep his stress lower. Hopefully, someone else will have some ideas. Please let us know how things are progressing.

Diane
Sandy, Chihuahua mix b. 12/20/09

JudyN
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Re: Stress vs relaxation

Post by JudyN » Thu Oct 19, 2017 2:06 am

What exercise is he getting at the moment? You say it's not safe to walk in your area, but you must at least be taking him out for toileting.
Jasper, lurcher, born December 2009

Shalista
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Joined: Tue Feb 17, 2015 10:04 pm

Re: Stress vs relaxation

Post by Shalista » Thu Oct 19, 2017 6:14 am

Bax gets a toilet in the morning before work and then as soon as I get home I leash him up for maybe a mile or so walk around the neighborhood but there’s usually people about and other dogs. I wouldn’t feel safe walking there any later in the afternoon. Then he gets two or three more toilets outside the door and it’s bed.

When I get home he usually get a rolly ball of halved mil bones to play with and then we get in maybe half an hour play if he’s interested that night.

(On the fence about continuing the play sessions since he gets sooooooo excited but I figured it burned as much energy as it generated?)
Baxter (AKA Bax, Chuckles, Chuckster) Rat Terrier, born 01/16/13

Lotsaquestions
Posts: 646
Joined: Wed Aug 23, 2017 6:06 am

Re: Stress vs relaxation

Post by Lotsaquestions » Thu Oct 19, 2017 8:11 am

My IMDT trainer always told me that sniffing releases calming chemicals in the dogs brain, so if I ever needed to calm our dog down / relax him we should encourage him to use his nose. So if you're trying to de-stress Bax you could give one of these a try (if you can get them in the US?);

https://www.kruuse.com/en/PET/BUSTER%20ActivityMat.aspx

The mat is great because you can change it up each time, and each 'activity' has difficulty levels from 1-3 that you can pick and choose yourself. Or, just make up your own with various bits of each activity. The dog HAS to succeed though, so depending on how bright Bax is feeling you may or may not need to make it easier for him on the fly. I use it and its been great if loud noises are happening, or he's a bit too jazzed up from a stimulating walk.

If he does get worried on his walks you could also try scattering food in the grass so he can sniff it out, which diverts his attention away from scary thing and gets him sniffing. Our trainer told us to do this too, so the advice is coming from someone who knows their stuff (albeit second hand!).

There are also 'snuffle mats' that she recommended for us to get, but we never got round to it. I understand you can make a DIY snuffle mat quite easily whereas the bought ones can be a bit silly priced.

JudyN
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Re: Stress vs relaxation

Post by JudyN » Thu Oct 19, 2017 8:20 am

Snuffle mats are good too - they're easy to find online, either to make or buy.

Is your car parked close to your flat? To work on his fear of the car, you could spend some time each evening entertaining him in the car without going anywhere. Then, when he thinks of that as a fun time, give him something to entertain himself while you sit in the driver's seat. When that's all good & fun, start the engine & turn it off. Then drive a foot, and back again. And so on and so forth until you can drive him to safef places where he can have more exciting walks.

It wouldn't harm to keep an eye open for other flats in safer areas, next to more suitable dog-walking places, but still close to your work. But I'm guessing that if there are any, they'll be full of other dogs...
Jasper, lurcher, born December 2009

DianeLDL
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Re: Stress vs relaxation

Post by DianeLDL » Thu Oct 19, 2017 10:07 am

I just looked at both mats.

As to Sandy, he gets too frustrated if it’s not easy. I’ve tried putting treats in a regular box with flaps partly closed. He stands on top of the flaps, & can’t figure out how to get the treats so I have to open them & pratically hand him the treats. :roll:

I also had purchased that Tornado toy with 3 arms to move around to find the treats. I had to move the arms so he could access the treats. Otherwise, he looks at me as if where did all my treats go?

He just can’t seem to figure out that he has to move things including his own feet in order to get to the treats. :shock:

So, the Tornado has been on the shelf for 4 years now. I saw how they fold the envelope & the purse, & I know that Sandy would stand on them & get frustrated not being able to open them to get the treats. I would have to open them for him.

I don’t know about Bax since all dogs are different, but I could not see trying either mat for Sandy. I don’t know if Judy remembers, but when we adopted Sandy, he wouldn’t even eat out of his bowl, only out of my hand. And, he would throw the kibbles in the air & play pounce. I think he was influenced by the cat in his previous home. :lol:

Sandy enjoys more catching treats I throw on the floor for him & finding them wherever they roll. So, for Sandy, the treats have to be very, very easy to find. Otherwise, I’m the one playing with the toy & uncovering the treats.

Being a terrier, Bax might enjoy “digging” for his treats. :D

Diane
Sandy, Chihuahua mix b. 12/20/09

Lotsaquestions
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Re: Stress vs relaxation

Post by Lotsaquestions » Thu Oct 19, 2017 10:54 am

With the Buster activity mat you can do pretty much what you want with each activity, so although the instructions may be telling you to fold this and that, they also tell you to make sure your dog succeeds no matter what.

Merlin (my dog) is pretty savvy when it comes to things like that, so for him he went straight into level 2/3 and succeeded. But my parents have three dogs, one of which is, well, not a bright bulb :lol:. She is 17 years old, a Yorkie, and in her old age has grown quite spooked about things that are a little different. She was able to do the activity mat so long as we ignored the instructions, and just made it 'Tilly accessible', and in the end she understood it and was able to do better and really enjoyed it.

Another one of their dogs is a Chihuahua x rescue, who is terrified of everything. He can't be walked he's so scared. He's a smart dog, but also an overly cautious one. So for him we had to make it 'Felix accessible'. Silly things like have the treat poke out of the purse flap, so he didn't even have to nudge his nose in the first time. When he got into it his tail never stopped wagging!

Shalista
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Re: Stress vs relaxation

Post by Shalista » Thu Oct 19, 2017 11:31 am

I’ll have to check the link out and Bax has worked on his car anxiety since I g it him. He’s progressed from vomiting in the car to sitting very tensely and ffrozen in place and spazzing once he gets out. So progress? But not... anything changing any time soon
Baxter (AKA Bax, Chuckles, Chuckster) Rat Terrier, born 01/16/13

jacksdad
Posts: 4885
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Re: Stress vs relaxation

Post by jacksdad » Thu Oct 19, 2017 12:06 pm

Shalista wrote:
Tue Oct 17, 2017 5:52 pm
Hey so I’m trying to find ways to help Bax destress. Normally I’d take him on lots of walks but the area I live in is not really safe to be walking alone in. Theee is however a FANTASTIC hiking spot a mere fifteen minutes away from my house. We’re talking a big gorge with beautiful waterfalls and lots of stuff to splash and sniff in. My question is this.

There’s probably going to be people there and Bax is currently iffy with people. It might make him even more stressed being around them. Then the car tide is still MORE stress. Would it be counter productive for me to take him? I don’t want to stress him out in my attempt to destress him.
Imagine you have a water glass inside you. As stressful things happen (fun or scary as stress isn't always due to something bad) the glass fills us. the more intense the experience, the faster it fills. When the glass is full, water spills out, that is when you have reached your limit, that is where the regretful and unwanted reactions start/happen. yelling, hitting, slamming doors, etc. or in the case of dogs, barking, growling, biting, lunging etc.

If the car ride were to fill Bax's glass 3/4 full just getting to this place, and he hasn't reached a point where he can be near people, place people, have people talk to him, look at him, try to approach and be ok (note not even talking about actual touching yet) he only has 25% capacity to deal with other sources of stress and scary while on the walk so doing this at this time may not be advisable.

I would encourage working on Judy's suggestion of helping Bax being ok in the car and while the car moves as your first step.

JudyN
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Re: Stress vs relaxation

Post by JudyN » Thu Oct 19, 2017 1:06 pm

Shalista wrote:
Thu Oct 19, 2017 11:31 am
He’s progressed from vomiting in the car to sitting very tensely and ffrozen in place and spazzing once he gets out. So progress? But not... anything changing any time soon
Though you need to think of it from the other direction. He should be comfortable with whatever stage you're at, and you progress from sitting in the back seat, to sitting in the front seat, starting the engine.... It does mean that you can't drive him anywhere till you've progressed to that level. But if you're impatient and think, 'Surely he can manage to the end of the road,' and he starts rolling his eyes as you pull onto the road, you could undo all the previous work.
Jasper, lurcher, born December 2009

Shalista
Posts: 1363
Joined: Tue Feb 17, 2015 10:04 pm

Re: Stress vs relaxation

Post by Shalista » Thu Oct 19, 2017 5:05 pm

I’ll be perfectly honest. It’s unlikely Bax will ever be okay in the car. We’ve been working at it for four years and have made very little progress. During that time we only took the most necessary or car trips (just to the vet when needed) and as I’ve said we’ve made very little progress. I’ve followed all the advice on the forums haven’t been able to consistently do more than put his paws on the frame. That’s with the highest possible value treats both on a daily basis for several weeks and also with taking couple day/ week breaks in case he needed to de stress. For four years.
Baxter (AKA Bax, Chuckles, Chuckster) Rat Terrier, born 01/16/13

DianeLDL
Posts: 832
Joined: Sun May 19, 2013 4:16 pm
Location: Maine USA

Re: Stress vs relaxation

Post by DianeLDL » Thu Oct 19, 2017 10:58 pm

Shalista,

I know how discouraging things like that can be. But, still keep trying and use suggestions from JudyN & Jacksdad.

Since Bax is older now, it may be worth trying it out their suggestions. Go slowly.

We have been working with Sandy on not running and jumping at any animal on TV. And I mean any animal including not only dogs and cats, but horses, the AFLAC Duck commercial, even the Geico Gecko commercial. We have to quickly change the station. I tried keeping treats in my pocket, which when he discovered them, he nearly tore my pocket and had a field day with all the treats falling on the floor.

Lately, if we are watching a show On Demand, I’ll have him sit on my lap. As soon as I see an animal, I’m still holding him, and run to the refrigerator for his high value chicken. Once a show featured a dog, and he spent it in his travel crate facing me with blanket covering the back of the crate. Other times while still holding him, I’ll run out of the room, then to the refrigerator and praise him.

We have been doing this for over 6 YEARS. And, we are still working on it. :roll:

We have to keep Sandy in the crate in the car or he is at the windows tying to get at a dog or even once a dog painted on the side of a carpet cleaning truck. Going cross country, I put him on my lap, but once he saw the cows out in the field, back into the crate he went. And, this has been since the day we brought him home nearly 7 years ago. :lol:

The moral here is don’t give up with Bax and the car. It won’t hurt to try these ideas that JudyN and Jacksdad have suggested. Bax is older, he’s been in the car, and now make it fun for him. And, take it slow. It’s worth a try. Nothing to lose.
And, JudyN has had lots of problems with Jasper and the car so she knows what she is talking about. :D
Maybe Judy can give you some links to her discussions of Jasper and their car.

Diane
Sandy, Chihuahua mix b. 12/20/09

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