Calming aids

Share your favorite training tips, ideas and methods with other Positively members!

Moderators:emmabeth, BoardHost

Post Reply
runlip
Posts:24
Joined:Wed Dec 22, 2010 7:48 pm
Calming aids

Post by runlip » Sun Jan 09, 2011 2:59 pm

My question is if there has been any luck with calming aids like DAP, rescue remedy and ultra calm tablets. I got a Drs. Foster and Smith catalog and thought it might help me with my dog. I have posted before.

Our dog duke a 2 yr old male rescue terrier mix about 22 lbs. He is not very good with unfamilar people in the house.It has been a problem that has plagued us from the start. We got him at 4 months old and growled at some people from day 1. I had one trainer that I thought was good but he was using negitive training. I switched to another trainer who helped a great deal with basic commands but never really addressed his ( and mine at this point) fears. She used +R. I tried to gate him in a room off the foyer he just barks his head off. I tried to let people come in and manage him on the leash. It is hard to carry on a conversation with a human when you are constantly watching your dog. He will jump on people and the people think he wants to be pet when they stop petting and move he'll growl or snap. he has never bitten or broken skin. He is as sweet as anything with people he knows.
I walk him for an hour the morn and short walk in the afternoon and a session of ball play outside. In the winter I have to be honest and say he gets more like 20mins in the morn if it is freezing out along with ball play outside and in the house.

MPbandmom
Posts:1637
Joined:Sun Jan 03, 2010 7:18 pm

Re: Calming aids

Post by MPbandmom » Sun Jan 09, 2011 7:58 pm

We have tried a variety of calming aids with our dogs. Intitally we tried the "stress tabs" when traveling or for fireworks. They seemed to work short term but would seem to "wear off" before we thought they should. We didn't ever give them to them on a daily basis, so the result might have been different if we had, but we were trying to deal with situational stress and those particular situations didn't occur daily.

We now have thunder shirts for the dogs. This seems to help the noise sensative dog for thunder storms and fireworks. the dogs aren't really keen on having them put on though and tend to shake (like when wet) a bit more than normal once they are on.

I have used the Rescue remedy. This seems very good for situational stress and I plan on keeping a supply of this in the future. I put it in their water for a few weeks, but couldn't make a clear determination as to whether it was helping any, so stopped the daily dosing.

I have also used Lavender aroma therapy, in the form of oil and warming pots, which seems to be very calming for them. (Although it has the opposite effect on my husband who is very sensative to fragrances, so I can only use that when he is not home. :? )

There are other sites with lower prices on the Rescue Remedy. Noobs has a link on here somewhere.
Grammy to Sky and Sirius, who came to live with me, stole my heart, and changed my life forever as I took over their care and learned how to be a dog owner.

User avatar
Nettle
Posts:10753
Joined:Sun Apr 13, 2008 1:40 pm

Re: Calming aids

Post by Nettle » Mon Jan 10, 2011 4:23 am

As I said in your original post - they work very well but MUST be teamed with a training schedule if they are to change a particular behaviour.
A dog is never bad or naughty - it is simply being a dog

SET YOURSELF UP FOR SUCCESS

runlip
Posts:24
Joined:Wed Dec 22, 2010 7:48 pm

Re: Calming aids

Post by runlip » Mon Jan 10, 2011 8:31 am

I am starting to use clicker training. Just got the book click to calm. I think I would like to see a video about it as well because I want to make sure I am doing it at the right time. I am determined to get this problem more managable. I would like to have our social life back! Thank you for your responses

ladybug1802
Posts:1991
Joined:Mon Sep 06, 2010 3:39 am
Location:Surrey

Re: Calming aids

Post by ladybug1802 » Mon Jan 10, 2011 8:58 am

Runlip....my dog is exactly the same! I also tried having him behiond a baby gate at the end of the hall where he saw people come in - that made him more stressed and he would bark manicly even when it was someone like my parents who he adores and sees very regularly. I tried him on leash...this was the worst thing for him, as he was SO stressed that he was barking, lunging etc. I too had 'trainers' in and i wish to high heaven I hadnt. I now have found the one thing that works with Dylan.....on recommendation from people on here I kept him away from people coming into the house for a while to let his stress levels go down (I dont have that many people come round anyway). I then got a large crate, which I have made all cosy for him and he sees as his safe place now, and he goes in his crate when people come. He stays in there until the people are in and settled, and until he has stopped barking and has calmed. Then he comes out and people MUSt ignore him....no talking to him, no touching and definitely no eye contact. He will go sniff them, but they must must must ignore him. They can touch him on his chest or under his chin later on when he realises they are OK and when he comes and asks for attention....but NO touching on head and avoiding eye contact as that is what freaks him out most.

I think in your case your dog is so stressed that you need to take a step back and keep him away from guests for alittle while for his stress levels to go down. I think you should put him in a separate room when guests come over for the time being. If the guests will do as you say and ignore the dog, then by all means let him out when the guests are settled and the dog is calm....then let him mill around and make sure the guests dont stare at him or try to stroke him. This might be enough for a while to take away his stress of when people come in......it may be making him more stressed at the moment when he can see people come in....so take this away and see how he does initially? Ignoring him is very important.....as you say, people ofgten think that when the dog comes up to them initially, it wants to be stroked. But Dylan, for example, will want to go and sniff the person intitally, to makesure they are OK, and as long as they dont reach down and touch him at that stage he is fine....bu if they do he will growl and/or snap.

If your dog is like mine, calming aids will not work. And like Nettle said, they cant be used on their own and expected to work miracles. They are only meant to HELP take the edge of and calm nervous dogs, but not stop them being afraid of things they are afraid of. Your dog, like mine, is genuinely afraid of strange people coming into the house, so this is what needs to be worked with. Is your dog also nervous of people outside the home?

I know you say you would like your life back, and i too went through a phase of being really upset about the fact that Dylan was no bad with people coming over, but now I know how to manage it I can honestly say it is no big deal now. I mean sure, it would be nice if our dogs could come to the door with us and let people in, but hey, we both have rescue dogs so we have to expect some issues....and really, if they need to be in separate room when people come over, is that a big problem?

It may seem like avoiding the problem, but its just to give him some distance to let his stress levels go down. Honestly, it does work......this forum was where I got that advice and it was a saving grace for us!

Jack Monzon
Posts:69
Joined:Thu Jun 03, 2010 10:37 am

Re: Calming aids

Post by Jack Monzon » Mon Jan 10, 2011 11:14 am

I didn't notice a difference when using the DAP. I had a behaviorist come examine my dog early on, and he said the DAP was bogus, made by some French perfume maker. If you read reviews on Amazon though, some people think it works, so who knows. I for sure noticed no difference and have stopped buying refills.

I also used Rescue Remedy daily for a while and noticed no difference.

I have heard about lavender but have never used it -- how is it used? Do you buy the actual oil and burn it? Seems like you could put some on a bandanna and put the bandanna around your dog's neck, if it worked.

runlip
Posts:24
Joined:Wed Dec 22, 2010 7:48 pm

Re: Calming aids

Post by runlip » Mon Jan 10, 2011 12:31 pm

ladybug,
Thank you for your advice. I have been a little confused with whether I should keep him away from people when they come or keep him in crate nearby so he can see. Even when he is in a room where he can't see he will bark like crazy. Do you think he will settle down. I have hooked him outside till guest come in and are sitting (again barking like crazy) then let him in. He will still jump on people but I have them throw him a treat or tell him to sit. He then becomes a pest for treats. If the person gets up he will jump and nip their clothes or something. I think I have to get him more comfortable in a crate when we are around with no other people. He really just likes to be near us. I read your post about your dog associating the doorbell with going to the crate. If I could do that It would help a great deal. I really want this to work out.

ladybug1802
Posts:1991
Joined:Mon Sep 06, 2010 3:39 am
Location:Surrey

Re: Calming aids

Post by ladybug1802 » Mon Jan 10, 2011 1:00 pm

I think maybe you need to leave him to calm down more until you let him in with people. If you put him in a separate room, which may be a good idea for the time being, wait until the guests have been in a while, and he can hear them and has calmed down totally. You could then let him in the room. He may be better when he is calm, and has heard the people and the stress of them coming in has passed. I think you need to wait until he has stopped barking until you let him in, because if he is barking, he is still stressed and will be a bit manic.

Alternatively the crate is a good idea....but yes you are right, he needs to love his crate and see it as his safe happy place before you start using it for this purpose! Otherwise it may become a 'punishment place'. It works well for Dylan because he does love his crate....it is half covered on the top and sides by a throw so he has a 'den' area to hide and be cosy if he wants to....but he can also sit at the front and look out. For him it seems to work well.....its strange but whereas having him behind a baby gate sent him manic, having him in his crate makes him calm down quicker.

As for whether your dog will settle down......much the same as my boy, I dont think either of them will ever be the dogs who will love having strange guests over. But if you find a way of working with his insecurities, and exposing him to as little stress as possible, things will gradually improve. Its sort of all about finding his comfort zone and not pushing him past that. Dylan still barks like mad when people come in the house (he can obviously hear me opening the front door and talking to them even when he is in his crate) and will bark as they come in the room, but once they sit down and I sit down he starts to calm down. I put a kong with frozen peanut butter in a lot of the time which gives him something to occupy him and I think might make him associate guests with something good.

Ah and the doorbell thing has been GREAT! I havent het set up the doorbell outside, but now when I ring the wireless doorbell from in the house, he jumps up, doesnt bark, and runs into his crate! Once this is set up outside and people come in, he will of course bark, but to be honest I dont mind him barking when people come in.....but he definitely calms faster when he is in his crate.

I did also have him in the kitchen before I got my crate when some friends came for dinner....I had shut him in the kitchen, and left him in there while we chatted and had a drink. Then I opened one of the kitchen doors that leads into the living room/dining room but put one of my baby gates across so he could see us AND hear us (all the time he had a kong). Then when we sat down at the table for dinner I let him in. They ignored him, he went and sniffed them then took his kong onto his bed for a while. Then a little later he came over to my friends hubby and sat next to him, and he slowly stroked him on his chsest, and Dylan was in bliss having chest scratches. I have worked out that with Dylan, and probably your pooch too, he just needs time to work out people are OK. So by keeping him away from people when they come in, it allows him this time and space.

Hope I have made some sense! But please dont get disheartened about it. I did for a period of time, and now I dont know why I did! I adore my dog, he has taught me SO much and he gives me so much pleasure. He had a rough start in life, and all things considered he is amazing! I wouldnt change the past year for the world.....when you have a rescue dog, or a dog with issues, you learn so much, and I am so grateful to my dog for that!

User avatar
Nettle
Posts:10753
Joined:Sun Apr 13, 2008 1:40 pm

Re: Calming aids

Post by Nettle » Mon Jan 10, 2011 2:09 pm

DAP works for some but not all.

Lavender is much too strong to have directly on a dog. Best use is to have a few drops in a container (not plastic) of water in the room, but where the dog can get away from it. Essential oils are not the best with dogs, and I am a well-qualified Aromatherapist who has studied its specific application to animals (please note I am no longer in practice so cannot discuss individual cases).

Bach Remedies are excellent.

Retraining is the important thing to do.
A dog is never bad or naughty - it is simply being a dog

SET YOURSELF UP FOR SUCCESS

runlip
Posts:24
Joined:Wed Dec 22, 2010 7:48 pm

Re: Calming aids

Post by runlip » Mon Jan 10, 2011 5:36 pm

I wondering if leaving a dog barking in a room or his crate is just as stressful as if he was with the people in the house.He certainly sounds stressed!

MPbandmom
Posts:1637
Joined:Sun Jan 03, 2010 7:18 pm

Re: Calming aids

Post by MPbandmom » Mon Jan 10, 2011 9:49 pm

Thanks for the tips on the Lavender Nettle. I'm glad I only purchased a small bottle to try it out and only used in a couple of times.

I guess what I really need to do is get better at reading body language and learning how to tell what is stressed/shut down, depressed, or just relaxed. Except for thunderstorms/fireworks (trembling, panting, and pacing) and strangers (barking and lunging), I have never really thought that the dogs were necessairly stressed.

Sky can seem anxious and whiney when not engaged in some stimulating activity, and they both get very excited at times (prancey, panting, woodling, barking "yippee! let's go outside and play/take a walk!"), but then my husband will look at them sometimes when they are lying in their beds and say they are depressed or sad. (Which if I had more time and energy to do more with the dogs, these kind of issues would probably resolve themselves.)

On top of that I read on here about how stress builds up and how important it is to lower stress levels, so I figure they must be stressed, bacause of the examples above, whether I can tell or not, since I don't really know enough about dogs to tell unless something is really obvious (again like the examples above.)

So maybe I'm trying too hard to make sure they aren't stressed and just stressing myself out in the process? Maybe the reason only the thundershirt and Rescue Remedy seem to have made any noticable difference is that I use those situationally (Thunderstorms/fireworks/vet visits)and maybe that is all I need to do? (Along with the avoidance training I have been doing of course.)

Sorry if this is a little off topic, but hopefully my experience (or lack therof) will help others who are getting confused trying to help a dog calm down.
Grammy to Sky and Sirius, who came to live with me, stole my heart, and changed my life forever as I took over their care and learned how to be a dog owner.

User avatar
Nettle
Posts:10753
Joined:Sun Apr 13, 2008 1:40 pm

Re: Calming aids

Post by Nettle » Tue Jan 11, 2011 5:10 am

Stress is not bad per se. We/they are equipped to deal with it. There is tentative thinking in the medical world that a life without stress means development is affected.

When stress or a particular stressor affects quality of life - then there is something that needs addressing, as you do for thunderstorms and fireworks.

RE: the lavender - keep it - it is a wonderful Remedy. Keep it in the kitchen - applied neat it is the best treatment for trivial but painful burns. Put a couple of drops on your pillow for a peaceful sleep, or a couple of drops in the bath for relaxation.

I use it a lot - just not on my dogs.
A dog is never bad or naughty - it is simply being a dog

SET YOURSELF UP FOR SUCCESS

MPbandmom
Posts:1637
Joined:Sun Jan 03, 2010 7:18 pm

Re: Calming aids

Post by MPbandmom » Tue Jan 11, 2011 8:27 pm

Thanks again Nettle!

Maybe I'll put a little lavender oil on my pillow tonight. :D
Grammy to Sky and Sirius, who came to live with me, stole my heart, and changed my life forever as I took over their care and learned how to be a dog owner.

Post Reply