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Some puppies and even older dogs are hard to settle, and it can be frustrating especially when you are tired yourself! Here are some tips to help you settle your puppy or older dog.
The Importance of Sleep
Proper rest is very important for all dogs, but especially puppies. Young puppies should be getting 20 hours of rest per day, but they definitely need us to help them achieve this. Over tired puppies can often become overstimulated very easily, so having a short-term confinement area or quiet place where your puppy can rest is crucial.
Short Term Confinement Area
This can be a crate, a sectioned off area with an exercise or play pen, an area or room gated off with baby gates for example. Your dog or puppy should be taught to love this area by creating positive associations with it over time. This includes feeding them in there, playing with toys and giving food puzzles and other enrichment toys in there.
Older dogs may even find their own area such as a bedroom or crate that is always available to them.
It’s important to know how much exercise your dog or puppy needs, this can vary with age, size, breed, environment and many other factors.
A tired dog doesn’t necessarily mean a happy dog and many dogs need to be taught how to ‘switch off’. Running a dog for 5kms per day will only create a super athlete that takes longer to tire out. It is much better to vary their exercise with games and play.
Physical v Mental Stimulation
Your dog or puppy also needs a balance between mental and physical stimulation. Make sure they have 1-2 days per week where you don’t exercise them too much, and just focus on engaging their brain.
Licking and chewing are self-soothing behaviours which can help to release endorphins which in turn help dogs and puppies feel good. Make sure you provide enough appropriate chews and toys otherwise puppies especially will find other chew toys such as your furniture! Puppies especially like to chew on healthy chews such as dried tendons, ears or jerky. Licky mats are great for puppies but make sure you don’t leave them unsupervised as they can chew them up easily. Other food toys such as Kongs are great for all dogs and puppies.
Techniques such as TTouch and gentle massage can help some puppies to settle, but it will depend on the individual. If you are too fast or too rough, your puppy may get over stimulated or want to get away or start to mouth/bite you. Start with very short sessions and allow your puppy the choice to move away.
Music such as iCalm Pet or Pet Acoustics music boxes specially designed to help settle pets can be great additions to your puppy’s short-term confinement area. Classical radio can help to settle some dogs as well.
There are a few natural remedies and other products to help calm pets, but please consult with your veterinarian before using any of these as they may interfere with other drugs you dog may be on.
Some tried and tested products we like and have used on our own dogs are:
Bach Flowers - Rescue Remedy
Therabis - Calm and Quiet
Natural Animal Solutions – Calm
Adaptil – collars, spray and plug ins
Essential oils such as Lavender can be useful but only applied to the area around where your pet is. Never put essential oils directly on your pet unless they are for a specific purpose and you are directed by a qualified Naturopath.
As you can see it is very much a holistic approach when it comes to settling a dog or puppy. Make sure you consider the whole picture, and don’t forget to have enough rest yourself!
For more information about any of the above, please get in touch with us.