Have you ever noticed how petting your dog lowers your stress levels? Quality time spent with your beloved pet is a great way to enjoy some self-care. It also does wonders for your furry friend, making her feel more confident and strengthening your bond. Why not go all out and explore ways to pamper your dog? Consider this a practical guide to self-care for dogs.
Benefits of Self Care for Dogs
Just as self-care benefits people, your dog’s wellness will be enhanced by these stress-busting self-care techniques. He’ll gain confidence and be better able to face new stresses calmly.
How to Get Your Dog to Love Being Brushed
Admit it. The moment you saw “self-care for dogs,” you thought about a long, luxurious brushing, possibly while using a sweet-smelling spray-on conditioner for a silky smooth coat. If your dog loves being brushed, definitely include this as part of your plan to treat your dog to some pampering. But what if she hates being brushed or even fears the brush? Let’s change that right now!
- Let your dog explore the brush, learning that it isn’t dangerous. Lay it on the floor, and add a couple of tasty, nutritious chews on the floor beside it. Let her nose the brush, lick it, pick it up, even play with it. Every time she shows positive interest in the brush, praise her and encourage her.
- Once your dog is over her fear of the brush, pick it up and gently touch her coat with it. This can be the same day you start with the treats or over a period of days as you get her comfortable with the brush. Move slowly, and praise her. Show her what a good girl she is with another treat.
- Once she is comfortable with step 2, move on to brushing her fur. Use gentle, rhythmic strokes. At first, alternative a stroke of the brush with a stroke of your hand. Continue to murmur praise, telling her how pretty she is and how much you love her. Offer another treat after just a few minutes, building up her confidence with being brushed. As she gains confidence, slowly work up to using more pressure with the brush. And always use extra care and time around her eyes, ears, legs, and tail.
Follow this routine, and soon, your dog will love including a session of long, loving brushing and a spray-on conditioner as part of her self-care for dogs.
Do-It-Yourself Dog Massage
Did you know that you can hire a professional dog massage therapist to give your best friend a relaxing massage? Roll your eyes if need be, but don’t discount the boost to your dog’s wellness massage can provide. While particularly effective for alleviating stress and anxiety as well as easing chronic pain or rehabbing an injury, massage provides many other health benefits, too. Just like for humans, massage can lower your dog’s blood pressure, improve the function of his lymphatic system, and help to regularize his digestive system. And you know what else? It feels great!
Do a Google search for a canine massage therapist near you. Some come out to your home, while others have a facility you go to visit. If your dog suffers from an injury or chronic pain, find a professional to work with him. But why not treat your dog to your own massage yourself?
- Before massaging your dog, take him for a long, brisk walk, allowing him to get some good exercise, warm up his muscles, and relieve himself.
- Be sure to give his massage in a space where you are both comfortable. Turn off the television and keep the space calm and quiet for the massage.
- Begin by petting your dog gently. Keep your voice low and calming. Be watchful of signs he enjoys the massage or is uncomfortable. If he’s uncomfortable, stop the massage, pet him, then do something else.
- Move to the back of his neck, at the base of his skull. Using the pads of your thumbs and gentle but firm pressure, rub in small circles to either side of his spine. Slowly work down his neck, making slow circles.
- Continue moving down his neck to his shoulders. Work across and between his shoulder blades, while being sensitive to indications of what he enjoys.
The best spots to begin doing dog massage are starting in the neck and shoulders, then the base of the tail, and over his hips. Don’t try to do too much at one time until the two of you get the hang of it.
Bake Your Own Dog Treats
If you enjoy baking, treat your dog to home-baked dog treats. It’s a great way to be certain you’re providing treats with great nutrition. Google “simple dog treat recipes” for many options. You’ll find that peanut butter and chicken are popular flavors that provide essential nutrition with flavor dogs love.
Go to the Dog Park
A visit to the dog park gives your dog wonderful opportunities to socialize with other dogs and people. This is an important part of providing self-care for dogs. Well-socialized dogs are happier, healthier, with less stress, which is its own bone to your dog’s wellness. When your dog is fearful or aggressive, her system is flooded with hormones that raise her blood pressure and put pressure on her heart. Time meeting with friends at the park help to ensure she remains confident and better able to roll with changes in her environment.
Quality Time with You
Never underestimate the value of quality time with you to your dog’s wellness. Whether you’re walking, running, hiking, basking in the sun, playing, reading — doing it together, with your undivided attention, is the best way to treat your dog. In multi-dog families, be sure each member of your pack gets some one-on-one time with you.