The Times They Are a-Changin' – Emotional Support For Our Animal Friends
As we plunge into the summer months and return to the hustle and bustle of our pre-pandemic way of life, it is important that we think of how these changes affect our animal friends. Many of us will take the opportunity to plan vacations and socialize more but a return to "normal life" and a change in routine can stress our pets. Here are a few ways to support your animal friend’s emotional well-being.
1) Spend lots of time with your animal friend when you are grounded, calm, and present in the here and now. Do things your pet enjoys doing—whether it’s snuggling on the couch, going for walks, romping at the beach, playing fetch with a favorite toy, or simply being together. Realize that a lot of pets have gotten used to lots of together time over the last year. Prioritizing extra together time and focusing on quality time now will help them with a smoother transition as you enter back into your previous routine.
2) Maintain a regular routine. Most animals find routine calming. Our bodies learn a natural rhythm of when we eat, sleep, exercise, etc and our organs start preparing for what is expected at that time of day. Keeping mealtimes, bedtime, and exercise times consistent will help your pet feel more grounded and relaxed. It also promotes better digestion, sleep, energy, and athletic ability.
3) Creating clear boundaries for your animal friend around what behaviors are acceptable or not also helps to alleviate the stress that living in a human world can cause for animals. Although we often envy our pets because they don’t have to work and can nap whenever they want, it’s important to realize that living in OUR human world is stressful for them. Just think of what life would be like if your dog, cat, rabbit or horse was in charge. (I’d hate bath time too if my dog got to choose the scent of my shampoo!) Being clear and consistent with your pet will help them learn how to best interact in the relationship with you and relieves the stress of not knowing what is expected of them.
4) Support your pet being able to express his or her own unique nature. Notice if your dog loves to socialize at the park or prefers time alone sniffing on a walk. Does your pet love challenges (like a puzzle, nosework or agility class), pets, snuggles, fetching balls (yes some cats love to fetch) or all of the above? We all have natural tendencies and also ways we have learned to cope with the outer world. I am naturally an extrovert, but my intellectual nerdiness, love of the truth, and aversion to superficial small talk can make social interactions awkward for me. So I learned to be more introverted to avoid those situations. Taking the time to notice and support the activities your pet clearly likes and starting to identify where they have learned behaviors that inhibit themselves opens the door to a wonderful new full-bodied relationship with your pet.
5) Give your pet supplements that help promote relaxation during stressful situations. Products such as Composure for cats, Composure for dogs (and small dogs,) or Stress Support Ashwagandha for dogs can be helpful at relieving the anxiety, and stress of modern living – especially for sensitive individuals.
For a custom protocol for helping your pet deal with day-to-day stress or specific triggers call our office for an appointment. We also offer bodywork and private classes that teach exercises you can do with your pet at home to help them feel more confident in their true nature.