Posted 26th Aug 2016
Britain is often viewed as a nation of dog-lovers, with many showering their pets with affection. A growing body of research has revealed that owning or spending time with a dog can have a positive impact on both your physical and mental well-being. However, it can be hard for dog owners to read their dog's body language in the right way, and attempts to relax them can inadvertently have the opposite effect.
Today (August 26) marks National Dog Day, and to celebrate it Forest Holidays has spoken to the author of The Real Dog Yoga and dog behaviourist in Channel 4 documentary 'Rescue Dog to Super Dog, Jo-Rosie Haffenden, to help you understand your dog
The main causes of stress
One of a dog's main causes of stress will be time - we're always rushing them. For instance, in the wild, dogs will take at least eight minutes to properly meet, yet we will normally force instant introductions on them when we pass other dog owners on the pavement. We are often quite time-poor ourselves, getting home from work and only giving them a cursory walk before collapsing on the sofa for the evening.
How to read your dog's body language
As you get to know your dog, you will begin to notice the different signs that can indicate whether or not they are stressed or relaxed. Common signs of an unhappy dog can include tension around the eyes, jaw and mouth, accompanied by panting. If they are happy they will normally be loose limbed, with muscles free of tension.
What makes the perfect family dog?
Dogs have highly individual personalities, meaning their temperament is half nature and half nurture - as such the puppy you take home will be the result of genetics, breeding and early experiences. Problems can occur when people get the wrong type of dog for their lifestyle, as this can prevent them from doing what they are bred to do. For instance, a collie is bred for working and herding sheep, so will need sufficient exercise and mental stimulation to prevent boredom. Jo-Rosie recommends mixed breeds as the best family dogs. With an especially good temperament, they don't have the specific drives that are associated with key breeds - their breed-specific traits will be watered down and they should be calmer.
Introducing The Real Dog Yoga
Jo-Rosie has spoken about the recent trend Doga, saying: "Lifting your dog as a weight and using it as a bolster during yoga practice is not relaxing at all and isn’t good for their joints. The poor dogs have no choice in what they’re doing". Instead she encourages a programme of permission-based training, teaching dogs how to express and hold specific self-soothing body postures on their own terms.
Why taking your dog on a weekend break benefits you both
Going on holiday with your dog can give you a brilliant opportunity to spend some quality time together. Instead of forking out on kennels and flights, you can easily opt fora UK break. With so many varied landscapes to choose from, your dog can be greeted by new smells, new activities and great opportunities for training and learning good behaviours.
How to massage your dog safely
Dogs love a massage. As Jo-Rosie points out, there is no one-size-fits all best massage for dogs - instead tailor is to ensure that your dog is comfortable. She said: "Start at the head and stroke down the body with light pressure, massaging around the neck and shoulders. They’ll turn and look at you if you reach an area they’re not happy with to tell you that’s enough.” Tune into their body language - for instance if they move their head, you may have reached an area of low level muscle tension. In this instance it's best to play it safe and move to a different area, and they will know that you're responding to them and will relax.
To find out about a dog friendly holiday visit Forest Holidays