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Reducing Stress for Dogs

Ways to reduce stress

Works of Turid Rugaas in English

[c30253-turidbooks.jpg] Works of Turid Rugaas in English

Turid Rugaas releases new DVD

Saturday, 19 July 2008; 19:22

Turid Rugaas has recently released a DVD that took two years to put together. This was filmed at her seminars, camps and workshops, around the world. The DVD is called, "What do I do... When my dog pulls?"

Currently it is available from Turid's own publishing company, at Haqihana, or also, from Sheila Harper's Online Shop.. I'm sorry to say, I cannot find it yet available for sale in North America anywhere. If I could, I personally would order a copy now, as watching Turid and her students with dogs is a permanently valuable lesson for me. I certainly recommend this DVD, sight unseen, to anybody interested in learning to watch dogs, and to work easily with them.

I should add that a browse around Sheila Harper's site is both engrossing and instructive, with many lessons for lowering stress in dogs

Learning to lower stress in dogs

The works of Turid Rugaas in English start with her teaching us about canine calming signals. Dogs use these to calm themselves, to calm others, and even preventively, as social lubrication. The signals work like a conversation conducted in body language.

All canids on Earth know these, innately; they are born to it. Some who suffer bad shocks too early in their lives have the signals driven out of them; they cannot use them, but it takes really severe damage to ruin a dog so much as to have this effect.

Puppies in a litter become quite expert at using the signals by the time they are six or seven weeks old. They learn from their dams, and they learn from each other, too.

Here is a primer on the Calming Signals. (If you go there, you can then use your browser's Back button to return here.)

List of Turid's works in English

  1. On Talking Terms with Dogs: Calming Signals. Second edition, published by Dogwise, 2006. This second edition is greatly expanded from the first, with lots of photographs and considerable added text.
  2. Calming Signals: What Your Dog Tells You. Published as a videotape, 2000; as a DVD, in 2006 I believe, along with the second edition of the book on calming signals. The video (or DVD, which has the same content as the video) shows many of the signals in action, and I certainly found it particularly salient to help track the signals, and to help me use them myself. Both dogs and humans are shown using the signals, and Turid comments throughout.
  3. My Dog Pulls. What Do I Do? Dogwise, 2005; UK editor is Sheila Harper. Detailed suggestions for helping a dog -and a human - learn not to pull on-leash. Includes tips for teaching a dog to follow the human as the human changes direction. Indicates the importance of timing and cues.
  4. What do I do ... When my dog pulls. DVD to accompany the book on pulling. Publisher is Haqihana (Italy) Turid's colleague Sheila Harper, who also sells this DVD, from her online store, describes it thus: "Turid Rugaas describes her kind and effective method for encouraging dogs to walk without pulling. All the footage has been filmed live during her seminars and camps all over the world." Aa I (Carol) write this (6 Sept. 2008), I can't find the DVD for sale on the North American continent, so I suggest contacting Haqihana or Sheila Harper if you wish to buy a copy. I personally would buy it sight unseen, if I had the funds to do that. (Kumbi's diabetes gets my funds.)
  5. Barking: The Sound of a Language Dogwise, 2008. The first printing has errors, and Turid has provided a list of errors

How to use Turid's works to best advantage

Turid's writing is what I call deceptively simple. She makes things sound so obvious. She does the same when presenting seminars. There is a reason for that. That is, Turid is stating the obvious! Yet in the world of dog-training, the obvious has often been bypassed, and even long forgotten, which is quite too bad.

Watching dogs

Yet also, Turid's works contain quite a lot that turns out not to be so obvious, particularly for humans who are not in the habit of asking their dogs what is going on BEFORE they make up their own stories about what is going on!

And in the long tradition of dog-training, certain so-called "observations" have been made by humans who believe that in describing human - perhaps their own - behaviors or impressions, they are also describing those of dogs. While it is true that dogs and humans share many emotional qualities, we humans cannot presume to detect, by examining our own thinking, just what it is that dogs are thinking. Dogs give us ample evidence that some of their thoughts do not match our human ones.

It is in determining something of how dogs think that Turid attains an accuracy I don't often find elsewhere. We humans must learn much by hindsight; we cannot necessarily predict what a dog will do in certain conditions. But if we watch, if we take notes, if we look to see what, in the current environment, dogs are responding to; if we pay close attention, without making up stories about what we are seeing, then we have a chance to observe and learn with something like the meticulousness that Turid does.

Duration of stress

Once stress hormones are released in the body by events, initially, they climb; then the first jolt of adrenaline begins to subside, within fifteen minutes or so. However, the stress hormones that follow that initial jolt, the cortisols, or, glucocorticoids, continue for some time longer. If the creature encounters no additional stresses (remember, that's good-stress and bad-stress alike), then those secondary stress hormones can begin to subside, especially if the creature gets some rest. But each additional event that triggers a stress-response increases the load of stress hormones once again. So, unless the creature experiencing the stresses gets to rest, the physiological effects continue to build up in the body, keeping the levels higher than "base level."

I remember my surprise when Turid said that it takes from two to six DAYS for the hormonal effects of stress to subside to base level.

At that time, I learned that if my dogs are experiencing stress, I need to pay attention, and allow them enough rest-time to return to normal levels.

Where do I start?

What I suggest doing is, if you cannot afford to get all Turid's works at once, start with the book on calming signals, then the video or DVD on the signals. After that, read the book on pulling, and after that, the one on barking.

You can, of course, read or watch them in any order.

You can also teach yourself

Practice observing - without telling stories about what you're seeing. Just record what you see. What is the dog doing? How is what the dog is doing related to the environment the dog is in?

That sort of observation - as unbiased as you can make it - will aid you greatly.

Teach the dog what will happen next

A wonderful stress-reducer is when a dog knows what to expect next. If you keep the major needs-meetings of a dog's day quite routine, and you mark those routines using ritual cues, such as singing, chanting, in one-or-two or a few-words phrases, your dog will really enjoy the marking of the routine, the ritual of it, as well as the routine itself.

Dogs' emotions and ours are very similar, in many ways, though dogs do not tend to take on some of the uglier of human emotions, such as vindictiveness or spite. They will not bite their noses off to spite their faces. They don't indulge themselves by looking for someThing or someBody to blame.

But when we watch dogs, it's easy to see that they feel joy, pleasure, contentment, happiness, grief, pain and sadness, just as we humans do.

If a dog is so badly off that it is hiding its emotions, that dog could use a very undemanding and basic routine of care, and be allowed to find his way, with some simple human assistance, and while having his needs met.

Avoid demanding your dog do something

Dogs pick up so intelligently and easily on cues they read from us that we need not demand they do this or that - such as sitting on command. It can be useful to have a dog sit, but we don't have to require it. We can place our bodies between the dog and an open doorway, if the dog tends to rush the door, possibly endangering other passing animals, or even itself. We can give the dog a simple hand-signal the dog understands, to help the dog stop and wait for a cue to go through a door.

Some humans are very verbally-oriented, and are amazed that a dog can respond to hand-signals. Well, we can really enjoy teaching our dogs a few simple signals with responses we would like from the dog, such as, to follow us or to come to us. And because dogs are usually very visual, we can use body language instead of human-words, as the cue to the dog to come.

Humans don't have it so easy

Human caretakers of diabetic dogs have extra work on our hands - work that we must do on schedule, especially, feeding and giving insulin.

I am so long retired now that I had forgotten how to live to a schedule that is induced or laid on me by someBodyElse, not myself. All I can say is, without my CalendarScope program, I would have trouble. I find there are times when I wish I could do the next task when I felt like it, rather than when CalendarScope is telling me it's time to do it.

But also, I have a cure for myself, if ever I begin to feel resentful at interruptions to what I would like to be doing instead. In fact, I end up with no problems at all. That's because it is my beloved dogs I am taking care of. For my diabetic Kumbi, giving insulin is a matter of life and death. For both dogs, feeding is the same!

It took me some time to decide to feed at 6:30 a.m. and p.m., and to give insulin, then, at 7 a.m. and p.m. I have the great luxury of being retired, and free, therefore, to schedule in ways comfortable for both me and the dogs. Kwali says she appreciates the schedule as much as Kumbi or I do.

Kwali and Kumbi would both be game to eat earlier, but then they would end up waiting another 12 hours, so it makes little difference.

I came to think of the times I feed and give insulin as "SacroSanct Time." Just thinking of that phrase helps me relax and enjoy the special bonding with my dogs.

Barking: The Sound of a Language

Sun,23 March 2008;11:38

Turid Rugaas, International Dog Trainer, has a new translation of her book on barking, published by DogWise, available.

Barking: The Sound of a Language appeared in March, 2008. I'm not clear on just how this happened, but while the main text of the book remains pretty much as Turid Rugaas intended, somehow, confusion developed over the photos and their captions, so that those actually contradict the content of the book.

I was checking links while working on revising Coherent Dog, and so, discovered that Turid had posted corrections on her site.

I asked Turid's permission to reproduce her corrections here, word-for-word, and she gave it, so here are the corrections as posted on her site, slightly re-formatted here.

Turid updates her corrections

Fri, 04 Apr 2008; 20:06

Turid has updated the notice on her web site about corrections to her Barking book, and, with her permission, I am copying them here, to replace the originally posted ones. I'm very glad that Dogwise is doing their part, and will be reprinting the book.

I received my own copy in the mail today, and am very grateful to have it, as it is another of Turid's very fine works on dogs.

Corrections by Turid Rugaas

Turid's updated text

CORRECTIONS TO THE BARKING BOOK, AMERICAN VERSION

By misfortune the American version of the barking book, Barking - The Sound of a Language, came out with some wrong pictures and texts to same, some quite serious as they contradict what I actually teach people. Dogwise has taken the responsibility for this and have been just great in correcting the mistakes very quickly. I am very grateful for that.

For the ones who have already got the book I need to explain some of the pictures, as I certainly do not want readers to think I do what the texts say. Read more here.

There are some serious mistakes in the photo texts in this book. I never saw them before the book was printed, so I got a shock when the book came.

The text contradicts all I try to teach my students, so please understand that this is not what I do!

1. I would never use sit-stay (or any kind of obedience) in a stress situation. The ones who know a little about stress will know why. This is what the text should say: "Have your dog sit for a second or two before opening; no words, just the hand signal" Page 22.

2. Parallel walking is walking parallel - not meeting, which is totally different. Page 66. This is NOT parallel walking. The only way to start in many cases is to walk in the same direction, as that is the least threatening to a dog in defence and high stress.

3. Blocking/splitting up or whatever you call it can NOT be done like this! Pages 55 and 82.

This will be provocation and not calming. Never bend towards a dog, NEVER look at the dog in this position (!) or stretch out an arm in this way. If this had been a fearful dog, a stressed dog, a dog in defence, you would have got a negative reaction.

Right way to do it:

  • back or side to the dog.
  • look away
  • arms, hands closer to the body

These small differences in handling make all the differences in a training situation. Doing it wrongly might mean that you never achieve anything of what you wanted to. We did these mistakes in the beginning of this training 20-25 years ago, but I learnt very fast that it did not work. It is very upsetting to see it shown so wrongly after having told people for so many years how to do it properly.

Please notice my corrections, and do not do it the wrong way yourselves. It might mean life or death to a dog in trouble.

Turid Rugaas, March 2008

Whisper and Slick of needles around Earth

During SacroSanct time, I let my mind consider the ethos of caring for dogs. One evening, it struck me that we have a World Clock going, with all the diabetic dogs and cats around Earth. If all were fed and injected at similar times, there would be a band of food-dishes, then syringes, encircling the Earth, and we would know what time it was in any location by listening for the lick, lick, chew, chew, of dogs eating, and for the whisper and slick of needles sliding so gently under the skin to deliver the life-saving fluid: insulin.

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DISCLAIMER: Stress is the worst enemy of health. Although much of the content of Vekkie's Diabetes Playground is fantasy, the parts on the basics of canine diabetes and on stress, engaging cooperation from the dog, and testing for blood glucose levels are as accurate as Vekkie and I can make them.
All material on this site except where noted is
Copyright © 1995-2014 by Carol Whitney. All rights reserved.
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