6 Simple Ways to Help your Dog's Mental Health

Dogs bring joy to our lives with their unconditional love and joy in the simplest things. But dogs are more complicated than many people think. In a 2013 study of the dog's brain, Emory University scientists concluded that its brain bears striking similarities to ours in terms of emotion. When it comes to mental health, dogs are just like us when you think about it.

Like humans, dogs experience stress, anxiety, depression, grief and other psychological and emotional problems. Like humans, they don't always tell us about their feelings or seek help. Sometimes we tell our dogs to suffer alone. But we can help them get there.

The first step is to detect the signs of anxiety, depression and stress in dogs. Dr. Erica Feuerbacher, a certified animal behavior analyst and dog trainer, says dogs can have subtle signs of stress. Some of these signs may not be obvious at first glance. Unusual behavior can be a red flag according to Tiffany Talley, certified behavior counselor and dog trainer at All Things Canine in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Among the behaviors that cause people to come to her and affect the quality of a dog's life, she says, are dogs that don't eat, look for attention, don't go outside, don't rest and don't do their normal daily routine.

Compulsive licking is a sign of stress and anxiety, she says, as are whale eyes when dogs show white eyes during interactions. Feuerbacher advises to keep a close eye on dogs that have recently lost a companion, as they may experience sadness, which can lead to depression. If you see significant behavioral changes in your pet, you should make an appointment with a veterinarian as soon as possible.

Exercise is great because it connects dogs and people through positive activities, Talley says. Any veterinarian will tell you that at least one dog is underfed and needs exercise. Exercises Talley suggests including walking, running, hiking, playing and walking up and down stairs. Be sure to take your dog for inspection before you engage in strenuous activities.

While there is a trend to get things like treadmills for dog exercises around the house, Feuerbacher says to walk the dog more. This type of exercise is good for the dog, she stresses, and the unprecedented mental benefits are great. Your dog uses its nose without too much other stimulation.

My number one recommendation for improving dog life is enrichment, "says Feuerbacher. Dogs are more likely to experience boredom than humans, and a lack of adequate enrichment can lead to anxiety and destructive behavior. If your dog tears things up or chews on your favorite shoes, it may indicate that it needs more outlets for its energy, she says. Enrichment can come in many forms, he says, including walks, driving, park visits, games, play dates, dog obedience training, fortification toys and dog puzzle toys.

She also likes to do nose work, where dogs use their noses to detect smells. Puzzle enrichment toys promote nose work and you can also create your own games.

By hiding their dog food in the house so they don't get it in the bowl, "it's very stimulating and like a movement," she says. Dogs also love a good massage. Here are some ways they can get there better than humans.

Instead of going to a class to learn how to massage your dog, Feuerbacher suggests using an online tutorial, but making sure you use a veterinarian-approved resource.

A similar treatment for general anxiety in dogs is body awareness. Body awareness teaches the dog about its rear end and helps it become aware of what it is doing, she says. We wrap him like a bandage so he can feel his body. Find a dog trainer near you who offers body awareness, strength training or conditioning classes. Some people have interactions with their dogs that they find a little timid.

When we see our beloved dog unhappy, it is tempting to suffocate him with worry and constant activity. We want to give him everything, but not all dogs are equipped for this. "Helicopter training can make a dog anxious.

Dealing with other dogs is healthy for all of our pets, but if you have an anxious dog, it may be necessary to avoid dog parks and busy areas. Dogs in public can cause dog anxiety, she says, so she and her clients go for walks with dogs in busy areas where they don't encounter other people and dogs. She also advises against taking the dog on trips to busy places such as farmers markets, which can be crowded.

When a dog suffers from depression or grieves, Feuerbacher gives similar advice to us humans when they do things that they enjoy, such as teaching themselves or talking. When dogs are under stress, they need a retreat. If you can create a little space for him in the dog box so that he has some time for himself, this can be helpful, she suggests.

One strategy to curb the dog blues is to encourage activities that they enjoy. Dogs, for example, like to go for walks or bring them to new smells and sights. You can observe the dog to measure its behavior, but if you have difficulty identifying suitable activities, it never hurts to contact a dog trainer or behavioral counselor.

'If the dog likes to chase, we'll play fetch. If he likes to chew, we find puzzles and dog toys that encourage him to use his mouth, "says Talley. "If he likes it, we work with him to add new obedience and funny behaviors. The objects and activities are important and specific to each dog.