What if my dog never relaxes?

Start small and start when you feel like there’s a higher chance of success…like near bedtime and when they’re having a good day and feeling relaxed (or as relaxed as they can be)…

If your dog truly never really relaxes, you’ll need to start tracking their sleep over the course of 5-10 days. Note when they sleep, for how long, and how deeply they’re sleeping. How? 

While they’re sleeping, take a deep breath and exhale audibly. Not too loud or obnoxiously, just a normal deep breath. Does your dog stir? Do they open their eyes? Do they startle / get up? Or do they open an eye halfway and slip back into sleep? That’s midway. If they don’t even blink an eye, that’s deep. If they haven’t even closed their eyes yet…well…we have a problem. 

Sleep deficits are typical in reactive dogs and may be an indicator that they’re living in fight/flight mode for a good part of their day every day. Sleep deficits catch up with us. This is a concern that should be addressed by your veterinarian for sure. Track the sleep and if it’s less than 14 hours of deep sleep out of 24 hours, you might consider giving them some relief as you would for a human who is feeling so stressed that they’re sleeping less than 6 hours out of 24. 

Bring this to me in the Community and let’s talk it out.

What if the food is too exciting?

What? Do you have a Lab? 😉 

This can happen. Go back to that currency list and choose something lower on the list for these exercises. Work your way up over time but always start easy! 

Am I ever allowed to engage my dog in high-arousal activities again?

Oh gosh, yes! Absolutely. We just have to build some rules in once you’ve really worked hard on impulse control. Short sessions with breaks that revisit these exercises – that’s the key!