Stress, Anxiety and how the Gencon helps.
Here’s a Great article about Gencon by Jo Croft of Site Dogs Logic.
“Jo qualified as a veterinary nurse with the College of Animal Welfare at the Royal Veterinary College in 1996. She went on to have 15 years veterinary practice experience, being the head nurse in 3 practices and studying for the Surgical Diploma giving an increased level of knowledge in all surgical conditions and diagnostic techniques. During her time in practice she ran a team of vets and nurses and was responsible for training student veterinary nurses in house.”
The bulk of my work as a canine behaviour practitioner focuses on creating calm in the dog and setting them up to cope with every day social encounters. Working with dogs for over 27 years I have been privy to the evolutionary changes in the relationship between a dog and its owner. Professions such as mine simply did not exist 27 years ago. Dog training focused on the ‘Barbara Woodhouse’ type training schools and dogs were managed simply and with clear boundaries between their world and ours.
The progression of the canine-human relationship and husbandry has made it appear acceptable to allow dogs excessive emotional bonds with owners, where the owner’s expectation of the dog is no longer in line with the reality of the dog’s ability to cope.
As a result the natural stresses of life endured by human owners is rapidly translated onto their pet-dog through a series of physical emotional moments.
This creates an environment where the ability to observe canine body language is lost and an anthropomorphic perspective of the dogs behaviour is considered to be acceptable.
Dogs who are not coping with their social environment may be suffering from a form of stress. Stress is communicated by the dog via a variety of body language cues. Some of the more common cues are:
These behaviours are often just put down to the dog being naughty but in actual fact they are clear indicators that the dog is just not coping with the daily pressures of its social environment.
Many of these dogs feel lethargic and irritable and have erratic sleep patterns. This will be exacerbated if the dog also sleeps with the owner in their room or bed.
Unfortunately there are cases where the problem is so chronic that the dog has started to resort to more serious aggression or destructive behaviours in order to find a release for the frustration and intolerance. The dog may have begun to show aggression towards its owner or appear to have a sudden intolerance of other dogs. Again, this is an example of the dogs coping mechanism being breached, it doesn’t have to mean the dog is inherently dangerous.
That said, necessary controls such as a muzzle and lead should be used when the dog is in a public space until a professional is consulted.
Understanding the Motivation
It is important to mention that any resulting stress signals are an indication that the dogs coping threshold has been breached. Consequently this means the dog is considered to be utilising its ‘fight or flight’ mechanism. This mechanism releases a series of stress chemicals into the blood stream designed to help the dog deal effectively with a short term critical situation, thus creating various physical responses.
This response would be most commonly likened to a ‘panic attack’ in human beings. The lack of a threat to survival means the response is unbalanced and in many cases the dog remains continuously exposed to the stressful situation. Therefore these stress chemicals are consistently and dangerously emitted on an intermittent basis during the dog’s exposure to its social environment depending on what activity is taking place. These dogs are often deemed to be suffering from ‘red mist’ and are commonly described as reactive, unbalanced or mental!
Sadly these dogs are just suffering, their communication signals have either been ignored or just not recognised and they lack clear structure and direction during human social encounters. Often these dogs just need their owner to take a lead role and to recognise their early body language cues.
All these dogs require a professional assessment and behaviour modification program. Fundamentally looking at the level of boundaries, discipline, direction, stimulation and communication. However, I am very aware that any modification takes time, especially when changes to the dog-human leadership dynamic are required to reach a true homeostasis. In the mean-time these dogs still need regular physical exercise and external mental stimulation.
There are many products designed to physically restrain unbalanced dogs on the market, but there are few that help the dog remain calm and allow the owner an opportunity to teach the dog a new association.
There is no replacement for good training on the lead but when things go wrong this is where I would reach for my Gencon. It is one of the reasons I have willingly supported Gencon during their marketing and have remained an advocate of the product throughout.
The Gencon is the least physically invasive head-collar on the market if used correctly. More importantly it delivers gentle pressure to the two points of contact a mother would communicate with her puppy. Over the nose and behind the ears.
Although not clinically tested it appears that pressure to these areas encourages a natural calm and help’s counteract a reactive response. This training aid provides an overpowered owner with the ability to engage a leadership plan in the most challenging of situations.
Finally, I have found that dogs who are extremely unbalanced or hyperactive require more work around the placement of the lead and leaving the house. It is worth remembering leaving the house with a highly strung dog will only result in this behaviour further deteriorating as the walk progresses.