You can’t teach an old dog new tricks — or can you?! Celebrity dog trainer and behaviorist Tamar Geller tells Us how to sooth your pets anxiety especially as we adjust to our new normals.
Has your furbaby been more vocal since quarantining? You’re not alone. “Reese Witherspoon said to me, ‘Hey, my dog’s barking more,’ ” Geller tells Us. “People are home, so all of a sudden they’re noticing behaviors the dogs were doing all along. The dog looks at you and barks at you and you turn your back. What if somebody were talking to you and you turned your back? People are aware now how emotionally sophisticated dogs are — they’re like human toddlers. They’re telling us, ‘Hey, talk to us, play with us, walk us.’ ”
Leave Them Alone
Geller, whose clients also include Maria Menounos and Kyle MacLachlan, warns that once people go back to work, dogs will feel a one-two punch of anxiety from suddenly being left alone and absorbing their owners’ worries. “Dogs feed off our emotions,” she says. “They’re energy beings.” One way to lessen the blow is to start acclimating them now. “Leave your dog home alone, even for half an hour, with an amazing toy or puzzle. You want the dog to think, ‘Oh, every time you leave, I have something amazing to occupy me.’ And when you come back, don’t go gaga. Be in a mindful meditative state; don’t acknowledge your dog for 30 seconds. Allow them time to collect their emotions.”
Shake It Off!
“Any time your dog does the ‘shake, shake, shake,’ they’re trying to reboot the nervous system. When you see your dog doing that, sing, ‘Shake, shake, shake!’ When you sing the words, their brain retains the information. Think about how we teach kids the ABCs. We want to encourage dogs to shake because that’s how they release tension.”
Pet Your Pet
“Face your dog and hold your thumb between the eyebrows, where the third eye is, and trace the area right above the eyebrows extremely slowly,” says Geller. “That’s one of the best ways to calm a dog — or a person! It’s like a massage. Make sure to touch them extremely slowly — slow your breath, slow your movement — and smile, even if it’s a fake smile. Energywise, your body changes when you smile.”