Do Your Rescue Dogs Handle Crisis Well?

As a vet tech, the hu-mom to multiple rescues, and a behavior analyst junkie, with humans and dogs, I’ve witnessed first hand how rescue dogs handle crisis. The good news is you can be of great benefit to your dog in crisis when you know the right tools to use.

photo credit Corbis

Did you know a dog’s sense of smell contributes to how he behaves in crisis?

“Your average dog’s nose is ten thousands of times as sensitive to odors as yours.” Peter Tyson

This means, your dog is aware of another dog’s tension, a change in the weather, and the invisible fear in a visitor, long before you even consider there’s a problem. He can also pick up on your stress and react accordingly.

My youngest son loved having one or two of the dogs in his room at night. Once during a thunderstorm, the dogs started getting riled up. My boy knocked on our door and asked if the dogs could stay with us because they were too noisy in his room. As soon as they entered our room, they calmed down, curled up and went to sleep.

The next morning he asked why the dogs acted so scared. I asked him, “Were you scared?” He paused a moment and nodded with a yes.

“Dogs can sense if you’re afraid son, that’s why they calmed down in our room because Dad and I are not afraid of the thunder.”

What did the dogs smell that prompted their anxiety? Phermones, defined as a chemical substance produced and released into the environment by an animal, especially a mammal or an insect, affecting the behavior or physiology of others of its species.

The dogs smelled the anxiety!

How can you help?

Establish yourself as a pack leader.

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“To establish yourself as the pack leader, you must always project a calm, assertive energy. This natural balance (calm, assertive leadership with calm, submissive behavior) nurtures stability and creates a balanced, centered and happy dog.” Cesar Millan – The Dog Whisperer

Knowing this about your rescue’s sense of smell should help you become more alert to situations that may spark anxiety in him. Stand tall and confident as you help your best friend remain calm before, during, and after the storm. Begin today helping your rescue dog handle crisis.

Do you have a crisis-to-calm story? Share it here!

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