My personal COACH pet
Your animals get stressed too
The Animal Stress Coach Program is designed to help you support your pet during stressful times and regain a harmonious family life.
Before looking into stress, make sure your pet’s change in behavior is not related to a physical disorder and consult your vet. They will be able to recommend products and give advice to relieve the problem, whatever the cause.
CHOOSE THE RIGHT RESPONSES!
If it is a cat:
- Get everything they need ready. Your cat will appreciate a warm, comfortable bed, high observation posts and places to hide (let them do so if they feel the need).
- Avoid putting the litter box near a noisy place that might dissuade them from using it.
- Let them discover their new environment and your family members without forcing contact.
- Play with them regularly so they can let off steam and bond with you.
- If you already have a cat at home, get two of everything: bowls, litter boxes, etc. Let your cats get their bearings together without interfering: it sometimes takes a little time to share territory. Again, do not force contact.
If it is a dog:
- Get everything they need ready. Define the rules (allowed/not allowed) which will be followed in the same way for all family members: it may be tempting to be the most permissive family member in order to gain the puppy’s affection, but when the rules are inconsistent, your pet won’t understand them and will become stressed.
- Welcome them calmly and without forcing contact. Offer to play to create a bond, but also to set up the first boundaries.
- When out walking, let your dog meet other dogs or strangers and discover noisy objects so that they become familiar with them. Do not overreact if they get scared (reprimand or consolation), as this will reinforce the idea that the fear is justified.
- The first few nights, your dog may whine. Do not scold them, but don’t give in either: have them sleep alone to avoid over-attachment, which will prove problematic later down the line. Eventually, you can leave them an item of clothing with your scent on it (something to which you are not attached, as it might get chewed).
- If you already have a dog at home, let them get to know each other and find their feet together, without forcing contact.
WHEN LIFE CHANGES ARE LOOMING
- Try to anticipate what might be a disturbance for your pet, especially:
- anything that represents a change in the family group (arrival or departure of new members or new animals),
- anything that represents a change in territory (travel, work, new furniture, new smells in the home),
- anything that can be scary (storms, thunder, banging, unusual loud noises),
- plan to use Lactium® a few days before these stressful events and for the duration of the event.
- Where possible, try to get your animal used to these events without overreacting or over-protecting your animal. If you are taking a trip in the car, you can teach your pet to get in the car for a few sessions in a row, then stay in it for a few minutes, then start the car so they get used to the noise, and finally go around the block for 2-3 minutes to get them used to the movement. If you are dealing with fear of thunderstorms, you can have your pet listen to recordings at a low volume while you remain perfectly calm and continue with your normal activities. If your pet stays calm, next time try turning the volume up a little.
- Give your pet the opportunity to let off steam physically. For dogs, take longer walks if your animal is very active, letting them explore the environment and meet other dogs. For cats with no access to the outdoors, they will need to play.
- They may feel the need to hide. Respect this need and let them come back on their own when they feel better. Behave like everything is fine.
- In general, any strong reaction from you (reprimand, consolation) can reinforce the idea that their fear or stress is justified. Instead, show that you do not feel stress and that you are in an everyday situation.
- Rather than your stress, it is your pet’s stress that you need to understand. And frankly, interpreting your pet’s feelings is not always easy! What stresses your pet out would not stress you out, and it doesn’t always make much sense to us. Do not wait too long to seek help if you’re feeling helpless, as behaviors can become established.
- You may be tempted to turn to discussion forums between owners or contact the breeder or association where you adopted your pet. First, seek advice from your vet: they are your best advisor when your pet’s behavior leaves you perplexed, because only they can rule out a physical disorder and direct you to the right products (with or without a prescription) and in the right dosage.
- If necessary, your vet can refer you to a behaviorist veterinarian in your area. Some are specialized in dogs or cats.
- If you have a dog, oftentimes the vet will have heard of one or more dog trainers whose clients have been satisfied and who they are willing to recommend.
THE RECOMMENDED LACTIUM® DOSAGE
In order for Lactium®, your daily partner, to act in the best way possible on your pet, give it 15mg/kg (1) per day (if it weighs 20 kilos, 20 x 15mg = 300mg per day), ideally starting 2-3 days before the stressful event and continuing as long as the event lasts. If the event lasts for a long time, check with your vet after a month about whether you should continue or stop the treatment. You can also use foods containing Lactium® (your vet will be able to advise you on this).
(1) Beata C. et al, 2007 Journal of Veterinary Behavior