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What is canine mental health?

We all know how important mental health is for humans and how detrimental it can be if we ignore any warning signs. So why should we give a thought towards our dogs’ mental health? Dogs are sentient beings with brains that allow them to perceive information from their environment and formulate decisions and emotions; fight or flight, fear or joy.  

If dogs have this neurological capability and we ignore, mishandle, mistreat or deny their basic rights and instincts, they can develop similar mental health issues as humans; anxiety, fear, compulsive disorders, depression and anger

Puppies have a specific learning time frame called the Critical Period of Development, during this time they should have positive gradual experiences because after this time, their learning is set. What happens if you’ve missed this window or have rescued a dog? It just means training is longer and a touch harder, BUT NOT IMPOSSIBLE! 

Working canines such as guide dogs, seizure dogs, substance detection dogs etc, also need to have their mental health criteria met. They need to LOVE what they do and get joy out of working. If these dogs are over worked and receive little rest, they can develop those mental health issues mentioned above. It is vitally important they get rest times, periodic rest times and are rewarded for their work.  

If you think your dog is experiencing from any of these mental health issues, it is vitally important you reach out to a specialised dog behaviourist. From there, the trainer can create a management plan and guide you along the way. It is also encouraged that you and the trainer seek a veterinary behaviourist if there isn’t any improvement, as medication can be a huge help (just like in humans!). 

You are not alone in this; Ethical Dog Services is here to help you. We will work together holistically, within your dogs’ threshold and with a veterinary behaviourist if need be. Contact us here to start the healing process.

Healing through empowerment leading to wellness” 

Emilia Borkowski 
Qualified Dog Trainer and Behaviourist
23/02/20

References: 

  1. http://agriculture.vic.gov.au/pets/care-and-welfare/animals-and-people/what-is-sentience
  2. http://www.eastsidevets.com.au/pet-conditions/mental-health-issues-pet/
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