Restlessness and stress can be caused by a lack of rest or incorrect utilization of the dog. Dogs need more rest periods than humans do. On average, a healthy adult dog will doze for 18 hours a day. You can find more about the need for rest and activity in the other blogs in this series.
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A dog's need for rest
Our dogs need more rest than most dog people would think. A dog is physically able to lead everyday life with us humans. From a biological point of view, a dog needs much more rest than a human. An adult, healthy dog needs around 16-20 hours to doze and sleep. Puppies or old dogs need more than 16-20 hours of rest. If a dog does not calm down on its own, it needs the help of a human being to instruct it to calm down. Some dogs, on the other hand, find their rest on their own. On the one hand, this can be related to the fact that the dog has learned it from the beginning, or on the other hand, because its personality and character favor it. The reasons why your dog does not rest can be different. Body build also influences stress resilience. You can find out more about physique and the ability to self-regulate in the explanation of terms impulse control. The more people integrate the dog into their everyday life, the more there is a need to teach and learn to be calm.
After the overworked children, the phenomenon of being overwhelmed is now gradually appearing in the dog world. Agility courses, mantrailing and various workshops are designed to keep the dog busy. In addition, the dog accompanies us to visits, to the restaurant and to the weekly market. Where is the necessary time to be able to switch off in order to really relax?
ℹ️ Well-intentioned utilization, poorly implemented
Unknowingly, as dog people, we can encourage restless behavior in our dog. Excessive sport or ill-considered games that rely on movement without brains encourage restlessness and prevent the dog from calming down. Stupid ball games without a concept promote, among other things, ball junkies who rush after a ball like mad.
Too much and too little exercise can show the same signs of restlessness in your dog. If your dog does not rest, it can be due to too much exercise or too little exercise. In addition to the dog's lack of exercise, incorrect activity can lead to your dog overreacting. Finding a healthy amount of exercise and activity for your dog is not always easy. To teach your dog to be calm and keep him busy at the same time, you can use impulse control exercises or concentration exercises. We already have for you impulse control training for Beginner, advanced and professionals compiled.
The thought often buzzes in the heads of dog people that a dog that is working to capacity hears better. It is understandable that your dog needs to be busy and busy and that boredom triggers some problem behavior in dogs. However, the reason for employment should not be exhausting yourself, but a healthy amount of stimuli, impressions, movement and opportunities to rest. Elevated levels of cortisol encourage exercise in dogs to help metabolize excess cortisol through activity. A vicious circle is created: a stressed dog becomes a hyperactive dog that is stressed. Lack of rest and sleep leads to nervousness, lack of concentration and tension. As a dog person, the dog's behavior suggests that the dog needs more exercise. Incorrect! What such a dog needs is rest!
Lack of sleep is not only a consequence of stress, but also the origin of other health problems and problem behavior. As a dog person, it's your job to teach your dog to be calm if your dog won't calm down. This not only helps in general behavior and health, but also promotes the processing of training, exercises and experiences.
How do you know that your dog is overexcited by the situation?
- your dog is hardly or not at all responsive
- you are hardly noticed and there is little orientation
- the muscles are tense and the ears alert
- the dog does not lie down and is constantly in motion
- Despite movement, your dog does not come to rest
- your dog shows a lot of howling, squeaking, whining, barking, shaking
- there are often skipping acts such as biting the leash, excessive digging, nervous jumping at people, etc.
- your dog shows no signs of tiredness and demands more exercise
- Food is refused
Rest and stress - what happens in the dog's body
It's important to understand that chronic stress in dogs can lead not only to unpleasant behaviors, but also to health problems. Chronic stress can weaken the immune system, increase the risk of infections, and even lead to serious conditions like heart disease and gastrointestinal problems.
Therefore, it is crucial that we give our dogs enough time to rest and sleep. Dogs require approximately 18 hours of rest per day, depending on age, health, and activity level.
When we overwhelm our dogs in stressful situations, such as through too much training, too many social interactions, or too much sensory overload, it can lead to overuse. By giving our dogs enough rest and relaxation periods, we can help them feel more comfortable and balanced overall.
Assuming your dog's needs are being met, other factors may be the reason the dog isn't resting. It should be understandable that lack of sleep and hunger lead to restlessness. A feeling of hunger can cause nervousness and reduce impulse control. We have already discussed how nerve food can have a positive influence in the article on impulse control mentioned. You can practice calmness with your dog, but other conditions play a role in your dog. More information can be found in the blog "Causes & reasons for a restless or stressed dog“. These include:
- Hereditary factors & unfavorable development / rearing
- Lack of frustration tolerance & impulse control
- Unlearned rest
- background stressors
- mood transfer
Aid in the event of a lack of rest - the dog does not come to rest
Rest can be supported by various aids in addition to exercises. It is important to note that aids encourage, but without training, they do not induce effective rest. In our blog you will find effective rest training with free training plans. The tools work on different levels. The effectiveness is different for each dog and must be tested individually for you and your dog.
Music therapy is very common in some areas in humans. Music can promote relaxation in dogs. Results from Lindig et al. (2020) point out that animals (not just dogs) appear less stressed or anxious to classical music. So far there has been little research that deals with music and relaxation in connection with animals. Music can offer relief from turmoil in the home environment. In most studies, rest time and barking duration were assessed and measured as indicators of stress. Measured by cortisol levels and heart rate, classical music could induce calm. In addition to the genre, conditioning and the association with experiences and the music can also have a good effect. If your dog always lies relaxed next to you while you listen to your favorite music, the positive experience can calm your dog down.
CBD can be used in many ways in dogs and humans as a natural supplement. Dogs have their own endocannabinoid system, which works in a similar way to humans. This system is responsible for maintaining balance in the body and plays an important role in regulating mood, pain, inflammation, and many other processes. CBD is a natural substance extracted from the hemp plant and has many beneficial properties.Unfortunately, there is not much verifiable evidence that CBD has the same beneficial properties in dogs as it does in humans. However, it is believed that CBD can help dogs with pain, cramps, anxiety and stress, to support the immune system or to fight inflammation. But the important thing to know is that it is used as a support and not as a stand-alone problem solver.
herbs and fragrances
Herbs and scents can have a calming effect on dogs, especially when they are stressed and anxious. Chamomile, lavender, and valerian are three herbs that are often recommended for helping dogs relax. The herbs can be given to the dog via food to work internally or as an essential oil via a diffuser. The herbs should be started during a quiet phase. Only use high-quality and gently prepared herbs and essential oils. Essential oils can be irritating, especially when used in high concentrations or on sensitive skin. Let us advise you on the correct dosage and application.
The RelaxoPet is a device that emits specially tuned sounds for dogs, cats or horses, depending on the device. We could not find any evidence or studies that confirm the effectiveness of the RelaxoPet. Some dog people have already had good experiences, others didn't notice any difference. However, if we think about the conditioned relaxation, you can condition the relaxation with the RelaxoPet without disturbing people because the sounds are hardly perceptible to people. If you set up the RelaxoPet at home in a quiet environment as a relaxation sound while the dog relaxes, after a while the RelaxoPet can also be used in stressful situations (e.g. when driving a car) without it bothering you.
Cycles and Adaptile
Zylkène and Adaptil can act as natural aids to promote relaxation. Both tools promote calmness in temporary, transient stressful situations.
Zylkène is made from skimmed milk. The calming effect is due to α-casozepine, which is produced in puppies' intestines as they digest mother's milk. The α-casozepine in turn increases the effect of the neurotransmitter GABA (gamma-amino-butyric acid). GABA is responsible for all functions related to emotions, including stress. Adult dogs no longer produce α-casozepine, but the effect remains. Zylkène thus creates the well-known comforting feeling in adult dogs and supports the dog in being able to react more calmly to stressful situations.
Adaptil is now available in different product forms: as a collar, as tablets, as an atomizer for the socket or as a spray. Adaptil works in the form of pheromones. Pheromones are messenger substances that help dogs to get information about each other. A mother dog releases pheromones through her teats, which are supposed to make the puppies feel safe and secure. Adaptil sends these same pheromones into your dog's environment and makes him feel safe. The feeling of security in turn creates relaxation.
Thundershirt and Tellington TTouch body tape
In stressful situations, a Thundershirt can be a possible help. Thundershirts are special tight-fitting t-shirts for dogs that apply even compression to the body. This is intended to have a calming effect on the dog, similar to swaddling babies. The compression of the shirt mimics a close touch, which is intended to give the dog a feeling of security and promotes the release of oxytocin, the feel-good hormone.
The Tellington TTouch body strap can be used more variably than the Thundershirt, but requires a little more practice when putting it on. We recommend trying out both tools several times before using them in important situations. The calming effect depends heavily on the individual sensitivity of the dog. Dogs that find clothing or harnesses uncomfortable will also find wearing a thundershirt or body strap bothersome.
Whether and how much the compression of the shirt or the body band calms your dog and reduces stress, therefore depends on various factors and can vary in dogs due to individual needs and feelings - from annoying and stressful to calming and soothing.
Rest and relaxation is necessary for our dogs' health. Restlessness can be attributed to several reasons. If your dog doesn't settle down, it can be attributed to health, genetics, as well as upbringing and training. You can teach your dog to be calm and promote relaxation with aids. We will show you how you can actively practice rest exercises in the rest exercises for at home and the rest exercises for outside. A balance of rest and activity is critical to your dog's well-being and health. Every dog has individual needs and it is important to consider these to ensure a happy and balanced life for your four-legged friend. Watch for signs of under- or over-exertion and adjust activities accordingly to ensure your dog is both physically and mentally engaged.
Don't forget to give your dog ample opportunities to rest and relax by creating a calm and comfortable environment. A fixed daily routine and paying attention to your dog's individual needs in terms of sleep, physical activity and mental activity make a significant contribution to your dog resting and leading a happy, healthy life.
Löckenhoff, U. (2017). Dogwalk: How dogs joyfully follow. Cosmos.
Mrozinski, N., Heberer, U. & Brede, N. (2017). aggressive behavior in the dog. Cosmos.
Lindig, A.M., McGreevy, P.D. & Crean, A.J. (2020). Musical Dogs: A Review of the Influence of Auditory Enrichment on Canine Health and Behavior. Animals, 10(1), 127. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7022433/
How many hours of sleep does my dog need per day?
Most dogs need between 16-20 hours of sleep per day, with puppies, older dogs, and large breeds tending to need more sleep. However, the exact number of hours of sleep varies depending on the dog's age, breed, activity level, and individual needs.
How Much Physical Activity Should My Dog Have Daily?
The recommended amount of daily physical activity varies depending on the breed, age and health of the dog. In general, small breeds should be active for at least 30 minutes to an hour a day, while larger breeds will need around 1 to 2 hours. Puppies and young dogs may need more activity to burn off their energy.
What are some examples of activities I can offer my dog?
Some examples of activities you can offer your dog are walking or jogging to help keep them physically fit. You can also play games of fetch or hide and seek to satisfy his natural behavior. Intelligence toys and brain teasers can help train their mental fitness and prevent boredom. Dog sports like agility, flyball, or obedience training not only provide physical activity, but also mental stimulation and the opportunity to strengthen the bond between you. Finally, socialization with other dogs is important, but make sure this takes place in controlled environments rather than dog parks to avoid unwanted interactions.
How can I tell if my dog is getting enough rest?
Watch for signs of tiredness or exhaustion in your dog, such as yawning, increased panting, or restlessness. If your dog often seems sleepy during the day or has trouble concentrating on activities, he may need more rest. A good way to monitor your dog's sleep is to use a quality and cozy retreat where he can relax and sleep undisturbed.
How can I help my dog to calm down?
To help your dog calm down, it's important to create a relaxed and calm environment. Here are some tips you can follow: Make sure your dog has their own comfortable sleeping space to retreat to. Reduce noise and distractions around him so he can relax more. Avoid strenuous activities just before bedtime, as this can agitate your dog and make it difficult to fall asleep. Establish a fixed daily routine to provide your dog with security and predictability, which can help them relax more. Use relaxation techniques like gentle massage, soothing music, or essential oils to further help your dog relax and calm down.
How can I tell if my dog is under-challenged or over-challenged?
Signs that your dog might be under-challenged include boredom, destructive behavior, hyperactivity, or restlessness. On the other hand, an overwhelmed dog may show signs of stress, anxiety, exhaustion, or irritability. To determine if your dog is underworked or overworked, pay attention to their behavior and body language. If your dog often seems restless, constantly destroying something, or has trouble calming down, this can be a sign of under-challenging. In this case, you should offer him more mental and physical activities to release his energy. In contrast, an overwhelmed dog can often appear stressed or anxious, pant excessively, exhibit persistent or recurrent whining, and even become aggressive or irritable. If you notice such signs, you should reduce the activities and demands on your dog and give him more time to rest and relax.