For nervous and anxious dogs and cats, and dogs that react aggressively to the things they fear, changing behavior is about changing their emotional state in the presence of their trigger- the thing to which they react. Animals need to be in a thinking state in order to learn something new - not flooded with stress hormones. Massage and Reiki can be an integral piece of your behavior modification plan, to get them into that learning state where they can grow.
Changing the brain: Slow, relaxing massage of moderate depth will activate the part of the nervous system which is the opposite of fight or flight. Heart rate, breathing rate and blood pressure goes down, dilated pupils relax, and cortisol levels return toward normal.
Increasing confidence: We want to replace the state of fear with a state of curiosity. Animals that are feeling pain somewhere in their body can compensate for that by being extra guarded emotionally. Feeling more free physically, as well as more connected to their body through touch, can lead to opening up to new experiences.
Building teamwork: Your animal needs to trust you in order to let go of their defenses. I do something of a dance with your pet in which I introduce new sensations and touch new body parts, and give her a choice in what happens. They quickly learn to trust me and even let me work deeply on painful areas. In addition to getting massage by a professional, ask for lessons to massage your pet yourself. Work nightly on a "relax mat" for bonding, and to make the mat into a safe, relaxing spot, which a great tool you can bring with you on the road. Ask your trainer or behavior consultant for teamwork exercises.
Massage in the presence of the trigger- as long as you have enough distance from the thing your dog reacts to, and you've already built your team, working on relaxing in the presence of the trigger is a great tool. It is an advanced skill we work on in our Reactive Dog classes at Pack of Paws Dog Training.
Massage and Reiki are only part of the solution for serious behavior issues. Seek out an experienced behavior consultant like those at Pack of Paws. Look for a force-free behavior professional that will teach training tools that will help build your relationship with your pet through rewarding the behavior you want to see, not hurting it through punishing behavior without healing its root cause.
We brought Higgins to the Pet Rock Fest in Worcester. He was so uncomfortable with the hundreds of other dogs around, he truly wanted to leave.
The moment he went on the table and Lisa started her massage, he was a different dog. He leaned into her and allowed her to work out all his worries and stress. After the treatment Higgins enjoyed his time at the fair, allowing other dogs to greet him without shying away. It really was an amazing transformation!
Thank you Lisa for allowing us to spend a fun day with our beloved friend without worrying that he hated every minute of it and that we would pay for it later when he would destroy our couch! - Shawna McLaughlin
Strider has a wonderful personality but he is very sensitive and shy. He would bark furiously at strangers coming to the house. Since we have begun sessions with Lisa, I have seen him relax and even get more invigorated. After several
sessions he actually came to sniff a couple that came to the house and let them throw his Frisbee to him.
I believe I have never before seen him truly comfortable, without any rigidity in his body, with people he does not know. He is getting much more confident in himself as he starts to feel better. I have seen so much improvement in such a short time. - Liz Natenshon