Behaviour 2019
The Use of a Relaxation Protocol in a Treatment Plan for Dogs Displaying Anxious and Hyperactive Behaviors.
Claire F Cario, Kate Senisi. School for the Dogs, New York, NY, United States

Recent studies suggest that engaging the relaxation response in humans, measurable shifts in the central nervous system occur. The present study evaluated the use of a relaxation protocol in a behavioral treatment plan. We investigated two case studies. Dog A was exhibiting severe urban anxiety and Dog B was exhibiting excessive noise reactivity. The “School For The Dogs Relaxation Protocol" (Senisi, 2018) was designed as an altered and abridged version of two other relaxation protocols (Overall, 1997; Clothier, 2012). By the three-month follow-up, Dog A continued to show improvements outside, demonstrating increased confidence in novel areas and able to cope with spikes in stimuli. Dog B had become completely non-reactive to the door buzzer. The reported success in both case studies suggest that incorporating a relaxation protocol into a multimodal treatment plan, and thus engaging the parasympathetic nervous system, may prime the dog’s ability to learn a differential emotional response to triggers and reduce the intensity of certain anxieties.