In this article I would like to talk about psychological recovery in dogs suffering from trauma of abandonment or from prolonged experiences of stays in camp kennels. The silence that cures is something that I had the chance to experience myself in my canine behavioral recovery work.
The psychological trauma is the consequence of an event (or sequence of events) with characteristics such as to interrupt the continuity normally felt by a subject between past experience and intentionality.
Trauma is the main cause of stress in dogs and especially if this stress becomes prolonged, we will have a chronicity of the same and an inability of the body to bring the levels both physiological and psychological quickly to normal.
With the word “stress” we mean a reaction of adaptation of the organism to a physical or psychic change.
Therefore it depends on the individual, according to how he perceives it and how he decides to face it, if he acquires a positive or negative connotation: if the event is perceived as a challenge and faced with social competences in a “positive” way, we talk about eustress; otherwise if we are not able to deal with it properly it becomes stressful and can turn into a chronic situation.
Our dogs live in tune with us and are affected by our mood and our emotional state and this alone would be enough to stress them, but for them there are also other triggers.
The dog is subjected to stress whenever an environmental change occurs, that the family welcomes a new member, who travels by car, … and even in the dog depends on the individual’s perception to be able to face it positively or fall into chronic stress.
Chronic stress involves physical changes in the brain and in the body; appear anxiety, depression, fatigue, sleep disorders. “Messaging” substances such as serotonin, noradrenaline and dopamine also start to malfunction, with consequent alteration of the sleep-wake rhythms, difficulty in controlling the muscles of the intestine and bladder, decrease in the production of endorphins that regulate the sense of pain and pleasure.
A traumatized dog really needs the silence he cares for. In my experience, dogs that come from chronic stressful situations, kennels in which they have experienced the deprivation of everything, from freedom to the management of personal spaces. In fact, dogs are often closed in cages where they have to live together with the other companions, without experiencing moments of solitude.
We must not forget that a dog that comes from lager kennels is continually subjected to environmental pollution from noises of bark, barking from other cages that never stops.
All this can continue for years and the organism, the ears and the brain become accustomed to being continually overexposed in this continuous vociferation.
He needs a lot of things, especially just out of one of these places, he needs to be subjected to a medical screening in order to assess the health conditions.
After taking care of his health, one must start thinking about his psychological well-being and his reintegration into society in order to become an adoptable dog.
In my experience, what especially in the early days helps the dog to lower the chronic level of stress and to release all the accumulated mental toxins is the silence that cares. The dog must be housed in a quiet place, in contact with nature that probably will never have seen, and must have the opportunity to rest as long as possible in a place where it can not be disturbed by others. If the dog at this time does not want to have too many contacts, this will be respected and not forced to be caressed.
The silence that cures, also takes care of the soul much faster than anything else and, as is done with the puppies that have just opened their ears in the transition phase, the external noises will be dosed, as well as our voice.
I think that patience helps to achieve lasting results and above all with dogs that have suffered serious traumas, this is really a must along with being able to understand their body language.
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