Tag Archives: food toys

Low stress handling and the use of food diversions

Heading dog with food diversion for dog massage

This is Bee, a young heading dog.  Yesterday, she had her third massage and, with each session, she’s getting better.

There’s nothing physically wrong with Bee; her Mum is training her for competitive agility and wants to keep her in top condition.  Since Bee is high-energy, the massage sessions are also to help her with focus and mindfulness.

During her first massage, Bee took a long time to settle.  At her second massage, I suggested that we introduce a toy and we used a braided rope tug toy.  Then I decided to try pushing some treats into the braids and we got almost instant results.  Bee became more relaxed and allowed more touch.  When I left, her Mum and I promised each other that next time, we’d use a food toy for the entire session.

So yesterday, her Mum was ready.  And how clever is she???  She purchased a silicone pot holder for only $2 from Kmart and spread it with peanut butter.  We had our best massage yet.

Low stress handling techniques are all about keeping the dog below threshold – no stress or anxiety.  Food diversion toys can help with this – and they don’t have to be fancy or expensive.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

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