Behavioral problems

4 Relaxation Exercises for Dogs

Josie F. Turner
By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. Updated: November 1, 2017
4 Relaxation Exercises for Dogs

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There are many relaxation techniques that we can use to reassure and calm a dog. They can be used as an extra in behavior modification therapy, as a tool to improve certain situations or to help your dog enjoy a moment of calm and quiet with us.

In this AnimalWised article we will explain 3 relaxation exercises for dogs that are easy to apply and can be used in different occasions. Of course, remember that if you do not meet the 5 freedoms of animal welfare, these tools of relaxation will not be effective, or at least not as much as you would expect.

You may also be interested in: Ways to Relax a Nervous Dog


  1. Music therapy for dogs
  2. The blanket exercise
  3. Doga, yoga for dogs
  4. The relaxation protocol by Dr. Karen Overall

1. Music therapy for dogs

Music therapy for dogs consists of using music (or elements thereof) to achieve therapeutic effects in the dog, in this case relaxation. It is indicated to treat complementary disorders such as separation anxiety, hyper-attachment or excitability, but it is also useful for lowering stress levels. It also improves the quality of life of the dog patient and stimulates them mentally.

To use music therapy with your dog, follow this step by step:

  1. Discover what their favorite song is! Although at first you should usually bet on classical music for dogs, there are other genres that they may also like.
  2. Play the chosen music in their usual resting place, such as the living room or dining room, and wait for the dog to unwind naturally.
  3. Do not force them to lie down or place them in any particular place, you should not use obedience, they must do it for them-self.
  4. Once lying down, try a very light or soft touch.
  5. This should be a daily session, of about 5 minutes, for example before going to sleep. However, it will also be interesting to use music in other circumstances, so that they generalize it and don't associate it with a particular moment of the day.
  6. You will know that the dog has associated music with relaxation when, by simply putting it on, they lie down and begins to relax.

Once the dog is quiet with just listening to music, you can start using this technique so that the hours you spend alone at home are more bearable. It will also help you improve their well-being and channel their anxiety levels.

4 Relaxation Exercises for Dogs - 1. Music therapy for dogs

2. The blanket exercise

This is a very useful exercise to complement some therapies inside and outside the home, such as separation anxiety, protection of resources, fear, nervousness or excitability.

To complete the blanket exercise, follow this step by step:

  1. Get yourself a blanket or cloth that your dog has never seen.
  2. Place the blanket somewhere ample and well-known, like the dining room of your house.
  3. Call your dog to get close to the blanket with a soft come, but never force them, the dog must approach by their own volition.
  4. Once the dog is placed on top of the blanket, begin to massage them gently over their body. If they start playing ignore them for a few seconds, until it is passed, and perform caresses and massages again.
  5. Make short sessions, about 5 minutes, after that time we will remove the blanket and keep it.
  6. We will know that the dog has associated the blanket with relaxation when, just by removing it, the dog lies on top of it and relaxes.

Once the dog has associated the blanket with a calm atmosphere, a massage and general relaxation, you can start using this tool in other places and circumstances: if you take them to a new place, visit the vet, or when you travel by car. The mere presence of the blanket, apart from providing comfort and relieving stress, helps the dog manage their nerves them-self, something very positive and desirable.

4 Relaxation Exercises for Dogs - 2. The blanket exercise

3. Doga, yoga for dogs

We currently find many different yoga techniques, such as acroyoga or yoga for dogs, better known as "doga". It consists of practicing this physical discipline with your dog and is a different experience for each person who practices it.

It is suitable for people who enjoy doing yoga and have some skill, so they can incorporate their best friend into their daily activities. In addition to improving the dog's mood, the doga improves our bond with our pet and helps us work on nervousness and excitement.

You can find doga sessions in different places in your city, although you can also train yourself through watching YouTube videos, for example. You will only need to include your dog in the different postures that you practice.

4 Relaxation Exercises for Dogs - 3. Doga, yoga for dogs

4. The relaxation protocol by Dr. Karen Overall

Have you heard of Dr. Karen Overall? Perhaps you have heard of her relaxation protocol, a very popular method to relax dogs amongst dog owners.

Essentially the protocol teaches a dog to remain calm and defer to you, no matter what happens. is a program that was designed so that your dog could learn from it without becoming stressed and without learning to ignore the tasks because they were too predictable. It intersperses long activities with short ones and you can adjust some activities to your particular needs.

The pattern is actually spelled out in the program. It is preferable to reward the dog only for performing each task perfectly. If this is not possible for your dog, you can use a "shaping" procedure in which you first reward the dog for a behavior that approaches that indicated in the task. The next time you do the task, the behavior must be closer to perfect to be rewarded. If the program is done correctly, your dog will perform the task perfectly within a short time.

The relaxation protocol is a foundation for desensitizing and counterconditioning your dog to situations in which it reacts inappropriately. The pages can be used as one day's tasks, or you may proceed at the dog's pace (which may be faster or slower). Some exercises are weird (asking you to run in circles or talk to people who do not exist), but these can be very helpful in getting dogs to learn to relax in a variety of circumstances.[1]

Perhaps it sounds too good to be true, but it has lots of fantastic feedback and won't just come instantly. With your effort and thorough care, you will undoubtedly relax your pup!

If you want to read similar articles to 4 Relaxation Exercises for Dogs, we recommend you visit our Behavioral problems category.

  1. Overall, K. (2013). Manual of Clinical Behavioral Medicine for Dogs and Cats-E-Book. Elsevier Health Sciences.
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4 Relaxation Exercises for Dogs