Information and natural remedies for the treatment of poor concentration in cats and dogs.
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What is Concentration?
Your pet’s ability to concentrate and focus on a task is important if you are trying to train them or if they are performing in obedience or agility shows. Just like people, pets sometimes find it difficult to focus their attention and can be easily distracted, especially when they are faced with new and exciting noises and smells.
Some pets are just hyperactive by nature and are constantly on the go, not stopping long enough to focus on any one particular thing. This can be incredibly frustrating for pet owners and it can make training a difficult task.
It may seem like they never listen, easily forget the things you are trying to teach them, make frequent mistakes and have difficulty following instructions. That is because without concentration, your pet is unable to focus on the situation at hand and is therefore unable to lay down memories necessary to making learning possible.
How Does Learning Work?
Take the very simplified example of a puppy learning to sit. You may be in front of the dog and verbally giving the command to sit while gently pushing him into a sitting position. The verbal cue acts as the stimulus, while the sitting is desired behavior you want to be associated with that stimulus.
Once in the sitting position, praise and attention serve as a reward to reinforce and encourage the behavior. Rewards can be treats or a favorite toy, and because the best reward is to please you, lots of verbal and physical attention.
If however, your pet cannot concentrate, they are most likely not listening to the verbal command and unable to pair the command to the desired behavior. In order for training and learning to be successful, it’s important to get and maintain your pet’s attention. Eye contact is often a good gauge of attention and if your pet’s eyes are wondering off some place else, chances are they are not fully focused on you.
Concentration is one of those things that improve as pets get older and their attention spans increase. It is also something that develops with practice and once your pet has come to love the reward at the end, you’ll often find that training is easy. But even well trained pets are often thrown off by stress, anxiety, excitement and the bustling action of their surroundings. These factors often interfere with concentration and can be a big problem during training and shows.
Help for Concentration
There are various natural ingredients that can help specifically with improving concentration and mental alertness as well as preventing memory loss – all key factors for performing and training pets! Studies have shown that the herb Gotu Cola helps to increase oxygen supply to the brain and improve concentration and memory.
It also works to soothe and calm anxious and stressed pets, which is often a concerning aspect of shows. Another herb that works in a similar way is Rosemary which helps improve memory, focus and energy levels. The natural ingredient Spirulina is also highly recommended to improve concentration as it helps boost mental alertness and acts as an over-all vitality tonic.
More Information on Concentration
Tips for improving your pet’s concentration
- A healthy diet is essential if you want your pet to perform at its best! Make sure your pet is on a high-quality and balanced diet that is low in fat and high in nutrients.
- Make sure your pet has eaten before a show or training session as they’ll need lots of energy, and a hungry pet is likely to be inattentive and distracted. Just as important is making sure your pet is not over-fed as this will more than likely make your pet feel sluggish and unmotivated.
- Anxiety and stress can easily distract your pet and make concentrating a near impossible task. This is something that usually improves with increased exposure to whatever is causing the anxiety in the first place. Try desensitizing your pet slowly to the things that are most likely going to be present at shows, such as loud noises, crowds of people and other animals. Herbal supplements specific to calming your pet will also go a long way to reducing nerves.
- Excitement is just as problematic as anxiety when it comes to concentration, and many pets do get incredibly excited during shows and training. Try to calm them down by talking calmly and soothingly to your pet while stroking them gently.
- Showing and training your pet should be a fun activity for both you and your pet, so try not get caught up in high expectations. Remember that if your pet stops enjoying it, then their attention will wonder and they’ll become unmotivated. Keep training and performing fun and exciting for them.
- Many pets are extremely sensitive to our emotional and mental states. It is therefore essential to remain calm, de-stressed and focused if you expect the same from your pet. Becoming stressed out or irritated with your pet is the worst thing to do if you’re struggling to get your pet to focus. Rather take a deep breath or a time-out and come back and approach the situation calmly.
- Exercise your pet regularly to improve over-all physical and mental vitality. While performing dogs generally get plenty of exercise, it’s important that it’s consistent and that they aren’t over-worked just before shows.
- Provide your pet with plenty of fresh clean water before, during and after shows. Many pets are too distracted to drink at events, but drinking should be continuously encouraged. A thistly pet will definitely be distracted and unable to concentrate, and dehydration can occur quickly if your dog is in the sun and being active.