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    • 18 May, 2015

    The Stress-busting Sensory Garden

    Dogs arrive at The Mayhew for a variety of reasons, some who are in desperate need of our help, and some who may not cope well with a kennel environment.

    The Mayhew’s Head of Kennels, Maria Markey, has created a Sensory Garden for our dogs to reduce stress and anxiety, encourage them to become more secure in their surroundings, and provide additional stimulation and enrichment on a daily basis during their time with us.

    The Sensory Garden is made up numerous different smells, textures and sounds to engage all the senses and offer enjoyment for each individual dog at The Mayhew.

    Here are some of the ideas we use in the garden, which you could very easily recreate in your own at home…


    Dogs love nothing more than having a sniff about. Here are some of the scented plants which have a beneficial effect that you’ll see in our Sensory Garden this summer:

    • Catnip: not just for cats! This has relaxation properties and stimulates playfulness in dogs
    • Chamomile: dogs suffering from anxiety or skin/stomach upsets will be attracted to this plant’s scent
    • Clary sage: good for highly strung animals and those with hormonal imbalance
    • Hops: a calming plant often selected by hyperactive and stressed dogs
    • Lavender: helps to reduce anxiety and other nervous conditions
    • Marigolds: dogs experiencing grief or emotional distress will often sniff out this plant
    • Marshmallow: known to help animals with delicate stomachs
    • Meadowsweet: often selected by dogs with digestive problems, arthritis and rheumatic conditions
    • Mimulus: used as a remedy for animals that are nervous, timid and shy
    • Mint: good for cooling properties and will often be selected by dogs who suffer from skin irritations
    • Plantain: helps gastric irritation and inflammation
    • Thyme: chosen by animals with bacterial infections, skin irritations and diarrhoea
    • Valerian: often selected by anxious dogs for its calming effect
    • Vervain: valuable for treating and nourishing nervous system disorders such as depression
    • Violets: Nervous dogs or those who have recently changed home may enjoy sniffing this plant
    • Yarrow: offered to animals with inflammation, urinary problems and internal and external wounds.

    Why not try growing some of these in your own garden for your dog to enjoy this summer?

    Sounds, textures and activities are also great ways to engage dogs and make them feel relaxed

    Toys, activity tables and games (such as a log with treats hidden in it – see the photo of Cooper enjoying this!) provide mental stimulation and enjoyment and are things you can easily make at home. An area of astro-turf and a wooden bark trough of water provide different and interesting things for the dogs to sniff, feel and touch and a paddling pool is a great way for your dog to play and cool off in the summer time!

    A solar-powered fountain and wooden wind chimes provide soothing and relaxing sounds for the dogs to listen to. Non-invasive and natural noises such as these have a calming effect, making the dog feel at ease.

    We hope you enjoy making your own sensory delight for your dog in your garden this summer!

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