black and white Saint Berdoodle looking to the side

How To Help Your Saint Berdoodle Remain Calm

Introduction

 

When it comes to caring for our pets, there's nothing that we as pet parents won't do to improve our canine's quality of life. That's why it can be so difficult when we see that our furry friend is going through feelings of stress and anxiety, yet we don't know how to help. One breed that is particularly prone to such negative feelings is the Saint Berdoodle, sometimes known as the Saint Berpoo. Despite their large frame, this dog breed is just as vulnerable to developing anxious and stressed feelings which can ultimately be debilitating for them. We're here to help. In this article, we're going to go through the primary causes of anxiety and fear in the Saint Berdoodle. Then, we'll dive into actionable ideas that you can use to help your St Berdoodle remain calm in the face of mental adversity.

Saint Berdoodle 101

 

The Saint Berdoodle is a mixed breed that is a cross between a standard Poodle and a Saint Bernard. There's a stark difference in the average size of each parent breed here. While a standard Poodle measures in at around 15 inches tall, the Saint Bernard is about double that at shoulder height - 30 inches. Similarly, while the Poodle averages around 55 pounds, a Saint Bernard can weigh up to 180 pounds! The clear differences in parent breed size makes it difficult to pinpoint the expected size of any Saint Bernard Poodle Mix. As such, its height can range anywhere between 15 to 30 inches, while its weight can be as low as 40 pounds and as high as 180. It's important to note that a Saint Berdoodle's size is highly dependent on the type of Poodle parent used (miniature or standard). It's quite possible to produce a Mini St Berdoodle, instead of the Standard Saint Berdoodle.

The two most common colors for the Saint Berdoodle are white-and-brown as well as white-and-black. On occasion, you may also see a Saint Berdoodle dog that is red with white accents or even vice versa. The coat of the Saint Berdoodle can take after either of its parents - "wiry and curly" like the Poodle, or "longer and smooth" like the Saint Bernard. According to The Pets, "good brushing is recommended" at least once a week, and perhaps even more frequently for more curly-haired canines.

Now let's consider the personality and temperament of the Saint Berdoodle. According to DogTime, the St Bernard Poodle Mix combines the best traits of each parent breed. As such, the Saint Berdoodle is generally friendly and affectionate. This canine is quite social and doesn't like to be left alone for long periods of time. The Poodle's intelligence combined with the Saint Bernard's curiosity makes the Saint Berdoodle puppy a highly trainable canine. Saint Bernards are known for their gentle, protective, and loving natures - this translates to the Saint Berdoodle as well. They're considered to be a a gentle giant: a large dog with a laid-back and easy going demeanor. This makes the Saint Berdoodle an ideal family dog.

white Saint Berdoodle on a leash

Why Your Saint Berdoodle Gets Anxious

 

Knowing techniques to help your dog remain calm is vital and useful, however techniques are not much help if you don't know when to put them into action. That's why it's equally important to educate ourselves on what causes anxiety and stress in our St Berdoodle, as well as how to identify the moments that they are experiencing these feelings. This way you can immediately spring into action and put your strategies to use.

In canines, there are two primary causes of anxiety and stress: stimulus-driven anxiety and separation anxiety. We're going to go through both cases individually, highlighting what they are and their signs and symptoms.

Stimulus-Driven Anxiety

 

As the name suggests, stimulus based anxiety is when an external stimulus incites fear in your canine. The American Kennel Club also refers to this form of anxiety as fear-based anxiety, adding that any environmental factor such as "loud noises, strange people, or [even other] animals" can function as a stressor. It may seem logical to assume that only unfamiliar stimuli can incite fear in canines - after all, why would your dog be scared of something of which they're familiar? Unfortunately, this is not the case. Even consistent activities like trips to the "vet's office or car rides" can instill fear and anxiety in your St Berpoo.

Let's explore why this occurs. The Wildest writes that the "function of fear [in canines] is to signal the body that there is danger present." Essentially, your Saint Berdoodle is reacting to a stimulus in his environment because, in his mind, it presents a threat to his safety. It then makes sense why trips to the vet or car rides cause anxiety in dogs - those are fundamentally traumatizing experiences that they do not want to repeat. It also follows why unknown and unfamiliar stimuli incite stress in canines - they simply don't know what the stimulus is and thus feel threatened. This biological instinct of fear has been hard-wired in dogs for a very important reason: it kept them safe in the wild! However, in the modern-day, domesticated lifestyle that most dogs enjoy, that same bias for fear hinders your dog's quality of life. Stick around for some effective ways to help your Saint Berdoodle keep calm even in the face of environmental stressors!

close-up shot of Saint Berdoodle nose looking at camera
Photo Source: loveyourdog.com

Signs of Stimulus-Driven Anxiety

 

Finally, let's discuss the common signs and symptoms that your Saint Berdoodle is experiencing stimulus-driven anxiety. Canna-Pet states that a canine suffering from this form of anxiety will:

  • Stand frozen in place
  • Whine and bark
  • Pace back and forth
  • Pant or salivate excessively
  • Tremble and shake

If you notice your St Berdoodle exhibiting any of these symptoms, or even worse a combination of them, pay close attention to what may have caused it. There was likely some change in the environment that provoked their anxious response. Once you identify the cause, look to eliminate it.

Separation Anxiety

 

The next form of anxiety that may plague your Saint Berdoodle's mental health is separation anxiety. As VCA Hospitals put it, separation anxiety occurs when a dog is "overly attached or dependent on [their] family members;" when they are separated from them, their body's anxiety response is engaged. According to Perfect Dog Breeds, because of the "strong bonds that these gentle giants form with their families," the Saint Berdoodle is more prone to developing separation anxiety than other dogs.

Let's try and understand what's happening in our dog's mind when they experience this kind of anxiety. Assisi Animal Health states that when a dog with separation anxiety is left alone, their amygdala - the area of the brain responsible for processing emotions and detecting fear - "goes into overdrive." This causes an imbalance of chemicals and hormones that ultimately leads to physical symptoms. An insightful analogy put forth by Patricia McConnell, Ph.D. was that we can "think of separation anxiety as the [canine] equivalent of a panic attack."

Saint Bernard dirty from mud

Signs of Separation Anxiety

 

Now, let's familiarize ourselves with the most common symptoms and signs that are Saint Berdoodle is a victim of separation anxiety.

  • Anxious Behavior As You're Leaving

The first way to identify that your Saint Berpoo is dealing with separation anxiety is by observing their behavior as you're about to leave the house. Canines are associative creatures. When they smell their food, they know it's time to eat. When they see their leash, they know it's time for a walk. Similarly, when your St Berpoo hears your keys or sees you put on your shoes, they know that you're about to leave. If they have separation anxiety, symptoms will begin right then.

Pay attention to your Saint Berdoodle's body language as you leave. Are they pawing at your legs, as if to encourage you not to go? Are they pacing around the house, whining, or trembling? The American Kennel Club says that any of these behaviors can be indicative of separation anxiety.

  • Destructive Behavior

The next and most prevalent sign of separation anxiety in canines is destructive behavior when you're gone from the house. If you return home to see chewed up couch cushions, trash everywhere, and other similar destructive acts, then it's possible that your Saint Berdoodle is experiencing separation anxiety in your absence.

Many canines form a hyper-attachment to their owner that gives them security and comfort. So when you leave, they feel uncomfortable and insecure. That's when their mind and body start to build up with anxiety and stress, leaving them with a mountain of negative energy that they don't know what to do with. They end up resorting to destructive behaviors in order to get that energy out and hopefully calm themselves down.

  • Barking and Howling in Your Absence

The final common symptom of a Saint Berdoodle that is suffering from separation anxiety is barking and howling when you're not home. If your neighbors come by to let you know that your dog has been yelling for the past three hours, then seriously consider whether they have separation anxiety.

Your dog's primary means of communicating with the world are barking and howling. That means they're trying to say something. If they were content and satisfied with their present situation, they simply wouldn't be vocalizing for so long. What this means is your Saint Berdoodle is likely feeling stressed and anxious, and they want to get someone's attention - yours. While howling alone does not certainly imply a diagnosis of separation anxiety, the American Kennel Club states that when it is accompanied by another one of these symptoms, it is far more likely.

Strategies To Help Your Saint Berdoodle Remain Calm

 

Now that we've educated ourselves with the basics of canine anxiety as well as its signs and symptoms, it's time to find out how we can respond to ease their mental state and calm them down. Although there are a variety of strategies that exist that can help your Saint Berdoodle stay calm, we're going to focus on the ones that chemically balance their mind. Nearly all psychological issues, including those of anxiety and fear, are caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. Essentially, there's either too much or not enough of a certain chemical in their bodies, which results in feelings of anxiety, stress, and so on. By targeting an increase or decrease in certain neurotransmitters through different activities, we can effectively keep our canines calm.

Saint Berdoodle running excitedly in a grass field

Music Therapy

The first strategy to help your Saint Berpoo keep calm is to expose them to some music therapy! The primary neurotransmitters responsible for fighting stress and anxiety are serotonin and dopamine. A study by Michele M Moraes found that music therapy actually increases the release of both of those chemicals! As such, by exposing your Saint Berdoodle to certain frequencies of sound, you can effectively rebalance their mental state and regulate their mood.

The chemical impact of music therapy does not stop there. While increasing production of dopamine and serotonin, music therapy also serves to reduce the bodily production of cortisol in your canine, as per Murdoch University. Cortisol is widely known as nature's stress hormone, so it makes sense why lowering its presence would help calm your dog down.

Let's examine what kind of music to play. Researchers at the Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine found that classical music helped dogs relax more and even put them to sleep; they also found that heavy metal music had an adverse effect, causing more agitation and increased stress levels. A 2002 study by animal behaviorist Dr. Deborah Wells supports this conclusion, as she found that dogs displayed calmer behavior when exposed to classical music rather than heavy metal, pop, or other music genres. So it's settled! If you want to calm your St Berpoo down, whether you're with them or out of the house, throw on some all-time classical music.

person playing the violin for Saint Berdoodle in a field of flowers

Sunbathing

 

The next chemical strategy that can aid in keeping your Saint Berdoodle calm is sunbathing! As we mentioned before, one of the key chemicals that regulates mood in your canine is serotonin. Cleveland Clinic states that low levels of serotonin can cause depression and anxiety, while normal levels help your dog feel "emotionally stable... and calmer." If you notice your St Berdoodle feeling stressed, anxious, or down, then it's highly likely their serotonin levels are not in the right place. That's where sunbathing comes in. My Animals states that exposure to sunlight "enhances serotonin production" in your canine. How convenient!

Here's what you need to do to successfully sunbathe with your Saint Berdoodle. First, get a comfy blanket or your dog's bed and place it facing direct sunlight. We recommend using the Calming Cuddle Bed! With memory foam technology embedded throughout its build, this bed offers your furry friend the most relaxing experience. It features premium joint support, pressure relieving technology, and even cooling mechanisms to regulate their body temperature. It's the perfect solution for canine comfort. Once you've got that set up, simply have your dog lie down on it and begin the relaxation!

Dog Puzzles

 

The final chemical solution to help your dog remain calm is giving them a dog puzzle! These canine enrichment toys are essentially mechanical food dispensers. The trick is that they only dispense food when a certain mechanism is interacted with. They are made up of many different moving parts, such as buttons and sliding panels. But how does a dog puzzle work to keep your canine calm? SniffSpot asserts that dog enrichment toys "increase serotonin levels" in your dog's brain! Moreover, they add that owners who use such puzzles with their dogs see a decrease in anxiety and an increase in calm behavior.

We recommend putting our Calming Zen Chews in your dog puzzle to maximize the calming effect. Each bag is rich with pet-safe ingredients, and more importantly, with powerful calming agents such as Chamomile, L-Theanine, and L-Tryptophan for optimal therapeutic effect. Read here why L-Tryptophan is such an effective compound to instill calmness in canines.

photo of a dog puzzle

Wrapping Up

 

The Saint Berdoodle dog breed is one of the most gentle, friendly, and affectionate canines. They truly encompass the best of both their parents, resulting in an intelligent and loyal breed. However, their greatest strength can also be their greatest weakness. Their loving attachment to their family can be turned on its head once the family leaves the house, resulting in debilitating cases of separation anxiety. In other situations, they might be prone to environmental stressors that induce stimulus-driven anxiety. In either case, it's our job as pet parents to learn how to help them.

Make sure to watch for the possible warning signs that your St Berpoo is suffering from either form of anxiety. Once you identify the symptoms and are sure of the diagnosis, it's time to take action. Utilize one of the three strategies that we've discussed here - music therapy, sunbathing, and dog puzzles - to effectively mitigate feelings of stress and anxiety in your St Berdoodle and help them remain calm.

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