Overwork and “Letting Go” Therapy
World Small Animal Veterinary Association Congress Proceedings, 2017
M. Marion
Clinic Montolivet, Marseille, France


The appearance of signs of anxiety in dogs engaged in learning work can be a sign of overwork. This case series explores the efficacy of a new therapeutic method based on “letting go”.


Some authors have described a breakdown in performance at work in explosive detection dogs.1 This phenomenon has also been described in avalanche rescue dogs.2 Overwork is not only a problem for working dogs, as it is also seen in companion dogs.3,4,5 The signs of anxiety vary, and can include: withdrawal, inhibition, obsessive repetitive behavior and psychosomatic disease.


Owner awareness of the problem is not necessarily the only option. The owners of these dogs are often very involved in their dogs’ therapy or education, and it may be more efficient to suggest exercises to relax the dog and reinforce the link.

An original method consists of sprinkling very small pieces of food over a grassy area. The dog is then allowed to sniff out and search for the food without the owner’s intervention, and the dog is self-rewarded by the discovery.


The objective is to provide the dog with a stand-alone “mental” physical exercise and to allow it to become fatigued and then relax without being “ordered” to.


In a society where performance and individual success are highly valued, some owners may demonstrate a mirror effect and a significant desire to exhibit a perfect animal, but this should not affect animal welfare.


Speaker Information
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M. Marion
Clinic Montolivet
Marseille, France

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