Most of you and your friends have pets that are well cared for, if not downright pampered. Their lives, in our eyes, are perfect with plenty of food, treats, fancy collars, and state-of-the-art strollers. What is there to worry our dogs?
I don’t have a good answer, but I do know that dogs harbor a lot of anxiety.
I see it multiple times a day. In our practice we have no waiting room so there are no other dogs around, our office is carpeted like a home, we spend 15-20 minutes just talking with pet parents to let the dogs roam and adjust and diffuse very calming essential oils. Yet 1/3 of our patients still show anxious behavior - under the furniture or cuddle next to their owner with that terrified look or are reluctant to be examined.
Most of our clients will explain the behaviors are due to abuse prior to adoption or purchase or some other imagined horrific early life experience.
The fact is, we can never know the cause but we do know that the fear or an anxiety condition is not healthy for dogs. Such feelings cause the release of fight-or-flight or stress hormones. Although necessary for survival short term, these hormones are unhealthy long term.
Anxious dogs are also more likely to run away from home during fireworks, thunderstorms, home construction etc.
Anxious dogs need exposure to unusual circumstances. Supervised play dates with other dogs and people. A rule of thumb for socializing puppies is one new experience every day. Why not do that with your anxious older dog-or at least 2-3 times a week?
Many essential oils help calm dogs without the heavy effects of tranquilizers and puppy Prozac.
There are also western and traditional Chinese herbs that “reset” the brain's anxious meter. We can help you with treatment and dosages for essential oils, and herbs and other helpful tinctures.
My biggest obstacle is trying to help an anxious dog with an anxious owner. I find that dog owners are quite uncomfortable and anxious at the veterinarian’s office. They, unfortunately, transmit that fear to their dog making it very difficult to solve their dog’s medical problem. I can’t tell you how many times I would like to prescribe calming supplements to some clients. I find these same individuals are uncomfortable around other dog owners as well, making exposure less successful.
Dog owners are just that, owners not trainers. A behaviorist or a trainer can be more objective about your dog and show you methods for reducing anxiety and modifying anxious behavior responses. You need to be a part of that instruction.
Training is forever, and you need to be an equal partner.