While I was at a new client’s several weeks ago, I was motivated to write this after our session was over. She was walking me to my car when she told me they were leaving for a long car ride, over five hundred miles and her dog was stressed to the max in the car. I wanted to hand her a copy of my “Canine Holistic Kit for Home and Car”. The only problem was it didn’t exist. It does now. So does the question, “How is your dog in the car,” on my questionnaire which has been added after all these years.
When I say to people I’m a dog trainer, they start to ask questions. They almost always talk about what upsets them or what upsets their dog. Sometimes they say things that they have never said out loud before. They ask me what they can do for their dog to stop ___________ (fill in the blank). It could be separation issues, thunderstorms, being afraid of the car, or of their Uncle Herman. Most of the time these issues can be dealt with a teaspoon of positive, peaceful training, a dash of behavior mod, and a pinch of some outside calming effects to help make the scary house a quiet, peaceful home. OK, well not quiet ALL the time. There are many ways to set up calm in your house. I like to let people know their options. They then can pick whatever makes them comfortable. There are many ways to help make your house sound safer, smell safer, and feel safer to your dog. People are always shocked that there are so many different ways to help their dog’s “issues”.
First a loud disclaimer: I’m not a vet nor do I play one on TV. It is imperative to understand that there exists a wide spectrum of anxiety issues. As a dog trainer and a dog owner, I have been working for more than twenty years with vets trained in both Eastern and Western medicine. Working together with the owners and their vets we try to form the most cohesive, safest, life plan for their canine best friend. All medical diagnoses, prescriptions and over-the-counter medicine are prescribed by the dog’s vet. All homeopathic and flower essences are supported and supervised by vets and the specialists that prepare the oils.
As with humans, a dog’s fear or anxiety can vary from severe to moderate to mild. For severe cases, and possibly moderate cases they may also need prescription meds similar to those taken by humans. The drugs work the same, and it’s important to use that “window of opportunity” that the drug offers. This is the time to train and use CC and D to help the dog so he may not need these drugs for his whole life. I think of it this way, in layman’s terms: when you can get a clear pathway to the brain, the knowledge and skills that the dog acquires can help replace some of the anxiety or stress. That’s the time to teach alternative behaviors and reactions so the dog can have some skills to cope better. Sometimes we need the meds to clear the path to the brain. When it is determined by your “team of experts” that prescription medication is not necessary, you can proceed with some alternative choices. That said, we can now talk about alternative healing modalities to put in your Canine Holistic Kit for Home and Car.
A few things about healing. This is true for both our dogs and ourselves. The beauty of working with animals is they come with no preconceived notions about alternative medicine. Their minds and bodies are completely open and accepting. When they have joint pain and I give them homeopathic remedies, they walk easier. That’s all I know. When I take it, I walk easier, too. An open mind with some healing intention can go a long way to complete your dog’s health care program. There are exceptions to all rules and with holistic healing it is no different. Remedies need to be tried with each individual animal or person to find their individual response. I learned a long time ago that my partner responded to pharmaceuticals in an opposite way than “most” people; sleeping pills made her hyper and hyper pills made her sleepy. It was a large lesson and one that I think of every time I start a new regimen of healing with any pooch. When people ask about certain issues, I always say, “Well, this works with most dogs, but always watch closely when starting a new plan. Then, if your dog is the one in a million, you won’t be adversely treating him while you try to make him feel better.”
Many of today’s peaceful, positive dog trainers see the dog and family as an integrative system. We not only teach the required “sit”, “down” and “stay”, but we look at all aspects of the dog’s life. I will never try to replace or substitute a vet. When physical and cognitive ailments have been ruled out by the dog’s vet, that’s when a trainer with a big tool box full of many different options can be helpful. Many modern peaceful, force-free trainers have vast information about new and helpful ways besides training that may keep your dog’s stressors below threshold. All of these different modalities can form a cohesive program to keep your dog safe and calm and therefore, most likely, happy and content. Many behavioral issues that occur due to stress can be successfully helped with behavior modification and alternative healing modalities.
Many vets these days are opening up to alternative healing, walking side-by-side with traditional Western medicine. There is a vast world out there for many opinions and many different modalities. As long as your vet, vet behaviorist, trainer and any other healers are all working together — with open communication — for the benefit of the dog, there should be no problems. There are still some vets that think alternative medicine is “a waste of time and money”. I’ve always been very quiet about the vets with “old fashioned” beliefs, but it’s time for me to stop being quiet. If you are working with a vet that ABSOLUTELY refuses to work with all options available (including nutrition, titering and responsible vaccination protocols) or makes you feel bad or wasteful for trying, perhaps you need to look for another vet who may better suit your needs. It’s 2011 and when I started 20 years ago this was a very controversial issue. It’s not controversial anymore. It is so important to include all healing modalities that are appropriate when trying to help your best friend. There seems to be many more opened minded vets than not. Try to find one. There, I’ve said it. Bring on the discussion, no yelling please.
The Canine Holistic Kit for Home and Car
for your holistic family
Home and Car
- One to three CD’s “Through a Dog’s Ears” Home version www.throughadogsear.com
- Lavender Essential oil, Any health food or aromatherapy store
- 5 Flower Essence A Bach Flower remedy www.bachflower.com
- Rescue Remedy, a homeopathic stress remedy, www.bachflower.com
- Arnica, for muscle and joint ailments. Or, for just a long day in the field, www.boironusa.com
- DAP Comfort Zone, wwwpetcomfortzone.com
- Calling All Angels, for space issues and thunderstorms Alaskan Essence
- Thundershirt, Ttouch or anxiety wrap. Thundershirt
- Canine Massage Book
Car: If you dog is anxious, uncomfortable, or car sick.
- One CD “Through a Dog’s Ears” Car version, don’t drive with the home version.
- Nux Vomica, for nausea. www.boironusa.com
- Walnut, for travel and transitions www.bachflower.com
- Except for the DAP and the Thundershirt, all these remedies and essences can be shared by human and canine alike.
Flower essences and holistic remedies come in different brands and flower essences have many different remedies. The essences listed are just a sample of what is available. Talk to your vet, your behaviorist, your trainer and any other trusted healer.