As a dog owner, you should consider the dog’s physiological health when observing behaviors. Health and behavior are intertwined, and a dog who is healthy will behave quite differently from a dog who is experiencing pain or illness. Behavior issues such as lethargy, poor focus, or even aggression can be caused by an imbalance in the dog’s health. Often, owners want a quick fix for a behavior issue and think training is the first option. However, determining the root cause of the behavior is the most effective first step, and ensuring the dog’s health and well-being is in order should be the initial consideration.
Just as some humans may struggle in social situations, canines can also feel uncomfortable around other dogs or people. Canine Social Anxiety is a syndrome that affects a dog’s ability to socialize and communicate well with others. While there are several classifications of anxiety, social anxiety occurs in situations where the dog is in contact with other animals or people. This can include dog parks, walks, daycare, or visiting friends and families with pets.
Symptoms of social anxiety can resemble other behavioral issues, so it’s important to consider the dog’s responses, environment, and changes in behavior. Common symptoms may look like attention-seeking, such as barking, whining, and pacing. They may also pant or lick as they attempt to soothe themselves of their worries. Dogs with social anxiety may also look scared, taking a crouch position, tucked tail, and ears back. In some cases, a dog may also show aggression around other dogs as a response to their stress.
Assuming a veterinarian has given a comprehensive medical check and determined the dog is not injured or ill, treating the dog’s social anxiety becomes a vital step in ensuring the dog’s well-being. There are several natural remedies that can support an anxious dog. Trying several options and monitoring the dog’s response are the best ways to determine a personalized treatment plan. One such option is using lavender oils and scents to help create a relaxed atmosphere. Lavender is known for its calming properties, and using a small amount can create a tranquil mood. Skin-safe lavender oil can be massaged into the dog’s skin, or sprays and sachets can be placed around the home to produce the scent.
Another organic option is Bach’s Rescue Remedy. This is a liquid combination of five flower extracts that help produce a calming effect for the dog. It consists of Impatiens, Star of Bethlehem, Cherry Plum, Rock Rose, and Clematis. This tincture is often delivered as a few drops on the tongue or mixed into water. Dosage does not depend on the dog’s weight but rather, the dog’s stress level. Starting with a small dose and observing the effects will help determine the correct amount.
A more recent option for treating anxiety in pets is CBD oil. CBD is a cannabinoid compound found in hemp. While some people misunderstand this oil as a drug that will make the dog high, there is no THC in this oil. CBD can safely help anxious dogs return to a healthier state of mind. CBD oil dosage is based on dog weight, and is about 1-5mg per 10 pounds. While it’s hard to overdose to a toxic level, dosing too high may cause lethargy and an upset stomach.
Any combination of treatments can be used to encourage calmer, more social dog behaviors. They should be considered support rather than a cure-all. Healthy socialization and desensitization training should also be done to help the dog overcome its anxiety. All of these options should first be discussed and approved by the dog’s veterinarian. They will have background information, as well as a strong understanding of your particular dog’s health needs. These natural treatments can provide some levels of relief, but should also be done in conjunction with regular health visits to a certified vet.