Dog and Fear-based Reactions
Answered by: Kerry Hackett
Question from: Crystal Ragan
Posted on: November 06, 2007

At 10 weeks old my male Aussie pup had a bad experience with a neighbor’s dog (small white westhighland white terrier) and since that time he has been diagnosed with fear reaction (bad alarm barking and lunging if he feels threatened). We have worked with an animal behaviorist and have gone from only being able to be 30 feet from a dog without a reaction to participating in a group pre-agility class. However, if a dog in our group makes a sudden unexpected movement or we run across a dog with bad manners (nasty barker) he gets so upset that he barks and whines. Right now I give him 1/2 of a Quiet Moments Tablet one hour before class which seems to take the edge off. After running into this website I wonder if there is a blend of something that he could be given to help him settle down and not be so anxious and barky with sudden stimuli. His name is Beacon and he is highly intelligent and is on a high intermediate level of training. If I cannot get him to settle in with moving dogs it is doubtful that we will be able to continue with full agility training.

According to a website search, the tablet you mention contains:** Chamomile, Passion Flower, Thiamine Mononitrate, Ginger and L-Tryptophan. This blend focusses on the the symptoms of a dog’s behaviour and uses the sedative properties of the above ingredients to calm and relax. It does not, however, address the cause of the problem: your dog’s early encounter as described in your email. In order to deal with the root issue, you might want to look at the use of flower essences. These were originally developed by Dr. Edward Bach in the late 1920’s in answer to the recurring trend he saw in his practice: that physical conditions often have their origin in emotional inbalance. Since Dr. Bach’s time, many flower essence companies have also joined the market. The two companies to which I refer below are Bach Flower Essences and the North American Flower Essences; these should be available at any good health food shop in your area. In my experience, flower remedies work wonderfully with both animals and humans. In this case I feel the most appropriate remedies would be: Echinacea, Arnica, Impatiens, Star of Bethlehem and Walnut. Fill an amber glass 50ml dropper bottle almost to the top with spring water and add two drops of each of the flower essences as listed above. Put one dropper of the mixture in your dog’s food twice a day. You may also give him a dropperful directly by mouth before going off to class but try to avoid touching the dropper to his mouth. If it for some reason touches his mouth or another surface, rinse the dropper before replacing it back in the dropper bottle. This blend is meant to help your dog leave his earlier traumatic experience behind and thus be less likely to react to surprises when they occur.

In addition, I have found that a homemade diet generally has a calming affect on the nervous system of most animals; it may be useful for you to investigate this concept further. Please see the work of Richard Pitcairn, "Natural Health for Dogs and Cats", "The Complete Herbal Handbook for the Dog and Cat" by Juliette de Bairacli Levy and "The Barf Diet" by Ian Billinghurst for further information and recipes.

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