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How To Deal With Stress in Dogs Using Essential Oils

I am going to let you in on a little secrete, did you know that my Training Tuesday posts are generally brought up by something that recently happened, or that I witnessed, or helped a client with?

This week is going to be no different.  Yesterday I made a post about asking permission to pet people’s dogs, and added a cool flow chart by Emma Judson.  This was brought up at the dog show we just came home from up in LA.  Let me tell you, dogs shows are a great place to see a lot of behavior in one place.

Today I want to talk about how to gauge your personal dog on how stressed they are. Now we can use the definition of stress as anything that pushes out dogs outside of their norm.  This can mean that they are over the top excited or they could be fearful, plus everything in between.

There are many aspects to this - how to see the signs, how to manage it, etc.  But today we are going to chat specifically about the use of food.

I am huge on counter conditioning any behaviors that I do not love.  This is when we take the “scary thing” and add food at just the right time to change our dog’s opinion of that object or person, so the thing is not so scary anymore.  This is the super-simplified breakdown.

Keeping in mind that it does not have to be a “scary” thing, another example would be the ball crazy dog that goes ballistic anytime a ball is brought out.  We could counter condition the response to the ball, so that the dog sits patiently every time he sees it, instead of body-slamming you.  Get the idea?

Ok, but did you know that while you are working with your dog that they have a built-in gauge that tells us directly how tough the situation is.

That would be their mouth.  I know this may sound a little crazy, but how your dog takes the cookies from your hand is an excellent indicator of how your dog is coping with a situation.

Of course, this is based off of your dog's “normal”.

  • Soft / Regular – dog is coping and all is good in the world.

  • Grabbing / Hard Mouth – dog is now under some stress, thinking may still be occurring.

  • Snatching / Teeth on Hands – dog is likely over threshold, and thinking is not occurring.

[Over Threshold – this when your dog is overly upset by the situation at hand, training typically does not work when they are in this state of mind.]

In the perfect training scenario, we set our dogs up so that we can teach them while increasing their threshold level.  Unfortunately, we tend to get into situations that we get stuck in, and we have to deal with it at that moment.  So, what do you do?

Honestly, the best answer is to create distance from whatever the trigger is.  By creating distance, you are allowing your dog to decompress and think again.  We need a thinking dog for training to sink in and occur.

Please keep in mind that every situation is different, and how we would train through it, though similar, will look different for every dog and handler.  Now you know I am always good for an essential oil tip too!  The oil I like to use in these types of situations is Balance.

This is an oil that helps with physical and mental balance, and when our dogs are struggling to stay under threshold, we need to give them all the help that we can.

Balance is a proprietary blend of coconut, spruce, ho leaf, frankincense, blue tansy, blue chamomile, and osmanthus.

This oil is for topical and aromatic use only and I recommend diffusing at least 20 minutes prior to need.  I also apply to my dog's rear pads, 1-2 drops into my hands, rub together then apply, I then pet down the spine.  No need to add more oil. 

I also like to apply to my wrists and ankles/knees (right at your dog’s nose height) for added support for them during their training session.

Essential Oils Recommended In This Post:




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