Occasionally customers will browse through the supplements at my store and ask “What is good to make my dog less hyper?” or “less this” or “more that”. I respond by asking them a question. “Have you trained your dog?” Their response is usually “No”. Many days I use lavender oil, flower essences or pheromones to assist some of my canine students struggling with various emotional issues that cause behavioral problems. But this effort is always supplemented with training. There are many products available to help make your dog behave the way you think it should behave. Complaints from owners regarding their dog’s dispositions are so prevalent that drug manufacturers are marketing drugs for animals under clever names such as Reconcile, i.e. Prozac. The drug manufacturer does their due diligence of explaining to consumers that they need to combine training with the drug but I know owners well enough to know that too many users are not putting in the effort.
Dogs are like people when it comes to their dispositions. They are multi-faceted and complex. Some dogs are well-balanced. Some are anxious. Some are disconnected. Some are fearful. And some exhibit all of those traits at different times. However, all can be trained. I am not suggesting that training fixes all. I’m the last person to tell you that. But addressing unpleasant personality traits with medications or supplementation alone will only get you so far. I know many dogs that are given prescription medications for the purpose of controlling unwanted behavior who continue to struggle because the owners do not make the effort to interfere with the behavior through training. If owners put forth some effort into the dog’s behavior they would get more mileage out of their prescribed medication or holistic supplement.
However, even those that have put much effort into the training and behavior modification of their dog will not always get what they expect. But that doesn’t mean medication or supplements are something to which an owner must resort. For example, some dogs were born for a certain job and sometimes that job requires tenacity. If that dog doesn’t get to fulfill his purpose the tenacity doesn’t go away. It remains and often comes out in ways that are not appreciated. Owners have to be realistic when they want a German Sheppard to not be protective or a Springer Spaniel to not want to run. Prozac and lavender oil will not change these desires. Perhaps a shift in perspective is what is needed in these cases. Sometimes owners just needs to say to themselves “this is not the dog I expected but it is the dog I have” and learn to appreciate or harness their dog’s traits instead of constantly wishing they weren’t so.
But beyond breed traits a few dogs do indeed need help outside of training when their exhibited behavior exceeds what I believe to be normal and that is why I carry a supplements that address a dog’s emotional issues in my store. And from time to time I suggest some clients ask their veterinarian about medication to assist me and the owner in achieving our goals for their dog. Using supplements or a well-prescribed medication can aid immensely on the journey of helping one’s dog achieve balance. If you are considering using a holistic supplement or prescribed medication to alter your dog’s disposition do yourself and your dog a favor and enroll in an obedience course to bring out the potential in your dog. A little lavender oil and a lot of leadership can go a long way in managing unwanted canine behavior.