PODCAST – Dog Training Questions for Don and Kate with special guest host Dr. Mark Hanks – part 2

18JUL15-Dog Training w-Mark Hanks-Part-2 400x400Dr. Mark Hanks from Kindred Spirits Veterinary Clinic has been a frequent guest on The Woof Meow Show, giving Kate and I several opportunities to “pick his brain” about a wide variety of topics. For quite some time he’s been asking to “host” the show and to turn the tables so to speak; interviewing Kate and I and asking us questions about animal behavior and training.

In this episode Dr. Hanks asks Kate and Don about: Green Acres holistic approach to training (husbandry, nutrition, body language, ethology, and training) and how we work with families to understand their dog and the importance of having a good foundation of education so people can better understand their dogs, how some students may attend class without their dog either because their dog is sick, in heat or simply because the dog learns better at home, private training options at Green Acres, the critical period of puppy socialization and habituation, why socialization needs to be actively planned and implemented by owners – it doesn’t just happen, what do you do you when want your puppy to be a therapy dog, the difference between therapy dogs, service/assistance dogs, and emotional support dogs, the fake service dog epidemic, can you teach an old dog new tricks, how do you deal with constant barking, and how do you deal with clients that need the dogs behavior changed tomorrow.

You can listen to this episode of The Woof Meow Show at: http://traffic.libsyn.com/woofmeowshow/WoofMeowShow-2015-07-18-Dog_Training_Questions_for_Don_and_Kate_w_guest_host_Dr_Mark_Hankspart-2.mp3

You can download this episode of The Woof Meow Show at the Apple iTunes store, or you can download it at: http://woofmeowshow.libsyn.com/webpage

You can listen others episodes in this series at the links below.

Pet Behavior Counseling and Don and Kate – 10JAN15 – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/01/10/podcast-pet-behavior-counseling-and-don-and-kate-with-special-guest-host-dr-mark-hanks/

Dog Training Questions for Don and Kate, part 1– 12JUL15 – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/07/12/podcast-dog-training-questions-for-don-and-kate-with-special-guest-host-dr-mark-hanks-part-1/

Dog Training Questions for Don and Kate, part 3– 26JUL15 – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/07/27/blog-post-27jul15-podcast-dog-training-questions-for-don-and-kate-with-special-guest-host-dr-mark-hanks-part-3/

For more information on the Woof Meow Show go to: http://www.greenacreskennel.com/woof-meow-show/the-woof-meow-show

©2015, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved <Click for Copyright and Use Policy>

Training – How I Trained A Chicken

< A version of this article was originally published in the APDT Newsletter NOV/DEC 1999>

I knew of Marian and Bob Bailey but had never heard them speak until the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) Conference in Valley Forge in the fall of 1998. After spending an hour with them and their chickens, I realized there was a great deal that the Bailey’s could teach me. I knew they were having a 5-Day workshop in the summer, and like an eager retriever waiting for dinner, could not wait to sign-up.

Chicken at "Chicken Camp"
Chicken at “Chicken Camp”

When I told my family, staff, friends and clients that I was going to Arkansas to learn to train chickens, everybody laughed; “You can’t be serious,” they said. I was serious and off I went. In the process of learning how to train chickens, I became a better dog trainer!

Between the two of them, Marian and Bob Bailey have over 100 years of training experience, with more than 15,000 animals, across 140 species, from cockroaches to killer whales. I doubt any living person has more knowledge of using operant conditioning to train animals.

With all of their expertise, the Bailey’s could easily be prima donnas. They could be animal training gurus but all they desire is to share their knowledge and experience with those who wish to learn. Those of us who have experienced the Bailey’s workshops are fortunate that Bob and Marian would rather be teaching than enjoying an idyllic life in their lakeshore home. I believe anyone who trains animals, no matter how skilled or experienced, would learn a great deal from Marian and Bob, about training animals and about teaching people.

So what do you learn when you go to the Bailey’s Operant Conditioning workshop, or as I call it “Chicken Camp?”

You learn:

  • How to wrangle chickens (something new for us city folk, and necessary if you want to train a chicken).
  • Training is a mechanical skill. Training is a mechanical skill. Training is a mechanical skill, (something Bob and the chickens never let you forget, ever).
  • The importance of Timing, Criteria and Rate of Reinforcement (this is the key to it all!).
  • Training is simple but not easy, and is most effective when planned and executed in a scientific manner (most trainers make things more difficult than they need to be).
  • Animals can be trained to reliably perform complex behaviors, exclusively with positive reinforcement. In the 15,000+ animals trained by the Bailey’s, they used positive punishment no more than a dozen times.

Chicken Wrangling

Having only handled a chicken once before, I was a bit tentative about reaching into that cage to get my chicken. Feathers do not feel anything like fur, and while puppies tend to lick, the chickens tend to peck. Especially if they know you are intimidated. Actually, I was lucky compared to my friend Carolyn Clark who was affectionately calling her chicken Fang by the end of the first day. Fortunately for me, I became good friends with my chickens by the end of the week.

Bob kept telling us “You are bigger, stronger and smarter than the chicken” and eventually we started to believe him. (Note he never said we were faster). We were handling “experienced” birds, ones that had been used at several chicken camps, as well as “rookie” birds that had no prior chicken camp experience. These chickens were raised in a barnyard and were a bit wild. We were well matched with the rookie birds because on that first day we did not know any more than they did. Our first goal with the rookies was socialization and getting them accustomed to being handled. When you think about it, they really are not that different from puppies.

The experienced chickens, however, came with baggage. Not Samsonite, but training mistakes, inadvertent or advertent, which had been made at previous camps. Bob explained that they do chicken camps at universities and you can only imagine what students will train a chicken to do. Working with these experienced chickens was not unlike many of the shelter dogs we all see. We could train them new things, but also had to do some un-training.

Training Is A Mechanical Skill

The workshop was a mixture of lectures and hands-on chicken training experience. The first couple of days were spent on developing the timing and mechanical aptitude necessary to be an effective chicken trainer. Chickens are extremely fast and you must become almost as fast as the chicken.

To be the most effective you can be, a trainer needs to be able to observe the animal for behavior, mark the behavior precisely, deliver the reinforcement in a timely manner and be ready to do it again and again, rapidly. The concept is very simple, but it is not as easy as it seems.

You develop these skills like any other mechanical skills, with practice. When you are rewarding chickens with feed from a cup, you must have a nice, fast fluid motion that does not scare the chicken and does not spill feed all over the table. The act of clicking and delivering the reward must become an automatic response on your part so that you can concentrate on observing behavior and monitoring the animal’s response. It is difficult to count pecks per minute when you are concentrating on clicking and delivering the food.

Bob helped us develop these skills much like we might train a dog, shaping in small increments. We first practiced just moving the cup to present the food, no clicking and no chicken at this point. Then we added food to the cup which added a whole new dimension. If you move the cup to fast, you spill food all over the table. Next we added the chicken and started presenting food but still no clicking. Finally, by the end of the first day, we combined all of the steps and clicked and presented food to our experienced chicken.

While most of us who train dogs already have good mechanical skills, it is something lacking in many of our students. Spending some time working on these skills, in addition to having them work with their dogs, would be beneficial. It is something I believe we need to spend more time on in our classes. The use of a video camera can be a great aid in developing timing skills.

Timing, Rate of Reinforcement and Criteria

The Bailey’s believe that most problems in training, (where the trainer believes the animal is just “not getting it”), are actually trainer problems related to timing, the rate of reinforcement or the criteria being used. I think we all understand the importance of timing so I will not go into details. As indicated above, the best way to improve your timing is to practice. It is a mechanical skill. It also involves understanding the animal so you can anticipate the behavior and be ready.

Based on their experiences, the Bailey’s believe it is essential to keep the animal’s rate of reinforcement at a high level when training. The animal will match your pace, and if you work quickly, so will the animal. If you work slowly, the animal will slow down and be at increased risk for being distracted. Training is all about repetitions, and the faster you get the repetitions, the more efficient you will become.

Bob emphasized that timing of the delivery of the reward is also very important. While the clicker buys you some time, delivery of the treat needs to be prompt, particularly in the early stages of training. For example, when teaching a dog to heel, the treat needs to be given while the dog is still in a heel position. If the delivery of the reinforcement is delayed too long, the animal may exhibit an undesired behavior and may associate the reinforcement with the wrong behavior, even if you clicked at the right time.

The Bailey’s emphasize that training works better when you have a clear idea of the behavior you want and the steps it will take to get there. It is important to break a behavior down into small incremental responses, splitting, something many people find difficult as opposed to grouping several response together, lumping. Bob also advocates planning a training session and committing that plan to paper before you start, but more on that later.

When you specify a criterion for a training session, make sure it is broad enough so that the animal can be successful. For example if we are working on the heel position we might start by clicking and treating every time the dog is within 3 feet of our left leg. When 8 out of 10 training trials are successful, it is time to raise the criteria for the next training session. You want to keep the range of acceptable criteria sufficiently large so that you can make a steady progression forward. When the animal only meets the criteria twice out of 10 trials, learning is not taking place. If you have to backup and lower the criteria because you moved too fast, you are wasting time.

Training Is A Science

The Bailey’s approach to training animals is as a science and as a business. The methods they used in their business, Animal Behavior Enterprises, had to be effective, efficient and reliable. They strongly advocate planning and maintaining data on each session. I will be the first to admit that I do not document each and every training session. I have a clear goal when I start, but then tend to “go with the flow.” I believe my style works, but am convinced that I need to give Bob’s way a try. I do believe that keeping track of my chickens response rate did make us progress faster. I am hesitant to ask students to do it, because I think maintaining records may be too overwhelming, but it is something I will be trying with my own dogs.

UPDATE: I still don’t write a training plan as often as I should; however, in the fall of 1999, just a few months after my first chicken camp, we rescued a Cairn Terrier that we would name Dulcie. It was my intention to take her through our training classes like I would with any other dog. On the first night, it was clear that she was fine in a room full of dogs and people but she was not going to be lured into a sit like the other dogs. It turned out Dulcie was incredibly hand shy and any attempt to get hear her head with my hand, necessary when luring,  resulted in her rapidly scrambling backwards to safety.

Dulcie "sitting" on cue for a photo
Dulcie “sitting” on cue for a photo

My next thought was I’ll just capture her sits when we’re hanging around in my office or the house. It turns out Dulcie was not a “sitter.” She was either in motion, standing, or lying down comfortably.

Dulcie presented me with my first opportunity to develop a training plan to shape her to understand the “sit” behavior. I started by using the clicker to teach her a simple touch behavior so that she could learn the meaning of the “click” and the reinforcement. When I was able to put that on a cue, I started shaping a sit. Within two months’ time and a total of 47 sixty-second training trials (we did not work every day) Dulcie had a reliable sit cue in multiple environments, with and without distractions with me in any position. My total training time to get a really reliable sit behavior, less than one hour. Developing and following a plan, keeping records or of progress or lack of progress, and adjusting the plan according, worked extremely well. – djh, 19JUL15

Bob also believes we need to avoid “trying to get into the animals head.” Since we cannot really know what they are thinking, there is no point in wasting time considering it.

Schedules of Reinforcement

The Bailey’s firmly believe, and they base this on many years of experience, that the use of anything other than continuous reinforcement is not necessary for most pet dog training. This runs contrary to what many other clicker based dog trainers say and do. The position many take is that variable reinforcement is necessary in order to get a strong, reliable behavior. I must admit, we used continuous reinforcement to train our chickens and when it came time to extinguish those behaviors, it was not easy. Continuous reinforcement can build very strong behaviors.

I need to give this some more thought before I decide how to handle it in my classes. Reinforcement schedules are not an easy subject for many students to grasp, and not talking about them may make training easier. I chatted with other trainers at the workshop about how they handle this and the consensus was that when students try to do variable reinforcement most do not do it very well. However, when they are not trying, nature takes over and they start doing it without realizing it. Perhaps that alone is sufficient.

UPDATE: Over the years we have learned that if we teach continuous reinforcement to our students they will eventually move to a somewhat schedule of random variable reinforcement on their own. Helping students to understand the value of reinforcement and that their dog will not do things “just to please them” is still one of the biggest obstacles in teaching. For so many years people have heard that “dogs should work for praise” which essentially means work for free, that they are very hesitant to reward at all, much less frequently enough or with a high enough value reinforcer. Fortunately, they’re starting to get it. – djh, 19JUL15

R+, P-, P+ and R-

No workshop on operant conditioning could be complete without a discussion on the various aspects of reinforcement and punishment. Over the past couple of years we have seen the definition of a clicker trainer evolve to mean a trainer who uses the positive reinforcement and negative punishment aspects of operant conditioning. Many of us specifically choose not to use positive punishment or negative reinforcement. While Bob freely admits he has used all aspects of operant conditioning, he clearly believes that the positive punishment should only be used as a last resort, and must be applied carefully. If you have to do it more than twice, you are not doing it properly.

Bob told us that of the 15,000+ animals he and Marian have trained they have only used positive punishment a dozen times or less, and that was at the insistence of the client. They felt the use of punishment was not necessary. I think the Bailey’s record should convince the most obstinate doubters that positive punishment is rarely necessary. Bob served as the first Director of Training for the U.S. Navy Marine Mammal program and accomplished some absolutely amazing feats of training, many of them still classified. If a dolphin can be trained to do a 30+ mile directed retrieve, it should not be necessary to use punishment to train a dog as a pet or even for competition.

So, would I go to chicken camp again? You, bet I would! I think the most seasoned, experienced dog trainers in the world could learn a great deal from the Bailey’s, as long as they are willing to learn.

UPDATE: Between 1996 and 2014 I’ve attended over 1447 hours/ 180 days of training on animal behavior and training. Out of all those hours the most valuable were: 1) my two weeks at Chicken Camp with Bob and Marian Bailey, 2) my one week at Wolf Park with Dr. Erich Klinghammer, Dr. Ray Coppinger, Terry Ryan, Ken McCort and Pat Goodmann, 3) my several sessions with Turid Rugaas, 4) my week at the Shedd Aquarium with Ken Ramirez, and 5) my many days of training with Heather Simpson at the Natural Animal Centre. I mention these opportunities here with the advice, if you are on the fence about chicken camp…. DO IT! – djh, 19JUL15

Graduation photo from Introductory Operant Conditioning workshop with Marian and Bob Bailey - 1999
Graduation photo from Introductory Operant Conditioning workshop with Marian and Bob Bailey – 1999
Graduation photo from Intermediate Operant Conditioning workshop with Marian and Bob Bailey - 2000
Graduation photo from Intermediate Operant Conditioning workshop with Marian and Bob Bailey – 2000

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

©2015, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved <Click for Copyright and Use Policy>

Canine Behavior – What Should I Do When My Dog Growls?

A dog that growls is not a bad dog.

<This article was also published in the July 14, 2015 edition of The Maine Edge>

While a dog’s growl can be frightening and disheartening, it also serves the very useful purpose of alerting us or another being that the dog is feeling threatened, uncomfortable or angry. It is the dog’s way of saying “If something in this situation does not change, I may have no other choice except to bite.” Growling is a communication tool that is designed to increase the distance between the dog and that which the dog perceives as a threat.

Dog growling over a stick
Dog growling over a stick

While a growl is usually associated with “aggression”, it is important to understand that there are many causes of aggression. Pain or other medical issues can cause an aggressive response, as can fear. Fear arises for many reasons; a reminder of a previous negative experience, a perceived loss of a resource or space, expectations of punishment and associated pain, and maternal protective instincts can all cause a dog to react “aggressively”. Sexual competition, barrier frustration, low tolerance for frustration, differences in personalities between dogs, and genetics may also cause or contribute to aggressive behavior.

As a certified dog behavior consultant (CDBC) I deal with a greater number of aggressive dogs than the average person. I appreciate it when a client’s dog growls thus giving me a warning and an opportunity to change my behavior so I do not get bitten. For this reason, I advise all my clients and students that it is NEVER wise to punish a dog for growling; even saying “No” or looking at the dog crossly can constitute punishment. Dogs that are repeatedly punished for growling eventually may not give warning and immediately escalate to biting.  A dog that has learned not to growl due to punishment is far more dangerous than a dog that will give a warning growl before escalating to biting. These dogs will also be much more difficult to rehabilitate.

If your dog is in a situation where they growl; as calmly as possible step back and assess the circumstances surrounding the growling. If possible, ask whatever is causing your dog to remain still and to increase the distance away from your dog. Keeping safety foremost in your mind, and with as little fanfare and emotion as possible, call your dog back to you or if they are on leash get them to follow you as you back away from the situation to a place where they will feel safe and secure. Your dog will pick-up on your emotions and if they sense you are upset, angry or afraid your dog is likely to become more reactive. Do not keep your dog in a stressful situation and try to reassure them or yell at them for growling, neither is likely to be helpful. Once you have ensured the safety of all parties, you need to try to determine what caused your dog to feel threatened and defensive in the first place. To keep you and your dog safe, you should make sure that they are on a short leash, nothing longer than 6 feet, in any similar situations in the future.

If your dog is growling frequently, or growling is very out of character for your dog, you should schedule a veterinary exam to rule out any physical causes such as pain or illness. If the growling and aggression are not due to medical reasons it is time to seek a consultation with a credentialed and experienced dog behavior consultant to work with you in resolving your dog’s behavior. The sooner you seek guidance the better. Aggression rarely improves without intervention and the more times it occurs, the more likely it is to reoccur and the longer it will take to resolve.

It is important to understand that obedience training alone is extremely unlikely to resolve an aggression issue. Training certain behaviors like “Look” and “Leave It” may be useful in managing your dog when they are reactive, but will not change the way your dog is feeling. Aggression is an emotional response, sometimes due to a feeling of having no control over a situation. Sitting and staying for you on cue does not afford the dog a sense of control and may actually increase their fear and the accompanying response. Imagine how you would feel if you were afraid of bees and someone forced you to sit in a room full of bees until you “got over it.” I think you’d agree that would only make you more reactive and afraid.

In order to resolve aggression, we need to change the dog’s emotions. This is most commonly accomplished through a program of behavior modification and may include the use of medications prescribed by your veterinarian as well as complementary remedies, such as Bach Flower remedies, selected by a qualified practitioner. Aggression will seldom go away on its own and the longer you wait, the harder it is to resolve. Dogs grow into aggression, not out of it. If you are having concerns, the time to seek help is now.

Links

To find a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant – <click here>

To find a Bach Foundation Registered Animal Practitioner <click here>

 

©2015, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved <Click for Copyright and Use Policy>

PODCAST – Dog Training Questions for Don and Kate with special guest host Dr. Mark Hanks – part 1

11JUL15-Dog Training Questions for Don and Kate w-Mark Hanks-Part-1 400x400Dr. Mark Hanks from Kindred Spirits Veterinary Clinic has been a frequent guest on The Woof Meow Show, giving Kate and I several opportunities to “pick his brain” about a wide variety of topics. For quite some time he’s been asking to “host” the show and to turn the tables so to speak; interviewing Kate and I and asking us questions about animal behavior and training.

In the second of four shows in this series, Dr. Hanks interviews Don and Kate about their experiences as professional dog trainers. He asks Kate and Don about: how training has changed in the past 26 years since Mark began his practice, why training a dog is important, the importance of training for mental enrichment, how breed effects training and compatibility with a family, how human intervention has adversely effected health and behavior, researching dogs before one decides what dog and breed to get, making temperament a key decision when picking a dog, what we typically teach a client and their dog, Green Acres holistic approach to training (husbandry, nutrition, body language, ethology, and training), inadvertent reinforcement of undesirable behaviors, the continuing necessity to refute antiquated and inaccurate myths about canine behavior, the optimal age for starting training,  the structure of Green Acres training classes, Green Acres program to help parents find the best pet for them, how family lifestyles have changed and how that affects time for a dog, knowing when to wait before starting a group training class, and how they deal with special needs rescue dogs.

You can listen to this episode of The Woof Meow Show at: http://traffic.libsyn.com/woofmeowshow/WoofMeowShow-2015-07-11-Dog_Training_Questions_for_Don_and_Kate_w_guest_host_Dr_Mark_Hankspart-1.mp3

You can download this episode of The Woof Meow Show at the Apple iTunes store, or you can download it at: http://woofmeowshow.libsyn.com/webpage

You can listen others episodes in this series at the links below.

Pet Behavior Counseling and Don and Kate – 10JAN15 – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/01/10/podcast-pet-behavior-counseling-and-don-and-kate-with-special-guest-host-dr-mark-hanks/

Dog Training Questions for Don and Kate, part 2– 19JUL15 – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/07/19/podcast-dog-training-questions-for-don-and-kate-with-special-guest-host-dr-mark-hanks-part-2/

Dog Training Questions for Don and Kate, part 3– 26JUL15 – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/07/27/blog-post-27jul15-podcast-dog-training-questions-for-don-and-kate-with-special-guest-host-dr-mark-hanks-part-3/

For more information on the Woof Meow Show go to: www.woofmeowshow.com

 

©2015, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved <Click for Copyright and Use Policy>

Selecting A Pet Care Provider – Yes! A Trend Towards Kinder and Gentler Professional Pet Care – A Veterinary Perspective – Part 3

This article first appeared in the July 2015 edition of the Downeast Dog News.

<You can listen to a companion podcast to this article, first broadcast on The Woof Meow Show on the Voice of Maine on June 27, 2015, by clicking here>

When this series started back in April, the intent was to alert pet owners that not all pet care services are pet-friendly and to emphasize the importance of making sure a pet has the most positive experience possible when it is boarding, day-caring, being groomed, training or while at the veterinarian. All of these animal care services can be done with a pet friendly approach; our pets deserve that. In this column I’ll be focusing on visits to the veterinarian and how many in the veterinary community are working to make those visits fear-free.

Few people look forward to visiting the doctor or the dentist so we should not be surprised when our pets get anxious at the veterinarian. A healthcare usage study by Bayer Veterinary indicated that 37% of dog owners and 58% of cat owners said their pets hate going to the vet1. Going to the vet can be a frightening experience and fear is a powerful emotion. According to Dr. Marty Becker, “Fear is the worst thing a social species can experience and it causes permanent damage to the brain.” As a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant, I work with many dog owners and their dogs, often on fear related issues. It is a basic survival mechanism that allows fear to be locked into a memory in an instant and that trauma can be remembered for a lifetime. While these fears may be overcome, it can often take weeks, months, and even years of work to do so.

Unfortunately, if we as pet owners and the pet care professionals handling our animals don’t recognize the signs and detrimental effects of stress and fear in our dogs and cats we cannot help them. In her blog The Science Dog, Linda P. Case recently wrote about fear and two research studies2 that examined how well owners and pet care professionals recognized and responded to signs of stress and fear in dogs. The first study indicated that over 90% of the people that participated could tell when a dog was happy; however, only 70% of dog professionals and 60% of dog owners could identify the fearful dogs. [bold emphasis mine]. That means a significant number of pet professionals and dog owners cannot tell when their dog is stressed or afraid. Clearly there needs to be more education in this arena.

The late Dr. Sophia Yin, a veterinarian and animal behaviorist, made it her mission to educate other veterinarians, pet professionals and pet owners on how people can better understand and interact with pets so as to reduce stress for all concerned. Her seminars, DVDs, and book on low stress handling of pets have helped pet professionals make their practices “pet-friendly.” When professionals can identify fear and stress, and know how to respond accordingly, they can make efforts to minimize or eliminate it so that pets actually enjoy visiting and being handled. At the same time, the skills learned help staff become more competent in animal handling, resulting in improved safety for all parties and reduced costs. Pet professionals, pet owners and pets are all benefiting tremendously from these practices3.

Many other veterinarians are also addressing this issue.  Dr. Marty Becker is a veterinarian who is actively educating his colleagues on the importance of fear-free veterinary visits. In January, Dr. Becker presented on this topic at the North American Veterinary Community conference1, one of the largest continuing education events for veterinarians in the world. He talked about the Hippocratic Oath taken by veterinarians which emphasizes “First do no harm” and to “Cure sometimes. Treat often. Comfort always” [bold emphasis mine]. He discussed how the intense focus on medicine has caused veterinarians to sometimes neglect the parts about doing no harm. Dr. Becker continually underscores the value of making sure a patient is comfortable.

The trend toward fear-free veterinary visits is rapidly growing. A Google search of the words “fear free veterinary visits” yields about 819,000 results. The website DVM360, a website for the veterinary community, lists 19 articles on the fear-free philosophy from April 1st through June 5th alone.

With this trend, the move towards “Fear-Free” veterinary care is alive and well in Maine. Kate and I recently invited Dr. David Cloutier, from the Veazie Veterinary Clinic4, to join us on The Woof Meow Show to discuss his clinic’s approach to fear-free veterinary care. Dr. Cloutier is clearly very passionate about this topic. He explained how it’s not only the best approach for the vet, the vet’s staff, the pet owner and the pet, but is also personally very rewarding.

On our show with Dr. Cloutier we talked about dogs and cats and the fact that creating a fear-free visit for a cat is every bit as important as a fear-free exam for a dog however, because of a cats highly developed flight or fight instincts, doing so takes even more effort. Dr. Cloutier worries that if a cat owner has a bad experience taking their cat to the veterinarian that they may never go back to any veterinarian. This can result in very negative consequence for that cat’s health which is why making every visit a good one is so essential.

Some of the things that Dr. Cloutier and his team at Veazie Veterinary are doing to make a pet’s visit fear-free include staff training on behavior, stress, and canine and feline body language, having separate waiting areas for dogs and cats, being patient and allowing pets time to settle, minimizing restraint as well as the number of people in the room with the animal during an exam and treatment, using high-value treats to reward calm behavior and to desensitize a pet to any perceived threats, using pheromones like Feliway with cats to help calm them, and teaching clients what they can do at home to help prepare their pets for a visit to the vet.

It is essential for all pet care professionals to be following a pet friendly, fear-free philosophy if we are going to do well by your pets. If one of us causes a pet to have a fearful experience, due to the way the brain processes and remembers fear, that animal may now fear all of us.

Lastly, we talked with Dr. Cloutier about the role of the pet owner in reducing stress. That role starts with learning about your pet and signs of stress and discomfort.  Next it requires you to be an advocate for your pet and all of the people that participate in your pet’s care. You not only need to make sure that pet professionals that care for your pet follow a pet friendly philosophy, but you also want to make sure that family members and friends that care for your pet also follow your philosophy. Your pet cannot speak for themselves so please ask questions and speak on their behalf. They’ll be glad you did.

Next month’s article will be focused on specific things you can do at home to help prepare your pet for a visit to your veterinarian, a boarding kennel, the groomer, or a training class.

References

1 Creating Fear Free® Veterinary Visits Puts Pets Back Into Practices -DrMartyBecker.com, Presentation at NAVC – http://www.drmartybecker.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/Creating-Fear-Free-Veteirnary-Visits-NAVC-15-FINAL.pdf

2 Fear Itself, The Science Dog, June 9, 2015, by Linda P. Case – https://thesciencedog.wordpress.com/2015/06/09/fear-itself/

3 http://drsophiayin.com/

4 http://www.veazievet.com/

 

Other Links of Interest

Signs of anxiety and fear in dogs from Dr. Marty Becker – http://dvm360.com/sites/default/files/images/pdfs-for-alfresco-articles/Signs_of_anxiety_fear.pdf

Links to the first two part of this series can be found below.

Selecting A Pet Care Provider – Yes! A Trend Towards Kinder and Gentler Professional Pet Care – Green Acres Kennel Shop’s “Pet Friendly” Philosophy – Part 1 – <Click Here>

Selecting A Pet Care Provider – Yes! A Trend Towards Kinder and Gentler Professional Pet Care – The PPG – Part 2 – <Click Here>

 

______________________________________________________________________________
Don Hanson is the co-owner of the Green Acres Kennel Shop (greenacreskennel.com) in Bangor. He is a Bach Foundation Registered Animal Practitioner (BFRAP), Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC), Associate Certified Cat Behavior Consultant (ACCBC) and a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA). He produces and co- hosts a weekly radio show and podcast, The Woof Meow Show heard on The Pulse AM620 WZON and streamed at http://www.wzonradio.com/ every Saturday at 9 AM. A list of upcoming shows and podcasts of past shows can be found at www.woofmeowshow.com. Don also writes about pets at his blog: www.words-woofs-meows.com.

©2015, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved <Click for Copyright and Use Policy>

Dog Behavior – Puppy Socialization and Habituation

<Updated on 29OCT17>

Actively and wisely socializing a puppy between 8 and 16 weeks of age is as critical to a puppy’s behavioral health as vaccinations are to their physical health. Click here to listen  to an eight minute podcast where Dr. David Cloutier and Don Hanson discuss this critical issue.

I cannot stress enough the importance of socialization at this juncture in your puppy’s life. Dogs have a critical socialization period, which typically occurs between 8 and 16 weeks of age, allowing room for some individual variability. It is during this time that they will be most open to new and different experiences. What they are not exposed to during this time frame, they will be more likely to fear later in life. This does not mean that just because they were exposed to something they will never fear it, but it certainly decreases the chances of this occurring.

Gus Getting His 1st Bath
Gus Getting His 1st Bath

A Puppy Headstart class alone is not adequate socialization for your puppy but is a great place to start. Having a credentialed instructor there to ensure sanitation and hygiene, to supervise puppy interactions and to answer student’s questions is invaluable.

All puppies need to be safely exposed to as many different places, people, environments and situations as possible without over stimulating them. This is even more critical for the puppy that is unsure of himself, shy or fearful. It is even more important if you hope to have your puppy work as a certified therapy dog or as any type of service/assistance dog.

Many puppy owners are concerned about bringing their puppy out into public, as they have not completed their vaccination series. Since socialization is so essential to the behavioral well being of a dog and since much of this period occurs before a puppy is fully vaccinated, the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior recommends …it should be the standard of care for puppies to receive such socialization before they are fully vaccinated.”1

In a letter to the veterinary community at-large, Dr. R.K Anderson, a Diplomat of the American College of Veterinary Preventive Medicine and a Diplomat of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists states; “Experience and epidemiologic data support the relative safety and lack of transmission of disease in these puppy socialization classes over the past 10 years in many parts of the United States. In fact; the risk of a dog dying because of infection with distemper or parvo disease is far less than the much higher risk of a dog dying (euthanasia) because of a behavior problem.”2

The 2015 AAHA Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines published by the American Animal Hospital Association states; “There is no medical reason to delay puppy and kitten classes or social exposure until the vaccination series is completed as long as exposure to sick animals is prohibited, basic hygiene is practiced, and diets are high quality. 24,25 The risks attendant with missing social exposure far exceed any disease risk.”

Since your puppy will not be fully vaccinated when you start socializing them you do need to give some thought as to where you take them. A well-managed puppy kindergarten class or daycare, where they check vaccination records, supervise the puppies, choose appropriate playmates, and have established cleaning protocols represent safe choices. Places where the health status of animals is not regularly checked and large numbers of dogs congregate (i.e. dog parks) should be avoided.

You have a short period of time to socialize your puppy; between 8 and 16 weeks of age, but rushing and not planning this process can be counterproductive. We recommend that you don’t just depend on socialization happening but that you plan and setup specific socialization events. You need to make sure that each event will be a positive and rewarding experience for your puppy. For example, if you are introducing your puppy to children for the first time, start with older children and with just one at a time. Then proceed to two at a time, then younger children, etc. The key is to go slow because if you overwhelm the puppy with too many people or too many new things at once, you may create a fear.

The late Dr. Sophia Yin wanted to make sure that both dog people and non-dog people understand how to greet a dog and how not to greet a dog as well as to be able to recognize the signs of fear in a dog. These are things you need to understand before you start socializing your puppy. Dr. Yin developed two great handouts on this subject, which we provide in our classes or which you can download at the links below.

How to correctly greet a dog – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/04/04/canine-body-language-how-to-greet-a-dog-and-what-to-avoid-dr-sophia-yin/

The body language of fear in dogs – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/04/04/body-language-of-fear-in-dogs-dr-sophia-yin/

When introducing your puppy to new situations, allow him to investigate and observe at his own pace. It is imperative that you watch him and gauge how he is feeling. If your puppy shows fear, take a mental snapshot of the situation so that you can devise a plan and work on it. Do NOT force a fearful puppy to confront its fears, as this will just make a bad situation worse. Your best option in this situation is to attempt to make light of what is occurring by having a happy voice and trying to jolly your pup a bit. When your dog relaxes, give a treat and leave.

When you take your puppy on outings take treats along. Reward him for not

Tikken and Sophie Playing as Pups
Tikken and Sophie Playing as Pups

jumping and practice your sits. Make every place you go a positive experience and reward the puppy with a treat for each and every positive interaction. Places you can go: stores, sidewalks in front of shopping centers, parking lots, banks, post offices, the groomers and your veterinarian. While you will eventually want to expose your puppy to places like playgrounds and parades, you will need to do much work beforehand.

Expose your puppy to different types and sizes of vehicles. Make sure they become familiar with well-behaved children as well as the elderly. Exposure to other types of animals such as cats and birds is also beneficial. Walking up and down stairs and on different types of surfaces is also part of the socialization process.

Remember to address seasonal items. A puppy born in the summer will not normally be exposed to winter clothing, snow shovels, skis and other seasonal items during the critical socialization period. I know of a summer puppy that was terrified of people the first time he saw them all bundled up in winter coats. Likewise a puppy born in the winter may not have an opportunity to be exposed to swimming unless you devise a way to make that happen.

In addition to taking your puppy places, consider having a puppy party. Invite a group of friends over to meet and help train your puppy. What better way to work on NOT jumping and sitting to meet a stranger. Just make sure everyone knows the rules beforehand.

It is very useful to take your puppy to your veterinarian and groomer for some positive visits. Just stop in to say “hi” or to get weighed. Bring a treat along and have one or more of the staff treat your puppy. Next time they go to these places they will be happy to do so.

Happy Real Life Example:

Xena, a cocker spaniel puppy had her very first experience at the groomer’s when she was 9 weeks old. She had previously been to the facility two times to just meet the employees and to receive some tasty treats. At Xena’s first official grooming visit, she went in and stood on the grooming table, was combed a bit, had a bath and then she went home. One week later she returned and stood on the table again and had the clippers held up to her so that she could hear them “buzz”. After investigating the clippers they were placed on Xena’s back so that she could feel the vibration, and then she went home. The following week she returned once again and stood on the table and had her back and head clipped, as well as her feet trimmed, then she went home. The fourth week Xena was enthusiastic about coming into the groomer’s and was able to have her first complete grooming. By breaking up the process, this puppy never had the opportunity to become overwhelmed and frightened.

What did Xena learn?

  • That the groomer’s is not a scary place.
  • That her guardian always returns for her.
  • That being handled by a virtual stranger is an okay thing.
  • How to be groomed.

 

To this day, Xena is a model groomer, who willingly stands on the table and is easily handled. She does not become at all stressed out when she is dropped off, rather Xena loves to come and be doted on.

Not So Happy Real Life Example

Gina, a 12-week-old Australian Shepherd puppy, a bit on the shy and timid side, was badly frightened when an adult male she had never met jumped out from behind a door and startled her.

What did Gina learn?

  • That people, men in particular, are very scary.
  • To be wary of what may be lurking around doors.

Since that episode, Gina has never had an interaction with a new person in which she has not behaved in a fearfully aggressive manner. However, she is perfectly comfortable with all of the people that she met prior to event. Gina’s owner will no need to do some additional work so that Gina does not have a life time fear of new people.

Socialization Treasure Hunt

We provide students in our Puppy Headstart and Basic Manners classes with a Socialization Treasure Hunt Sheet. It lists several items that their puppy should experience before they are 16 weeks of age. The list is certainly not exhaustive but includes; several variations of adults , several variations of children, different types of events, different locations, animals of varying species and

Green Acres Puppy Treasure Hunt List
Green Acres Puppy Treasure Hunt List

sizes, vehicles, common objects, and different surfaces. The list is certainly not exhaustive. As you encounter an item that is on your treasure hunt list, check it off.

 

 

Pets

Cats

  • Cat, one
  • Cat, more than one
  • Kitten, one
  • Kitten, more than one

Dogs

  • Dog, Black Dog
  • Dog, Hairless Dog
  • Dog, Large Dog,
  • Dog, Long -Haired Dog
  • Dog, Old Dog
  • Dog, Short-Haired Dog
  • Dog, Small Dog
  • Dog, Three-Legged Dog
  • Dog, White or Light colored Dog
  • Dog, with upright ears
  • Dog, with drop ears
  • Dog, Young Dog
  • Puppy
  • Two or More Dogs Playing (make sure you know the dogs)

Misc.

  • Birds
  • Small Furries (Rabbits, Gerbils, Hamsters, Guinea Pigs, etc.)

Livestock

  • Alpaca(s)
  • Cow(s)
  • Chicken(s)
  • Donkey(s)
  • Goat(s)
  • Geese
  • Horse(s)
  • Llama(s)
  • Pig(s)
  • Sheep
  • Turkey(s)

Wildlife

  • Chipmunk
  • Deer
  • Duck
  • Goose
  • Moose
  • Pigeon
  • Porcupine
  • Sasquatch
  • Seagull
  • Seal
  • Skunk
  • Squirrel
  • Woodchuck

Events (Make sure this is not overwhelming)

  • Gathering, Indoor, of 5 or More People
  • Gathering, Indoor, of 8 or More People
  • Gathering, Outdoor, of 5 or More People
  • Gathering, Outdoor, of 8 or More People
  • Party, Birthday or Other
  • Sporting Events, Adult
  • Sporting Events, Children

Hand Tools

  • Garden Rake
  • Hoe
  • Roof Rake
  • Shovel
  • Snow Shovel

Household Items

  • Broom
  • Cardboard Boxes
  • Chair, Recliner
  • Chair, Table
  • Coat Rack
  • High Chair
  • Ladder, Step
  • Ladder, Extendable
  • Lawn Furniture
  • Mirror
  • Mop
  • Sofa
  • Table, Kitchen or Dining Room
  • Trash Can, Indoor
  • Trash Can, Outdoor
  • Vacuum Cleaner

Locations

  • Beach, Where Dogs Are Allowed
  • Body of Water – Brook, Creek or Stream
  • Body of Water – Lake or Pond
  • Body of Water – Ocean
  • Bridge, You Can Walk On
  • Downtown, Small Town
  • Downtown, Urban Area
  • Hardware Store
  • Outdoor Restaurant, Where Dogs Are Allowed
  • Park, with People
  • Post Office
  • Rocky Terrain
  • Shopping Center Parking Lot, Large
  • Shopping Center Parking Lot, Small
  • Strip Mall Sidewalk
  • Vet’s Office (Happy Visit, as many as you can do) # _______
  • Walking/Hiking Trails
  • Water Fountain
  • Wooded Area

Miscellaneous

  • Automatic Door at Business
  • Automatic Garage Door
  • Bales of Hay or Straw
  • Doors in Sidewalk
  • Drains in Sidewalks
  • Laundry Blowing in the Wind
  • Manhole Covers
  • Stacked Bags Of Sod, Mulch, etc.
  • Trash Cans, Outdoors

People

  • Man Carrying a Bag
  • Man Carrying a Briefcase
  • Man Carrying a Child
  • Man Carrying a Long Stick
  • Man Jogging
  • Man Over Six Feet Tall
  • Man Wearing a Baseball Hat
  • Man Wearing a Hoodie
  • Man Wearing Glasses
  • Man Wearing Sunglasses
  • Man with a Beard
  • Man with a Newspaper
  • Man with an Umbrella
  • Woman Carrying a Bag
  • Woman Carrying a Briefcase/Purse
  • Woman Carrying a Child
  • Woman Carrying a Long Stick
  • Woman Jogging
  • Woman Under Five Feet Tall
  • Woman Wearing a Hat
  • Woman Wearing a Hoodie
  • Woman Wearing a Skirt
  • Woman Wearing Glasses
  • Woman Wearing Sunglasses
  • Woman with a Newspaper
  • Woman with an Umbrella
  • Person Limping
  • Person Pushing Baby in a Stroller
  • Person Riding a Bike
  • Person Using a Cane
  • Person Using a Walker
  • Person Using a Wheelchair
  • Person Using Crutches
  • Person Wearing Heavy Winter Coat
  • Person Wearing a Military Uniform
  • Person Wearing a Police Uniform
  • Person Wearing a Postal Uniform
  • Person Wearing a UPS Uniform
  • Person Wearing a Winter Scarf Over Their Face
  • Person Wearing Winter Boots
  • Person with Baby in a Sling or Pack

Children

  • Boy Between 3-7
  • Boy Over Age 7+
  • Child Under Age 1
  • Child Between 2 – 3
  • Child Crawling
  • Child Crying or Yelling
  • Child Jumping Rope
  • Child Learning to Walk
  • Child on Rollerblades or Skateboard
  • Child Riding a Bike
  • Child Running
  • Children Playing
  • Girl Between 3-7
  • Girl Over Age 7+

Power Equipment

  • Chain Saw
  • Drill
  • Lawn Edger
  • Lawn Mower, Push
  • Lawn Mower, Ride On
  • Nail Gun
  • Power Washer
  • Saw
  • Snowblower
  • Weed Wacker

Recreational Equipment

  • ATV
  • Bicycle
  • Boat
  • Skis
  • Snowshoes
  • Snowmobile

Scents & Odors

  • After Shave/Cologne/Deodorant, various brands # ______
  • Cat Litter Box
  • Perfume, various brands # ______

Sounds and Noises

  • Alarm, Car
  • Alarm, Smoke
  • Car Horn
  • Chainsaw
  • Dishes Dropping
  • Gunshots
  • Nail Gun
  • People Screaming
  • Radio, Loud

Surfaces

  • Asphalt
  • Carpet
  • Cement
  • Ceramic Tile
  • Dirt Path
  • Grass
  • Gravel
  • Hardwood Floor
  • Metal Grate
  • Plastic Decking
  • Sand
  • Snow/Ice
  • Throw Rug
  • Vinyl Tile
  • Wood Decking

Vehicles

  • Ambulance
  • Backhoe
  • Bulldozer
  • Delivery Truck
  • Dump Truck
  • Farm Tractor
  • Fire Engine
  • Motorcycle
  • Police Car
  • Semi
  • Tow Truck
  • Trash Truck

 

SocializationOur friends at Mighty Dog Graphics recently published and shared a graphic which illustrates some of the many things you need to include in your puppy’s socialization plan. You can download it by clicking here.

 

 Questions?

If you have questions on puppy socialization and habituation we encourage you to enroll in a Puppy Headstart class at Green Acres Kennel Shop. You can learn more about that by “clicking here” or by calling us at 945-6841.

If you are not within our service area, you can find professional dog trainers offering classes at the links below. We recommend that you search for a trainer at The Pet Professional Guild (PPG) first, as all members of the PPG agree to abide by the PPG’s Pain-Free, Force-Free, Fear-Free philosophy as outlined in their Guiding Principles – http://www.petprofessionalguild.com/PPGs-Guiding-Principles

The Pet Professional Guild – <click here>

International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants – <click here>

Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers – <click here>

Recommended Resources

Articles on Don’s Blog (http://www.words-woofs-meows.com)

 

 

©2017, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved <Click for Copyright and Use Policy>

URGENT! – Keep Your Pets Safe on the 4th of July-Act Today, Do NOT Delay!

If your dog gets anxious and nervous at the sound of fireworks, start planning now on how you will keep them safe and how you will minimize their anxiety. If you live in an area where others set off fireworks, have a conversation with those people now. Politely explain how distressing fireworks are to your pets. Ask them to either refrain from using fireworks or to at least keep their use to a minimum, at times you are not home. If you cannot reach an agreement, make sure you have the phone number of the local authorities on speed dial and do not hesitate to make a complaint. Talk to your veterinarian about anti-anxiety medications you may use to help your pet. Over the counter products such as Bach Rescue Remedy, ComfortZone Dog Appeasing Pheromone, endocannabinoid based products specifically for pets and certain essential oils, such as Lavender, may also be helpful.



According to the American Humane Association:

  • 10 million pets get lost every year. This is more than the population of New York City.
  • Of the dogs entering shelters, approximately 35% are adopted, 31% are euthanized and 26% are returned to their owner.
  • Without proper ID or micro-chipping, 90% of lost pets never return home.
  • A third of pets will get lost in their lifetime.
  • An estimated 2 million pets are stolen each year.

To prevent your dog from becoming lost on the 4th of July:4th of July Dogs Lost 400x400

  • Keep your dog on leash unless they are inside or in a fenced yard.
  • If you have guests in your home, make sure everyone is careful so as not to accidentally let the dog out.
  • Do NOT take your dog to the fireworks. They are not going to enjoy the experience and may become frightened and run off.
  • If you choose to use fireworks at your home or camp, or if you have neighbors that do so, make sure that your dog is inside, preferably in a room where they will not hear or see the fireworks.

To give your pet the best chance of being returned to you:

  • Please make sure that your dog is either micro-chipped or wearing a collar with a current, readable and legible ID tag.
  • If your dog is micro-chipped, make sure that the chip registry has your current contact information.
  • Keep a current photo of your pet that you can use on a “Lost Pet” poster if your pet goes missing. Make sure it’s a good photo that clearly shows any identifying characteristics of your dog.
  • Maintain a list of phone numbers for your local animal control organization, police department, animal shelter(s), and pet related businesses so that you can notify them if your pet is lost and ask them to put up the “Lost Pet” poster that you create.
  • If your dog is micro-chipped, contact the chip registry if they go missing. Many registries will help disseminate information about your missing dog on social media to aid in recovery.
  • If you live in Maine, contact Maine Lost Dog Recovery via their Facebook page ( https://www.facebook.com/MaineLostDogRecovery ) as they can be very helpful in assisting you in getting the word out about your lost dog.
  • If you are traveling with your pet, provide your pet with a temporary ID tag that provides local contact information for wherever you are staying.

©2018, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved < Click for Copyright and Use Policy >

Bach Flower Remedies – Walnut: An Overview

Walnut is one of the Bach Flower Remedies that I suggest everyone keep on hand in their first aid kit or medicine cabinet. It is a remedy I find myself recommending often as it is perfect for dealing with the many transitions we all face in today’s fast-paced world.

Active Ingredient: 5x dilution of Juglans regia HPUS

Group: For Those Over-Sensitive to Influences and Ideas

Key Words: Protection from change and outside influences

Description from The Twelve Healers and Other Remedies, Edward Bach M.B., B.S., M.R.C.S., L.R.C.P., D.P.H.

For those who have definite ideals and ambitions in life and are fulfilling them, but on rare occasions are tempted to be led away from their own ideas, aims and work by the enthusiasm, convictions or strong opinions of others.

The remedy gives constancy and protection from outside influences.

Negative States Positive Virtues
  • Upset by change
  • Cannot adjust to transitions
  • Easily becomes over excitable
  • Overly sensitive to their environment
  • Able to cope with change
  • Can leave past behind

 

Indications for Use
  • Rescued Pets
  • New home or family member, animal or human
  • Death of companion, animal or human
  • Sexual maturity
  • Long journeys
  • Life frustrations
  • Pregnancy, animal or human
  • Any occasion where change or transitions are causing stress
  • Often used with Honeysuckle

 

How to treat your pet with Walnut

It is important to understand that Bach Flower Remedies are not a substitute for medical or veterinary treatment.

All of the Bach Flower Remedies are usually administered by mouth, diluted in water. A little goes a long way, because you do not need to use it directly from the stock bottle you purchase. When you purchase a stock bottle, also buy an empty 30ml eyedropper bottle to be your treatment bottle. This is the most economical way to use the remedies and also dilutes the alcohol content, which may be objectionable to some animals. To prepare the treatment bottle for use with your pet, do the following:

  1. Fill the treatment bottle ¼ full with cider vinegar, vegetable glycerin. brandy or vodka as a preservative. I usually use brandy or vegetable glycerin as I find that many animals do not like the taste of cider vinegar. I usually use vegetable glycerin for cats, small animals and birds to further reduce the alcohol content. You may forgo the use of any preservative as long as you keep the treatment bottle refrigerated.
  2. Fill the remainder of the bottle with spring water.
  3. Put 2 drops of Walnut in the treatment bottle. You will treat your pet from this bottle.
  4. Place four (4) drops of the mixture from the treatment bottle on an absorbent treat, four (4) times per day. This does not need to be very six hours. I usually find that first thing the morning, just before leaving for work, when I come home from work, and just before bed, often works well. A small cube of bread or toast works very well for administering the remedies.
  5. In addition, you may put 10 drops of the prepared mixture, per gallon of water, in your pet’s water dish each time you fill it; however, this alone will not provide adequate dosage. When adding the remedies to your pet’s water supply, you should also provide them with non-treated water so that they have a choice, in case they find the water with the remedies objectionable.
  6. Continue to treat your pet in this manner until you see improvement.

Dosage is the same for all size pets as well as for people. You cannot overdose on a flower remedy, but dosing more than necessary just wastes the essence.

Personal Success Stories with Walnut

One of my clients was planning on getting a new puppy. She was flying across the country and asked if there would be a flower remedy that would be appropriate in helping her and the puppy make this journey. I naturally suggested Rescue Remedy, but also recommended Walnut because of the transitions both she and the puppy would be facing. The client and the puppy made it safely back to Maine without incident; however, a few days later I received a call concerning the client’s older dog. He was having a hard time adjusting to the new addition. Again I suggested Walnut and all adjusted well.

What if Walnut does not help my pet?

It is important to understand that Walnut is only one of 38 Bach Flower Remedies. It may not be the appropriate essence for your pet’s problem. If you have behavioral problems with your pet, you may want to consider making an appointment with Green Acres’ Director of Behavior Counseling and Training, Don Hanson, for a behavioral evaluation of your pet. Don is a Bach Foundation Registered Animal Practitioner (BFRAP), Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC) and Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA). He can work with you in developing a behavior modification program and in the selection of the most appropriate flower remedies for your pet.

Other Information on Bach Flower Remedies

If you would like to learn more about Bach Flower Remedies and their use in treatment of pets, you may wish to read the following:

An Overview of the Bach Flower Essences – Don Hanson – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/06/22/bach-flower-remedies-an-overview-of-the-bach-flower-remedies/

Bach Flower Remedies for Animals—by Stefan Ball & Judy Howard, The C.W. Daniel Company Ltd, 2005

Bach Flower Remedies for Animals— by Helen Graham and Gregory Vlamis, Findhorn Press, 1999

Emotional Healing for Cats—by Stefan Ball & Judy Howard, The C.W. Daniel Company Ltd, 2004

Emotional Healing for Horses & Ponies—by Stefan Ball, Heather Simpson & Judy Howard, The C.W. Daniel Company Ltd, 2004

Treating Animal Illnesses & Emotional States with Flower Essence Remedies —by Jessica Bear, Ph.D., N.D. and Tricia Lewis, Richman Rose, 1998

Suggested books on the Bach Flower Remedies and their use with people are:

An Introduction and Guide to Flower Essences – The 38 Bach Flower Essences—Wigmore Publications, Ltd., 2001

Bach Flower Remedies for Men—by Stefan Ball, Vermillion, 1996

Bach Flower Remedies for Women—by Judy Howard, Vermillion, 2005

Bach Flower TherapyTheory and Practice—by Mechthild Scheffer, Healing Arts Press, 1986

Practical Uses and Applications of the Bach Flower Emotional Remedies—by Jessica Bear, Ph.D., N.D., Balancing Essentials, 1990

The Twelve Healers & Other Remedies—by Edward Bach, Beekman Books Inc, 1996

The Bach Flower Remedies Step by Step—by Judy Howard, Vermillion, 2005

The Bach Remedies Workbook—by Stefan Ball, Vermillion, 2005

 

©2015, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved <Click for Copyright and Use Policy>

Bach Flower Remedies – Bach Rescue Remedy®

Our pets, like us, can suffer from stress, anxiety and trauma. Unfortunately, just like with people, these experiences can be debilitating. Whether it is from separation, being attacked, visits to the veterinarian or groomer, loud noises, loss of a companion, or shock and physical injury, there is nothing more heartbreaking then seeing an emotionally distraught pet and feeling helpless to relieve their anguish. With Bach Rescue Remedy®, you no longer need to feel helpless.

Rescue RemedyRescue Remedy® is one of 38 flower remedies developed by Dr. Edward Bach in England in the 1930’s. Dr. Bach was a renowned British physician who felt a negative state of mind was at the core of many illnesses. His holistic approach to treating disease involved treating the body, mind and spirit. Treatment with flower remedies is especially appropriate for addressing stress related emotional imbalances. While the Bach Flower Remedies were originally developed for people, Dr. Bach also found them to be very helpful with animals.

Rescue Remedy® is a combination flower remedy formula created specifically for addressing stress in emergency or crisis situations. The individual remedies used in this formula help with trauma and shock (Star of Bethlehem), terror and panic (Rock Rose), hysteria or loss of control (Cherry Plum), impatience and agitation (Impatiens), and faintness and stunned feelings (Clematis). This combination can help after an accident or in any situation that causes extreme anxiety, nervousness or even terror. Rescue Remedy® often has an immediate calming effect. It may be taken as often as needed without fear of overdosing: it is safe, gentle, and non-toxic.

Rescue Remedy® is not a magic, instantaneous solution for long standing behavior problems. While it can be helpful in reducing the stress and anxiety of a timid dog, it will not make them into a gregarious, “gotta love everybody” dog. Nor will Rescue Remedy® remove your pet’s natural instincts, although it can help your pet to adapt those instincts to its environment.

I have known Rescue Remedy® to be effective with pets suffering from fear aggression, separation anxiety, fear of thunderstorms and general anxiety. It also seemed effective in helping our Cairn Terrier recover more quickly after he had a seizure. Many veterinarians will routinely use Rescue Remedy® with pets before examination and surgery. Used topically or in its cream formula, Rescue Remedy® can also help alleviate hot spots and promote the healing of wounds. I cannot guarantee it will work for your dog or cat, but suggest that it is worth a try.

Rescue Remedy® is available in 10ml and 20ml stock bottles for people or pets. Any of those products may be used with pets as can the 20ml spray bottle. Rescue cream can be used for external application. Do NOT use Rescue Pastilles with pets as they contain the artificial sweetener Xylitol which is toxic to pets.Bach Rescue Remedy for Pets

IMPORTANT!

When dealing with sudden behavior changes, you should arrange for a complete medical evaluation by your veterinarian to rule out any physical or medical reasons for the behavior change before trying Rescue Remedy®. Physical injuries which cause pain are often a reason for sudden aggression and other changes in behavior.

Do NOT try to treat your pet yourself if they are displaying any form of aggression, destructive behavior or any behavior that can cause significant damage to others, themselves, or property. These issues need to be addressed with your veterinarian and a qualified pet behavior consultant. Green Acres would be happy to assist you in finding someone qualified to help you.

 How to treat your pet with Rescue Remedy®

It is important to understand that Bach Flower Remedies are not a substitute for medical or veterinary treatment.

Do NOT use Rescue Pastilles with pets as they contain the artificial sweetener Xylitol which is toxic to pets.

Rescue Remedy® is usually administered by mouth, diluted in water. A little goes a long way, because you do not need to use it directly from the stock bottle you purchase. When you purchase a stock bottle, also buy an empty 30ml eyedropper bottle to be your treatment bottle. To prepare the treatment bottle for use with your pet, do the following:

  1. Fill the treatment bottle ¼ full with vegetable glycerin, brandy, or vodka as a preservative.
  2. Fill the remainder of the bottle with spring water, not tap water.
  3. Put 4 drops of Bach Rescue Remedy® in the treatment bottle. You will treat your pet from this bottle.

If treating for an acute condition or emergency:

An acute situation might be a visit to the veterinarian or groomer, a thunderstorm, a car accident, a dog fight, or a seizure. It is something that happens suddenly which rapidly affects your pet.

Place four (4) drops of the mixture from the treatment bottle on your finger and then touch your pet’s gums or tongue. Do not put the glass dropper anywhere near your pet’s mouth. Alternatively put 4 drops on a treat or small piece of bread and feed your pet. Lastly, you may apply the mixture to the paw pads, nose, belly, or ears. The remedy will be quickly absorbed from these areas. If you cannot get near enough to your pet to administer Rescue Remedy® in this fashion, you may use the treatment bottle solution in a mister bottle, and spray the area around your pet. Rescue Remedy® is also available in a spray bottle for this purpose.

If you see no improvement in 20 minutes, administer an additional 4 drops.

 If treating for a chronic condition:

Rescue Remedy is typically used for acute, emergency situations. Most pets with a chronic condition should be seen for a behavior consultation so that a specific mixture of the 38 Bach flower remedies can be determined for their unique behavioral/emotional issues.

A chronic condition might be separation issues, fear of strangers, fear of children, grieving for a lost companion, or adjusting to a new home.

For chronic situations, you will typically administer 4 drops of Rescue Remedy, a minimum of four times per day. In addition, you may put 10 drops of the prepared mixture, per gallon of water, in your pet’s water dish each time you fill it.

Continue to treat the pet in this manner until you see improvement.

Dosage is the same for all size pets as well as for people. You cannot overdose on a Bach flower remedy, but dosing more than necessary just wastes the remedy.

 

If treating an external area or hot spot:

Place drops of the mixture directly on the area to be treated; it will be quickly absorbed. You may also wish to consider using Rescue Remedy® spray or Rescue™ Cream. Rescue™ Cream also contains the essence Crab Apple which is for cleansing.

Continue to treat the pet in this manner until you see improvement.

 

Personal Success Stories with Rescue Remedy®

Pets I have seen helped with Rescue Remedy® include a dog in class that was afraid of other dogs and a dog exhibiting separation anxiety. The dog in our classes was so stressed around other dogs that all it wanted to do was bark while hiding behind its guardian. A dog that is experiencing that much stress is unable to learn. This dog was also disruptive to the other dogs in class. We gave the dog 4 drops of Rescue Remedy® on a biscuit, and within a couple of minutes the dog visibly calmed down and was able to remain in class. The guardian continued to give the dog Rescue Remedy® before every class and in other stressful situations and it did fine.

The second dog was exhibiting minor destructive behavior whenever its guardians left it alone at home. They were looking for a quick solution, so I suggested they try giving the dog Rescue Remedy directly and also including it in the dog’s water bowl. Within two days the dog was able to remain at home alone with no problems. The guardians weaned the dog off the Rescue Remedy® over a two week period and today it stays home alone with no problems and with no Rescue Remedy®.

I always reach for Rescue Remedy when I am experiencing a tension headache – the kind that starts at the base of the neck and works its way to the back of my head. My headache usually clears after I have taken 4 to 8 drops of Rescue Remedy. Applying Rescue Remedy Gel to the base of my neck also helps.

Rescue Remedy cream is great for helping minor cuts and abrasions to heal faster. I have several friends who use it as a facial cream and find that it has dramatically helped their acne.

Not all results are as dramatic as those described above and Rescue Remedy® might not be the best Bach flower remedy for your pet’s particular emotional issue. More chronic problems need to be treated over longer periods of time and some pets may require one of the other 38 flower remedies or some other combination of those same remedies. Many issues will also require a behavior modification program in conjunction with the use of flower remedies.

 

What if Rescue Remedy® does not help my pet?

It is important to understand that Rescue Remedy® is just one of 38 Bach Flower Remedies. It may not be the appropriate remedy for your pet’s problem. Sometimes when Rescue Remedy® works, it can reveal other issues. If you have behavioral problems with your pet, you may want to consider making an appointment with Green Acres’ Director of Behavior Counseling and Training, Don Hanson, for a behavioral evaluation of your pet. Don is a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant, Certified Professional Dog Trainer and is a Bach Foundation Registered Animal Practitioner. He can work with you in developing a behavior modification program and help to select the most appropriate Bach flower remedies for your pet’s issues.

 

Other Information on Bach Flower Remedies

If you would like to learn more about Bach Flower Remedies and their use in treatment of pets, you may wish to read the following:

An Overview of the Bach Flower Essences – Don Hanson – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/?p=115

Bach Flower Remedies for Animals – Stefan Ball & Judy Howard

Bach Flower Remedies for Animals – Helen Graham and Gregory Vlamis

Treating Animal Illnesses & Emotional States with Flower Essence Remedies – Jessica Bear, Ph.D., N.D. and Tricia Lewis

Emotional Healing for Horses & Ponies– Stefan Ball, Heather Simpson & Judy Howard

Emotional Healing for Cat– Stefan Ball & Judy Howard

 

Suggested books on the Bach Flower Remedies and their use with people are:

The 38 Bach Flower Essences—Nelson Bach

The Twelve Healers & Other Remedies—Edward Bach

(available for download at: – http://bit.ly/ozN5U6)

The Bach Flower Remedies Step by Step—Judy Howard

Principals of Bach Flower Remedies– Stefan Ball

The Bach Remedies Workbook—Stefan Ball

Practical Uses and Applications of the Bach Flower Emotional Remedies– Jessica Bear, Ph.D., N.D.

Bach Flower Therapy – Theory and Practice—Mechthild Scheffer

Bach Flower Remedies for Women—Judy Howard

Bach Flower Remedies for Men—Stefan Ball

 

©2015, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved <Click for Copyright and Use Policy>

Bach Flower Remedies – An Overview of the Bach Flower Remedies

(This article was first published in the March/April 2006 issue of The APDT Chronicle of the Dog. Copyright 2006 The Association of Professional Dog Trainers, www.apdt.com, 1-800-PET-DOGS, information@apdt.com, and was included in the book The Dog Trainer’s Resource 2, edited by Mychelle Blake, and published by Dogwise Publishing in 2008. The article was updated 0n 24JUN15 to include new web addresses, to change the term “Bach Flower Essences” to “Bach Flower Remedies,” to provide updated information on our consultation services, and to add additional references.)

BFFP_Cafe_PressLike many people, I was initially very skeptical of complementary and alternative medicine and treatments such as Bach Flower Remedies. Having an engineering/science background, I found it difficult to deal with the concept that complementary medicine could not always be explained by science. It wasn’t until one day when I had one of those “a-ha!” moments that I discovered they might be a subject worthy of further study. My moment began with a client who had a dog with mild separation anxiety. Our discussion revealed 1) the dog was mildly destructive when left home alone; 2) the clients were concerned about the dogs emotional state but not what was being destroyed; 3) they were uncomfortable with the idea of using any drugs such as Clomicalm but were open to natural remedies; and 4) in my opinion the couple was unlikely to have the time or motivation to follow my standard behavior modification protocol. They were very busy and the problem was just not severe enough to cause them to take action.

I wanted to help these people and their dog, but was uncertain how to proceed. Based upon their comments it was obvious that my normal treatment plan, Clomicalm from their veterinarian and a behavior modification protocol, was not going to be acceptable. I asked if they had heard of Bach Rescue Remedy®. I explained that I had limited knowledge of flower remedies, but that I had been looking for a natural, anti-anxiety treatment for one of our dogs, and had done a little research on this product and had heard of many people who had great success using Rescue Remedy®. I provided them with dosage guidelines, and sent them to the local health food store to buy a bottle (since this was before we sold the Bach Flower Remedies at our store). Approximately one week later my clients called and told me that after giving the dog Rescue Remedy® for a week, all separation problems had resolved! The clients indicated that they had made no changes in their routine, were not treating the dog with anything other than the Rescue Remedy® and had done no behavior modification. They reported that there dog was no longer showing any signs of stress when left alone and all destructive behavior had ceased. While this is only anecdotal evidence, it was enough to convince me that I needed to learn more about Bach Flower Remedies.

Most of the information I will be presenting in this article is based upon anecdotal evidence. Because it is not based upon statistical research and the scientific method, anecdotal evidence is often dismissed by the scientific community, yet the following is a prime example of the role and importance that it plays. As early as the 1700’s, sailors were fed limes as a way of preventing scurvy. This practice was based strictly on anecdotal evidence. It wasn’t until 1932 and the discovery of vitamin C that the scientific method was able to prove why limes and other citrus fruits helped prevent and cure scurvy. Fortunately, no one stopped sailors from eating limes because scientists had not completed a study demonstrating that eating limes cures scurvy. Anecdotal evidence is often the first step in the discovery of new methods and ways of thinking.

Bach Flower Remedies fall into the realm of complementary and alternative medicine along with Chinese medicine and acupuncture, herbal medicine, aromatherapy, homeopathy, and others. You will not find vast numbers of studies scientifically and statistically proving these modalities work, yet much of the world’s population, including many scientifically trained physicians and veterinarians, use these modalities with great success on a daily basis. While my engineering background initially caused me to be very close-minded about complementary medicine, I have seen first-hand, with myself, pets, friends, family and clients, how complementary modalities do heal.

A few studies have been published on the use of Bach Flower Remedies with people. These studies concluded that they were effective in treating clinically depressed patients1, safe and effective when used with children for a variety of disorders2, and effective at reducing stress3,4.

What Are the Bach Flower Remedies

The Bach Flower Remedies are all natural, very dilute solutions made from spring water, an alcohol preservative, and the parts of specific flowers. They are used to help balance the emotions and bring about a state of equilibrium in living organisms, and have been successfully used with people, animals, and even plants. Bach Flower Remedies are listed in the Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia of the United States (HPUS), have been issued with National Drug Code (NDC) numbers by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and are sold as over-the-counter homeopathic products in the United States.

Although the Bach Flower Remedies are listed in the HPUS and are prepared at a 5X homeopathic dilution (0.00001 gram of active substance per milliliter of tincture) they are not considered homeopathic medicine. While they are prepared from plant material, they do not fall in the same category as herbal medicine. The fact that we refer to them as “essences” suggests to some that they are aromatherapy—the use of essential oils and other aromatic compounds from plants to affect someone’s mood or health—which they are not. Flower remedies fill their own unique niche in the arsenal of complementary medicine. Like homeopathy, Chinese medicine and acupuncture and Reiki, the Bach Flower Remedies work at an energetic level in the body. This class of complementary therapies is usually called vibrational medicine. In his book, A Practical Guide to Vibrational Medicine, Dr. Richard Gerber, a physician, describes vibrational medicine and the Bach Flower Remedies thusly:

Vibrational medicine is based upon modern scientific insights into the energetic nature of the atoms and molecules making up our bodies, combined with ancient mystical observations of the body’s unique life-energy systems that are critical but less well understood aspects of human functioning. Bach believed that his flower remedies would not only neutralize negative emotionaland mentalenergy patterns but also infuse positive vibrations associated with specific virtues into an individual such as the virtues of love, peace, steadfastness, gentleness, strength, understanding, tolerance, wisdom, forgiveness, courage or joy.”

The Chinese call this energy Qi, homeopaths call it vital force, and Dr. Bach called it “positive vibrations.” While we cannot currently use scientific instruments to measure any of these forms of energy, many believe in their healing ability. There are many entrenched in the world of orthodox, traditional medicine who would say it is unwise to use a method of healing when we do not completely understand how it works. This is why there has been resistance to complementary medicine by many modern scientists. Yet, our knowledge of many medicines accepted by the traditionalists is equally sketchy. Aspirin, found in most household medicine cabinets, has been commercially available since 1899, yet scientists only began to understand how aspirin worked in the 1970’s. Buspirone (Buspar) is a commonly prescribed drug for certain anxiety disorders. In 2006 when I originally wrote this article, The National Institutes of Health MedlinePlus database (www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/uspdi/202100.html) contained the following citations for Buspirone:

“Buspirone is used to treat certain anxiety disorders or to relieve the symptoms of anxiety.”

“It is not known exactly how Buspirone works to relieve the symptoms of anxiety.”

[NOTE: The Internet changes and the web address above no longer works. However, thanks to the WayBack Machine, a project to archive the internet, you can still view this citation at: https://web.archive.org/web/20060613050327/http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/uspdi/202100.html.]

Considering that Bach Flower Remedies can also be used to treat anxiety and do not have the side effects of Buspirone, I believe consideration of the Bach Flower Remedies would be a smart choice.

There are a total of 38 different Bach Flower Remedies, 37 made from specific flowers and one made from the water of a spring believed to have healing properties. Each remedy is used to treat a specific emotion or state of mind such as fear, anger, apathy, etc. These are all emotions that most people can readily identify in themselves and in other people, and with training can also identify in animals. These emotional states and their corresponding remedy are all described in The Twelve Healers and Other Remedies by Edward Bach, MB, BS, MRCS, LRCP, DPH. Dr. Bach’s goal was to create a system of medicine that was simple enough that people who become familiar with the remedies through his publications could identify their negative emotional state, select the corresponding remedy and thus treat themselves.

The Bach Flower Remedies may be used individually or in combination. Rescue Remedy® is the only combination remedy prepared and sold ready-made; it contains five remedies and is typically only used for emergencies or extremely stressful situations when the subject is in a state of mental or physical shock, terror, or panic. It should not be used as a replacement for veterinary care, but it is often used as a complement to traditional treatments. I know of many people who use Rescue Remedy® to calm themselves before trips to the dentist and who also use it with their pets before trips to the veterinarian. I always carry a bottle in my briefcase and car, so it is available in case of an emergency or accident.

The Bach Flower Remedies are very safe. The only contra-indication is hypersensitivity to any of the ingredients. Since the botanical component is so dilute, a reaction is very unlikely. Grape alcohol is used as a preservative, so the essences may be unsuitable for those sensitive to alcohol.

Bach Flower Remedies are not used to treat physical disease, but rather the emotional state of the patient. They can be used to help resolve fear and anxiety, anger, grief, and many other emotions. Common sense and numerous research studies5 have shown how stress can have a negative impact on the immune system. Anything that we do to reduce or relieve stress, including use of Bach Flower Remedies, has the potential to positively affect our immune system and thus aid in maintaining physical health.

History of the Bach Flower Remedies

The Bach Flower Remedies were discovered by Dr. Edward Bach, a Welsh physician practicing medicine in the early 1900’s. Trained in conventional allopathic medicine, Dr. Bach observed that his patients’ recovery seemed to have as much to do with their emotional health as it did with any physical condition. Those in a positive emotional state recovered quicker.

Dr. Bach’s area of expertise was bacteriology, but as he became more intrigued with the emotions of his patients, he started to study the work of Dr. Samuel Hahnemann, the founder of homeopathic medicine. Homeopathic medicine emphasizes treating the “whole” patient including their emotions and mental state, rather than focusing exclusively on physical symptoms. As a result of his research, Dr. Bach developed seven nosodes to treat intestinal disease. A nosode is a homeopathic remedy made from a pathological specimen. The Bach nosodes are made from bacteria found in the bowels. As Dr. Bach began to use the nosodes with his patients (which are still in use today) he observed that he could select the appropriate curative nosode for his patients based solely on their emotional state6.

While Dr. Bach was very satisfied with the positive effects of homeopathy, he was concerned that many of the typical homeopathic remedies were made from toxic substances (bacteria, Belladonna, Mercury, Arsenic, etc.). He was convinced that if he were to devote his efforts to searching among the wonders of the natural world, he would find non-toxic medicines that would have a similar effect. In 1930 Dr. Bach left an extremely lucrative private practice in London and started on his quest to find what would become known as the Bach Flower Remedies. During the next six years he would discover and successfully use the same 38 essences that we use today.

My Journey with the Bach Flower Remedies®

After my “a-ha!” experience I enrolled in the Dr. Edward Bach Foundation’s practitioner training program. (http://www.bachcentre.com/found/index.php) The foundation offers two training tracks; one for those who wish to use the remedies with people and one for those who wish to use them with animals. You must complete the first two levels of the human track before applying for the animal program. My level one and two human classes each involved two days of study in Boston, MA. These classes provided an in-depth review of each of the 38 essences and their use. The level two class also included case studies and an overview of counseling techniques.

I completed my animal training at the Natural Animal Centre in the United Kingdom, the only place where the animal courses were offered at the time. This training involved a two -day, three-day, and four-day class and readings to complete at home in between sessions. (http://www.bachcentre.com/found/animal.htm) The classes covered the remedies as well as animal behavior and emotions, and counseling techniques. While we focused on canine, feline, and equine behavior we also studied turtles, rabbits, pigs, and other species. At the conclusion of the classes there is both an oral and written exam. Upon passing the exam, I had to successfully complete a series of case studies and a field study, before qualifying as a Bach Foundation Registered Animal Practitioner (BFRAP). I have taken additional continuing education on the use of the Bach Flower Remedies both in the UK and the US.

Since completing my qualifications in December of 2003, I have been using the remedies with almost all of my behavioral clients. I have found them especially useful in treating many of the fears and phobias seen in pets. If a client’s veterinarian has recommended a prescription drug, I advise the client to continue to use that drug in conjunction with the Bach Flower Remedies. One of the nice things about the remedies is that they can be used with other treatments, including homeopathy, without interference.

The Consultation Process

The most current information on our behavior consultation services can be found at: http://www.greenacreskennel.com/behavior-consultations.

The Bach Foundation Code of Practice requires that I have a veterinary referral before recommending specific remedies and that I actually observe the animal’s behavior. When working with clients that are unable to bring their pet to my office in Maine, I review video of the pet’s behavior and work with the client, their local veterinarian, and a training or behavior specialist.

At the conclusion of the consultation I provide the client with a behavior modification protocol as well as a combination of remedies for their pet’s specific emotional profile. I usually use both behavior modification and Bach Flower Remedies because it has been my experience that the use of the remedies can shorten the amount of time for a given behavior modification protocol. One of the biggest problems with behavior modification is getting the pet’s guardian to comply with the protocol. If the remedies shorten the amount of time required it’s a win-win for the guardian and the pet. In these cases I cannot prove the remedies helped resolve the issue; however, I have also treated some cases only with remedies and have seen dramatic results.

I continue to have “a-ha!” moments with the remedies. For example, In 2005 I was treating a dog with severe resource guarding issues, some of the worst I have ever seen. Seven days after treatment with the remedies, and prior to beginning any behavior modification, the client sent me an e-mail noting “profound changes” in the dog’s behavior. I had them continue with the remedies and behavior modification due to the severity of previous incidents, but the dog has never again exhibited any guarding behavior and has become more engaged with her guardians. The behavior modification protocol we used involved safely identifying the items that were considered valued resources, managing the environment to prevent uncontrolled access to those items, and gradual desensitization to the loss of those items. While there is no scientific evidence to demonstrate that the Bach Flower Remedies caused this dramatic change in this dog’s behavior, if I look at the dog’s behavior, the remedies selected, and the short time in which the change occurred, I believe it makes a very strong anecdotal case for the use of Bach Flower Remedies.

I do not have a set of standard combinations of remedies used for specific problems (e.g. separation anxiety, resource guarding, show dog formula, etc.) as each pet must be evaluated as an individual. Two dogs, each with separation anxiety, may be treated with entirely different combinations of remedies. I remain in contact with the client and meet with them as the situation requires. At times I treat both pet and guardian, as often the pet is feeding off the guardian’s emotions. In almost all cases, the problem is treated as a chronic problem rather than an acute issue or passing mood. For chronic behavior problems, remedies should be administered at least four times per day7, 8.

The Bach Flower Remedies are not the proverbial “magic bullet.” While the two cases I have summarized showed dramatic improvement within a week, treatment typically takes longer. Depending on the issue being treated, the length of time the problem has existed, and the clients compliance, issues may start to resolve in anywhere from two weeks to a year. I have found the remedies typically help to accelerate the behavior modification process and therefore help improve client compliance. If clients start to see results, they are more likely to continue with the behavior modification protocol and the administration of recommended remedies.

Tips on Using Rescue Remedy®

Bach Rescue Remedy®, the most well-known of the Bach Flower Remedies, is a combination flower remedy formula created specifically for addressing stress in emergency or crisis situations. The remedies used in this formula help with trauma and shock (Star of Bethlehem), terror and panic (Rock Rose), hysteria or loss of control (Cherry Plum), impatience and agitation (Impatiens), and faintness and stunned feelings (Clematis). It is usually only used for acute or emergency situations, but can be used for treating chronic conditions, when appropriate. It can help after an accident or in any situation that causes extreme anxiety, nervousness or terror. Rescue Remedy® often has an immediate calming effect, and is safe, gentle, and non-toxic. It may be taken as often as needed without fear of overdosing.

Rescue Remedy® is not, however, a magic, instantaneous solution for long standing behavioral problems. While it can be helpful in reducing the stress and anxiety of a timid animal, it will not make them into a gregarious, “I love everybody” dog. Nor will Rescue Remedy® remove your pet’s natural instincts, although it can help your pet to adapt those instincts to its environment.

When dealing with sudden behavior changes, you should arrange for a complete medical evaluation by your veterinarian to rule out any physical or medical reasons for the behavior change before trying Rescue Remedy® or any of the other Bach Flower Remedies

How to treat your pet with Rescue Remedy®

Do NOT use Rescue Pastilles with pets as they contain the artificial sweetener Xylitol which is toxic to pets.

Rescue Remedy® is usually administered by mouth, diluted in spring water. A little goes a long way, because it is not necessary to use it directly from the stock bottle you purchase. If you wish, when you purchase a stock bottle, you may also buy an empty 30 ml eyedropper bottle to be your treatment bottle. To prepare the treatment bottle for use with your pet, do the following:

  1. Fill the treatment bottle ¼ full with vegetable glycerin, brandy, or vodka to act as a preservative. If you chose not to use a preservative, you must refrigerate the treatment bottle.
  2. Fill the remainder of the bottle with spring water (do not use not tap water). Dr. Bach specified spring water because he felt it was natural, unlike tap water which can be loaded with chemicals.
  3. Put four drops of Bach Rescue Remedy® in the treatment bottle. You will treat your pet from this bottle.

Treating for an Acute Condition or Emergency

An acute situation might be a visit to the veterinarian or groomer, a thunderstorm, a dog fight, or a seizure. It is something that happens suddenly and rapidly affects your pet’s emotional state.

Place four drops of the mixture from the treatment bottle on your pet’s gums or tongue or on a treat or small piece of bread. Alternatively, you may apply the mixture to the paw pads, nose, belly, or ears. The remedy will be quickly absorbed from these areas.

If you see no improvement in 20 minutes, administer an additional four drops.

 References

1Masi, MP. (2003) BFE treatment of chronic major depressive disorder, Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, Vol. 9 No. 6.

2Campanini, M. (1997) Italian medical study of 115 patients, La Medicine Biologica; Anno XV, n.2, Aprile-Guigno.

3 Cram, J. (2001). Two double-blind scientific studies of flower essences and stress. Flower Essence Society, www.flowersociety.org.

4 Walach, H. & Rilling, C. (2001). Efficacy of Bach-flower remedies in test anxiety: A double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trial with partial crossover. Journal of Anxiety Disorders UK. 15(4) July-August.

5Segerstrom, SC & Miller, GE (2004). Psychological stress and the human immune system: A meta-analytic study of 30 years of inquiry. Psychological Bulletin, 130, 4.

6Howard, J. & Ramsell, J. (1990) The Original Writings of Edward Bach. The C. W. Daniel Company, Ltd., England.

7Bach E. (1933) The Twelve Healers and Other Remedies. The C. W. Daniel Company, Ltd., England.

8Product Information and Usage Guidance Sheet, Nelson Bach USA Ltd., Wilmington, MA. http://www.nelsonsnaturalworld.com/en-us/us/our-brands/bachoriginalflowerremedies/about-the-remedies/faqs.

©2015, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved <Click for Copyright and Use Policy>