A phobia is an extreme and irrational aversion to a place, activity or situation that causes anxiety and panic whenever they are encountered. For dogs, the most common phobias are for things like loud noises, cars and strangers.
Anyone who has tried to take a reluctant dog on a car journey or watched their dog go absolutely nuts during a loud firework display will know how extreme their distress can be, and how difficult it can be to calm them down.
Here are a few tips for helping your dogs overcome their phobias using only natural treatments and methods:
Conditioning and Training
One of the most effective ways to combat canine phobias is with the use of training techniques to make the dog familiar and comfortable with whatever it is that they feel threatened by.
One of these techniques is called counter-conditioning, and it works by creating positive associations instead of negative ones, so the dog welcomes rather than shies away from the situation in question. For example, if your dog has a fear of strangers, you could ask your guests to bring a dog treat each time they visit your home, and hopefully before long your dog will be barking in excitement rather than fear when the doorbell rings!
Another aspect of conditioning is desensitization. The goal of this is to turn the source of fear into something completely commonplace and unremarkable, so that your dog can behave normally and not have any adverse reaction. If the phobia is triggered by car journeys, this could mean taking your dog to sit in the car while it is parked, so that they become gradually accustomed to the environment without being forced too far out of their comfort zone.
There are a wide range of both drug-based and herbal pet medicines that can be used to treat canine anxiety, but the big advantage of herbal products is that they are 100% natural and have relatively very little danger of side effects.
These herbal remedies work not by sedating dogs, but by soothing and relaxing them. For this reason they are ideal to be used in conjunction with a conditioning regimen, as they can quickly settle the mind of your dog, putting them in an ideal state to be trained and instilled with a new confidence.
One of the best-selling herbal medicines for anxiety relief is Scullcap and Valerian. This natural combination comes as a sugar coated tablet, and is most effective if given over extended periods, for example starting a fortnight before a big car journey or fireworks night.
As well being used for domestic pets, most herbal supplements can also be given to working dogs. They don’t induce drowsiness, which makes them ideal for occasions such as when farmers want to train a dog to the gun.
Just about any phobia, no matter how severe, can be overcome in time with a combination of slow, patient training and some well-chosen natural supplements. Your vet should be able to give you plenty of further advice about coming up with a specific treatment plan to help your dog.
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