We’re living in an age where we are becoming more aware of our own mental health and wellbeing, and furthermore, we are acknowledging the role our dogs play in this.
We are finding ways for our dogs to take part in more of the activities that we enjoy. Dog cafes are popping up everywhere with dog-friendly coffee’s and cakes, Doga classes are advertised alongside regular Yoga, we can buy matching outfits and buy them birthday and Christmas presents. We are humanising our dogs more and more each day and yet we still treat them like dogs when it comes to their emotions and behaviour?
If we had severe anxiety or anger issues we would see a therapist and yet if a dog demonstrates these emotions we just call someone in to train it out of them? If our dogs are intelligent emotional beings that we treat as part of the family don’t they deserve the same support as us?
Our dogs are highly emotional beings and feel all of the same emotions that we do and as a result, they often become affected by emotions much in the same way that we do. Unfortunately, the way that our dogs express how they are feeling is usually through undesirable behaviour such as barking, whining, growling, chewing etc.
All of the typical ‘undesirable’ behaviours that we complain about as dog owners and want to rectify, such as jumping up or excessively barking, are just their way of expressing how they feel about something in that moment.
It’s important to note at this stage that the type of behaviour doesn’t correlate to the type of emotion the dog feels it is just their natural form of expression. The dog doesn’t choose the method of expression. For example, a dog rarely chooses to bite when it’s frustrated or angry and dig when it’s excited. If its natural tendency is to be a biter then it will bite regardless of the emotion it is feeling and if it’s a digger then it will dig, the only difference may be the intensity of the action, so the bite may be softer or the length of time they dig may vary depending in the type and strength of the feeling.
If we take a look at the science dogs have the biggest heart-to-body-mass ratio of any living animal, 0.8 percent ratio. Most other animals including elephants, mice and even humans have a 0.6 percent ratio. The heart, like the brain, generates a powerful electromagnetic field that can be measured several feet away from the body. This electromagnetic field contains certain information or coding and different emotions can influence or change this coding.
“All of the typical ‘undesirable’ behaviours that we want to rectify, such as excessive barking, are just their way of expressing how they feel about something in that moment.”
When you are within a certain distance of your dog your electromagnetic field and your emotions can directly affect their electromagnetic field. This means that at any given moment they know how you’re feeling and when your feelings change. When you get home from that stressful day at work and get to your front door and paint that smile on your face so that your family think you’re fine, your dog still knows how you’re really feeling. We’ve all had that moment where you are feeling unwell or sad and your dog just seems to instinctively know and come to sit with you or show affection.
It’s staggering to step back and think about how many different emotions we can go through in a day as humans and then realise that our dogs go on this rollercoaster with us. If you add their own emotions and the way they themselves feel about different situations into the mix, along with the fact that we don’t allow them to express how they feel properly because we don’t like the behaviours that are sometimes manifested as a result, it’s not surprising that sometimes people have an emotional wreck of a dog whose behaviour seems to be getting worse.
Traditionally when faced with a dog who is displaying undesirable behaviour we would call in a trainer or behaviourist, all of whom will have their own ideas and techniques on how to resolve the situation. Hopefully, these techniques would be reward-based and would use praise, toys or treats to reward the behaviour that you want and would either encourage you to ignore the behaviour that you don’t or give you kind ways of managing it. Sometimes they will encourage you to use tools or gadgets like muzzles, special harnesses, crates, spray collars etc. Unfortunately, although this manages the situation, it doesn’t get to the root cause of why your dog is doing what they do.
Teaching your dog to sit quietly while visitors enter the house doesn’t stop them from being excited about the fact that someone new has arrived, all it does is control the situation. Your dog still feels the same way but now they’re just not being allowed to express it. Imagine how you feel when you get a really exciting piece of news, the first thing you want to do is tell people, now imagine being told you can’t share the news and instead have to sit quietly and keep it to yourself, in human terms we call this, bottling things up yet we force our dogs to do just that.
It’s not uncommon that when people have a dog that chews when alone in the house they shut them in a crate or leave them random chews and toys everywhere as a way of trying to fix the issue. This is not getting to the root of the problem and finding out why the dog feels so anxious in the first instance. It is just managing the problem on the surface.
This is the reason we so often hear that clients have seen several trainers or behaviourists and yet they are still having problems as they have not actually resolved the underlying issues.
Most dogs suffer from the same emotional conditions that we do, whether that be anxiety, depression, fear, anger, the list is endless. I have even known dogs to show a form of OCD over certain toys, bones or around shadows. Just like with us, these issues can be masked with medications (or in the dog’s case training and gadgets) but if you stop taking that medication it doesn’t mean that the problem has disappeared. The day the spray collar runs out of spray, or the clip on the halti breaks, the behaviour returns because the emotional trauma that caused it still hasn’t been dealt with.
Having personally taken on several dogs with major behavioural issues myself in the past, I started looking for ways to make them feel calmer, happier and more relaxed. It dawned on me that by using therapy in one form or another to address the cause of deep-rooted emotional problems I could help the dogs much more than just managing the negative behaviour on the surface.
When I am working with a dog I usually always start by using a technique called Animal Communication. This allows me to find out what’s happening from the dog’s point of view and it’s not always necessarily what we would think. It works using the energetic transference of energy known as telepathy and allows me to send and receive words, feelings, images and to receive tastes and sounds all of which help me to decipher why the dog is behaving the way they do.
Below are just a few of the additional therapy techniques I also use to help dogs with emotional issues:
This is a form of alternative therapy known as energy healing with the intended benefits of physical healing, psychological treatment and general wellness. It has been reported to strengthen an animal’s immune system, speed up healing after sickness, injury or surgery, reduce stress and promote relaxation, relieve pain, release emotional blockages, assist with behaviour issues, increase the pet-owner bond.
Unlike human-based hypnotherapy, this works on a dog’s emotional energy rather than its thought process. Canine hypnotherapy aims to put the dog into a relaxed state and allow it to release tension. It reaches the quantum layer of cells and helps to release cellular memory of trauma, fear or anxiety, it helps to release blocked of built-up emotions and allows emotions to flow freely again.
Relaxation and Grounding Techniques
These are various techniques that help your dog to relax, release the built-up emotion that they’re holding on to and rebalance the body. These include relaxation music/meditations and breathing exercises for you and your dog. Various activities to activate your dog’s natural instincts and behaviour, the behaviours we normally stop, to allow them to release built-up emotions and energy. Spending time outside in nature, preferably allowing yours and your dog’s feet to touch mother earth, this allows the body to soak up the negatively charged electrons from the earth and rebalance. This helps to protect yours and your dog’s health and wellbeing in a world where being in nature without concrete floors and fake grass is becoming less of a practice.
Dog Safe Essential Oils
In the wild, animals are able to self select their own medicines from the plants, herbs, roots and minerals that are available around them and our pet animals would be no different. If they had the opportunity they would also self-select exactly what they needed, when they needed it. By offering them the different essential oils we are allowing them to choose the one that they need at that moment in time to help them feel better both physically and emotionally. The self-selection of these oils can help with various issues including fear and anxiety, separation issues, aggression/reactivity and grief to name a few.
Bach Flower Remedies
These are alternative or complementary treatments made out of watered down extracts from the flowers of wild plants. They help our animals in exactly the same way they would help us, they heal negative emotions, allowing them to heal themselves. Each different remedy addresses a negative emotion and can be mixed together to help with multiple emotional issues. Once we see the situation from our dog’s point of view and know how they feel about it we can make up a remedy to help them with that emotional state.
This is the science of energy balancing that is grounded in the study of anatomy and physiology. We use muscle testing to identify imbalances in the flows of energy within the body relating to not only muscles but also every tissue and organ. The body consists of a web of energy pathways and each one has an effect on the others. Muscle testing identifies the body’s main healing needs and we can then apply various different therapeutic procedures to balance them all up. This can be carried out either in person or distantly using a hair sample.
My name is Becky and I founded Therapy 4 Dogs earlier this year.
Alongside being a canine therapist I am also a fully qualified dog groomer, dog walker and Reiki Master. I also have years of experience in RAW feeding and am a supplier of DAF raw food as well as a supplier of a CBD oil brand that can be used for dogs under your vet’s advice.
For more information: www.therapy-4-dogs.com