Written by Carrie Allen, Head Trainer, Riley's Place Pet Retreat
Essential oils are an amazingly powerful tool to use when training your dogs. Part of what makes essential oils so amazing to use for training are their benefits and uses at emotional, cognitive, and psychological levels. Many dogs have immediate and drastic improvement in their responses while training them to handle stress and anxiety. Essential oils affects are known to work at a cellular level. Within just 22 seconds, their effects reach the brain. This can help tremendously when working with dogs suffering anxiety, in overcoming their fears, or in dogs who have fearfully aggressive behaviors. It is also good for use in boarding facilities to help calm dogs with separation anxiety. The uses of essential oils are endless and it is exciting to learn more about them and to see them in action. I myself have been able to help a few clients’ dogs using essential oils and thereby preventing them from needing to be temporarily medicated to work on their behaviors. Essential oils can be used for scent training when working with your dogs. You condition your dog to a certain scent, lavender for example, by having a lavender spray on hand to use whenever you are feeding your dog or just cuddling and petting them. The dog will learn to associate positive things with the scent you have chosen. This way, when a frightening situation occurs, you can just pull out your spray and use it, causing a trigger of positive memories for your dog and helping them to eliminate or at least reduce the current fear they are experiencing, so that you can better manage the situation and help your dog calm down. Some great oils to use while working with your dog are lemon, stress away, lavender, and frankincense. Lemon helps to increase focus and my favorite time to use it is during a puppy’s adolescent stage of life. Stress away is somewhat self explanatory and a favorite of my two pups; it also promotes relaxation. Lavender, well known for relaxation, also helps to promote sleep, ease muscle tension, and reduce stress levels. Frankincense helps to promote calming and grounding and it also helps create healthy emotions, making it great for scent training your dog. All of that being said, essential oils are medicinal so make sure to do your own research. This is the key to using essential oils with your pets and keeping them safe. Know your facts. Use a high quality brand that can guarantee its quality level. After much research myself, I have learned that just because something is labeled as 100% natural, not all of them actually are completely natural. Many are actually full of synthetic fillers. Through my research, I have found that many oils, especially from health stores or third party vendors, need to be used with caution. Just like dog treats and dog foods, essential oils can be found anywhere and labeled as anything. I have also learned that you get what you pay for with essential oils. When using high quality, well sourced oils, the results are amazing and I hope more people can come around to the idea of trying them for their pets at home.