The cannabidiol (CBD) pet products industry is growing by the day – a testament to the growing number of pet owners turning to natural solutions for their pets' ailments.
Unlike CBD research on human and murine models, research on canines is not as robust. A few studies here and there have provided critical insights into the effects of CBD on dogs. These have mainly focused on the areas of osteoarthritis, activity levels, fear response, cytotoxicity, and pain.
New research findings emerge every so often in new areas of canine health, and, of course, we'll be ready to share these findings with you.
For now, we'll focus on how CBD can help if you have an aggressive or reactive dog. Here is everything you need to know.
What causes behavior issues like aggression and reactivity?
In the dog world, aggression and reactivity are two entirely different things.
Aggression is characterized by often hostile, destructive, and potentially injurious behavior toward people or other animals. It is vital to Identify the causes of aggressive behavior and deal with them appropriately.
Dogs can get aggressive for several reasons, e.g., when guarding their territory, protecting a family member, fighting for resources, frustration, fear, pain, or prey drive.
On the other hand, reactivity in dogs—often confused with aggression–is characterized by an overreaction to specific situations or stimuli other dogs wouldn't react to in the same way. This response is often triggered by particular triggers such as small children, bearded men, other dogs, etc.
Reactivity is generally associated with poor upbringing, poor socialization, a frightening experience, or any stimuli that cause fear.
Even though most pet owners can deal with low to moderately reactive dogs, handling a hyper-reactive dog can be daunting. The good news is that, with a bit of patience and skill, you can help such dogs behave "normally" even in the presence of their triggers.
Before we explore how to manage aggressive and reactive canines, let's look at some of the most common causes of such behavior.
Separation anxiety in dogs is characterized by extreme stress when left alone. Dogs are social animals and love being around people. Sometimes, this leads to an over-attachment that can be negative.
Dogs likely to develop separation anxiety tend to remain close to their owners, often following them around the house and rarely spending time outdoors. Such dogs are quite keen, incidentally, and can detect when their owners are about to leave the house.
Some of the physical signs they can display include intense vocalization, destruction of property (e.g., furniture, carpets), shaking, drooling, refusing to eat, restlessness, and withdrawal.
Typically, anxiety-prone dogs will display such behavior every time the owner leaves them. Still, some dogs are known to selectively exhibit separation anxiety, such as when the owner leaves again after coming from work.
Fearful canines tend to be reactive and can exhibit a significant amount of aggression. Fearfulness usually presents in dogs that haven't been well brought up and therefore are generally anxious.
Fearfulness can also be the result of traumatizing experiences, especially at a young age. Dogs have "fear periods," during which they are extremely sensitive. Any traumatic experiences during these periods are likely to ingrain deeply into a pup's mind and affect its behavior for the rest of its life.
The first "fear period" happens at 8-11 weeks and lasts roughly 2-3 weeks. The second "fear period" occurs at 6-14 months and lasts just about the same duration as the first one. These periods are normal and signify developmental milestones necessary for the dog's later survival because they sharpen their "fight-or-flight" response.
While a fearful dog may have had a traumatic childhood, fear in dogs is often linked to genetic predisposition or inexperience with fear stimuli.
Aggressive dogs can be a huge problem for their owners. This type of behavior may stem from your dog's dominance and frustration. The latter can be caused by a lack of exercise, while the former from a lack of calm-assertive leadership.
There are different types of aggression in dogs. The most common are:
- Fear-aggression: fear is a strong motivator for canines, and when facing a fear-instilling situation, a dog can either run away or attack. Fear-aggressive dogs often attack.
- Pain aggression: surprisingly, dogs can hide pain quite well. But when the pain is really intense, a dog may snip or growl.
- Social aggression: being social animals, dogs have a hierarchy within their packs. A dominant dog will always want to "remind" other dogs who the boss is every once in a while by exhibiting aggressive body language.
- Leash aggression: a dog can be calm and friendly most of the time and suddenly start lunging, barking, or attempting to bite when you try to leash it. This type of aggression simply means the dog is frustrated by the leash because it feels restrained.
- Possession aggression: this type of aggression revolves around resources, e.g., food, specific objects, or a favorite place. Regardless of what it is, the outcome is essentially the same – the dog gets aggressive when someone or another pet approaches that object/space.
- Redirected aggression: this happens when a dog redirects its aggression toward an object/person that did not trigger it. This type of aggression is characterized by sudden biting or scratching. This is why you will likely be bitten when trying to separate fighting dogs.
Regardless of what causes your dog's aggression, living with an aggressive dog can be difficult and dangerous. If your dog is willing to be aggressive (e.g., biting) in order to change the outcome of a situation, it may be very difficult to treat.
Here are the most common signs of aggressive dogs:
- Stiff body posture
- Pinned-back ears
- Baring teeth
- Attacking other dogs, pets, or people
CBD oil for leash-reactive dogs
A leash is an essential tool for controlling dogs, so it is a must-have for every dog owner. When you start leashing your dog, it is normal to experience resistance, and it may take time to get used to it.
For first-time dog owners, this calls for some patience.
But ultimately, the dog should learn that the leash connects it to you. Over time it may start associating the leash with positive things such as going for walks.
Sometimes, a dog may seem not to get over the leashing bit and become aggressive whenever you try to leash it. Worry not; there are many ways to train it to accept your ways. One way to do this is by using CBD oil.
CBD oil is made by diluting CBD extract in a carrier element like oil. Coconut oil, MCT oil, and almond oil are commonly used for this purpose. Of the three, MCT oil is the most preferred because of its unique qualities. However, due to the same attributes, it is more expensive.
CBD oil may make it much easier for your dog to accept the leash. How so?
Raises the reaction threshold
Dogs that are reactive to leashing are basically anxious because they feel constrained. They may not know what will happen next, so a feeling of helplessness is inevitable. This compounds their anxiety.
Fortunately, CBD oil may help calm anxious dogs and reduce their reactivity levels. It does this by regulating serotonin levels in the brain. In humans, this hormone is responsible for, among other things, controlling behavior and mood.
Sufficiently high serotonin levels in the brain—of both humans and dogs—are associated with less anxiety. Prescription medications such as anti-anxiety drugs and antidepressants can also do the job, but CBD has the benefit of being natural and way less toxic.
CBD's calming effect on canines means it will take much more than leashing to get them to overreact.
Helps your dog focus
If you have been following closely, then you know CBD is associated chiefly with words like relaxation, sleep, and relief. But did you know CBD can help boost concentration and focus?
Research on the effects of cannabinoids (CBD and THC) on the prefrontal cortex showed CBD might neutralize many of THC's psychoactive effects. One of these effects is the famous "high" from smoking marijuana, which is known to induce short-term memory loss.
The prefrontal cortex also performs many other roles, including focusing attention, mediating pulse control, predicting outcomes, and emotional processing.
In trying to figure out how CBD oil may help with focus and concentration, think of the many things that can prevent your dog from focusing – anxiety, insomnia, pain, and medications that cause fatigue, nausea, drowsiness, etc.
Supports an active dog
By improving the overall quality of life, CBD may contribute to a more active, healthier dog. The good thing about CBD is that it offers a more holistic healing experience. It often goes to the root cause of health problems, where it starts the healing process there.
This makes its action mechanisms quite different from those of conventional prescription drugs like antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications which, more often than not, simply address the problem issue.
Dogs can also benefit in pretty much a similar way. So, by helping reduce pain and inflammation, stiffness and soreness due to strenuous exercises, and improving sleep quality, CBD can enhance your dog's overall quality of life.
Pairing CBD with your training
Pairing CBD with training is a surefire way to achieve faster results when addressing behavioral problems such as aggression, separation anxiety, and phobias in dogs.
Even though our customers report significant success using our CBD pet products for various pet ailments, we also acknowledge the importance of proper training methods.
You can give your dog a CBD treat before the training sessions to help it get through them with minimal stress.
Keep in mind that not all dogs will experience the same calming effect other pet owners witness in their pets. This is because every dog is different in terms of body weight, activity levels, breed, and so on.
Best CBD for reactive dogs
Our Premium CBD Pet Drops are made with high-quality hemp CBD to ensure your dog gets nothing but the very best. This CBD oil is THC-free, so you don't have to worry about your dog getting "high." the organic ingredients help support calm and relief, so your dog is ready to face life with boldness and courage.
This product comes in two strength levels (300 mg and 600 mg) and is tastefully flavored to give your pet the easiest eating times.
For more information on how CBD oil can help reactive dogs, check out this video: