For animals as much as people, change is an unavoidable element in life. And thank goodness, because wouldn’t it be dull otherwise?!
But periods of change require the ability to be flexible and adapt, without becoming so flexible that we lose ourselves in the process. And dogs, like people, vary in their ability to do this with ease.
As a dog behavior specialist, when I work on a new case, one of the first questions I ask my client is “what changed prior to the problem behavior?” This is because change tends to precipitate new attitudes and responses.
Change can be an opportunity, as in just the fresh start our dog needs. Or it can unnerve and unsettle our dogs, and trigger new, bad habits and behaviors.
Some dogs more adaptable than others, through nature and/or experience. But any dog can be hit hard by major change.
How we help dogs through times of change can make all the difference. And while there are many tips and tricks for improving your dog’s adaptability, don’t overlook flower essences as a valuable tool.
Flower essences can not only improve your dog’s ability to cope with change, they can help buffer her from disruptive outside influences during times of transition.
What types of change can present a challenge for dogs?
- Transitions from one life stage to another: leaving the litter, adolescence, maturity, seniority, old age
- Reproductive changes: maturity, first heat, spay/neuter, etc.
- Re-homing and rescue
- Moving house; change of living arrangements or schedule
- New family members
- Loss of friend or family members
- Retirement of show, trial, service, and working dogs
- Illness or discomfort
- Disability; reduced activity or mobility
What factors influence a dog’s ability to cope with change?
As a rule, dogs are an extraordinarily adaptable species. However, just like us, they’re individuals with their own strengths and weaknesses. Your dog’s breed(s), family genetics, early learning (i.e. those weeks spent with mom and littermates), life experiences, habit, and health can all have an effect on your dog’s ability to cope with change.
That ability itself can change for individual dogs, as well. Excessive stress, illness, loss of important relationships, even an overly routine lifestyle, can all add up to make a dog less able to “go with the flow” when life changes happen.
Four important Bach flower essences for change
Flower essences can help dogs (and people) adjust and adapt to change by subtly adjusting how these changes are perceived. When perceptions shift to being more balanced and adaptive, so do the reactions and emotions associated with them.
Let’s look at four main Bach flower essences that specifically help animals and people deal with the emotional effects of changes in life stages and circumstances.
Walnut Bach flower essence for stabilization through life changes
Significant change can leave anyone – including dogs – unsettled, unsure, and overly vulnerable to outside influence.
Walnut flower essence restores and strengthens emotional stability in the face of change. It preserves the ability to adapt in a way that doesn’t lose one’s core being.
Walnut is especially important during the major transition periods of life.
Use Walnut during the transition from one life stage to the next. In dogs, this is an important Bach flower as dogs move from puppyhood to adolescence, maturity to seniority, and seniority to old age. Walnut can even help ease the final transition.
Changes of home (rescue and re-homing) are other very significant, and potentially disruptive, types of change for dogs.
Walnut flower essence creates a kind of emotional buffer zone (think of a walnut shell) to protect and stabilize during sensitive times of disruption.
Rock Water essence for increased flexibility and openness
Some dogs (like some people) have a natural tendency to resist change. These individuals will have rigid rules for themselves, for how life should go, and for how others should interact with them.
In dogs, this rigidity is often interpreted as dominant behavior, but what appears to be dominance may be a simple inflexibility when it comes to change.
Rock Water flower essence helps loosen up that rigidity, and increases emotional flexibility and open-mindedness.
Rock Water can prove very helpful during many types of change, including changes in routine and schedule, new house rules, or the introduction of new people or animals into the home or environment.
Chestnut Bud flower essence to break free from habit
For dogs that easily develop strong, ingrained habits, Chestnut Bud can be a game-changer.
Chestnut Bud flower essence opens the mind and emotions to new ways of doing things. It increases awareness and retention of new learning, and helps get dogs out of intellectual and behavioral ruts.
Chestnut Bud doesn’t only help the dog that’s this way by nature. It can improve flexibility in learning for any dog that’s been taught to do things a very particular way (or had very limited experiences) for its whole life.
When strong or long-standing habit is hurting your dog’s ability to adapt to change, think Chestnut Bud.
Honeysuckle flower essence: move out of the past
Certain types of change are so unwelcome that our natural reaction is to live in the past. Dogs may not be quite so subject to this as humans, but they do experience it.
Honeysuckle flower essence helps dogs that have gotten so bogged down in the past that they aren’t engaging in the present. Honeysuckle allows an individual to remember the past fondly and thankfully while facing the present with hope.
Try Honeysuckle flower essence with rescue dogs, homesick dogs, dogs in grief, and dogs that pine for their owners, animal companions, or even an old way of life.
Aldaron Essences Happy Trails: help for dogs adapting to new home or living situation
Many of our flower essence formulas for dogs help with ease the negative effects of change in dogs, like fear and anxiety, not getting along with others, excessive neediness, separation anxiety, and more.
Happy Trails is unique in that it’s specifically for change itself. This blend of Bach flower essences improves your dog’s adaptability to change, helping her smoothly transition from one environment or life stage to another.
Happy Trails reduces anxiety and overwhelm, improves confidence, and helps your dog be flexible to changes and stable within himself at the same time.
Use Happy Trails flower essence formula for dogs transitioning to rescue, foster care, or their forever home; for dogs with family members (human or animal) moving in or moving away; or when your dog needs to adapt to a new and different day-to-day schedule, such as longer work hours, or trips to daycare.
Flower essences are an ideal tool to help your dog adjust to change. They’re truly unique in what they can do to balance emotional reactions that can interfere with a dog’s ability to adjust to new routines and circumstances.
A thoughtful selection of flower remedies can improve your dog’s attitude and response, so that change can become a forward-looking opportunity, rather than a disrupting, unnerving event.