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Trainer Achieves Dramatic Results With Fearful Dog

Summarized from a case study by Kathy Edstrom submitted for the FES Practitioner Certification Program

The following article is summarized from a case study that I submitted for my Flower Essence Certification in 2000. The Flower Essence Society summarized my case study and posted it on their website.

Flower essences made a dramatic difference for a dog who had reacted fearfully to loud noises such as thunder, fireworks and gunshots. Other forms of therapy, including behavior modification had been unsuccessful. After some minor improvement in the first several months with flower essences, a significant reduction of reactions was achieved by a change in formula and the method of administration of the essences.The dog'scaretaker, who is an experienced dog trainer, reported a 90% improvement after he began giving the essences orally to his dog. This case illustrates the importance of regularity and an appropriate method of administering flower essences to create a successful outcome.

NavyNavy is a three year old Belgian Tervuren purebred male. There is a strong bond between Navy and his caretakers; he is with one or the other most of the time, and travels with them whenever possible. They describe Navy’s personality as “middle of the road,” with a strong ball drive and territorial at times. His bounding energy has been channeled through obedience, conformation, agility and fly ball competitions and he has been trained with gentle techniques. Navy has also been introduced to Search and Rescue training and is a show dog.

Navy’s Caretaker

Although Navy’s caretaker (“EM”) works as a production supervisor, he has actively been involved as a dog trainer since 1984. He met Flower Essence Practitioner Kathy Edstrom at an "Aggression" seminar held by his dog training school in 1999, and learned about flower essenceremedies at that time.

Presenting Symptoms

During the previous year Navy had become very sensitive to noise, such as thunder, gunshots and fireworks. He would pace and pant, and often try to hide when the loud noises were occurring. The April-November rainy season was a particularly difficult time for Navy. (They live in the Midwest of the US.) During intense thunderstorms, Navy would sometimes jump on his caretakers looking for relief. “EM” would often have to lie on the floor with Navy to get him to calm down.

Edstrom realized that Navy was not only reacting to noise but, especially in the case of thunderstorms, to environmental factors such as changes in barometric pressure, ozone and light flashes from the lightning. She commented that “it was difficult to do any behavior modification training with Navy because his problem was not a lack of training; he was suffering from a mental fear.”

Goals for Using Flower Essences

EM described his goal for Navy “to become less fearful of storms, and try to exhibit a more relaxed behavior.” The dog’s fearful reactions were inhibiting his ability to concentrate and focus. The short-term goal was to minimize the amount of stress Navy experienced. The long-term goal was to help Navy recover from his fear of loud noises, and to get him to have a minimal response to them.

First Cycle

Edstrom had experienced dramatic results using flower essences with her own German shepherds for their fear of thunderstorms. She recommended the same essences for Navy:

Flower Essences:

Aspen: for confidence to face the unknown
Rock Rose: courage and inner peace when facing great challenges

Administration:

Recommendation: 3 drops 4 times daily in vegetable glycerin, given orally, tapered to 2 times daily over a month’s time, with essences added to the water bowl

Actual Practice: Essences were dropped on Navy’s dog biscuit and added to his drinking water, but not administered directly

Results:

First month: EM report a slight change: Navy was a bit calmer during storms, although still reacted beforehand

Second month: EM reported further improvement, calming down a bit faster after the reaction. After 2 ½ months: Navy’s reactions to a thunderstorm and gunshots were less than usual. EM estimated that there had been a 8-10% improvement.

Second Cycle

Edstrom became aware that the essences were not being administered according to her recommendations. She changed the formula and emphasized the need for oral administration of the essences.

Flower Essences:

Aspen and Rock Rose were continued

Mimulus was added to bring confidence in the face of specific fears and phobias

Administration:

Recommendation: 6 drops 4 times daily by mouth, with essences added to the water bowl

Actual Practice: Essences were given orally, usually 2 times daily, and added to the water bowl

Results:

First month: Navy did not react to fireworks at a homecoming celebration, and his recovery time from unfamiliar noises was reduced by 90%. He also did not react to gunshots during the duck-hunting season. EM commented, “My jaw almost hit the floor when the fireworks started and Navy didn’t respond at all... this is the first time Navy hasn’t shown any fear of the noise.”

Second month: Navy was calm despite nearby gunshots, a most remarkable change. He is more focused in competitions, and coping better with stress.

Third month: Navy continues to be calm. EM reported, “He now shows relative indifference to loud, sharp noises.” With the end of the hunting and thunderstorm season, the essences were temporarily discontinued.

Follow-ups for the next four months indicated that Navy continued to remain calm during noises that had previously upset him. For example, Navy’s caretakers took him to a fireworks celebration and he showed no reaction whatsoever. EM estimated that Navy had experienced a 90% improvement, which was documented by graphing the reaction times.

Conclusions:

During the "treatment" time frame, Edstrom kept meticulously detailed records She and EM analyzed Navy’s progress to see if there were any other methods which could be used to assist in treating Navy’s noise phobias, but she always came back to the flower essences. She commented, “Navy was suffering from fears that could not be cured by behavior modification. Flower essences were the means that made all the difference. The dog went from not being able to function in thunderstorms to remaining focused and confident.”

Navy’s remarkable improvement changed EM’s beliefs regarding the power of flower essences. Where he was first skeptical, the change was too dramatic to ignore. EM also noticed that results seemed minimal until Mimulus was added to the formula and the essences were given orally.

For Edstrom, Navy’s improvement reinforced her confidence in using flower essences with animals. She also felt that Mimulus was the “archetypal” remedy for Navy, helping him overcome specific fears and challenges of everyday life, and give him confidence to deal with the noises that had previously scared him. Edstrom says, “It gives me much pleasure knowing that Navy will be able to enjoy life again.”

Importance of the Method of Administration

This case revealed just how much the method of administering flower essences can influence the effectiveness of flower essence remedies. During the first cycle EM gave the essences by placing them on Navy’s dog biscuits and in his water. The result was an inconsistent dosage. Sometimes Navy would get the essences once in a day, sometimes not at all. There was an effect from the essences taken this way, but it was a minor one.

Significant progress only occurred when Navy was given the essences directly in his mouth, at least twice a day. With the second cycle, change was immediate and dramatic. Based on this experience, Edstrom said, “I now tell all of my clients that administering the flower essences directly in the mouth is the most efficient and beneficial method for obtaining results.”

Published on the Paws-A-Tive Choice website - September 2002