Living with behavioral problems can be stressful for everybody involved. Dealing with behavior issues takes patience, sometimes requires visits to professionals, and always involves time and effort working with the animals at home. There’s no easy solution, no simple pill that will take care of the problem completely. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed as you go through the healing process with your pet, don’t be too hard on yourself. Rest assured that others have had to deal with the same experience, and they understand what your household is going through.
Getting to the underlying cause of your animal companion’s behavior issue requires looking at the whole picture — life before he came to you, health problems such as chronic pain, the environment you live in, and the connection he has with you. The state of your body, mind and spirit can and does affect your animal’s well being. Using therapies that treat more than just the behavioral signs (in the animal) or symptoms (in people) is very important. Approaching disorders as part of a larger picture is the definition of holistic, and combining the holistic approach with conventional medicine is called integrative medicine.
I believe an integrative approach is essential for behavior disorders. Many types of complementary therapies are available for humans as well as animals, such as calming music, aromatherapy, herbs, massage and energy therapies. One of the most important things you can do to help your animal’s behavior challenge is to be aware of the dynamic between the two of you. As I have come to understand the energetic aspects of the human-animal bond, I see that animals instinctively mirror who we are. If you have a dog with separation anxiety, what anxiety issue have you not healed? For those of you with aggressive animals, please have the courage to look at where the human anger is lurking. Is it between people in the household, or perhaps anger from childhood?
One of the best spiritual gifts our animal companions give us is knowledge about ourselves. If our unresolved issue is being reflected back to us by our pet, then it is something that is affecting our lives. We may not be able to see it right now, but with time, this unresolved problem can manifest into illness or other dis-ease. Along with helping them through the behavior problem, we can honor our animal companions by taking care of ourselves. In doing so, we make their healing so much easier.
Adapted from Through A Dog’s Ear: Using Sound to Improve the Health & Behavior of Your Canine Companion, Sounds True Publishing 2008