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Dogs: Homeopathy for Man's Best Friend:
Your Dog Part II: Behavior Problems

Just this week, I saw an Ann Landers column in which an elderly gentlemen complained that since the death of his wife he has been courting an old good friend, recently widowed, but there is just one problem: her dog “Fifi”. (I have always been suspicious of that name—it sounds like a spoiled brat—and this story only cements my opinion.) The first time our older Romeo was singing his song to Juliet, he was nipped in the ankle by Fifi. Further attempts to make friends with Fifi went nowhere and left him in the dog house. He even says that Juliet talks to her dog in French, which annoys him since he thinks they are talking about him (do I sense a sniff of paranoia here?). I can see the big hurdle this man faces: Fifi might be a small dog, but her bite is ferocious and her jealousy and possessiveness of her mistress are bottomless.

So what to do? Ann Landers suggested the old bribe trick: bring her (the dog, that is) some goodies, a little milkbone, a small toy and have patience. But here is what I predict. Fifi is not dumb, she doesn’t speak French for nothing! She will take the toy, eat the treat, and still set her limits. You don’t think this smart dog knows the difference between eating a cookie and sharing the bed with her mistress? Fifi wants it all. Pulsatilla (made from the little capricious windflower) seems to be right on target for Fifi. Its jealousy is based on neediness: the constant need for attention and love. Pulsatilla is eager to please the object of its affection and does so, unless another person (or dog) comes into the picture. Then Pulsatilla shows how envious and greedy they are, especially for attention and affection. You see the same behavior in a child when there is a second child born in the family. The firstborn may show the Pulsatilla neediness, clinginess, regressive behavior (bedwetting again, can’t dress herself without the help of mummy, etc.) and even sneaky violent behavior towards the baby, like pinching and hitting when no one is looking. No one would expect this from such an angelic child. And I am sure that Fifi licks and kisses her mistress so much, she would never be suspected of ankle-biting. A Pulsatilla can’t get enough attention and will be first in line for receiving love.

Sounds like Pulsatilla is a shoe-in for Fifi and the only hope for our Romeo. You see how observation and individualization of the remedy is as necessary in dogs as human beings.

“Oh, what a great puppy, mummy! Can I get it? I’ll take care of it!” Have you as a parent been suckered in that situation too? You have plenty of company. Those puppy eyes made your heart cave in, but once the novelty is over (usually within two weeks), guess who is feeding, walking and training the dog? The sucker of the family, the wife, who already keeps afloat the rest of the household ship. You get a training book and read the cardinal rule that dogs will not soil where they sleep, whether a crate or a small room. But what are you going to do with the “housebreaking nightmare” dog, the one that has not read any of those training books? Not only does he defecate in the house, he goes straight to his crate to “do his duty”. One of my patients would take her dog on numerous walks, but sniffing and looking was all the dog did, no matter how far she walked. The moment the dog came home though, she did her business in the crate. If you have enough money, you can send “Miss Cleopatra” to the pet psychotherapist. (Just hope she is well-versed in the dog’s language or maybe French.) I have read that the techniques to overcome this type of behavior take seven months. Or you can give a single dose of the right homeopathic remedy.

What is this dog trying to tell us? “I am too embarrassed to go to the bathroom in front of you.” You would be surprised how many people feel the same way. When I served as a NATO doctor, I saw numerous recruits who could not deliver the goods (urine that is) in the same room where they could hear the uninhibited urinators.

One remedy stands out for embarrassment at going to the bathroom in the presence of others: Natrum muriaticum, ordinary table salt (homeopathically prepared). People—and dogs-—need this remedy when the feel lonely and abandoned. Maybe this dog was taken away too early from her mother. Just like babies who never want to leave mummy’s breast (they regard it their personal pacifier, to the despair of the husband), so are some dogs very attached to their mother, especially the Calc. carb. dog described in Part One. Or maybe the owner suddenly died, leaving the poor dog in an impersonal environment such as a kennel or pound. To make matters worse, cleaning up after so many animals is probably not the employees’ all-time favorite chore. Of course a dog has feelings and quickly associates the employees’ negative feelings with the act of elimination. So she tries to hide her “problem” once you adopt her. She wants to avoid doing it in front of you: maybe you will curse too, maybe you will call her a bad girl. What a relief it was for my patient to see that a single dose of Nat-mur cured this problem. It does pay off to have a homeopathic vet!

What if we adopt a dog for added protection, but then that good “guard dog” crouches with his tail between his legs, pulls his ears down and back, and opens his mouth with the lips pulled back? These are the fear signs of the dog, allright. The “why” to the fear is the clue to the right remedy. Often the dog can develop a fear response as a result of a traumatic event: if you recognize that it is very specific to a particular situation or object (elevators, cars, umbrellas, stairs, etc.), and the fear had a sudden onset, then it’s possible that one very unpleasant experience may be the cause. It is clearly a case of anticipation anxiety for which we have two main remedies: Argentum nitricum and Gelsemium. Argentum nitricum is a great remedy for many fears: fear of flying, high buildings, crowds, stage fright (for dog shows!), bridges, etc. The reaction is one of great apprehension often with urination or defecation. Those who need this remedy are even afraid of people in general. They tremble easily and seem to be always in a hurry, very restless, constantly excited and worried. If your dog also suffers from conjunctivitis with yellow-green discharge, then Argentum nitricum (silver nitrate) will solve all the problems, the fears and eye infection.

Gelsemium, on the other hand, reacts entirely differently. Where the dog that needs Arg-nit. runs away and is very restless, the Gelsemium dog is paralyzed from the fear, does not want to move and trembles excessively all over the body. Sounds like some of us going to the dentist. Well, this is the remedy for people afraid of the dentist and animals afraid of the vet. Don’t punish your dog for being afraid as it will make the problem worse, because it tends to stimulate the dog’s defense reaction. And don’t give tranquilizers where innocent remedies can help.

If the homeopathic vet or student recognizes the “constitution” of your dog (see Part One of this series or my book, The People’s Repertory), it will be very helpful to give a dose of that remedy to strengthen the dog’s make-up and often taken care of those fears. Certain constitutions are more prone to fears. As I wrote in Part One, the Calc.-carb. dog loves the home and is quite uncomfortable somewhere else. Baryta-carb., a sister remedy to Calc-carb., has a great fear of strangers. When a stranger comes into the house, the dog will immediately hide behind the sofa or in his crate.

Other common fears are of loud noises, thunder and lightning, and being left alone. A Phosphorus dog has an obvious fear of thunder and lightning. When you see your dog cowering under the sofa during a storm, make sure to give Phosphorus. The Phosphorus dog loves massage, tickling, attention and company in general and is usually very friendly and feminine. They loved to be groomed and perform at shows where they are the actors and actresses of the show, with a nice bow in the hair. Imagine getting groomed for hours to look pretty—only a Phosphorus dog will have that patience.

If you have a dog who is very sensitive to noise, but is otherwise a rather bossy, aggressive dog, think of Nux vomica. This is a dog who loves to eat, even spicy and fatty foods, who is aggressive to get ahead of every other dog, be it in first receiving his food or the attention of his master, and who is constipated (incomplete bowel movements) with sometimes spastic vomiting in the middle of the night. There is no better remedy for these symptoms than the poison chestnut, Nux-vom.

Dogs can become very submissive, almost to the point of cowardice, because they have been abused verbally or physically, even emotionally. The dog will wilt to every sound, any harsh voice, even your friendly attempts to come near him. There is no better remedy than Staphysagria, the remedy for abuse and humiliation. Give it to your beloved dog and see the changes before your eyes. Frequently-observed physical symptoms in these dogs are recurrent bladder infections and styes on the eyelids, just like in human beings.

There is still so much I want to tell you, but Souli, my boy dog, is nudging me with his nose and his great friendly puppy eyes. I know what it means: “I just had my vegetarian dinner, now it’s time to walk!” I am afraid I have to leave you now till the next issue to discuss more problems of our friends, the dogs!