Understanding your dog’s own particular reasons for trauma and trauma induced behavior is very important if you really want to treat it successfully. Here are the different types of trauma I’ve encountered in dogs over the years. It is unlikely your dog demonstrates only one of them, such is life, but you’ll still be able to understand your dog better and choose more effective methods than the blind buck-shot approach.
Types of trauma in dogs and tips for healing from them
1) Sensitivity Trauma
Some dogs are more sensitive than others. These dogs can’t stand fireworks, and find the noisy of busy highways jarring on their nerves. Genetically predisposed to quieter places than bustling cities, and activities that develop their fine senses, noise is a daily challenge for them even though they might not show it.
For these dogs, a treatment protocol that is divided into two is a good idea. One for every day support and rehabilitation of their over-strained brain (dealing with all those loud sensory information) and one for emergency use at very stressful times.
2) Trust-Abuse Trauma
It is hard to break a dog’s trust in his or her human, but when it does happen and keeps happening, the dog withdraws into his or her shell and stops responding to emotional appeal, only reacting to things required for basic physical survival – food and treats maybe. They will take their treat and go off somewhere and enjoy it alone. They don’t want to let their enjoyment be taken for trust and abused, so they try their best to keep their hearts to themselves.
As they mature, some of these dogs heal themselves becoming trustworthy and dependable contributors to the community, but somewhere deep down that doggie longing to love and be loved crazily causes them pain and it manifests in sudden debilitating conditions. Unfortunately most humans will, on finding out from the Vet their condition isn’t going to get better, simply put them down at this time.
If you’ve got a dog who doesn’t emotionally engage with you or others, don’t force them to. Demonstrate trustworthiness to them by maintaining a stable home routine, always speaking gently and kindly to them, making eye contact as much as possible.
When they misbehave and they usually fly into mania every now and then, it is usually their frustration showing. Herbal treatments to calm down their over-excited nerves will help more than yelling at them. They know they ought not to misbehave but what can they do with the huge build-up of emotion that’s heavy in them? They don’t know how to release it positively so out it goes negatively.
Demonstrating expression of love with others can help these dogs slowly learn new ways to emotionally unload.
3) Deprivation Abuse Trauma
Dogs who have been taunted or ‘trained’ using starvation or denial of treats as a tactic develop a deep anger that very often goes unnoticed for years and years. There’s a thin line between rewarding a dog for good behavior and using the fact you’ve got control over his food to abuse and bring him or her into submission. Dogs do NOT take kindly to the latter.
If you have a dog who has been abused so, they’re most likely over-eaters, who could use help with metabolic imbalance. Shifting them to raw food if they aren’t already eating all raw is important.
They crave for emotional interaction around feeding, so making feeding impersonal and matter-of-fact and mechanical is not a good idea even though they seem totally taken up by eating and not bothered about you at all while feeding. Just sit by them and let them know you’re with them and happy for them while they’re eating. Eventually he or she will begin to give you wag and a lick around meal-times and begin to relax and forget that food was used to abuse them once upon a time.
4) Social Trauma
A dog who has had bad experiences socially could develop fear of dogs, animals and people who resemble in some way the ones they had bad times with. The best thing to do here is give them something to keep their nerves calm just before they go out into social situations and keep some treat they like, handy, to distract them if things get too hot. Once they’ve gone a few times through social events without too much drama, they begin to let go of the habit of panicking.
These dogs nearly always need long term nervous support and rehabilitation, and demonstrate imbalances of the pancreas (diabetes), skin, and problems with the reproductive system. As their system balances, you’ll find them still suspicious of social circumstances but a less likely to jump the gun. At some point they just stop bothering and get on with their own pursuits.
Watching other dogs’ friendly behavior in social situations can also be an aid here.
5) Generational Trauma
For the most part generational trauma is dogs is dealt with by finding out – this dog won’t go near water and that’s that – don’t expect him to swim. There are times however when some dogs just won’t get into cars, making life very difficult for their humans.
As hard as it may seem, once you find out what upsets the dog, and manage situations cleverly the dog can be gotten around to being ok with the situation so long as they themselves are not in pain in the moment. Showing them you understand their terror and pain is not their being bad, helps.
Herbal medicine to keep them calm or sedated is something you really should have handy. Find out what suits them and have it handy.
These dogs tend to develop organ dysfunction and weakness that manifests after they have crossed the initial growth of the their first two to three years. Keeping them on a healthy diet and good regular digestion is important to give them a good chance at a healthy life.
They tend to develop sudden hyper-sensitivities and allergies to things they were able to process before. So keeping their diet up-to-date is important.
The truth is, they probably need a lot of support immunity-wise, so if you don’t have a big yard for them to run about in and develop their natural immunity in, giving them immunity supporting herbs , adding a few cloves of garlic to their food and other such methods are required.
6) Location and Travel trauma
Dogs who aren’t usually very sensitive, but are very attached to their surroundings can get worked up by change in location and by travel. These are usually staid and composed – they weren’t duly informed in a timely fashion at their last clan’s gathering that they would be put through the indignity of a CHANGE of scene. The very thought of it is blasphemy.
They also are deeply emotional dogs. They require a lot of reassurance that the move and relocation is ok, and believe it or not, they worry about their humans so it makes them feel better if you sing while driving and you are happy in your new surroundings. They are watching their humans for cues on how to behave in the new place so if you’re all stressed and yelling, they’re going to be upset too.
Herbs can help here too. We make herbal tonics that are excellent for dogs with travel issues.
7) The trauma of living with heartless ‘owners’.
When a dog has lived with the face but not the heart of a human, he or she assumes that’s how humans are and this is a trauma that goes deep. Very often being born into a home like that makes pups develop that way of seeing things. The commercialism surrounding dog breeding and pup sales is naturally a big contributor to this.
It isn’t always as easy as showing her or him love and being nice. The dog needs to rediscover humanity, at his or her own time and pace. Patience and faithful care is what we need to give them. Some day they’ll come around to check on you when you’re not well and you’ll know things have taken a turn for the better.
These dogs don’t usually live long, often develop cancers, tumors between the ages of five and seven and while they have the appearance of being good house dogs don’t really emotionally invest. They get shifted around as a result, do a moderately good ‘job’ as a ‘house dog’ until they’re too ill to keep alive.
These dogs could be helped by the company of other dogs, animals and children. Herbs and plant energies that help them feel grounded and stimulated to enjoy the beautiful things in life could help them find happiness. Supporting their immune system with antioxidant herbs that raise their vitality and encourage them to live fully can help.
8) Event Based Trauma
Just like humans, dogs develop terror and fear of situations similar to some event that caused them pain and damage. The only thing to do is gently support them during stressful times. Have an emergency trauma treatment that is natural on hand. Once the dog realizes that he or she doesn’t feel that devastated and terrified their view of the situation will change. We just have to be patient through the process and not get upset or angry as this could compound their terror of similar situations and blow a hole in their self-confidence.
I hope you’ve understood your dog a little better through this article. Click through the links in each section to see the herbs we use to support dogs in healing and managing traumatic situations.