Unleashing the Benefits of CBD in Dog Training

August 22, 2023
August 22, 2023

You’ve probably heard whispers at the dog park from other dog owners or caught a few headlines about CBD and its potential benefits for our four-legged friends. If you’re like me, your ears perk up whenever there’s a chance to make life better for your fur baby. And if you’ve ever wished your pooch was as eager about obedience training as they are about treat time (wouldn’t that be a game-changer?), then you’re in for a treat yourself!

Welcome to our deep-dive into “Unleashing the Benefits of CBD in Dog Training”. This is the place where the science of CBD meets the art of dog training, creating a beautiful symphony that can transform your training sessions from ‘ruff’ to ‘paw-fect’ faster than your doggo can devour a peanut butter-filled Kong!

What Is CBD?

CBD stands for ‘Cannabidiol,’ which is like a hidden treasure found in the Cannabis sativa plant. Now, this plant has a rather infamous cousin, marijuana, but CBD is more like the good boy of the family! It’s like that well-behaved pup that never steals your socks, while THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive compound), another compound from the same plant, is the mischievous one causing all the high jinks (or should we say ‘high’ jinks?).

CBD doesn’t induce a ‘high’ or have psychoactive effects, which is good news! So it’s kind of like your dog having all the fun at the park, without any of the mud to clean up afterwards. It’s fairly well tolerated, but just like switching your pup to a new brand of kibble, you may see changes in appetite or a bit more snoozing (potential side effects). And despite knowing our dogs would courageously face a full-grown cat for us, please consult a vet before introducing them to any new supplement.

In various parts of the world, CBD is legal if it comes from its good pal, the hemp plant. When extracted from hemp, it generally has no more than 0.3% THC, maintaining its good boy image. Now, not all countries view cannabis-derived substances the same way, so check your local regulations before you decide to introduce CBD into Fido’s routine.

How is CBD different to hemp?

Hemp oil and CBD oil, though derived from the same plant species, have different origins and uses due to their differing chemical constituents.

Hemp oil, alternatively known as hemp seed oil, is extracted solely from the seeds of the hemp plant. It is abundant in nutritional elements like omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids but contains nearly no CBD. Hemp oil has widespread applications, from serving as a nutritional supplement and a culinary ingredient to finding use in skincare regimes due to its moisturizing properties.

On the contrary, CBD oil is derived from the leaves, stalks, and flowers of the cannabis or hemp plant. The extraction methods for CBD oil are more specialized, often incorporating CO2 extraction techniques. High in CBD concentration, this oil is sought after for its potential therapeutic benefits, which may encompass relief from discomfort, and alleviation of anxiety.

In essence, the main distinction between hemp oil and CBD oil lies in their sources of extraction and their constituent components. Predominantly rich in beneficial fatty acids, hemp oil is primarily nutritional. Simultaneously, CBD oil, high in CBD, is recognized for its possible health benefits.

What Effects Does CBD Have On Dogs?

CBD can potentially have several effects on our canine companions:

  1. Anxiety Reduction: Like a cozy cuddle on a stormy night, CBD might have calming effects for our fur babies, helping them overcome any anxiety.
  2. Epilepsy and Seizure Control: Some studies suggest that CBD could be a helping paw in managing seizures in dogs. It might reduce their frequency and aid in overall seizure squad goals!
  3. Pain and Inflammation Relief: Is your pupper limping around, maybe due to arthritis or other aches? CBD might just come to the rescue with its potential to relieve pain and reduce inflammation so is particularly useful for joint pain too!
  4. Impacts on Other Medications: Before you toss in CBD treats alongside Fido’s other meds, remember that CBD might interact with some drugs, influencing their metabolism. Don’t forget to consult your favorite vet for guidance.
  5. Potential Adverse Reactions: Keep an eye on your pup’s reaction to CBD. Just like your dog trying a new diet, some might experience tummy troubles, more Zzz’s, or even a case of the zoomies, especially with higher doses.

Always remember, when it comes to CBD, consult your vet and have a heart-to-heart about your dog’s needs. 

The Calming Effect Of CBD

CBD, or cannabidiol, can potentially have calming effects on dogs, which assists in reducing anxiety levels. The underlying mechanism that enables CBD to perform this function is attributed to its interaction with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in dogs.

The ECS plays an essential role in numerous physiological processes, which include mood and stress responses. When CBD interacts with this system, it can help bring about a state of balance and possibly lessen anxiety and other forms of distress.

That said, every dog is unique, and responses to CBD can vary. Some dogs may exhibit significant improvement in their anxiety levels while others may not have the same experience. As with any new addition to your dog’s dietary regimen, it is highly advised to monitor their response and consult a veterinarian prior to implementation.

Should I use CBD oil or treats?

There’s a lof of different CBD products on the market, and when you’re looking into it, it can be confusing.
Personally, I like using CBD oil. It’s more cost effective, and it means I have more flexibility in how I administer it. I use it either in my dog’s food, or deliver it on a treat! But I have large dog breeds, and they do typically need an “extra strength” or a higher dosage, meaning that treats can get kind of expensive for large dogs.
That said, CBD dog treats definitely have their place, and if you’re dealing with small issues with your anxious dog, or trying to cover small issues because your proper training hasn’t quite manifested before the deadline, then totally! Or even with smaller dogs, you might find the treats more cost effective. Treats might be the right time! And usually the treats are more readily accepted by your dogs.

Benefits of Using CBD in Dog Training

In training, some of the biggest, most significant issues for guardians and their dogs to overcome are things like;

  • Reactivity (Aggressive dogs), 
  • severe fear of loud noises (such as fireworks & thunder)
  • Separation Anxiety, 
  • Fence fighting, 
  • Obsessive behaviors 
  • Other severe behavioral problems. 

As a professional trainer, the effects of CBD do work to counter a lot of the expressions of and reasons for these severe behavior. For example;
Pain: can cause reactivity or aggression, or problems in a multi-dog home, or be the source of fence fighting. And, sometimes even though a vet may struggle to isolate the pain, CBD is a less invasive potential test to see if this would help.

Anxiety Reduction: for Seperation anxiety and reactivity, and even obsessive behaviors, a lot of these are rooted in anxiety… and if we can dial that down even 5 to 10%? It can give the opportunity to train more effectively! 

The real headliner on this one, is that it gives the dog parent more space to get it right as their trigger is no longer a hair trigger. 

How to Use CBD for Dog Training

If you have a dog who may struggle with anxiety or any of the problems we’ve discussed above, these are a good reason to discuss CBD with your Vet, trainer or behaviorist. 

Note; CBD is not a replacement for training! You still have to train your dog – there’s no work around for this! Invest the time! It’s really worth it. 

If you’ve chatted this through with your vet/trainer/behaviorist, you’ll need to select your CBD. Make sure you get a good, reliable, brand that lab tests their product and is committed to telling you the whole truth about their product. 

I’ve tested a few, but this is my current favourite if it helps!

CBD Oil - Chou2 Pharma

  • Lab tested
  • Formulated by vets
  • Tested on humans
  • Effective
  • Dogs appear to like it

Chou2 is the best CBD I've tried, not only are they lab tested, formed by vets and tested on humans (I find this part so funny!), but its genuinely got the interest of our pets at heart. They're avoiding the "Full spectrum" approach and are picking and choosing the CBD aspects that most benefit our dogs - personally? I love that.

Pros
  • Easy to use 
  • Effective
  • Covered by some pet insurance
  •  
Cons
  • Misses the measurements on the dropper
  • Could use an extra strength for large dogs

Then, read the recommended dosages, and try a fraction of that. For example, if it says 10 drops? Start at 1, repeat 1 drops for a few dosages and observe any behavior changes. Then increase it to, say, three drops, and observe. 
Rinse and repeat that until you get to the full dosage.

You may find (Like I did!) your dogs operate best at different levels, for example;
Indie (GSD) only needs 1-2 drops to ease his mild social anxiety.
Shelby (Coonhound) only needs 6-7 drops to cope with her fear of thunder for really big storms!
Lucy, (coonhound) needs around 10 drops to help with her littermate syndrome nervousness. I suspect this is essentially pain management, but the vet cannot find anything wrong with her.

Do remember, that if this is a behavioral problem, you can also supplement your routine with more decompression activities, and get in touch with a good positive reinforcement based trainer or behaviorist for proper guidance on behavior modification.

I Love CBD For Reactivity

My favourite and most noticeable use as a professional dog trainer is when a client is struggling with a reactive dog. Dogs develop reactivity for a lot of reasons, from stomach issues to pain, or just some bad experiences! But sometimes that reactive dog is wound so tightly that the ability to reward them for calm behavior shrinks to a minuscule window, before that perceived aggressive behavior shows itself and the opportunity is lost… CBD really helps that dog’s anxiety, unwinding them just a smidge, and allowing an imperfect pet parent a fraction more time to capture the desirable behavior and begin that really tough desensitization process!! 

Potential side effects

Sure, flap those ears and perk up that tail because we’re diving into the nitty-gritty about potential side effects of CBD for our furry friends.

While CBD can be the superhero in the doggy wellness world, every superhero can have a kryptonite. For our canine buddies, this could mean a few unwanted reactions to CBD.

  1. Vomiting and Diarrhea: Picture the aftermath of Fido finding and feasting on the week-old pizza slice that fell behind the couch. Sometimes, just like with that moldy-pepperoni disaster, CBD might disagree with their cute tummy leading to some messy cleanup jobs.
  2. Lethargy: You know those lazy Sunday afternoon feelings, where the couch’s gravitational pull is stronger than your will to fetch the remote? Sure, our furry friends love snoozing, but if they seem more snooze-mode than play-mode after taking CBD, it could be a side effect.
  3. Dry Mouth: If Spot is lapping up water like he’s just run a doggy marathon in the desert, it might not be due to a new found love for H2O. CBD could cause dry mouth, leading to increased thirst.
  4. Changes in Appetite: Imagine your food-loving golden retriever suddenly becomes finicky about food. Spot the difference in grub-love as a fluctuating appetite could be linked to CBD use.
  5. Fluctuations in Blood Pressure: Ever watch a movie where the wobbly Bambi-on-ice scenario plays out? Well, a blood pressure drop in our four-legged friends can cause a light-headed feeling, making them less steady on their paws.
  6. Increased Anxiety or Obsessiveness: I have seen this result in more stress if it’s too much, and it can create and develop stress in your dog.
  7. Lack of Focus: The other thing I’ve witnessed is that it can almost inhibit your dog’s desire to listen, or raises their impulsivity. 

Understanding the signs of illness and recognising their subtle signs of discomfort to be able to read and respond to the situation appropriately. 

Why Dog Trainers Are Becoming Fans Of CBD?

For me, and for other trainers I know, CBD is one of the best things that we can use to make soft changes, and is far more effective than other “calming remedies” like valerian compound, or the soft chews with calming components. CBD actually works and the effect is useful from older dogs, to younger dogs, and sure! We’re still in that “anecdotal evidence” phase, but there are a lot of good results from users when it’s done right.

Legality in the US.

CBD is generally considered to be legal for use in dogs in the united states and in the united kingdom provided it’s not got THC over 0.3%. However, as of now, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved CBD and has not issued a dosing chart. Hence, there is no official statement about the safety and risks of using CBD for dogs.

If CBD is derived from industrial hemp plants, it is legal. Regardless, as a pet owner, you are encouraged to research and verify the legality of CBD in your specific area as the administration of CBD to pets could fall into a legal grey area due to the complex nature of cannabis law – but your vet, trainer or behaviorist will be able to help you with that!. It’s important to note that while it’s legal, the effects and potential benefits or risks of CBD are still being researched for use in veterinary medicine.

In conclusion, while CBD derived from hemp is generally legal for use in dogs, it’s still crucial for owners to consult with a knowledgeable vet and research local laws because the complex layers of the law could affect the legality in specific scenarios.

Can You Use CBD?

Remember, as amazing as CBD may be, it’s not a one-size-fits-all cape for every SuperDog out there. No two doggos are the same, so it’s always essential to keep a watchful eye on their reaction to CBD and consult with that trusty vet, trainer or behaviorist of yours. The use of CBD should be 

Now that we’ve shed some light on CBD’s secrets, you can make an informed decision, ensuring your pet’s bark is as healthy as its bite. And hey, it’s always worth trying new things for the sake of their wellbeing, right? After all, it’s our love for our dogs and our commitment to their happiness and health that truly makes us the best hoomans they could ask for.

 

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