It is possible to address behavior change in a dog without medication. There may be natural products that can support training that owners feel better about using. Perhaps the most natural way to change behavior is through good instruction. But here’s the catch, it requires time, effort, and a level of technical understanding and mechanical skill. These may not be available to an owner or even many trainers.
If you are avoiding medications and do not have a collection of training plans (and working on them) you may be kidding yourself regarding how much you are going to be able to accomplish. It can take hours of daily instruction to build a new skill to replace existing problem behavior. If you aren’t putting in those hours (and honestly, how many of us have them to spare?) you are not likely helping your dog as much as they need it.
I’d Rather Not Use Drugs
I routinely hear from owners that they’d rather not use medications. The next reasonable response would be to set up a schedule for routine training of the dog and of the owner to continue the work on their own. Sometimes this happens, often it doesn’t. Meanwhile the delay in response to problem behavior makes good outcomes harder to achieve.
Medications Are Not A Cop-Out
The use of behavioral medications is not a cop out. It is a reasonable response to the recognition that our dogs are suffering. Meds can provide relief. We have other things to do in our lives and as devoted as we may be to our dogs, few of us expected to take on the needs and requirements of an animal with serious behavioral challenges. It’s not a question of whether or not a dog can learn new skills, I believe that most can. What is in question is whether or not they are going to have access to the level of instruction they need to learn them. If not, it doesn’t make sense to not take advantage of what medical sciences has made available.
I am committed to promoting the use of behavioral medications to relieve the suffering of dogs (and by extension their owners) and the development of skills in trainers to improve their efficiency, efficacy and humaneness.