If you have a question you'd like answered, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll be happy to answer your question, and if I feel the question is of general interest, I'll post the question and answer on this page!
If you are looking for general introductory information on flower essences, I suggest you start by reading my article Why Flower Essences? This article discusses types of dog behavior issues such as fears, phobias, jealousy, over-intensity, etc. that can be helped with the aid of flower essences, and how they can help your training and socialization progress more smoothly, not to mention making day to day life just plain easier!
Frequently Asked Questions:
Bach flower essences are a natural supplement discovered and devloped in 1930’s England by the physician and bacteriologist , Dr. Edward Bach. Bach’s remedies are liquid infusions of healing flowers (one type of flower per essence, allowed to sun-infuse in pure spring water) which act to subtly rebalance extreme or out of balance emotional states. They are quite dilute liquid preparations, and believed to contain the energy signatures (or “essences”) of various flowers used. Each type of flower essence addresses a specific emotional state, and when taken internally, gently works to bring that emotion back into healthy balance. There are flower essences that can help your dog develop greater focus, less fear, become more tolerant with others, have increased self control, to name a few. The essences can be taken one at a time or, probably more commonly, are combined into formulas that address an overall behavioral “picture”. They can be used as a stand-alone therapy or as part of a behavior modification program. Bach flower essences are non-toxic and can’t be overdosed. They are non-habit-forming, and have no negative side effects. There are not many supplements you can say all that about!
Since Dr Bach’s original work with the thirty eight flower essences, his namesake remedies have become recognized and used with success world-wide, as aid aid to emotional healing in humans, companion animals, and domestic and captive-wild species. More recently, flower essence research has broadened beyond the British Isles, and currently hundreds of flower essences from around the globe are being studied. Personally, I focus my efforts with animals on Bach’s original English flower essences and, to a lesser degree, the North American essences discovered and researched by the Flower Essence Society. Although I may broaden my scope some day, for now, they give me more than enough to work with!
A: Thanks for that very good question! There are other lines of flower essences available for pets, and I am positive there are some really wonderful ones out there. So, why introduce one more line of formulas? This was a serious question for me when I was deciding whether to bring Aldaron Animal Essences remedies to the general public, rather than simply continue to offer them only to my training clients. I am not only a lifelong dog owner and dog lover, I am a dog trainer and canine behavior consultant with over 19 years experience working with thousands of dogs - all ages, virtually every breed, and the whole range of dog behavior problems. For over 15 of those years I have incorporated flower essence therapy into that behavior work. I have always been fascinated with the "whys" in life -- and in training dogs, this drive to discover the dog's motivation behind the problem has served me very well in truly helping dogs, not just offering band-aid fixes to behavior problems. I also count myself blessed in having had a depth of intensive experience working with dogs one-on-one, in addition to teaching and coaching dog owners. Learning to adapt myself to many different canine personalities each day, learning how to bring out the best in each, and the continuous opportunity to practice and apply insight and empathy, has given me, I believe, unique insights into why dogs behave the way they do, and what their motivations are. This ability to empathize, glean underlying emotions and motivations, while keeping the big picture in view is, I feel, what makes Aldaron Animal Essences unique and particularly successful in supporting behavioral wellness in dogs.
A: Thanks for the question! Rescue Remedy is one combination of 5 essences. That particular combination is great stuff - simply wonderful for trauma, either emotional or physical, new or buried. The formulas on my Aldaron Essences site are simply other combinations of Bach flowers. Some (two, I believe) actually have Rescue Remedy as one of the essences. (When combining essences into formulas, Rescue can be considered to act as a single essence.) So, my formulas address issues that go beyond the scope of Rescue Remedy, i.e. trauma. If you look at my formula line, there are combinations there that address many different emotional “pictures”, most of which I have come across pretty commonly over the years, both as a trainer/consultant and a dog owner, breeder, and competitor.
For instance, if you look at my Fear and Suspicion formula. It has:
Rescue Remedy for severe stress and trauma, either what the dog is going through now, or went through in the past.
Aspen for vague, unspecific fears and general anxiety.
Mimulus for specific, known (to the animal), “hard” fears.
Elm for the sense of being overwhelmed.
Holly for many negative feelings “from the heart”, such as envy, hatred, jealousy, and other hurtful, aggressive feelings.
You can see if you look at that formula, that it forms a “picture” of a certain type of dog (or person, they are really not dog-specific!). I originally created this formula for a small terrier who had been severely abused. He was incredibly defensive (as you might expect), willing and ready to bite, no trust whatsoever, all with good reason. No one could touch him. The poor thing was, frankly, so damaged I think most people would have put him down. After about a week of work with no progress, I made up this formula, put it in his water bowl, and simply several feet away from him. He cautiously tested the water, drank a little, and walked away. He then kept going back and back to it till he had nearly drunk the bowl dry. After 5 or 10 minutes, he came over, crawled into my lap, put his head down, and fell asleep. Up till then he had been untouchable, would go near no one, and his entire behavioral repetoire was one continuous defensive threat. The change that day - the door it opened - was truly amazing, and the beginning of his recovery. I admit that this is an unusually dramatic example; most often it takes longer, and the results are more subtle. But I have seen similar things repeatedly over the years. That particular formula, I realized when going back through my notes, I kept making up again and again, for dogs (not necessarily absued) with defensive, fear aggression.
So, back to your question, the formulas go further than you can with just Rescue Remedy. I don’t think anyone will ever replace Rescue! But, for me, Rescue Remedy was really just an introduction to the whole “world” of flower essences. I realized at some point that most trainers, etc aren’t able to invest the time and energy in studying all the essences and how to formulate them effectively. That’s when I decided to offer Aldaron Essences as a line of behavior support formulas.
If that doesn’t answer your question, please let me know! And thanks again for your email.
A: Good question! The answer is a resounding "No!" :-). Any type of animal can benefit from these formulas. I promote them for dogs, because dogs are my area of expertise - not only training dogs, but understanding and addressing the underlying emotions and motivations behind the behaviors that dogs can exhibit. While I do consider myself a student of animal behavior in general, I am not an expert on other species! However, Aldaron Essences are safe for any animal. If you feel the description of the emotions for a formula fits what your cat, horse, rabbit, or other best friend is going through, by all means try it. And I would love to hear your feedback!
A: You should give the formula, on the recommended schedule, a minimum of 2 weeks to see if there will be any noticeable effect. Keep in mind that it sometimes takes longer. If you are seeing results (improved behavior and responses), continue the formula on a minimum 3 dose per day for at least a month. As your dog's new, more positive behaviors become the norm, you can either decide to reduce the frequency of the formula (going to once a day, or even a few days a week), or if you are like me, you will find that you end up "forgetting" to keep up with the doses as the dog's behavior improves. I think most people tend to notice negative behaviors more than positive ones, and in my case anyway, the negative behaviors tend to "remind" me to keep giving the formula. When they go away, being replaced by positive responses, I just don't think about giving the formula as often. I've found this to be a very natural way to wean off a flower essence formula!
If at any point, your dog begins to shift back into imbalance, showing the old, negative behaviors again, simply start up the regular doses again until you see an improvement, and continue on a few days or weeks before reducing or eliminating giving the formula. Some dogs will bounce back and forth, improving while they are on the formula, and gradually slipping out of balance again when they go off it. This is often simply long-term habit coming back to haunt you! If that is the case, you will find that you have to return to the formula with less and less frequency as time goes on. However, keep in mind that it is also normal for any individual (dog, humans, or any animals) to fall into predictable patterns of imbalance when stressed. So, if the dog repeatedly falls back into imbalance after finishing a course of flower essence therapy, it is advisable to revisit whether the dog has some outside stressor that is causing him to keep returning to the negative behavior patterns. This could be a health issue that is undermining the dog's ability to cope, a training method or approach that is in conflict with the dog's temperament or learning style, a nutritional imbalance, a lack of mental or physical exercise, etc, etc. If you can identify and remove or reduce the stressor, your dog will be much more likely to achieve long-term improvement from flower essences (or any other treatment, training, or therapy!).
For a more detailed discussion of this, please see my article Persistent Stress-Related Behavior in Dogs.
A: Flower essences can produce lasting or permanent "re-tuning" of emotional states. So, the adjustment your dog experienced say, a few months ago, should continue to be effective for some time after you stop giving it. How long is very much dependent on the individual dog and circumstances. Your dog can, for a number of reasons (health, stress, training methods, etc) get back out of emotional balance, and need another round of flower essences to reinforce her positive behavior. See the question "How long will my dog need to continue taking the formula?" for a further discussion of this.
A: This is a great question, because it goes to the heart of how flower essences work. When you say your dog "goes ballistic", you are describing a behavior, or set of behaviors, not the emotions behind the behavior. That is, you are describing the "what", not the "why". With flower essences, we are primarly concerned with the underlying emotion (the "why") that is leading to the behavior problem. (To put it another way, the problem behavior is a behavioral manifestation of these emotions). To determine what combination of flower essences might help, we need to look at what is motivating the dog to "go ballistic". Is he possibly over-attached to you, and guarding you possessively from other dogs, as he might a favorite toy or a bone? Is he fearful of what might happen if the dogs get too close? Has he had a previous bad experience, possibly being bullied or attacked in the past, that is causing a "best defense is a good offense" approach? Or maybe his excitement to go see other dogs is simply a result of a frustrated desire to play, so that this frustration has developed into an explosive visual display? These are only a few possibilities for why your dog may be behaving the way he is when he sees other dogs.
My recommendation is that you read closely the descriptions for each formula, and see if any closely match what you feel are your dog's underlying emotions when he is in this agitated state. If you are unsure, or if none quite seem to match your dog's perspective, consider having a consult, so that I can evaluate your dog and make a custom flower essence formula that is right for him.
You may also wish to check out my article Using Bach Flower Essences to Help Your Reactive Dog.
A: I always love this question, because it is precisely the effects I have observed in animals that convinced me that flower essences do, in fact, work. While people certainly can have an "I want to believe" mindset that can affect how well they perceive a given therapy is working, animals have no such preconceived notions, expectations, or biases. I have seen flower essences work dramatically in homes where the owners had no previous experience with alternative therapies, and no expectation of any particular effect. I have seen amazing results in dogs kenneled at a boarding facility, with no family members or acquaintances present to influence the dog's behavior. I have seen flower essences work on pets owned by people who actually had negative expectations, in which case, if the owners were somehow influencing their animals emotionally, I would have expected to see either a neutral or even a negative result. And, I have seen cases where the dog's owners, possibly too close to the dog to notice the changes in behavior, only recognised the improvement when friends (or competitors, in the case of some show dogs) asked what in the world they had done to bring about such a change in their dog!
So, while I cannot explain fully how flower essences work on emotions, I have seen enough evidence to convince me that, at least in animals, there is no placebo effect at play. Thanks for your question!
A: This is a common question (and misconception) because, superficially, flower essences and aromatherapy do appear quite similar. They both involve flowers, and both involve feelings and emotional states. The similarity, however, ends there. Aromatherapy employs the scent (aroma) of essential oils of various flowers to alter mood through brain chemistry. It is believed to do this via its action on the limbic system of the brain. Flower essences, on the other hand, effect and alter not mood per se, but emotional states and perception. Further, they contain no discernible scent. Instead of concentrated essential oils, flower essences are prepared from pure water in which selected flowers have been infused. While no noticeable scent remains, what is preserved is the "energy signature" of that particular bloom. It is this subtle vibrational pattern, not overt scent, that holds the therapeutic value of flower essences. This vibrational pattern acts as a kind of "tuning fork" for out of balance emotions. By providing the body with plant world's version of the correct (healthy, balanced) vibrational pattern of a particular emotion, the body is able to gently readjust back into a healthy emotional state.
A: Every animal is unique, and some behaviors are more deep-seated than others. Because of this, it’s important to keep in mind that how quickly you will see a change in your dog will vary. I have seen “blow me out of the water” results in minutes, but other times (and certainly more often) I’ve seen it take as long as 3 or 4 weeks to see a significant shift in reactions. Every individual tends to incorporate change at their own pace, and some hold on to the way they react more strongly than others.
Bach flower essences work subtly, which is sometimes hard for people unfamiliar with them to grasp. While they are possible, you’re best off not expecting big, sweeping changes in your dog’s attitude. Look, instead, for noticeable shifts (sometimes subtle, sometimes very obvious) in your dog’s attitude in situations that previously had caused stress or a particular negative reaction. Assuming the appropriate combination of essences (i.e. formula) has been chosen, you should see a progressive reduction in intensity, frequency, duration, and/or tenacity of the negative reaction.
Flower essence formulas are non-toxic and have no harmful side effects. If an essence is not the right one for your dog, then you simply will see no change (keep in mind though, to look for subtle changes). The formulas are very safe, and nothing bad will happen if one animal gets a taste of the formula intended another. Bach flower formulas are not sedative and will not make your dog act “dopey”. However, I have frequently seen a noticeable relaxation response within minutes of the first dose, particularly when Rescue Remedy is involved.
Q: We have 2 dogs on your formulas, one on "Confidence" and the other on "Very Scary Things". They've been getting their drops like clockwork for 10 days, but we haven't seen any improvement. We haven't seen a decline either, to be fair. What now?
A: I'm sorry to hear you haven't seen noticeable results yet with the formulas for your 2 dogs. Please continue to give the formulas for a month (or even better, just finish the bottles). The average for seeing some improvement is about 3-5 days, but some dogs take longer, up to 2 weeks or more. It may simply be the flower essences haven't started working yet.
Another possibility is that the changes have begun, but are subtle, so that you may not yet be picking up on them. "Subtle" is such a difficult concept to convey, when it comes to behavior change! I always advise people to look for little things, generally in areas that the dog is most comfortable and least stressed in. The hardest situations (for the dog) will be the ones you in which see improvement last, in my experience. So, those small changes may not be in the areas you are looking/hoping for change, in the beginning! But if you do see changes in any area, there's a good chance those will build and generalize, so this is a case where "persistence pays".
Again, "subtle" can be tough to pick up on. I have had many people who didn't notice small improvements - until they stopped giving the formula. Then they realized the dog hadn't been reacting to "X" situation, while on it. I've also had clients who didn't notice the changes until some visiting friend observed, "hey, your dog seems better today - what have you been doing?" Sometimes, as with many things in early stages, it takes a fresh pair of eyes :-)
So, my advice is to keep up with the formulas for now, then email me with what you find, and we'll go from there.
A: The most common way of giving flower essence formulas is either by dropper bottle, or a bottle equipped with a “mister” top. Both of these are quite convenient. Personally I prefer the mister in most cases, as this is easy to handle, and won’t spill if I am clumsy. For dogs of all sizes, 2-3 drops is the normal dose, or 1-2 sprays of the formula, each time the formula is given. This should be done 3-4 times each day, and can be given “as needed” in troublesome situations. Amounts and frequency can be increased safely, although more than the 3 or 4 times a day probably won’t speed or intensify the effect - you will just run out faster :-). That said, my usual routine is to give a new formula 4 to 6 times/day over the first 3 days, tapering off to 3-4 times a day after that. I feel this helps get the formula solidly in the dog’s system.
Before giving each dose, it’s recommended that you shake the bottle vigorously in a vertical (top to bottom) direction. Then the spray or drops can be given directly into the mouth (avoid touching the dropper or sprayer to the mouth or any other surface). Alternatively, they can be applied to a dry biscuit and fed to the dog or, if you just have the one animal (or your pets have separate water bowls) you can add the formula to your dog’s water. Some people prefer to put a few drops of the formula on the hands and rub it into the dog’s gums, or mist/rub it around the head. Ideally, I like to give the essences directly into the mouth, but these other options are all perfectly sound.
One last tip: When administering the formula to your dog, be matter of fact. Most animals accept this strange new thing easily if you project a positive, ”no big deal” attitude.
A: Rescue Remedy (a combination of 5 of the 38 total essences that English physician and bacteriologist Dr Edward Bach discovered early in the last century) has an impressive record when it comes to alleviating severe stress and trauma. Rescue can be used “in the heat of the moment” for stress and upset associated with accidents, dog fights, injuries, etc, as well as proactively for upcoming potentially stressful events – veterinary visits, whelping, moving house, puppies or adult dogs going to new homes, really anything that the individual dog finds upsetting and stressful. Unlike more conventional supplements, Rescue Remedy will work to heal the emotional fallout of old traumas, even past abuse. Because of this, I highly recommend giving it long term to dogs rescued from neglectful or uncertain situations. It can also be very helpful for working, competition, or pet dogs that may have previously suffered overly harsh or forceful training methods. So, while Rescue Remedy is well known for acting quickly (within minutes) in those “heat of the moment” high-stress situations, it is excellent to keep in mind for its ability to work more deeply and gradually with trauma and stress that has been buried by time.
Absolutely - toxicity can be a concern with some dogs and some oils. Some dogs are more sensitive, and some oils are more problematic than others. However, flower essences are completely different from essential oils. It’s a common mistake; the names sound so similar. Flower essences are made from pure water that healing flowers have been placed in, to absorb their energy signature, or "essence". They are considered a “subtle energy” therapy – again, very different from oils. Flower essences are not concentrated like essential oils, and have have no toxicity.
If you think more than one formula is called for, you definitely can use 2 formulas together. I would say to be sure to choose those that complement each other well. Ideally, they should work together to address a coherent picture of the dog’s behavior. If that's the case, you can either start off giving them at the same time (a few drops or a spray of each, given 3 to 4 times every day). Or you can start with one formula, and give that one exclusively for a couple of weeks (I generally suggest starting with the one that seems to address the dog's most pressing issues), then add in the second formula. The second method has the benefit of giving you an idea of which formula is helping with what. The first method is fine too, though, and may be preferable if the problem is urgent. But either will work.
Sometimes people have a main formula for ongoing, daily issues, but a second formula they want to use to help with less-frequent events like car rides, company visiting, training classes, or dog shows. In that case you can give the main formula daily, then give the second formula in addition, for extra support, before a class, show, company coming over, etc. One schedule for giving the 2nd formula is to give a few doses, 5 to 10 minutes apart, in the half hour or so before the relevant “event”. Another is to give the second formula 3x/day for the two days before, and the day of, the event. I've found there is no one "ideal" timing and frequency -- it tends to vary with individual dogs. So, feel free to play around with what schedule works best for your dog, in those situations.
If your dog has a wide variety of issues, I always suggest prioritizing the issues and selecting essences that fit with the most important behaviors to improve. For example, potentially dangerous behaviors should take priority over behaviors that only annoy you or make you sad.
On the other hand, if the problem is that you're unsure what emotions are underlying your dog's behavior, then select essences based on those you're most sure about. Because we can't simply ask the dog how he's feeling when he acts out, it can take some experimenting to figure out what motivates certain behaviors! So, start with small bottles rather than large ones, and re-evaluate your dog's behavior and emotions regularly.
Lastly, don't get stuck in one interpretation of your dog's behaviors and emotions -- be willing to shift your perspective and consider other possibilities for what emotions are driving your dog. It can be an eye-opening experience!