The Bach flower Mimulus is one of the most commonly used anti-anxiety flower remedies for dogs. Shy, timid, sensitive animals can often become fearful and nervous, and bolder dogs can develop fears of very specific things or in certain situations. Each can benefit greatly from Mimulus flower essence. This natural remedy rebuilds courage and restores confidence, reducing feelings of vulnerability and the tendency to react fearfully in specific situations.
The Mimulus Pattern in Dogs
The discoverer of English flower essences, Dr. Edward Bach, described the negative emotional state addressed by Mimulus:
“Fear of worldly things, illness, pain, accidents, poverty, of dark, being alone, of misfortune. The fears of everyday life. These people quietly and secretly bear their dread, they do not freely speak of it to others.”
You can see from Bach’s own description that the fear described is neither vague apprehension nor outright panic. These fears are concrete; they are specific and identifiable. Naturally, dogs may experience very different specific fears than people do. But the Mimulus type of fear – specific and identifiable - is the same.
Bach considered Mimulus a personality type as well as an emotional state. If your dog is sensitive, vulnerable, loving tranquility and avoiding confrontation, she may be a Mimulus “personality type”. When in a healthy state of balance, the Mimulus personality is gentle, compassionate, and quietly courageous. When that balance is lost – through stress or trauma for instance - the Mimulus type becomes timid, overly fearful and cautious, and in extreme cases can become prone to resentment and anger.
Of course, virtually any dog can develop fear and anxiety after some frightening event; the presence of fear doesn’t mean your dog has a fearful temperament. So, if your dog has specific fears or shyness in certain situations, but is outgoing, curious, and adventuresome in general, more likely she has some learned fears. In either case, Mimulus flower essence can reduce those fears, increase courage and confidence, and bring even timid, retiring types more into the light.
Mimulus flower, also known as Monkey flower
Use of Mimulus Bach Flower Essence in Dogs
Mimulus flower essence restores courage and confidence, or as Bach said, the “ability to stand up and face the difficulties of life”, and “go bravely on”. (Dr Bach, Collected Writings).
In his book, Bach Flower Remedies, Form and Function, Julian Barnard writes very perceptively about Mimulus: “Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is clear action in the face of fear. So Mimulus helps to utilize our intelligence. It develops a pathway to the mind where we can assess our fears objectively.”
How beautifully put! Using Mimulus will not make your dog reckless or oblivious to danger. It won’t make him start looking for trouble. It will help him evaluate his fears with a clearer head. Once a clear head prevails, courage is not far behind.
Fearful Behavior in Dogs Helped by Mimulus
- Dogs afraid of thunder or gunshots
- Dogs terrified by fireworks or other loud, sudden, or piercing noises like smoke alarms
- The new dog that’s scared of you or a loved one, of strangers, of visitors to your home
- Working and sport dogs that are fearful and apprehensive after suffering a setback from an accident or other scary event while working
- Dogs that are fearful of going outside, or coming in the house, of stairs, slick floors, fans, heaters
- Skittish dogs that are nervous on walks or in a new home
- The dog that’s intimidated by you, the cat, tall people, men, people in hats, other dogs
- Rescue dogs with “baggage” that’s left them unsure and anxious.
- Dogs that get anxious during brushing, nail clipping, grooming
- Fearful, traumatized dogs that have suffered abuse or neglect
- Fearful, under-confident dogs that become aggressive when approached, stared at, reached for, or touched
- Poorly socialized dogs that avoid and hesitate
- Dogs frightened of flies, bees, birds after being stung, buzzed, or dive-bombed
- Reserved dogs that dislike confrontation, and avoid interaction by retreating or hiding
- Dogs that can’t relax in public or in crowds.
Flower Essences Commonly Combined with Mimulus
Rescue Remedy. A natural choice for dogs that are highly stressed or traumatized. Rescue will even help if a long-past trauma is still affecting the dog’s emotional state.
Aspen. Dogs with specific fears may also have or develop a generally anxious nature: jumpy, spooky, and skittish. Aspen can help calm this more vague, general apprehension in dogs.
Larch. Fear and loss of confidence often go hand-in-hand. Larch flower essence restores confidence lost through a failure or setback.
Rock Rose. It’s not unusual for fearful, anxious dogs to have situations that put them into a full-blown panic state. For terrified, panicked dogs, Rock Rose is the essence of choice.
Vervain. When spirited, strong-willed dogs develop fears, their natural intensity can serve to intensify their reaction to fear triggers. This type of dog tends to “wind itself up” when afraid. Vervain can help temper the over-intensity and calm fear reactions in high-strung dogs.
Impatiens. Physical tension, including shaking and trembling, often accompany fear and anxiety in dogs. Impatiens reduces that tension, and also will help in cases of frustration reactivity triggered by fear.
Chicory. Fearful, anxious dogs may become over-dependent on their owners. And over-attached, clingy, needy dogs can easily develop fears. Chicory addresses unhealthy levels of attachment and helps “cut the apron strings” in this type of dog.
Holly. A common – but not inevitable – emotion that accompanies fear is anger. Dogs that become suspicious, bad-tempered, ticked off, antagonistic, or prickly when fearful need a good dose of Holly! This flower essence heals “vexations of the heart”.
Elm. It’s not uncommon for dogs with fears to be easily overwhelmed in certain situations, making their fears harder to handle. Elm reduces overwhelm.
Oak. Living with fear and anxiety can put a huge strain on dogs. The burden can be exhausting. Oak builds emotional stamina in fearful dogs that are easily over-extended.
Other Consideration for Fearful Dogs
Health and wellness can be an important factor in how dogs deal with fears and anxiety. Pain issues have been shown to play a role in noise sensitivity, for instance, and may intensify other fear reactions, as well. I recall a dog I was working with some years ago that had severe fear aggression issues. Working with the dog at a local park, we were come upon suddenly by a crowd of teenagers. I watched this dog’s body tense up and become almost contorted as her anxiety (and aggression) increased. It was remarkable to watch. I asked the owner if she could have any pain issues. It seemed obvious to me that, as she tensed up, she was experiencing severe physical discomfort. The owner assured me she had no problems. After persisting, she disclosed that the dog had been hit by a car a few years before, and had several (now-mended) broken bones. But no one had never mentioned the possibility of residual pain from the accident! This dog responded incredibly well to flower essences, but also badly needed pain relief to keep her discomfort (and aggression) under control.
There are natural pain relief supplements as well as pharmaceutical. Talk with your dog’s health care provider to determine if it’s appropriate to try pain relief for your fearful dog.
Thyroid function typically diminishes with age, and hypothyroidism has been associated with noise sensitivity in mature dogs (often about 7 years and older). It’s a good idea to have your dog’s thyroid levels checked as a young adult to establish a baseline. This way you can know if hormone output drops as your dog matures. Restoring normal levels with thyroid hormone supplementation is an easy and inexpensive fix for the problem, and can resolve a number of dog behavior issues associated with hypothyroidism. As with possible pain issues, this is something you want to discuss with your veterinarian.
Appropriate “lifestyle choices” are important for dogs of the sensitive Mimulus type. This type of dog needs a peaceful retreat in her home and yard. Time to escape into nature should be considered a necessity rather than the occasional treat. This dog will benefit from a stable routine and non-overwhelming environment. To expect a sensitive, quiet-loving dog to thrive as a mascot for a busy daycare, or in a chaotic, noisy, inner-city environment may simply not be practical or in the dog’s best interests.
Dogs that have suffered from a bad experience need time and care to overcome acquired fears. Confidence-building exercises and experiences can be tremendously helpful for general confidence. When working with a specific fear, gradually expose the dog to the fear-triggering stimulus, starting with very minimal “doses” and only increasing exposure when the dog is clearly comfortable and confident at that level. This is often one of those situations where “slow and steady wins the race”.
The "Fear Factor" in Dog Behavior
Not surprisingly, Mimulus plays an important part in many Aldaron Essences’ formulas; it’s featured in nearly half of our 33 flower essence formulas for dogs. Below, I’ll highlight a selection that demonstrates how Mimulus can be used to help resolve a variety of of dog behavior issues.
General Fearfulness and Anxiety in Dogs
What is the first thing most of us picture when we think of a fearful, anxious dog? Nervous, timid, shy dog, “afraid of his own shadow”. In extreme stress, we might expect shaking, trembling, eyes wide and heavy panting.
Aldaron Essences' Very Scary Things is designed for just such a dog. A combination of Rescue Remedy, Aspen, Mimulus, Impatiens, Oak, and Walnut Bach flower essences, this is a powerful stress-relieving blend that builds confidence and reduces fear and anxiety. It’s a truly outstanding blend for easing mild to moderate fear and anxiety in dogs, and even tackles long-standing, persistent fearful behavior resulting from past negative experiences.
Why use Very Scary Things? Some uses and benefits:
- This is our #1 blend for reducing fear of thunder, fireworks, and gunfire in noise-sensitive dogs.
- It's the perfect combination for helping dogs get over bad experiences, such as being frightened by aggressive dogs, rough handling by strangers, a scary fall, etc.
- Clients love Very Scary Things for improving courage and reducing nervousness in dogs with very specific fears, like wobbly, unpredictable toddlers, men with beards, people in hats or sunglasses, flags flying, people carrying umbrellas or walking sticks, etc.
- This is my most highly-recommended blend for reducing anxiety and timidity in dogs that shake, cower, and cringe, or run away and hide when frightened.
Confidence Issues in Dogs
I think we all know what a confident dog looks like - calm, cool, ready and willing to take on tough challenges. But a general lack of confidence? It can look a lot like fearfulness, and vise versa.
Aldaron Essences’ Confidence Plus combines Mimulus for specific fears with an array of Bach flower essences for every aspect of confidence, to provide a powerful, well-rounded confidence-building blend for dogs.
Combining Centaury, Cerato, Vine, Pine, Mimulus, Larch, Elm, and Gentian Bach flowers, Confidence Plus improves self assurance, confidence, and resilience. This is one of our most-loved flower essence formulas for dogs – particularly among our performance clients.
What are some typical benefits from Confidence Plus?
- Some dogs take minor setbacks badly. Confidence Plus improves resilience and the ability to “bounce back”.
- New people, situations, and places can be tough for an under-confident dog. Confidence Plus helps improve self-assurance and willingness to try new things.
- This is a wonderful blend for restoring confidence lost after accidents, bad experiences, or misadventures in day to day life, training, or trialing.
Canine Socialization Issues
Poor social skills and lack of sociability in dogs can result from a number of factors: lack of socialization in the litter, not enough exposure to new people, places and things throughout puppyhood, a fearful dam, or just plain genetics, among others.
Aldaron Essences’ Social-Ease combines the Bach flowers Water Violet, Mimulus, Larch, Beech, Oak, Impatiens, and Rock Water to enhance courage, confidence, and sociability in dogs of any age.
What types of dogs can benefit from Social Ease?
- Adolescent dogs going through a less-social phase can be helped to come "out of their shell".
- Rescued and re-homed dogs can lose confidence in the transition to a new home and environment, which can result in social skills backsliding. Similarly, dogs may become less comfortable socially as they age, and with illness or reduced mobility. Social-Ease can help balance them in that transition.
Defensive Aggression in Dogs
Fear plays an important role in many, if not most, cases of aggression in dogs. When a dog can’t get out of a frightening situation, and is unable to move to a safe and comfortable distance from what scares him, he may become overwhelmed and defensive.
Common sense caution: In cases of aggression, or any threatening or potentially dangerous behavior, Aldaron Essences should always be used in conjunction with, and within the overall framework of, a sound, behavior-based training program.
Aldaron Essences’ Fear & Suspicion combines Rescue Remedy, Aspen, Mimulus, Holly, and Elm for dogs experiencing this kind of fear aggression. It calms, restores courage and confidence, reduces overwhelm and soothes vexation.
What type of dog can Fear & Suspicion formula help?
- Whether through temperament, bad experience, or lack of experience, some dogs will go into a self-protective mode when in stressful or even just unfamiliar, situations. Fear & Suspicion is ideal for this type of dog.
- Dogs that have been abused, or that lack proper socialization that respond aggressively when faced with being touched, stared at, etc.
- Any dog that displays defensive behavior when overwhelmed (whether that happens at the veterinarian's office, your groomer's, boarding kennel, etc).
Fear-Assertive Behavior in Dogs
Not all dogs back off and seek a safe place when stressed and afraid. Certainly personalities take a “best defense is a good offense” approach, and respond to fear and stress by becoming confrontational and threatening. Often these dogs have never learned how to communicate their discomfort in a more cooperative, peaceable manner.
While fear aggression of any kind requires thoughtful, consistent training, this type of dog can reap huge benefits from a flower essence blend to address the tendency to intimidate when stressed. Our Equilibrium formula does just that. A combination of Rescue Remedy, essences of Aspen, Mimulus, Impatiens, Chicory, Vine, Holly, and Rock Water Bach flower essences, Equilibrium reduces stress and anxiety, while toning down the inclination to control, bully, or dominate others.
What kind of dog is an Equilibrium dog?
- If your dog becomes "in your face", confrontational, and/or physically bullying when stressed, anxious or worried, a) get to a good trainer who can help you work through situations without conflict and b) consider Equilibrium to reduce tension, tone down over-assertiveness and posturing, and alleviate stress and anxiety in your dog.
Mimulus is the flower remedy of choice to ease fears and anxiety, and restore courage and confidence in dogs. With the help of Mimulus, dogs with isolated fearful reactions like noise phobias, dogs with fears learned from bad experiences, and dogs with overly-sensitive natures can all learn to face up to life and not give in to their fears.
And when combined with other Bach flower remedies, Mimulus can help improve a wider variety of dog behavior problems, from general fearfulness and anxiety, to confidence issues, socialization problems, fear-aggression, and more.
Of course, no flower essences will replace the need to work with your dog. But whether you are gently socializing your dog, building confidence, increasing tolerance for potentially scary things, or helping your dog learn cooperative behaviors, Mimulus can remove emotional roadblocks that hinder training progress.
So, take a look through our Aldaron Essences formulas for anxiety, fears and phobias – all designed by an experienced dog trainer and behavior specialist. Or, design a blend yourself! Either way, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how effective Mimulus and other flower remedies can be for your dog.
Julie Cantrell BSc CDBC
Owner, Aldaron Essences LLC