Separation anxiety is a common behavioral problem in dogs. Find out how Reiki can help calm your dog’s fear of being left alone.
If your dog barks non-stop, destroys the furniture, or has accidents in the house when you’re out, he likely has separation anxiety. Alleviating the problem may involve positive training, behavior modification, and calming supplements. Adding Reiki to the protocol can further ease separation anxiety by helping to calm a fearful dog.
What causes separation anxiety?
Separation anxiety can occur in any dog, including puppies, fosters, and those in transition from a shelter to a home, or vice versa. It often stems from past abandonment and neglect. Certain breeds also seem more likely to suffer from separation anxiety. Theyʼre the ones we affectionately label “Velcro dogs”.
Fast Fact: Velcro dogs love being with their people, and include retrievers, German shepherds, border collies, Vizslas, and great Danes.
How Reiki works
Reiki is an energetic healing system that channels universal life energy through the practitioner’s hands to the subject, be it human or canine. It can be done by placing the hands directly on the subject, or from a distance.
A dog with separation anxiety often has scattered energy in his crown chakra (brain) or a blockage in the root chakra (tailbone). However, it’s important for the Reiki practitioner to clear all the chakras, including the ear, tail, and paw chakras, when giving a dog a formal Reiki session (hands-on or remote). Itʼs best for the practitioner to begin when your dog is comfortable at home with you. That way, he makes an association between Reiki and calmness.
Reiki Master Kathleen Prasad also recommends starting Reiki sessions when the dog is currently calm, and to have several sessions done close together so he doesn’t backslide.
Fast Fact: As the dog’s human, you should meditate as well, in order to calm yourself.
“You may have developed a habit of worry and expectation around your dogʼs anxiety,” Kathleen says. “So a peaceful meditation to help let go of focusing on the issue helps soften this and creates more emotional balance when she’s leaving the dog. Itʼs important that the dog feels calmness from his person when the separation anxiety is being worked on.”
Reiki as adjunct therapy
Kathleen doesn’t recommend Reiki as a standalone remedy. It combines well with medical care and positive training, so you’ll also need help from your vet and a trainer.
- In cases of severe or long-term separation anxiety, it’s always best to take the dog to a veterinarian to rule out any physical or mental health concerns; a holistic vet is less likely to prescribe drugs for the problem.
- If the dog is posing a danger to himself, or is causing destruction to your home, it’s also wise to bring in a positive dog trainer to tackle the separation anxiety. “In the case of separation anxiety, positive-based training is important,” says Kathleen. “A good trainer can create a plan where change happens gradually, without trauma, with the dog able to withstand longer and longer periods of being alone. Training focuses on the problem, while Reiki lets go of the problem and creates a deep space of peace in the moment. I see training and Reiki as a great combination.”
- Bringing an animal communicator on board is also a good idea, since she can reassure the dog of his safety.
- As for Reiki, while anyone can learn how to do it, you’ll first need to take a course from a Reiki Master. In the meantime, a Reiki practitioner can work with your dog, either in person or from a distance, to help him feel more relaxed and less anxious.
Fast Fact: “Reiki is always best when used in combination with veterinarian- and trainer-recommended therapies.”
Separation anxiety is distressing for us as well as our dogs. Luckily, there are several ways to overcome it and help your dog to a happier, calmer state. Reiki meshes well with other approaches and therapies, and makes a helpful addition to the treatment plan.
Examples in Practice
On two separate occasions, while at a hotel, I heard mournful howls coming from dogs staying in the rooms above me. I recognized the signs of separation anxiety.
The first time, I dropped what I was doing and played calming dog music (mainly to relax myself). Then I silently asked the dog if she needed help. Instead of beaming Reiki at the room above my head, I practiced self-Reiki with the intention that the energy go where it was needed (since I didn’t have the guardians’ permission to channel Reiki to their dog). Moments later, the howling stopped and I experienced peace as the dog settled down.
The second time, I was too late with my process and the dog didn’t stop howling until his people returned.
When I applied Reiki for both these dogs (two “Velcro” breeds — a German shepherd and a smooth collie), I practiced it on myself with the intention of creating peace for all concerned. The dogs had the option of either refusing or accepting the Reiki energy.
Patricia Herlevi is a novelist, journalist and spiritual coach who uses social media to educate and inspire her viewers. She started writing about animal rescue after fostering a German shorthair pointer named Sobaka for nearly two years. She has published articles in a variety of publications and is currently writing a memoir about fostering Sobaka.