Dealing with aggressive behavior can be difficult, even scary. Learn more about how to use CBD oil for dogs with anxiety and aggression issues. Is your dog acting aggressively? Find out how you can choose the best cannabidiol (CBD) to help with dog aggression.
Can CBD Help Dog Aggression?
This article is not a substitute for veterinary diagnosis or treatment of any condition, symptom, or disease. Please consult with your veterinarian if your dog is suffering from any troubling symptoms.
Is your dog aggressive with other dogs and people, or around certain triggers such as food, toys, and places? This article will help you learn more about aggression in dogs. We’ll explore causes, training tips, and whether using CBD for dog aggression can help.
Before we dive in, it’s important to note that dog aggression can be dangerous. You may need the help of a professional if the aggression is out of control. Many owners make aggression worse by misdiagnosing the root cause or using “common sense” training techniques that can make aggressive dogs more dangerous.
This article isn’t a substitute for professional guidance. However, we do hope that it will provide you with a better understanding of this behavioral problem as well as some of the best tools to use as you help your canine companion find a calmer way of engaging with the world.
Types of Aggression in Dogs
According to the ASPCA , there are 11 common types of dog aggression. These are pictured in the image below. Helping your dog overcome aggression always starts by developing a clear picture of the problem and its causes.
The outdated “dominance” model of canine psychology assumes that most aggression problems are caused by excessive dominance or lack of submission. We now know, however, that dogs have complex social and emotional lives. Aggression is often triggered by fear, insecurity, and anxiety.
Take a look at the 11 types of dog aggression above and notice that almost all of them (with the exceptions of pain-induced and predatory) involve anxiety and aggression about a certain trigger. For example:
Territorial and Possessive: Anxiety about a place or a valued possession being threatened or lost.
Social: Anxiety about one’s place in the pack and the fear of losing status.
Defensive: Anxiety about an impending threat in response to a certain trigger such as being on a leash around other dogs or being approached by a person with a newspaper in their hands.
Recognizing the exact cause of your dog’s anxiety is usually the first step of a behavioral training program. Once that trigger gets identified, you can “reprogram” the anxiety response using positive reinforcement, reconditioning, and desensitization techniques developed from decades of research in animal behavior.
4 Behavior Modification Tips for Aggression
1. Never Punish the Signs of Aggression
The outdated “dominance” model suggests that all dog aggression is caused by dogs who think they are “alphas” and insist on dominating everything and everyone around them.
Unfortunately, these models of dog behavior are not only incorrect, they often do more harm than good. Trainers that use this theory often recommend “dominating” or punishing such dogs at the first signs of aggression ( e.g. raised hackles, growling, hard stance, baring teeth, licking lips, etc.)
The problem with this is that all it does is make an already insecure dog feel even more insecure by adding a real threat of harm. In addition, it trains them to stop giving warning signals when they’re feeling anxious and/or threatened. Such dogs become more dangerous because they will stop giving any warning of their fear.
Instead, they launch right into an attack when their fear becomes too much for them to handle.
2. Humane Use of Muzzles
While they look barbaric, muzzles can be an important safety precaution when dealing with dogs that have aggression issues. Make sure that you purchase basket-style muzzles rather than the cloth kind because they allow for better breathing.
In addition, take time to acclimate your dog to wearing a muzzle in calm and familiar environments where fear triggers are not present, using lots of positive reinforcement.
Never muzzle one dog and not the other if dog-dog aggression is a problem. It can make the fearful dog feel even more insecure and expose him to serious harm should a fight break out.
3. Desensitization and Reconditioning
A technique known as desensitization is at the heart of most dog aggression training programs. It’s a program that involves exposing the fearful dog to a trigger that is far away. So far that they are under the “reaction threshold.” Then, offer a dog treat all calm responses with praise and food rewards.
Slowly, keeping the dog under the reaction threshold, get closer and closer to the trigger while continuing to reward calm behavior. This is the “reconditioning” part of the training program. Over time, the trigger that was once associated with a threat becomes associated with a reward.
A dog that was once fearful of a trigger can learn to love it in good time with plenty of repetition and practice.
A well-meaning dog owner can go wrong with this technique by moving too fast. If a fear reaction happens, it can undo the progress made. It is better to stay well within your dog’s sense of safety for much longer than you think you need to than to go too fast and ruin the progress you have made.
4. Know When to Contact a Professional
Keep in mind that aggression in dogs can become a dangerous problem.
If you have a large and powerful dog or suspect that your dog may pose a danger to other people or pets, it is advisable to seek professional help.
Can You Use CBD Oil for Dog Aggression?
Many veterinarians, professional dog trainers, and pet owners alike have discovered that CBD can promote calm in dogs. While dog aggression remains a complex problem, the calming effect of CBD oil may be part of a successful and well-designed training program to address aggression in dogs.
To learn more, click here to read about one special rescue dog, Archie Barker, who had aggression problems after being neglected and abandoned. Many shelter dogs could tell a similar tale (or tail, depending on who you ask).
If you decide to give CBD oil a try, consider Lolahemp .
Our organic CBD products are made from full-spectrum hemp oil made just with dogs in mind. They’re safe for your pup’s endocannabinoid system and the effectiveness of CBD in dogs is well-known among pet owners. In addition, we donate one bottle for every four sold to a rescue dog in need – a purchase you can feel good about!
Joey is the founder of Lolahemp. In 2015 he and his mother launched Lolawawa’s Pet Boutique, an e-commerce store for pets and pet lovers that donates a portion of profits to animal rescue efforts. In 2018 the son and mother duo launched Lolahemp after the success their own rescue chihuahua, Lola, had with hemp products. Joey & Susan are the visionaries behind the brand, oversee day-to-day operations & marketing, and run all of the company’s philanthropic efforts.
Compare the Best CBD Oil for Dog Aggression
Spruce’s dog-friendly CBD has been specially formulated for dogs. Instead of hemp seed oil for the carrier oil, the product contains coconut oil, which is generally easier on the digestion for dogs. The taste is also milder with no flavorings, making it more likely that dogs will eat it with their food.
Using Spruce CBD for dogs is simple. All owners have to do is sprinkle the desired dose on the dog’s food at mealtime once or twice a day. Each dose should consist of about two to three drops per 20 pounds of dog weight.
2. Honest Paws Wellness Oil for Dogs
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Product offering is extensive
Most products were not tested for solvents or mycotoxins
Products are made from 100% organic, non-GMO, and locally grown hemp
Limited information on the company
30-day money-back guarantee
Available in the US only
Free shipping for orders over $49.95
Expedited delivery option is available
A calming full-spectrum hemp oil that combines naturally occurring CBD with other ingredients for healthy immunity, calm moods, and a healthy brain.
3. Nuleaf Naturals Pet CBD Oil
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No other flavors
CBD for dogs, cats and other four-legged friends! Our product is concentrated to approximately 50mg cannabinoids per milliliter of oil. While this product is designed for pets, it’s great for humans, too.
4. 4 Corners Cannabis Pet Tincture
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Has a wide variety of CBD strengths
A bit expensive
Free shipping on $100 and up
Incomplete lab test results
4 Corners Cannabis Pet Tinctures are generous on their options since there are different sizes and strengths available for you exact needs. The flavor peanut butter is available perfect for pets who are picky when it comes to eating.
5. cbdMD Pet CBD Oil Tincture for Dogs
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Same CBD Oil benefits as for humans
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No THC Animal-specific products (dogs, cats, horses)
Made from premium CBD from non-GMO USA hemp
With nothing but MCT oil combined with CBD oil sourced from U.S. hemp that is grown using organic farming methods, these CBD Oil Tinctures for Dogs can be added to their favorite foods while still providing the same effects that you enjoy. We have two flavors to choose from: Natural and Peanut Butter.
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How CBD Helps With Dog Aggression
A study by experts from the University of Western Australia shows promise for aggressive behavior in dogs (1) .
Results suggest that CBD may be used effectively to improve the welfare of dogs in a shelter. After 15 days of CBD administration, shelter dogs with aggressive tendencies exhibited less aggression.
Anxiety is one of the driving forces that leads to dogs’ aggressive responses (2) . Anxiety, particularly noise reactivity, is a major reason dog owners seek help using CBD (3) .
Human and animal studies show that CBD may potentially help with anxiety-related disorders (4 ) .
Cannabidiol or CBD is an active constituent of cannabis . While CBD is an essential component of medical marijuana, it is derived from hemp plants (5) .
Cannabidiol has structural similarities to tetrahydrocannabinol ( THC ). THC is the primary psychotropic chemical constituent in the cannabis plant that causes euphoria. However, CBD is non-psychoactive (6 ) .
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is pervasive in mammalian species. ECS can be found everywhere in the body and functions by maintaining homeostasis for several organ systems (7 ) .
Homeostasis is a process that living things use to maintain a stable condition while adapting to changing external environments (8 ) .
This process is achieved through a negative feedback loop that releases the endocannabinoids as they target the cannabinoid receptors (9 ) .
These cannabinoid receptors , namely CB1 and CB2, can be found on cells throughout the body.
CB2 receptors are located primarily on cells in the immune system (10) . When activated, CB2 receptors stimulate a response that fights inflammation.
Meanwhile, CB1 receptors are responsible for motor regulation and pain sensation. These types of receptors also regulate neurotransmitters (11) .
A research paper published in the Neuropharmacology journal examined a murine model of aggression. The researchers noted that CB1 receptors may mediate aggression and play a significant role in social interaction (12 ) .
Compared to humans, dogs have a higher number of endocannabinoid receptors in their brainstem and cerebellum. These parts of the brain control coordination, respiratory rate, and heart rate ( 13) .
Thus, dogs are more susceptible to toxicity from too much THC due to the high concentration of CB receptors and their relatively smaller size than humans ( 14) .
When a dog ingests excessive levels of cannabis containing THC , it may lose muscle coordination, lose bowel and bladder control, and have difficulty with balance (15) .
Cannabidiol may have a weak affinity to cannabinoid receptors . Nonetheless, it may have ability to modify THC’s effects, such as anxiety ( 16 ) .
Another study from the Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry hypothesized that CBD may attenuate aggressive behavior induced by social isolation in mice ( 17 ) .
The results of these studies may be reassuring. However, they are inconclusive. Before using CBD to manage the symptoms of dog aggression , you should first consult a veterinarian experienced in cannabis use.
Benefits of Using CBD for Dog Aggression
Using CBD-rich hemp products is becoming popular among pet owners ( 18) .
An animal study in 2019 indicated that an oral CBD-rich hemp supplement may not be detrimental to dogs ( 19) .
Another study from the Pain Management in Veterinary Clinical Practice showed that dogs that received oral transmucosal CBD in addition to an anti-inflammatory drug had an improved Canine Brief Pain Inventory score ( 20 ) .
The Canine Brief Pain Inventory or Canine BPI allows dog owners to rate the degree and severity of their dog’s pain ( 21) . A dog that is in pain may also behave aggressively (22) .
The researchers hypothesized that the additional oral transmucosal cannabidiol to a multimodal analgesic regimen may improve a dog’s overall quality of life without severe adverse side effects (23) .
A study from the Canadian Journal of Veterinary Research determined the pharmacokinetics of transdermally and orally administered CBD (24) .
The researchers also compared the cannabidiol plasma concentrations of three different delivery methods at two different dosages. The research was conducted under the regulations of the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (25 ) .
Results indicated that CBD-infused oil formulation yielded higher maximal concentration and systematic exposure than the other two formulations.
Meanwhile, lower measurable plasma levels of cannabidiol were seen in the CBD-infused transdermal cream (26 ) .
Several studies also examined cannabidiol ’s purported analgesic effects in dogs.
Osteoarthritis (OA) is a common issue in dogs, particularly in large breeds and seniors. This condition may elicit joint pain due to injuries, improper nutrition, weight gain, or repetitive stress in activities (27) .
A 2018 research from the Frontiers in Veterinary Science utilized two different dosages of CBD-enriched oil (2mg/kg and 8mg/kg) to osteoarthritic dogs (28) .
The researchers also used hematology (the science of blood), serum chemistry, and physical examinations alongside CBD administration throughout the study (29) .
Results of the experiment showed considerable improvement in osteoarthritic dogs that received CBD compared to those that received a placebo (30) .
However, the researchers stated that although the short-term effect of CBD on osteoarthritic dogs may be positive, further long-term studies with larger populations are necessary to determine the long term-effects of cannabidiol -rich industrial hemp treatment (31) .
A University of Kentucky study found that physiological anxiety measurements in a dog’s response to noise were not significantly different for CBD versus placebo and were worse than trazodone (a drug commonly prescribed for a dog’s anxiety) (32) .
Thus, CBD may also be beneficial for some dogs that experience separation anxiety (33) .
Although the results are promising, studies on CBD for dog aggression are still lacking. Therefore, the purported health benefits of CBD for canines are inconclusive.
How Long Does CBD Take to Help With Dog Aggression ?
The easiest way to give cannabidiol to your dog is by adding CBD oil to its food, treats, or directly to the mouth (34) . You may use a calibrated dropper to dispense the oil or tincture.
CBD’s onset usually takes about 30 minutes, and your dog should feel the effect for about four to six hours (35) .
Meanwhile, CBD treats, like dog biscuits and chews, have an average onset time of 30 to 90 minutes after ingestion (36) .
However, remember that the effect is highly dependent on your dog’s metabolism. Generally, large dogs may need larger doses of CBD for the compound to take effect (37) .
How Long Will CBD Help With Dog Aggression ?
No study has determined how long CBD takes to help with dog aggression.
However, reports indicate that the bioavailability of CBD is low when given orally to dogs and humans due to the high first-pass effect through the liver (38) .
Bioavailability is the portion of the ingested substance that can be absorbed into the bloodstream ( 39) .
Risk and Side Effects of Using CBD for Dog Aggression
Using cannabidiol may have negative side effects in dogs, including (40) :
- Lower blood pressure
Research from the Journal of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association showed that healthy dogs may clinically tolerate CBD. However, notable side effects like diarrhea may still occur (41) .
In addition , CBD may increase dogs’ alkaline phosphatase enzyme (ALP) levels, possibly leading to liver damage (42) .
On the other hand, dogs intoxicated with THC may show signs of static ataxia or the inability to maintain a fixed position. This condition is unique among dogs, and although it is not fatal, it often requires supportive medical therapy (43) .
For your dog’s safety, make sure you consult with a veterinarian experienced in cannabis use before you purchase any CBD product for your dog’s aggression .
How to Choose the Best CBD Oil for Dog Aggression
CBD pet products may contain different types of CBD or hemp extracts :
- CBD isolates
- Broad-spectrum CBD oil
- Full-spectrum CBD oil
Choose a broad-spectrum CBD product that contains some extracts of the cannabis plant, like terpenes and other cannabinoids (44) .
However, make sure to avoid full-spectrum CBD products that contain THC (45) .
Some CBD brands may promise a high-quality CBD oil or even offer a money-back guarantee to boost consumer confidence.
It is essential that you know the source of the CBD extract used in the product. Check if the hemp oil or hemp extract comes from non-GMO or organic hemp .
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) regulates the hemp pilot program. The program encourages every state in the U.S.A . to propose and implement hemp farming and production in their locality (46) .
North Carolina, Kentucky, Oregon, and Colorado are among the states that complied with the hemp pilot program (47) .
Most CBD brands utilize the carbon dioxide extraction method (48) . The process involves compressed CO 2 being used as the extraction solvent . The method aims to eliminate toxic and flammable chemicals (49) .
Most CBD products may contain additives , such as carrier oils that contribute to CBD’s possible beneficial effects. MCT coconut oil and hemp oil are the most commonly used carrier oils (50) .
It is crucial to assess the ingredients of the CBD pet products to be aware of the possible allergens that may trigger adverse reactions.
Your dog may be dairy or gluten intolerant. If that is the case, ensure to avoid CBD dog treats with these ingredients.
You should also check with your veterinarian for any preservatives in the CBD treats or chews that may pose harm to your dog.
Look for the CBD product’s certificate of analysis (COA). This way, you will know the CBD potency and consistency and the other ingredients in the product.
CBD Dosage for Dog Aggression
A study on the effects of Cannabis sativa L. on dogs’ aggressive behavior was published on February 2, 2021. The dosage given to each dog that participated in the experiment was calculated as follows: one drop of CBD oil per 2kg of dog weight (51) .
However, results are inconclusive, and recommendations vary by condition or your dog’s weight. Thus, ensure to speak with an experienced veterinarian before giving cannabis to your dog to manage its aggression.
The veterinarian may also do a physical examination to know your dog’s weight and conduct other tests to help with their diagnosis.
Veterinary professionals can refer you to a behaviorist who can train your dog to overcome fear-related aggression, such as firework and thunderstorm fears.
How to Administer CBD for Dog Aggression
The most common pet CBD products include (52) :
- CBD-infused peanut butter
- CBD biscuits
- CBD chews
- CBD capsules
These CBD treats are orally ingested. However, tinctures and oils give you the most control over dosing. Tinctures and oils can also be easily added to your pet’s food or drink (53) .
Dogs can also take CBD oil and tinctures topically and sublingually (under the tongue). Topical CBD products include salves and creams.
Is CBD Safe for Dogs?
In 2021, a study published in the American Journal of Veterinary Research showed that repeated CBD administration was well tolerated by dogs (54) .
However, choose only high-quality CBD pet products for your dog for overall wellness and optimal effectiveness.
Ensure that your CBD pet products come with lab test results from a third- party lab through certificates of analysis (COAs).
All CBD products must be tested for consumers to determine CBD potency and concentration . L ab testing is necessary to check whether there are harmful contaminants, such as residual solvents and pesticides .
Legality of CBD
Federal law may limit how veterinarians can discuss the use of CBD oil with their clients. However, dog owners should be comfortable initiating a discussion (55) .
Before giving your pet CBD oil for dog aggression , make sure to read individual state laws regarding CBD to avoid legal consequences. Different states may impose other regulations and statutes about the usage of CBD products .
For instance, Colorado expanded their state law on cannabis in 2012 by legalizing the adult use of recreational marijuana (56) . However, it is not clear whether the state permits the use of CBD for dogs.
Meanwhile, veterinarians licensed in Nevada can administer and recommend hemp and cannabidiol products, provided that the THC content is less than 0.3% (57) .