top of page

Fight or Flight!

Allow us to partake in a visual exercise. Picture yourself in a dogs position, backed into a kennel and fearful for your life. You're in a hospital for the first time, full of scary smells and strangers. Shaking from nose to tail, you have someone reaching in. That someone is clutching a leash, prepped to wrap it around your neck and then... well who knows... as they reach their hand over your head you SNAP. Fight or Flight. You don't have anywhere to run, what else is there to do?

Canines with troubled backgrounds are a common sight in veterinary clinics. Dogs that have been rescued from abusive homes, abandoned, removed from hoarding situations, and more. These animals require special care and understanding because trauma impacts all living things, including canines.

In the veterinary field we are trained to recognize fear in animals. A dog may pin their ears back, tuck their tail, raise hackles, bare teeth, hang their head low, stare, and pant. You don't want to approach a fearful dog head on. Instead avert your gaze and turn your body to this side. You want to avoid direct eye contact and a dominant stance, hounds perceive this body language as a challenge. You want to practice patience and allow the dog to trust you. Food can be a great incentive for a fearful hound. Always remember to be safe and protect yourself, seek professional help for anything you can't handle. Working with a fearful dog without the proper training may worsen the problem and prove detrimental to the animal.

Learn more about Fight or Flight:


What's Happening in the Brain?

First, let's see how the brain receives information. Initially, it hits the Thalamus. The thalamus is your head of security, it processes data and determines if it's a threat or not. The thalamus will then send that data to either the amygdala or the prefrontal cortex. The amygdala is an instinct-driven response of fight or flight. The prefrontal cortex puts more thought behind things and is better for high order processing and executive functioning. You have a choice if it reaches the prefrontal cortex, but you don't if it heads straight for the amygdala. What's interesting about this is that chronic trauma will injure the thalamus and it will constantly fire every signal to the amygdala. The trauma removes your ability to make a choice, that dog doesn't want to bite you, but you have given it no choice.


Animal models have shown that CBD administration decreases fear-avoidant and conditioned responses to pain or punishment. We have been using our hemp products to work with fear-aggression cases for behavior modification training. The hemp has been able to break through the loop of fear response and we are then able to effectively communicate with the fearful dog. If you're interested in utilizing hemp for your hound contact or call/text us at (479) 235-0403


15 views0 comments


bottom of page