Essential Oils for Canine Behavior

Every dog owner wants their dog to be a “good dog” – a family pet that behaves and performs as he or she is commanded and expected to behave. There are so many different factors that affect conduct in canines; it is not always easy to determine the underlying problem and treat it. Sometimes, there are several health factors causing the negative behaviors which need to be addressed and treated. Other times, stress or anxiety may be the only factor contributing to the negative behavior.

Can Essential Oils Promote Good Behavior In Dogs?

Lavender essential oilStudies have shown that there are essential oils that can aid in calming dogs, thus leading to more acceptable behavior. Similar studies have revealed that certain essential oils can have the opposite effect on behavior, so it is vital to know which oils and supplements promote “good” behaviors and which ones can cause anxiety, stress, and other characteristics which could be regarded as “bad behavior”.

Which Aromas Promote Good Behavior?

In 2005, Applied Animal Behavior Science published a study about dogs who were housed in a rescue shelter. The researchers exposed the shelter dogs to four different essential oils; rosemary, chamomile, lavender, and peppermint. The canines that were exposed to aromatherapy with chamomile and lavender (essential oils which are known to create calming effects for humans) exhibited less movement and barking than other dogs in the shelter. On the contrary, when the researchers added rosemary or peppermint to the atmosphere of the shelter, the dogs became more physical and vocal.

This study proved a very exciting point for animal shelter employees and volunteers who were anxious to place pets in good homes. By utilizing aromatherapy, shelter dogs can be calmed down and less noisy; therefore increasing the chances of these pets being adopted by people who are visiting the shelter. Additionally, because humans respond to lavender and chamomile the same way, adding these essential oils to the environment of the shelter creates an enjoyable experience for everyone in the shelter.

In 2006, a study conducted in the UK and published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association included 32 canines. These dogs exhibited unruly behavior during travel in vehicles. However when lavender essential oil was added to the air inside of the vehicle, the dogs exhibited drastically calmer and more relaxed behavior. This research further adds to the conclusion that lavender essential oil in the environment surrounding canines can significantly alter their behavior.

While there are many other essential oils that are used by holistic veterinarians and owners to help decrease anxiety and improve behavior, there are very few actual studies on other essential oils, leaving much room for further scientific evaluations. Other essential oils that are boasted for their calming effects in dogs include: valerian root essential oil, valor essential oil, and ylang ylang essential oil.


Be sure to store any essential oils in your house out of the reach of your pets and children. If they are ingested, they could be toxic. Another vital thought to keep in mind is that not all essential oils are the same, even if they are labeled with the same name or are made with the same quality. Some may be diluted more than others or use a different type of base oil to increase the profit for the company. Pet owners should only purchase essential oils from reputable sources. It is also advisable to discuss the use of essential oil for pet behavior with your holistic veterinarian before trying it.


Comments are closed.