Energy Healing for Dogs

As they used to say on the Monty Python show, “And now for something completely different.” I normally blog about training and behavior issues, as I’ve been a dog trainer/behavior specialist for many years. But I have also been something else for many years, something that until recently I didn’t talk about much – I am a healer.

I have done hands-on energy healing with my dogs intuitively since I was a kid, though I couldn’t have put into words at the time exactly what I was doing. Also, back then hands-on type healing modalities like Reiki and Healing Touch weren’t as widely accepted. Back then, people tended to look at you strangely if you laid your hands on a dog and he quickly fell into a deep, peaceful sleep! But things change, and more and more owners who are looking for natural, holistic ways to help their dogs are embracing “alternative healing” methods, including energy work.

Energy healing is a non-invasive, painless way to help dogs with physical, emotional, and mental issues. It can help wounds to heal faster, speed post-surgical recovery, treat emotional issues such as fear, aggression, and separation anxiety, keep dogs healthy and well-balanced, and more. Anyone can learn to do it. In fact, I feel so strongly about this that I’ve written a book called “Energy Healing for Dogs” ( I figured a book was the easiest way to get the information out to the largest number of people in the shortest amount of time, as there are so many dogs (and people!) out there who can benefit from it.

I taught energy healing for dogs to a group for the first time last year, as part of my “Alternative Approaches to Healing Canine Health & Behavior” seminar. It was held in England, and to be honest, I didn’t know what to expect. Would people stand there looking at me as if I was nuts? What if people couldn’t feel the energy? As it turns out, I needn’t have worried. Everyone was so into the practice exercises that at some points you could hear a pin drop; at others, people were talking over each other to enthusiastically relate what they experienced.

Just as some people come into this world with a naturally good singing voice and others (like me) have to work at it, some people are natural healers. But that doesn’t mean energy healing can’t be learned by everyone—it absolutely can. If you’re skeptical, that’s fine—it may help to know that there are now scientific studies that prove the effects of various types of energy work. My suggestion is to check it out, whether through my book, or classes in Reiki, Healing Touch, or the many other modalities that exist. Your dogs will thank you for it, and you may find that it opens a whole new world for you both.

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I think it's very hard (and brave) to talk about alternative healing, animal communication and the like (not saying you said anything about the other things) while maintaining credibility. Some are so skeptical that should you admit to dabbling in anything of this nature, you risk being considered invalid altogether.

I hope that is changing. I am a believer in energy work and skeptical but interested in animal communication, also. When people balk at it, I always think of how insane the idea of germs was at one time. How magical and silly it must have seemed to suggest that invisible little beings were all around us and on us, capable of spreading illness from one person to the next.

I look forward to these things moving from the intuitive, magical, mysterious realm and into the scientific. Until then, I'm more than willing to explore!

Cindy Bruckart, CPDT

I studied with a renowned association from Britain to get certification as a healer. It took a lot of classes and was well worth it. It was surprising and completely life-changing. And like dog training, there are a few different modalities of healing... you find what is your comfort zone.

In Canada, Healing Touch is the only thing allowed to be practiced in hospitals and is limited to registered nurses. It became an issue if someone felt you were marking in their territory. :-)

Put a springer in your step!

Considering that not so many years ago you'd be burned at the stake for this kind of thing, being considered invalid doesn't seem all that bad. But energy healing really is completely natural. And scientifically, there have been over 150 tests proving the effects of hands-on healing. Mice healed faster from wounds, seeds grew faster, people who were very ill lived instead of dying (as opposed to the control group which did not receive healing). These were strictly controlled scientific experiments--I've got a whole chapter of 'em in the book, because I do think it's important for many people that proof is available.

Skepticism is healthy to a point, as it's natural outgrowth of intelligence and thinking for oneself. But interestingly, many skeptics attribute the success of hands-on type healing methods to the placebo effect. After all, if someone tells you they're going to put their hands on your head and your headache will be gone, it may well be - but whether that's because a healing response actually took place or because of the power of suggestion can't be proven. But when you're working with animals, the placebo effect is negated. Dogs and other animals tend to respond incredibly well - and quickly - to energy work.

My hope is that we can discuss these types of things with an open mind. And if there are "alternative" approaches that may work to help our beloved pets, why not at least give them a try? Sometimes acupuncture, flower essences, hands-on healing and the like really do help when traditional medicine fails. Thanks Cindy for your support.

Does energy healing help with allergies? My dog has about a billion allergies, which have been fairly well managed up to this point, but lately it seems like she's itchier again. I really don't want to do steroids, etc., so if energy healing would help... well, I'd certainly be willing to try it!

Crystal and Maisy RL1 AOE-L1 CGC
St. Paul, MN

I'm not a huge fan of meds like prednisone either. Energy healing can definitely help with allergies and is a great start, although I would also explore other "alternative" types of healing such as homeopathy, acupuncture, and herbs. And of course looking at other things that may be contributing, such as nutrition, environment, stress, etc.

Britain does seem to be far ahead on the energy healing curve, as do some other countries. China, India...there are places energy healing has been used for many, many years and is completely accepted. The United States however has some catching up to do. We are still firmly entrenched in western medicine (again, it definitely does have its place) but there does seem to be a shift in recent years. Modalities like Reiki and Healing Touch have become more popular, and in fact we now have Animal Reiki (thanks to Kathleen Prasad and Elizabeth Fulton--great book, check it out) and Healing Touch for Animals. I'm hopeful that energy work will become widely accepted, not only for people but for pets.

Consider supplementing your dog's diet with some unfiltered local honey (1 tsp. for a medium sized dog) Do not give honey to young pups under 6 months old. Check with your local feed stores and health food store to find a local supplier near you. Here's an article on honey and dogs:

I will definitely be getting your book, Nicole. It sounds fascinating!

Wanda Woodworth, MA, CPDT
Wanda Woof Dog Training
Little Elm, TX

Nicole, I look forward to your book.
I am a Reiki practitioner as well as a dogwalker and dogtrainer. I find the openness to the energy forms of healing is increasing day by day. I have to admit I do have difficulty describing how it works to people and prefer to "show them" the healing practices and that sells it more than anything else.
I also used it as a child without really knowing what it was I was doing...I have always been the friend that gives the "hugs" that feel

I have been talking to my vet about sitting in on surgeries to do some experiments of my own on recovery, pain relief etc. He's an openminded guy so I look forward to that.
Thanks for opening the convo.

Maggi Burtt
Tailspin Petworx

Count me among the skeptics. I'd be very interested in seeing the results of clinical studies if they were done with rigorous scientific standards. I don't know if a double-blind is possible to test 'energy healing' since the person giving the treatment must know whether or not the real thing is being delivered, but are there control groups to contrast with?

Unfortunately, if you are a believer in homeopathic treatments (I can't bring myself to call it medicine) it is extremely difficult for me not to dismiss what you say out of hand. I remember being at a workshop given by Jean Donaldson a couple of years ago and her comments on homoepathy went well beyond skepticism - and with good reason. Samuel Hahnemann, the man who created homeopathic remedeies had this to say about disease, "The causes of our maladies cannot be material, since the least foreign material substance, however mild it may appear to us, if introduced into our blood-vessels, is promptly ejected by the vital force, as though it were a disease, in a word, is caused by any material substance, but that every one is only and always a peculiar, virtual, dynamic derangement of the health."

Regarding the placebo effect on pets, a 1993 study in Germany [Löscher, W. Homöopathie in der Veterinärmedizin: Kritische Überlegungen aus der Sicht der Pharmakologie. In, Oepen, I., ed. Unkonventionelle medizinische Verfahren. Stuttgart: Gustav Fischer Verlag 1993; 273-302 (in German).] concluded, "The effectiveness of homeopathy in middle and high potencies is up to now not verified. It is undisputed that with the help of homeopathy, not insignificant placebo effects can be achieved. In veterinary medicine, giving an animal an 'active' placebo and another a 'passive' can play a significant role and influence the owner." For more on the pros and cons of homeopathic treatment see this link (from which I quoted above)-

As homeopathy was not the topic of the blog, and I do not consider myself any sort of expert in the area, I can't respond to your skepticism regarding homeopathy. I can however answer your query about double-blind studies on energy healing. One study I can think of immediately involved distant healing (and yes, I do realize that even for those who believe energy healing is possible, distant healing can be more difficult to accept). There was a study conducted by psychiatrist Elizabeth Targ (who btw started out being a skeptic) and psychologist Fred Sicher in 1995 (Fred Sicher and E. Targ, "A randomized double-blind study of the effect of distant healing in a population with advanced AIDS: report of a small scale study." Western Journal of Medicine, 1998: 168(6)356-63.) Now, this WAS a small-scale study, it did not involve hundreds of patients, but 20 AIDS patients who all had identical T-cell counts. There was a treatment group that received distant healing and a control group that did not. Neither doctors nor patients knew who was in which group; only the healers knew, and they had no actual contact with the patients. I won't go into the details of the entire study, but the results were: During the six months of the trial period, forty percent of the control group (the group that did not receive the healing) had died. All of the treatment group patients were not only alive, but had actually become healthier, as assessed on the basis of their own reports, medical tests, and examination by a team of scientists. And yes, there were strict controls on this experiment. Only one small example to be sure, but there have been others.

Also, there is now equipment that can actually measure the force coming from the hands of healers when they are in the process of healing, which never was the case before. In other words, scientists can measure the difference in vibrational frequency that occurs. Of course that alone does not prove that the particular vibrational frequency heals, but other experiments do bear this out. There are a few books that discuss these studies in an easy-to-understand manner. The top 3 I'd recommend for anyone with an interest is Lynne McTaggart's The Field, Energy Medicine for the 21st Century by Richard Gerber, MD, and The Energy Healing Experiments by Gary Schwartz, PhD.

I can only hope that technology will soon catch up enough to prove what so many have seen work time and time again in hospitals and hospices around the world, along with healing done on animals. Energy healing needs to come out of the realm of "woo-woo" and into being a modality with solid science behind it.

I'm a skeptic too. A fairly strong one. I guess what I'm hearing you say, like all people selling some sort of mystical deal, is that while faith healing, the secret, scientology, christian science, palm reading, mind reading, and Cesar Millan's "energy" are all false, your "energy" is real and you have pseudo science to back it up. That's what everyone says. And then they give a list of ten books (they published) to back up their point. Well I would have had to spend my life reading books to verify the falseness of all these other things, and I'm not going to read books to prove yours false either.

I'm quite honestly disappointed in you, because I really thought here was a web site full of people that used facts to back up their opinions, and now this. It really is personal to me. I feel like you, like all the other movements I mentioned, are taking advantage of people's naivety to sell books. I'm sure the energy movement is big, and the secret is huge, and we all see the money that flows into scientology. I'm not going to take the time to prove any of these false, I just know they're false. And I know yours is false too. Is there a chance it's real? A slim chance, yes. And that's what will keep all your followers following. That's what kept Hitler's followers going, and it's what keeps scientology's followers paying. Heck apparently the Mormons believe god is a real person who lives on another planet. And they managed to raise $25 million to take away the rights of gays in California to marry.

Nicole, I highly doubt you are as evil as any of these people. In fact, I pretty much doubt you're evil at all. I think that of people who believe things I believe to be false, maybe you're the nicest of them and I would get along great with you in all other areas.

I'm just disappointed.

I have a blog:

First off, how did we jump from energy healing to Scientology? These are some pretty broad strokes you're painting with.

Second, how is it at all conceivable that "I just know it's false" is any more valid than "I just know it's true"? What evidence is there to back up that energy healing is false? Really, that is often what science tries to do, prove a theory false. So, what studies can you offer?

I find it way over the line to bring in subjects like religion, gay marriage, money scams and the like while talking about Nicole's blog and new book. To accuse her of such or to compare her to such just doesn't make any sense to me, and seems to cloud the actual discussion.

Cindy Bruckart, CPDT

Here's the thing... no one pays for energy. A practitioner may ask to be paid for their time... but not their healing. Some people of faith call it prayer and ask for a donation. Energy healing is done with the intention for the "highest and the best". Nothing more. There are no secrets and I think you'd be pleasantly surprised to be shown your own personal energy that goes unappreciated every day.

I think that putting energy work and Hitler in the same paragraph demonstrates that there isn't a clear understanding of healing.

I had the opportunity to read your blog and wondered if you questioned the PBS program "Why we love dogs and cats" for research. If there is research, I'd be interested to read it.

PS You had a bag and didn't pick up your dog's poop??!!


Put a springer in your step!

I appreciate your response. I fully believe that there are things (many things) that we will one day be able to show as real that are now beyond our ability to measure. PET scans of the brains of people undergoing acupuncture strongly indicate that there is more happening than simply a placebo effect. So I acknowledge that something 'real' may be at work in what you do. I'm simply cautious about our cultural inclination to embrace empty promises simply because we feel good about them. Warm and fuzzy has its place, and I've no doubt that it helps comfort and heal, but it's too often offered up in place of real medicine and treatment. Your endorsement of homeopathic treatment led me to suspect that you might be someone who doesn't look for hard evidence. I'll check out some of the sources you referenced and keep an open mind.

Hmm, not sure how I got lumped in with Cesar Millan, Scientology, The Secret, palm reading, Christian Science, and even Hitler. That's quite a feat! I don't mind a difference of opinion but let's keep this discussion rational and polite, shall we?

Just to set the record straight, the books I recommended are not published by me. Other than them being read by me, I have no other connection to the books or their authors. I am not leading any "movement" that I am aware of. And I have done energy healing free of charge for most of my life for rescue groups and others in need. I am not trying to convert anyone to anything, just putting information out there that may be valuable to dogs and their owners.

Cindy says:

What evidence is there to back up that energy healing is false? Really, that is often what science tries to do, prove a theory false. So, what studies can you offer?

I can't prove energy healing is false.
I can't prove jews aren't out to destroy christians and everyone else.
I can't prove god doesn't live on a planet somewhere.
I can't prove we aren't filled with thetans (scientology).

I can't prove any of these things. You're right. But does that mean they're true either. And that doesn't mean I have to be accepting of these ideas. Should I be accepting of anti-semites just because I can't prove jews aren't evil? Of course not.

You're saying the exact same things people from these crazy beliefs say. You want me to prove you're wrong. I can't and won't. But that doesn't mean I should just accept your thing as true or even give you the benefit of the doubt, just like I wouldn't with anti-semites.

You have every right to believe what you want. People do it every day. I have done it. And it's funny I'm having this discussion here because you are the least likely to do any harm.

But here's my point, there are scientific reasons why "energy healing" might work. Relaxation is good. Massage is good. Why does it have to be mystical?

My problem with the mystical thing is that otherwise good people are convinced every day to do very bad things by people who say, "trust me, it's mystical". I'm against this because I don't want people to believe in mystical things, because those people are easily led. I want people to be stronger than that. I am personally depending on people being stronger than that.

I hate to make it about me, but you have to be in a position where people are actually voting to hurt you based on religious beliefs to understand how scary these things can be. Everyone has a different perspective, and a different life, and different experiences, but my experience tells me that when people believe in mystical things, no matter how good they are most of the time, they can turn that around in a second and use that against you. With no proof. No science. And worst of all, no caring.

I don't have a problem with "deep relaxation massage therapy" for dogs. I don't even have a problem with "I wonder if there's something more going on here?"

Anyway, this is probably all about me anyway, in many ways I'm sorry for making such a big deal out of it. But I feel like I had to say something, even if it's just for me.

I have a blog:

Yep. Wow. Brutal post.
There is nothing wrong with healthy skepticism and healthy skepticism is respectful.

Energy healing in all it's modalities; which includes Reiki,homeopathy, Chi Gong,acupuncture, craniosacral massage, accupressure, TTouch and even Yoga, has been around for thousands of years. They are also linked to naturopathy..which is where modern/western medicine sprung from. To totally reject these modalities AND to link them to something as sinister as Nazism is simply irresponsible.

None of these modalities eschew western medicine and are often recommended as complementary treatments. Reiki is about intention, relaxation response, stress relief and pain relief and involves no "religious" affiliation. It is as simple as giving comfort and as complicated as stimulating the immune system through stress relief.

Do you believe your dogs feel pain? Think their own thoughts? Not so many years ago the radical behaviourists believed animals were simply automatons and dismissed thoughts of humane treatment of such "machines". We still don't "know for sure" through empirical testing that they, or we for that matter, have souls. Does that mean it isn't true?

If we close our minds we might as well close our eyes and ears too. There is much to be missed.

Maggi Burtt
Tailspin Petworx


I can "hear" that you're upset, and that talk of energy healing is apparently triggering feelings about things that seem related, but actually aren't at all if we're having a non-emotional conversation.

I would invite you to read Nicole's blog again. There is no mention of mystical powers. There is no mention of any religious beliefs. In fact, there isn't even a single word that suggests anyone should agree, believe or accept anything.

Instead, there is information about Nicole's experiences, information about a book she wrote, and an invitation to "check it out" via cited resources.

I have to add that I find your vehement comments very interesting. I have been afraid to admit in certain circles that I am deeply intrigued by energy healing and animal communication. Why? Comments like yours. It seems to me that you are doing exactly what you're afraid someone will do to you. Telling people they are wrong for thinking or believing what they do.

I've done some research on the study by Sicher and Targ and have found that while the results are intriguing there are methodological flaws that have been noted subsequently.

[]"...her study had been unblinded and then 'reblinded' to scour for data that confirmed the thesis - and the Western Journal of Medicine did not know this fact when it decided to publish. Her famous study was not, as its reputation suggests, designed to measure the number of AIDS-related illnesses. Targ and Fred Sicher had targeted their study to measure mortality but were caught off-guard by triple-drug anti-retroviral therapy, which became common practice one month into the six-month trial. When biostatistician Dan Moore broke the randomization code to unblind the data, it told them nothing - since only one patient had died, the data was meaningless. ..." It should also be noted that the 4 patients who died were the 4 oldest in the study group. A well designed study would have placed some of the older participants in the experimental group not just the control group.

The same link also points out that Elizabeth Targ died at the age of 41 of a brain tumor despite the best efforts of numerous "healers" of all types.

But the reason that I'm reviving this fairly old thread is because of an email that I received this morning promoting a seminar that your are giving (for a fee) on the first weekend of May. Despite your earlier statement in this thread that you do not consider yourself an expert in homeopathy, this is a direct quote from that email. "We'll then focus on specific ways in which flower essences, music, and color can affect dogs. You will receive extensive handouts, hear about research studies, and participate in a group exercise on how to choose the proper flower essences to address specific behavior issues."

A person I consider to be very wise has told me on more than one occasion that I should learn to pick out the gems amongst the litter and not dismiss everything a person is offering just because much of it is flawed. But when people cling to obvious fallacies it is very hard not to think that everything they say is specious.

I went to the website you posted....I will have to take your word for it that the paragraph you included is listed somewhere on the page. I don't have the time nor the inclination to wade through all the postings about extraterrestrials and Bigfoot. I have not read this information anywhere else, but assuming it was true, I would agree that the study design was flawed. Of course that doesn't mean energy healing doesn't work, just that one particular study was flawed. Your comment about Targ dying at 41 of a brain tumor despite the best efforts of healers leads me to believe that you assume healers think they can cure anything (or that healing can cure anything), which is absolutely untrue, and any ethical healer would tell you that. No one is playing God here. It might be an interesting exercise for you to put as much effort into speaking with people who do various types of healing as you have in trying to disprove it, so that you understand a bit more about it.

Regarding your comment about my upcoming seminar "Alternative Approaches to Healing Canine Health & Behavior" which will be taught in a few places around the U.S. this year (yes, for pay), I'm not sure what your ongoing confusion is regarding homeopathy. Homeopathy is not the same as healing with music, color, or even flower essences, although it does have some things in common with flower essences. And regardless, one more time, we are not discussing homeopathy here!

While I appreciate feedback and have no problem with a difference of opinion, I've no interest in continuing this discussion. You seem to have gone a long way out of your way to try to "disprove" something that obviously pushes your buttons. In the meantime, there are many people around the world who have offered various types of energy healing (for money or not) for many years, and who consistently help animals and people to improve their health and well-being.

I haven't gone out of my way to disprove anything. I followed up on sources you provided me - something I do regularly when I exchange ideas with people. I was content to let it drop until I saw that you were selling indefensible ideas to people.

I'm also open to any evidence that can show that there is something real about energy healing. There are many phenomena known to occur that lead me to believe that something like that is possible - particularly quantum entanglement, or what Einstein described as "spooky action at a distance." However, I believe in the dictum that extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. What you offered up, while interesting and tantalizing, is sparse and flawed. Doesn't mean it didn't happen, just means there's not enough evidence to be convincing to a critical mind.

Bach flower essences (by the way, Edward Bach was a homeopath) are the same as homeopathy in two very important ways. The main ingredient is diluted beyond the point of mattering and the theraputic value is said to come from a mysterious element; in this case the flowers "energies" versus the homeopaths "law of similars." It is false medicine and the fact that you endorse it forces me to conclude that you don't subject ideas or claims to critical thinking if they make you feel good.

What pushes my buttons are people spreading ignorance and falsehoods. By the way, no need to scan the whole page on the link I supplied. Here's a nifty short cut for you - hit the "Control" button and the "F" key simultaneously and you'll bring up the "Find" diolog box. Then just copy in a couple of words and your computer will find the phrase for you immediately.

Dear Nicole,

I just wanted to tell you how much I appreciated your book Energy Healing For Dogs. I found the content very interesting and very much enlightening. It reminded me that I also need to look after myself and my needs to keep a harmonious balance in my life. I was tired of stumbling around in the gray, now I am walking in the light!

I have even incorporated some of the exercises into my boarding kennels, and I have noticed a change in the atmosphere. It feels more relaxed.

You have a precious gift, and I think it's wonderful that you are willing to share that with others.

Thank you for doing what you!

Vicki Stafford
Alberta, Canada

began in the nursing community and is well-accepted today. In fact, other than ministers of faith, the only people allowed to do energy work in area hospitals are RNs certified in Healing Touch.

I like this quote that was on the Healing Touch website:
...all people have the ability to facilitate healing through compassionate intent and that energy based healing can be integrated with other forms of health care.

It's all about intention.

Put a springer in your step!


Thank you for clarifying that about Healing Touch. Regardless of the type of energy healing it is definitely all about intention, and although science has not yet caught up, many people in hospitals, hospices and other healthcare-related environments have benefited from HT and other energy-based modalities.

I liked what you said about "can be integrated with other forms of health care," as it's important to make the distinction that no one here is advocating abandoning traditional medicine completely in favor of hands-on healing. With dogs, I make it very clear in my book (and lectures) that if a dog has a medical issue, that dog should be seen by a veterinarian. If a dog has a training/behavior issue, the dog should be seen by a trainer/behavior specialist. As a behavior specialist, I see dogs all day long that I successfully treat with a combination of training and behavior modification. Energy work has nothing to do with it--totally separate issue.

But energy healing IS something that can be use as a "complementary" therapy, meaning alongside other therapies, without harm. It is also often something that is turned to when traditional medicine has reached the end of its course and the animal's condition is pronounced to be hopeless. There is an interesting animal hospice (I believe it is now being referred to as a "retreat" but basically that is what it is) in northern CA where they take in very sick or elderly animals that no one else will take. They have homeopathic vets, they use flower essences, Reiki, and other "natural" modalities. And they regularly have cats there (they mostly have cats) who live into their 20s. Very kind, caring people who take great care of those animals. In fact, most people I have run into who practice any of the energy-based modalities are kind, compassionate people who focus their energy on trying to help others.

My dogs and one of my cats have experienced several modalities of energy healing (acupuncture, reiki, hands-on healing), as well as energy medicines like floral essences. They like it. They also go to the vet and get western medical care. I don't get hung up on the "clinical" proof. I've had enough a-ha moments with it, that I can't deny the effects of it.

And, there's nothing wrong with charging people money for it, either. I gladly pay for it, because my pets' physical and emotional health is improved by it.

Bridget Pilloud

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