Can CBD be used to help with dog training, and if so, how?

The basic theory behind positive dog training is that dogs repeat good behavior when a reward follows(1). 

Trainers often use small treats and much verbal praise to teach dogs they are showing preferred behavior. 

After long periods of practice, a dog owner or trainer might think that training a dog would be a natural, almost intuitive process for humans. 

Still, too often, people make honest errors in training that result in nagging misbehavior in dogs that lead to strained relations between owners and dogs.

Many dog owners and trainers have operated under the assumption that a well-mannered dog is a happy, secure dog. 

However, that is looking at the situation backwards. The fact is that a happy, secure dog becomes a well-mannered dog. 

In dog training, it is wrong to focus on what a dog does rather than how a dog feels. When dogs feel secure and loved, problem behaviors are largely eliminated. 

Then, the need for owners and trainers to direct the dogs’ actions becomes dramatically reduced.

Problem behaviors may get in the way of success in dog training and should be addressed immediately.

These behaviors may be linked to:

  • a dog’s desire to secure a connection or care-giving, like mouthing, jumping, and submissive urination
  • a dog’s need to exert greater control over its environment, such as reactivity or stalling on a leash
  • a dog’s effort to cope with stress, such as paper shredding, compulsive chewing, or excessive barking 

Most of these problems can also be associated with dog anxiety, which may be caused by aging, fear, and separation.

Loud noises, unfamiliar people or animals, visual stimuli like hats or umbrellas, and new or strange environments may cause fear-related anxiety.

While some dogs may only have brief reactions to these kinds of stimuli, they may affect anxious dogs more(2).

Meanwhile, CBD has been shown to help alleviate anxiety in dogs.

According to the American Kennel Club, some dogs owners have reported success in using CBD oil to treat dog anxiety(3). 

CBD is a non-psychoactive compound found in marijuana and hemp that some dog owners have found useful for treating several health conditions in dogs. 

CBD’s potential benefits in dogs may be due to how the endocannabinoid system (ECS) functions similarly in the bodies of both humans and dogs.

According to the authors of a 2017 study published in the PLOS One Journal, many conditions in dogs share striking similarities with their human counterparts(4).

AKC added that anecdotal reports from dog owners claimed that CBD oil could be useful in treating dog anxiety(5).

A dog experiencing pain or a specific illness may also have problems during dog training. 

Resolving these underlying medical conditions is essential before owners and trainers continue with the training.

It is interesting to note that the first scientific research conducted on CBD oil use in pets is the 2017 Cornell University study, where CBD oil was given to dogs with osteoarthritis two times a day(6). 

In the said study, some of the conditions thought to be relieved by the consumption of hemp-based CBD dog treats and products were: joint pain, inflammation, anxiety and phobia, digestive system issue, and pruritus (itching)(7). 

Then, in a 2019 study published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, the authors reported that a significant reduction in seizure frequency was achieved for dogs given CBD(8).

Conclusion

There is no substantial scientific evidence to support claims that CBD oils can effectively treat separation anxiety, noise phobias, or other disorders in dogs.

Neither is there a study that shows CBD can be excellent vitamins or supplements for pets, or that CBD can be useful in dog training.

More longitudinal research is needed to determine how using CBD oil impacts dogs, especially when used as a dog training tool.

Thus, before using CBD oil as a treatment for dog anxiety or pain, or as a training tool, dog owners and trainers should consult with a veterinarian experienced in cannabis use for advice. 

The veterinarian can help dog owners and trainers determine if and how CBD oil may help with dog training, as well as discuss different CBD products, possible side effects, and risks.


  1. AKC. (2018, April 30). 4 Tips for Training Your Dog With Rewards. Retrieved from https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/training/training-rewards/.
  2. AKC. Understanding, Preventing, and Treating Dog Anxiety. Retrieved from https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/treating-dog-anxiety/.
  3. Ibid. 
  4. Freundt-Revilla J, Kegler K, Baumgärtner W, Tipold A (2017) Spatial distribution of cannabinoid receptor type 1 (CB1) in normal canine central and peripheral nervous system. PLoS ONE 12(7): e0181064.
  5. AKC. Understanding, Preventing, and Treating Dog Anxiety. Retrieved from https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/treating-dog-anxiety/.
  6. Gamble LJ, Boesch JM, Frye CW, et al. Pharmacokinetics, Safety, and Clinical Efficacy of Cannabidiol Treatment in Osteoarthritic Dogs. Front Vet Sci. 2018;5:165. Published 2018 Jul 23. DOIi:10.3389/fvets.2018.00165.
  7. Kogan LR, Hellyer PW, Robinson NG. Consumers’ perceptions of hemp products for animals. J Am Holist Vet Med Assoc. (2016) 42:40–8.
  8. McGrath S, Bartner LR, Rao S, Packer RA, Gustafson DL. Randomized blinded controlled clinical trial to assess the effect of oral cannabidiol administration in addition to conventional antiepileptic treatment on seizure frequency in dogs with intractable idiopathic epilepsy. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2019;254(11):1301–1308. DOI:10.2460/javma.254.11.1301. 
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