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5 Easy Tips to Help Your Dog’s Separation Anxiety

It’s that time of year again… the kids have gone back to school after an action packed summer. It’s been fun for the children, and Buster has been so happy with the extra attention and playtime. Then one day, his world changes. The house is empty and he’s left home alone. Uh oh, does Buster have separation anxiety?

The stress of suddenly being alone may cause behavioral changes… excessive barking, destruction, escaping, pacing, chewing, scratching, and even the inability to lie down and rest.

While there is no evidence showing why some dogs have separation anxiety and some don’t, dogs are naturally social animals. So much so, that behaviorist and author John Bradshaw says, “Surprisingly, most dogs, given the choice, will actually prefer human company to other dog company.”

The ASPCA states,

“When treating a dog with separation anxiety, the goal is to resolve the dog’s underlying anxiety by teaching him to enjoy, or at least tolerate, being left alone. This is accomplished by setting things up so that the dog experiences the situation that provokes his anxiety, namely being alone, without experiencing fear or anxiety.”

What You Can Do to Help Your Dog’s Separation Anxiety

1. Mix Up Your Patterns

Dogs are smart. They are constantly studying all of our behaviors, actions, and routines. If you always put on your shoes right before you leave the house for the day, the shoes tell Buster that you are leaving. If picking up your car keys is always a precursor to leaving, Buster may start to panic just at the sight of your keys. Start mixing up your routine. Pick up your keys and start cooking dinner. Put on your shoes and walk to your computer. Do the opposite and put on your shoes, open the door, but don’t leave. The idea is to keep Buster guessing so that he starts to unscramble the patterns you’ve already set in place.

Certified Professional Dog Trainer and behavior specialist Nicole Wilde calls it “The Faux Go”. In her book, Don’t Leave Me! she says, “You’ll be teaching your dog that the door opening and you walking out is nothing to worry about.” Separation Anxiety training protocol by famed dog trainer Victoria Stilwell can be found here.

2. A Little at a Time

If the kids aren’t going back to school for another three weeks, start practicing with very short departures today. If all goes well, start increasing your time, little by little. A human minute may equal a dog hour, so take puppy steps when increasing your time away incrementally.

3. Tire Her Out

A tired dog will less likely be inclined to tear up the linoleum while you are gone. Get up extra early to go for a long walk. Engage in a good game of retrieve. The amount and length of activity depends on breed, size, and age.

4. Training and Dog Tricks

While exercise and long walks are great at keeping him in shape, he’ll get more tired from mental stimulation combined with exercise. I joke that the more I hike with Gina, the better shape she gets in to prepare for even more physical activity. But, add in some agility training, and she actually gets tired. Don’t have any jumps at home? Try teaching Buster some new dog tricks daily.

5. Let Music Soothe His Fears

Don’t leave Buster home alone. Leave him with his own iPawd. While iCalmDog is the portable solution to canine anxiety, the clinically tested music works just as well at home as when Buster is on the go. Thousands of veterinarians and dog trainers worldwide have recommended the slowed down, simplified, classical compositions. Take a lesson and enjoy a soothing sound bath with your pup.

 

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Has your dog experienced separation anxiety? What have you found to help? Thanks for sharing your experiences in a comment below.

 

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Win an iCalmDog… It Stopped Border Collie’s Barking in 20 Seconds Flat!

ginafollowsthegoldenroula

I was recently in Arizona with Gina for Cynosport World Agility Games. Highlights were running team with “Gina Follows the Golden Roula”. (The other black dog is Roula.)

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Watching Steeplechase finals under the lights. Man were those Border Collies fast!

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And hanging out with my Ace Dog Sports family.

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The event came on the heels of our recent iCalmDog 3.0 launch. I had been working overtime to bring our newly modified, portable canine music player to market, and I was grateful to be taking frequent naps in the passenger seat during the long 2-day drive. Gina and teammate JoJo were nearby in their crates, quietly listening to iCalmDog 3.0. Good dogs!

Once we arrived, I noticed that all of the stimulation was a bit overwhelming for Gina (for me too, at times). To make matters worse, our crating area was near a non-stop barking Border Collie.

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To help her reduce her anxiety and increase concentration and circulation, I signed Gina up for a canine massage with Dr. Cindy DiFranco while iCalmDog played in the background.

During the 5-day trial, I had been leaving Gina’s iCalmDog 3.0 on her crate in-between runs. But, the barking Border Collie in our crating area was driving me (and everyone around me) crazy. So, I asked the BC’s handler if I could bring over my iCalmDog 3.0 to see if the clinically tested music reduced his barking. I have to admit, Nim’s barking was so intense that I wasn’t even sure it would work, but watch the video below to see what happened in 20 seconds flat…

Want a Calm Dog? Just press and play!

iCalmDog 3.0 canine anxiety

(Sanchez not included in prize, but feel free to share his photo!)

How to win an iCalmDog…

Enter a comment below and tell us how iCalmDog 3.0 would help your dogs and where you’d take it. Or, if you prefer to donate it, tell us how your fave rescue org would benefit. You will automatically be entered to win an iCalmDog 3.0 (Standard model) by Through a Dog’s Ear. (Prize value $89.95)

Want bonus points? The barking Border Collie video is starting to go viral on Facebook. View it here and share with your friends and fans. (Remember to post as public so that all Facebook viewers can enjoy it.)

Use hashtag #iCalmDog in all posts and tag @ThroughADogsEar

For additional chances to win, share this giveaway on your social media channels: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.  Also leave a comment on the barking BC  youtube video. Winners will be chosen by random drawing. The more shares and comments you post, the more opportunities to win!

Already own an iCalmDog 3.0 and want another?  (Did I mention they make great holiday gifts?) Post a review on the model you purchased at iCalmPet.com or on Amazon, if purchased there.

The winner will be announced by December 14 on a future blog post. Good luck and remember to use hashtag #iCalmDog so I can easily find all your shares, posts, and comments!

Please note: Contest is open to Lisa’s blog subscribers. If you purchase an iCalmDog 3.0 before the winner is announced and you win, you can choose to donate your iCalmDog to a rescue or shelter, or we can refund your money. Your choice. Prize value = $89.95

 

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How Do You Know If Your Dog Is Sound Sensitive?

Hear no Evil

As a musician with a discerning ear, I’m ultra sound sensitive. When I enter a restaurant, I make my decision to stay for a meal based as much on the sound environment as the menu and atmosphere. I’ve also been known to go into sensory overload in large crowds with loud music playing.

I’m not sure if it’s because I’m a pet calming maestro or a sound sensitive human, but I’m always amazed by the number of sound sensitive dogs I meet whose caring, loving people are not aware of their dog’s fear of noises. So, it didn’t surprise me when I read in Applied Animal Behaviour Science about the results of a study by Dr. Rachel Casey at the School of Veterinary Sciences, University of Bristol.

Casey’s objective was to gain insight into how domestic dogs react to noises. Only a quarter of the people reported their dog as ‘fearful’ of noises, yet nearly half of the owners reported at least one behavioral sign typical of fear when exposed to disturbing noises such as fireworks, thunder and gunshots.

Science Daily reported, “This suggests that whilst they are aware of their pet’s behavioural response when exposed to a loud noise, owners do not necessarily recognise this as being indicative of fear or anxiety. This has relevance both for awareness of compromised welfare, and the methodology for surveying such behaviour.”

Hide and seek

The most common behavioral signs reported:

  • Vocalizing
  • Trembling/ Shaking
  • Hiding
  • Seeking people

Other fear signs not often reported because they aren’t typically seen as fear:

  • Decreased activity
  • Salivation
  • Urination
  • Destruction

Dr Rachel Casey said:

“Our results suggest that the characteristics of dogs, their early environment, and exposure to specific loud noises are involved in the development of fear responses to noises. Interestingly, less than a third of owners sought professional advice about treatment for their pet’s response to noises.”

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Causes for Noise Phobias:
It’s difficult to pinpoint the causes of noise phobias. In some cases it’s related to breed (herding breeds being notorious for sound phobias), in other situations it’s simply lack of exposure to those sounds as a puppy. And, it’s not unusual for noise anxiety to increase with age, for no apparent reason.

Sound Associations:
Dogs are very quick to build associations. Fido may cower when you take out your camera with a flash. But, it only appears that he’s afraid of the camera. He actually may be afraid of the sound of the flash, as it could remind him of lightening during a thunderstorm.

Helping Sound Sensitive Dogs:
Become aware of your home sound environment and any sound environment your dog enters. Take a Sonic Inventory (click here for guidelines) and lower the volume on all home appliances. Sound is like air. We rarely notice these two common elements unless the air suddenly becomes polluted or the sound becomes chaotic. The sonic inventory is one way of becoming aware of the noise in your pet’s environment and take measures to improve it.

Dog is listening music

Provide a healthy sound environment that is pleasant for the 4- and 2-leggeds in your household. Listen to sound samples of species specific music for both dogs and cats. Invite your 4-legged friends in for a listen. Notice their behavior. Do they move closer to the sound source or away from it?
Note: If you are playing the music on a computer, it’s always best to play through external speakers with good sound quality. We have found that it does make a difference for Fido and Fluffy.

Do you have a sound sensitive dog or cat? What has helped them? Thanks for sharing your experiences in a comment below.

 

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