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Case Study: iCalmDog Music Stopped Barking Dog in Under 20 Seconds!

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I was recently in Arizona with Gina for Cynosport World Agility Games. And down in the main arena, I noticed that all of the stimulation was getting to be a bit overwhelming for Gina (and for me too!). To make matters worse, our crating area was near a non-stop barking dog. An anxious border collie that was way too overstimulated!

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 on her crate in-between runs. But, the barking dog in our crating area was driving us crazy! So, I asked the handler if I could bring over my iCalmDog 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.

How to stop your dog from barking:

That’s the power of bioacoustically-designed iCalmDog music! Even in the most possible stressed environment!

Now how it get it next door to my neighbor’s dogs that are always awake at 3 am…

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Dogs and 4th of July Fireworks: How to Calm + How to Solve

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July 4th is quickly approaching. It can be a fun holiday for children and adults, but most dogs don’t share their enthusiasm. In fact, almost all people with dogs in the U.S. declare this day the worst day of the year for their dogs. Veterinarians say July 3rd is usually the most trafficked day in their clinics, with clients coming in to get drugs for their dogs.

July 5th tends to be the busiest day of the year for shelters. Dogs become Houdini when they hear fireworks and escape from their yards that appear perfectly secure other days of the year.

7 Calming Tips for Calming Your Dog During Fireworks

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1. Exercise

A tired dog is a happy dog. Take your dog for a big hike early in the day. Play fetch with him. Enjoy some training time together. Tug with her. These are all things that will tire her out before the fireworks begin, so she has less ability to focus on the disturbing noise.

iCalmDog dog home alone

2. Stay home

Keep your dogs inside during fireworks, preferably with human companionship. Bringing your dogs to a fireworks display is never a good idea. Instead, provide a safe place inside for your dogs to retreat. When scared of sounds they can’t orient, dogs often prefer small enclosed areas. I once had a dog who climbed into the bathtub during windstorms.

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3. Remove visual stimulation

Keep your windows and curtains closed. Covering their crate and lowering the blinds can also be helpful. Removing visual stimulation has been known to calm dogs.

Gina Peanut Butter Kong

4. Keep them busy

Give your dog something fun to do that is distracting. Dogs enjoy the challenges of food puzzles. Feed him his dinner in a food puzzle. Freeze a kong with his favorite treats in the morning. For dessert, hand him the kong just when the fireworks start. He may even start to associate fireworks with yummy treats.

Please note: a very sound sensitive dog may not even take food when afraid of the noises and may also need the below suggestions…

Sensory Enrichment

Rescued Italian Greyhound Cyrus listens to his iCalmDog, or is it his iPawd?

5. Sound Therapy

Canine sound therapy can be a huge help for dogs afraid of fireworks. The rearranged classical compositions of Through a Dog’s Ear have been clinically shown to reduce canine anxiety, including fireworks phobia. As the pianist on the music series, it warms my heart hearing all the ways the music comforts dogs during stressful times.

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Halle  even stopped jumping out of 12 foot high windows on July 4th once she discovered canine sound therapy. Some dogs also benefit from desensitization training programs that help them build a positive association to fireworks. We offer a variety of Fireworks Prep calming tools.

Sanchez Thundershirt

6. Tactile

There are two canine wraps on the market that reportedly help sound phobic dogs. The original Anxiety Wrap was created by professional dog trainer Susan Sharpe, CPDT-KA. The patented design uses acupressure and maintained pressure to reduce stress. Thundershirt is also a wrap for dogs that provides gentle, constant pressure. Many dog lovers use one of these wraps in combination with canine sound therapy.

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7. Scent

Calm Aroma Mist can help dogs relax and cope more effectively with loud noises and other stressful situations. Spray Calm Aroma Mist in the room and on your dog’s crate. It’s equally enjoyable and calming for people.

Lisa and Sanchez July 4

Do you have any additional tips for helping keep dogs calm and safe on this noisy holiday? Thanks for sharing your suggestions in a comment below. And feel free to share how your dogs have responded to fireworks on previous holidays.

Sanchez, Gina and I wish you and your canine household a calm and safe 4th of July!

 

 

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8 Steps to Enriching Your Senior Dog’s Life

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I can hardly believe that my yellow Labrador, Sanchez, is now 13 years old. I count my blessings that he is in good health and still enjoys our twice daily walks. But, I’m also aware that he can’t keep up to his activity level from even a year ago, let alone in his prime. I’m always looking for ways to provide mental stimulation to his environment without physically taxing his body.

1. Alone Time Together
It’s not always easy having a multi-dog household. But, it’s important to make a priority of having time alone with your pets daily. Since Sanchez was an only dog for the first seven years of his life, he particularly appreciates this. Walks do take longer (walking Gina separately), but it’s well worth the time when I see Sanchez’s smile of contentment.

2. Keep Training
Dogs love to learn, no matter their age. I still spend time training every night with Sanchez. If it gets late, he starts whining and begging for his training time with me. The bonding time is precious and it stimulates him to keep learning and being challenged. He has no complaints about his yummy rewards either. Dog training should always be fun for both 4- and 2-leggeds. Get creative with your senior pup. Because you can teach an old dog new tricks.

3. Give Him Attention in Creative Ways
Gina is a high-drive dog. We spend a lot of time in agility training, along with retrieving and tugging at home.  While it helps alleviate her pent up energy, Sanchez used to look neglected when she was getting the extra attention. So, I started sneaking him small treats while tugging with her. At night time, I often play ball with her inside, having her run down and up the stairs, chasing and retrieving the ball. I include Sanchez in the game by discreetly tossing him small treats while she’s running back up to me to deliver the ball. It not only makes him feel included, but it also engages his senses as his nose has to search for the tossed treat.

4. Reward. Reward. Reward.
In the video above, I am training both of my dogs together. Even though Gina is doing all the physical activity, Sanchez is getting equally paid for staying calm and still while she jumps over and goes under him. Good boy, Sanchez!

5. Pay Attention to New Behaviors
It’s not unusual for senior dogs to develop anxiety issues later in life that seemingly come out of nowhere. They can include sound phobias, separation anxiety or resource guarding. There are some that I just accept, such as tearing tissue out of the bathroom waste basket. I call it his puppy behavior returned. I just make sure that I don’t put anything in the trash that could be harmful when chewed. Other behaviors will only get worse if ignored, such as separation anxiety or food resource guarding. Ignored, they will only escalate.Tips for Separation Anxiety are here.

6. Keep The Safe Physical Activity
Sanchez and I used to enjoy musical freestyle classes. He would weave between my legs, spin and jump on my arm on cue. While that would be too taxing on his body now, we have kept in what is safe for him. He still loves to “go back,” lift his left and right paw on cue, and show off his “downward dog.”  Of course, he is well paid for his behavior.

7. Engage The Senses
National Association of Canine Scent Work (NACSW™) is the official sanctioning and organizing body for the sport of K9 Nose Work. It is a growing popular sport, and it’s great for dogs of all ages. K9 Nose Work is built on scent work where dogs use their nose to search for their prize. Sanchez loved his K9 Nose Work class. Now, at home, I put pieces of liver into a mixed variety of cardboard boxes. He is told to “find” the liver. Boy, does his tail ever wag when he is searching!

Sanchez upside down iCalmDog

8. Canine Sound Therapy
Most senior dogs don’t have the same tolerance for noise they used to in their youth. The immune system of a senior dog is often heavily taxed. A natural reaction is to self-limit the amount of auditory or visual stimulation coming into the system. That is why senior dogs will often shut down in overstimulating sound environments. Music to Comfort Your Elderly Canine has also been helpful for pain management with senior dogs and night-time restlessness. As you can see Sanchez loves his iCalmDog. The Elderly Canine pet tunes playing on it provided great comfort for Sanchez (and me) when he was recovering from a slipped disc in his neck.

What enrichment activities have benefited your senior dogs? Thanks for adding your stories in a comment below.

 

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6 Loving Ways To Comfort Your Senior Dog

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I have to admit, now that Sanchez is 12-years-old and showing signs of slowing down, I think often about ways to comfort him. While I’m very blessed that he is in good health, it’s not unusual for senior dogs to lose memory, eyesight and experience hearing loss. Dogs also can experience some changes in behavior as they mature.

Some of Sanchez’s new behaviors remind me of his puppy years, such as chewing tissues from the bathroom waste basket. But, more serious behavior changes like resource guarding and separation anxiety developed later in life. I have heard from many people with senior dogs that get restless and agitated at night-time, yet they calmly sleep all day. It’s easy to feel helpless watching their discomfort, yet there are many simple things we can do to help.

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1. Time

Spend time with them doing what they enjoy, whether that’s cuddling on the sofa or long, slow walks in nature. They may not need the amount of exercise they had as a youngster, but they still need quality time shared together. Sadly, they may not have an abundance of time left. Make every moment count.

Sanchez Smiling at Blufftops

2. Nature

Sanchez can’t manage the long hikes of his youth. But, he still really enjoys walks in nature, taking in all the sights and smells. We live near the Pacific Ocean and walks by the beach are the highlight of his days.

Sanchez flowers

3. Patience

Dogs, like people, move slower with age. Don’t rush them. They like to take more time to stop and smell the roses, and everything else in their path. Allow them this time. It’s a good reminder for you too that every moment is precious.

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4. Train

Dogs love to learn, and you actually can teach an old dog new tricks. I still spend time clicker training every night with Sanchez. If it gets late, he starts whining and begging for this time with me. The bonding time is precious, and it stimulates him to keep learning and being challenged. He has no complaints about his rewards either.

Sanchez Tade jacket

5. Work

Sanchez has been our loyal Through a Dog’s Ear mascot since 2008. Truth be told, he’s retired all of his previous careers ~ guide dog puppy, agility competitor, canine musical freestyler, and actor (playing Helen Keller’s dog in The Miracle Worker). But, he still really enjoys being in the limelight and posing for the camera. So, his work still continues as long as he is enjoying it.

Sanchez Car Ramp

5. Physical Assistance

Sanchez still goes almost everywhere with me. But, now I carry a ramp to help him get in and out of the car. I’ve been doing this since he had a slipped disc in his neck at age nine. I’d recommend a ramp for most senior dogs that are too large to be lifted out of the car. Their joints will thank you for it.

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6. Sound Therapy

Most senior dogs don’t have the same tolerance for noise they used to in their youth. The immune system of a senior dog is often heavily taxed. A natural reaction is to self-limit the amount of auditory or visual stimulation coming into the system. That is why senior dogs will often shut down in overstimulating sound environments. Sound therapy can often  help facilitate the nutrients of sound needed for maximum sound intake while conserving energy output. Music to Comfort Your Elderly Canine has also been helpful for pain management with senior dogs and night-time restlessness.

What has brought comfort to your senior dogs in their later years? Thanks for adding your stories in a comment below.

 

Related:
5 Surprising Ways to Protect Your Dog’s Hearing
How Could My Puppy Be 12-Years-Old Already?

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5 Signs of a Responsible Dog Owner

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Being a responsible pet parent may have many different definitions. But, it is more than just loving your dog and meeting his basic needs. Being responsible means learning how to understand the world from your dog’s point of view. Dogs speak a different language than people, and they are constantly studying everything we do to understand our behaviors and language. Being responsible means understanding their language and ways of communicating.

Here are some of the ways that you can be a responsible dog owner that go beyond the basics of neutering and spaying, exercising your dog, feeding them healthy meals and treats, and being there for them until the end of their life.

1. You Give Them Space.

Some dogs are very comfortable around a multitude of dogs and activity, many aren’t and need extra space. Learn to read your dog’s stress signals and make sure you keep her in an environment that is safe, determined by her needs. If you are aware of signs of stress in crowds, then it’s better to leave her home than take her with you to your local wine and art fair. Some dog-friendly events aren’t always friendly for all dogs.

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2. You Pay Attention To Their Sound Environment.

We brings dogs into our human world and we say “adjust.” Some do, many don’t. When dogs can’t orient the source of a sound to determine whether it is safe, they can easily go into sensory overload and develop anxiety behaviors along with health problems. Humans hear sounds between 20-20,000 Hz. Dogs hear at least twice as high, sometimes all the way up to 55,000 Hz. While I think it’s great that more events and public places are dog friendly, so often those environments are created for humans. A fundraising party for dogs and their people that benefits your local shelter, doesn’t benefit your dog when a loud band is playing. Please safeguard your dog’s sound environment.

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3. You Treat Dogs Like Dogs, Not Little Humans.

As humans, we tend to anthropomorphize our pets. It’s only natural if we love them. But, when we start to understand life from their point of view, we realize that dogs rarely show affection the way humans do. Most don’t like being pat on the head, especially from a stranger, and most don’t naturally take to hugs.

Sanchez Interception

4. You Prioritize Humane Training.

While it’s our responsibility to train our dogs, it’s also our responsibility to humanely train them with positive reinforcement. Humane training is not only the kind, loving way to train, but it’s scientifically proven and it works and helps to create an emotional bond between you and your dog that is priceless.

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5. You Provide Opportunities for Stimulation.

We can read a book or study a subject online when we want to learn, grow, and educate ourselves. But, it’s our responsibility to keep our dog’s minds stimulated. Feed her out of food puzzles instead of a bowl, enjoy a canine sport together, and teach her new tricks that help her keep thinking and making decisions.

Are you a responsible dog owner? Or maybe you prefer the terminology ‘pet parent’? Thanks for sharing your thoughts on what makes you responsible in a comment below.

 

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3 Surprising Health Benefits of Pumpkin for Dogs and Cats

(Reposted from 2014)

Sanchez Great pumpkin

Your dog or cat may be curious about the pumpkins sitting on your front porch. Halloween is now in the past, and your pumpkin may be beautifully carved, but it might also be collecting bacteria. While it’s best they don’t eat that pumpkin, canned organic pumpkin (unsweetened – not pie filling), pumpkin seeds, and cooked fresh pumpkin have many benefits for dogs and cats. Pumpkin can help with the following pet ailments:

1) Digestive Health: Pumpkin is a fabulous source of fiber for our furry friends, as well as for us. Pureed pumpkin (with no added sugar or spice) can help dogs and cats with both constipation and diarrhea. Adding a tablespoon or two (in proportion to their size) to their regular meal is known to help keep them regular. It can also help dogs and cats with indigestion or upset stomachs. Gina LOVES it and would eat it right out of the can if allowed. Most cats are usually a little more finicky.

2) Urinary Health: According to Veterinarians Laci and Jed Schaible, co-founders of VetLIVE.com, pumpkin seeds are high in essential fatty acids and antioxidants (good for overall healthy skin and fur), and the oils in pumpkin flesh and seeds are believed to support urinary health. They are also an excellent source of Vitamin A, beta-carotene, potassium and iron, and may even reduce the likelihood your pet will develop cancer.

3) Weight Loss: Dogs seem to naturally love pumpkin. If you are looking to take a few pounds off of your pooch or kitty, try reducing a portion of their food and replace it with the same portion of canned pumpkin. Their tummy will feel just as full, and they might even thank you for the additional flavor.

Raw, Cooked, or Canned?

Both raw and cooked pumpkin is safe for dogs. (If your dog or cat has diabetes or chronic kidney disease, always ask your vet first.) As far as our healthy pooches go, seeds and flesh of fresh raw pumpkins are safe provided, of course, it’s not a rotten pumpkin that’s been sitting on the porch for four weeks. Pumpkin parts do go rancid very quickly! If you choose to go with canned, make sure it’s organic and doesn’t have added sugar.

More Dog Cookies
                                                  Pumpkin Squeak Treats

Sanchez and Gina loved the Pumpkin Squeak Treats I made for them. I was delighted to discover they can be broken into tiny bites, which is always helpful for training. They are quick and easy and your pooches will love them!

“Pumpkin Squeaks” Dog Squeaks (compliments of Protect your Bubble pet insurance)

2 cups rice flour
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1 cup pumpkin puree (low in sugar)
2 eggs (I used 3 for more moisture)
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix ingredients together until blended, then spread dough to 1/4 inch thick and cut into desired cookie shapes. Bake for 10-15 minutes. Let cool before serving. Store in refrigerator for up to 7 days.

Sanchez and Gina patiently wait for their cookies
Sanchez and Gina patiently wait for their cookies. Good dogs!

Do you feed your pets pumpkin? Any recipes you want to share? Thanks for posting a comment below and be sure to join our conversations on Facebook.

 

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5 Surprising Ways to Protect Your Dog’s Hearing

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It’s extremely common for senior dogs to gradually lose their hearing, often until it’s completely diminished. However, there are many small changes we can make to our sound environment to help protect their hearing.

Sounds are measured in decibels (dB), and each 10 dB increase represents a tenfold increase in sound energy. 90 dB is ten times noisier than 80 dB, 100 dB is ten times noisier than 90, and so on. Sound researcher Joshua Leeds, co-author of Through a Dog’s Ear, the first book to examine the powerful effect of the human soundscape on dogs, states, “Above 85 dB, you start playing with auditory fire. Inside the inner ear, irreparable cilia cell damage worsens with length of exposure and higher decibel levels. Your dog’s inner ear works in exactly the same way yours does and has an even wider range of frequency.”

Decibels of Common Household and Street Sounds

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  • Whisper: 30
  • Normal conversation: 40
  • Dishwasher, microwave, furnace: 60
  • Blow dryer: 70
  • City traffic: 70
  • Garbage disposal, vacuum cleaner: 80

Danger Zone

  • Lawn mower: 90
  • Screaming child: 90
  • Power drill: 110
  • Ambulance: 130
  • Gunshot: 130
  • Fire engine siren: 140
  • Boom cars: 145

Steps You Can Take to Protect Your Dog’s Hearing:

1. Take a sonic inventory.

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.

2. Don’t expose them to loud bands or loud street fairs.

Humans hear sounds between 20-20,000 Hz. Dogs hear at least twice as high, sometimes all the way up to 55,000 Hz. While it’s great that more events and public places are dog friendly, so often those environments are created for humans. A fundraising party for dogs and their people that benefits your local shelter doesn’t benefit your dog when a loud band is playing. Please be careful of your dog’s sound environment.

3. Provide simple sounds at home that calm the canine nervous system.

Minimize intricate auditory information found in most music. The clinically tested music of Through a Dog’s Ear is intentionally selected, arranged and recorded to provide easeful auditory assimilation. Three primary processes are used to accomplish this effect:

  • Auditory Pattern Identification
  • Orchestral Density
  • Resonance & Entrainment

Take a listen with your pup and enjoy a soothing sound bath together.

4. Be aware of your dog’s unresolved sensory input.

When it comes to sound, dogs don’t always understand cause and effect. You know when people are in your home yelling at the TV during a sports game that it’s all in good fun. But, it may not be much fun for your dog, who is still trying to orient whether all of those crazy sounds are safe. Put Fido in a back quiet room, listening to music especially designed for dogs. This can not only safeguard his hearing, but also his behavior.

5. Don’t play two sound sources simultaneously.

Remember that your dog’s hearing is much finer than yours. One family member may be in the living room blasting the TV, while another is in the kitchen listening to the radio. Your dog is caught in the middle, absorbing both sounds and getting stressed. Try and only have one sound source at a time, playing at a gentle volume.

Hear no Evil

My senior dog, Sanchez, is 11 years old. I have been more cautious about his sound environment than any previous dog. I even play the grand piano with the lid down, as he loves to lie underneath it. I am happy to say that he has shown no signs of any hearing loss.

Those of us who love our pets often assume that our environment is the best for them. However, sometimes it requires a different way of thinking, to assess whether what works for us, works for our beloved pets as well.

Are you committed to becoming a sound aware dog lover? Thanks for posting a comment below and sharing some ways that you can improve your household sound environment for your dogs and cats. Ultimately, the 2-leggeds in your household will also benefit.

 

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