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7 Simple Tips for Calming Your Dog During Fireworks

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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 Simple 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

Rescue Italian Greyhound Cyrus gets cozy with his iCalmDog

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. Dogs can enjoy the soothing soundtracks on their iCalmDog, CDs, downloads, or streaming on Apple Music and Spotify. As the pianist on the music series, it warms my heart hearing all the ways the music comforts dogs during stressful times.

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, such as Fireworks Prep-Pak.

Sanchez Thundershirt

6. Tactile

There are several 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.

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.

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

 

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Posted on 25 Comments

In Celebration of a Dog’s Life Well Lived

Words can’t express how grateful I am for all the support I have received these past six weeks. It’s so comforting to be surrounded by an army of dog lovers that speak the same language and just get it. I’ve found great healing when reading all the heartfelt comments on my tribute to Sanchez and in personal emails and Facebook posts. Thank you!

Today would have been Sanchez’s 14th birthday. While I had been hoping to be partying with him, I am instead honoring him by celebrating his life. It was a dog’s life well lived.

A few days after his passing, I recorded the video above. I chose the Lento from the B flat minor Sonata of Chopin because it’s one of my personal favorites from iCalmDog.

It represents ascent into heaven and was very healing for me. The music reminds me that Sanchez will always live on in my heart and in the music that he inspired. I am eternally grateful.

Party on at Rainbow Bridge Señor Sanchez!

 

 

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Win an iCalmDog… Proven Canine Sound Therapy!

iCalmDog 3.0

It was so fascinating reading the results of our first iCalmDog Survey…

Some of the most popular portable uses for iCalmDog:

  • in the car
  • at the vet
  • at agility trials
  • at dog shows
  • while vacationing

Click to view a full summary of survey results.

And, the Facebook pictures and stories are music to my ears…

Want 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 going 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 social 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 gifts?) Post a review on the model you purchased at iCalmDog.com or on Amazon, if purchased there.

The winner will be announced May 11 in a future blog post. (Make sure you’re a subscriber!) Good luck and remember to use hashtag #iCalmDog so I can easily find all your social 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 this contest, you can choose to donate your iCalmDog to a rescue or shelter, or we can refund your money. Your choice. Prize value = $89.95

Paws crossed for you and your pups!

 

 

Posted on 58 Comments

In Memory of Sanchez, My Muse and Our Mascot

Sanchez entered my home and my heart at 4-months-old. He was a puppy in training from Guide Dogs for the Blind, and I was a volunteer puppy raiser.

He came pretty close to passing all the guide dog phases. But, when he didn’t, I was happy to adopt him. I promised him the best life a dog could have, and that he had. What I didn’t know then was what a great life he was going to give me, and many others. He was to be of great service, but not in the way that was planned by his guide dog breeding and training.

Instead, his work over the years included agility, official greeter at Lisa Spector’s Music School, canine musical freestyler, actor (as Helen Keller’s dog in The Miracle Worker), and my muse and inspiration behind creating Through a Dog’s Ear and iCalmDog. If it weren’t for Sanchez, I’m not sure canine music therapy would have ever been created.

His rambunctious puppy behavior caused my original inspiration. Then he became my constant canine tester, continued inspiration behind product development, and the center of attention on social media as charming and adorable mascot.

He was the perfect model and video star.

His best work was the development of music products to comfort senior dogs. That started when he told off a vet who thought he needed to be sedated for an X-ray that required him to lay still on his back. He thought, no problem, “I’ve got music that will take care of that.”

In addition to food, his greatest joys included using his nose (anywhere and everywhere, including nose-work class), hikes near the ocean and training with me every night.

Truth be told, when Gina joined our family, he wasn’t thrilled. He would have preferred that all the treats in the house were for him alone, and he always counted to make sure she didn’t get more than him. But, she adored him and never gave up trying to getting close.

We did tricks almost every night, and he loved it. He’d cry if I was late starting our special training time. When he matured, I found additional ways to include him with Gina. He grew to be fond of her during the double dog tricks. And, he especially enjoyed searching for treats I secretly tossed him when I was tugging with Gina and playing fetch with her. (He was never much of a retriever himself though.)

Sanchez was such a trooper during his rehab from a slipped disc in his neck at age 9 and his acupuncture treatments at Coastal Holistic Complementary Vet Clinic. And, more recently, during his recovery from E. coli.

He never complained about his change of diet to home cooked meals and The Honest Kitchen.

Sanchez touched many lives, far and wide, and left a big paw print behind. He rocked my world, and I am forever grateful for our nearly 14 blessed years together. He taught me so much about dog behavior and was my muse, not to mention the best mascot ever! He was adored by more fans than he was ever fortunate enough to meet. He will live on forever in my heart and in the hearts of all of his fans.

Sanchez always marched to his own drum. He lived life on his own terms, and went out on his own terms. He told me when his job was done here, and I respected his wish. He had a peaceful transition while we listened to the music that he inspired. Señor Sanchez wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Through a Dog's Ear Sanchez Mascot

Sanchez’s Secrets

1. He was career changed from Guide Dogs for the Blind for being “too much dog” and for being mouthy.

2. When he was first career changed, his dog sitter said, “His horns hold up his halo.” It was the perfect description of him.

3. He was a big snorer his entire life. He kept me up with his snoring on our first night together. And, during his guide dog puppy years, he snored his way through seven San Francisco Symphony concerts and six San Francisco Opera productions. I was always worried it would bother concert attendees, but they always loved him.

4. He was too macho to admit it, but he loved stuffed animals.

5. He was crazy about Golden Retrievers. He tried to hump almost every Golden he ever met, even in his senior years. Well, there was that one Border Collie too! (Click for entertaining video.)

6. He ate my diamond earring when he was a puppy. I looked for a week and never found it. Oh, what a girl will do for diamonds!

7. He once got me out of a speeding ticket. The cop asked why I was driving so fast. I said it was because I was worried my guide dog puppy would need to relieve before I got to the opera. He took one look at him and said, “Cute puppy, OK”.

8. He had more initials after his name than me… Señor Sanchez AXP AJP OFP CGC
(Did I mention we did agility together?) Canine Good Citizen test was passed at 10 years of age! Good Boy.

9. He chewed up and destroyed at least a dozen dog beds in his youth.

10. I lost him more times than I care to admit. One time I called the cops and they found him half a mile away. When I showed up, he looked like he was about to say, “Oh, you’re here. So, what’s for dinner?”

11. He loved sweet potato strips. But, he was terrible at “Look At Me”.

12. He was always showing off his hips. (Who me?)

13. My personal nickname for him was “Pumpkin”.

14. He loved hanging out on decks with great views.

15. He really didn’t like to cuddle, unless we were outdoors sharing the lounge chair.

16. He loved men and was always trying to find the right one for me. (He’s passing that job onto Gina.)

17. He frequently slept with his head off the bed.

18. He wasn’t much for swimming, but he loved to walk in the water.

19. He made himself comfortable in the oddest ways.

20. He loved to make up his own agility courses. (Click for a must see, very funny video.)

21. He never relieved in our home, not as a puppy and not as a senior. But, when I took him to a friend’s house decorated for the holidays, he walked over to the Christmas tree and, well…

22. He failed his therapy dog test. (As always, he was more interested in searching the floor for crumbs than engaging with the people.)

23. He loved to wash the dishes.

24. His picture was on a framed card in our home with a favorite quote by artist Pam Reinke.
“It always comes back to… all I really owe anyone is to honestly be Who I am.”
He taught me this when he was a puppy and the lesson remained his entire life.

25. He had his own special song from iCalmDog that I played for him on the piano, Schumann’s Child Sleeping. I was so fortunate to share his final evening with him in peace and had the opportunity to play it for him one last time at home. This video is from a few years back, but I’m sure he’s listening now from Rainbow Bridge.

Rest in Peace Señor Sanchez. Through a Dog’s Ear is your very special legacy, and I will remain forever grateful. Yours was a life well lived and well served to many!

 

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

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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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5 Reasons My 13-Year-Old Dog Still Has Full Hearing Range

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I grew up with a rather excitable Cocker Spaniel named Doodle. (Yikes, that’s an old photo of us!) When I started playing the piano at age seven, she’d come lay by my pedal foot and fall asleep. Even in her senior years when deaf, as soon as I started playing the piano, Doodle would come from any part of the house and lay down near the piano. She must have loved the vibrations.

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Later on, my Golden, Byron (R.I.P.), also lost most of his hearing in his senior years. Since this is so common with older dogs, I just thought that was to be expected.

However, when Sanchez was a puppy in training for Guide Dogs for the Blind, I started becoming a very sound aware pet parent. It was actually his response to altered classical music that inspired my sound consciousness.

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Throughout his life, I’ve only become more mindful and have taken measures to protect his hearing. I have been more cautious about his sound environment than any previous dog in my care. I even play the grand piano with the lid down, as he loves to lie underneath it, and I sometimes play loud and fast.  He is 13 and 1/2, and I am happy to say that he has shown no signs of any hearing loss. Luck? Maybe, but I don’t think entirely.

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

1. 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 cautious of your dog’s sound environment.

Sanchez Reading Through a Dog's Ear Book

2. 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 recommended by veterinary neurologist Susan Wagner and sound researcher Joshua Leeds, in their book Through a Dog’s Ear, Using Sound to Improve the Health & Behavior of Your Canine Companion. It’s one way of becoming aware of the noise in your pet’s environment and taking measures to improve it.

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

We love our dogs. They are the most adaptable creatures on the planet. So, we just expect them to adjust to our crazy human sound environment. Some do, but many can’t. Sensory confusion leads to over-stimulation and unwanted behaviors. Canine sound therapy helps contribute to a consistent and calm auditory environment. Take a listen with your pup and enjoy a soothing sound bath together.

listen-samples-buster-headphones-red4. 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 Buster 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, they hear twice as high. 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.

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 a sound aware dog lover? Thanks for posting a comment and sharing how you create a peaceful canine household.

Posted on 38 Comments

Feeling Guilty While Caring for My Senior Dog

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My 13 and 1/2 year old Lab, Sanchez, has been recovering from an E. coli infection. It was touch and go for awhile. While I was waiting for lab results back after a few weeks of treatment, I didn’t know whether he just needed a diet change or if it was to be our final days together. I was on a complete emotional roller coaster.

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Truthfully, his care was really hard. I didn’t know how much more I could endure of making all of his meals, giving him subcutaneous fluids daily, and barely leaving the house in case he needed my help.

I had already decided I wouldn’t take any measures to prolong his life if his quality of life wasn’t likely to improve. I stopped in my tracks when a friend said, “Lisa, you have to remember that your quality of life is just as important.”

In all honesty, I hadn’t considered my quality of life. Caring for senior dogs is not for the faint of heart. But, I signed up for the long haul when I adopted him as s a youngster. And, I’m one of the lucky ones. 13 and a half is a long life for a large Lab.

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It’s hard for me to admit, but in all honesty, I felt guilty when I sometimes thought about how much easier my life would be if I only had Gina to take care for. I craved our old lifestyle, when Sanchez so willingly went for walks with us and enjoyed a very mobile lifestyle. On top of those feelings, I had some important trips coming up, and I didn’t know how I was going to leave Sanchez in someone else’s care, given his current state.

I’ve been through it before, so I know how painful and simultaneously precious the end of life is with our beloved dogs. I don’t want to miss that time with Sanchez. And, I’d rather choose to be a week early on that decision than a day late. But, how could I make that decision based on my lifestyle needs and travel schedule?

The truth is that caring for him in such a tender state has increased our bond and strengthened our relationship. It’s been hard, but it’s time that I wouldn’t trade for anything. I feel more connected to him than ever.

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Fortunately, he showed me that it’s just not his time yet. I’m very happy to report that he is on a complete trajectory of improved health. Not only were his lab results very encouraging, but he’s back to his normal weight again, getting out of the house more (as am I), going for short walks, asking for tummy rubs many times a day, giving kisses again, and chewing on dog bones (and even went digging for one outside). He’s just about back to his old normal self.

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And, he’s also well enough to be at home with Gina and a dog sitter while I’m performing at the Nature-Based Therapeutics Conference in Minneapolis. It’s the first of three trips, and I was surprised that it wasn’t as hard to leave him as I expected.

Labrador Kisses from Sanchez

I’m eternally grateful for his recovery and renewed health. And, I’m well aware that every day with him is a gift. I know it’s only a matter of time before I have to re-consider both of our lifestyles if his health fails again. But, for now, he’s reminding me to be present and enjoy our time together.

Attaboy Sanchez!

 

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Tail Waggin’ Dog Agility (with video)

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My agility addiction started so innocently.

Years ago, when Sanchez was career changed from Guide Dogs for the Blind, I knew I needed to find a new job for him. My guide dog puppy class leader also taught agility, a dog sport in which a handler directs a dog through an obstacle course in a race for both time and accuracy. I just thought it would be a fun activity to enjoy together, never imagining I’d turn into one of those crazy people who set their alarms for 4 am on weekend mornings to drive for hours to an agility trial.

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I love Sanchez to no end, but, I have to admit, he wasn’t the best agility partner. He’s always been a dog who marched to his own drum, and that was no exception on the agility field. He often just wanted to make up his own course. But, I just fell in love with the sport as I continued to learn so much about dog behavior and training. (And Sanchez went on to become a fabulous freestyle partner.)

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When I adopted Gina, I knew she had the temperament, work ethic, and athletic body of an agility dog. Everything about agility is fun with Gina. She tries so hard to please me and is incredibly responsive.

At USDAA (United States Dog Agility Association) trials, she’s usually the only Lab entered in the 22″ Championship class. It’s a height dominated by super fast Border Collies.

I missed half of the season while nursing an injury (mine, not hers), and I was down to the wire to qualify for USDAA Nationals (Cynosport). I had two more weekends left and needed to run a clean Grand Prix run.

We had one of the best runs of our career on the first weekend. EXCEPT… her happy waggin’ tail slowly brought down a bar just after clearing it. (It’s a Lab thing!) It was the 3rd to last obstacle. After heavily rewarding my dog and playing ball with her, I had a total meltdown. I started to convince myself that I just wasn’t supposed to go to Nationals, for some unknown reason. Maybe, I just wasn’t cut out for it.

But, it wasn’t over yet. I still had one more weekend.

The pressure was really on. Western Regionals on Labor Day Weekend ended the qualifying period. We had two chances for clean Grand Prix runs, the local qualifier and regional qualifier.

Agility Western Regionals

WE DID IT!!! We ran clean for both!

The full honest truth is what I posted on Facebook… I almost never post my agility runs on my personal profile. I watch all the agility runs by fabulous handlers and fast dogs, and I’m very inspired to watch and learn, and I love them, but it doesn’t inspire me to share my runs with Gina. I watch our runs and it’s too easy to notice all the things I could have done better.

After posting, a comment came in from a frequent member of the world team that reminded me what truly is important about agility…

Yep, our tails were waggin!

Having missed so much of the season, I’m thrilled we qualified for USDAA Cynosport World Games and honored to have made Grand Prix finals at Western Regionals.  And, I have to admit, it was even more fun to add my own piano playing from my concert repertoire to the agility video below. (Yep, sometimes I play fast music in addition to calming music for dogs.)

Yea, Cynosport World Games here we come!!! If you live near Scottsdale, AZ, we’ll be there November 9 – 13, 2016. Come watch. It’s a free spectator sport, and you’ll be blown away watching all the fast, happy dogs run with their 2-legged partners.

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We’re setting our goals and gearing up for a good time. It’s an indescribable feeling running a course in total sync with your canine partner.

Main Photo: Ian Coggins

 

Posted on 33 Comments

7 Tips for Calming Your Dog During Fireworks

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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!

 

 

Posted on 5 Comments

Do You Celebrate Your Dog’s Birthday or Gotcha Day?

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According to a study by the Purina Pet Institute, 43 percent of dog owners celebrate birthdays, while 29 percent celebrate their cat’s birthdays.

In contrast, an article in Psychology Today by Stanley Coren, PhD, referred to an online survey by Kelton Research. Of 1,000 people tested,

  • 81 percent of dog parents know their pets’ birthdays
  • 77 percent have celebrated their pets’ birthday by buying them a birthday present

And, according to Nationwide Pet Insurance, $50 billion a year is spent on gifts for our pets. Wow!

Personally, I’ve always celebrated all of my dogs’ birthdays or “Gotcha Days”. I remember every one to this day. There is no big birthday cake, but I always honor the occasion in some special way. It usually involves a new toy, treats, fun training, and extra time enjoying a hike or other outdoor activity with my birthday dog.

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Last month, Sanchez turned 13 on May 17th. Today, June 7th, is Gina’s 7th birthday.

I also celebrate Gina’s “Gotcha Day” on October 14. I adopted her from Guide Dogs for the Blind when she was 16 months old, and it’s a day I’ll never forget.

Dogs don’t understand anything about dates, so they don’t really care about their birthday. Nevertheless, it’s my way of honoring them as family members. Sanchez and Gina do so much to enrich my life. It’s my way of enriching theirs.

No matter how many birthdays, it’s always too few. Most of all, celebrating their birthdays reminds me to be grateful for every day of their lives.

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With a 13-year-old dog, I’m aware that time is precious, and every day is a gift. I’ll never know how many more memories we’ll create together.

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And, that feeling is even transferred to my 7-year-old. Gina is such a blessing in my life. She’s my reminder to be happy for no reason. If she’s moving, her tail is wagging. So, I vote to wag with her this birthday and party on!

Happy Birthday sweet Gina!

I love you to the moon and back.

Do you celebrate your dog’s birthday? Thanks for sharing your experiences in a comment below.

 

Photo Credit: Viviana Guzman