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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.

 

listen-samples-buster-headphones

 

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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Helping Senior Dogs, Four Paws at a Time

Muttville Dogs Listen to “Music to Comfort your Elderly Canine”

 

November is Adopt-a- Senior-Pet Month. When I think of senior homeless dogs,  Sherri Franklin comes to mind. She is the founder of Muttville, a fabulous rescue organization whose mission is to change the way the world thinks about and treats older dogs and to create better lives for them through rescue, foster, adoption and hospice.

Sherri used to volunteer at shelters and was heart broken to see so many senior dogs wait in shelters for months. She was so upset to see them either spend their senior years in shelters or end up being euthanized because of their age (when their health and temperament were often without problems). So she started adopting as many as she could on her own. And she enlisted the help of friends in providing foster homes while she searched for their forever homes. Hence the creation of Muttville with non-profit status in 2007. After five years of Muttville running out of her home, they now have a beautiful new space, right next door to the San Francsico SPCA.

I spoke with Leslie Lingren who has fostered close to 50 Muttville dogs and has adopted four of them. Leslie has always had a soft spot for less wanted as well as wounded dogs. When I asked him about the benefits of adopting an older dog, he said “There are less behavior problems when adopting an older dog. It’s absolutely perfect for people who live in the city and don’t need to provide as much exercise for their dogs. And there is something very special about providing a loving forever home for a rescue dog. They have a very different disposition. Often times they weren’t loved and were neglected. It’s so rewarding watching them blossom and find security. They become wonderful animals that are so grateful to be loved and adored.”

Cooper and Milo snuggling

The ASPCA couldn’t agree more with Leslie. Among their 10 reasons to adopt an older dog, they include they’re not a 24-7 job and they settle in quickly. Leslie’s Muttville dogs Cooper and Milo seem to have settled in quite comfortably.

 

At Through a Dog’s Ear, we love senior dogs and we think every dog adopted from Muttville should go home with their own copy of Music to Comfort your Elderly Canine, to help ease their transition into their forever home. In honor of “Adopt a Senior Dog Month”, we’ve created a matching campaign. For every Through a Dog’s Ear book or CD purchased on our website November 8 – 15, we will match and donate a copy of  Music to Comfort Your Elderly Canine to Muttville, to send home with a new adoption. Our goal is 250 CDs. It’s a great way for you to help the senior dogs of Muttville while your own dogs of any age also benefit. Click to view priceless photos of Muttville dogs in foster homes listening to Music to Comfort your Elderly Canine!

For a full list of adoptable pets at Muttville click here. For all geographic locations, you can also find adoptable pets in your area on Petfinder.com.

Have you ever adopted an older pet of any species? Thank you for posting a comment and letting our readers know some of the benefits you’ve enjoyed.

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Reflecting on a FABULOUS Barkworld Experience!

A week ago, I was in Atlanta for Barkworld Expo. The fabulous learning and petworking opportunity feels like months ago, since it was pre-Superstorm Sandy devastation. However, writing this is helping me recall all of the fabulous experiences of Barkworld, including all the ways that I learned how to expand my dream of helping improve the lives of dogs worldwide.

Lisa with 5 week old CCI pups

First, a big thank you to Eukanuba. I submitted my blog post titled “Paws Crossed for a Trip to Barkworld” to their “Win a Free Trip To Barkworld” contest, and I won a free conference pass!!! It also brought a huge smile to my face when I later learned that Eukanuba is partnering with Canine Companions for Independence. You won’t want to miss their livestream channel of a litter of pups from CCI, currently seven weeks old. Since a friend of mine is a breeder keeper for CCI, I was fortunate enough to personally meet and hold a litter of  five week old pups recently.

Back to my Barkworld experience, it started as soon as I landed in Atlanta. Bayer Animal Health arranged to pick us up from the airport in a limo. It was so fun meeting in person many of the bloggers I only new from twitterland. And, I was particularly thankful for the limo ride, so that I made it in time to the first event.. “Social Petworking Offline….Speed Dating” for bloggers. I was familiar the with popularity of speed dating, which I’ve tried and didn’t care for in the “single” world. But, in the pet world, I LOVED it. Bloggers had seven minutes to meet and greet brands. It was such a fabulous way to start Barkworld. In addition to meeting new brands, I was able to personally meet representatives from brands I had worked with, including Bayer Animal Health, Adopt-A-Pet.com and the APSCA. Bayer, in partnership with AdoptAPet.com, had sent Through a Dog’s Ear to 1,000 shelters last year, where it is helping to increase adoption rates, and ASPCA was one of our first two pilot shelters to help us launch our “Music in Shelters” program in 2008.

The costume contest, on the first night, was fun for all. People were confused why I was dressed as a cat, when I create music for dogs. They were soon to find out that Through a Cat’s Ear is in the works, to be released early 2013.

 

The dogs worked hard, dressing up and walking the runway for their costume contest. Some were outright pooped by the end of the evening. The Atlanta Dog Spa sponsored the costume party, and I later found out that they play our Calming music (from the Canine Noise Phobia series) in their daycare.

The first day started with a workout for me along with dropping in to meet canine holistic coach, fab trainer, and Doga instructor Anna Bettina. (Always great meeting trainers that use Through a Dog’s Ear in their classes.) I was very eager to hear Matt Meeker’s Keynote: Building, Growing & Sustaining Online Communities. If anyone knows this topic, it’s Matt Meeker, the co-founder of MeetUp.com. I’ve attended countless meet-up gatherings, related to business, health, and canine topics. And, I had just recently started my first meet-up: Concerts for people AND their Dogs!, as I’ve recently expanded my concerts to include four-leggeds in the audience. Matt is also the co-founder of BarkBox, and ever since I first read about it, I thought Through a Dog’s Ear CD’s would be a perfect inclusion in their gift boxes.

I’m now realizing that if I mentioned everything terrific at Barkworld, this blog would go on for days. For now, I’ll just mention a few more of my favorite highlights…

Lisa at age 11 with Doodle

Blogging up the Right Tree: Exploring and Defining your Inner Bark by Dr. Pia Salk, psychologist, writer, animal advocate, spokesperson, blogger for Martha Stewart, and spokesperson for Adopt-A-Pet.com. Pia asked us to think of our first childhood experience with pets, to see if there was any relevance to how that has influenced our lives. I’ve always tossed off my childhood years as they related to pets, as if they were insignificant. I loved our family dog Doodle, a blond Cocker Spaniel, but I always associated her as my sister’s dog. I never really considered myself a Dog person until I adopted Byron (R.I.P.), my Golden.

Lisa playing the piano as a young teenager for Doodle and Niki

However, when I recalled my first memory of a dog, I closed my eyes and remembered Doodle lying by my feet as I played the piano, for hours daily. It couldn’t be more relevant to my current career, as I’ve combined my two greatest loves ~music and dogs! I had tears in my eyes as I realized the huge significance of having Doodle in my life.

The other presentation that brought tears of joy to my eyes was a training demonstration by Lina Eklof, the dog training program coordinator at Petco. I had been enjoying learning about Petco’s inspiring “Think Adoption First” and “Train to Adopt” campaigns. Lina brought a Beagle to the stage and showed us how to train polite manners to dogs, using positive reinforcement, so that they are more adoptable.

Lina with Lulu

I expected sit, down, go to your mat, etc. However, the first thing she did was teach the Beagle the “Do Nothing Exercise”. She reminded us that dogs spend more time just “doing nothing” in homes than almost any other activity. And we expect them to just be able to do nothing. If they can’t, it’s hard to get them adopted. This made complete sense, even though it really had never occurred to me. When watching the demonstration, I also realized how much Music to Calm your Canine Companion helps dogs just do nothing.  Watching Lulu learn how to do nothing and be rewarded for it was great entertainment for all. Other polite manners taught include “Sitting with Attention,” “Doorway Manners,” and “Take Treats Nicely”, something I still am teaching Gina.

There were so many more presentations that I really loved along with all of the fabulous networking opportunities. A huge thank you to Denise Quashie for her tremendous work in putting together such a wonderfully inspiring and well organized conference. I can hardly wait until next year’s Barkworld! And it may take me that long for Sanchez and Gina to work their way through all of the fun swag!

Gina is crazy about retrieving her new green textured Air Play ball from Petco! (part of the great swag from Barkworld)

     Receive a FREE DOWNLOAD from the Through a Dog’s Ear

Calm your Canine Companion Music Series

Simply click here, enter your email address and a link to the free download will be delivered to your inbox for you and your canine household to enjoy!