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Audio Books for Dogs… Calming or Confusing?

I’d share almost anything with my soul dog, Gina… my bed (by invitation), my food (when it’s good for her), my music, and so much more.

But, my Audible subscription?


I REALLY LOVE Audible…  for me. My reading habits have changed over the years, and now I listen to more books than I read. But, my listening titles are for me only. When Gina and I are in the car, I listen to my book on headset when driving while she enjoys her iCalmDog playing in her crate. When she’s home alone, I prefer to leave her with music playing that is specially designed for dogs, rather than audio books that were intended to be enjoyed by 2-leggeds.

Audio Books for Dogs claims to be helpful for anxious pets that don’t like being left at home alone. NPR recently asked me whether I thought audio books are calming for dogs. They included a very short clip of my answer on WAIT, WAIT… DON’T TELL ME! While I was honored to be interviewed on NPR, my reply was much more extensive and inclusive than what aired.

            (Click to hear and/or read all three stories.)

I think it’s fabulous that dog lovers are becoming aware how their sound environment affects their dogs. But, I believe that anxious dogs listening to audio books when home alone could easily backfire and actually cause anxiety. Dogs could experience sensory confusion when they can’t smell or see the person reading the book. Also, lower frequencies with slowed down tempi calm the canine nervous system. Higher frequencies charge the canine nervous system. A woman with a high voice range who gets animated at a peak in the story and starts speaking in louder, shorter tones, could actually stimulate the canine nervous system… not usually a desired behavior for an anxious dog left home alone.

I’m assuming the concept of audiobooks for dogs came from recent reading programs at shelters where children read to shelter dogs. That’s a very different scenario than a dog who is home alone hearing a voice but not being able to smell or see a person. When someone is sitting and reading to a shelter dog, it likely will be very calming to the pup. There’s nothing that would cause sensory confusion. And, many of these programs involve children reading. The dog’s presence often calms them, they are looking at their book instead of making direct eye contact with the shelter dog, and that in turn allows the dog to feel more comfortable. Once relaxed and calm, they’ll often feel confident enough to approach and sniff the child and may even ask for physical contact. They are engaging their senses rather than being put in a situation that could confuse them.

Audio books for my Lab Gina? Sure, if I’m reading to her, but not when it’s a voice foreign to her and belongs to a person she can’t see, smell or sniff. But, that’s ok. When I leave her home, her iCalmDog keeps her company and she does just fine.

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High Tech Gadgets for Pets (Win an iCalmDog)

Italian Greyhound rescue Cyrus

The technology age may have been created by humans, but why shouldn’t pets also benefit? After all, Buster’s iPawd may relieve his canine anxiety issues, and Fluffy’s litter box could actually save her life.

4 High-Tech Gadgets for Pets:

Health Meter cat litter is not only biodegradable, but acts as an illness detection and odor eliminator. The litter actually changes color if your cat has any sign of urinary stone or kidney problems, bladder infection, or liver disease.

Tagg the Pet Tracker finds your lost dogs GPS tracking.  Tagg receives alerts and finds your pet on a map. And with their new activity tracking, you can also see how much exercise Fido is getting.

Speaking of exercise, you can now see how much activity your pooch gets when you are away from home. DogTek Eyenimal Pet Video Camera is the world’s first pet video camera. The small camera attaches to your dog’s collar and can capture up to two and a half hours of video. Besides monitoring their activity level, it could be very interesting to see the world from your dog’s perspective.


iCalmDog is the portable solution to canine anxiety… anywhere! The portable, compact player plays music clinically demonstrated to relieve canine anxiety issues. The small device with fabulous sound quality fits in the palm of your hand. But, as you can see in the main picture above of Italian Greyhound rescue Cyrus hugging his iCalmDog, you may not be able to get it away from your dog. You have your iPhone and iPod, now Buster has is own iPawd. Want to win an  iCalmDog for your dog or your favorite rescue organization?

Here’s how to win the… 


icalm_handEnter a comment below and tell us where your dog would go with his/her own iCalmDog. Or tell us how your fave rescue org would benefit. You will automatically be entered to win an iCalmDog by Through a Dog’s Ear. For additional chances to win, share this giveaway on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest, and leave a separate comment for each social network. Winners will be chosen by random drawing and will be announced in a future blog post by Lisa Spector. Good luck!

(Please note: Contest is open to Lisa’s blog subscribers with a U.S. mailing address. If you purchase an iCalmDog 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. Prize value = $79.95)

Photo Credit of Cyrus hugging his iCalmDog in bed: Lori Brown

Delivering Calm, four paws at a time…

Receive a FREE DOWNLOAD from the Calm your Canine Companion music series when you sign up for the Through a Dog’s Ear newsletter and/or Lisa’s Blog. 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!

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10 Dog Training Tips

January is National Train your Dog Month. My readers know that I’m an advocate of humane, positive, science based dog training. Every Tuesday on the Through a Dog’s Ear Facebook page is “Training Tip Tuesday”.  I ask fans and training experts to chime in with their training tips. Here are some from earlier this week:

  1. “When dealing with behavior issues, remember to look at daily sources of stress in your dog’s life and start with a de-stress or relaxation process before you begin tackling the problems. Much like us, ongoing stress or over-stimulation is not healthy for our dogs either!” Michelle Payson, owner of That’s My Dog Professional Dog Training in Douglas, MA.
  2. “Look for and reward behaviors that you like and want to see again. Behaviors that are rewarded are repeated.”  Canine Minds and Manners Professional Dog Training in Alberta, Canada
  3. “Remember that EVERY interaction that you have with your pet is training and that most pets will interpret ANY attention from you as a reward, even if you think of it as negative attention” Not Home Alone Pet, Livestock, and House Sitting in San Dimas, California.
  4. “Focus on what you want your pet to do, instead of what you don’t want him to do. Don’t like the barking at the front door? What do you want instead? Work towards that! It changes your focus completely.” Shared by fan Karey Harris.
  5. “Ignore or manage undesirable behaviors, and reward and/or reinforce desirable behaviors!” A comment from fan Sallee Autumn.
  6. Click here to read “50 ways to Use your Kong”, a fabulous article written by trainer Robin Sockness, owner of My Best Buddy Dog Training in Sharpsburg, GA.
  7. “When introducing new behaviors with most cats, it’s best to train before meals. When training new behaviors with high energy dogs, it’s best to do training sessions after a short period of exercise. Both of these tips will help the dog & cat to be more focused during a training session” From Amy of in North Carolina.
  8. “Loose leash walking – If we let our dogs leave the house in an excited state, loose leash walking might be difficult.” Here’s a great post by trainer Lupe Matt on the subject. (And you’ll get a good laugh out of the Boxer’s reaction in the video when he’s asked if he wants to go for a walk.)
  9. “So, how long do I need to use food when training?” is an informative post by trainer Stacy Hiebert Greer of Dallas, TX.
  10. “Accept your dog as is… a social creature, a companion animal. Be realistic in your goals and fair in your expectations. Train away the things that you absolutely can not live with and never, ever underestimate a dogs potential, based on your own preconceived notions.”  Susan Gleeson, owner of Center for Heeling

Do you have any dog or cat training tips you can share? Thanks for posting them in a comment below and sharing your thoughts on these training tips. Happy training!

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How to Calm Dogs During the Holidays

December is my most stressful month of the year, and I’m not even much of a holiday shopper. (In fact, I make a commitment to not even enter a shopping mall between Thanksgiving and Christmas.) But, regardless, traffic intensifies everywhere I drive, crowds expand wherever I go, my workload increases, and my patience decreases.

The holiday season can be equally—if not more—stressful for our pets. In addition to feeling the stress of their humans, holidays are also usually filled with changes to their daily routines, which can create anxious pets. Cats in particular are creatures of habit and thrive on consistency.

While my dogs, Sanchez and Gina, don’t know that it’s December, I’m sure they feel my tension. As a canine music expert, I’ve learned how to relieve their stress with music. I developed Through a Dog’s Ear––clinically tested music that has been calming thousands of dogs worldwide, while also relieving anxiety issues—separation anxiety, sound phobias, fear, excessive barking, etc. The Calm your Canine Companion music series is clinically demonstrated to calm the canine nervous system. It’s sound therapy for dogs!

As humans, we can drink green tea, do yoga, meditate , and read inspirational material to balance our nervous systems. But, our pets are dependent upon us to provide a peaceful environment for them, as that can shape their health and behavior.

Canine music therapy can help provide that balance. Classical music has already been proven to calm dogs. The specially arranged classical compositions on the Through a Dog’s Ear recordings help calm the canine nervous system via tone, tempo, and pattern.

  1. Tone – Lower frequencies calm the canine (and human) nervous system. The piano arrangements are often played lower than originally written.
  2. Tempo – Compositions have been slowed down significantly to 40 to 60 BPM (beats per minute) causing the dogs to entrain to the music. Due to the natural process of entrainment, the heartbeat, breath, and brainwaves slow down to match the external periodic rhythm.
  3. Pattern – Complex patterns that inspire active listening are taken out and patterns are simplified. The listener is in passive hearing mode (rather than active listening) and passive hearing techniques facilitate relaxation.

And honestly, it’s not only calming for the dogs (and cats, in many cases). It’s equally relaxing and enjoyable for people, as evidenced by the comments I’ve received from people who have used it to relieve stress in their animals. 

As co-founder of Through a Dog’s Ear and the pianist on the CD series, it warms my heart that the music is improving the lives of dogs and their people worldwide. It is equally satisfying that people are becoming more sound-aware as they witness their pet’s reaction to the music. Sound is a potent energy that is not to be taken for granted – it has profound effects on all species.

In addition to their auditory canal, we can nurture all of their senses with natural calming products and techniques. There are beautiful aromatherapy products on the market that are calming for people and their pets. I personally use the Comfort and Calming aromatherapy sprays of The Scent Project, created by Nancy Tanner, Certified Professional Dog Trainer. The delightful mist sprays work well in crates, on dog beds, and in the house for you to enjoy as well.

Also, take extra time during the holidays to just let your dogs sniff and smell outdoors. Walking dogs for exercise is, of course, always beneficial. But, sometimes letting them be still and sniff to their heart’s content is very calming and joyous for them. Sanchez is recovering from an injury—while his physical abilities are temporarily limited, his nose is getting a great workout. And while he’s spending more time sniffing, I am experiencing a greater sense of calm and stillness at the other end of the leash.

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How to Calm Older Dogs with Music [a case study]

I’ve always celebrated all of my dog’s birthdays and remember them all to this day. No big birthday cake, but I always do something special to honor the occasion. It usually involves a new toy, treats, and extra time with my birthday dog enjoying an outdoor activity together.

According to a study by the Purina Pet Institute, 43 percent of dog owners celebrate birthdays, while 29 percent celebrate their cat’s birthdays. If that’s accurate, them I’m actually in the minority.

Sanchez turns nine years old today ~ May 17, 2012. How could he possibly be nine already? He  was just a puppy yesterday, wearing his “Puppy in Training for Guide Dogs for the Blind” green jacket. Even though he was bred and raised to be a guide dog, he was “career changed” at 18 months of age, for being “too much dog” and I was then able to adopt him.

He’s taken the term “career changed” quite literally, as he’s since had a multitude of careers, including agility, musical canine freestyle, acting, student greeter, and mascot/ dog model for Through a Dog’s Ear.

Sanchez was quite the rambunctious, highly energetic puppy. So much so that he was the inspiration for Through a Dog’s Ear. When he was four months old, I took him to a seminar taught by sound researcher Joshua Leeds. I was curious to learn about psychoacoustics, the study of how sound and music affects the human nervous system. Joshua’s application-specific soundtracks were being used in homes, clinics, classrooms, and neuro-developmental centers around the world. Although I attended Joshua’s workshop so that I could learn how to bring his psychoacoustic principles back to my music school, little did I know that I would also be bringing them into the canine world.

After Joshua’s lecture, I started trying the same psycho-acoustic principles on Sanchez. I wondered if he would calm down if I slowed down and simplified Bach and lowered the frequencies. Did I mention that Sanchez was a bundle of energy? It was fascinating watching how reactive Sanchez was to this specialized music and how quickly he calmed down when the music with the right prescription of beats per minute, frequency range, and simplification were played.

No matter what his age or career, one thing that has remained constant throughout the years is my love for him and the healthy sound environment I provide. He goes with me almost everywhere, but when I leave Sanchez and Gina, they listen to Music to Calm your Canine Companion.

If Sanchez had a tag line, it would be “It’s All About Me”. And this is how you benefit from it being all about Sanchez on his 9th birthday. Join our virtual pawty and save $9 until May 19th….

Sanchez on the eve before his 9th Birthday

Birthday Special Details:

  • Enter coupon code “Sanchez9” at checkout
  • Good at only
  • Applies to any TADE CD’s
  • Three CD minimum purchase
  • Limit of one Sanchez Birthday Special per customer
  • Add each CD to cart individually for full $9  discount
  • Does not apply to downloads or the Canine Noise Phobia series

Enjoy Through a Dog’s Ear music with your canine family at an irresistible price. And please join me in woofing Señor Sanchez a very happy 9th birthday!

Do you celebrate your dog’s birthday? If you don’t know the actual birthday, do you celebrate your adoption date or make up a date? Thanks for letting us know with a comment below.

Have you tried Sound Therapy for your dogs? Through a Dog’s Ear is the first music clinically demonstrated to calm the canine nervous system.

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!

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Are Senior Dogs More Sound Sensitive?


As I approach the big 50, I notice that I don’t have the same tolerance for loud environments that I did 20 or even 10 years ago. You rarely find me in Costo, clubs, or even loud restaurants anymore. Partly due to the crowds, but mostly due to the loud sound environment. I go into sensory overload and shut down quickly, meaning I can’t focus, feel stressed, my body tenses, and I’m quickly looking for the exit sign to a quieter environment where I can breathe peacefully. Similarly, if I’ve had a very stressful day, I want to come home and either have complete silence (except for the sounds of the wildlife in my remote home setting), or turn on music with simple sounds, such as the music from Through a Dog’s Ear.

Currently, I have two dogs, both Labrador Retrievers. Sanchez is nearly eight years old and Gina is approaching 2 years. When I observe them, I notice that Sanchez doesn’t have the same tolerance for noise that he used to when he was younger. Growing up as a puppy in training for Guide Dogs for the Blind, he was socialized a great deal in public places and exposed to a wider variety of sound environments than most pet dogs. During my year as his volunteer puppy raiser, I brought him to six San Francisco Opera performances, and seven San Francisco Symphony concerts. He snoozed through most of it, except for a few startling sounds coming from the opera stage. When he was five years old, he acted the part of Helen Keller’s dog in the play “The Miracle Worker.” Although most people were impressed with his well-mannered talents on stage, what I found more remarkable was his calm, focused, confident demeanor back stage during the food fights and throwing of dishes on stage. Due to his breeding and early training, this just didn’t phase him. A few years later, I’m not sure I would say the same.

At 22 months, Gina is a bundle of happy energy and I’ve never seen her go into sensory overload, although there are many dogs her age that could and certainly do. I still reward her when she stays calm and focused on me during loud man made sounds, i.e. ambulance sirens, motorcycles, etc.; I can expose her to more stimulating sound environments without worrying about stressing her nervous system.

In writing this blog, I reflected on first conceiving the idea for creating music to help improve the quality of dogs lives (and their humans). It was during the final weeks of Byron’s life. A Golden Retriever who took his last breath a few months before his 14th birthday in 2003, he was my soul dog. Byron brought me into the dog world and I would have done anything for more time with him. Although Through a Dog’s Ear wasn’t yet created, it really was his passing that opened up the space for its birth.

Two years of clinical testing took place before we released our first CD, Music to Calm your Canine Companion Vol. 1. We’ve added an additional four CD’s to our music series since then, and dog lovers world-wide have played Through a Dog’s Ear music for their senior dogs. It has helped calmed dogs pre- and post-surgery, as well as aided in their healing process during recovery from an illness. Even dogs that have lost some of their hearing later in life, lie down and breathe easier when the music is playing.

Through a Dog’s Ear music is psychoacoustically designed to support you and your dog’s compromised immune or nervous system function. When the immune or nervous system is heavily taxed, as it so often is in senior dogs, 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 over stimulating sound environments. The “nutrients” of sound are needed the most when life energy is at a low ebb or when neuro-developmental (including sensory) issues are present. To facilitate maximum sound intake while conserving energy output, we have created the method of “simple sound”.

Have you noticed a change in how your dogs react to sound as they mature? Thanks for clicking comment below and sharing your story.

I am offering my blog readers a free download from our latest release, Music to Calm your Canine Companion, Vol. 3. Simply click here and 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. Click here to listen to sound samples.

Lisa Spector is a concert pianist, Juilliard graduate, canine music expert, and Facebook coach. By combining her passion for music with her love of dogs, she co-created Through a Dog’s Ear, the first music clinically demonstrated to relieve anxiety issues in dogs. She shares her home and her heart with her two adorable “career change” Labrador Retrievers from Guide Dogs for the Blind, Sanchez and Gina. Follow Lisa’s blog here.

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Does music therapy really work to calm dogs during fireworks?


photo: Kitty Perlsweig and Sanchez

I am very deeply touched to read how Through a Dog’s Ear music helped calm so many dogs on their worst day of the year in the United States, July 4th. Phase two of clinical testing was purposely started just before July 4th, 2005. We were very curious to learn if psychoacoustic changes made to classical music would be calming enough to allow dogs to relax and even sleep during fireworks. Here’s what I’ve read on our Facebook page. Thank you Jenny-Lyn, Sonya, Lauri, and Marcia for sharing your stories on Facebook and for all that you do to improve the lives of dogs.

Your music has been a God-send for our 2 Saint Bernards! I used a phermone plug-in to help for awhile, but the music has been the BEST thing we’ve ever had. One of my dogs has seizure disorder and it helps aleviate stress (for all of us) during seizures. Thank You!

Jenny-Lyn Brown, Bangor, Maine

We programed your music to play two times in our facility to help the pup guests through the period of time that the fireworks were going off – There was hardly a peep- Everyone slept well – Thank you so much – Oh- our family pups slept well too.
Sonya Mandel, Pleasant Hill, Oregon


My Through a Dog’s Ear CD really helped my dogs this weekend too. While we work on counter-conditioning & desensitization before hand, it always helps to have a backup plan! My girl cuddled up in her safe spot in the back of our closet, while her baby brother stood watch for her in the hallway.
Lauri Bowen-Vaccare, Bowling Green, Kentucky


Last night was Tori’s second 4th with us (she’s a rescue) and the big booms really worried her. (Shane kept looking for ducks falling from the sky and Amelia slept through it 🙂 I turned on our big fan and put on one of Lisa’s CDs and Tori fell asleep! Thank you Lisa!!!
Marcia Lucas, Wheaton, IL

If you played Through a Dog’s Ear music or any other music that helped keep your dogs calm during fireworks or thunderstorms, please comment below and let us know what happened. Thanks for sharing.