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Separation Anxiety And Your Dog: The Complete Guide

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Dog with separation anxiety reading a book on training methods

What is Separation Anxiety?

In Clinical Behavioral Medicine for Small Animals, Dr. Karen Overall defines dog separation anxiety as, “A condition in which animals exhibit symptoms of anxiety or excessive distress when they are left alone.” You might recognize the symptoms as any of these:

  • Drooling, panting, or salivating way more than usualdog with separation anxiety cowers in crate
  • Barking, whining, or howling
  • Pacing, often in an obsessive pattern
  • Attempting to escape from the crate or room
  • Destroying items in the home
  • Scratching at walls, doors, windows or floors
  • Chewing up household items
  • Urinating and Defecating
  • Coprophagia

Sounds like your pup huh? Don’t worry, we’ve got you, keep reading 🙂

20 years ago, no one had ever heard of separation anxiety in dogs. Today, it is widely known as one of the most common problems we experience with our beloved canines. And sadly, one of the main reasons that end-of-the-rope owners feel forced to give a dog up for adoption. But as the intelligent beings who’ve brought dogs in our homes, it is our responsibility to fix it (and we can!).

Our mission? Put you in touch with the solution: understand how your dog is trying to communicate with you and how to permanently rewire unwanted behavior patterns.

dog with separation anxiety gets cuddled dog in crate with separation anxiety gets soothed dog cured of anxiety cuddles with owner

What’s the Difference Between Separation Anxiety and Bad Behavior?

Bad behavior is your dog acting out before you leave, just so he can have your attention. Separation anxiety is a phobia: there’s actual fear behind the behavior.

How to know what’s what:

dog outside with no separation anxietyDogs are really smart. They live in our entirely human worlds, and by necessity have become so finely attuned to our schedules and patterns. So it’s really easy for our dogs to tell when we’re about to shut their world down, separate them from their pack, remove all sources of love. Humans call this leaving for work.

Knowing they’re about to be alone and dreading it, many dogs will do ANYTHING to get your attention. And that includes bad behavior. Even being reprimanded becomes a reward because they’ve got your attention.

In these cases, the canine behavior has a quality that we in the professional world call “naughtiness”. Just kidding. But you do know it when you see it; they won’t come when you call, they grab your shoe and run into the kitchen, maybe start digging in the yard.

There is not fear behind this behavior, that is the distinction. The remedy here is more training and careful discipline, and it is fairly easy to overcome.

But what if there is fear behind the misbehavior? Your dog might just have a full-blown case of separation anxiety. But that’s ok too, because we’re about to pinpoint the problem.

Other Potential Problems to Rule Out:

Puppy Destruction
Puppies chew things up. Their teeth are coming in and it’s so exciting and delicious to test them on your shoes! This behavior is almost always just age-related and not separation anxiety. Nothing to worry about.

Bored?
Canines need stimulations like all mammals. If you’ve left them with nothing to do, they’ll find something to do and you probably won’t like their choice nearly as much. If

dog with high anxiety in a yard

your dog doesn’t seem anxious, it’s probably just boredom/lack of exercise.

Excitement/Submission Urination
Dogs get really excited to greet us, some get too excited and lose control of their bladders. Or maybe pee when you discipline them. To identify if this just excitement/submissive urination, watch for submissive behavior: tucked tail between the legs, flattened ears and lowered head, hunching down low or displaying the belly. In all cases, this behavior is NOT anxiety-related.

Poor House Training
If your dog repeated urinates or defecates in the house, but shows no other signs of anxiety, his symptoms probably indicate an unfinished house training education.

Scent Marking
This almost falls under the category of unfinished house training, but I thought I’d give its own to distinguish a dog that’s deliberately urinating because of the need to mark its territory. It’s a slightly different behavior problem, but once again, unlikely related to a fear of being left alone.

Why Do Dogs Develop Separation Anxiety?

Dogs are pack animals. In their wild settings––evolutionarily where they’ve spent most of their lives––they are never alone and always stimulated and engaged.

meme about domesticated dogs anxious

Now imagine that creature, living your high-rise apartment and surrounded by none of those natural stimuli. (And in fact, immersed in only the confusing ones of honks and beeps and rings they can’t understand). Their perfect, immediately-adapted behavior to this strange world is a lot for us to ask of them. So it’s up to us, their intelligent, loving guardians, to make that situation as calm and happy as possible.

  • Notice: there’s a lot of anecdotal evidence to suggest that dogs adopted from a shelter are far more prone to separation anxiety than a puppy reared with the same family. It’s believed instability and/or the loss of a significant family member can cause this fear.
  • Aging dogs can also develop separation anxiety as their senses weaken and perceived stimuli decrease.

So how can we remedy this? Pay a ton of attention to any changes you make in your life––because your dog certainly is. Transitions, schedule changes, any shifts in your normal routine are some of the most common triggers for separation anxiety.

Common Triggers of Separation Anxiety:

  1. Change of Owner: Have you just brought a new pup home? From the shelter or breeder? A change in environment or family is a HUGE shift for a dog. Leaving everything they’ve known? It’s no wonder such a radical change can trigger separation anxiety.
  2. Change of Household: Moving houses is another common reason. Or perhaps they’ve started going to a boarding facility? Pay attention to any potential change in environment.
  3. Change in Family Membership: Did someone new just join the family? A baby or perhaps an elderly relative? Suddenly there’s someone new and they’re taking all the attention away from your dog!
  4. Change in Routine: The above are some common examples, but you know your household best. Has there been another change in schedule or structure, such as the loss of a family member or other pet that might cause this new anxiety?
  5. Boredom and a lack of exercise: Sometimes it can simply be boredom. Dogs need stimulation and excitement just like we do. Imagine how you’d feel left in a house with nothing to do for 8 hours. You might be tempted to start some trouble too!
  6. Being left alone for the first time: If you’ve got a new dog and leave for the first time, they’re probably going to be confused and unhappy, display all the symptoms we’ve talked about. In this case, it’s important to nip this behavior in the bud before it develops into full-blown paranoia.
  7. Suffering a Traumatic Event: A singular traumatic event where your dog is shocked or really afraid can also be a cause. Can you think of anything? Perhaps an unmonitored new time at a shelter or boarding kennel? This can be the trigger if you notice a radical change in behavior.

dog behavior and training through music

An important note: Dog separation anxiety is often unknowingly supported by owners. When we make a big show of leaving or arriving, we surround the event with a ton of charged emotion. This encourages our dog to be concerned too (since we’re clearly so excited for some reason!!!!) and thus creates stress around the whole structure of departure/arrival.

Solutions: How Can I Treat Separation Anxiety in My Dog?

dog yawning no separation anxiety

There are a lot of ways to begin working with your dog’s anxiety, ranging from easy solutions to more difficult work.

We’ll begin with the easy solutions––because who doesn’t love an easy solution––before moving into the more intensive ones.

5 Immediate Solutions:

Here’s an easy tip straight from our friend Cesar Milan: Stay Calm and Assertive

When it’s time to leave the house, don’t surround the event with a ton of emotion. Weeping, kissing, saying goodbye, excessive cuddles are all great things in their time and place, but not when you depart. Don’t exude guilt or sadness, instead, project the calm-assertive energy of an owner who is completely in control of the situation and has a plan of action. This reassures your dog that everything is happening as it should be and there is no reason to fear. You set the vibe, they listen.

Get ’em some exercise before work!

dog on beach with no separation anxietyThis is a great one for all parties actually. I won’t cite any studies for the importance of exercise (because at this point we don’t need science to confirm such an integral part of mammalian happiness), but a tired dog is much likelier to avoid trouble than an energetic one. End sessions 15-20 minutes before you leave so they have time to wind down. This training creates a pattern of reward/happiness around your departure because they can recognize they get to go play before! And perhaps even, that we are paying enough attention to consider them as part of our day.

Create a space of fun and safety:

  1. Dedicate a room, enclosed yard spot, or perhaps a crate, to be HIS space when you’re gone. There is safety in rituals and routines for dogs; they LOVE consistency.
      • Pro Tip: A laundry room is usually almost already dog-proofed and easy to convert.
  2. Make sure they have ample access to food and water (and ideally, a place to relieve themselves).
  3. Leave some of your clothing in the space to remind him of your presence. Our friends at Adaptil also make great calming pheromones for dogs left alone.
  4. Stimulate his mind! There are tons of great puzzling toys out there intended for dogs at home. We love a well-stuffed Kong.
  5. Shameless plug because how could I not: leave Through a Dog’s Ear music playing. It’s clinically demonstrated to relieve separation anxiety and is a beautifully calming part of your exit routine. I suggest starting the music when you’re home together––it works on humans too––then peacefully make your departure after your dog has laid down for a snooze.

Want more on crate training? Here’s our favorite YouTube on it:

Explore Creative Solutions:

dog together with no separation anxiety

Do you have a friendly elderly neighbor who’s home all day and could come let your pup out for a pee break? Perhaps a neighbor dog that gets along with yours could be kept in the same space. A friend who’s having the same problem could perhaps fix yours! Two dogs, one stone 😉 You’ll have to get creative here because it’s so situationally dependent, but your pup will thank you. They’re pack creatures and always have more fun with another packmate around. And of course, you can always pay to board them/find a doggie daycare.

Herbal and Homeopathic Medicine:

Drugs only ever mask the problem and not treat the solution. Plus who wants to be paying for gallons of CBD dog treats the rest of their life? Not me. That being said, many do find temporary relief with a lot of these options, and in combination with a calm training protocol, they can have a positive effect in temporarily assisting tranquility. If you think this would be a helpful part of your regimen, we recommend our friends over at Honest Paws.

Conditioning: How to Re-Wire Old Patterns

dog training separation anxiety

I’m sure you’ve noticed already, but all of these options are about creating new patterns. Conditioning is the technical term for this work, and there are varying degrees of difficulty and strategy that may be needed, depending on the degree of canine separation anxiety. For your ease, I’ll start with the simplest before moving into our two-day intensive program.

Establish a word or action

Create a pattern that becomes their new routine and tells your dog you’ll be back. When you authoritatively create routines, your pup takes on the same confidence. He’s ok being left alone, because he knows you’ll come back and trusts your leadership.

      • Choosing a word: Create a keyword or phrase that your pup associates with your calm, unemotional departure. Remember: dogs don’t understand language, but they do understand your energy communicated through words. Make sure your phrase conveys the tone you want. I would probably say “Goodbye Yara. I’ll be home after work.”

Mix Up Your Patterns

dog with separation anxiety holding a clock

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 your pup that you are leaving. If picking up your car keys is always a precursor to leaving, your dog 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 your pup guessing so that he starts to unscramble the patterns you’ve already set in place. This stops his anxiety from building to a fever pitch when he sees the first cue in the departure sequence. Humans are creatures of habit too, so it can be difficult, but think of it as a fun chance to try some variance in your life. 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.”

If you are training a new puppy or dog that hasn’t been left before, start practicing this method with very short departures initially. Think stepping out to get groceries. 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.

  • Training Tip: Want a protocol that walks you through it? Separation Anxiety training protocol by famed dog trainer Victoria Stilwell can be found here.

Try House Training Your Dog

Spend time training around the house. Show your dog how to behave in simple daily routines. Little increments and minutes, anything can be an opportunity for training. Instead of just going for a walk, ask him to sit at stop-walks, lay down when you’re having a coffee outside at Starbucks, wait for your OK to greet new people and dogs. Train your dog to sit and wait to be greeted by guests, move aside when you go to the refrigerator, and go to the bathroom on cue. Establishing these routines––and of course rewarding good behavior––helps create new patterns for house behavior that gives them strong guidelines, discipline, and confidence. Dogs want to be good and please us, we just have to show them how.

 

Ok, have you tried it all?? Then it’s time to dive into our reconditioning program:

9 Steps, 1 weekend: Reconditioning Protocol

1. Dedicate two, or even three days in severe cases, to having some time you can spend uninterrupted with your dog. (I know, I know, you’re busy and who has two days for a dog?? You do. Because the reward is a lovely balanced dog that fills your house with so much love. Best investment ever).

2. Prepare their den: this looks like a crate, or outdoor pen, or a dog-proofed room like the laundry room example.  dog cured of separation anxiety with music

3. Give your pup a chance to take care of any bodily functions outside, and then reenter the house together for 30 minutes of calm and close supervision. Introduce him to his beautiful new den with a happy vocal tone, treats, soft Through a Dog’s Ear playing, a stuffed KONG toy, good scents, and your clothing in it. Guide him inside and stay in the room together.

4. Initially, stay close and attentive, but not lasered on all his moves. Read a book, check email. Ignore any whining or fussiness. When he finally falls quiet, go over and calmly say hello, give affection. Then go back to your activity. Repeat many times: reward his behavior when he’s silent and not begging for attention. You’re teaching him that whining is not a rewarded behavior, and that you leave and return according to your own timeframe. He begins to understand: if you leave, you will return. During this time, it should only be you two in the house. He needs to learn that it’s ok to be alone.

5. Now, begin to step away, gradually increasing the distance between you. Leave the room and come back when he’s quiet. Go outside and return again under the same conditions (if you can fit this around your actual lived schedule and doing things, extra credit to you!). Eventually, you can wander around the house without upsetting your dog. He’s not finely tuned to your moves because he’s learning its random and not based on any behavior pattern of his. Therefore, he can’t make you react/come when he’s lonely. Every reentrance, greet him calmly and with love. Reward and tell ’em how good he is.

happy sleeping dog with no separation anxiety curled around an iCalmDog speaker

6. After an hour or so, take a break. Go outside for a pee and play time. Chase each other around and have some relaxed, untrained fun. Then go back inside and resume den training, following steps 4 and 5. This step is important because it clarifies the difference between training and play. He needs to know the difference between unstructured free time and disciplined work.

7. Day two: Continue to repeat steps 4 and 5 from the first day, but a little faster and with more distance this time. Follow your own intuition in determining length. Start to live your life, do chores around the house, but be sure to pop in frequently when he’s quiet and reward the good behavior. Dogs are smart and will very quickly learn they only get rewarded when they’re quiet and calm.

8. Keep increasing your distance. On day three or four, if he’s taking to the training well, try and step outside of the house. For short amounts of time initially. Return after 5 minutes and greet your dog, if he is quiet. You may lose a little momentum here as they are going to be more excited about your reentrance. But wait for quiet, then reward. It’s usually the first 20 minutes of separation that are most difficult. If it’s going well, continue varying times and distances. Remember to mix up the times so he doesn’t start anticipating your return. And of course plenty of outside breaks: young puppies will need every hour, older dogs can go for 3-4 hours, but try for more breaks during this training.

9. How’s it going? Are you stuck on some of these steps? If it’s not taking, you may have to spend longer amounts of time in each stage. Every dog is different and your own intuition will be the best guide for determining length in each stage. If you’re making absolutely no progress and your dog is freaking out, you just might need the personal help of a trained professional. But if it is going well, begin to live your life more normally, checking in and continuing to reward as often as possible with a modern schedule. Your dog, your family, and your clean rugs will thank you for this hard work in the long run. Cheers to you two! You just graduated separation anxiety academy!

 

 

Has your dog experienced separation anxiety? What have you found to help? Share your experiences in a comment below so I can improve this guide. Thanks for reading and sharing!

 

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

stop barking dog

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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Deepening the Human-Animal Bond Through Music

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The American Veterinary Medical Association describes the human-animal bond as
“A mutually beneficial and dynamic relationship between people and animals that is influenced by behaviors that are essential to the health and well-being of both. This includes, but is not limited to, emotional, psychological, and physical interactions of people, animals, and the environment.”

music for dogs

Sanchez and Gina lay by the piano every time I practice my concert repertoire. And, other times, I play music especially designed for dogs for them. There have been some very tender times involving music. But, a shared music experience with Gina in 2013 was one of the most connecting moments of my life. I experienced the human-animal bond at a profound and deep level. Time stood still as we listened to music together.

Saw Grass

I was with Gina in the compassion room of an ER veterinary clinic. Her lungs were quickly filling with fluid after eating a very thick saw blade grass. Yikes, the very sharp grass blade was over 9 inches!

There was a chance she wouldn’t survive the procedure. The vet suggested I prepare to say good-bye to her, just in case she didn’t make it.

I told the full story at my recent Canine Classical Concert. Click Gina’s picture to watch the short 90 second video. Find out what happened and hear the music that inspired us to deepen our connection.

It was such an emotional experience that it became the inspiration for Music for the Human-Animal Bond. The music creates well-being for all while supporting an emotional connection between people and their beloved dogs.

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Has music ever deepened the human-animal bond for you and your dog? Thanks for sharing your experiences in a comment below.

Main Photo Credit: Viviana Guzman

 

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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.

Sanchez See no Evil cropped

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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5 Stress Busting Tips for Dogs During The Holidays (with video)

December is my most stressful month of the year, and I’m not even much of a holiday shopper. Regardless, traffic intensifies, crowds expand, my workload increases, and my patience decreases.

The holiday season can be equally—if not more—stressful for our dogs. In addition to feeling the stress of their humans, holidays are also usually filled with changes to their daily routines and unfamiliar visitors, which can create anxious, stressed out dogs.

What Can You Do to De-Stress Your Dogs During The Holidays?

1. Routine
Dogs really thrive and build trust in us by keeping a familiar routine. If you normally walk them first thing in the morning, keep to that routine. If they eat dinner as soon as you come home from work, don’t delay their dinner by wrapping presents first. Remember, just one change in their routine can really throw them off. The holidays are usually filled with many changes.

2. Play Time
This is a good time of year to give them extra attention and playtime. Watch the very short video clip above. I created some extra fun playtime with Gina after some focused, high-distraction training. We were at a Guide Dogs for the Blind holiday party. ‘Career Change’ dogs were invited to play with the puppies in training for a fun game of Musical Chairs Down Dog – rules being that people couldn’t sit in a chair until their dogs were in a down stay. We celebrated our win at the end with a party. But, even if we hadn’t won, she still would have enjoyed some extra playtime with me.

Get Healthy, Get a Dog, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School reported on research with shelter animals.

“Human contact lowers their stress level, helping to calm them and make them more adoptable. The dogs that interacted with humans were found to have lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol in their saliva. The effect was noted across all breeds and ages and both genders. Another study found a similar benefit on cortisol levels for dogs as well as better scores on behavior tests with just 25 minutes of exercise and human contact a day.”

Gina Peanut Butter Kong

3. A Room of Their Own
While some dogs might be able to be calm around guests, others will benefit from being in a room of their own in a quiet part of the house. Give them a nice chewy treat or a stuffed kong to keep them entertained, and play some soothing music specifically designed to calm the canine nervous system. If they are crate trained, they could find great comfort in spending some peaceful time in their crate.

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4. Exercise
Like humans, dogs benefit from exercise, both for their health and behavior. Slacking off of their exercise routine will only make them more anxious and contribute to weight gain. Keeping them exercised will benefit you as much as them, especially if you exercise together.

Santa Sanchea Rabbi Gina with Gifts

5. Sound Therapy
While Sanchez and Gina, don’t know it’s December, I’m sure they feel my tension. As a canine music expert, I’ve learned how to relieve their stress (and mine) with music. The rearranged classical compositions of Through a Dog’s Ear have been clinically tested to reduce canine anxiety and have been successfully utilized by dog lovers world-wide. It’s equally soothing for 2-leggeds.

listen-samples-buster-headphonesHow do you help de-stress your canine household during the holidays? Thanks for sharing your stories in a comment below.

 

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Using a Sonic Inventory to Reduce Stress

 

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What is a sonic inventory?

Sound researcher Joshua Leeds and veterinary neurologist Susan Wagner co-authored Through a Dog’s Ear, the first book to examine the powerful effect of the human soundscape on canines. They suggest taking a “sonic inventory” of your environment. Sound is like air. We rarely notice these two common elements unless the air suddenly becomes polluted or the sound becomes chaotic. This sonic inventory is one way of becoming aware of the noise in your pet’s environment.

  1. Sit quietly for 30 minutes, pen and pad in hand.
  2. Tune into the sounds you hear inside your home and outside on the street-the hum of the fridge, the cycle prompt of the dishwasher, the beat of a dryer, the alarm clock, hair dryer, vacuum, television, computer sounds, text alerts, traffic, car alarms, children playing, music, etc.
  3. Notice your dog’s behavior. Does he actively respond to the sounds? Is there a lack of reaction, or an overreaction to sounds you take in stride? When TV, radio or music is playing, does your dog move closer to the source or away from it?
  4. Rate the sounds from one to ten, ten being the most disturbing, one the least noticeable. Use two columns-one for your pooch and one for yourself. The goal is to have the lowest numbers you can.
  5. Ask yourself how you can make your home a calmer, more peaceful place. Which sounds can you change? Which can you avoid, turn down, or mask? Often, just by listening, we become more sonically aware, an important first step.

Personally, I consider it my responsibility to be considerate of Sanchez and Gina‘s sound environment. I play music for them daily that is designed to calm the canine nervous system. When I occasionally want to blast my Zumba playlist, I make sure they are outside. I put them in a quiet room with a treat when I vacuum, and I don’t take them to public places with loud music playing.

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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Sound Therapy = Thunderstorm Remedy

It’s thunderstorm season. While I’ve read that 20% of dogs are thunder-phobic, the number may actually be higher, as it doesn’t include people who have never sought treatment for their thunder-phobic dogs. After all, who would have ever known that treatment could be as simple as sound therapy? Honestly, even I wouldn’t have believed it a few years back.

When the music of Through a Dog’s Ear went into clinical testing in 2004, we didn’t even test it on dogs with thunder-phobia. However, calming results were experienced by dogs with other sound-phobic issues. I have since learned from behavioral experts that when a dog is sound phobic in one area, it usually crosses over into many areas. So, it shouldn’t be so surprising that dogs who slept through fireworks while Through a Dog’s Ear music played also slept through thunderstorms.

Here’s what Pamela G. in Wales had to say about using sound therapy to treat thunder-phobia with her fearful dog….

“I found Calm your Canine Companion Vol. 1 last January as I was looking for something to soothe my new rescue foxhound who was very timid. I usually played it for her and my other pooch when I had to go but one day I decided to play it for her when there was a nasty (and loud) storm. I’m not really sure what happened, but the next thing I knew, I woke up to the stereophonic snoring of the dogs curled up on either side of me. Needless to say, it ended up being a very relaxing day for the 3 of us.”

Normally panic stricken during thunderstorms, Bean now snoozes to Through a Dog's Ear

And Mel S. about fell out of her chair when she found Bean snoozing to Music to Calm your Canine Companion …..

“No lie: Bean is sleeping ON THE FLOOR. DURING A THUNDERSTORM. I still can’t believe it. She is currently listening to Reverie on the “Calm Your Companion: Vol 2″ CD. In the year and a half I’ve had her, we’ve spent every thunderstorm either holding her or sitting next to her and petting her or having her pace around the room with her ears flattened to her head.” Read her full blog….

Our dream at Through a Dog’s Ear is to improve the lives of millions of dogs with sound therapy. We hate to see dogs suffer needlessly during thunderstorms. So we are offering our readers a Thunder Remedy special on the Calm your Canine music series. From July 19-25, purchase all three CD’s from the Calm your Canine Companion series for only $33.71. That’s a savings of 25% off!

100% Satisfaction Guarantee! We unconditionally guarantee your satisfaction with Through a Dog’s Ear products. If, for any reason, you are dissatisfied with CDs purchased through our website, simply return them and materials within 30-days of purchase. Please include your receipt for a full refund (minus shipping charges) or exchange. CD’s must be returned in original packaging in like-new condition.

How are your dogs during thunderstorms? If they are thunder-phobic, what remedies have you tried? Thanks for sharing your comments.

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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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10 Tips for Keeping your Dog Safe and Calm on July 4th

Lisa and Sanchez July 4

July 4th is around the corner, along with the fireworks that inevitably come with this holiday. Almost all humans with canines in the United States declare this day the worst day of the year for their dogs. Veterinarians say that July 3rd is usually the most trafficked day in their offices, with clients coming in to get drugs for their dogs.  A few years ago, I found a lost dog on the 4th of July. He was obviously a well fed, groomed, and trained dog that escaped his yard when he heard the fireworks. When I called our local Humane Society, I was informed that it is the busiest time of the year for them, as more dogs are found wandering loose on July 4th than any other day of the year in the U.S.

10 Tips for providing a safe July 4th for your Canine Household: (Please note that tips 9, and 10 require purchasing items ahead of time.)

1. Make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise earlier in the day.

2. Keep your dogs inside during fireworks, preferably with human companionship. If it’s hot, air conditioning will help. Bringing your dogs to a fireworks display is never a good idea.

3. 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 in the bathtub during windstorms.) If your dog is comfortable in a crate, that is a good option.

4. If possible, keep the windows and curtains closed.

5. Make sure all your dogs are wearing ID tags with a properly fitting collar. (Dogs have been known to become Houdini around the 4th of July.)

6. Leave your dog something fun to do – like a frozen Kong filled with his favorite treats.

Using sensory enrichment to calm dogs:

7. Sound Therapy: Play Music to Calm your Canine Companion Vol. 1, 2, and 3 by Through a Dog’s Ear. It is most effective when you first play the music well before the fireworks start, at a time the dog is already feeling peaceful and relaxed. He will begin to associate the music with being calm and content. Then play the music a couple of hours before the fireworks start and continue to play through bedtime. The music doesn’t need to be loud to be effective as it has been clinically demonstrated to calm the canine nervous system. Listen to free sound samples. Two years ago, I received a heart warming email from a woman who told me that it was the first 4th of July that she didn’t need to drug her dog, thanks to the music of Through a Dog’s Ear. On previous years, he had jumped out of windows. She said, “It was like Dog Ambien! Dambien!” Read the full story

8. Sound Therapy combined with Desensitization: The Canine Noise Phobia series (CNP) consists of four CD’s that can be used individually or as a set: Fireworks, Thunderstorms, City Sounds, and Calming. CNP is an innovative desensitization training tool that combines three distinctive elements for the treatment and prevention of sound-sensitivities and noise-phobias:

    • progressive sound effects (distant/close)
    • specially-designed psychoacoustic music (Through a Dog’s Ear)
    • reward-based reinforcement protocols (Victoria Stilwell)

Here’s what Nancy Weller said after using CNP Fireworks:

“I am preparing for New Years Eve. The most skittish of the greyhounds already went to bed. My boy is just game for everything. Tonight, we are relaxing to the Phobia Series Fireworks. He fights hard to stay awake. The subtle fireworks make him stare at the speaker. Then not. 75+ lb brindle boy, sleeping like a baby. Mom might have to curl up too.”

9. Tactile: There are two canine wraps on the market that reportedly help sound phobic dogs. The original Anxiety Wrap was invented by professional dog trainer Susan Sharpe, CPDT-KA. The patented design uses acupressure and maintained pressure to reduce stress. The thundershirt is also a wrap for your dog that provides gentle, constant pressure. Their website reports that over 85% of Thundershirt users see significant improvement in noise anxiety symptoms. Most dogs respond with the very first usage; some need 2-3 usages before showing significant improvement.

10. Scent: Canine Calm, an all-natural mist from Earth Heart™ Inc., can help dogs relax and cope more effectively with loud noises and other stressful situations. Directions on their website say to spray Canine Calm onto your hands and massage the dog’s outer ears or abdomen. Or lightly mist the air behind your dog’s head, inside the travel crate or car, or directly onto bedding or clothing.

Do you have any additional tips for helping keep dogs calm and safe on this noisy holiday? Thanks for clicking comment below and sharing your suggestions. Also, feel free to share how your dogs have acted during previous July 4th holidays.

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!