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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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7 Simple Tips for Calming Your Dog During Fireworks

BWP_Gina_Flag_Lisa_Piano_PhotoCredit

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.

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

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.

ThinkstockPhotos-479639911

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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iCalmDog Contest Winner(s) AND a Gift For All

I’m overwhelmed with all 100 responses on my blog post. Readers share how their dogs would benefit from iCalmDog, the natural solution to canine anxiety… anywhere!

  • at home when (no longer) alone
  • canine massage
  • car trips
  • desensitization to fireworks fear
  • hotel visits
  • overnight stays anywhere
  • replaces anti-anxiety medication
  • veterinary appointments
  • when moving to a new home

The blog comments have been remarkable. JJ Jul said, “My dog has severe separation anxiety, but when I play the iCalmDog sound samples online she calms almost immediately. That is almost a miracle as she does not calm for the myriad of things we have tried.”

Heather Schroder said, “I am a Fear Free Certified Professional, and I use my cat and dog speakers in every exam room! I have one of each (cat/dog) and a a couple of non-iCalm loaded music speakers, and the iCalms work much better! Every time I come back to work after a day off I have to track down my speakers for my use! The cat one is usually in the cat room, and the dog one could be anywhere, from radiology, to surgery, to the treatment area.”

My heart was so warmed reading the comments that it was impossible to limit this to one iCalmDog winner.

Drum Roll Please… Free iCalmDogs go to:

  1. Frank Hashek who posted this comment, We are still “old school”, using the CDs, but I am thinking about going to the iCalm. I do a lot of rescue foster work, usually hosting two or three fosters in addition to our own three rescue dogs  we’ve adopted. I work with Northern Breeds, Akitas and Herding Breeds. I take in dogs that have emotional and/or behavioral problems. Through A Dog’s Ear music has been an enormous help with the troubled dogs.
  2. Erica Seaver-Engel who shared it on social media channels and posted this comment, “An iCalmDog 3.0 would help our two rescues deal with thunderstorms a bit more calmly. In addition, I work with prison inmates training puppies for eventual service dog work – the iCalmDog 3.0 will be an additional tool we can use to work through separation anxiety, encourage calm behavior amidst excitement / distractions, and sleeping through the night. Thank you for this opportunity, and we look forward to winning an iCalmDog 3.0!”

But, if you didn’t win a free iCalmDog 3.0, don’t despair. While I’m not able to give away 100 free iCalmDogs, I really wanted all the dogs to have one, so I’ve created a way for everyone to win!

Everyone Is a Winner! iCalmDog Discounted 25% Today Only!

One day only… 5/11/17. USE COUPON CODE “EveryDogWins” at checkout to receive the fully customized iCalmDog. For today only, save $22.50! The iCalmDog Standard package is only $67.45 today, but customers tell us the value of a calm dog is priceless.

If you want to take advantage of the one-day-only discount, remember to enter “EveryDogWins” in the coupon code box at checkout. Discount applies only to iCalmDog 3.0 standard model. Ends at 11:59 PM PST 5/11.

Happy zzz’s to Buster!

 

 

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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!

 

 

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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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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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7 Tips for Calming Your Dog During Fireworks

BWP_Gina_Flag_Lisa_Piano_PhotoCredit

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

BWP_GinaStickJoyPhotoCredit

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.

listen-samples-buster-headphones

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.

ThinkstockPhotos-479639911

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 Simple New Year’s Resolutions To Improve Your Dog’s Life

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When we think of New Year’s resolutions, we often think of changes in our lives we’ve been trying to make for years. Often they are massive changes. But, in reality, sometimes the smallest changes can make the biggest difference over time. The same can be said for changes we make in our dog’s lives. These five resolutions are simple and will be enjoyed by you just as much as Buster. And you will be improving both of your lives in the process.

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1. Take a Sonic Inventory

Those of us who love our dogs often assume that our environment is the best for them. However, sometimes it requires a different way of thinking. What works for us doesn’t always work best for our dogs. Sound is like air. We rarely notice these two common elements unless the air suddenly becomes polluted or the sound becomes chaotic.

The sonic inventory is one way of becoming aware of the noise in your dog’s environment and finding out which ones are causing stress to your dogs. Simply sit on your sofa with pen and paper in hand. Jot down all of the sounds you hear and rate them from one to 10. Observe your pet’s response to these sounds. Ask yourself how you can make your home a calmer, more peaceful place, for yourself and for your dogs and cats. Often, just by listening, we become more sound aware, an important first step.  Small changes made in your sonic environment can often make a big difference in your dog’s behavior.

Sanchez Gina for Blog

2. Enjoy a Silent Meditation Hike

Have you ever walked with your dog in total silence? It’s very interesting trying to observe the world from their point of view. Allow Buster to stop and sniff as much as he wants. Taking in the scents gives him all sorts of information and provides him with enrichment. Take a break with Buster. Just sit still without any verbal communication and enjoy all the sights and smells. You’ll be amazed how bonding time in nature is with your furry friend when you aren’t speaking any words.

3. Teach Your Dog a New Trick

No matter how young or old your dog, she will love learning new tricks. Learning new things provides them with much needed mental stimulation. Use a clicker and positive reinforcement training, and it will be just as fun for you as your pup, as you can see in the short, fun video above. And, who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? Of course you can. Sanchez cries if I’m late getting to his training every night. He may be retired, but he still collects his compensation for a job well done.

Dog tug of war

4. Teach Him to Tug

Tug is a great exercise for dogs and is often a great stress reliever. Pat Miller, training editor of The Whole Dog Journal, wrote about the benefits of playing tug with your dog (when they follow the rules). A good game of tug provides:

  • a legal outlet for roughhousing
  • strengthens bonds
  • builds healthy relationships
  • offers incredibly useful reinforcement potential
  • redirects inappropriate use of teeth
  • teaches self-control
  • creates a useful distraction
  • builds confidence

Just make sure that you teach a release word and randomly have him release the tug toy throughout your playtime together.

5. Give Her a Massage

Dogs reduce our stress. Canine massage is a way of giving back to them so that we reduce theirs. Veterinarian Narda Robinson, Director at Colorado State University’s Center for Comparative and Integrative Pain Medicine, teaches classes on canine massage. She believes that administered with science knowledge, canine massage can help dogs recover from injuries, illness and stress.

Do you have new year’s resolutions for your pets? Thanks for sharing them in a comment below.

Sanchez, Gina and I wish you and your 4-legged family a happy and calm new year! Thank you for being part of our community of sound aware dog lovers.

 

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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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5 Surprising Ways to Reduce Stress in Your Canine Household

Hear no Evil

April was National Stress Awareness Month. As humans we have a multitude of choices regarding ways to reduce our overall stress level, including taking yoga classes, drinking green tea, meditating, keeping a gratitude journal, etc. But, how about our dogs? We love them and bring them into our human environment, with all of its crazy sounds and sights, and we say “adjust.”

Some do.

Many don’t.

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.

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What is a sonic inventory?

  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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