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The Creation of the Canine Noise Phobia Series

I had the pleasure of meeting Victoria Stilwell in January 2011 at Clicker Expo. She had previously played Through a Dog’s Ear music on It’s Me or the Dog and it successfully helped the dogs get and stay calm. So I was eager to give her our latest release, Music to Calm your Canine Companion Vol. 3.

Gina was with me at Clicker Expo, and I was struck by the calm gentleness in which Victoria engaged with her. It was delightful just sitting on the floor with a group of her Positively trainers, with Gina in the middle soaking up all the attention and belly rubs.

Lisa Spector, Victoria Stilwell, Joshua Leeds at APDT Conference

We casually discussed the idea of collaborating on a project, and then continued that conversation in conference calls with Joshua Leeds, co-founder of Through a Dog’s Ear. We wanted to create music that included training tools and started exploring several different common canine behavior problems.

Noise phobia (fear of certain sounds) came into the conversation, as it is a very common problem with dogs and only increases with occurrences as dogs age. The symptoms of a dog suffering from fireworks or thunderstorm phobia can be as mild as panting and pacing and as severe as being so panicked that they jump out of a window. Also, dogs who live in an urban environment are subjected to many human sounds that frighten them. Even dogs who live in the suburbs or country can develop a phobia to ashe says “a fear memory can be caused by either a past abusive experience, or by introducing a new thing or a new sensation too quickly.”  Any sound that is introduced too quickly and too loudly to a dog can create a fear memory.

In her years of training, both on and off the air, Victoria has encountered a multitude of dogs with debilitating sound phobia anxieties. Even though the Music to Calm your Canine Companion series has already helped thousands of dogs with sound phobias by calming their nervous system, we wanted to created a training tool that could also help in the prevention of sound phobias.

After much discussion, we decided to create the Canine Noise Phobia series. By combining three distinctive elements, it can be used both 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)

The CD’s come with an 18 page booklet that includes four pages of training instruction written by Victoria. For best results, it is important that people follow the very simple training instructions. Click for sound samples of the tracks, with sounds ranging from mild and distant to close and heavy, and the clinically tested music underneath. We are very eager to hear how your dogs respond to the training combined with the sound tracks. Thanks for adding your comments below.


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How to Calm Your Dog During Fireworks

According to veterinary behaviorist Bonnie Beaver, 20% of dogs of all ages and breeds suffer from noise phobia so severe that their people seek professional help for them. My guess is that percentage goes way up if you included dogs who are never seen by professionals. When our bio-acoustic research team originally went into phase two clinical testing on music that is now known as Through a Dog’s Ear, we purposely started testing just before July 4th in the U.S., due to the huge number of dogs who experience anxiety when they hear fireworks. After all, they are hearing loud, random booms that they rarely hear others time of the year. They can’t orient the sound, and they don’t know if the sounds signify upcoming danger.

Humans hear frequencies for 20 to 20,000 Hz (how fast a sound wave is traveling  – one Hz is one wave cycle per second). The high range for dogs is at least 50,000 Hz. So they are hearing the fireworks significantly louder than we are. No wonder that more dogs escape their yards on July 4th than any other day of the year. The loud booms confuse them and they will do anything to seek safety and comfort.

Sound therapy to the rescue. While it doesn’t work on every dog, 80% of the dogs in the home environment who went through clinical testing exhibited signs of calming when listening to music of Through a Dog’s Ear (specifically Music to Calm your Canine Companion). Since our release in 2008, I have personally heard from hundreds of people in the U.S. who have replaced drugs with sound therapy on July 4th and the days preceeding.

Here are some of the comments and stories I received this week:

“I put the CD in at around 9:00 knowing the fireworks would be starting around 9:30. So down the basement, with Music to Calm your Canine Volume 1 playing, it couldn’t have been better! Thank you, Thank you! Three great nights of togetherness with beatiful background music and no shaking.” Molson Golden

“Annie and I thank you for your wonderful CD, she made it through the 4th peacefully!” Reba R., Boise, Idaho

curing firework phobia through sound therapy“Yesterday was the 4th of July and even though it is illegal in our city to shoot off fireworks, some people will always do it anyway. Our 9 year old German Sheppard, Kobuk, is terrified of the sounds from fireworks. It had been very quiet in our neighborhood until around 11:30 PM when the fireworks began. Kobuk became very upset and looked for a place to get away from the noise. I got out of bed and played the sampler CD that came with the book, Through a Dog’s Ear. Within 3 songs, Kobuk was completely calm and beginning to go back to sleep. I cannot tell you how comforting your music is to own. I wish we had known about you and your product years ago. It is horrible to watch any animal, especially your own dog, be so traumatized and be so helpless to be able to calm them. Thank you very much. My wife and I (and our dogs!) wish you great success.” Daryl P., Anchorage, Alaska

“I used a Thundershirt and TADE music all weekend for my fearful/abused dog, Dax, who is terrified of fireworks – except for last night, he was relaxed and asleep for most of the fireworks, and I am very pleased that we were able to firework phobia cureget through the long weekend without the use of medication!” Susan S., Central Ohio

“Thank you for your wonderful music. It is getting us through the fireworks.” Dianna B.

“Despite Lucy’s high anxiety about everything else, she has been amazingly calm during the heavy (and illegal) fireworks barrages in our neighborhood. Not a bark, whimper, shake, hide, quiver, or “”what’s that?” look from her. She goes outside willingly on her routine potty breaks and seems more interested in the fireflies than the boom booms. Thank heavens! No drugs needed. Though *I* will need the TaDE music to get myself to sleep soon!” J.J. B

How do your dogs do during fireworks? Thanks for sharing your stories below..