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What’s New with iCalmPet?

Hi, my name is Caitlin Fowlkes. My adventures have landed me here in Southern Oregon working with iCalmPet, mostly as the face of customer support. I’m also writing the iCalmPet Community blogs and social media posts.

Our intention is to produce pet-friendly information that will benefit your household and create a friendly and calm environment for your furry friends (and in turn, for yourself!) We’ll discuss tips for keeping pets calm in a variety of situations (fireworks, thunderstorms, travel); deals, promotions and contests throughout the year; and an abundance of other topics – pet friendly vacation spots, natural treat recipes, how to teach your cat to change her own litter? Just kidding on that last one. Seriously though, we love suggestions and feedback. Have a topic you want to know more about, send us an email at customersupport@icalmpet.com.

What’s up with the iCalmPet rebranding?

You may be wondering if we’re still the same company? And I’m here to tell you we are! iCalmPet was originally known as Through a Dog’s Ear (and Through a Cat’s Ear). This name stemmed from the book produced by company co-founder and sound researcher Joshua Leeds. The book titled, (you guessed it!) Through a Dog’s Ear, discusses the research undertaken with veterinary neurologist Susan Wagner to figure out what effect sound and music has on a dog’s psyche, and how it can be used to improve their health and behavior. This research was later applied towards cats and even people, because why should dogs get all the sonic benefits?

In 2013, our line of portable iCalm speakers was introduced, and we rebranded to what we are today – iCalmPet. The reason is simply because Through a Dog’s Ear was all about CDs and in our modern time, music has become so much more mobile. The majority of Americans have smart phones and can easily carry all of their favorite music with them on their phone out the door.

But, that mobility created a problem in itself: when they leave the house, they take their music with them, and the pets and people left behind don’t have any music. And so, we sought to make a product that not only helps improve health and behavior, but is practical in this often hectic, on-the-go life we now live.

The brand new iCalm 4.0 Player – Available end of May!

iCalm speakers are portable, Bluetooth-enabled and play continuously for about eight hours between charges. Meaning you can leave it on for pets while you’re away from the house or you can take it with to the vet, groomer, doggy daycare – wherever your pets can use an extra dose of calming.

Over the last five years, as we became more versatile and user friendly, we accumulated a bunch of names: Through a Dog’s Ear, Through a Cat’s Ear, iCalmDog, iCalmCat, etc. Finally, last year we became iCalmPet. But, the sound tracks are still the same great calming music. We still offer CD versions, and now we also stream on Apple Music and Spotify.

What’s new? iCalm for People.

Besides the new iCalm 4.0 music player (more info coming later)… while thinking along the lines of versatility, we realized that making our music available in multiple formats and more portable wasn’t quite enough. We needed more music! So, we decided we would start with people! We need calming music just as much as our animals do. Our intention is and always will be improving the lives of animals, but why not bring some calm to people, too?

If your pets are stressed, then chances are you might be stressed too. Pets and people tend to feed off of each other. If your pet is acting out, then it’s definitely causing you trouble; and if you’re stressed, your pet has likely picked up on it and is bothered too. Our new iCalm for People soundtracks have been made specifically for your 2-legged nervous system. The tones, tempos, and patterns have been well-planned to help you relax, sleep, or concentrate. Bottom line…The cooler you are, the calmer your animals will be.Click here to view the iCalm for People sound cards

“I’ve been producing application-specific soundtracks for people since 1986. The  iCalm for People music you’ll hear on DeStress, Sleep, and Focus on Task is performed by a lovely chamber ensemble, and features sweet violins and beautiful woodwinds. The music is a perfect addition to the Through a Dog/Cat’s Ear piano arrangements. The psychoacoustic principles I employed back in the day – tone, tempo, and pattern – are present in these calming recordings for people. I mean, we all have ears!” – Joshua Leeds, Producer and iCalmPet co-founder.

Want to hear for yourself? Visit this link to our audio samples page – https://icalmpet.com/my-icalm-shop-just-people/my-icalm/my-icalm-listening-samples/.

Or, check out our site to learn more https://icalmpet.com/my-icalm-shop-just-people/my-icalm/.

P.S. The iCalm for People titles come on micro sound cards that will play perfectly in your iCalm 2.0 or 3.0 players.

Delivering Calm,

– Caitlin

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8 Steps to Enriching Your Senior Dog’s Life

8 steps senior dogs

I can hardly believe that my yellow Labrador, Sanchez, is now 13 years old. I count my blessings that he is in good health and still enjoys our twice daily walks. But, I’m also aware that he can’t keep up to his activity level from even a year ago, let alone in his prime. I’m always looking for ways to provide mental stimulation to his environment without physically taxing his body.

1. Alone Time Together
It’s not always easy having a multi-dog household. But, it’s important to make a priority of having time alone with your pets daily. Since Sanchez was an only dog for the first seven years of his life, he particularly appreciates this. Walks do take longer (walking Gina separately), but it’s well worth the time when I see Sanchez’s smile of contentment.

2. Keep Training
Dogs love to learn, no matter their age. I still spend time training every night with Sanchez. If it gets late, he starts whining and begging for his training time with me. The bonding time is precious and it stimulates him to keep learning and being challenged. He has no complaints about his yummy rewards either. Dog training should always be fun for both 4- and 2-leggeds. Get creative with your senior pup. Because you can teach an old dog new tricks.

3. Give Him Attention in Creative Ways
Gina is a high-drive dog. We spend a lot of time in agility training, along with retrieving and tugging at home.  While it helps alleviate her pent up energy, Sanchez used to look neglected when she was getting the extra attention. So, I started sneaking him small treats while tugging with her. At night time, I often play ball with her inside, having her run down and up the stairs, chasing and retrieving the ball. I include Sanchez in the game by discreetly tossing him small treats while she’s running back up to me to deliver the ball. It not only makes him feel included, but it also engages his senses as his nose has to search for the tossed treat.

4. Reward. Reward. Reward.
In the video above, I am training both of my dogs together. Even though Gina is doing all the physical activity, Sanchez is getting equally paid for staying calm and still while she jumps over and goes under him. Good boy, Sanchez!

5. Pay Attention to New Behaviors
It’s not unusual for senior dogs to develop anxiety issues later in life that seemingly come out of nowhere. They can include sound phobias, separation anxiety or resource guarding. There are some that I just accept, such as tearing tissue out of the bathroom waste basket. I call it his puppy behavior returned. I just make sure that I don’t put anything in the trash that could be harmful when chewed. Other behaviors will only get worse if ignored, such as separation anxiety or food resource guarding. Ignored, they will only escalate.Tips for Separation Anxiety are here.

6. Keep The Safe Physical Activity
Sanchez and I used to enjoy musical freestyle classes. He would weave between my legs, spin and jump on my arm on cue. While that would be too taxing on his body now, we have kept in what is safe for him. He still loves to “go back,” lift his left and right paw on cue, and show off his “downward dog.”  Of course, he is well paid for his behavior.

7. Engage The Senses
National Association of Canine Scent Work (NACSW™) is the official sanctioning and organizing body for the sport of K9 Nose Work. It is a growing popular sport, and it’s great for dogs of all ages. K9 Nose Work is built on scent work where dogs use their nose to search for their prize. Sanchez loved his K9 Nose Work class. Now, at home, I put pieces of liver into a mixed variety of cardboard boxes. He is told to “find” the liver. Boy, does his tail ever wag when he is searching!

Sanchez upside down iCalmDog

8. Canine Sound Therapy
Most senior dogs don’t have the same tolerance for noise they used to in their youth. The immune system of a senior dog is often heavily taxed. 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 overstimulating sound environments. Music to Comfort Your Elderly Canine has also been helpful for pain management with senior dogs and night-time restlessness. As you can see Sanchez loves his iCalmDog. The Elderly Canine pet tunes playing on it provided great comfort for Sanchez (and me) when he was recovering from a slipped disc in his neck.

What enrichment activities have benefited your senior dogs? Thanks for adding your stories in a comment below.

And, if you missed Sanchez’s 13th birthday May 17, here is a short video clip I put together of wonderful memories together.

Sanchez’s 13th Birthday

 

 

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Was Your Dog Naughty or Nice This Year?

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While it’s entertaining to think about for humans, very few, if any, dogs want to be naughty. I know it may appear he is misbehaving when you chase him around the house to get the santa stocking out of his mouth. But, to a dog, it’s just a fun game, and the santa hat is no different than a favorite soft toy. In reality, Buster isn’t being naughty. He’s just being a dog.

Gina Santa Hat in bed

Canadian dog trainer Pat Spence shares that dogs misbehave for one of three reasons:

Lack of Understanding

We speak English. Dogs speak Dog. It’s our job to communicate what we want consistently and in a manner they understand. You may think Buster is being naughty for not sitting when you ask.  But, yesterday it was fine when he sat the 10th time you said it. Dogs learn quickly by repetition. He may be thinking that after you say ‘SIT’ 10 times, that’s when you want him to sit. Praise and reward him the first time he sits fast, be consistent every time, and he’ll start sitting when you ask the first time. As Spence shares,

“The more you reinforce his good behavior, the more of it you will see.”

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Boredom and Lack of Exercise and Stimulation

Similar to people, dogs need exercise along with mental stimulation. The two together tire a dog out more than either alone. Personally, it’s one of the things I love about agility.

After walking Buster before work, spend a few minutes with some positive reinforcement dog training and teach him a new trick. If he’s ready for higher distraction dog training, teach him the new trick while you are out walking him. It will put a smile on your face too, because you are building relationship with your dog. And you won’t be coming home to a torn up sofa created by a dog needing more stimulation. Adding some Through a Dog’s Ear music will also greatly help his environmental stimulation when you are gone.

Rewarded for Misbehaving

While we don’t mean to, we often reward dogs for misbehaving. That doesn’t mean we give him a treat when he performs an unwanted behavior. It means that rewards come in other forms. We might be so happy to see Buster when we get home that we praise and pet him when he is jumping on us at the front door. But, when Uncle Charlie comes to visit and he does the same, he gets scolded. That can be very confusing to a dog. Again, reward the behavior you want consistently and you’ll see more of it.

Training Tip: A dog can’t jump and sit at the same time (not even Border Collies). Ask him to sit the next time you come in, mark the behavior with a click or “yes”, and reward. You’ll see more of that behavior. (Note: If you have a very excited dog, try that first by just opening the door, leaving and immediately coming back in. If you wait until you’ve been gone 4 hours, he might already be over the threshold of excitement. Gradually build up to that.)

Gina Sanchez Xmas Chanukah

Were Your Dogs Nice?

I hope all of your dogs are rewarded for being nice this holiday season. If you are looking for additional rewards, our holiday discounts are still available until Dec. 26th, including iCalmDog specials.

Enjoy! Wishing you, your human and canine household a peaceful, calm holiday season!

Editors’ Note:
Gina was framed for the photo above with the santa hat in her bed. Her eye has been on that Santa hat, wanting to tug with it since I brought it home. It’s the day before Christmas and now that I’ve used it for all the photo opps I could find, I finally just converted it to a tug toy for her and asked her to go to her bed with it. No naughty dogs in my home 😉

Delivering Calm, Four Paws at a Time!

Receive a FREE DOWNLOAD from our Calm your Canine Companion music series when you sign up for our 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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Concerts for Dogs? Seriously?

Has my performing life gone to the dogs? You bet! I’m loving it, and dogs are barking for more! Combining my love of dogs with my music talent inspired the creation of Through a Dog’s Ear, music clinically demonstrated to calm the canine nervous system. Now, I’m combining my love of performing to a cross-species audience.

As a concert pianist with a music degree from Juilliard, why am I playing concerts for people and their dogs when I could be filling concert halls with more traditional classical music? Because I REALLY love dogs! And I have chosen to dedicate my career to improving their lives by creating music that improves the quality of their life and provides them with sound therapy for improved health and behavior.

We love our dogs. We bring them into our human world and we expect them to adjust. But the truth is the human world can be very confusing for dogs. And our human soundscape is filled with chaotic sounds that they can’t orient. They are always on alert, wondering if any new sound is safe or not. Part of Through a Dog’s Ear mission is to provide dogs and their people with beautiful psychoacoustically-designed music that creates a healthy sound environment for dogs and their people. The concerts do that, and also offers a bonding experience between the two- and four-leggeds.

It’s an opportunity to share a deeply satisfying musical experience with your dog! Has your dog ever heard Chopin performed live? Have you and your dog ever listened to Bach together in a concert setting?

If you reside in the San Francisco Bay Area, I hope you can make it to one of my upcoming Canine Classical Concerts on October 6th and 7th. And you can meet my own dogs, Sanchez and Gina. As you can see from the photo above, Sanchez is practicing to be the page turner.

Have you ever bonded with your dog by sharing music together? Thanks for sharing your experiences in a comment below.

Have you tried Sound Therapy for your dogs? Through a Dog’s Ear is the only 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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The Dogs of Sounds True, publisher for Through a Dog’s Ear

St_dogs_lisa_and_agnes
St_dogs_boscoe_and_karen
St_dogs_malachi_and_agnes
St_dogs_tami_simon_and_jasmine
St_dogs_oliver_and_jamie
Asia_and_kristen
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St_dogs_fiona_and_kristy

It’s Take your Dog to Work Day and I am in Boulder, Colorado celebrating the 25th anniversary of our Through a Dog’s Ear  publisher,  Sounds True. Before the party begins tonight, I stopped by the Sounds True office in Louisville and met all the dogs that come to work with their people. Check out the pics above of some of the adorable Sounds True dogs.

Sounds True exists to inspire, support, and serve continuous spiritual awakening and its expression in the world. So it should be of no surprise that they also are an exemplary, dog-friendly office. I’m not sure I’ve ever walked into a more loving, nurturing, heart-felt office environment. Do the dogs love it here because of the heart space, or do the dogs help inspire that? I was touched to hear what Tami Simon, president of Sounds True, had to say about Sounds True dogs contributing to the nurturing community feel of Sounds True. Click here to see my interview with her.

Pics above in order:

Agnes and Lisa

Boscoe and Karen

Malachi and Agnes

Jasmine and Tami

Oliver and Jamie

Asia and Kristen

Jasmine

Agnes

Fioana and Kristy

 

 

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Our Dog is Like American Express. We Don’t Leave Home Without Her!

Lisa Apple with Dogs
I chuckled when I heard the above response about American Express when I asked my cousin, Josh Glick, about his adorable Golden Retriever, Chloe. It was funny because it’s also so true in my life with Sanchez. He goes almost everywhere with me, much more so than I’ve done with any dog in the past. I’m not sure if it’s because so many public places near me are dog friendly, or because he grew up as a Guide Dogs for the Blind puppy in training and he was bred and raised to be calm in social settgings. In his Guide Dog puppy training days, he even went to indoor restaurants and San Francisco Symphony concerts.
 
Honestly, it’s pretty rare that he’s left at home alone, probably about once a week. Sanchez prefers an active social life of going to work with me and greeting students at my music school, going on errands with me (I think half of the town knows him by now), and just riding in the car to go anywhere. A variety of local venues (in Half Moon Bay, CA) have treats for him – my bank, the UPS store, and the local hardware store. I’ve been taking classes at my Apple Store lately and dogs are invited into all Apple Stores. If I had known that sooner, I probably would have bought a Mac years ago. (Not to mention how much I love the computer and the service.)
 
When I posted this on Facebook recently, an entire conversation started regarding what big chain stores in local communities welcome their well behaved dogs on leash.The list included Home Depot, Nordstrom‘s, Macy’s, Lowe’s, Walgreens, The UPS Store, and Crate & Barrel. Also mentioned were many locally owned stores in many dog friendly towns such as Carmel, CA and Myrlte Beach, SC.
When I asked Nordstrom’s on Twitter what their dog policy is, they tweeted this: “We don’t have a dog policy for our stores. Service dogs are always welcome. For pet dogs, we try to use our best judgment.” It may be different in every community, but I love it that more stores are welcoming friendly well-behaved dogs on leash. Are there any stores in your community that you’d like to share? Please click “comment” below and let others know. Also, please share your stories of your experiences bringing your dogs into stores.
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I Left for Vacation with a 7 Year Old Lab and Arrived with a 7 Month Old Puppy

Sanchez Anchor Bay Beach 2010

 I recently drove up to Mendocino County for a much needed retreat. I have been going to a spectacular, private, hidden cabin over looking the water, while nestled in the woods, for 22 years. It is filled with many wonderful memories for me. When I first moved to California, I went alone. It’s hard to imagine, but I didn’t even have a dog then. Later on, my former husband and I and our dog used to go there. I’ve brought my parents and I’ve enjoyed women’s retreats celebrating significant birthdays. Sanchez and I have enjoyed several trips to the cabin, but always with other adult companions. This time, it was just me and him.  

The drive up north is beyond spectacular. Ocean views are high and roads are curvy beyond imagination. But, every turn offers another breathtaking view. The drive is not advisable if one has car sickness. On normal roads, Sanchez loves being in the car, relaxes deeply, and is usually snoring before I’ve backed out of the driveway. But, the windy roads cause him some anxiety and he has gotten car sick in the past. As he started to sit up in his crate and pant and looked uncomfortable, I decided to put on Driving Edition: Music to Calm your Dog in the Car. Seven minutes later, he was lying down and three minutes after that, I heard snoring. I was quite relieved when I could fully concentrate on the road again.  

Sanchez swimming in Gualala riverWhen we arrived at the cabin, he clearly knew where we were and was so eager to get out and sniff his way up the front steps. We arrived at sunset, so there wasn’t time to take him to the beach. But, we stopped an hour previous so he could go swimming in the Russian River, a favorite of his. So, we opted for indoor entertainment of tug and retrieve. Even though he’s a Labrador Retriever, nobody told him that until recently. He’s since almost become addicted to retrieving. After playtime, I took out Oriah Mountain Dreamer‘s book, The Call. It is a treasured book that I enjoy re-reading in quiet moments. Sanchez curled up in his dog bed and snoozed to Music to Calm your Canine Companion. 

At sunrise, or maybe a few minutes before, I felt a wet nose in my face. Keep in mind, this NEVER happens at home. Sanchez always sleeps in much later than me. His motto – “If food isn’t involved, why bother getting up?” Somehow that motto goes out the window during vacations. He is ready to go play at the crack of dawn and could play non-stop all day. Great concept, but I was on this retreat to rest and rejuvenate.  

Sanchez Sea RanchAfter a morning run on the beach, with lots of swimming, followed by a very big hike up a mountain, he only wanted to rest long enough to eat breakfast. Then he was ready to go again. I kid you not, after hours and hours spent running on beaches and swimming in the river and the ocean and a huge hike, he cried and cried after dinner to go out and play some more. Never mind that he never got his daily nap today and was up at 6 am. He knew this was a day to honor his tag line “It’s all about me!” He knew that I was being totally present to him. No rushing for me and cutting short our time to get to an appointment. My watch was off and I was unplugged. He knew he had me.  

Sanchez resting on AB deckA nap (apparently mine, not his) was interrupted by his crying to go play some more. After all, the ocean was calling his name. No complaints that my nap was cut short. I couldn’t be happier that I have a very energetic, animated, healthy dog about to turn seven and I’m no longer concerned with him getting older. Regarding my need to rest and desire to slow down, that’s another story.

Delivering Calm, four paws at a time…

Receive a FREE DOWNLOAD from our Calm your Canine Companion music series  when you sign up for our 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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Reflections on My Music Career

I was in New York City earlier this week, passing through for less than 24 hours after attending the Sound and Music Alliance Symposium in Connecticut. (My next blog will be about that amazing experience.) I met up with former classmates and and was reminded of delightful memories of my time spent at The Juilliard School. I even stayed with the family I used to live with when I was a student. How heart warming that many years later, the Knights still call me their 3rd daughter.

Ever since I was a young child, I wanted to be a concert pianist. I’m not sure I really understood what that meant, but I’ve always loved to practice and perform, and I knew it included an enormous amount of both of those. I have performed both domestically and internationally, with audience sizes ranging from an intimate group in a living room setting to an arena filled with 18,000 people in China (where I had a bodyguard). While I still enjoy daily time at the piano, improving as a musician, and learning new music, my career has shifted and my definition of a concert pianist has broadened.

My career is feeling very similar to the two Juilliard signs above. The one at the top of the page is outdated, but still standing after having weathered all sorts of conditions. It is no longer the entrance to the building. The one on the right (click on the thumbnail to the right of the two thumbnail photos) is Juilliard’s new sign, over a new entrance in the building, almost done, but not quite finished, with some missing letters. My career is symbolic to these signs. While letting go of how I used to define “concert pianist”, I am creating a new career which still involves the world hearing my music internationally – even if it is via recordings and has expanded into the canine world.

After a few inspirational days in Connecticut, participating in the first Sound and Music Alliance Symposium, I now am proud to say that I create intentional music and sound for animals, currently focusing on dogs. While dogs may not know if I play a wrong note or care how “in shape” my fingers are, my recorded music in their homes and cars helps improve the quality of their lives. And, in many cases, helps improve the quality of the lives of their humans.

While in Connecticut, I received the below email from Barbara Johnson, a Certified Pet Dog Trainer in Southern California. It touched me very deeply.

I had previously written to tell you about my 3 Aussies who are drawn into my office by your music. My mother passed away on Thursday afternoon, and for the last few days all she heard was your music from Through A Dog’s Ear. It is so soothing and peaceful to my family. We played it continuously for 4 days. Your music was perfect for my mom because I recall as a child listening to classical music in our home. She would take me to the Philharmonic every Saturday afternoon at the Music Center in Los Angeles. Thank you for the memories, and I know that every time I will play the CDs that I currently have, I will cherish the last days that I spent with my wonderful mother. Thank you for your music that makes our hearts feel good.
 

After reading that, and hearing countless stories of ways in which Through a Dog’s Ear music is helping dogs, I thought about my dream of being a concert pianist. At age 11, I made a conscious decision to start playing the piano three hours a day. By the time I gave my debut recital at age 14, I knew that I wanted to play the piano around the world. When I graduated from Juilliard, I didn’t know that my audience was going to be cross species. And I didn’t know that my music would be healing to humans and canines and that it would also help relieve anxiety issues in dogs. But, as I stood in front of the fountain at Lincoln Center, I realized that I’m not living the dream I always imagined I would when I was a student. However, I’m living a bigger life that I never could have dreamed of during my days at Juilliard.  And I can’t possibly imagine anything more rewarding than combining my passion for music with my love of dogs in the creation and growth of Through a Dog’s Ear.

 

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Why Do Dogs Howl? Interview with Joshua Leeds

Dogs everywhere have been howling to the theme song from Law and Order. It was so viral, that Dogster blogger, Maria Goodavage provided a link to 28 of them with just one click. While people think it is very entertaining, it appears that these dogs are very stressed by the sounds they are hearing. I asked sound researcher Joshua Leeds, co-author of the book Through a Dog’s Ear, for his input on this not so laughing matter.

LS: Why do you think so many dogs are reacting so strongly to the theme song from Law and Order?

JL: It is not the actual tune that is causing the canine reaction, but the sound of the music. The sounds we hear on this recording fall comfortably within a dog’s range of hearing (15-50k Hz). When watching the YouTube videos, I observe that these animals are not howling in comfort. It appears to be an auditory response to something that is either hurting or stimulating their listening system somewhere between the ear and auditory centers in the brain.

LS: What could be the possible causes for this?

JL:  All instrumentation of this soundtrack is electronically-based. There are frequencies in the electronic instruments that we can or can’t hear. Also, somewhere in the recording or mixing process, frequencies were tweaked in a way that is not natural to a dog’s hearing. As a music producer, when I listen to the soundtrack mix (albeit on YouTube and computer speakers), I perceive mid-range frequencies that have been rolled-off while mid-high frequencies have been boosted.

LS: What could be the reasons that dogs howl in general?

JL:  Maybe the reason that dog’s howl is to match the offending frequency. It’s possible that they have an inherent noise cancellation knowledge. People were watching the dogs howl to Law and Order on YouTube and thought it was entertaining. But, if you watch the videos carefully, the dogs either are in stress or trying to deal with the source with a solution of masking the sound with their own. This is a wonderful opportunity for sound aware dog lovers to help other people become aware of how our human soundscape is affecting our animals.

LS: Why is it that more dogs don’t just leave the room when they hear the theme song from Law and Order?

JL: It appears that many dogs are trying to figure out what to do with irritating sensory stimulus or they are trying to match the tone.

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How Changing from PC to Mac made my Dog a Better Retriever

Lisa_and_mac

A PC computer crash (again) inspired me to unexpectedly buy my first Mac. Well, that and enormous influence from my business partners and friends that are Mac fans. It’s been a very welcome change and much more significant in my life than just buying a new computer. I’m noticing that it’s also inspiring me to let go of much of my past that no longer serves me, including some old ways of dog training.

Having always been a PC user, I thought things were complicated because I was an artist and didn’t have a “technical” mind. But, if that were true, how is it that I’m blogging, tweeting, and posting status updates with downloads, pictures, and videos, on Facebook? I’ve only had my Mac for five days and I’m already noticing that I’m changing how my mind works when I’m at the computer. I’ve been trained to actually look for complication and extra places to click. The number one reason I’ve stayed away from a previous Mac purchase is the number one reason I love it the most now. I thought it was going to be too complicated. After all, everything on a Mac looks so fancy. In reality, the only thing that is making it hard is that I’m looking for complication and it’s just not there.

How in the world does this possibly relate to a dog? My six year old (soon to be seven) Yellow Lab, Sanchez, has never been interested in retrieving. He was bred by Guide Dogs for the Blind and raised by me when I was a volunteer puppy raiser. He came very close to graduation, but he was “career changed” at 18 months of age. Retrieving was not encouraged when he was a puppy, as it would be very dangerous for a seeing impaired person to have a dog that gets distracted by a desire to retrieve. I have tried to teach him to retrieve for five years. Although he’s very good at tugging, and would sometimes retrieve a tug toy in the middle of a tug game, retrieving a tennis ball was an entirely different matter. Tennis balls were for chewing and destroying.

So, as I was playing with my Mac today, I started to realize how much less clicking I was doing (compared to the PC), and it inspired me to think about the way I was teaching Sanchez to retrieve. It was much too complicated. Since I was clicking less on the computer, I took out my dog training clicker and decided to do more of my clicking with the clicker (instead of the computer). After five years of doing everything I could think of to get Sanchez to retrieve a tennis ball, I taught him to retrieve it in merely minutes with a clicker. I simply clicked at exactly the perfect time. I did some shaping first, and then in moments worked up to “drop it”. And I gradually increased my distance from him. Clicks and treats were given when the ball was brought back to me and went directly into my hand. He already knew “get it” and “leave it”, so that helped. But, previously he would “get it” and only bring it back a couple of steps and drop it well before he got to me. Now, he’s so excited to bring it all the way back to me, that he’s actually crying for me to play ball with him. If Apple only knew that their MacBook actually helped a dog retrieve! As long as he doesn’t retrieve my Mac, it’s all good!

Do you love your Mac? How about your PC? Have you been able to teach a dog to retrieve that didn’t do it naturally? Thanks for sharing your story by clicking “comment” below.

As co-founder of Through a Dog’s Ear, I am offering my 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.