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6 Tips for Keeping Your Dog Safe on Halloween

 

halloween pumpkin witch dog

It can be very fun for children to dress up as ghouls and goblins. But, dogs don’t understand the concept and can be very fearful of people wearing masks and costumes. And the huge number of children ringing the doorbell yelling “Trick or Treat” can cause excessive barking and put many dogs into sensory overload.

In my early adult years, I had a small dog with a heart murmur that had a heart attack on Halloween and died. The constant activity was too much for him. If I knew then what I know now, I would have kept him away from the stress of all of the noisy activity and immersed him with canine sound therapy.

keeping dogs safe on halloween

1. Keep Your Dog from Turning Into Houdini

Outside of July 4th in the U.S., Halloween is the most popular night for pets to escape their homes. Keep your dog in a quiet back room with some soothing music playing. Or if Buster is near the front door,  make sure he’s on a leash held by another family member. Praising and rewarding him for calm, quiet behavior is also invaluable. It will help inspire him to choose to stay inside. For precautionary measures, it’s best to make sure that all of your pets are wearing IDs.

dogs and halloween

2. Keep All Candy Out of Reach Of Your Pets

Many treats can be harmful for your pets, including chocolate. Laura Cross from Vetstreet tells us, “Sugar-free candy is also a risk, as it may contain xylitol, which can cause low blood sugar and liver damage in dogs.”

keep candy away from dogs on halloween

3. Watch Out for Lit Jack-O-Lanterns

While a small amount of pumpkin is healthy for dogs and cats, consuming an entire raw pumpkin can make them sick. And, if it’s a lighted Jack-O-Lantern, you run the risk of your pet knocking it over and starting a fire. Best to go with the battery operated ones this year.

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4. Pets in Costumes

Some dogs can tolerate wearing costumes. But, many can’t. If your dog wants to get out of his costume, let him. Make sure all costumes are comfortable and that accessories or buttons are not chewable. Gina tolerated her batdog costume because she was very well paid when I put each piece of it on her when we entered the USDAA Cynosport World Games costume contest.

 

5. Tire Her Out

Make sure you get your dog out for a good romp during the day and tire her out. Frequent games of fetch along with some extra training sessions can also help  her be less reactive during the evening festivities.

6. Put Her In A Quiet Room with Soothing Canine Music 

In my early adult years, I had a small dog with a heart murmur that had a heart attack on Halloween and died. The constant activity was too much for him. If I knew then what I know now, I would have kept him away from the stress of all of the noisy activity and immersed him with canine sound therapy.

How do your pets do during Halloween? Thanks for sharing your experiences in a comment below.

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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.

 

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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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Celebrating Musical Dogs on National Dog Day

We’re all about creating music for dogs and cats at iCalmPet. But, on National Dog Day, the dogs are taking over my blog and making their own music.

Rescue dogs plays the organ. Uh-oh. Did she play a wrong note?

I found this video of Rev in a Mashable post. According to Rev’s owner, he’s been played the same Adele song since being a tiny pup. He clearly recognizes the tune and is quite enthusiastic about singing along. Karaoke for dogs?

Tucker’s owner didn’t know he had such a musical dog until he received noise complaints when he was gone. This is what he found on his nanny cam. Good boy Tucker!

Mishka apparently prefers harmony to melody!

Got a birthday to celebrate?

Celebrate dogs and music by take a soothing sound bath with your pup.

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Enjoy soothing music specially designed to calm the canine nervous system. Humans have been known to also benefit from the slowed down, simplified classical piano music. And calm gets easily transferred to the other end of the leash.

 

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7 Simple Tips for Calming Your Dog During Fireworks

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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 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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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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6 Ways to Love Your Dog on National Love Your Pet Day

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Earlier this week, I dropped off my senior dog, Sanchez, at the vet for dental surgery. I had a hard time saying goodbye to him, but I was comforted when I was able to leave him with his own iCalmDog, playing music especially designed to comfort elderly dogs. When I asked the nurse if she would make sure his music went with him everywhere—both pre- and post-surgery—she said, “Sure. It’s so sweet that you really love your dog so much.”

February 20th is National Love Your Pet Day, and I’ve been giving a lot of thought to what that means. While it’s really National Love Your Dog Day everyday in my canine household, there are infinite ways of showing your pet you love them. Here are just a few of my suggestions:

1. Speak their language

Dogs are constantly watching our body language so they can understand us. It’s confusing to them when we don’t understand what they are communicating with their body language. To communicate clearly with your dog, it’s important that you become fluent in their species behavior. For example, did you know that dogs see with their noses?

Gina my bed

2. Be consistent

Dogs thrive and build confidence with structure and consistency in their environment. Some are so sensitive to the slightest change. Our lives are filled with variables; try and be as unswerving as possible with your pet’s schedule, feeding time, and rules. It’s up to you whether you invite Buster into your bed. But, if he’s allowed sometimes and scolded other times, he’ll not understand why you’re upset and could easily shut down because of confusion.

3. Do some training every day

Dogs trained with positive reinforcement thrive, and it’s fun for 2- and 4-leggeds alike. It not only is a way to show love to your dog, but builds a healthy bond and  just might be the best part of her day. Sanchez and Gina, cry for their training time with me very night. And, it really is never too late to teach an old dog a new trick, as you can see in the video above.

Sanchez head in bed

4. Let them be themselves

You may have just adopted a Golden Retriever because you love the breed, and you want one with the same behavior traits of the senior Golden you recently lost. But your new Golden might have an entirely different personality. Understand and accept his difference in personality. We don’t always get the dog we want, but we always get the one we need. Their different personality might just be exactly what is best for you right now.

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5. Be conscious of their sound environment

Most dogs are much more aware of their sound environment than the 2-leggeds in the household.  The sound of the TV in one room and a radio playing in another is enough to make Buster go a little bonkers. And, cheering loudly for your favorite football team may be stressful enough to make Buster bark wildly. Always provide a safe, quiet room for your pets as an option. Better yet if you play some music especially designed for their species. Just remember that dogs will sometimes tolerate anything (even if it’s not good for them) just to be near you. So, if Buster doesn’t leave the room when you blast your music, you might just want to turn down the volume for his benefit (as well as yours).

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6. Be still together

Other species do a much better job at being present than humans. Let your pets teach you how to be still and enjoy that precious time together. If your dog is physically affectionate, cuddle up together. Just be present and mindful. You’ll cherish these moments of doing nothing together for years to come.

How do you show your pet you love them? Thanks for adding your thoughts in a comment below. (Also, just an update that Sanchez is doing great post dental surgery!)

Main Photo Credit: Mark Hothusen

 

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When Dogs Bring Us The Best News!

SacBeePhotoWithDogs

Sometimes the best things in life happen through synchronicity. In my world, those things often involve dogs.

I am an Airbnb host, and over the Christmas holiday my guest was a senior reporter for the Sacramento Bee. When visiting my home, it’s pretty obvious that my life is all about music and dogs. She inquired about my career as a canine music expert and mentioned it would make a great story. Within a week, she sent over a reporter and photographer/ videographer. It culminated in a very fun interview with Sammy Caiola and photo/video recording session with Manny Crisostomo.

Click here to watch the video and read the article:

AllBark

SacBee Highlights

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I was thrilled that my dogs were the stars of the video. Gina may have stolen the show on this one, but Sanchez is turning 13 years old in a few months, and I’m so grateful for every video of him. When Through a Dog’s Ear launched in 2008 with our first CD and book on The CBS Early Show, he became our mascot. He was present at numerous press interviews, always eager to be in front of the camera. It’s heartwarming for me to see him now greet photographers, journalists, and videographers with the same enthusiasm he had as a young pup.

Also in the news…

‘Fear Free’ Veterinarians Aim To Reduce Stress For Pets

As luck would have it, the launch of iCalmCat in January, collided with some additional incoming press. I couldn’t have been more thrilled.

Associated Press released an article about creating Fear-Free Veterinary Clinics. The article received massive global coverage ~ ABC News, Huffington Post, CBS, Israeli News, etc. Words can’t express how much it means that Through a Dog’s Ear & Through a Cat’s Ear is part of the Fear-Free Veterinary Clinic initiative. I am beyond thrilled that Dr. Marty Becker is championing this project so near and dear to my heart.

The “Fear-Free” movement was started by Dr. Marty Becker, known as “America’s Vet.” In addition to being the Chief Veterinary Correspondent for the American Humane Association, he is a man with a big heart, committed to helping animals everywhere. You may have also seen him on Good Morning America and The Dr. Oz Show. I had the pleasure of being interviewed by him in New York City a year ago. (video below)

In regard to Fear Free Veterinary Visits, Dr. Becker suggests the following two veterinary practices:

1) At every moment of truth, ask yourself or the team, “If the pet could talk…what would she say right now?”
2) Take the pet out of petrified… and put pets back into practices.

Great additional suggestions here for creating a fear free clinic, many you can share with your vet.

 

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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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Costumes For Dogs: Yea or Nay?

Gina Batman

In recent years, dogs have become part of our families. There is a wealth of good information readily available about their health and behaviors, they often sleep with us, we take them on our vacations and we might even call ourselves pet parents. But, unlike our human children, they don’t understand the concept of Halloween or dressing in costumes to pretend they are someone else.

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Catwoman & Batman at 2014 Cynosport Costume Contest

Some dogs (and even less cats) can tolerate wearing costumes. Others may even enjoy the extra attention if their costume is comfortable. But, many can’t. They don’t like their paws being touched and put through sleeves, don’t like hats on their head and aren’t comfortable with anything that restricts their natural movement.

Bumblebee Family
My Bumblebee Family

Even so, I have to admit, I do dress my dogs, Sanchez and Gina, in costume every Halloween. I wouldn’t say the enjoy it, but they tolerate it just fine. I make sure they are very well paid with yummy treats when I am dressing them and while they stay in costume (usually for less than 10 minutes). And Gina gets her favorite activity afterwards, a game of tug with me.

Don't limit vision, including peripheral
Don’t limit vision, including peripheral

If you do dress your pets, make sure:

  • You allow your dog to sniff and investigate the costume before putting it on
  • All costumers are loose fitting and comfortable
  • There are no chewable accessories or buttons
  • Nothing is covering their eyes that limit their vision
  • They are able to get out of their costume if showing signs of stress
  • Your pet is extremely well paid

As you can see in the video below, Sanchez and Gina, are quite enjoying their payment for wearing their bumblebee costumes.

If your dogs are in costume and you are in the vicinity of other dogs, be careful that your dog’s costume doesn’t obscure body behavior other dogs need to read to understand your dog. If your dog is dressed in a big dinosaur suit, another dog may barely recognize him as a dog and can’t observe his natural body language.

Do you dress up your pets for Halloween? If so, how do they respond? Thanks for sharing your stories in a comment below. And feel to include pictures of your dogs on Facebook.

 

Related:
3 Surprising Health Benefits of Pumpkin for Dogs and Cats
5 Tips for Keeping Dogs Safe on Halloween
Happy Halloween from the Bumblebees

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