Posted on 2 Comments

Dog Mounting: Is It About Sex?

As a blogger for, I was pretty shocked when I read in Care2 causes about the male dog who was abandoned because his owner thought he was gay after he was found mounting another male dog. Fortunately, he was rescued hours before he was scheduled to be euthanized.

Humping behavior in dogs is often anthropomorphized and misunderstood. It may look like sex to humans, but unless it’s an intact male that is mounting a female dog in heat, it’s usually about dominance behavior and/or stress, not sex.

An article by certified professional dog trainer and behavior consultant Pat Miller in The Whole Dog Journal called “Dog Mounting and Dog Dominance Behavior” explains, “Mounting behavior has nothing to do with sexual activity. Rather, it’s often a social behavior, and sometimes a stress reliever. Nonsexual mounting of other dogs is generally a dominance, control, or challenge behavior, although when practiced by puppies it’s primarily about play and social learning, beginning as early as 3-4 weeks. Mounting of humans is strictly nonsexual; it may be about control, it can be attention-seeking, and it can be a stress-reliever.”

In WebMD’s Article “Humping: Why Do Dogs Do It?, David S. Spiegel, VMD, says “in un-neutered and unspayed dogs under a year old, humping is usually sexual in nature. But in older dogs it can be a sign of dominance, a reaction to something that has excited the dog, like visitors arriving, or a sign that a dog hasn’t been socialized correctly and doesn’t know appropriate canine behavior.”

Humping other dogs, male or female, is a problematic behavior for Sanchez. It’s one of the rare behaviors that I’ve chosen to control the environment rather than manage the behavior. I simply don’t expose him to many opportunities to exhibit the behavior. I don’t take him to dog parks, and when we are hiking, I’m very observant of his behavior if another large dog is approaching. If he’s getting excited, I ask him to do something else he’s been trained to do during distractions (such as sit or a trick) and/or I use my body to block the energy between the two dogs. I’ve never been able to figure out why he has a propensity to hump almost exclusively Golden Retrievers, but it also helps me become alert when I see a Golden approaching.

Do your dogs mount other dogs or hump inanimate objects or people? Thanks for sharing your stories below in a comment.

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!

Posted on 5 Comments

10 Dog Training Tips

January is National Train your Dog Month. My readers know that I’m an advocate of humane, positive, science based dog training. Every Tuesday on the Through a Dog’s Ear Facebook page is “Training Tip Tuesday”.  I ask fans and training experts to chime in with their training tips. Here are some from earlier this week:

  1. “When dealing with behavior issues, remember to look at daily sources of stress in your dog’s life and start with a de-stress or relaxation process before you begin tackling the problems. Much like us, ongoing stress or over-stimulation is not healthy for our dogs either!” Michelle Payson, owner of That’s My Dog Professional Dog Training in Douglas, MA.
  2. “Look for and reward behaviors that you like and want to see again. Behaviors that are rewarded are repeated.”  Canine Minds and Manners Professional Dog Training in Alberta, Canada
  3. “Remember that EVERY interaction that you have with your pet is training and that most pets will interpret ANY attention from you as a reward, even if you think of it as negative attention” Not Home Alone Pet, Livestock, and House Sitting in San Dimas, California.
  4. “Focus on what you want your pet to do, instead of what you don’t want him to do. Don’t like the barking at the front door? What do you want instead? Work towards that! It changes your focus completely.” Shared by fan Karey Harris.
  5. “Ignore or manage undesirable behaviors, and reward and/or reinforce desirable behaviors!” A comment from fan Sallee Autumn.
  6. Click here to read “50 ways to Use your Kong”, a fabulous article written by trainer Robin Sockness, owner of My Best Buddy Dog Training in Sharpsburg, GA.
  7. “When introducing new behaviors with most cats, it’s best to train before meals. When training new behaviors with high energy dogs, it’s best to do training sessions after a short period of exercise. Both of these tips will help the dog & cat to be more focused during a training session” From Amy of in North Carolina.
  8. “Loose leash walking – If we let our dogs leave the house in an excited state, loose leash walking might be difficult.” Here’s a great post by trainer Lupe Matt on the subject. (And you’ll get a good laugh out of the Boxer’s reaction in the video when he’s asked if he wants to go for a walk.)
  9. “So, how long do I need to use food when training?” is an informative post by trainer Stacy Hiebert Greer of Dallas, TX.
  10. “Accept your dog as is… a social creature, a companion animal. Be realistic in your goals and fair in your expectations. Train away the things that you absolutely can not live with and never, ever underestimate a dogs potential, based on your own preconceived notions.”  Susan Gleeson, owner of Center for Heeling

Do you have any dog or cat training tips you can share? Thanks for posting them in a comment below and sharing your thoughts on these training tips. Happy training!

Posted on 1 Comment

Homemade Dog Treats for Holiday Gifts (with recipes)

I rarely make cookies for humans, so it was quite unusual for me to make treats for my dogs, Sanchez and Gina. But, I received this recipe for “Pumpkin Squeaks” Dog Treats from at Barkworld, and it looked so easy that I gave it a try. Now, I can’t believe that I didn’t start making my own dog treats sooner. Taking an hour out of my hectic day to make something healthy for them gave me great joy. The experience encouraged me to slow down and enjoy the holiday spirit instead of rushing through it. The above picture is my final result of this recipe, which is also gluten free and human grade. And, I was delighted to discover that they can be broken into tiny bites, which is always helpful for training.

“Pumpkin Squeaks” Dog Treats (compliments of Protect your Bubble pet insurance)

2 cups rice flour
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1 cup pumpkin puree (one low in sugar)
2 eggs (I used 3 for more moisture)
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix ingredients together until blended, then spread dough to 1/4 inch thick and cut into desired cookie shapes. Bake for 10-15 minutes. Let cool before serving. Store in refrigerator for up to 7 days.

Makes This Many

Super easy recipe for Sweet Potato Chews:

Slice a sweet potato in thick slices, with a ridged cutter if you have one.
Bake at low heat of 200 degrees until they have dried out. Fido will be working on this longer than a dog biscuit, so it’s great to leave him with a chew or two when he is alone and Through a Dog’s Ear music is keeping him company.

Sanchez and Gina patiently wait for their cookies

Recipes for dog treats from Three Dog Bakery:

Gar “Licky” french fries

4 medium potatoes
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Pinch of paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Peel and cut potatoes into ½-inch strips.
Toss strips in oil and garlic powder, and spread on baking sheet.
Bake 30 minutes, turning several times, until golden.
Remove from oven and sprinkle with paprika.
Cool before serving. Refrigerate in sealed container.

Another way of combining music and dogs

Banana “Mutt” cookies

1 1/2 cups mashed bananas
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups oats
1/2 cup chopped peanuts
1/4 cup applesauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix all ingredients thoroughly. Drop by spoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheet and flatten with fork.
Bake 15 minutes. Cool on rack and store in airtight container.

Cheesy apple nips

3 oz. low fat cream cheese
2 oz. blue cheese
4 medium apples

Beat cream cheese and blue cheese together until smooth. Core apples and fill with cheese mixture.
Chill 2-3 hours. Cut into 16 wedges
Refrigerate in sealed container.

In addition to my own dogs, I decided these would make great holiday gifts for our four-legged friends. What could dogs want more than treats personally made for them along with music specially designed to keep them calm?

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.

Posted on Leave a comment

Healing with Holistic Veterinary Care

Sanchez was experiencing neck pain a few months ago. When I first noticed the problem, the symptoms were acute, appeared very suddenly after little activity, and were very worrisome. At the worst flare-up one weekend, pain management was so challenging that I didn’t know if I could keep him alive for the weekend. He had nerve pain going down his leg and both of us slept very little in a 48 hour period.

That Monday he was at Coastal Holistic Complementary Veterinary Services, where both of my dogs are patients. While Dr. Molly Rice and Dr. Kari DeLeeuw are both DVM’s, they are also certified veterinary acupuncturists and chiropractors. He responded extremely well to acupuncture treatments, even when he went into the office crying in pain. Their holistic treatments literally saved Sanchez’s life and I am grateful beyond words.

In the above picture, Sanchez is receiving electrostimulator acupuncture treatment, a form of acupuncture in which a small electric current is passed between pairs of acupuncture needles. This form of treatment is particularly helpful in treating pain, in this case quite severe pain. An X-ray read by a radiologist revealed that he had a slipped disc in his neck and joint mice in his shoulder area.

Rehab was pretty intense. During the initial stages, when he was essentially on bed rest and pain management was challenging, I played Music to Comfort your Elderly Canine almost around the clock. Both of us benefited. The soothing sounds were so helpful when his meds started to wear off every few hours. The added component of frequency modulation – the addition or subtraction of targeted frequency ranges – makes assimilation easier for an already stressed, or weakened elderly canine nervous system. 

A few months have passed, and I’m happy to say that Sanchez is off all medication (except for an herbal supplement) and is showing signs of acting like a puppy again. He is nine years old and there are some ongoing lifestyle changes to consider. I’ll never attach a leash to his neck (only to a harness), he’ll always have to do a 15 minute warm-up walk on leash before he gets let off-leash, and he now uses a ramp to avoid jumping out of the car. But, that’s a small price to pay for having a healed, healthy, vibrant dog.

Both Sanchez and Gina also receive canine massage treatments from Dr. Cindy DiFranco. With the help of her instructional canine massage DVD, I’ve even been able to do a bit of canine massage myself with them.

I am grateful beyond words that Sanchez didn’t need surgery to recover. And this scare was also a reminder that every day he has left with me is a gift. I’m counting my blessings!

Have you ever sought holistic veterinary care and alternative treatments for your pets? If not, would you consider it in the future? Thanks for sharing your experience in a comment below.

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.

Posted on Leave a comment

The Story Behind Through a Dog’s Ear

Have you ever noticed that the best conversations happen around the kitchen table? Joshua Leeds and I were recently sitting at my kitchen table having lunch. We started reminiscing about how our meeting nearly 10 years ago inspired us to create Through a Dog’s Ear, music clinically demonstrated to calm the canine nervous system. We decided to turn on the video camera and make the conversation public. Sanchez and Gina get in on the action and, of course, steal the show!

Have your dogs taught you any life lessons? Thanks for sharing them in a comment below.

     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!