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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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Can You Help Me Win a Trip to Barkworld?

How does a Juilliard graduate, concert pianist get to Carnegie Hall?

PRACTICE

PRACTICE

PRACTICE

(even in unusual settings)

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How does a canine music expert, pet blogger get to Barkworld 2013?

Win a contest sponsored by Pruven Pet Products

PruvenBrandmark

Compliments of Pruven, from 3M, a Social Petworker who writes a compelling blog post about why they want to attend Barkworld 2013 will win:

  1. A ticket to BarkWorld 2013 
  2. Roundtrip airfare (up to $350)
  3. A 3 night hotel stay at the host hotel, Westin Buckhead (room & tax)
  4. Roundtrip airport transport in Atlanta, GA

Even though I’ve been to Barkworld and wrote about the fabulous experience I had last year, this year, my mission is different. Recently, my performing career has gone to the dogs, literally.  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.

Recently, I started performing Canine Classical Concerts as fundraisers for non-profit animal organizations. I’m eager to take my show on the road, and I’m sure all of the fabulous speakers (including a keynote from Mashable’s Editorial Director, Matt Silverman) will help enlighten me in how to reach a larger audience, allowing me to raise more funds to help homeless pets. And, how could I miss hearing Victoria Stilwell speak? Her passion for helping dogs ignites enough fuel to keep me going all year!

While thousands of dogs have heard my recordings and have shown improved behavior with canine sound therapy, it’s time to share my music with them both live, in person dog, and via simulcast concerts from my living room. A fabulous expo like Barkworld is the perfect place to learn how to expand my outreach.

I love playing the piano for my own dogs, Sanchez and Gina, at home (as witnessed in the video below). And I’m now ready to invite the world into my living room. Since they won’t all fit, live simulcasts of my performances is a great way to increase my cross-species audience.  While donated recordings of Through a Dog’s Ear music has helped increase adoption rates in over 1,500 shelters worldwide, my live performances could help raise the funds to help shelters provide sound systems for the homeless dogs and cats.

Falling asleep already? While my music has been known to produce some zzzzzz’s from the dogs, I also have been known to play a lot of notes that help keep the humans awake and engaged.

Barkworld Expo is in Atlanta August 22-24. Here’s how you can help me get there… On Friday, July 12, share this blog in all of your social media circles, tweet it, pin it, share it with your Facebook friends and fans, add it to your Google+ circles, and ask your friends to do the same. Afterall,  friends don’t let friends stay home when they could be at Barkworld.

Delivering Calm, four paws at a time…

Receive a FREE DOWNLOAD from the Calm your Canine Companion music series when you sign up for the Through a Dog’s Ear 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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Fireworks for Fido? NOT

July 4th is around the corner, along with the fireworks that inevitably come with this holiday. Almost all humans with dogs in the United States declare this day the worst day of the year for them. Veterinarians say that July 3rd is usually the most-trafficked day in their offices, with clients coming in to get drugs for their dogs.  A few years ago, I found a lost dog on the 4th of July. He was obviously a well-fed, groomed, and trained dog that escaped his yard when he heard the fireworks. When I called our local Humane Society, I was informed that it is the busiest time of the year for them, as more dogs are found wandering loose on July 4th than any other day of the year in the U.S.

Tips for providing a safe July 4th for your Canine Household:

1. Make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise earlier in the day.

2. Keep your dogs inside during fireworks, preferably with human companionship. If it’s hot, air conditioning will help. Bringing your dogs to a fireworks display is never a good idea.

3. 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 in the bathtub during windstorms.) If your dog is comfortable in a crate, that is a good option.

4. Keep the curtains closed, and if possible, also the windows.

5. Make sure all your dogs are wearing ID tags with a properly fitting collar. (Dogs have been known to become Houdini around the 4th of July.)

6. Leave your dog something fun to do – like a frozen Kong filled with his favorite treats.

7. Sound Therapy: Through a Dog’s Ear is specially designed classical music clinically demonstrated to calm canine anxiety issues. The Calm your Canine series (also available as downloads) has even replaced drugs for thousands of dogs on July 4th.

8. Desensitization combined with Sound Therapy: The Canine Noise Phobia series includes the above mentioned music along with progressive sounds of fireworks and positive reinforcement training protocol by Victoria Stilwell.

Wishing you and your canine and feline households a safe holiday. How have they reacted to fireworks in previous years? Thanks for sharing ways that you’ve made it easier for Fido and Fluffy.

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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I’ll Choose Door Number …???

A year ago my life changed. Because of my deep desire to improve the lives of dogs using sound therapy, I made the decision to sell my music school that I owned for 14 years and devote my full working time to the growth and expansion of Through a Dog’s Ear. Although it appeared as a decision I made, it felt as if life just made it for me. I just followed the signs that were showing up.

It is often said that when one door closes, another opens. When I said good-bye to my music school, I wasn’t sure what doors would open, I just trusted there were magnificent gifts behind all the doors.

Door #1: In January 2011, I attended Clicker Expo and met Victoria Stilwell, star dog trainer on Animal Planet’s “It’s Me or the Dog”. She had played Music to Calm your Canine Companion for stressed out dogs on several of her shows, with great results, so she was very familiar with Through a Dog’s Ear. Through the course of several months, Joshua Leeds and I enjoyed phone conferences with her, brainstorming ideas for a collaborative project. When discussing the needs of dogs, we wanted to create an auditory tool for the prevention and treatment of canine anxiety disorders, hence the creation of our joint project, the Canine Noise Phobia series.

CNP is an innovative desensitization training tool that combines three distinctive elements:

  • progressive sound effects (distant/close)
  • specially-designed psychoacoustic music (Through a Dog’s Ear)
  • reward-based reinforcement protocols (Victoria Stilwell)

We launched CNP at the Association of Pet Dog Trainer’s Conference in San Diego in October 2011, where Joshua and I were co-presenting. We were thrilled with the enthusiastic response from all the trainers and have enjoyed all the wonderful testimonials coming in since the October launch, including this from N. Weller in St. Louis, MO.

“I am preparing for the New Years Eve firworks. We are relaxing to the Canine Noise Phobia Fireworks CD. My skittish Greyhound fights hard to stay awake. The subtle fireworks make him stare at the speaker. Then he drifts off. 75+ lb brindle boy, sleeping like a baby. Mom might have to curl up too.”                

Door #2: When we launched our first CD in 2008, we knew that it would help calm dogs in shelters (as phase one of clinical research was tested in shelters), and we were hopeful that it would help increase adoption rates. So we started providing CD’s at cost to shelters and rescue organizations. The shelters played the two CD’s we sent them, Music to Calm your Canine Companion Vol. 1 and 2, and foster homes of the rescue organizations played them for their transitioning dogs. Our publisher, Sounds True, donated 2,500 CD’s to be sent home with the new adopters to play in their homes for their newly adopted dogs. By 2011, we had sent CD’s to about 400 shelters and many had reported an increase in adoption rates. The music was creating a quieter shelter environment, encouraging visitors to stay longer, and adoption rates were increasing.

In early 2011, Adopt-A-Pet.com had become familiar with Through a Dog’s Ear and our shelter program. We both share the mission of helping shelter and rescue dogs find their forever homes. They were able to match us with a corporate sponsor that donated 1,000 copies of Calm your Canine Companion Vol. 2 to 1,000 shelters throughout the United States at the end of 2011. We are thrilled that Through a Dog’s Ear music is helping even more dogs find their forever homes.

Door #3: On January 25, 2012, Through a Dog’s Ear was featured on Good Morning America on a segment called “Stress Busters for Anxious Pets”. We were honored to be one of four sensory integration products that was recommended by “America’s Vet”, Dr. Marty Becker.

Door #4: Two weeks after the Good Morning America feature, Music to Calm your Canine Companion Vol. 1 reached Billboard’s Classical Top 20 chart! When I was a student at Juilliard, I never could have guessed that I’d be going through the doggie door to make Billboard. Well, all I can say is, “My tail’s waggin!”

What’s behind Door #5? We create therapeutic sound tracks cross species. Stay tuned for some pretty exciting news about music we are releasing this year for an additional two species. What species are you interested in introducing to psychoacoustics?

Have you tried Sound Therapy for your dogs? Through a Dog’s Ear is the first 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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Reflections of a Very Dog Year

New Year’s Eve was really special this year. I performed an intimate concert in my living room to a lovely group of local music lovers. Sanchez and Gina soaked up all of the attention and, once they greeted all of the guests, slept comfortably in their dog beds near the piano. I couldn’t think of anyway that I’d rather bring in 2012.

The guests left by 10:30 and I had some quiet time to reflect on 2011. Through a Dog’s Ear experienced many memorable events and new partnerships. I attended Clicker Expo in January and met famed dog trainer Victoria Stilwell from Animal Planet’s It’s Me or the Dog. Only a few months later, Joshua Leeds and I started having phone conversations with her about collaborating on a project. We discussed the needs of dogs and their people and decided to focus on dogs who suffer from sound phobias – everything from sensitivity, to construction noise, to thunder-phobia, and, of course, the dreaded 4th of July fireworks.

Our discussions ultimately lead to the release of our Canine Noise Phobia series. CNP is an innovative desensitization training tool that combines three distinctive elements 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)

We also partnered with Adopt-A-Pet.com. They helped us find a corporate sponsor that funded the donation of 1,000 Through a Dog’s Ear CD’s to shelters across the country. This was a huge expansion of our already existing “Music in Shelters” program.

Earlier in the year, I sold my music school of 14 years, in the hopes of devoting all my energy to the growth of Through a Dog’sEar. This proved to be very good timing. Looking back, I don’t know how I would have managed to keep the school running with all of our new TaDE projects in 2011. And, I also am grateful to you, as all of this has been made possible because of your wonderful support. Thank you!

Have you tried Sound Therapy for your dogs? Through a Dog’s Ear is the first 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 Creation of the Canine Noise Phobia Series

Canine Noise Phobia 4-CD 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.

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