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How to Calm Dogs During the Holidays

December is my most stressful month of the year, and I’m not even much of a holiday shopper. (In fact, I make a commitment to not even enter a shopping mall between Thanksgiving and Christmas.) But, regardless, traffic intensifies everywhere I drive, crowds expand wherever I go, my workload increases, and my patience decreases.

The holiday season can be equally—if not more—stressful for our pets. In addition to feeling the stress of their humans, holidays are also usually filled with changes to their daily routines, which can create anxious pets. Cats in particular are creatures of habit and thrive on consistency.

While my dogs, Sanchez and Gina, don’t know that it’s December, I’m sure they feel my tension. As a canine music expert, I’ve learned how to relieve their stress with music. I developed Through a Dog’s Ear––clinically tested music that has been calming thousands of dogs worldwide, while also relieving anxiety issues—separation anxiety, sound phobias, fear, excessive barking, etc. The Calm your Canine Companion music series is clinically demonstrated to calm the canine nervous system. It’s sound therapy for dogs!

As humans, we can drink green tea, do yoga, meditate , and read inspirational material to balance our nervous systems. But, our pets are dependent upon us to provide a peaceful environment for them, as that can shape their health and behavior.

Canine music therapy can help provide that balance. Classical music has already been proven to calm dogs. The specially arranged classical compositions on the Through a Dog’s Ear recordings help calm the canine nervous system via tone, tempo, and pattern.

  1. Tone – Lower frequencies calm the canine (and human) nervous system. The piano arrangements are often played lower than originally written.
  2. Tempo – Compositions have been slowed down significantly to 40 to 60 BPM (beats per minute) causing the dogs to entrain to the music. Due to the natural process of entrainment, the heartbeat, breath, and brainwaves slow down to match the external periodic rhythm.
  3. Pattern – Complex patterns that inspire active listening are taken out and patterns are simplified. The listener is in passive hearing mode (rather than active listening) and passive hearing techniques facilitate relaxation.

And honestly, it’s not only calming for the dogs (and cats, in many cases). It’s equally relaxing and enjoyable for people, as evidenced by the comments I’ve received from people who have used it to relieve stress in their animals. 

As co-founder of Through a Dog’s Ear and the pianist on the CD series, it warms my heart that the music is improving the lives of dogs and their people worldwide. It is equally satisfying that people are becoming more sound-aware as they witness their pet’s reaction to the music. Sound is a potent energy that is not to be taken for granted – it has profound effects on all species.

In addition to their auditory canal, we can nurture all of their senses with natural calming products and techniques. There are beautiful aromatherapy products on the market that are calming for people and their pets. I personally use the Comfort and Calming aromatherapy sprays of The Scent Project, created by Nancy Tanner, Certified Professional Dog Trainer. The delightful mist sprays work well in crates, on dog beds, and in the house for you to enjoy as well.

Also, take extra time during the holidays to just let your dogs sniff and smell outdoors. Walking dogs for exercise is, of course, always beneficial. But, sometimes letting them be still and sniff to their heart’s content is very calming and joyous for them. Sanchez is recovering from an injury—while his physical abilities are temporarily limited, his nose is getting a great workout. And while he’s spending more time sniffing, I am experiencing a greater sense of calm and stillness at the other end of the leash.

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