Dog TV?

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So here’s a pretty stunning idea for dealing with your dog’s separation anxiety: Dog TV.

Yeah, you heard it right. There is a new TV channel out there developed specifically for Fido! The creators have put in years of research and consulted multiple pet experts: vets, behaviourists, trainers, you name it.

DOGTV is recognized by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), and uses concepts widely supported by leading organizations including The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) as a valuable product that contributes to the enrichment and quality of dogs’ lives.

dogtv

Not only did the authors choose special music to play in the background – which is what obviously spiked my interest – but also adjusted the colours of the video to appeal to your dog. They have three content types: something to relax your dog, something to stimulate him and even some learning programmes. The primary objective: to not let your pooch get bored while you’re away. They will be rolling out the channel nation-wide to all major providers real soon, and in the meantime, if you don’t happen to live in San Diego, you can try it out with online streaming for just $9.99 a month.

I have to say, at first I wasn’t convinced. Despite my encouragement, Vadim never seemed to enjoy TV. However, I try and keep an open mind – after all who would’ve expected “special pet music” to work so well? – and having reviewed all the materials presented on the website, I think I’d be quite keen to try. After all, we do always leave the radio on for Vadim while we’re gone and perhaps it is part of the reason he has been so great about staying home alone. It does make me wonder how much it is the sounds that are of importance in the TV concept and how much the actual images. Especially since they warn you shouldn’t expect our dog to just sit there and watch, rather he’s supposed to come along and stare for a bit every now and then.

Anyway, I chose three videos that I felt best explain the whole concept, so that you guys don’t have to plough through the entire DOG TV website (though if you are curious, I’d recommend it). First up, prof. Nicholas Dodman – Program Director of the Animal Behavior Department of Clinical Sciences at Tufts University, MA; one of the world’s most noted and celebrated veterinary behaviorists; author of best sellers about animal behavior and their sensory perception – talks about the science behind Dog TV and gives an overview of the idea.

Next, a short sample of Dog TV content. I chose the relaxation part, since this is what I’m most interested in. Note the music playing in the background!

Finally, a testimonial from one of the shelters that joined the programme already.

Testimonial Thursday

This week will be more of a test testimonial kind of thing. I stumbed upon this great reportage from ABC 1 Australia, about music and dogs.

ABC dog music
It starts with forming a dog band and ends with some scientific proof, as a well as a real world test showing how calming music can affect canines. It’s really cute, funny and another proof there is yet much to be discovered in the area of music for pets. I loved the Golden that smiled to guitar music at 4:27. Not to mention the singing Husky from the Sydney shelter 🙂 Unfortunately can’t find a way to embed the video, but just click the photo above to watch on ABC’s website.

Happy St Nicholas!

Something cute, festive and musical to brighten your St Nick’s Day! 🙂

And for ideas on what to stuff in your Fido’s sock (shoe?), check out:

Dog calming story

Last week I wrote about tips for surviving bonfire night. While researching that topic, I also found a pretty cool, albeit strange initiative sponsored by More Than Pet Insurance: a calming audiobook for dogs. It’s a story of big dog Stanley who finds a new friend. The key point however, is the way the story is read. Actor Simon Callow reads the book using specific tones and pronouncation, elongating some vowels, shortening some sentences, adding vibration to certain letters. The choice of these techniques is very specific, and has been developed in cooperation with dog behaviourist Karen Wild, in order to soothe your dog during a firework show. You are supposed to play the recording over the few days before bonfire night and then during it. Here’s a little sample:

I was immediately captivated by the idea, seeing how it is related to using music to calm a stressed canine. The dogs in the video seemed pretty chilled! Also, the comments on youtube are very positive about the effects. But I wonder if having the owner do this would be more effective? Surely, if it was a stranger’s voice my dog would just brush it off as background noise from radio or TV? What do you think? Has anyone tried audiobooks for dogs?

Remember, remember the major offender

Bonfire night or Guy Fawkes night is a massive stress generator for our furry friends. This is when we often helplessly watch our scared, axious dogs and cats run around the house, tremble and whimper while the noises get louder and louder. So how to calm your dog, cat or other pet during bonfire night while keeping them safe? Top tips:

  • make sure there is some way to ID your pet in case it runs away; if you have an ID badge, check your phone no is on it
  • create a “safe area” for your pet – preferably in a room with no windows, so they can’t see the lightning flash and somewhere where the thunder sound is muffled
  • give them something to do, e.g. a kong filled with treats works well for dogs
  • walk your dog before the major firework time, so there is no need to leave the house
  • do not leave your pet alone! It is terrified and needs your comfort badly
  • do not give your pet cold treatment or get angry at it for acting “inappropriate”; as one fellow blogger quoted:
    “You wouldn’t wait for someone who was drowning to stop screaming before you pulled them out of the water.” (Debbie Jacobs, seen on paws4udogs.wordpress.com)
  • try calming methods: the music on this blog for example

DogsTrust – a UK dog welfare charity – has put together a nice video with some more interesting advice:

Hope you are able to minimise your pet’s anxiety and have a great Guy Fawkes night! Amongst us humans, who doesn’t love the fireworks after all?

A great cause and an inspiring testimonial

Lately, I came across The Rescue Animal MP3 Project. They obtain licences from composers of pet-soothing music and distribute it for free to animal shelters. A great cause, especially since the testimonial is so positive about the music’s benefits. And no wonder really – a shelter full of stressed, barking dogs is put at ease by a CD supplied through the Project within 60 seconds of the record starting. See for yourselves:

Have you had any experience with this project or know of something similar? I would love to hear from you! Especially, since so far I seem to find calming music sold/used only in the US… Surely there must be something out there in other regions too?