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February 10, 2010

Can dogs relax to music?

I just had to blog this when I saw it! Music created just for dogs to relax by. What will they think of next? Actually after reading the article and watching the video, I'm considering it!

Lisa Spector, concert pianist and graduate of The Juilliard School is co-founder of BioAcoustic Research & Development, where she presided over the groundbreaking music and canine research conducted with 150 dogs. She is the pianist on the Through a Dog’s Ear music series. If you have a dog who could use a little calming at home or in the car, these CDs are for you.

Lisa has won first prizes in prestigious national piano competitions and performs concert tours internationally, so dogs and people lucky enough to hear her music are in for a treat. Click here for a few free downloads and samples of her calming music for dogs.

With her challenging puppy, she started to notice that when she played certain types of classical music, arranged with the same principles that calmed her human students, he would often curl up and take a nap near the piano. This triggered her curiosity – Would the same concepts that were so effective with people also work on dogs? It was 2003 that she first approached Joshua Leeds, a world renowned sound researcher with this idea.

The book Through a Dog’s Ear, written by Joshua Leeds and veterinary neurologist Susan Wagner, states that the process of hearing is the same in humans and dogs, but there are also important differences. Humans hear sounds between 20-20,000 Hz. Dogs hear a much wider frequency range, especially in the higher pitches. Estimates vary from 40,000 Hz all the way up to 55,000 Hz – depending on the breed. Sound is so important to dogs that their ears move constantly, like a radar dish, tuning in to sounds that we can’t even perceive.

Their psychoacoustically-designed classical music has helped dogs with separation anxiety, sound phobias (thunderstorms, fireworks, etc.) nervousness, fear, excitement with visitors, pre- and post-surgery, and even assisted in euthanasia. It is best to first start playing Music to Calm your Canine Companion when your dog is already calm and relaxed. Playing it at bedtime for a few nights is a good idea (and it will also help people fall asleep). Your dog will start associating the music with a sense of calm. If the music can be combined with something the dog already associates as relaxing, such as a massage, or gentle petting, that also helps. Then start playing the music before the anxiety issue is present. If it’s played for separation anxiety, make sure that the music is played at various times when you are home relaxing with your dog, so that he doesn’t learn that the music is always a predictor of you leaving. Then play the music for about 20 minutes before you leave the house and put it on repeat play. Graduating the amount of time that you are gone also helps.

The research on Through a Dog’s Ear, conducted on over 150 dogs, showed that 70% of shelter dogs and 80% of dogs in home environments calmed to the music and lay down. However, since our products have been on the market, even Lisa has been amazed at the stories people share about how helpful the music is and how quickly it works. They donate free CD’s to shelters. Currently 90 shelters in three countries are enrolled. They hear from so many of them how successfully it is working to calm dogs. In addition, trainers leading classes of shy and reactive dogs have been commenting on its effectiveness of calming the dogs and handlers and keeping everyone more focused.

Watch the video, it's really quite amazing!

February 5, 2010

OMG! This is actually real?

I've Tweeted a few stories lately about people getting violent when owners don’t clean up their dogs’ poop. There was the California man who shot and killed his neighbor’s dog for using his lawn as a toilet one too many times. And the man who rubbed poop all over a woman’s head because she didn’t clean up after her dog.

I’m sure that the people behind this "PooTrap" product would love to claim that if the dogs’ owners been using PooTrap, none of this would have happened. This video above — a must-watch — is a real-deal commercial. I thought this had to be something from Saturday Night Live, or a YouTube joke, but apparently the number 888-POO-TRAP is confirmed and this is a real product.

If Mojo or Oscar were to wear one of these contraptions, I have no doubt they would spend their entire walk trying to get it off. If they ran across their dog friends, they would surely be humiliated. They would not be a good candidates for the commercial’s “and your pets will love it, too…makes your walking experience fun!” angle.

It’s amazing that some dogs will tolerate this thing dangling from their hindquarters. (One yellow Lab in the commercial appears well equipped to pass his tolerant genes to the next generation…)

I love the PooTrap FAQs on the company’s site. I think maybe the PooTrap people should revisit this page with a good marketing person at their side. FAQs are meant to educate, and to promote a product, not to make people fall out of their chairs with laughter. Here are a few (all grammar and syntax taken directly from the site):
  • “Why it’s not as easy as your instruction video to put the PooTrap on my dog?” (Now there’s a big surprise! The commercial does promise “It’s easy to install on your dog.” I’ve never “installed” anything on my dog. I install things on my computer or on my walls, but not on my dog.) Partial answer, because the rest of the answer makes little sense: “…if they have any uncomfortable feelings, usually the uncomfortable feelings will be eased after 5 to 10 minutes.”
  • “I would rather like to pick up poop by myself?” (They provide no answer for this one. Huh.)
  • “Do you think PooTrap humiliates your dog when wearing the product?” Answer: “Babies wear diapers and they are truly loved by their parents, hence same applied to the dog owners who use our PooTrap do actually truly love their dogs.”
  • “Can the dog owner use the PooTrap on the dog at all times when walking them out?” (Oh, please say no! Please say take it off as soon as your dog poops! Please?) Answer: “It is not a problem to keep the PooTrap strapped onto your dog during the entire duration of your walk. It will not bother the dog. When a dog is having diarrhea, or if the owner just doesn’t feel like taking the PooTrap off the dog, feel free to keep the PooTrap on the dog.”

I like the ingenuity and the inspiration behind the contraption (never leave even a smear of poop on your lawn or in the park again) is commendable.

But the implementation is enough to have your dog pinching himself and praying he’ll wake up soon.

What do you think? Would you buy one for your dog?