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Misty Pines Gazette

June 2016
Volume XII: Issue 6

Table of Contents

Spring is here!

Upcoming Events for:

June

4

4

8

11

14

18

18

25

CGC/TDI Prep Class

Swimming Class

Starter Orientation

Agility

Puppy Orientation

CGC/TDI Prep Class

Swimming Class

Agility

...more

Warm Up and Practice
Dock Diving Trial

Sunday, July 24th

On Sunday, July 24th, Misty Pines Pet Company will host a Warm Up and Practice Dock Diving Trial. This will be a competition for practice, fun, ribbons and prizes.

There will be 2 rounds of jumps. One will be at 9:30 AM, and one at 12:30 PM. Each dog entered will get 2 jumps off the dock. The better of the two jumps will determine the dog’s division and place in that division. When the 12:30 jumps have concluded, the top 6 dogs of each division will jump for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place in their division. The top three places will receive a ribbon and prizes.

Novice Division: 1 inch to 9 feet 11 inches.
Junior Division: 10 feet to 14 feet 11 inches.
Senior Division: 15 feet to 19 feet 11 inches.
Master Division: 20 feet to 22 feet 11 inches.
Elite Division: 23 feet to 24 feet 11 inches.
Super Elite Division: 25 feet and above.

An open practice for beginner and non-jumping dogs with the Three Rivers Dockdog members will take place from 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM. This practice is limited to 15 dogs.

No parking will be permitted along the driveway. All parking will be in the parking lots at the top of the driveway. Each handler will need to sign in, pay and obtain a wrist band at the main office before proceeding to the dock. Participants and spectators are asked to bring lawn chairs to sit along the hillside, which will provide a spectacular view of the event.

Each round of jumps, at 9:30 AM and 12:30 PM, will have a 50 dog maximum, so be sure to get your spot soon. Participants will be organized into groups of 10 and each group will be assigned a jump time.

Each handler/dog team needs to be here 1 hour before their dock dive slot, which would be 9:00a or 11:00a.

$15 per entry.

Click here for Official Rules.

You may register for the July 24th Warm Up and Practice Dock Diving Trial online by clicking here.

Congratulations

Kelly Grace

Congratulations to Kelly Grace and Fable (pointer) for multiple wins in the show ring in the past few weeks. At the Kent Kennel Club in Chatham, Ontario Fable took Best Puppy all three days, Winners Dog all three days, Best of Winners on Friday and beat a 2 year old American Champion for his first point.

Fable, also known as Cumbrian Solaris CGC, took Best of Breed at the New Castle Dog Show Series Puppy Match on Friday night, Winners Dog and Best of Breed (Owner - Handler) on both Sunday and Monday for his first American points.

Keep up the good work Kelly!

Marleen Ashton

Congratulations to Marleen Ashton and Amy (gsd) on winning the AKC Open A Obedience Division Title on April 30th at the Butler Dog Show.

Marleen and Amy have put in many hours of work to achieve this title and we are very proud of both of them.

Dave Hoover

Dave Hoover and his dog Lambert (choc. lab) successfully met the requirements for the One Mile, One Hour Stay club. Lambert was placed on a Down-Stay in the training building on a busy Saturday. His owners, Dave and Jane Hoover, left the building and took a visit to Starbucks. When they came back an hour later, Lambert had not moved.

Lambert is the first dog to pass this test since 2012 and only the second dog to achieve this milestone in the past 10 years. Congratulations Lambert and Dave, we know how much effort this takes and it is not a challenge undertaken lightly. We're proud of both of you.

Billy Loya

Billy Loya has been on fire lately achieving his Rally Novice B Title with his Golden Retriever, Buddy, as well as taking 1st Place in Intermediate Novice Junior Handling and 1st Place in Veterans Confirmation Class on Sunday and Monday at the New Castle Dog Show Series over Memorial Day weekend.

Billy and Buddy also took 1st Place in Intermediate Novice Junior Handling and 1st Place in Veterans at the Monroeville Dog Show. They have already achieved their Novice A Ranking as of last year and are now working towards their Rally Excellent A title.

Be sure to give Billy a pat on the back as you see him around Misty Pines working with our training dogs and assisting in classes and Kid's Camp. Keep it up Billy! We're sure there's lots more good things to come for you.

June Specials

15% Off all Calming Aids

With the Fourth of July right around the corner and Summer plans beginning to be made it's a good time to get what you need to help your furry buddy have a relaxed, calm Summer. All of our calming aids are on sale all month long. Be sure to read the articles this month to find out how to "de-stress" your dog this Summer and hopefully for years to come.

NutriCalm for pets. Relaxes but does not sedate Burt's Bees Calming Spray MelatoninThundershirt

Product Spotlight

Thundershirt

ThunderShirt's patented design applies a gentle, constant pressure that has a dramatic calming effect for over 80% of dogs.

  • Most effective anxiety solution as voted by veterinarians
  • Already helping hundreds of thousands of dogs and cats across the country
  • Great for storms, separation, travel and many other anxieties
  • No need for training or medication

SCIENTIFIC SUPPORT

When ThunderShirt was first launched, very little research existed about dog anxieties and the use of pressure to relieve pet anxiety. Beginning in 2011, ThunderWorks began surveying the general population of families with dogs and cats to get a better understanding of many issues including: how common are dog and cat anxiety and fear issues; what are the different types of issues; what solutions are families trying for these problems; how effective are those solutions? Scientific studies have also been conducted exploring the effectiveness of ThunderShirts on dog anxiety, including by the renowned expert, Dr. Temple Grandin.

Please see the below links for additional information about these surveys and research.



CLASSES & EVENTS

CGC/TDI/Service Dog/Public Access Prep Class

Saturday, June 4th @ 8:00 AM

Swimming

Saturday, June 4th @ 2:30 PM

Agility

Saturday, June 11th @ 8:00 AM

North Park

Tuesday, June 14th @ 6:30 PM

CGC/TDI/Service Dog/Public Access Prep Class

Saturday, June 18th @ 8:00 AM

Swimming

Saturday, June 18th @ 2:30 PM

Agility

Saturday, June 25th @ 8:00 AM

LOOKING AHEAD

CGC/TDI/Service Dog/Public Access Prep Class

Saturday, July 2nd @ 8:00 AM

Swimming

Saturday, July 2nd @ 2:30 PM

Agility

Saturday, July 9th @ 8:00 AM

Kids Camp

Mon. - Wed, July 11 - 13 @ 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM

North Park

Tuesday, July 12th @ 6:30 PM

CGC/TDI/Service Dog/Public Access Prep Class

Saturday, July 16th @ 8:00 AM

Agility

Saturday, July 23rd @ 8:00 AM

Warm Up and Practice Dock Diving Trial

Sunday, July 24th beginning @ 9:30 AM

Kids Camp

Mon. - Wed, July 25 - 27 @ 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Nuisance Behaviors

Saturday, July 30th @ 8:00 AM

Melatonin: Nothing to snooze at

Melatonin for storm shy dogs

Melatonin is a natural hormone nutrient that is synthesized from the amino acid tryptophan by the pineal gland in the back of the brain. Melatonin also occurs in small amounts in a variety of foods. In the body, melatonin appears to regulate sleep/wake cycles, support normal immune function, and protect cells from free radical damage.

Melatonin is a naturally occurring substance produced by the pineal gland located in the brains of mammals. It is, by definition, a hormone and has been found to be involved in circadian rhythms - those inner cycles that tell all mammals when to sleep and when to wake. In recent years melatonin has been marketed for people as a “natural” aid to sleeping.

Most of the research on melatonin has focused on its roles in maintaining normal sleep/wake rhythms. The perception of daylight in the eyes is a signal for the pineal gland to inhibit melatonin synthesis and release. At night or in the dark, the body’s melatonin production rises. The rise in plasma melatonin is thought to be responsible for bringing on sleep. Nocturnal melatonin production is highest in children and begins to decline from adolescence on until it is virtually absent in the elderly.

Melatonin supports normal immune function by helping maintain the activity of circulating natural killer cells. It also has been found to function as an antagonist for stress-induced immunosuppression. Melatonin is considered a potent antioxidant that enters all body cells to help prevent free radical damage. In the brain, melatonin is perhaps the most important physiological antioxidant. Due to its lipid and water-soluble properties, it can freely cross the blood-brain barrier.

In vitro studies show that melatonin is more effective than glutathione in scavenging toxic hydroxyl radicals, and also more efficient than vitamin E in neutralizing peroxyl radicals which can induce DNA damage.

weathering the stormMelatonin has been found to be helpful when used with dogs who have “thunder-phobia,” other noise-related reactions and other stressful situations. Melatonin has been used effectively to reduce seizures in dogs that seize between 11 PM and 6 AM. Quite a few members of our Canine Epilepsy community have also discovered that it seems to lessen the freque3ncy and/or severity of seizures at other times at the day.

An article in the May 2000 issue of The Whole Dog Journal is an article on melatonin and the positive results with noise and thunder-phobic dogs. The article begins on page 3 and is titled “Bring in Da Noise.” The article has comments by Dr. Dodman and Dr. Linda Aronson.

Dr. Nicholas Dodman and his colleague Dr. Linda Aronson of the behavioral section at Tufts New England Veterinary Medical Center had been looking for something that would help reduce canine thunderstorm phobias when they discovered research papers on the effect of melatonin. Research indicated a positive effect of melatonin on dogs that continually lick their flanks as well as a calming effect on chickens in overcrowded conditions.

Drs. Dodman and Aronson wondered whether melatonin might work on noise phobic dogs. The first dog to try it was Dr. Aronson's own Bearded Collie who had severe thunder phobia after lightning struck very near her house. The effect of the melatonin was dramatic. The dog simply stopped being afraid instead of tearing around the house and digging at the carpets. The melatonin did not put her to sleep, she stayed awake and alert -- just not bothered by the thunder.

Drs. Dodman and Aronson then gave the melatonin to other dogs and produced the same result. Melatonin worked for other noise fears (one dog was afraid of songbirds) as well, including fireworks!

Another article with references to the use of melatonin in dogs can be found in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, Volume 215, No. 1 July 1999. “Vet Med Today: Animal Behavior Case of the Month” was written by Linda Aronson, DVM, MA; from the Department of Clinical Studies, School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University, North Grafton, MA.

The following is an excerpt from an email by Dr. Aronson: “To treat thunderstorm phobia, I use a dose of 3 mg for a 35 – 100 lb dog. Smaller dogs get 1.5 mg, and larger dogs may get 6 mg. The dose is give either at first evidence of thunderstorm – dog becomes agitated, distant rumbling of thunder, etc. or prophylactically before the owner leaves the house when thunderstorms are predicted. Dos may be repeated up to 3 times daily. The latter may be used as a dose for animals with more generalized stress related disorders.”

Melatonin pills

You can give your dog melatonin before you leave for the day if thunderstorms are predicted because it remains effective for several hours. Otherwise, give it when thunder seems imminent. Give melatonin immediately when you see your dog becoming agitated. If your dog has autoimmune disease or severe liver or kidney disease, check with your veterinarian before giving melatonin.

Melatonin is sold in capsules and tablets in health food stores, pharmacies and some supermarkets. It is sold in doses as low as 200 micrograms (mcg.). For most dogs, Aronson prescribes 3 milligrams (mg.) In a few cases, dogs weighing over one hundred pounds needed 6 mg. but that was unusual. Aronson usually gives dogs that weigh less than 30 pounds, 1.5 mg. Although they have not treated any phobic really tiny dogs, Aronson would reduce the dosage further for them.

It's important to read the labels on melatonin bottles very carefully. Some are mixed with herbs or nutrients that may not be safe for dogs. Make sure you buy the correct dosage for your size dog. Remember, there are 1,000 micrograms (mcg.) in a milligram (mg.) so a 200 mcg. pill contains only 1/15 of the amount recommended for a large dog.

Because melatonin is not regulated by any federal agency, the quality varies greatly from manufacturer to manufacturer. If an inferior product is administered, it may not be effective in calming a dog whereas a higher quality product might be. We cannot recommend any particular brand that is best, so the best course of action is purchase the product from a supplier you trust and believe to carry better quality. Some holistic veterinarians sell melatonin and their products might be better quality.

Melatonin capsules, as provided by Douglas Laboratories, contain 3 mg of highest purity melatonin produce under strict Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) standards and are available at Misty Pines in Regular and Prolonged Release formulas.

We have compiled a 15 page PDF about Melatonin and other useful calming agents that you may read or download here.



A Stress-Free Way For Trimming Your Dog's Toenails

trimming your dog's toenails

The most common reasons for avoiding nail trims are that the owner is afraid of "quicking" the dog, or that the dog fusses and creates bad feelings around the procedure. Nail cutting becomes an event surrounded by angst and drama. For very active dogs who run all day long on varied surfaces, cutting nails may not be necessary. High mileage wears them down naturally. But among city or suburban dogs who are lucky to get a mile or two walk daily, excessively long toenails are more common than not.

Consequences Of Long Toenails

So what's the big deal? The first consequence of long toenails is painful feet. When a dog's toenails contact hard ground, like a sidewalk or your kitchen floor, the hard surface pushes the nail back up into the nail bed. This either puts pressure on all the toe joints or forces the toe to twist to the side. Either way, those toes become very sore, even arthritic. When the slightest touch is painful to your dog, he will fuss when you pick up his paw to cut nails.

The second consequence of long toenails is more serious. All animals rely on information from nerves in their feet to move through the world and process gravity accurately. For millions of years, wild dogs have run long distances while hunting and worn their nails short. The only time their toenails would touch the ground was when climbing a hill. So a dog's brain is evolutionarily programmed to associate toenail contact with being on a hill, and he shifts his body posture accordingly: leaning forward over his forelimbs, up the imaginary hill as reported by his toes. Since the hill is not real, a secondary compensation with his hind limbs is necessary to avoid a face plant. This abnormal compensatory posture can be called "goat on a rock," because it brings his paws closer together under his body.

Normal neutral posture is a nice show dog "stack," with vertical legs like a table. Recent research shows that standing with limbs "camped-in" is hard work to maintain. These goat-on-a-rock dogs get over-used muscles and eventually over-used joints, especially in their hind limbs, making it difficult to jump in cars, climb stairs and even hard to get up from lying down. Sounds like a lot of older dogs we know! Cutting toenails short can be like a miracle cure for your dog whose hind end has become painful, weak and over-used.  Ideally, toe nail maintenance requires a trim every two weeks, just like maintaining human fingernails. If you can hear nails clicking on your kitchen floor, they are much too long.

How To Trim The Toenail

trimming nails
    Tools Of The Trade
  • Select a "scissor" type clippers. Guillotine style clippers crush the toe, which is painful.
  • Trim nails outside or in a well lit room.
  • Use your fingers to separate the toes for clipping and hold the paw gently. Start on the hind feet, because the nails tend to be a little shorter and less sensitive than the front. Each dog's nails are different, but very long toenails often become dry and cracked, with a clear separation of the living tissue and the insensitive nail. This will make it easier to trim back longer nails. It's actually easier to see the nail structures on pigmented nails than on white ones. The insensitive nail will show as a chalky ring around the sensitive quick.
  • Keep clipper blades at a slight to the nail - never cut across the finger. Use several small cuts around the quick to round the nail
  • Make nail trimming fun: Make nail trimming "quality time" you spend with your dog. Lots of kisses, lots of treats and a positive attitude go a long way. If you dread it, your dog will too, so learn how to be a good actor until you succeed in believing it can be a loving experience for you both. If your dog loses patience quickly, try cutting one nail a day.
  • Remember, no dog ever died from a quicked toenail. If you "quick" your dog accidentally, give a yummy treat right away. Use a styptic powder, corn starch to staunch the bleeding if you make a nail leak. With shallow cuts, this will be rare.
  • Ideally, cut nails every two weeks.  Once the insensitive nail is thinned out and isn't supporting the quick, the quick will dry up and recede. This will allow you to cut your dog's nails even shorter.
Inside of nails

What's inside your dog's toenail? (image above) On the left, the interior structures are shown, along with the suggested angle to remove the "roof" of the nail, while not harming the sensitive quick. On a black claw, the interface between sensitive and insensitive nail is usually chalky and white – very easy to discern. On the right is a close-up view of the inside of the nail. On cross section, the sensitive quick will look translucent and glossy, like living flesh. In untrimmed claws, there will often be a "notch" below the tip of the quick. It is usually safe to initiate your angled cut at the notch.

Try Nail Grinding Instead of Trimming

Grinding your dog's nails can indeed be easier.  If you buy a grinder made especially for dogs, it'll come with the right grinding head. Otherwise, choose a medium-grit sandpaper or stone tip for your Dremel or other general-purpose hand-held grinder. Both cordless and corded models seem to work just as well for this task, but the cordless may be easier for beginners to handle.

In the early stages of training, just let your dog see the grinder, and praise and treat. In a later session, turn the grinder on and praise and treat. Praise and treat for your dog progressively, allowing the grinder to get closer to a paw and to briefly touch a nail tip. The first time you grind -- which may be several sessions after the first introduction -- be happy with working a little with just one nail, and don't forget to praise and treat.

    Pros for Nail Grinding
  • Pet nail grinders can be used to safely trim and smooth a dog's nails while reducing the risk of cutting the cuticle bed of the nails. Once the cuticle is cut, it can cause pain and excessive bleeding.
  • Nail Grinders result in a smooth nail tip that reduces scratching; this type of trim is especially beneficial to reduce any accidental scratch wounds to seniors, children, or persons with lowered immune function.
  • Nail grinders are available in electric, battery, and chargeable models, and these various models may be conveniently used in any home, office or outdoor setting.
  • The use of pet clippers can pinch the nails, which may cause pain and foster anxiety during a nail trimming; the use of a dog nail grinder eliminates pinching or pressure on the nail.
  • Nail grinders are especially beneficial for dogs that have extremely thick nails that do not fit well into traditional manual nail clippers.
  • On occasion, the use of a nail clipper can cause a nail to crack; nail grinders eliminate any risks of cracks or tears on the nails that may occur if the nails are cut.
  • When a dog's nails are cut with a nail trimmer, a sharp cracking noise may occur as each nail is trimmed, causing some dogs become fearful or anxious each time they hear this noise. A nail grinder emits a consistent humming noise, instead of a sharp cracking noise, which may be more comforting to some dogs.

What to Do If Your Dog Does Not Like Nail Trimming

Some dogs act like cutting their nails is their worst nightmare. This may be a learned behavior from their painful, over stimulated toes, which will slowly dissipate along with the pain once the nails are short.

Remember, there is no rule that says all feet must be trimmed at one time.  Take small steps and stop BEFORE your pet gets upset.  Your dog really should think of nail trims like a mani/pedi spa experience, not torture.

Trimming nails is not an emergency. If your dog will not take treats it is because they are very fearful and anxious.  In this heightened state of anxiety, in your dogs mind, everything seems a lot more traumatic than it is. If we trim your dog's nails when they are in this state, even if it is performed without incident, we decrease your dog's trust in us, as well as in you. We certainly do not want to contribute to your pet's anxiety.

We can train animals to love procedures and other things that they dislike or even hate by combining the process of counter conditioning with desensitization.

With classical counter conditioning we train the pet to associate the handling with things she likes such as food, treats, petting, or play so that she's in a positive emotional state rather than feeling fearful or angry. We generally combine counter conditioning with desensitization, meaning that we start by introducing the handling or aversive stimulus at a level that the pet barely notices and gradually increase the level. The goal throughout the process is that the pet always acts as though she doesn't even notice the handling or stimulus that she previously disliked.

With operant counter conditioning, we train the pet to perform a behavior that's incompatible with the undesirable behavior. Ideally the pet earns a reward so that she's simultaneously learning a positive association with the situation. For instance, we may reward a pet to remain stationary and calm while you perform a given procedure.

Step 1: First get the dog used to having his feet touched using classical counter conditioning. Handle his feet while giving treats. Then stop handling and stop giving treats simultaneously. Repeat.

Step 2: Switching to operant counter conditioning, now handle the feet without giving treats. As soon as you stop touching the feet, reward the puppy for holding still. If needed, you can add an intermediate step where you pair treats with foot handling 1 or more seconds after you start handling the feet.

Step 3: Add the toenail trimmers. Clip one or two nails and then reward for calm behavior before he struggles. If your dog is struggling still, just do one nail then reward and call it a night. There is no rule that says all the nails must be clipped at the same time. If you manage to do one nail and then reward and end on a good note it's better than forcing yourself to get them all done but causing psychological to your dog.

If you find that this is difficult for you or perhaps you don't want to even attempt trimming your dog's nails, let our professional groomer's help. Nail trimming or grinding is a walk-in service that may be performed any time; no appointment necessary. Nail trims are $11 and grinding is $21. This month nail trimming and grinding is 25% off. There's no better time to start good habits and get your dog on a regular nail trimming schedule. If you have a young puppy it's that much more important to begin your good habits early and start a lifetime of happy feet! If your dog is already past the point where you can safely work with him, please come in for a 1/2 hour behavior session to work on desensitization and using a clicker to help you capture the positive behaviors and eliminate the negative ones.

    References:
  • Low Stress Handling, Restraint and Behavior Modification of Dogs and Cats. by Dr. Sophia Yin. (www.nerdbook.com)
  • Nail Trims- Really Shouldn't Be Scary by Colleen S. Koch , DVM, KPA-CTP, Featured in Veterinary Technician Magazine (www.lincolnlandac.com)
  • (Illustrations by Michael A Simmons MFA)


Celebrate Freedom From Noise Related Fear And Anxiety

dogs afraid of fireworks

Wouldn't it be nice if we could sit our dogs down and have a nice conversation with them over a cup of coffee or a glass of ice water? Oh sure, there are a multitude of ways to communicate with our dogs but when it comes down to it there is no way to rationalize with a dog or any other animal. At Misty Pines we say that dog's don't understand "bad behavior" they only understand "behavior." This puts it on our shoulders to help the dog realize what behaviors we would like them to display and when and how to display them. When it comes to fear, this task becomes much more difficult and can often times require a trained professional to help the dog over come its fear. In certain cases the fear can never be removed, however it can be managed.

One of the biggest fears that dogs have is a fear of loud noises.

Due to this common fear more dogs run away and become lost on the 4th of July than any other day of the year. Preparations for the loud bangs, whistles, sizzles and pops that a dog will hear during backyard and professional celebrations should begin at an early age. When starting a bird dog as a pup we recommend banging its food bowls together and dropping books on the floor as a way of making loud, unexpected bangs part of the puppy's normal life and something that can be ignored.

If the dog is out of puppy hood and is still experiencing problems with relation to storms or other loud noises it would be best to schedule an appointment with our Canine Behavior Consultant, Jeff Woods. The articles below contain useful information to help owners and pets cope with noise related anxieties and fears until you are able to have a consultation and begin the rehabilitation process:

Managing Noise and Storm Phobias

Is your dog scared of thunder?When the problematic noise or storm is occurring, how you manage the situation can help your pet cope and hopefully minimize your pet’s distress. Medication is a useful adjunct for very distressed pets but should only be used under veterinary supervision. Make sure to have prescribed medication on hand. Event medications work best if given at least 30 minutes prior to the stressful situation. Some severely affected animals may be prescribed daily medication during storm season or other noisy periods like the 4th of July holiday period.

    Pitfalls to avoid:
  • Punishment must never be used since it will only increase rather than decrease your pet’s distress.
  • Encouragement, praise, or fostering are not helpful either as the pet may interpret them as rewards for the behavior they are performing at the time.
  • Try to remain calm yourself. If you are calm, it will help your pet.
    Useful interventions:
  • If possible, make sure your pet is not alone during the stressful event.
  • Create a safe and secure environment for your pet. This might be a darkened room where lightning flashes will not be noted or a windowless indoor room where sound is muted.
    • If your pet has self-selected a hiding place, do not try to forcibly remove them. This is not helpful and may result in an aggressive response.
  • Try playing music that is loud or has a strong beat or some type of white noise (such as an exhaust fan) to muffle the outside noises that cause the distress.
  • Playing with familiar toys, engaging in games, or practicing obedience may help to distract the pet.
  • Use of a head collar and leash may offer additional control and can be calming for some dogs.
  • If you have pre trained your pet to go and settle on a mat, bed, or other location, use this strategy to help calm the pet.
  • Finally, once the event has passed, be proactive and contact Misty Pines for information on how to start desensitization and counter conditioning exercises to help your pet cope better with the next episode.

Thunder Struck

By Nancy Kay, DVM

When we moved from California six months ago, I suspected that our two dogs, Nellie and Quinn, might not take kindly to the frequent thunderstorms we would experience in the mountains of North Carolina. My hunch was accurate. While I was enjoying the late afternoon rockin’ and a rollin’ my two little pumpkins were experiencing a whole lot of shakin’ and quakin’! Left to her own devices, I sense that Nellie would not be bothered by the thunder, but her best buddy Quinn’s panting, yawning, trembling, and clingy behavior were clearly a bit contagious.

I needed help and sought advice from colleagues who specialize in dog training and behavior. They had several good suggestions for riding out the storm with a thunder-phobic dog.

  • Step number one is to pay close attention to weather forecasts and know when thunderstorms are likely to roll in. Anti-anxiety strategies are far more effective when implemented before rather than after Mother Nature’s “music” begins.
  • Provide a “safe place” for your dog to ride out the storm. Ideally, this is a small, dark space such as a crate (door left open) or an enclosed room with curtains drawn along with a radio or stereo playing to drown out the sound of the thunder. Acclimate your dog to this environment. It will help if he associates this special spot with special treats or a food-dispensing toy.
  • The Thundershirt® is a tight fitting wraparound body shirt designed to apply gentle, constant pressure to the dog’s torso. This contact is intended to reduce anxiety and fearfulness. Researcher Temple Grandin believes that such “body enclosure” has a profoundly calming effect.
  • Desensitization is another option in which a recording of thunder sounds is initially played at a low enough volume that it does not appear to cause any fear or anxiety for the dog. The volume of the recording is very slowly increased over time until the dog no longer responds to the sound, even when loud enough to mimic real thunder. Add to this desensitization some counter-conditioning in which the dog receives something cherished (tug-of-war, food treats, brushing, tummy rub) while the thunder recording is playing, and he will hopefully begin to react to the real thing with pleasant associations rather than distress.
  • Pheromone sprays and collars are safe and relatively inexpensive and may reduce thunder-associated anxiety.
  • Natural supplements such as L-theanine (an amino acid found in tea leaves) and melatonin (a naturally occurring hormone) may decrease anxiety in response to thunder.
  • Medications that reduce anxiety (anxiolytics) may be of benefit. Benzodiazepine drugs, such as Valium and Xanax, are potent anxiolytics when used at the lower end of the dosage range. At higher dosages they tend to cause sedation. After consultation with your veterinarian, a “practice dose” or two should be tested independent of a storm to find the appropriate dose for your dog. Acepromazine, a commonly prescribed tranquilizer for dogs, is not recommended because it causes sedation but does not significantly reduce anxiety.
  • Easier said than done, but do your best to relax and behave as if everything is completely normal during the course of a storm. Any anxiety on your part will be contagious to that mind-reading four-legged companion of yours.

I encourage you to consult with your veterinarian and a reputable trainer or behaviorist as part of your dog’s thunder desensitization program. Also know that the techniques described above can be utilized for most any noise phobias (fireworks, shotgun blasts, etc.).

Here’s what I’ve done thus far to alleviate Quinn’s thunder-phobia which has, in turn, markedly reduced Nellie’s anxiety. Quinn wears a pheromone collar and when thunderstorms are in the forecast, I give him a morning dose of melatonin. These tactics combined with use of a Thundershirt® and my consciously calm behavior seem to be turning the tide for my “thunder-struck” little boy.


Firework Phobia

Image Credit: Jez Rose

Desensitization techniques such as sound CDs may be recommended during a consultation and may even be tried at home. For more information on how these CDs are to be used or to schedule a consultation or talk to a trainer, please call 412.364.4122. Our office staff is happy to arrange a consultation or to direct your call to the appropriate trainer/personnel.

Price: $16.99

The intent of this CD is to provide a convenient tool to help desensitize your dog to noises that may bother him. There are several different tracks with slightly different versions of the featured sound, so your dog won't learn "it's just the CD." Instructions, which are on a separate track so they can be skipped, include how to work with the dog, information on choosing a good instructor or behaviorist, and warning of things that could go wrong.

Available subjects: Babies, Children, Dogs, Fireworks, Guns and Hunting, Thunderstorms, Vacuums and Kitchen.

Starting at: $6.99

Kong products are the quintessential dog toy! These toys are virtually indestructible, even for the toughest chewers. From puppies through adolescents on to adults, this is such an interactive toy that accomplishes a variety of goals. Kongs are truly the chameleon of toys.

Kongs also help with Housetraining, Crate Training, Separation Anxiety and any other instance where you need to occupy the dog for any length of time.

Available sizes: Small, Medium, Large, X-Large and XX-Large (King Kong).


 


Therapy Dog Visits

Locations To Visit

Once your dog has passed their Therapy Dog International certification, it's time for the fun to begin. Read below for a list of places that are always looking for registered therapy dogs to brighten the day of the patients and residents:

Interroom Hospice
Contact: Barbara Hammil - 412-371-3726.

Washinton-Greene Alternative Residental Services
Contact: Valerie Loughman - 724-228-7716.

Community Options
Contact: Jessica Kubas - 412-431-7079.

Heritage Hospice
Contact: Erica Kinkade - 724-334-6600.

Adelphoi
Contact: Bethanne Petrylak - 570-579-8700.

Remed
Contact: Tina - 412-477-0901.

Cranberry Township Library
Dog reading program. Looking for 3-4 dogs, the third Thursday of each month from 6:30 – 7:30 pm
Contact: Annemarie Lamperski.

Baden Memorial Library
Dog reading program. Need volunteer for 2 Thursdays per month from 5:00pm - 6:30pm
and 1 Saturday per month for 1 1/2 hours.
Contact: Kathleen Wagner

Gateway Hospice
Contact: Sr. Linda Larkman OSB, Volunteer Coordinator - 412-737-0969

West Haven Manor
Contact: Karen Zimmerman, Coordinator of Volunteer Services - 724-727-3451

North Hills Health and Rehabilitation Center
Contact: Teri A. Slimick - 724-935-3781

McGuire Memorial
Contact: Susan Matlock - 724-843-3400

Excela Health Home Care and Hospice (Westmoreland County)
Contact: Joan Roth, Volunteer Coordinator - 724-689-1653

Family Hospice Palliative Care
www.familyhospice.com/
Contact: Pam Tomczak - 412-572-8803

Western Pa. Humane Society coordinates visits to multiple locations in the community with volunteers who have Certified Therapy Dogs.
Contact: Joy Kealey.

Odyssey Health Care
Cliff Mine Rd., Pittsburgh
Contact: Barbara Coulter - 1-800-861-8584

Condordia of Franklin Park
Contact: Carol Kosela - 724-935-1075 ext. 103

VA Hospitals in Pittsburgh
Activities Director - 412-688-6000 ext. 3682

Country Meadows (South Hills)
Activities Director - 412-257-4566

Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh
Volunteer Coordinator - 412-690-6508

Animal Friends coordinates a Pet Assisted Therapy program that visits multiple locations.
To join their therapy group or request visits contact Ann Cadman - 412-847-7031.

Allegheny General Hospital
Jennifer Kopar - 412-359-3067

Tail Waggin Tutors at Baden Library
Laura Bain - 724-869-3960

Heartland Hospice
Barb Kralik, Volunteer Coordinator - 412-919-5617

Caring Hospice Services
Brittany Bailey, Volunteer Coordinator - 412-563-3300

Concordia of Wexford
Michelle Moon - 724-935-1266

Passavant Memorial Homes and Subsidiaries
Colleen Perry, Social Services Coordinator - 412-820-1015 ext. 521

Services & Teams

If you would like to have Therapy Dogs visit your facility, please contact one of the following Therapy Dog Teams or contact Misty Pines to have your facility listed in the above section so that our teams may contact you. Click the link below for teams that are interested in visiting those in need of therapeutic visits from their furry friends:

Pets With Heart, Pet Therapy
Sister Sharon Costello: 724-869-6545
sharon@sisterspettherapy.com

Western Pa. Humane Society coordinates visits to multiple locations in the community with volunteers who have Certified Therapy Dogs.
Contact: Joy Kealey.

Animal Friends coordinates a Pet Assisted Therapy program that visits multiple locations.
To join their therapy group or request visits contact Ann Cadman - (412) 847-7031.

"The golden gift is this: Intimately connected with his own emotions, the dog cannot lie. What he feels, he expresses. What he shows in his body posture is true, without guile, completely and utterly honest. Distanced from our own feelings, bound by our fears, we treasure and are amazed by this quality of complete truth in our dogs."

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