Monday, October 29, 2012

Susan Sharpe’s Tips for Helping your Dog “Weather” Hurricane Sandy

1. Breathe.
Dogs first pick up on our body language, state of mind, and the energy in the room. When things are chaotic and you’re feeling stressed, so are they. While you can’t control the weather conditions or the fact that you may be staying at a different location, you can allow yourself and your pets a few moments of calm. Even if you’re sitting on a cot in a temporary housing shelter, sit quietly with your family and pets for just a few minutes. Breathe deeply. You’ll notice your pets (and children) will respond similarly and relax. Just giving them (and yourself) a few moments of calm will help lower the stress levels.

2. Secure.
ID your pets. Be sure your pets have ID on their collars and that it’s readable. Oils from their coats can erase information more quickly than you think. Double check their collars are securely fastened.

Use crates/carriers. Cats should be in their carriers/crates. If you’re concerned you may need to evacuate the house quickly, put your cat(s) in the carrier before the storm approaches. That way you can easily grab and go if needed. Your dog should feel secure in his/her crate. You may want to move the crate to be in the same room you are during the storm to help your dog be more comfortable. If he/she is showing signs of stress, cover the crate with blankets but allow fresh air to circulate. Provide peanut-butter-stuffed toys or other toys/treats that will occupy him/her.

3. Storm Anxiety.
Wrap Him. Use Anxiety Wrap, Quiet Dog, or any other tool you have that helps relax your dog at the first sign of storm anxiety. As usual, once you apply Anxiety Wrap or Quiet Dog, don’t interact with your dog. Remain calm and neutral otherwise you may risk increasing your dog’s anxiety level. If your dog begins to run anxiously throughout the house, crate him or tether him with a leash to a fixed object where he feels protected to avoid having his adrenaline level rise further. Some dogs are task-oriented and may fare better if leashed and walked through the house practicing commands. Use the house like an obstacle course and give lots of juicy treats as you go. If your dog prefers a dark closet, allow him/her to use it as a safe place as long as he’s not being destructive. You know your dog best and know which approach is best.

Other Tips. If you have electricity: a) gently place cotton ball in each ear to muffle the storm sounds; and b) turn on the TV/radio/van/dryer/washing machine to muffle the storm sounds and provide a familiar one to help comfort them.

If lightning/thundering: dampen Anxiety Wrap to prevent static charges from scaring the dog; close the window curtains and also turn on outside and inside lights to help mask the lightning flashes.

4. Travel Anxiety.
Calm and Contain. Use Anxiety Wrap, Quiet Dog, or any tool you have to help relax your dog. You want to associate any change/new thing to = “I get yummy treats!” in your dog’s mind. You can always cut back on your dog’s daily food ration to make up for the extra treats. If you’re temporarily staying in a different environment, give your dog time to adjust in a quiet spot if possible. If your dog is fearful by nature, now’s not the time to try to socialize him/her. Provide plenty of “safe space” and avoid having people approach him/her.

If you are getting separated from your pets, provide them with blankets/clothing with your scent on it and their favorite toy to help ease the time away. • 877-652-1266

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Dog Anxiety Wrap Helps Thunder, Storm & Lightning Fear

Is your dog afraid of thunderstorms, lightning or heavy rains? The Anxiety Wrap often allows an animal to sleep through a storm. This form fitting wrap for dogs helps alleviate the fear a dog may have of the loud noises that accompanying thunderstorms. We had great success using the Anxiety Wrap with our own dog Daisy. The following article outlines how and why the Anxiety Wrap could work to make those thunderstorms a little more bearable for your dog.

Anxiety Wrap: Helping to Improve the Lives of Dogs
By Susan Sharpe Creator of the Anxiety Wrap

Thunderstorms – are they causing your dog fear, stress, pacing, anxiety, panting or nervousness? Often using an Anxiety Wrap will allow him or her to sleep right through the storm. Many people have noticed much improvement within 1 to 3 times of using the Anxiety Wrap.

The Anxiety Wrap was created to fill an existing need, an alternative or holistic approach to behavior modification for dogs. It can happen by using the Anxiety Wrap to ease your dog's anxieties. When used properly it has proven positive to increase balance, self-confidence, focus, preparation for and during training, animal to animal socialization, animal to human socialization, bonding, relaxation, and gait awareness. As well as helping to end dog aggression, shyness, nervousness, releasing stress & tension, end jumping, stop destructive chewing, fear biting, car sickness, unnecessary barking, shyness, fear of loud noises, thunderstorm fear, sensitivity to touch, sensitive to sound, aloofness, emotional upset, hyperactivity, grooming issues and other anxieties.

Dogs, Like People, Are Individuals
Conventional medicine, behaviorists and trainers all have their place and the Anxiety Wrap was not designed nor intended to replace any of them, but rather to be an alternative or holistic addition to the plan. Being a trainer myself, I know from personal experience that animals, like people, are individuals. Both often require different ways of learning and/or recovery for past experiences.

Far too often animals, like people, fall through the cracks when traditional methods fail. Anyone wishing to see some of these animals need go no further than your local animal shelter or even your own neighborhood. When I personally experienced that traditional training didn’t work with one of my own dogs, it was then I began my search for alternative ways of training. A way of working with the entire animal that would include their mind, body and spirit.

This search led me from traditional training, that focuses on punishment for offering a wrong behavior and the removal of that punishment for offering the one desired, to a kinder, more respectful way of training. I was searching for a way to teach that could be fun for both animal and human. Soon I was using two reward methods of training. Operant Conditioning combined with Clicker Training but still there was more to be learned.

Our "Throw Away" Dogs
What about the dogs that didn’t or couldn’t respond to reward training alone? Those animals whose past issues and present fears were so overwhelming, it left them powerless to focus on anything else. Often these are the dogs we see abandoned, passed from one home to another. Dogs excessively crated, kenneled or chained, isolated with little hope of ever truly becoming part of a family pack.

Changing Dog Behavior By Changing The Body's Sensations
Soon I found myself studying the latest beliefs in calming signals and animal behavior. I became a Tellington Touch Practitioner, successfully completed Purdue University's "DOGS" Course Principles and Behavior, Bailey's Clicker Training, and the list goes on. After these workshops, seminars, clinics and courses I came to learn many behaviors and some health issues could be affected by the manipulation of the skin and by applying light to moderate pressure to certain areas of the body.

Behavior modification, a more rapid recovery -- they appeared to be aided by these sensations. But why? Why did it have an effect?

All my years of traditionalism prevented me from accepting what I had witnessed. Then I read a book titled Molecules Of Emotion by Candace B. Pert, PhD. When Candace wrote "the body and mind are not separate and one cannot be treated without the other," the pieces of the puzzle started coming together. Added to that learning was the example of Temple Grandin's "Hug Box," a device developed to apply deep pressure to help calm autistic children's over stimulated nerves. So we envisioned a product that would cover a large portion of an animal’s body without falling off or allowing the animal to get tangled up in it. At the same time it could not be binding or distracting, so to help calm the animal and help modify the undesirable behaviors.

I realized that animals, though admittedly much different than humans, still possess some of the same physiological and, may we dare suggest, some of the same psychological make up. Finally I began to understand how these effects were being possible.

Realizing this I began to experiment using various types of materials put together in various ways to increase the positive effects of the sensations being sent to the animal's brain by use of the body's receptors. Opening up the neurological pathways and substituting new sensations for old habitual ones.

Over much time and many prototypes the Anxiety Wrap was developed. A Wrap especially designed to help your animal as well as my own and those of my clients. Shereen Faber, PH.D., OTR, FAOTA, and author of Neurorehabilitation A Multisensory Approach, contacted us after discovering our product. She explains how The Anxiety Wrap uses a Technique called "Maintained Pressure" to help calm the sensory receptors.

We've found The Anxiety Wrap works especially well in situations where your dog is anxious or fearful, whether it's during a thunderstorm or trips to the vet or meeting new people. Due to its ability to help an animal become more focused, the Anxiety Wrap is an excellent tool for use with gentle training methods.

It can provide an under-confident animal with a greater sense of security, helping it become more comfortable and begin increasing confidence. For overly excited or hyper dogs, the Anxiety Wrap can help an animal become more calm and relaxed. Remember that every animal is unique and there are countless other ways the Anxiety Wrap can improve your dog’s quality of life.