Anxiety Treatment

  • “My dog won’t stop barking!!!!”…. It could be anxiety.

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    As one of the most reported noise complaints in neighborhoods throughout the United States, excessive barking can take a frustrating and problematic toll on dog owners. From costly fines, police warnings and dealing with irritated neighbors, to risking potential revocation of a pet, this negative behavior poses a serious threat to the overall well-being of pets nationwide. Excessive barking is more than just a nuisance; it can be a sign that a pet is unhappy, unhealthy and should be attended to immediately.

    Pinpointing the exact cause of excessive barking can be difficult to identify. Many blame poor training, hunger and boredom. But, what pet owners may not know is that barking, along with a myriad of other negative dog behaviors, is commonly rooted in anxiety and stress. By treating the anxiety and stress, a calmer dog will exhibit fewer symptoms of anxiety.

    At ThunderWorks, we know that excessive barking can result from a dog’s separation anxiety from their owner, fear of strangers and more. And, that’s exactly why it’s our mission to make products that treat and calm dogs.  By treating the anxiety, the negative behaviors that occur are reduced.

    Curious about which products might be best to treat your dog? Visit www.ThunderWorks.com to see what would work for you!

  • Guest Blogger: Sandy Robins on Keeping Pets Safe This Holiday Season!

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    The holiday season is a busy time in every household. Friends and relatives come and go, the kids are home from school and college and often there are parties to plan too. Whether you embrace the festivities, or run screaming from an army of relatives who invade your peaceful home, remember that the holidays pose special risks to your pets.

    By paying attention to a few basic safety precautions, you can keep your canine and feline companions out of harm’s way and have a safe and happy holiday season.

    Decorating for the Howlidays

    When it comes to putting up Christmas tree lights and other lighting decorations, always look for the shortest route to the plug point and avoid leaving excess wiring lying on the floor.  Chewing cords can be life threatening to both dogs and cats. There are special cord covers infused with bitter aloe that will further prevent them from chewing.

    Also it's a great idea to sprinkle pepper on the lower branches of the tree. This will end any ideas your cat may have of trying to climb it! Further, if you have an inquisitive dog, put glass ornaments and tinsel at a height level she can’t reach when standing.

    Candles always add a fabulous festive touch but are a huge fire hazard as they can easily be knocked over with a wagging tail or pulled from a table if your cat gets hold of the tablecloth. Err on the side of caution and invest in flameless candles. Luckily, there is a huge array to choose from.

    Holiday Plants From Mistletoe to Poinsettias

    Nothing is more festive than decking the halls, but remember that both holly and mistletoe are toxic to pets and can cause acute stomach and intestinal irritation, cardiovascular collapse, and death. Despite the myths, the ever-popular Christmas poinsettias are considered safe for pets. Even so, try to keep them away from both pets and children because the milky sap can cause skin allergies and has a terrible bitter taste.

    Party Time and Festive Feasts

    The holiday season is synonymous with family feasts—huge stuffed turkeys, corn on the cob and tempting desserts. Never feed you're your pets turkey bones (or any other bones from the table). Bones are a choking hazard and so are corncobs. So when you clear the table deal with anything left on plates immediately by tossing in the trash.

    Also, when putting away the leftovers, be careful your dog doesn’t get a hold of anything wrapped in aluminum foil. If eaten, foil can cut a dog's intestines, causing internal bleeding, and, in some cases, even death. Plastic wrap is equally dangerous and can cause choking or intestinal obstructions.

    The moniker “drink responsibly” also applies to taking care of your dog. Alcoholic beverages can be poisonous to pets, so never leave drinks unattended. If your pooch consumes them, she could become very intoxicated and weak, depressed, or even go into a coma.  In severe cases, death from respiratory failure can also occur.

    If you are planning a huge party that involves caterers and furniture being delivered, be sure to secure your pets in one area of your home during set-up. This is one time doors will be left open and there is too much activity to monitor them carefully.

    And on the day of the event, remember not all pets enjoy raucous laughter, loud music and hectic activity. Be sure to bring out your ThunderShirts for both your dogs and cats and put them on even if you are going to secure them in another part of the house.

    Home Alone

    Finally, if you plan to travel during the season and are unable to take your pals with you, don’t leave them alone at home with a stocked-up food bowl. Make arrangements with a pet sitter or check him into a pet hotel. Once again, make sure ID tag information is current.

    Happy Howlidays!

  • Guest Blogger: Sandy Robins & Dealing with Home Related Anxiety Issues

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    Take it away Sandy!

    There’s good reason why dogs are dubbed “man’s best friend”; they love and thrive on companionship and especially enjoy the company of their favorite people.

    That’s why there is always a sad look when you go out the door in the morning, leaving them home alone for a large part of their day.

    To this end, behaviorists often recommend getting a pal for your pet so that they have each other for company. Getting a dog walker to come in will give some focus to your pooch’s day too and so will arranging for him to go to doggy daycare. But often such alternatives aren’t always feasible for a variety of reasons including financial considerations.

    Pets left on their own can get very lonely and bored. Some even suffer from separation anxiety and stress. All this leads to a variety of behavior issues such as excessive and continual barking and clawing -- the latter often being to the detriment of the front door!

    Chewing is another behavior, which can result from stress and anxiety as well as boredom. Often it’s not specific to that new chew toy you just purchased but directed at furniture such as the leg of the dining room table, with the dining chairs earmarked to be tackled next! Not to mention personal effects such as clothing, socks and shoes and even the iPad that may inadvertently have been left lying around.

    If you had a video cam set up, you would probably also see your dog also anxiously pacing up and down, and trembling while looking hopefully out of the window and, possibly, even eliminating on your favorite rug. And he could even start self-mutilating himself by pulling out chunks of fur and chewing himself raw in places.

    It’s really important for pet parents to understand that none of these behaviors are out of defiance or naughtiness. It all comes back to boredom, loneliness and stress.

    If you can’t change his environment, the answer to relieving stress and anxiety could a simple as getting him a ThunderShirt to wear while home alone.

    The ThunderShirt already has a proven record dealing with weather-related issues and loud noises that scare pets such as fireworks. And, the swaddling principle upon which it is based, works very well to relieve symptoms of stress and anxiety in the home environment too.

    The new ThunderSpray available for both dogs and cats also has a calming effect by mimicking a canine or feline mother’s natural pheromones and also contains lavender and chamomile, which are natural calming agents.  It’s a good idea to use in conjunction with the shirt by simply spraying a single burst on the neck of the shirt. It can also be used to spray inside a crate or on a dog bed (as well as in a car). The calming pheromones and fragrances will continue to release for an extended period and the liquid will dry stain-free.

    Very often stress and anxiety is exacerbated by loneliness and boredom. It's a great idea to take your dog for a really long walk in the mornings before you go off to work, so that when you do leave for the day, he’s been tired out and will be only too happy to snooze for part of the time he is home alone.  But it’s equally important to see that you ensure he has toys apart from just a chew toys to keep him engaged. He may like a nice comfort toy to carry around the house and sleep with too.

    There are wonderful dog puzzles available in different degrees of difficulty. It's a really good idea to use them as a feeder instead of leaving food in a regular bowl. This way your dog will have to work for his meal and, doing so, this is a great way to occupy his time. The ThunderToy is a stuffable chew toy that can be filled with food, or yummy treats such as ThunderTreats, which fit perfectly into the toy. This is a great combo to further help calm and distract stressed or anxious dogs.

    Leaving a TV on with a channel such as Animal Planet is something a lot of pets enjoy. Even a channel featuring soapies such as The Bold and the Beautiful and General Hospital will work because of the different voices that keep the drama going on screen and help to avoid it at home.

  • ThunderWorks Releases Infographic on the Alarming Numbers of Dogs Suffering from Anxiety

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    The number of dogs suffering from anxiety is probably higher than you think. In fact, studies have reported that more than 15 million dogs suffer from noise anxiety alone. In an effort to display this alarming information more visually, we developed this infographic that outlines the major causes of pet anxiety and how ThunderShirt has been the most popular and effective form of treatment.

    Check it out and please share with your fellow dog owners!

    TW_Infographic

  • We’ve got news!!!! (Hint, it’s stylish, warm and will still calm your pet’s anxiety!)

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    We are thrilled to introduce the new ThunderCoat and the ThunderSweater! The ThunderCoat and ThunderSweater offer a stylish and unique clothing system that snaps onto the outside of the ThunderShirt, providing added warmth and protection from rain if needed. Both styles come with a ThunderShirt included that can be easily unsnapped and used on it’s own, without the ThunderCoat and ThunderSweater outerwear.

    And just look how fashionable they are!

    Coat3

    The ThunderCoat features a khaki trench coat styled design that is fully lined, water-resistant and has a removable hood. Perfect for owners who enjoy a daily walk with their dogs, regardless of the forecast. The ThunderCoat is available in sizes XXS-Large and retails for $69.95, and comes with a ThunderShirt included.

    Sweater3

    The ThunderSweater provides added warmth and style for dogs, ideal for colder months or prolonged time outdoors. The cable-knit sweater features a classic khaki, ash grey and heather grey color blocked style and is available in sizes XXS-XL. ThunderSweater retails for $59.95 and comes with a ThunderShirt included.

    Both the ThunderCoat and ThunderSweater can be purchased at www.ThunderWorks.Com

  • Guest Blogger: Mikkel Becker

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    We’re thrilled to welcome back well-known and respected pet behavior and training expert, and Vetstreet.com contributor, Mikkel Becker on our blog today! She’s talking separation anxiety in our pets… Take it away, Mikkel!

    Countless canines become anxious when left alone. Stress upon separation spans from mild anxiety to an extreme state of panic. Whenever a dog is anxious at separation, it’s important to address the issue immediately, starting with a visit to your veterinarian. Stress upon separation rarely goes away without intervention, but more often, escalates over time. Caretakers of dogs who are anxious when left alone, find that normal tasks, like going to work or going out on a date, are difficult to impossible. The situation can become so severe the dog causes serious harm to themselves or to the home. Even for dogs who internalize stress, the state they are in emotionally is damaging long term to their health and affects their ability to cope with everyday stressors.

    There are numerous indicators of a dog nervous with separation. Signs can include excess salivation, panting, hyper vigilance, whining, barking, acute anorexia, pacing and inability to settle. Anxiety can amplify to the point of self-injury where the dog causes themselves serious harm as they attempt to claw, bite and jump out of exit points. The household also suffers devastation. Doors, crates and windows can be damaged as the dog attempts to flee, while household items like couches can be ravaged from anxious chewing. Dogs become so nervous they may even lose control of bodily functions and have accidents in the home.

    Dogs in this panicked state are literally helpless at their own behavior. Dogs don’t do these destructive behaviors out of spite as a way to teach their person a lesson for leaving them. Instead, their behavior stems from a root emotion of fear. To change the behavior, the root emotion must be changed.

    In my profession as an animal trainer working in conjunction with numerous veterinarians, including my father, Dr. Marty Becker, I help address separation anxiety on a regular basis. Separation anxiety is one of the most common behavior problems in dogs, with 20-40% of dogs reported as having the condition.

    Thankfully, with the right combination of training, environmental modification and veterinary intervention, separation anxiety can be decreased or eliminated. Whether a dog is only moderately nervous or in an all-out panic, it’s important to take the necessary steps to help a dog overcome their distress when left alone.

    Keep in mind, before training begins, it’s important to train under the supervision of a veterinarian who can rule out any medical conditions contributing to behavior and properly diagnose separation anxiety if needed.

    As an animal trainer, I want to share with you several of my top tips for addressing separation anxiety. The training is also helpful as a preventive tool against the development of separation anxiety.

     

    1. Use a ThunderShirt. One of my favorite tools in my training arsenal is the ThunderShirt. Regardless of the size or breed of the dog, the ThunderShirt works on about 80% of dogs. Even without any training, the ThunderShirt drastically reduces anxiety with near immediate results. The ThunderShirt works to non-invasively calm dogs in a similar manner to swaddling a baby.

    2. Many dogs dislike being crated, and some of their panic may stem from being shut in an enclosed area. If your dog dislikes the containment aspect of separation, find a more open area of the home to leave your pooch in that’s doggy proofed. The area of the home should have windows, as dogs feel less enclosed when windows are present. If you have a secure fence and your canine is not an escape artist or incessant barker when separated, consider allowing access the outdoors. By opening up the dog’s area, canines are less likely to feel trapped, and may relax as a result.

    3. When you leave and when you come back, keep attention on the dog as minimal as possible. A simple, non-emotional goodbye or greeting will do, rather than hugs, kisses and emotional words. The more calm and nonchalant the greetings, the less worked up the dog will get. When you return, wait five minutes or until the dog calmly settles into a relaxed sit or down, before acknowledging.

    4. Reduce departure cues. Throughout the day, even on weekends, randomly put on your shoes, pick up the keys, turn on the car, open the garage and do other cues that may signal you’re leaving. Often dogs become anxious even upon the perception of these cues, because they signal you’re leaving. However, if you do these cues with the end result being you still stay home, the cue loses its meaning.

    5. Train your dog to enjoy time alone in their own area. Put the dog in a certain area of the home, like an xpen, or tether the dog with a leash and harness next to a comfortable area, like a dog bed. Place food puzzles or long lasting chews in these areas for the dog to nibble on. To begin with, sit a few feet away and get the dog comfortable with just a short distance separation. The training can be made more challenging later by giving the food item and leaving to go into another room or going outside. Return to the dog before they finish eating their food reward. The idea is to have separation happen with associated pleasurable rewards and at a pace the dog can remain relaxed at. Play classical music during separation, proven to calm pets, to further promote relaxation.

    6. Protect your pet. During training, management techniques like sending the dog to doggy daycare or a dog sitter during inevitable long departures is helpful. In some cases, medication from your veterinarian added in combination with training, will provide especially anxious pets with the best chance of recovery.

  • Singing for ThunderShirt by Special Guest, Sandy Robins

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    I have always been “blessed” with cats that sing in the car. But Ziggy out sings every cat I’ve ever known.

    When we took him home from the animal shelter, I put his vocals down to nerves.

    Not long after, we had to take him to the vet for his kitty shots. The moment we placed him in his carrier, the singing began.

    It started off with a tentative operatic dolcissimo (very sweet) “mew”. Followed by a second and then a third.  As we turned the corner he started scratching on the side of the carrier and the mew got more espressivo (insistent). Then he tried a new tactic and the mews got doloroso (sad and mournful).  From his perspective, he probably thought I wasn’t listening so he began to get more insistenta (insistent) until his vocals turned fortissimo (very loud).

    On the way home, it was a repeat performance. He wasn’t being naughty; he was really just stressed and anxious. Who knows what experiences he had an in a car before we adopted him.

    A few weeks later we were off to the vet again for follow-up shots. And soon Ziggy was singing the same aria. The next week, when it was time for his rabies shot courtesy of the animal shelter, we were back in the car and Ziggy was singing again.

    What was so interesting was the fact that it sounded like the same song.

    Cats in fact have quite a large vocabulary. Author and naturalist Jean Craighead George who writes about the language cats have in her award-winning book The Cats of Roxville Station and has studied cats in nature, says that the different ways in which a cat meows has a special idiosyncratic meaning. She has categorized some feline vocalizations as follows. They are written phonetically to emphasize the different sound and tones:

    In Kittens:

    • Mew (high pitched and thin) - a polite plea for help
    • MEW! (loud and frantic) - an urgent plea for help

    Adult cats:

    • Mew - plea for attention
    • Meow - emphatic plea for attention
    • MEOW! - a command!
    • Mee-o-ow (with falling cadence) - protest or whine
    • MEE-o-ow (shrill whine) - stronger protest
    • MYUP! (short, sharp, single note) - righteous indignation
    • MEOW! Meow! (repeated) - panicky call for help
    • Mier-r-r-ow (chirrup with lilting cadence) - friendly greeting

    Soon I worked out that Ziggy had composed a feline “song”:

    Here are his lyrics:

    Mew…mew…

    MEW!!

    Meow

    MEOW!

    Mee-o-ow

    MYUP! MYUP!

    MEE-o-ow

    MEE-o-ow

    Second verse same as the first.

    So I decided to translate. It goes something like this:

    Hello… Helloow …

    What’s happening here?

    This isn’t fair

    You scooped me out of my favorite chair

    I was a sleep

    What did you think --I wouldn’t make a peep?

    What’s happening now?

    Meeow miaow

    The vet!! Oh No!

    I don’t want to go

    I’m prodded and given a shot

    It calls for a total boycott

    Take me home….

    NOW!!!

    Meow….

    Finally I couldn’t take it anymore. There are always going to be vet visits for one reason or another. So I decided he was the perfect candidate for a feline ThunderShirt.

    I decided the best way to test the shirt was the take him one way to the vet without it and put it on for the journey home.

    I chose a fairly innocuous vet visit, namely, he was simply going for a Mani-Pedi. No needles or prodding involved. I even took Fudge along in the hope that seeing how she behaved would perhaps help him remain calm.

    No such luck. The outward-bound trip was typical – very vocal with Fudge simply staring at him in disbelief that a cat could make so much noise. So just before we popped him back in his carrier, I put him in a ThunderShirt. I reckoned he wasn’t going to have to walk around wearing it so he didn’t need to get used to it from that standpoint.

    On with the shirt, into the carrier and off we went home. It’s a 15-minute drive. And I must say Fudge and I enjoyed it immensely -- in total silence! I don’t say he enjoyed the ride, but he didn’t seem stressed and anxious to get out of the carrier, as was his typical modus operandi.

    I was amazed how it worked instantly. But apart from keeping him calm, it helped me to drive home fully concentrating on the road and not worrying about my feline passenger.

    When we got home, I took off the shirt and placed in his carrier, ready to go for next time.

     

    Sandy Robins  is an award-winning author and pet lifestyle expert.

    Follow her on Facebook here: http://www.Facebook.com/SandyRobinsPetLifestyleExpert

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