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Woof Wednesday: Doggy Moans, Groans & Being Alone

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Dogs and cats with separation anxiety "act out" their angst in different ways.

When a dog or cat can’t bear to be left alone they may “act out” and damage your belongings, or even hurt themselves. These pets aren’t chewing up furniture, defecating on the bed, or breaking through glass windows to “get back at you.” Think of separation anxiety as a form of grief. Cats and dogs miss you so much they can’t help themselves.

Problems develop when the amount of time you spend with the pet changes, maybe due to a new job schedule or baby. Cats may not have problems for years, but often act out when owners go on vacation.

About 14 percent of pet dogs seen in veterinary clinics suffer from separation anxiety. Mixed breeds and dogs adopted from shelters or the streets are most commonly affected, and aging dogs (10 years and older) or puppies adopted before 8 weeks of age also have a higher incidence. Here are tips for soothing separation anxiety in my latest Paw Nation article.

Dogs that feel fearful often yelp, howl or otherwise cry out for help. But what about moans and groans? Do they mean the same thing–even pleasure? What sorts of sounds does your pooch make when he’s enjoying himself? Perhaps he enjoys having his ears rubbed and expresses his pleasure, as in this Ask Amy video. What other ways do your dogs have to express themselves?

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions–and to stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

Woof Wednesday: Happy “Musical” Howl-idays

Music helps calm fussy howl-iday pups.

I love music. Couldn’t get away from music during my growing-up years, since my Dad was a music teacher. Piano lessons started in second grade, cello lessons in fifth grade, and I found my “major” instrument (voice) in high school. Yep, I was a music major in college–sang opera, among other things.

And then I ended up with a career writing about cats and dogs. Funny how that happens. But to bring it back to the Woof Wednesday theme, our animal companions also have a relationship to music. I’m preparing for the Christmas Eve church services (we have two), and will sing a solo at the 7 pm and accompany the congregation on piano for the 11 pm events. So I’ve been practicing.

My dog Magic howls along if I happen to sing above a certain range. Everyone’s a critic–I guess it’s good that I chose writing as my work. Dogs (and coyotes) answer sirens with howls, and probably think human singers are simply inept at howling. Ahem.

On a more practical note (pun intended), music can be a therapeutic tool in your dog’s home health care kit. Pleasant music can mask scary noises like thunder or New Year’s fireworks, or upsetting sounds like barking neighbor or raccoon scrabbling in the back yard. But more than that, the cadence of certain sounds influences the body’s natural rhythms and can speed them up and energize the listener, or slow them down to calm him.

So, does your dog appreciate music? what kind gets his woofer working and tail wagging? If you have a dog stressed out by the coming “howl-idays”don’t neglect the benefits of calming music. Here’s an article with more details about how you can make music work for your dogs (hint: it helps cats, too!). 

Have a wonderful Christmas! Don’t forget to visit the blog for Feline Friday and more furry tips for life with your special pets. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some practicing to do . . .

amy *humming*