By Amy O'Connor
My little Cairn Terrier, Biscuit has been shy and fearful of loud noises and most people and dogs since I adopted her at 5 months of age — so nothing makes me happier than seeing her strutting confidently with her tail raised high or happily greeting a familiar face with a wagging tail. All doggy parents want healthy, happy dogs, and it often takes a good amount of ingenuity and patience to help your dog achieve a kind of doggy zen state that results from a balanced mind and healthy body. Fortunately, there are a number of products that help bring peace to both doggies and their owners.
While my dog fancies herself part acrobat, I’m not so comfortable with her attempts to leap onto the air-conditioner for a view out the window or her method of scaling the furniture to arrive on my bed (running start onto a foot stool, landing on the barrel chair cushion, then running up the chair back, using that momentum to leap over the bed frame baseboard, and finally landing on mattress!). Even though Biscuit seems to enjoy these athletic feats, she is putting undue stress on her joints, and for puppies and arthritic dogs these moves are out of the question. PetStairz makes great looking lightweight and portable slip-covered foam stairs in 7 sizes for all size breeds and furniture heights that allow pets to safely and easily reach high places such as beds and sofas. If you get one, note that the stairs should be slightly lower than the surface the pet needs to reach. I have the 5 Step stairs with a beige shearling cover, and as soon as I placed them against the bed, my dog ran right up them (it took a treat on the middle step a few times before she was used to running back down them). Jumping to and from high places can lead to back, neck and leg injuries, and my PetStairz steps mean no more death defying leaps for my dog.
Available online at PetStairz – http://www.petstairz.com
Fooey! Ultra-Bitter Spray and Fooey! Ultra-Bitter Gel works wonders to stop your pet’s undesirable licking, biting and chewing behaviors. Some dogs do damage to their coat and skin with obsessive grooming, and my dog, like many others, chews lots of things she shouldn’t (my furniture and shoes, her foam dog furniture and more). Once I spray the Fooey! (or apply the gel) to an item such as my dog’s foam car booster seat, the bitter taste (derived from grapefruit skin extract and the herb known as “King of Bitters”) is such a turn-off that she immediately gives up chewing the item. Fooey is alcohol-free, nontoxic, odorless and safe to use on furniture, walls, wires, shoes, fencing, plants, and fur and more. My shoes are safe!
The Premier GentleSpray Citronella Anti-Bark Collar does what I thought no product could humanely do, it stops my dog from barking in an instant. Biscuit finds countless reasons to bark; she barks at herself in the mirror, at the blinds when they blow against the window frame, at dogs on TV, at hats or jackets hung in unfamiliar places, at objects on shelves out of her reach and at people outside our apartment in the hall to name a few common situations. She likes to bark! Desperate not to try my neighbors’ patience, I worked on the “no bark” command and clicker training and created all kinds of distractions to stop her from barking, but nothing worked until I put the GentleSpray Citronella Anti-Bark Collar on her. What happens now when she barks is the collar sprays citronella, and between seeing, hearing and smelling the mist, Biscuit is instantly startled each time it happens and is so flummoxed that she immediately stops barking and settles down. The collar is adjustable, refillable and has an on/off switch and is recommended for nuisance barking rather than anxiety-related barking. Because my dog is fearful by nature and the citronella spray is a bit unsettling for her, I don’t use the collar more than once or twice a day and don’t need to since the results are instantaneous and long lasting.
Available online at Only Natural Pet Store – http://www.onlynaturalpet.com and at Pet Stop 564 Columbus Ave. (212) 580-2400
Many dogs become anxious in certain situations, be it vet or grooming visits, thunderstorms, being left alone or around strangers. One option to ease your dog’s nerves is Rescue Remedy Pet from Bach Flower Remedies. This homeopathic alcohol free tincture is a combination of five Bach Flower Remedies (derived from Impatiens, Star of Bethlehem, Cherry Plum, Rock Rose and Clematis plants) that will gently help to calm your pet in any stressful situation without making him/her drowsy. A neighbor of mine adopted a cat the was so fearful it refused to leave her closet, but after giving the cat Rescue Remedy drops, the cat relaxed enough to leave the closet. My dog is easily stressed so I’ve been adding four drops to her food or water as often as three times a day (the drops can also be applied directly to your pet’s nose, ear or paw).
Available online at Bach Flower Remedies – http://www.BachFlower.com and at The New York Dog Shop 46 W. 73rd St. 212-595-0800
Signs that your dog could be stressed include barking, whining, hiding, howling, pacing, panting, trembling, drooling, vomiting, nervous relieving, running away, and destroying belongings. Vet’s Best Comfort Calm chewable tablets are all natural and use tryptophan and valerian to help ease pet anxiety. My dog initially took a few seconds to decide if she liked the taste of the tablets, but after briefly considering it, she decided they pass muster. The tablets are for dogs 10 months and older and are best given just prior to stressful events up to every 6-8 hours as needed.
Whether your dog is fearful of loud noises or not, there are some environments so loud that any dog should have canine hearing protection. Dog’s ears are much more sensitive than humans’ and Mutt Muffs makes ear muffs for dogs that will allow your dog to be more comfortable around loud noises from fireworks, motorcycles, and in airplane cockpits (where the muffs reduce the decibel level by 25-28 db). Mutt Muffs are also used on dogs in the police force and the military and on medical service dogs at concerts and the movies. Mutt Muffs are lightweight with adjustable straps and have been engineered for the contours of dogs’ heads and have wide foam filled ear seals for maximum comfort. Michelle McGuire, owner of Mutt Muffs who is shown in the photo above co-piloting a small aircraft with her dog, Cooper, told me no self-respecting dog would wear ear muffs unless they were somewhere loud, in which case most dogs are very happy to sport them.
Available online at Mutt Muffs – http://www.muttmuffs.com
It’s said that dogs often mimic their owner’s energy, and one product that decreases my annoyances and, therefore, increases my dog’s well-being is Simple Solution Hardfloors Stain and Odor Remover. My dog, city dog that she is, sometimes takes her potty breaks outdoors and sometimes indoors where she aims for the piddle pads. Unfortunately, Biscuit’s aim on the piddle pads isn’t always spot-on, and my hardwood floors have been looking the worse for it. Simple Solution uses enzymes and Pro-Bacteria to break down the organic proteins in solid or liquid waste, thus eliminating odors to prevent dogs from returning to the same areas for a repeat performance without damaging hardfloors.
Life is so much better with a happy dog alongside you, and thankfully, there are great products available to help keep tails wagging.