My Pet World: Music is clinically proven to soothe anxious dogs
— Judy, East Meadow, New York
What a wonderful idea. You do have to begin this training when they are very young and before they develop a fear of fireworks and thunderstorms. But reframing what they hear and associating it with a treat is a great way to get ahead of the problem. Certainly, if every time it thundered, I got a piece of chocolate (dogs can’t have chocolate), I would definitely celebrate thunderstorms. Dogs are no different. Good job, Judy.
We have a beautiful, behaving seven-year-old Shi-tzu named Luna. She is loving and friendly with visitors to our home. She is stand-off-ish with other dogs. But when dogs appear on TV, she runs from wherever she is in the house, sits in front of the screen, and barks a lot. She has done this since she was a little puppy. If a dog appears in a commercial, she comes running from elsewhere in the house as soon as the commercial starts, even if the dog has yet to appear.
— Rebeca and Michael, Shoreham, New York, and Havelock, North Carolina
Dear Rebeca and Michael,
There's a reason for that, and we have technology to thank. Today's televisions are so sharp and clear that to many dogs, it sometimes can look and sound like there's a real dog in the house. In fact, some pet parents must monitor their dogs when watching television to make sure they don’t run into the screen while trying to chase a “ball” or “animal.”
What's most interesting in your dog’s case, though, is that your dog recognizes the commercial from the other side of the house. That's amazing, but not surprising to me since dogs easily learn to understand language and know what we want them to do. But that involves a lot of training whereas recognizing things on television does not. Clearly, you have a very intelligent, highly-observant canine whose got a good memory for commercials with dogs in them.
(Cathy M. Rosenthal is a longtime animal advocate, author, columnist and pet expert who has more than 25 years in the animal welfare field. Send your pet questions, stories and tips to email@example.com. Please include your name, city, and state. You can follow her @cathymrosenthal.)
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