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October 16, 2015

Halloween Safety Tips for You & Your Pup & 4 Ways to be a Better Dog Owner

Have a doggone safe Halloween

Halloween Safety Tips for You and Your Pup

American Kennel Club

•If you dress your pet in a “doggie” costume, supervise him at all times. Make sure it fits properly and is not in the way of his breathing, eyesight or hearing. If your dog swallows any elastic or decorative items, it could cause intestinal obstructions or choking.

Chocolate and sweets can be dangerous for dogs. A dog’s digestive system is not adapted for sweets, and chocolate contains theobromine, which can be harmful and sometimes fatal to your dog. Baking chocolate is especially high in this chemical.

•Walk your dog early on Halloween, while it is still light outside and the ground is visible. Your dog may find candy, wrappers and broken eggs on lawns and streets. Make sure that these “tempting treats” stay out of reach.

If you want your dog to greet trick-or-treaters, keep him on a leash. Your dog may be stressed by the noise, activity or simply the interruption of his normal routine.

Don’t leave your dog unattended outside on Halloween, even if he is behind a fence. Pranksters may target your dog with eggs, and passers-by may be tempted to give your dog treats and candy that can harm him.

If you are having a Halloween party, consider confining your dog securely in one area of the house. Leave a radio or TV and lights on for the dog, and check on him regularly.

Be careful about where you place candles and jack-o’-lanterns. They can easily be knocked over by your dog’s wagging tail and burn your dog or even start a fire.

 

Four Ways to be a Better Dog Owner

Whole Dog Journal

While it may be difficult for us to imagine or remember, many people aren’t comfortable around dogs. For those people, behaviors that dog lovers find charming might be seen as an assault! Even among dog lovers, opinions vary widely when it comes to the behaviors that we find acceptable from our own and other people’s dogs.

Dogs and dog owners can lose access to enjoyable places due to the thoughtless actions of others. As dog lovers, we share a responsibility to be ambassadors for thoughtful, responsible dog ownership. Practice polite dog owner etiquette and be mindful of the following.

1. Control your dog. If good fences make good neighbors, leashes can help make good dog walkers! It’s important to understand that not everybody wants to meet your dog, no matter how friendly he is. Even leashed dogs, large or small, can be seen as a threat by people who are afraid of dogs.

A dog who is leashed but who appears agitated or stronger than his handler, or who is being allowed by his owner to wander across the sidewalk at the end of a long leash (or, horrors, one of those retractable leashes that allows him to extend his reach to an unpredictable distance), may appear as a terrifying threat to a mom who is taking her newborn baby out in a stroller for the first time, or an elderly person who is fragile or already having trouble with balance.

Some owners may feel justified in allowing their super-friendly, calm dogs to accompany them in public off leash. People should not have to deal with an off-leash dog, no matter how friendly, who has invited himself to their lakeside picnic or was drawn to greet their bike-riding child. Loose dogs can be especially frustrating for fellow dog owners who are out with their leashed dogs. Dogs on a leash often react unfavorably to greetings from loose dogs, specifically because they are on a leash and lack the ability to respond as they see fit to the incursion.

Keep in mind that, often, a leashed dog is leashed because he doesn’t get along well with others! The unexpected and/or uninvited approach by a loose dog can instantly create a major (and completely unfair!) training setback for that dog and his owner, and in extreme cases, puts everyone at hand at risk for a bite.

Even if the leashed dog isn’t offended by the visiting dog, many dogs become overly excited by the unexpected encounters. This creates a situation that is difficult for the owner to manage, and the dog-to-dog contact inadvertently rewards the leashed dog’s over-excited behavior.

What you can do: Abiding by leash laws is the best way to ensure that your dog does not invite himself into situations where he is not welcome. When your dog is off-leash, either because you’re in an open area where off-leash activity is allowed, or because you’ve turned a blind eye to posted leash laws (and we’re certainly not advocating for the latter, but we see it happen), it is your responsibility to make absolutely certain that your dog does not approach, chase, or in any way become a nuisance to any other human, canine, or area wildlife.

Call your dog to you as people with leashed dogs (or dog-less people) approach, and have him wait calmly as fellow outdoor enthusiasts pass by. If you see that your dog’s off-leash activity is creating a difficult distraction for someone with leashed dogs, consider moving to another area, taking a play break, or leash your dog. Simple courtesy goes a long way toward helping dogs and dog owners develop and maintain a shining reputation.

2. Pick the spots where Spot marks.It goes without saying that picking up after your dog is a basic tenet of responsible dog ownership. But “bagging the business” is just the beginning when it comes to polite toilet practices while in public.

What you can do: First, if you have a yard of your own, encourage your dog to eliminate at home before heading out on a walk.

When enjoying a suburban neighborhood walk with your canine companion, consider limiting his potty-area access to the strip of dirt or grass often found between the street and the sidewalk. Refrain from letting him wander freely at the end of his leash on front yards and any other private property. (I’ve watched owners watch their dogs venture on retractable leashes all the way up to someone’s front door!)

Diligently pick up all solid waste. I like to accumulate good “poop karma” by occasionally bagging a stray poop when I’m out with an extra bag. Yeah, it’s gross, but it helps prevent all dog owners from getting a bad name, and cashing in on “poop karma” makes it slightly less mortifying when the time comes that your dog offers up a third poop on the day you’re out with only two bags and there is no reasonable alternative in sight. (Which seems to happen to everyone at least once!)

When it comes to pitching the poo, think twice before tossing it in the nearest trash can, especially if that can belongs to your neighbor. In my opinion, curbside cans are fair game on trash pick-up day, but empty cans are off-limits. Your neighbors shouldn’t have to spend the week with your dog’s poop in their can. Believe it or not, your dog’s poop stinks, and dog-less neighbors will be even less appreciative of the “deposit.” Carry it home or dispose of it in an appropriate public dumpster.

Finally, consider this: Male dogs should not get a free pass to hike their legs anywhere and everywhere. Consider employing a “no man-made surfaces” rule when it comes to elevated pee-mail. Allowing a pee-a-palooza on public street signs, trash cans, storefronts, newspaper boxes, mailboxes, and public structures is inconsiderate. As former emergency dispatcher Linda Blackwood Coogan of Minden, Nevada, points out, even fire hydrants—often considered the ultimate pooch pee place—have to be serviced by city workers who would likely appreciate a pee-free experience.

If your dog is prone to barking when you’re home, check with your neighbors to learn whether he also barks – or barks more – when you’re not home. Frequent barking can turn a nice neighbor into a resentful one very quickly.

3. Make the bark stop here. Dogs bark for many reasons: as an alert, as a warning, in excitement, out of boredom, etc. Controlling a dog’s tendency to bark is an important part of responsible dog ownership.

If your dog is left home alone for long stretches at a time, consider occasionally checking in with neighbors to get a “read” on your dog’s vocalization when you’re not home, and manage your dog’s playful barking when you are home. This is especially important for apartment dwellers (and renters in general), as “nuisance barking” is often cited by property owners as a key reason they are reluctant to rent to people with dogs.

What you can do: If your dog barks at predictable situations, remove his access to his triggers, or be ready to turn them into training sessions.

For example, many dogs bark excessively at the sight of dogs and people walking past the house. Closing the blinds or otherwise restricting access to the locations where he can see people walking past often reduces the barking. Home-alone hounds often bark out of boredom, in which case, getting up a little earlier to squeeze in a walk or play session before work, coupled with breakfast dispensed via stuffed, frozen Kongs and other enrichment toys (rather than being fed from a bowl) can often provide the mental stimulation needed to reduce or eliminate boredom barking.

If you’re home when your dog sounds the alarm, redirect his attention to a more appropriate activity. Resists the urge to yell for him to “BE QUIET!” Otherwise he may think, “Great! Now everyone is barking!”

Instead, call him to you and ask him to sit, then reward him for sitting. You might need to gently draw him away from the trigger zone in the beginning, but he should quickly learn that leaving the bark-spot and coming to you is definitely worth his while. As a bonus, this also helps desensitize dogs to whatever triggered the barking in the first place, making future outbursts less intense in noise-level and duration. In many cases, the power of the former trigger is reduced and then eliminated over time.

Some of your guests won’t mind when your dog jumps all over them, and some might even encourage it. But the behavior shouldn’t ever be reinforced, for the benefit of everyone else!

 

4. Train your dog. We’re dog lovers and we get along best with those who also love dogs, but that doesn’t mean we love being subjected to especially pushy or untrained dogs. It’s not okay to allow your dog to jump up on, bark or shove spitty fetch toys at, or drape himself across guests as they sit on the sofa. Be respectful of other people’s personal boundaries.

Basic training helps create harmonious interactions between our two- and four-legged friends and family members. Visitors are exciting for dogs, and the excitement often brings out unwanted behaviors. Rather than embarrassingly admit that, “He always does this!” as your guests attempt to politely ignore unwanted advances, help manage the situation, or even better, use it to your advantage.

What you can do: If your dog is especially excited by visitors, attach his leash before you open the door. Grab a handful of tasty treats and reward your dog generously for keeping four feet on the floor as people come in. Mature dogs and dogs with previous training might be able to handle sitting for treats as people enter. Or better yet, for social dogs, keep treats on the porch and instruct visitors to grab a handful before entering, but not to feed the dog unless he’s standing or sitting politely.

If your dog is toy-motivated, teach him to grab and hold a toy as you head to the front door. Many dogs are less likely to jump up when they’re holding something. For dogs who love to retrieve, consider a bucket of tennis balls on the front porch. Similar to the guests-with-treats technique, your visitor enters, asks for a sit, then lobs the toy into the house. As the dog races off to retrieve, the guest can enter the house.

Once guests are inside, consider asking your dog to “stay” at your side or on his bed if he seems overly interested in visiting with guests. If your guests are enjoying the interaction, they’ll let you know it’s fine. If they say nothing as you wrangle up your dog, they probably appreciate the break.

It’s up to you to help your dog make good choices. If you don’t feel like playing “dog trainer” during a particular visit, that’s okay, but rather than leave your dog to his own devices, where he’s likely to practice bad habits, manage the situation by crating him away from company with a stuffed Kong or other enrichment device.

 

 

 

October 1, 2015

Help your Dog Adapt to Autumn & What does saying NO mean to your Pup?

Adapting to autumn

Many of us love this time of year — the changing color of the leaves, brisk fall breezes, and finally a respite from the hot weather of Summer. For your dog, however, fall may be more work than fun.

The change in the season can mean a decrease in exercise, and an increase in baths, allergens, and other unpleasantness for your dog. The following tips should help make the transition into the new season enjoyable for both you and your dog.

Health Concerns

Pet lovers may forget about such things as allergens, keeping your dog warm, medical issues, etc., that are associated with the changing temperature. With two of the biggest food holidays coming up — Halloween and Thanksgiving — dogs are in particular danger of food poisoning, choking on bones, or just overeating. Dr. Kerri Marshal, Chief Veterinary Officer at Trupanion, (dog insurance company) has a few tips to make sure your dog’s health is looked after during the fall season.

Seasonal allergies can kick in for dogs in the fall. These are most commonly skin allergies, but can also be allergic rhinitis, evidenced by sneezing, loud snorting or snoring, and clear discharge from your dog’s nose. Your veterinarian can diagnose and prescribe antihistamines or other therapy to make your dog more comfortable.

As the weather gets cooler, think about putting a coat or sweater on your dog during walks. Make sure it is rain-proof in the wetter parts of the year.

If you use space heaters, be very careful that your dog cannot be burned by them, and does not have access to chew the cord.

Regarding Halloween candy, there’s one simple rule: No! This is especially true of chocolate, which contains ingredients, that are toxic to dogs.

If your arthritis gets worse with colder weather, keep your acetaminophen away from your dog, as it can cause liver damage. The same is true of ibuprofen, which is also highly toxic to dogs. Your dog’s arthritis may act up too.

Dogs may need slightly more calories in cold weather if they spend time outdoors. Ask your vet to evaluate your pet’s “body condition score” and recommend the proper pet food and amount for active outdoor pets.

Exercise

With the shortened days, it’s very likely that you are going to be walking your dog in the dark, either morning or evening, or both. The best ways to keep you and your pet safe are reflective gear, flashlights, or light-up collars, which are designed for safely walking your dog at night. The collar are solar powered and USB chargeable, and most have two lighting options: a steady or flashing LED light.

Fall also means colder weather, rain, and even snow, which can really make it hard to get outside. In these conditions, you can exercise your dog indoors using a treadmill, or by setting up an indoor “agility” course using households objects, such as clothes baskets, broom handles and furniture. You can then train your dogs to run the obstacle course and work for a treat reward. You can easily alter the course to keep your dog’s mind active and thinking.

While on walks, beware of ice that can cut dog’s paws or make you fall, and “salt” that is put down to melt the ice. While common table salt is frequently used as a chemical deicer, other chemicals which are poisonous to dogs are sometimes used, including ammonia nitrate, propylene glycol, and sodium ferrocyanide.

Try to avoid chemically treated areas, if possible. If you can’t, make sure that your dog does not lick at the ground, using a muzzle if necessary to prevent this behavior. If you need to ice your own drive or walkways, look for pet safe salts, which most pet stores (all 3 Crate Escapes!) carry seasonally.

These simple tips should help keep your fall fun and fabulous.

 

 

“No” Is Not Enough Information

By Laura Brody, positively.com

Of all the cues we give our dogs, “no” is probably the most frequent and least productive. In human terms, imagine going to work in an office where your supervisor introduces you to your job in this manner:

“Here’s the office. I’m not going to tell you what your job is, but, every time you do something that not part of your job description, I’ll yell out, “NO!”.

How long would you be willing to work under those conditions?

“No” is simply not enough information, because it keeps the dog guessing about what is a legal behavior.

I like to call no a “place holder”. A “place holder” cue should be something we can use to interrupt a behavior…until we gather our wits and give the dog a cue that replaces the behavior with something better or at least something incompatible. Before your head starts spinning, let me give you an example:

You dog may jump for joy when you get home. An incompatible behavior cue would be “sit” because if he’s sitting he can’t be jumping. Now you can calmly and quietly scratch your dog under the chin (if they are capable of sitting still) or you can grab a toy and toss it from your body and say, “go get it”. Again, he can’t be jumping on you if he’s chasing a ball. If you do this everyday for a month, the dog might start sitting instead of jumping or arriving expectantly with his ball, backing up slowly as he positions himself for a flying catch! But, you have to establish the habit.

Let’s say your dog is barking at a squirrel in the yard. If you go out and say “no bark” (I still can’t understand how that term became so popular), the dog doesn’t understand that you mean for the next hour…or forever. So, they stop momentarily and you think you’ve got it all under control. Then the dog starts to bark again. He’s done every thing you’ve asked him to do, but now you’re mad. The incompatible behavior cue I use for barking is “come” (which you need to work on daily with any dog). When the dog gets to me I reward them and then…and here’s the big reveal, I take them inside the house and offer them something more productive to do, like a bully stick or a dog puzzle.

You have to remember that “no” isn’t enough information. The dog has to do something, so ask yourself, what is a reasonable behavior for each undesirable situation . You can’t say “no” and expect the dog to know what it is you actually want him to do.

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