Dog Collar Safety: When to Let Your Dog Go Naked

Dog Collar Safety: When to Let Your Dog Go Naked

Dog Collar Safety: When to Let Your Dog Go Naked

by Lynn Stacy-Smith

Dog Collar Safety: When to Let Your Dog Go Naked Here in our house we have names and phrases for a lot of things that most “normal” people do not when it comes to our dogs. I have found that they have learned more than I ever imagined they would just from us using the same phrase each time they do something or we humans do something. This also applies to our practice of taking off and putting on their dog collars throughout the day.

“Naked dog!” is what we exclaim to them when we remove the collar, said with a happy joyful voice and a neck scratch for them.

“Get dressed” is the phrase that they have learned that means to lean their head forward and wait for their collar to be snapped back into place.

Before Jackson and Tinkerbell were born our other dogs, who have since gone to the Rainbow Bridge, always wore their collars, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. By the time they became a threesome, none of them had to be in crates and they were all older middle-aged or senior dogs so there was really not any rough-housing taking place. They bonded mostly by snuggling and sniffing the yard together instead of playing zoomies and bitey face. Their collars never posed a hazard and our kids and their friends were so young and in and out of the fenced yard so often that the biggest threat was that a gate would be left open and one of the dogs would go exploring the neighborhood on their own, so a tag with identification on it was a must.

When we picked up Jackson as a little eight week old puppy, we noticed that our friend/breeder had entirely naked dogs; not a single one of her ten or so dogs wore a collar as they frolicked in and our of the house to greet us. Of course she is a professional dog trainer who owns a large piece of land in the country and her dogs are absolutely perfectly trained and seem to hang on to her every word, so the need for a collar and identification is not as strong as for some dog owners.

Over time, between watching how my dogs play with each other and from reading articles on crate safety, as well as from anecdotal stories of bad accidents or tragedies from collar related incidents, we now remove or put on Jackson and Tinkerbell’s collars throughout the day depending on the situation. additionally, we have had a few random incidents in which their tags on their collars got caught on things that could have been a hazard if we were not there to help.

When Jackson was a puppy he was persistent in his attempts to lick off our dirty dishes every time I loaded the dishwasher. We had many battles of wills during that time, with me patiently removing him and telling him “off” and him immediately resuming his licking attempts. Over and over, I would remove him, he would try again.

One day when he was around five months old he was sitting a few feet away from me, watching as I loaded the dishwasher. He was being very good in his sit and wait position but I could tell he really wanted to run over and lick off dirty plates.

As I turned to the sink to grab another dish, in the span of just a few seconds, he managed to put his front paws on the dishwasher door, and steal a lick from a dinner plate. I told him “OFF” and as he quickly backed away from the scene of his indiscretion, his tags caught in the wires of the dishwasher rack.

Jax panicked at the pulling sensation on his collar and took off in the opposite direction, but the dishwasher rack was firmly attached. Knives, forks, and plates bounced out and landed on the kitchen floor as Jax and the dishwasher rack went racing through the room like something out of a cartoon. I ran after him and stopped him and quickly unclipped his collar so that I could untangle the tags from the dishwasher rack.

The incident remedied his dish licking and he never approached the dishwasher again, but he could have really been hurt. Oddly enough, the same exact thing happened to Tinkerbell during her dish licking obsession as a puppy, and I had to chase her down and release her collar, like I was in some weird puppy vs. dishwasher deja vu situation. Of course we don’t leave the dishwasher open unless we are cleaning up after a meal, so this is not something likely to happen when an owner is away, but it definitely showed that their tags could get caught in bizarre things as our curious young dogs went about their daily lives.

Last summer we had a scary incident in the middle of the night when Tinkerbell woke me up by standing and whimpering next to my side of the bed. She had a habit of sleeping on top of the air conditioning vent and her tag had gone down through the slats while she was laying down and twisted. As a result, the entire metal vent cover came off of the vent when she stood up and was dangling awkwardly from her collar, the corner of the metal poking her in the neck slightly.

Since I was sound asleep it took me a minute to figure out what was attached to her and I quickly released her collar. Free from the metal grate, she jumped up into our bed and squirmed into my lap, her tail wagging furiously in fear and relief. After that I began to remove both dogs’ collars at night, although I have not seen her sleeping on top of the vent since.

Why Use Collars at All?

The function of the dog collar is of course to attach a leash for walking and to ensure that your dog has identification on him or her. If your dog slips out your front door and runs to a neighbor’s house, they can easily look at the tag, give you a call, and within minutes reunite you with your best friend. In fact, many people who find loose dogs falsely believe that a dog without a collar is a stray or uncared for, even though collars can come off rather easily and you cannot see if a dog is microchipped without having him or her scanned with a chip reader.

I personally prefer a harness for walking dogs because it takes the pressure off of the dogs’ throat and distributes it across their body. Even the best loose leash walking dogs get excited every once in a while when they see a favorite person or a rogue squirrel and could pull and damage their throat, spine, or neck. I cannot remember the last time I actually attached a leash to a collar. Jax and Tink wear their collars on walks but that is to carry their identification; the leash itself is attached to the back ring on their harness.

Dog Collar Hazards

Bitey Face/Zoomies

Naked while playing

Collars can pose a considerable hazard when you have multiple dogs who play with each other. Games of bitey face and zoomies can become dangerous or even deadly if one dog accidentally gets his or her teeth or jaw caught in another dog’s collar, causing damage to the dog whose mouth is stuck and potentially strangling the dog with the collar that is tightly stuck around the other dog’s mouth. You should always remove all collars before allowing your dog to play with another dog. 

Collars while out and about

In our house Jax and Tink are never left unsupervised for very long and I always remove both of their collars when I see their body language and behavior indicate that a game of rough housing is about to happen. They are both good about stopping in mid-play when I intervene, waiting to become “naked dog” and then resuming their play session. As they have become adult dogs and are trusted for longer times without a human in the room, I have started to remove their collars so that if a game erupts when I am in another room of the house they will not become intertwined.

Crates

I am a huge fan of crates but only if they are used correctly and in a positive way, which is to keep your dog safe from harming him or herself when you are not there to supervise their activities and decisions. Crates and collars together are a potentially deadly combination, as collars and tags can easily become caught in the slats of plastic crates or between the wires of metal crates and choke a dog. In fact in the last few weeks I have heard two different stories of dogs being strangled by collars that were caught in crates, which is the tragic and heartbreaking reason for the timing of this blog. Always remove your dog’s collar before putting them in a kennel or crate. 

I follow a very simple process any time the dogs go into their crates. I give the “kennel” command and they run to their specific crate to wait for their treat. First I give Jax his treat and remove his collar, then I give Tink her treat and remove her collar. I place each collar about six inches away from the kennel so that I know exactly where they are and so that they are handy to put back on the dogs when we come home and let them out of their crates.

An On/Off Approach to Dog Collars

I have ultimately taken an on/off approach to our dogs and collars so that they are either naked or wearing their collars depending on the situation. Their collars are always on if we go outside in our own yard or on walks because having my phone number on their collars means that they could be reunited with me quickly and not have to go somewhere to be scanned for their chips. I believe that if they ever slipped out of the gate or front door that they would be the type of dogs to run right up to the next person they saw for belly rubs and treats rather than the type of dog who would run away or evade humans, so having my phone number on their collars would lead to a faster reunion.

When they are in their kennels or I am sleeping or even just hanging out in the house, their collars are off and always put in a place where I can reach them quickly, like hanging from my dresser draw pulls or in front of their kennel doors in case of an emergency. Their harnesses also stay in the same spot on separate hooks that I can access quickly if we needed to leave the house or go into the basement for a tornado warning.

It may sound like a lot to put the collar on, take the collar off, but at the end of the day, it is how I feel safest and prepared for all situations. We take our own shoes on and off multiple times a day, we change our clothes depending on what we are doing, it is literally a few seconds per dog to put a collar on or take the collar off. That is very little time and effort to avoid a potentially life altering accident or tragedy because of a collar related incident.

 

 




Love, Laugh, Woof Product Review: The RV Pet Safety Temperature Monitor

Love, Laugh, Woof Product Review: The RV Pet Safety Temperature Monitor

Love, Laugh, Woof Product Review: The RV Pet Safety Temperature Monitor

by Lynn Stacy-Smith

Love, Laugh, Woof Product Review: The RV Pet Safety Temperature MonitorIf you believe in things like the Law of Attraction, you hear frequently that the Universe puts you right where you need to be at exactly the right time. I used to always think this was a mere coincidence, but in the last few years I have come to be a believer in this.

A few weeks ago I wrote about keeping your dog safe in summer weather even if you do not have air conditioning in your home. In fact, I even wrote:

Invest in a remote monitoring device: There are some inexpensive monitoring devices that will monitor the temperature in your home and send you text alerts or provide information via an app on your phone so you can determine if your home is at a safe temperature for your dog while you are away. I have not tried any of them so do not have recommendations but if I do you can be certain I will blog about it.

Yesterday I shared the story of how my husband and I have been shopping for campers and RVs for the last several months. One of our conversations while we were shopping was about our love for Disney and how my husband would love to stay at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground. He mentioned that if we did that, we could take the dogs with us, especially since we always spend as long as a week visiting my father and step-mother and that they have never met their grand-dogs. Plus we would save on a pet sitter, and most importantly, we would not have to be away from them for such a long time.

Of course I brought up the concern that I would not feel comfortable leaving the dogs in a travel trailer in the Florida heat because although we would leave the air conditioning on there was always the possibility that it could fail while we were off exploring the parks. I would rather the dogs stay at home in Illinois than put them at risk in a hot camper.

Love, Laugh, Woof Product Review: The RV Pet Safety Temperature Monitor“There has to be something on the market to monitor the temperature in the RV and send you information via text alerts or an app! It’s 2017, we have an app and monitors for everything, we can see and talk to people through our doorbell anywhere in the world,” I had told him, and we agreed that before we actually took the dogs camping at Disney, or anywhere that we would need to leave them alone for more than five minutes in the camper without us, we would research such a device.

Shortly after I wrote the blog about homes without air conditioning and the hubby and I pondered RV solutions, I attended a pet event and found myself assigned to a booth next to a woman who was sharing information on the RV Pet Safety Device. As I often do when I get excited about something, I am sure I overwhelmed her with my enthusiasm. Let’s face it, there’s a reason I love the Labrador breed so much; they are just like me!

“Oh. My. Gosh! I am so excited, I literally just wrote about devices like this and my husband and I have been shopping for RVs and we were just talking about how we would need something like this,” I exclaimed, “I am so excited to meet you!!”

Throughout the event she and I chatted anytime we had a free moment and we hit it off immediately. Both of us were moms, we had both left the corporate world to pursue careers that allowed us to actually have flexible lives instead of long commutes through suburban Chicago traffic, and we both were super excited about the possibilities of the technology of the product that she represents and its life saving potential.

A few weeks later we met up again and I was excited to borrow a unit that I could test for myself. Although we are not actually camping in an RV yet, I was able to take advantage of the July heat to test it by leaving it in my car on various trips to do errands. It is important to note that my dogs were safe and sound inside our climate controlled home. Only the device was left in the car in the heat while I wandered around various stores.

Here are my findings:

RV Pet Safety Device:

RV Pet Safety Device

The RV Pet Safety monitor is small, compact, and extremely easy to set up. The actual device measures around three inches by three inches and less than an inch thick. It is designed to be able to be moved from home to RV or anywhere your dog or cat stays, and comes with a bracket that you can mount with an adhesive backing to your home or RV. You can also place it on a flat surface like a shelf or counter.

I would suggest mounting the bracket to your RV near an electrical outlet and laying it on a counter top at home. Although they do not sell the bracket separately on their website, I would email the company and ask if you could purchase multiple brackets so you could move it around.

The charger is similar to a mobile phone charger with one end that goes into the device and a USB port at the other. You can plug it into a USB port in a vehicle or laptop to charge it or into the adaptor plug and into a traditional outlet.

RV Pet Safety App:

The RV Pet Safety App is equally easy to use. I set up my test account in just a few minutes, complete with a picture of Jackson and Tinkerbell, my mobile phone information, and custom settings for my desired temperature alerts for the lowest temperature and the warmest temperature that I would want the dogs to experience. It is important to add a buffer in the temperature settings to give you time for the unit to detect the actual temperature and for you to return to the location where your dogs are located in the event of an emergency.

There are also some help options within the app should a user have any problems, including a robust set of FAQs on setting up the app. Here are some screen shots of the easy to navigate pages. Remember, my dogs were happily at home in the air conditioning when I tested this unit in my empty car. 

 

Love, Laugh, Woof Recommendation: Love it! 

I found this device super easy to set up and use. Honestly, they could not have made it much more simple, plus they have a lot of help available should you need it, including a pop-up chat box for help on the website. In fact when I met with my new friend to pick up the test unit, I had arrived a few minutes before she did. While I waited I saw that she had sent me login credentials via email so within one to two minutes I had my app set up with my temperature specifications, alerts and contact information. When she said, “here, let me show you how to set up the app,” I said, “Oh, I already did it!” Now, in all fairness, I am one of those people who runs essentially their entire life from their phone, but it was still extremely user-friendly and simple.

The website is also easy to navigate with plenty of information. Check it out at https://rvpetsafety.com.

Love, Laugh, Woof Suggested Uses:

I want to be crystal clear here: this awesome device does not mean that dog owners can now leave their dogs in the car on a summer day when it’s 90 degrees outside and run into the grocery store for milk and bread with the car off and the windows cracked. That is still not safe because cars get too hot too fast. Period.

Home

I love the fact that the RV Pet Safety monitor can be used anywhere, including your home.  If you do not have central air or if you do have central air and leave the house for more than a few hours at a time, if you live somewhere with rolling brownouts during summer, or if you experience a power outage which can of course happen anytime or anywhere. We have had our central air break and our house got very hot very fast. I would have loved to have this when I was in my twenties and had only a window unit for air conditioning and used to obsess over whether or not my Labrador Babe was safe and comfortable at home while I was at work. Imagine the peace of mind if you are at the office an hour away and you can check in to see the temperature of your home!

RV/Campers

Of course, as the name states, the RV Pet Safety Monitor is also perfect for RV or camper owners who camp with their dogs or cats and want to have peace of mind if they want to go somewhere that does not allow their pets, like a restaurant, a bike ride, a local attraction or to a store. I nearly cried with relief when I found out this device existed because of the peace of mind it will give me when we finally do go get to camp at Walt Disney World’s Fort Wilderness Campground and decide to take Jackson and Tinkerbell with us. It means that we could run over to the Magic Kingdom or Epcot for a few hours with the RV hooked up and the air conditioning running and get alerts to ensure that they are nice and cool despite the Florida heat.

Police/SAR Dogs

Police and Search and Rescue (SAR) dogs work under some of the worst conditions of working dogs. Some experts say that crime rates go up in the hottest months of the year, and police dogs are called upon constantly to help sniff out contraband and catch criminals regardless of the weather or conditions. The RV Pet Safety monitor could send alerts to officers or SAR handlers to let them know if the temperature in the car is safe for the dogs while they are waiting to be called into action.

Dog Show Handlers

Some professional dog show handlers transport and show multiple dogs at the same event, and these dogs are often transported in camper like trailers with built-in kennels. Although they should be equipped with air conditioning, the RV Pet Safety monitor would be able to provide additional peace of mind to handlers in case the air conditioning fails or there is a loss of power to the trailer.

Kennel Owners, Bird Hunters, and anywhere dogs are left alone

There are so many opportunities for the RV Pet Safety monitor to help alert owners or handlers to unsafe temperatures in any place that a dog is left alone without a human present at all times. Dog kennels, hunting dog trailers, doggie day care centers, even the long-term care areas of veterinary offices could all have peace of mind from this little device that was created by a company who gained significant expertise in monitoring food and pharmaceutical businesses before they launched their pet safety device.

Pricing

The RV Pet Safety monitor itself is $199 and you can save $50 with the special coupon code LYNN50 during checkout at https://rvpetsafety.com. Because the device operates with the same technology as mobile phones and goes through the Verizon cellular network, you will need a monthly plan for the device to work.

You can choose from one of two plans. With the Occasional Traveler plan, you pay $19.99 a month but you can stop and start it anytime, giving you the ability to only pay for the months that you use it. This is perfect for someone like me who is really worried about the warm summer months or only camps sporadically or during summer.

There is also the NoMads Plan, which is currently reduced to $14.50 a month and is paid annually in a lump sum of $175 a year. This is perfect for people who are living the dream of living in their 5th wheel or Class A motor coach and traveling the country or who want to monitor their home all year-long. If you are planning on using the device more than nine months out of the year, this plan makes more sense financially than paying monthly.

Finally, there is a discount for non-profit and government organizations and a special link on the RV Pet Safety website: https://rvpetsafety.com/k9-dogs or email me at lovelaughwoof@outlook.com and I will put you in contact with my friend at the company.

The special savings code LYNN50 is an affiliate code and I will earn a commission from any purchase with this code. As always, I will never recommend a product that I do not personally use or strongly believe in as being something extremely beneficial for you and your dog. Like I mentioned at the start, I was so excited to learn of the RV Pet Safety monitor that I simply had to learn more about it because of the peace of mind that it can offer to every dog owner like myself who worries about the conditions in which their dog is left alone when I have to go or choose to go to places that they can not go by my side.

 

 

Camping World

The Consequences of a Dog Bite

The Consequences of a Dog Bite

The Consequences of a Dog Bite

by Lynn Stacy-Smith

The Consequences of a Dog Bite The last few Love, Laugh, Woof blogs have focused on training and socializing dogs so that they do not bite, or if they do because they are backed into a corner or they are older and caught off guard, that it is a soft warning bite. The reason that bites have been on my mind so much in the last few weeks is two-fold, and those blogs have been leading up to this.

The first thing that happened was that a friend of mine, who is a dog lover and works with dogs professionally, sustained a very bad bite and has been sharing some of her story and experience with me. Shortly after she was bit, the town in which I live also began reviewing their dog bite laws based on two dogs who recently bit a few people. One of our elected officials made some strong statements regarding his feelings on the issue of bites and several of us went to speak to the village board and present our thoughts, even though no official change to the law has been proposed.

Now, let me say that I am not a professional trainer and I am not a dog behaviorist. I am a lifelong dog owner who shares my vast experience in this blog on how to care for dogs, how to give them a healthy, happy lifestyle as a compassionate, forever owner. I am not the person who you are going to take a reactive dog to for training, I have never personally owned a dog who had the slightest bit of aggression or behavioral issues. I have also never been bit, except for my grandfather’s dog who nipped the side of my face when I caught her off guard with a hug. She did not leave a mark and I never told anyone because I felt like I should not have hugged her, that I had crossed some sort of boundary.

However, I can say without a shadow of a doubt that we owe it to our dogs to take every step possible to raise them to be dogs who do not attack humans, do not push past us out the front door to chase someone and bite them, do not jump a fence into a neighbor’s yard to bite someone. People who let their dogs do these behaviors fail them because it is the dogs who are going to pay the highest price for the owner’s mistake. It is the dogs who are going to pay with their lives while the owners pay with their wallet.

Part of taking on the lifelong responsiblity of a dog is to make sure the dog has positive experiences with people of all ages, everyday noises and situations, like we did with Jackson and Tinkerbell when we literally went down a list of things that we wanted to them to experience as puppies. That way you increase the chance that your dog will be view unusual people and experiences with the same chilled out response as they do the everyday things.The last few Love, Laugh, Woof blogs have focused on training and socializing dogs so that they do not bite, or if they do because they are backed into a corner or they are older and caught off guard, that it is a soft warning bite. The reason that bites have been on my mind so much in the last few weeks is two-fold, and those blogs have been leading up to this.

Is it foolproof, that if you socialize your dog that she won’t ever react fearfully or with a growl? No.

Does it mean that your dog won’t be completely freaked out if she sees a big blowup Santa waving in the wind on a December walk through your neighborhood? No.

But the more positive experiences you give them in the world the more likely they will not be fearful in other situations. Training and socializing help your dog understand that the UPS driver or the pizza dude are just more new people and not there to cause you harm.

Training is so much more than just training your dog to perform a command. Training establishes you as your dog’s leader, their trusted human to guide them through a human world. Yes, you are a dog mom or dog dad in your heart, but they are not furry children. We can love our dogs as our children and still do right by them by understanding that they are dogs and have different needs than an actual human child. 

This is why I write so frequently that I believe that every single dog should go to several obedience classes with their human even if the human is a lifelong, experienced dog owner. It is about teaching your dog that you are their go-to source of “what to do next” in a situation. In fact one of my favorite things about going to dog events and expos is that I get to watch people with their dogs out in public, and my number one favorite thing to see is when a dog looks up and checks in with their owner as if to ask, “what do I do in this situation?” When my dogs do that out in public I heap on praise and treats!

I found two great articles for owners to read to learn more about dog aggression and signs to look for in your own dogs. One is called, Dogs Don’t Bite Out of the Blue and the other is Aggression in Dogs.  I think they are both important to read even if you have the most relaxed, socialized, chilled out dog who ever lived. Like I wrote, I am not a behaviorist and will not pretend to be one, so if you have any concerns that your dog may be aggressive in a situation, please seek out a professional trainer through a one-on-one consultation so you can learn what to do so that you do not end up in a situation in which your dog has bitten someone.

If your dog bites or even worse, attacks, a human or another dog, there can be extremely serious consequences. In my friend’s situation, her bite has required surgery and extensive medical care and it is unclear if the dog’s owner will pay for her co-pay and costs that are not covered by insurance. There are lawyers involved on the financial side of things and the dog has had to be quarantined for ten days to determine if he is a dangerous dog. His life could come to a tragic end because of this bite, and my friend could have permanent damage to her arm, all because the owner made several mistakes leading up to the bite.

When dogs bite, the consequences could involve the following:

  • Substantial harm or death to the human who was bit, including muscle damage, infections, mental or emotional issues, a fear of dogs, and missing work or school.
  • Quarantine of your dog, investigation into whether your dog is a dangerous dog, and possible death to your dog by euthanasia.
  • Substantial harm or death to other dogs who were bit.
  • Financial responsibility to humans who were bit or the owners of dogs who were bit.
  • Loss of homeowner’s insurance or increased premiums.
  • Lawsuit against you by the humans who were bit or owners of the dogs who were bit.
  • On overall blight on the dog loving community that is continually working to improve the quality of life for dogs and public opinion of dogs as sentient beings.

The love that an owner has for their dog should be enough to prompt them to proactively take their dog through several obedience classes as a puppy or a new rescue or to specialized training if their dog shows signs of aggression. Once you begin a class you realize that training is the best bonding activity that you can do with your dog and it becomes a fun weekly adventure for both of you.

If love is not enough to make that investment in the dog, owners should consider the total cost of having a trained versus an untrained dog. Most training classes that I have taken are between $150 to $200 for six weeks. That is under $1000 to take your dog’s training from puppy socialization to advanced obedience, even allowing them to retake a class if needed. The cost of paying for medical bills, replacing your home owner’s insurance, or being sued for medical damage, emotional suffering or loss of life could be many times that amount, and could even result in complete financial ruin from a tragic situation that could have been prevented.

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Teaching Children How to Act Around Dogs

Teaching Children How to Act Around Dogs

Teaching Children How to Act Around Dogs

by Lynn Stacy-Smith

Teaching Children How to Act Around DogsLast week another cringe-worthy video came across my social media news feed because someone thought it was cute. I suppose if you did not know a single thing about dogs, it might be cute. After all, what could be so awful about a curly-haired, resourceful toddler wearing just a diaper, climbing on top of his Basset Hound’s head and spine in order to reach into the refrigerator to get something?  The dog patiently stood while the child climbed on his back and the video was being shared as an “awe, look at this boy and his dog” moment. Teamwork, right?

Wrong! 

First of all, stepping on a dog’s head and standing on its back is a perfect way for that child to get bit when the dog tires of the game.  Second, the long back and short legs of the Basset Hound make it prone to back problems and damage to their vertebrae without a child standing on its spine. Standing on any part of any dog is wrong, let alone a Basset Hound! 

Our own late Basset Hound Maggie was only saved from a death at a young age by a clinical trial at the Purdue University Veterinary school after she became completely paralyzed from the upper back down to her back legs and tail. She became paralyzed because the overall design of the Basset Hound is flawed and like other dogs with long backs and short legs, she became paralyzed simply from everyday running around and playing. I cannot imagine letting our kids stand on her spine! After surgery she went through six months of physical therapy and kennel rest while we taught her how to walk again.

Six months of kennel rest to a dog whose life lasted twelve years is like over three years of recovery for a human whose life is eighty years. Some Basset Hounds and other breeds with a long back never recover once they are paralyzed like that, so to have a child stand on their spine using it as a step-stool could be deadly to the dog.

This is not the only video that’s gone viral by people who think that it is “cute” when those of us in the dog world view it as downright animal abuse. I have seen videos of babies and toddlers walking on dogs, stepping on their bellies and rib cages, riding them like horses, chasing after them and hitting them while the parents film the activity and laugh along at their poorly behaved child and their beleaguered, stressed out dog. I even saw one with a dog backed into a corner and snarling while the child hugs him, with the caption that the dog is smiling. The dog is not smiling, it is giving a warning that he does not like what is going on, and his next move is to bite to protect himself.

Teaching Children How to Act Around Dogs
Do you see the dog leaning away from the hug?

I personally have been chased down the street by children who did not have their parents with them, running at me screaming “Can we pet your dog??” This has happened with every one of my dogs in every town in which I’ve lived. The most recent time I was chased and followed by two young boys on bikes who wanted to pet my dogs and after I replied, “Sorry, not unless your Mom or Dad is with you,” and they rode off and yelled, “I’m going to kill your dogs!”

I have a firm rule when I walk my dogs, whether it is one dog at a time or both of them together, that kids may not approach or pet my dogs without their parents present. The reason for this is that I have seen far too many children whose parents have never taught them how to act around a dog. And while I have never had a dog who I ever felt would bite a human, my dogs approach the world with a happy, dopey look on their faces with their mouths open and their tongues hanging out. Yes, I tend to err on the side of neurotic caution, but I never want any sort of misunderstanding.

Teaching Children How to Act Around Dogs
This dog looks more stressed out than happy.

Fortunately I have also heard parents stop their children from charging up to me, yelling at them to stop and correcting their child by saying, “You do not run up to strange dogs! You have to ask their owner first if you can pet them and walk up slowly!” In that situation, I am happy to put my dog in a sitting position and give them the “say hello” command while the parent tells their child how to greet my dog.

 

Like I point out in nearly every blog: dogs are amazing creatures who live in harmony with we humans, but at the end of the day, they are a different species. They cannot speak in English or in words, so they must rely on body language when they are trapped into situations that they do not like or that scare them. And yes, they get scared! They are living, breathing, feeling creatures.  Instead of saying, “hey, back up, you are too close and I am kinda freaked out right now” in words like we can, they can only lean away, walk away, turn their head, and if they must, growl or bite.

Here are some basic things that all parents can teach their children to do and not to do when around their own dog or dogs who belong to strangers:

  1. DO NOT climb on top of dogs, whether standing up on them, riding them like a horse, or stepping on their bodies.
  2. DO NOT hit or smack dogs.
  3. DO NOT hug dogs.
  4. DO NOT grab the heads of dogs for kisses.
  5. DO NOT get up close to the face of dogs.
  6. DO NOT wrestle with dogs.
  7. DO NOT grab something out of the dog’s mouth.
  8. DO NOT pull ears, tails, floppy skin, jowls or any body parts.
  9. DO NOT run up behind the dog.
  10. DO NOT run up to strange dogs.
  11. DO NOT corner dogs where they have not exit.
  12. DO NOT reach over or lean over dogs.
  13. DO NOT teach your dog games in which they chase you.
  14. DO NOT pet dogs on the top of their heads.
  15. DO NOT go into fenced areas in someone else’s property without being invited.
  16. DO NOT approach strange dogs who are tethered or tied up.
  17. DO pet dogs under the chin, on the chest.
  18. DO stroke dogs gently along the shoulder.
  19. DO NOT make eye contact with strange dogs.
  20. DO stand at a forty-five degree angle to let the new dog approach.
  21. DO hold your hand out just slightly with the back of your hand facing the dog or with your hand in a loose fist.
  22. DO always ask the owner if you can pet their dog.
  23. DO teach the dog to drop their toys in front of you if they want to play fetch.
  24. DO honor the dog’s decision to walk away and decide when the encounter is done.
  25. DO be calm and confident; dogs can smell the biological changes that occur with stress and fear and may also feel that stress or fear as a result.
  26. DO back away slowly if the dog shows signs of fear or aggression.

There are some things on the list that your own dog might let you get away with even though it is rude in their world simply because they know and trust you. My dogs let me kiss them and are frequently close to my face. I have raised them from puppies and I would never do this with a stranger’s dog or even other dogs that belong to family or friends. As your dog’s owner your dog may let you do things that your own children cannot. Our Maggie was fine if my husband or I held her close to us, but if the children tried to hug her she would give a warning growl, as if she recognized that we moved slowly and were not a threat and they were louder and more rough and tumble and not allowed to hold onto her as tightly. I recommend always watching babies, toddlers and even younger children with your own dogs until you are sure that they understand the rules of living side by side with their canine family members.

 




The Importance of Teaching Puppies and Your Kids About Bite Inhibition

The Importance of Teaching Puppies and Your Kids About Bite Inhibition

The Importance of Teaching Puppies and Your Kids About Bite Inhibition

by Lynn Stacy-Smith

The Importance of Teaching Puppies and Your Kids About Bite InhibitionIf you’ve raised a puppy, the words “razor-sharp puppy teeth” probably make you shudder and think back to those days of puppy rearing when you felt like you had adopted a baby dinosaur instead of a puppy. In fact there’s a meme that circles social media periodically that compares a puppy to a T-Rex that makes everyone who has ever raised a puppy nod along knowingly as they remember the scrapes and scratches all over their hands and arms from those sharp little teeth.

Puppies and adult dogs, lacking thumbs, play with each other with their mouths in games of “bitey face” and wrestling. If you have had multiple dogs in your home, chances are they have played their own version of what we call “bitey face”, which is when dogs play with open mouths or bite and pull on each other’s jowls, ears, necks. Sometimes they lay down and have a lazy game of just sparring with their mouths, other times there is wrestling and rough-housing involved, and sometimes they add in “zoomies” in which they race around the house or yard at top speed in a game of chase.

These games are normal parts of playing together and you should be able to tell when your dogs are playing versus fighting. If you have questions about your specific dogs, as always I would encourage you to talk to a professional dog trainer. There is also some interesting and important information at this link from the American Kennel Club that I recommend: http://www.akc.org/content/dog-training/articles/are-they-playing-or-fighting/The Importance of Teaching Puppies and Your Kids About Bite Inhibition

When you adopt a puppy, chances are they have spent the last six weeks wrestling with and play-biting their siblings and even their mother. One of the most important parts of raising a puppy is to teach him or her that they cannot play with humans in the same way that they play with other dogs. 

Teaching your dog “bite inhibition” means teaching them that they should not bite humans and that if they do, that they should use a soft bite that does not harm the human. In my opinion, this falls under the top 3 things that you must teach your dog, along with house training and the “sit” and “wait” commands.

Other humans in your home can often make teaching bite inhibition difficult because there is some sort of human instinct that overtakes people and causes them to wiggle their fingers in front of a puppy’s face. I cannot tell you the number of times we had to correct our children during puppy raising; it might have been more times than we had to correct the actual puppies. I have also encountered total strangers who did the same thing to my puppies, to the point where I had to tell them, “We are teaching them not to bite, please do not wave your fingers in my puppy’s face!”

Jax was particularly difficult when it came to bite inhibition. He was persistent in trying to play with us by chomping down with his razor-sharp teeth with the full force of his mouth. In addition to Jax’s persistence at trying to play with us with his teeth, our human son (who was twelve at the time) was the worst of all of the kids at wiggling his fingers in front of Jax’s face.

When it came to Jackson’s puppy days and his bite inhibition education, the words “Get your fingers out of the dog’s face!” came out of my mouth more times than I could possibly count. I am surprised Jackson did not learn what it meant I said it so many times. Finally one day I lost my patience with our human son when he shrugged my comments off with an overly cocky tween comment, “big deal, he’s a puppy!”

“Yes, if a fifteen pound puppy bites your hand, it’s cute. If an eighty pound male Labrador bites the hands of one of your friends because he thinks it’s how he plays with kids, then he could even end up being put to death as an aggressive dog, SO GET YOUR HANDS OUT OF THE PUPPY’S FACE!!!!” I scolded him.

Thankfully Jax learned not to bite in play or at all, he learned to take his treats gently, and we’ve never seen him in (or put him in) a position where he needed to bite to protect himself.  His snuggle time is on his terms and while he will drape himself across our laps, he does not usually like to be hugged for too long or held very tightly, and he will either get up and walk away or turn his head and lean the opposite direction. We respect his body language that the situation is not pleasing, and we stop before he needs to even remotely resort to a soft bite.

Our teenagers have also learned how to play with puppies and dogs. By experiencing first Jackson’s and then Tinkerbell’s puppy training, they know that you do not wriggle your hands in front of a puppy, you play with them using toys and playing fetch or tug-0-war, and that the dogs are to put the toys on the floor or the ground instead of reaching into their mouths to get them.  They know that if a puppy is trying to nip at you, you give them a toy instead of a body part to chew. They also know that most dogs don’t really like to be hugged or petted from above, and that as far as a dog is concerned, those actions are rude or aggressive.

It is important to teach your children why you are teaching the puppy not to bite hard or at all and the implications that not teaching your puppy this important information could have as your puppy grows into a full grown dog. I highly recommend that you supervise their play even if they are tweens or teenagers so that you can correct both the puppy and the children when they exhibit undesirable behavior and reward them when they play in a way that both the puppy and the children will grow up knowing how to play in a way that does not encourage biting.

Make sure you ask your puppy class trainer or beginner obedience instructor on tips and methods for working with your own dog. Here are some other good resources on the “how-to” side of teaching bite inhibition:

 https://www.whole-dog-journal.com/issues/13_6/features/Bite-Inhibition_16232-1.html

https://clickertraining.com/node/725

http://pets.webmd.com/dogs/guide/biting-puppy-how-train-puppy-bites#1

 

 

 




Why Your Puppy Should Go to Puppy Class

Why Your Puppy Should Go to Puppy Class

Why Your Puppy Should Go to Puppy Class

by Lynn Stacy-Smith

Why Your Puppy Should Go to Puppy Class When my veterinarian suggested to me that I enroll Jackson in the puppy kindergarten class that they had recently started to offer,  I was skeptical. He had come to us pre-trained to sit and wait for his food, so at eight weeks old he already knew sit, stay and we were working on a recall game that our friend/breeder had given us in her packet of information that she gives to all puppy buyers.

I had already selected a beginner obedience class that he would begin once he was fully vaccinated and figured I knew enough about dog rearing to make it through the weeks between his homecoming and training class. Plus “kindergarten” sounded a little silly. Was he going to learn his colors and shapes, too?

Puppy Kindergarten turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made!

Jax was one of around five or six other puppies. He was among the youngest and surprisingly, the smallest, since all of the puppies in the class were large breeds just out of sheer coincidence. Two of the most memorable classmates were German Shepherd pups who were at least a month older than him; they had started to get into the gangly awkward stage where their legs seemed too long for the rest of their bodies while Jackson was still stout and compact.

The first half of each class was spent on an educational topic. We learned how to teach the puppies sit, stay, come, and also worked on introducing them to new experiences like a wheelchair, baby stroller, bicycle, the examination rooms of the vet’s office, and other very basic things that a dog might encounter during their day-to-day life.

During the second half of the class the puppies were allowed to play together as a group. If you are picturing the Puppy Bowl that has become a tradition on Super Bowl Sunday, you are exactly right, only without the announcer and the football themed play area.

I was surprised as I watched Jax playing with the other puppies. Based on his behavior at home and his zest for playing rough with his Basset Hound sister Maggie, I thought he would be one of the most rough and tumble puppies in the group. He engaged the bigger Shepherds in play and then ran back to hide behind my feet when they got too rough, looking up at me for reassurance before running back out to play with them some more.

Playing with other puppies is excellent for your dog’s development because puppies learn about manners from other puppies. Of course the universal dog games are what we call “bitey face” which is the type of play in which they bite and nip each other’s jowls and wrestle, and “zoomies” which is a game in which they chase each other around a room or yard.

If a puppy bites too hard or gets too rough, the other puppy will yelp in protest to tell his playmate, “hey, watch it, that bite was too hard and it hurt!” If the rough puppy continues to play too aggressively, the other puppy will walk away from the game entirely, giving the rough-housing puppy the message of “you’re too rough, I’m out!” Learning these lessons as puppies is extremely important for your dog so that he learns how to interact with other dogs at a young age and knows what is appropriate and what is not.

When your puppy is with their litter, they have this experience with their litter mates, but after they go to their forever homes they are usually the only puppy and often the only dog, leaving you the human as their playmate. Unfortunately, their go-to games that they’ve played with other dogs are not compatible with human playmates, so you have to teach them that you are not going to play bitey-face, or bitey-hand or bitey-achilles tendon no matter how much they try.

Not only is it fun and educational for your puppy to play with other dogs his own age, but watching him play with other puppies is educational for you, too. You can learn a lot from watching your puppy play with other puppies you can use the same skills that other puppies use when you are working on bite inhibition, which refers to the important job of teaching your puppy not to bite humans in play or at any time, which we will cover in a separate blog tomorrow.

At the end of the four-week class, we received a list of suggested experiences that puppies should have, ideally before they reached sixteen weeks of age. This list came with the comment that they did not expect owners to go down the list item by item and make sure their dog experienced them all. Of course my husband and I took the list and did just that, and were able to recreate many of them.

We had neighbors help us by walking by with strollers, had our own kids and their friends ride past on skateboards, bicycles, roller blades, electric scooters, plasma cars and whatever else we could think of. We made sure Jackson heard sounds like our Harley Davidson starting, the lawn mower, the weed whacker, pots banging, doors slamming, even a cap gun, although that was part of his hunting dog training that stopped almost before it started.

With every new experience we made sure that Jackson was happy and comfortable and we were elated at how chilled out he was to each and every experience. To this day he is very relaxed around essentially everything except a neighbor’s Halloween scarecrow decoration, to the point where the loudest thunder doesn’t even make him raise his head.

Tinkerbell went through a similar puppy class elsewhere as our veterinarian stopped offering their class, and we worked just as hard at socializing her. She is just as chilled out when encountering new things as her big brother is, and both are able to meet other adult dogs and play with them without incident, hear loud noises without a second glance, and encounter strange things on walks without fear.

Puppy class also became my favorite day of the week because I took an energetic wild puppy into the class and came home with an exhausted, physically and intellectually spent calm puppy who crashed out like I do after an open to close day at Disney! No matter how unconditionally you love your dog, no matter how committed you are to the next fifteen or so years, or however long you are blessed with your dog’s presence in your life, no matter how calm and positive you are, puppyhood can challenge even the most patient of dog owners.

Your dog’s puppyhood is magical but it is also exhausting. There were days when I wanted to cry as I wondered how much longer it would take me to convince Jackson that the leg of our office chair was not a chew toy or that he could not in fact gnaw the spines off of all of the books on the bookshelf, and I knew that on puppy class days he would sleep like, well, like a puppy, and that I could read a magazine or watch a TV show.

Another benefit of attending a puppy class or puppy kindergarten is that you have a professional dog trainer at your disposal who you can ask about house-training tips and other things that you encounter with your puppy at home during the 167 hours of the week when your puppy is not at class. That is a lot of time for your puppy to get into mischief and by asking the trainer for advice you can correct your dog in the best way instead of instilling bad habits that could last your dog’s entire life.

Watch for tomorrow’s blog on bite inhibition and why it is so important to teach your young puppy that biting humans is not acceptable even in a playful puppy way. 

Why Every Dog Should Go To Obedience Class

Why Every Dog Should Go To Obedience Class

Why Every Dog Should Go To Obedience Class

by Lynn Stacy-Smith

Why Every Dog Should Go To Obedience ClassThe last few weeks have been a seemingly endless stream of stories about dogs that are both frustrating and heartbreaking, including dog bites, re-homing requests, and frustrated owners with 8 month old puppies who are still not house-trained. Sadly they all have a similar theme because all of these could have been prevented or could be fixed by one thing: training. 

I have talked to a lot of people who have never taken a class with their dog or who look somewhat confused when I suggest that they take one. There is also the response “Oh, I’ve had dogs my whole life, I don’t need to take an obedience class.”

I think that sometimes there are misconceptions about what an “obedience” class is all about and what an owner can gain from attending a class with their dog, especially for people who have had dogs before or feel like they have a lot of knowledge about dogs. Actually, until Jackson was born I had never taken one either, having grown up with dogs who came to me rescued and pre-trained like my late Babe, or who were trained by my father.

Dogs have been companions to humans for so long that it seems like it should be second nature for us to live together. The reality, though, is that no matter how harmoniously we are able to live together, at the end of the day they are still another species and we can both use all the help we can get at learning how to understand each other and communicate across our separate and very different species.

Dogs are very different from humans. Their bodies are different, their minds are different, their communication methods are different, their learning requirements are different, even the structure of their brain is different as they are blessed with a whole extra area to analyze scents. Things that are acceptable in our world are rude or aggressive in theirs, similar to someone from another country in another part of the world. Just like trying to speak to a fellow human who speaks another language or has different social norms than we do, we need to learn how to speak in a language our dogs understand, learn how to understand what they are saying to us without words, and understand their cultural norms.

However, despite my analogy comparing your dog to someone from another culture in a different part of the world, a dog is also an entirely other species than we are. They are a very special, precious species that deserves to be treated well, loved for all the days of their life, and considered to be a family member, but they are not a small furry person.

Why Every Dog Should Go To Obedience ClassDog obedience school or dog training classes are first and foremost about teaching humans to teach their dogs the rules of life in a human household. In most beginner obedience classes you will learn to teach your dog how to sit, come when called, look at you when you say their name, stay, lay down, settle and start to walk nicely on a leash. Usually around six to eight weeks in duration, the beginner obedience class is just the very tip of the proverbial training iceberg!

When you find a really good dog trainer, you learn so much more than how to teach your dog how to perform those commands. Don’t get me wrong, those are the must-know commands that can literally save your dog’s life, particularly the stay or come command. But the best dog trainers teach owners about how a dog’s mind works, the importance of repetition and patience, the benefits of positive reward based training, and how to understand your dog despite being two very different species and get your dog to understand you.

The first night of my Basic Obedience class with Jackson the trainer spoke to us with made-up, random words that might not have even been actual words. Her words made literally no sense at all.  There were no dogs in the room, the first session was a human-only orientation.

She said it again, only louder. Then even louder. Then with a raised voice and anger, and asked why we could not understand her, she was speaking English! What was wrong with us that we could not understand what she was telling us?

As you might expect, this exercise was to show us what it is like to be a dog with humans randomly saying words to them and growing impatient when they do not instantly understand. It may sound silly, but that was one of the most impactful moments of all of the classes in which I participated and is something that has stuck with me during every moment working with and living with our dogs.

Different trainers have different nuggets of information and different methods that will stick with different people. Add in the fact that every dog is slightly different in terms of what motivates them, how easy or difficult they are to train, with different backgrounds and life experiences, and you arrive at the same suggestion for all dogs: that every human needs to take every one of their dogs to at least one training class and ideally several additional classes after they graduate from beginner.

Dog training classes are really about training owners to teach their dogs. Most of the class time is spent learning from the trainers, and most of your actual training time with your dog is outside of the classroom. In fact, when you do practice the commands in the classroom it is the owner who the trainer is really watching and correcting rather than the dog because the class is to train the owner how to train the dog.

When you find a good trainer you will understand how to take your training beyond basic obedience because you will know the concepts behind teaching your dog. Once you can teach her sit and stay, it’s not a far stretch to teach her other commands, to teach her tricks, to teach her games. Learning about how your dog learns will help you with socializing her, with teaching her not to bite (bite inhibition), with a variety of situations that you might encounter during your dog’s life.

Why Every Dog Should Go To Obedience ClassNot only will you forever have the skills to teach your dog and future dogs, but you will have a go-to resource should something pop up in the future. I often wonder how many dogs would not be re-homed if their owners had a relationship with a trainer so they could easily reach out when a life change happened like a new baby or the introduction of another dog into the house.

Training your dog can be a lot of fun for you and the dog as long as you are patient and realize that the fun part is for you and your dog to be learning together and to build an incredible bond together. In fact I often look for additional classes to take just for fun and I am strongly considering joining a local dog training club so that one of the dogs and I can go once a week and practice their skills, be around other dogs and dog owners with similar goals, and to continually learn from some of the amazing dog trainers that we have in our area.

If you are looking for a professional dog trainer, check with your veterinarian for recommendations.

Also check out these websites:

Association of Professional Dog Trainers (ADPT): https://apdt.com/about/trainer-search/

Karen Pryor Academy: https://www.karenpryoracademy.com/find-a-trainer

 




6 Fun Indoor Things to Do with Your Dog

6 Fun Things to Do Indoors With Your Dog

6 Fun Things to Do Indoors With Your Dog

by Lynn Stacy-Smith

6 Fun Indoor Things to Do with Your DogAs we wrap up a series on summer safety tips for your dog, including Stop Leaving Dogs in Cars! Period!Preventing Burnt Paws on Hot SurfacesKnow Your Dogs Limits, and Keeping Dogs Cool Without Air Conditioning, I have created a free Infographic for you to download called 6 Fun Things to Do Indoors With Your Dog. 

It is not just summer that might create a need to be indoors with your dog. Extreme cold, weather events like hurricanes or tornado warnings, or even feeling under the weather yourself can create a need for fun indoor games for even the most energetic dogs.

With both Jackson and Tinkerbell I encountered days during their puppyhood when I was the only human home and suffering from various ailments like a sinus infection or stomach flu. Some of the fun things I’ve listed have saved the day when I had zero energy to wear out a crazy four-month old puppy with physical exercise. And finally, some have come in handy when our dogs have been on kennel rest like when Jackson and Tinkerbell were neutered and spayed or when foster dog Destiny was on kennel rest for heartworm treatment.

Summer Heat and Dogs: Keeping Dogs Cool Without Air Conditioning

Summer Heat and Dogs: Keeping Dogs Cool Without Air Conditioning

Summer Heat and Dogs: Keeping Dogs Cool Without Air Conditioning

by Lynn Stacy-Smith

Summer Heat and Dogs: Keeping Dogs Cool Without Air ConditioningAs a dog owner there are few things for which I am more grateful than central air conditioning. If you are a regular reader of this blog you know that I take the safety of my dogs extremely seriously, so you can imagine the stress in my life when my late Babe was a young dog and we lived in a very old house with just a window unit to cool down our home.

Back then I was in my late twenties and in the “what on earth will I do with this English degree” stage of my life and I was working at a local restaurant. We were only open for dinner so I left for work around 3pm at the very height of the summer heat. My apartment was in an incredibly old house in the downtown area of a pleasant medium sized city in northern Indiana.

With huge radiators for heat, there was no hope of central air conditioning ever being installed and the electricity was sketchy to the point where I could not have my window unit plugged into the same breaker as the refrigerator or the breaker would flip off. As a result, when I went to work each day I turned off the AC and then turned it on immediately after coming home from work each night. I had to take a shower to get rid of the sweat and salt from being in our oven of a kitchen and by the time I was showered the apartment was pretty cool.

I adopted Babe in November so I did not think about the air conditioning situation until the first heat wave of the summer came along almost six months later. I remember standing in my apartment in front of that window unit, terrified about what I should do. Leave it on and risk a fire from the electrical situation? Turn it off and have her bake to death in my apartment since it was in the high 90s outside? I stood there rooted to the spot with fear as the minutes ticked away and I grew more and more late for work. Babe of course stood next to me, her tail wagging and her face turned up toward me waiting to see if the fact that I had shoes on meant that she was going somewhere.

Finally I called my Mom who was a teacher and off for the summer. “Can I bring Babe to your house? I’m afraid to leave her here without the air conditioner on and I’m afraid to leave it on.”

I turned the unit off, took Babe to my mother’s house for the evening, picked her up after work and we headed home. I had left all of the curtains closed to keep the sunlight from warming up the apartment and it was actually surprisingly cool eight hours later with the air conditioning turned off. Fortunately there were several large trees around the house which also helped keep it somewhat cool.

I continued this experiment by taking Babe to Mom’s and leaving the air conditining off at the apartment for a few more days while the heat wave persisted. After a few days I was confident that Babe would be safest home alone with the curtains all closed and the air conditioning unit turned off, but I arranged for Mom to come and check on her halfway through my shift at work. I made sure my bathroom door was open so that she could lay on the cool tile if she got too warm and filled her water bowl up to the top. I still worried every about my girl every single day even though every night I arrived home to a fairly cool apartment and a perfectly fine, non-panting, happy, healthy dog.

Babe and I lived like this for several more summers until I finally moved to an apartment with central air conditioning. Of course that same summer we had the worst heat I had ever experienced as an adult and the little apartment complex central air unit had a hard time keeping up with the searing temperatures outside, so once again I made sure she could reach the cold linoleum of the kitchen and bathroom and had a nice fresh bowl of water. I bought her a cool-down mat that worked by filling it with water, which I don’t think she used once in her life, but at least I felt better knowing that she could if she needed it.

Whether you do not have central air conditioning or your AC has selected the hottest day of the summer to malfunction,  it can be downright terrifying at times, trying to make sure that your dog stays cool, especially when you have to leave the house to go to work or other obligations.

Here are some tips to help you keep your pet safe and cool when it is warm outside:

Leave plenty of water: Dogs should always have access to fresh, cool water but it is even more important during the summer. Depending on the size of your dog’s water bowl you might need to leave a second bowl for them just to be sure they have plenty. Position the bowl in a place where they are least likely to spill it.

Lock It Block It window security bar (affiliate link)
Provide a breeze: Whether it’s a fan or open windows, a breeze can help your dog cool down. It is important to make sure that the fan is in good working order and not a fire hazard and that your dog cannot jump out an open window. You can purchase window security bars to discourage your dog from opening a window all the way. I personally will not leave the house with appliances running or windows open but everyone and every neighborhood is different and you must decide what is right for your dog. If you do leave a fan running while you are gone, make sure your pet cannot tip it over and into curtains or a bed.

Allow your dog access to a cool surface: If your dog is not confined to a crate I suggest allowing her to access a cool surface like a tile or linoleum floor. If you’ve ever watched your dogs on a hot day you have probably seen them seek out the coolest spot in the house. Right now, even with the air conditioning running, Jackson is napping in his crate with the door wide open and his kennel pad pushed to the side because he likes the cool surface. If your dog is crated while you are not home you might need to move the crate to the coolest part of the house.

Have a dog sitter or friend look in on your dog: Just like I did with my Mom, have a dog sitter, friend or family member look in on your dog partially through your work day to make sure that your home is still at a safe temperature for your dog’s comfort and safety.

The Green Pet Shop Self-Cooling Pet Pads (Amazon affiliate link)
Invest in a cooling pet bed: Cooling pet beds help your dog get that nice cool surface that she seeks. Some are filled with water and others are made of special materials that help your dog cool down.

Invest in a remote monitoring device: There are some inexpensive monitoring devices that will monitor the temperature in your home and send you text alerts or provide information via an app on your phone so you can determine if your home is at a safe temperature for your dog while you are away. I have not tried any of them so do not have recommendations but if I do you can be certain I will blog about it.

Purchase blackout or room darkening window treatments: Our subdivision is in a former corn field and we have very few trees, let alone ones that provide shade. I often remark that it is like living on the actual sun; our front door handle gets so hot you literally need an oven mitt to touch it during the summer! Room darkening curtains are fabulous for helping keep the temperature down whether or not you have air conditioning because they prevent the sun from heating up your home. Just make sure you also have a breeze and understand how to get the best cross breeze.

Know how to cool your home naturally: Keeping your house as cool as possible without air conditioning is an art and every home is different. Here is a great resource that I found that might prove helpful as you learn how to keep your own house cool: How to Keep Your House Cool Without Air Conditioning. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer Heat and Dogs: Know Your Dog's Limits

Summer Heat and Dogs: Know Your Dog’s Limits

Summer Heat and Dogs: Know Your Dog’s Limits

by Lynn Stacy-Smith

Summer Heat and Dogs: Know Your Dog's LimitsAs committed forever owners to forever dogs, we want our best friends by our side as much as possible, especially when we are fully out of winter hibernation and out exploring the world. Like I’ve written before, spending time with your dog and having fun together is the whole point of getting a dog. It is equally important, though, to know your dog’s limitations and make sure that you are not putting him or her in harm’s way when warm weather hits.

Earlier this week I wrote about dogs in hot cars and about preventing paw pad burns on hot surfaces like concrete and asphalt. Today I want to talk about knowing your dog’s limitations in the heat and making the decision to leave him or her home from your daily run or trip to the local festival.

Every dog is different and some dogs do better in the heat than others. Although mine are young and in good physical condition, I can tell when it gets too hot because they run outside, do their bathroom business, and immediately head to the door or lay in the doggie pool for a bit. When we go on walks I watch for either of them to start panting with a longer tongue than normal or to fall back from their normally exuberant pace. From watching and observing I can tell when they are starting to get warm and we head home.SUMMER HEAT AND DOGS: KNOW YOUR DOG'S LIMITS

Typically once the thermometer goes above seventy degrees I use extreme caution and start with very brief walks keeping the radius to our home short so that we can return to a safe, cool environment quickly. As they become more accustomed to the weather and more conditioned to it, our walks get longer, but it does not have to be very warm to me for it to be too warm for them. Over the last several decades of dog ownership, I can tell you that my dogs and I definitely do more fun things outside in fall, winter and spring than in summer.

Dogs with short muzzles like boxers, bulldogs, and pugs have a particularly hard time in warm temperatures because their muzzles make it harder to breathe, pant and cool down. Dr. Marty Becker, DVM, explains how panting works to cool down a dog on his post Dog Behavior Decoded: Why Do Dogs Pant, “Panting is very rapid, shallow breathing that enhances the evaporation of water from the tongue, mouth and upper respiratory tract. Evaporation dissipates heat as water vapor.

Dogs with super thick coats also have more problems handing summer temperatures, which is no surprise since many of them were bred to live and work in arctic climates. However, dog fur is functional and designed to protect the dog from sun and heat like insulation does to your home, so do not be tempted to shave your dog.  Some breeds may get a shorter “summer cut” by professional groomers or owners who are very experienced at grooming their own dogs, but you should never shave your dog down to the skin.

This does not mean that your short-coated, long-nosed dog is ready to run a summer 5K with you. All dogs are at risk of overheating and developing heat stroke. It is critical to pay close attention to your particular dog and to watch for symptoms that she is not tolerating the heat. Some of these from the PetMD post  Heat Stroke and Hyperthermia in Dogs include:

  • Panting
  • Dehydration
  • Excessive drooling
  • Reddened gums
  • Increased or irregular heartbeat
  • Wobbly behavior/changes in mental status

Always err on the side of caution to prevent getting to the symptoms above. You know what your dog looks like on a normal walk; use that information to continually monitor her to make sure she is not overheating.

SUMMER HEAT AND DOGS: KNOW YOUR DOG'S LIMITSSome dogs are more physically fit and used to athletic activities and may be able to go longer and farther on warm days than your average dog who takes a daily walk and goes on weekend adventures. It’s not unlike my firefighter husband who is used to working outside or in actual fires in the summer heat with massive amounts of bunker gear on his body, versus me who has had an indoor climate controlled job for the last fifteen or so years. He can spend an entire summer day at Disney without looking wilted and I have to drink gallons of water and beg for air conditioning throughout the day.

You can always go back out if you return home from a walk if you are being overly cautious and your dog is fine, but you might not be able to undo the results of pushing her body too far as the heat can be fatal when owners do not recognize and treat heat stroke. In fact if you do not have a fenced yard and must walk your dog, it is better to do shorter walks more frequently, especially in the early morning or later evening hours. Instead of a thirty minute walk, try three ten minute walks for the same amount of exercise.

There have been many occasions when I have seen dogs out on walk

SUMMER HEAT AND DOGS: KNOW YOUR DOG'S LIMITS
On hot days it’s perfectly fine to leave your dog home in a nice cool place!

s or runs with their owners or at summer festivals when it is far too warm outside and I cringe at their dog’s tongue lolling out of its mouth as far as it will go and their slow and labored gait behind their owner. The temperature on our deck this morning in the sun without shade was 101 degrees. There was no amount of bunny droppings enticing enough to keep them outside in that weather; they both peed and were right back to the door.

My dogs might be bored as they relax inside, but I would rather have a bored dog any day than one who is suffering from heat related issues. They are not going to miss it if I do not take them with me to pick up some dog treats at our favorite store or if we don’t take a long walk on their favorite path. We will make up for it and then some the next time a cold front comes through with a fabulous walk or a grand adventure that all of us can safely enjoy.

This blog is not intended to be medical advice. Please continue to research heat stroke symptoms and what to do in the event of heat stroke and always refer all medical questions to your licensed veterinarian. 

 




Summer Heat & Dogs: Preventing Burnt Paws on Hot Surfaces

Summer Heat & Dogs: Preventing Burnt Paws on Hot Surfaces

Summer Heat & Dogs: Preventing Burnt Paws on Hot Surfaces

by Lynn Stacy-Smith

Summer Heat & Dogs: Preventing Burnt Paws on Hot SurfacesMost of us can remember at least one incident in our lives when we’ve removed our flip-flops and stepped onto hot sand or pool cement in our bare feet and felt the searing pain caused by the summer sun on our delicate feet. In fact just a few years ago my husband broke a few toes while on vacation as he ran across searing hot sand and accidentally kicked a beach chair on his mad dash to the water for relief. Your dog feels the summer heat on their paws in the same way when the temperature soars and can easily sustain very bad burns as a result of hot surfaces like asphalt, bricks, rocks or cement.

In an article on AZFamily.com, meteorologist Kim Quintero shares results of tests that she performed when the temperature was 96 degrees outside. Here is what she wrote, “While the air temperature was below 100 degrees Fahrenheit, the thermometer recorded a temperature of 122 on a patch of green grass. Black asphalt was 138 degrees. A nearby rock path was 133. The pavement was 131. A wood dock reached a temperature of 164.”

Depending on your home and yard situation, you may or may not be able to skip walks entirely. For those of us with fenced yards, our walks are strictly for fun and for both physical and mental exercise. Here at my house, once the temperatures go above around seventy degrees, our walks come to a stop and we play in the yard and then inside when it really gets too hot.

If you do not have a fenced yard and you must walk your dog for potty breaks, try to go in the early morning and evening for longer “poop” walks. It helps if you can get your dog on a somewhat regular pooping schedule and teach her the “hurry up, go potty” phrase. Of course your dog is a living/breathing creature and not Sheldon Cooper with his bathroom schedule, but if you can feed your dog at set times of day that will help in getting her to poop on a more regular basis versus sporadically throughout the day. Also try to stay on as much grass as possible if you must go out when the sun is out.

Pet Mesh Shoes with Rugged Anti-Slip Sole (affiliate link)

Dog booties can help protect your dog’s paws from blazing hot surfaces, but make sure you do plenty of research and purchase booties that protect in summer weather, making sure they are made from a breathable material like mesh since dogs do have sweat glands in their feet.

Although not related to the weather, I always recommend giving your dog’s paws a thorough rinse with water and apple cider vinegar after every outing on roads or sidewalks or chemically treated grass. There are a lot of chemicals and toxins in the world and the last thing you want your dog to do is to lick their paws after walking through these substances.

Since most of us do not have the ability to measure the actual temperature of the various surfaces upon which our dogs walk, a good way to determine if the sidewalk or road is too hot for your dog is to place the back of your hand on the surface for seven to ten seconds or stand barefoot without socks. If it is too warm for your hand or bare feet, it is too warm for your dog’s feet. 




Stop Leaving Dogs In Cars! Period!

Stop Leaving Dogs In Cars! Period!

If you have to even think about whether or not it is too hot for your dog to stay in the car, it probably is.

Emergency Preparedness: Emergency Prepping Supplies for Dogs

Emergency Preparedness: Emergency Prepping Supplies for Dogs

Emergency Preparedness: Emergency Prepping Supplies for Dogs

by Lynn Stacy-Smith

Emergency Preparedness: Emergency Prepping Supplies for DogsJune kicks off Pet Preparedness Month, a month dedicated to helping pet owners make sure that they have a plan of action for all of the types of emergency situations that could arise and how to include pets and other animals in those plans. Of course I kicked this blog series off with a look at the fictional world of The Walking Dead, but although that scenario is more than unlikely, a show like that makes you think about how you would act if you had to either hunker down in your home without the day-to-day services of everyday civilization or evacuate and leave your house in a hurry.

In the most recent blog we covered what to include in your dog first aid kit, so let’s take at dog related supplies that you should consider in order to be self-reliant in your home for a long period of time or on the road and away from your home. I suggest creating your kit in a water tight bin like a Rubbermaid container that you can easily load into your car should you need to evacuate.

Food: I like to keep two extra bags of food on hand in addition to the one that I am currently using. With large dogs like Labrador Retrievers, I purchase 23 pound bags of food. I feed Canine Caviar, which is in a bag designed specifically to keep the food fresh, so I keep the food in the bag and then put the bag itself inside a plastic bin on wheels with a locking lid. I also have a second plastic bin exactly like it to put the other two bags of food. Make sure you rotate your stock so that you are always using the oldest food first. When you take the next bag out of the overstock bin, that’s when you should order the replacement bag so that you maintain two bags on-hand at all times. I found these bins at Amazon and you can order them at my affiliate link: http://amzn.to/2rvy79l. They are a worthwhile investment that I made after I lost two bags of food to ants on the floor of our pantry one summer.

If you have small dogs who go through their food less quickly, keep the same size bag on hand as your extra stock as you normally order for daily use. A five-pound dog might not go through a 23 pound bag of food fast enough to keep it fresh, so if you purchase a four pound bag of food, keep two four pound bags on-hand as your extras, not large bags like I do with big dogs.

Water: Dogs can pick up germs from contaminated water just like humans, so plan on one gallon of water per dog per day. You can purchase gallons from the grocery store and use them for daily use before the expiration date and then replace them, or purchase emergency water options that have a thirty or fifty year shelf life, like these options from Amazon: Blue Can Premium Emergency Drinking Water or Mainstay Emergency Drinking Water.

If you have access to fresh water in the form of a lake or stream, you could also consider a survival water filter. These are quite different from your everyday Brita filter for your home as they filter out far more contaminants. These filters are used for survival situations as well as hiking and camping. This option pictured is from Amazon at this link: http://amzn.to/2sbmxfN.

Harness and extra leash: I cannot stress it enough that I prefer a harness for emergencies and just everyday use over a regular collar. I have had multiple dogs slip backwards out of a correctly sized collar, including my Babe when I foolishly took her to a parade right as the marching band was starting, and Tinkerbell when she was a young puppy. Extra leashes are inexpensive and easy to store.

First Aid Kit for Dogs: If you do not have one already, check out my post about putting together a first aid kit specifically for your dog or adding dog specific items to your human first aid kit.

Crate: Even if your dog is not crated at home, I recommend having a crate of some sort for an emergency situation. If you used a plastic travel crate in your bedroom for puppy rearing, you can stash it aside for emergencies if your dog is no longer using it. If you are going to an emergency shelter, you may be required to keep your dog crated while at the shelter. If you are evacuating to a hotel or friend’s home it might be a handy “just in case” option. If it turns out you don’t need it, you can stash your supplies in it.

     Plastic travel crate: A hard plastic travel crate is my personal preference for emergencies. If you transport your dog in your car using a harness and canine seat belt, you can easily take the crate apart and then store supplies in it or leave it together and stash supplies in it if you are evacuating somewhere so that the space is not wasted. You may need or want the crate when you get to your destination to keep your dog contained and safe and you can put your supplies in the crate, roll it along on a hand truck or dolly and walk your dog next to you, which I found to be a handy method of transporting his crate and all of our things when Jackson was competing in conformation shows. In an emergency where you had to walk instead of drive, you could also move an injured or exhausted dog in it by rolling it on a dolly or folding hand truck.

     Wire crate: While this is the type of crate I prefer for everyday use when the dogs are home alone, this would not be my first choice for emergencies because they just don’t seem as durable as the very hard plastic airline approved options. Most do fold completely flat, so depending on your vehicle this might be your best option. These crates also have better airflow and visibility for your dog to see what is going on around him versus the plastic options that are more den-like.

Treats: If your dog is food motivated like mine, you are going to want extra dog training treats in your emergency supplies. Make sure they are your normal brand and variety so that you are not introducing new foods into your dog’s diet at a time of stress. I know you might think I am nuts, that you’re going to train your dog in the middle of a hurricane or while you’re waiting out a tornado watch in your basement, but whether you are reviewing existing knowledge or training them to do a new trick, working on something like this is a great way to get your dog’s mind off of the strange noises and smells, even if it’s as simple as sit-down-sit or to make eye contact with you when you say their name.

Toys and antlers: These are the dog version of the coloring book, fidget spinner or iPod. Toss a moose antler and some durable US made dog toys like those from West Paw Design or Planet Dog into your emergency box. If you are evacuated for several days in an unfamiliar place, your dog may be elated to have something to chew on or play with even if it’s an indoor game of hotel room fetch.

Indoor potty grass or piddle pads: During house-training I am a firm believer in showing your dog that potty activities all occur outdoors and as a result, I have never used either of these products. However, I have also never lived in a high-rise or in a neighborhood that would make night-time potty breaks undesirable.

If you anticipate not being able to go outside for more than your dog’s usual bladder and bowel time limits, you could consider purchasing something like this as a “just in case” option. If you’ve taught your dog “good dog, go potty” you can try to use that during your time inside to show them that these are an ok indoor alternative. Personally, this would be an absolute last resort for extreme situations like if you were stranded indoors due to flooding, civil unrest, a curfew or military/police instructions, or basically something as bad as a zombie apocalypse, because otherwise I would not encourage a house trained dog to go potty inside. I wouldn’t get upset with them if it happened, but I wouldn’t encourage it.

Dog Poop Bags: Unless it really is a zombie apocalypse, toss a few extra rolls of dog poop bags in your emergency supplies. Dog poop carries germs, something that you want to minimize in emergency situations when stress, lack of food and nutrition and other factors can reduce a human’s or a dog’s immune system.

Extra bowls: If you need to get out-of-town, make sure you have an extra water bowl and food bowl for your dog in your emergency supplies so that you don’t have to stop to grab their regular bowls.

Information about your pet: Print or photocopy your essential veterinary information, microchip number and health information in case someone else would need to take care of your pet. I recommend including a copy of the dog care binder that I have at the house for pet sitters. Also include a printed photo of your pet and put all of these items in a large Ziploc bag. Although the last thing you want to happen is to be separated from your pet, these are items that would be critical if you were.

Evacuation information: As much as we rely on our phones for information, in an emergency you might not have access to WiFi or cellular towers. Print out information on pet friendly hotels, shelters that allow pets, maps, and phone numbers and address of friends and family and put in a separate Ziploc baggie from your dog care information.

Medications and heartworm pills: Keep your pet’s daily medications and heartworm pills in a place where you can grab them easily or set aside one or two heart worm pills and a week or two supply of your pet’s essential medications. Just make sure you rotate them out and replace with new medicines so that they do not expire. You do not want them to go to waste if you never need to use your dog emergency kit.

Blanket or kennel pad: This gives your dog a spot to go to,  a comfortable place to rest, and something that smells of home.

Dog life-preserver:  Even if you are not likely to encounter flood waters or other water dangers in an emergency, this type of item can be dual purpose because it has reflective materials and a handle in case you have to lift your dog to safety. This particular option also has a water activated LED strobe light for additional emergency visibility.

Protective booties: Yes, your dog will forgive you for putting boots on her. All joking aside, though, include a set of protective dog boots in your emergency supplies for each dog to prevent burns and cuts if you have to walk over hot, bitterly cold, or rough surfaces or areas with substantial debris. You can practice putting these on in your home or yard from time to time and taking a walk around the block so that they are not completely foreign to your dog.

Winter coat: With big sturdy Labradors, I have only put coats on them a handful of times when the temperatures went down to thirty degrees below zero and even then they were in and out in record time to prevent frozen paws. Depending on the heartiness of your dog, a coat may be a regular part of winter. Either way, I suggest including this item in your emergency kit.

Safety vest: Brightly colored vests can offer visibility in the woods to make sure your dog is not mistaken for a deer, provide protection from insects and ticks, help keep grasses and thorns from penetrating their body, and are generally helpful in outdoor and emergency situations.

In a perfect world we would never need to use such an emergency kit, but that is the nature of planning for emergencies. Just like carrying insurance, we hope to never need it, but it is there if we do.

 

This blog contains affiliate links for products that I use or recommend.

I will receive a small commission for any sales resulting from clicks on my affiliate links. I do not receive customer information and the retail price of your item is not affected. Affiliate links help bloggers earn revenue from their posts in exchange for product recommendations. I only refer products that I truly love and use or strongly recommend after research and careful consideration. 

Emergency Preparedness: Creating a Dog First Aid Kit

Emergency Preparedness: Creating a Dog First Aid Kit

Emergency Preparedness: Creating a Dog First Aid Kit

by Lynn Stacy-Smith

Emergency Preparedness: Creating a Dog First Aid Kit In my most recent blog I wrote about the hypothetical world of the television show The Walking Dead and what it would be like to be a dog owner in that world, which has been my entertainment obsession of the last month of so. Although that world is made up and as far as I know, not going to happen, there are other instances like natural disasters or man-made disasters in which some of the lessons learned from watching that television show can help, including making sure you have emergency medical supplies. In fact, in one episode of the show, a veterinary college storeroom played heavily into the story because humans and animals can often take the same medications. 

Many of the items in your human first aid kit are useful for dog first aid emergencies but I prefer to have a dog specific kit. I recommend a water tight plastic bin for your dog first aid kit or a backpack or other bag that you can grab and go. Keep items separate in zip top baggies and also include a copy of your dog’s veterinary records and instructions for each product also in baggies. Remember that in an emergency you might not have your mobile phone or access to the internet, so going old school with written instructions can be useful or even lifesaving.

You can build your own kit entirely or purchase a dog first aid kit like this one from Kurgo and then add additional items to it. Here are some recommended items:

Bandages: Include a variety of sizes and types of bandages and band aids, including large and small, rolls of gauze, rolls of bandage tape, and square pads.

Feminine pads and tampons: These products can be surprisingly useful for medical emergencies and they are individually wrapped and clean. My dog Dutch wore a snug human tank top with maxi pads stuck to it after he had a large fatty tumor removed and it worked perfectly to keep the site clean and keep it from leaking on our carpets and furniture. I felt pretty silly adhering them each time and smoothing the wings out, but such is the life of a dog owner. Tampons can be used to stop the bleeding in bullet wounds and other puncture wounds. 

Hydrogen peroxide & a measuring spoon: This can be used to induce vomiting; I suggest printing out instructions to include in your kit so you can access the correct dosage quickly. Put the bottle and spoon in a plastic bag and tape the instructions to the outside.

Cotton balls & cotton swabs for cleaning cuts, scrapes and wounds.

Buffered aspirin, Benadryl, Immodium, Pepcid AC and contact lense saline solution: Many over the counter medicines for humans can be beneficial in an emergency. Print out dosage information for your particular dog(s) and keep in a plastic zip top baggie with the medicine so that you do not have to scramble for the information in an emergency. Always check with your veterinarian on the correct dosage and safety information of these if your dog were to need them in an emergency.

This blog does not constitute medical advice; always contact your veterinarian before giving your dog any medicine that is not prescribed by them regardless of what you read anywhere on the internet. 

Blanket: Include either a traditional blanket or an emergency foil blanket in your kit to keep your pets warm and dry.

Towels

Human t-shirt: This can help keep a large cut or wound clean in an emergency.

Muzzle:  I am not recommending a muzzle for normal every day situations, but no matter how close you and your dog are, if she is severely injured, she could nip or bite when you are cleaning a wound or setting a broken bone. The last thing you want is for you and your dog to both be injured during an emergency situation. She will forgive you after you give her plenty of treats after it’s all done. This is a worst case scenario item and not something to be used on a regular basis or in an inhumane way.

Antibacterial soap: To clean your hands before tending to an injury or to clean out a wound.

Harness and extra leash: Always use a harness in an emergency situation, as a dog can slip out of a collar and run away in fear.

A way to carry your dog: Whether it is a SAR (Search and Rescue) type harness or a solution like a sheet or a big Sam’s Club or Ikea Shopping bag with slits in it for their legs, make sure you have a way to carry even a large dog if he or she becomes unable to walk on their own.

Scissors with safety/medical endsTo cut blanket, sheet, towels or gauze wrap or pads

Battery operated hair trimmer or safety razor: In case you need to shave hair to access a cut or wound.

Tweezers

Tick key or other tick removal device

Needle nosed pliers 

Flashlight or head lamp

Styptic powderUsed to stop bleeding in torn or cut nails and superficial wounds.

Neosporin or similar antibacterial ointment 

Apple Cider Vinegar: This can be made into an ear wash (50% water, 50% ACV), or mixed with water to be a paw soak, a hot spot spray, a food additive, and many other uses. Print a list of how you can use this natural remedy so you have it without relying on the internet.

Emergency Splints for broken bones or sprains.

Peanut Butter & spoon: This is the ultimate distraction for a dog if you have to tend to a medical issue.

Latex gloves

Oral syringe

Ice packs

Alcohol wipes

Rubbing alcohol: Use to sterilize any tools before using them on your dog’s injury or wound.

Vet wrapsThese are self adherent bandages that can be used on wounds, sprains, and other medical issues.

Dog care first aid book: Include a first aid book in your kit so that you do not have to rely on the internet or your mobile phone working during an emergency situation. The Pet Emergency Pocket Guide is easy to toss into your kit.

Map and addresses of local 24 hour veterinary clinics

Lavender Essential Oil can be soothing to anxious dogs and is so concentrated that you can simply let your dog smell the bottle or sniff a drop out of your own hands. Make sure you use only pure, good quality oils and not deodorizers masquerading as pure oils. Do not put on your dog topically or have your ingest any oils without asking the advice of your veterinarian. 

In the next blog we will talk about what you should have on hand for emergencies that would put you in a position in which you have to evacuate your home or remain in your home without normal day-to-day services. 

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Dog Owners Beware: Always Watch out for Products with Xylitol

Dog Owners Beware: Always Watch out for Products with Xylitol

Dog Owners Beware: Always Watch out for Products with Xylitol

by Lynn Stacy-Smith

Dog Owners Beware:  Always Watch out for Products with XylitolI had a terrifying moment yesterday. We returned from the Run Fur Shelter 5K/10K races that I wrote about in yesterday’s blog, I had let the dogs out of their kennels, taken them outside for potty breaks, and then brought them inside. All of the water I had consumed after the race caught up with me and I rushed into our powder room, recklessly tossing onto our living room side table a handful of things that I had brought in from my husband’s truck as I ran to avoid what he calls a “third grade emergency” situation. Those things that I dropped onto the table were my iPhone, ear buds, running armband/phone holder, and three samples of a drink mix called Slender Sticks.

As I washed my hands I had a panicky thought, remembering Jackson’s mostly dormant bad habit of stealing and destroying things from that side table when he wanted to get my attention. I say mostly dormant because every now and then he surprises me by snatching up my book or a magazine to get my attention. I know his motivation is purely attention seeking because he does not touch anything else that is not his in the entire house, and he only does it with my things and when I am home. These days, now that he is six years young, he only does this about twice a year and I always imagine a twinkle in his eye when he does it, like, “Look, Momma, I’m still your naughty puppy!”

I burst out of the bathroom and around the corner into our living room to find him standing in the middle of the room, both suspicious and innocent at the same time. He looked startled as I came into the room in a rush and ran to the side table. I breathed a huge sigh of relief as I saw that my things were untouched and that he had not consumed or touched the three samples of Slender Sticks beverage flavor packets that I had received as samples from the health food store that was sponsoring the event. I had not looked at the ingredients but I knew I did not want him eating any powdered energy drink mixes.

I felt goosebumps on my arms as I looked at the packets and saw the first ingredient in them: Xylitol. I nearly cried with relief that he had not chosen that day for his semi-annual foray into his previous puppy antics.

There have been plenty of blogs and articles about the extreme dangers of Xylitol when consumed by dogs. As defined on WebMD, “Xylitol is a naturally occurring alcohol found in most plant material, including many fruits and vegetables.” When consumed by dogs, Xylitol can cause extreme and deadly  hypoglycemia or liver failure.  Dogs who consume products with Xylitol should be taken to the vet immediately. As a result, I have been on Xylitol patrol for years, carefully making sure that the kids do not leave gum or candy anywhere the dogs can reach it and generally banning it from our home.

Xylitol is commonly found in sugar-free gum and candy, toothpaste and mouthwash and other sugar-free products. If you are on social media you may have seen frequent warnings about at least one brand of peanut butter with it, terrifying all dog owners who rely on peanut butter for giving medicine or simply treating their dog from time to time. It is even in at least one nasal spray and a skin care product called Micellar Water. You can also buy it in a large bag like sugar; when I saw it in the local health food store I shuddered at the thought of that being in a dog owner’s pantry where it could be knocked over and spilled.

My dogs are generally well-behaved and do not snatch up things left behind on our side tables anymore now that we have grown out of puppyhood. This is both a blessing and a curse; because they are grown up dogs and not crazy puppies we can be lazy and leave things on the table like the remote control or a magazine, but just one product like the Slender Sticks that I brought home from the 5K could be deadly if one or both dogs decided to break into naughty puppy mode.I am hyper vigilant about making sure Xylitol containing products are nowhere near my dogs and am appalled that I forgot to look at the contents of those samples before so casually tossing them down within reach of my dogs.

Yesterday was a reminder to check all labels, particularly if something is labeled “healthy” or “sugar-free” or low in calories, and that you cannot be lazy and toss things down where your dogs can reach them without thinking.  Thankfully nothing happened, but it was a scary reminder of how differently our dogs process some of the things that we humans can consume. I personally avoid fake sugars as much as possible; I would rather go without or just use normal sugar, and the Xylitol trend is one trend in sweeteners that cannot go away fast enough for this dog owner, because we must always watch out for products with this ingredient. 

 

What to do if you lose your dog.

What to Do if You Lose Your Dog

What to Do if You Lose Your Dog

by Lynn Stacy-Smith

What to do if you lose your dog.A few weeks ago a friend of mine relayed a story about a terrifying event in which two of her three young Doberman Pinschers slipped under their fence and took off. I’ve known this particular friend since high school and know that she is an amazing dog owner, as attentive and careful as any of us whose dogs are beloved family members. She relayed the story to me and said, “Even though I am an educated dog owner, in those particular moments, the panic, fear, sadness just took over. I never expected to be in that situation, and I don’t want to be in it again.”

I definitely understand that panic and have felt it myself. Almost ten years ago I had let our late dogs Babe,  Dutch, and Maggie out into the yard. It was before my rule of “always go outside with your dogs no matter what” was in place. They were all adult dogs between the ages of eight and ten and I trusted them not to eat random contraband objects or jump the fence. While they were outside I always prepared my coffee and watched until one-by-one they came to the door.

That morning Babe came in first. I could see Maggie sniffing the perimeter of the fence like she did each day. About five minutes later I needed to get my morning routine underway so I leaned out and called for Maggie and Dutch. At first I thought she was ignoring me, but each time I called Dutch’s name, Maggie turned her head and looked toward the gate that was out of view. Thinking that she was acting odd, I ran outside into the back yard in my socks, rounded the corner around our house and felt my stomach drop in fear as I stared at the open gate.

I ran out the gate, shut it behind me and into the front yard, yelling “Dutch!” as I went. I spotted him trotting down the street away from me about to round a corner into our local playground/park. He was on the other side of the street and I yelled “DUTCH!” and he turned and looked at me. I ran down the street and held up my hand in a “wait” hand gesture and told him “WHOA!” which was his command to be motionless and stay. That command had been drilled into him; in a bird hunting situation there is no room for error and dogs are trained hour upon hour. I felt a wave of relief wash over me as Dutch sat and waited for me to get him and lead him back home.

The carabiner clips went on our gates that same day.

After that incident I became the gate police. We started off with always checking the gates when the dogs went outside and when Jackson and Tinkerbell came home, we changed the rule to include spending the entire time outside with them. But as our foster dog Destiny taught us (by leaping the fence while a potential family was here to see her), and as my friend’s Dobermans taught her earlier this month, young agile dogs can go over or under the fence even when you are standing there watching. What to do if you lose your dog.

At my friend’s request and to conclude our series on the importance of pet IDs, the difference between microchips and pet trackers, and preventing lost dogs, here are some things to review before you are in a situation in which your dog has gone missing. 

Stay as Calm as Possible 

I know it may seem impossible, but try to stay as calm as possible. When your adrenaline starts pumping your dog can smell the hormonal changes to your body. Dogs are also extremely good at reading body language, so the more you can remain someone your dog wants to come back to, the better.

If you can see your dog: 

  • Use your Reliable Recall. This is a word that your dog will come to no matter what type of distractions there are, because you have taught her that when she gets to you she is going to have the best few minutes ever, with toys, treats, and a huge happy dance from you. This is the exact situation for which you train on this concept.
  • Do Not Chase Your Dog! Either you will make your dog think it is a game and that you are trying to chase him, or you will freak him out, both with the result of making him run more. Instead of chasing, if you have your dog’s attention and eye contact, run the other way and encourage him to chase you. Or sit down on the ground and pretend that you are discovering the coolest thing ever in the dirt or sidewalk. You can even proactively practice these things in your yard from time to time and give them plenty of treats as a reward when he comes to you.

Immediately begin searching for your dog: 

  • Before you go looking, put something that smells like you or your home in front of your house. This will help your dog use her incredible sense of smell to find her way home, whether it’s her dog bed, a blanket, your sweatshirt from the laundry or all of the above. Grab these things as you are heading out the door to search for your dog.
  • Search your neighborhood on foot and by car if applicable. If you have other family members or neighbors who know your dog, they can help, but too many strangers looking may scare your dog. Search along your most common walking routes, in friends/neighbors yards, local parks and other places that you and your dog might frequent or that are likely to have good smells that would attract your dog, like the scent of other dogs. On your way out grab your phone, a squeaky toy and some sort of stinky treat that your dog would like, like a hot dog or their favorite human food like a banana or jar of peanut butter. Make sure you have those open and wave them around while you are walking the neighborhood; your dog’s nose is much more powerful than yours and there is a chance that she will smell the food and look for the source. If you see your dog, make sure you use a happy, fun voice that indicates that you want to play. Big dogs can easily run five miles from home so make sure your radius considers that your dog could be running.
  • Notify friends and neighbors via text and social media. Quickly text your dog’s photo to friends and neighbors who can post the information to social media. If you do not have resources for this, quickly post to your neighborhood or local Facebook groups and include your dog’s name, your contact information and any information like “do not chase!” or specific instructions. If your dog’s collar fell off, someone may be trying to locate an owner at the same time that you are looking for your dog. If using Facebook make sure your privacy setting is set to public if you want friends to share with other people. If you post a photo of your dog and it is restricted to your friends, they cannot share your post, the most they can do is download the photo and repost. If they do not understand how privacy settings work, they may not know this.
  • Check home frequently. Your dog may have gone the opposite way from you and found his way back home. Circle back home often to see if he is laying on the bed you put outside for him waiting for your return.
  • Go door to door. Someone may have caught your loose dog and is letting him or her hang out in their yard or home while they figure out how to locate you. Many people have the best of intentions and will hold onto a dog instead of turning them into the shelter.
  • Contact local businesses. If you have a retail store or other business near you, make sure you tell the employees that you are looking for a lost dog. My friend whose Dobermans temporarily went missing told me, “We were extremely fortunate that they were found and brought home safe even though they were 1.5 miles away. I learned that in addition to calling the obvious agencies, that making a call to the less obvious, in my case a tiny little lone gas station on a corner, could make all the difference in the world.”

In addition to searching your neighborhood: 

  • Call all somewhat local shelters including outside of your town/county. Do not limit your search to the shelter in your town or county. Make a wide radius around your home and contact them all once or twice a day. It is possible that someone may have been passing through the area and picked up your dog and took him to the closest shelter that they knew about instead of the one that you would consider closest.
  • Notify your town or state Lost Dog website and Facebook pages. Here in Illinois we have Lost Dogs Illinois. Find this information in advance so that you know who to contact in the event of an emergency.
  • Alert your microchip provider. Depending on the chip registry that you use, a lost pet notice will go out to veterinary clinics and shelters so that they will be on alert should a good Samaritan bring your dog to them.
  • Contact local veterinarian offices. Once again, some people are afraid to take dogs that they have found to the shelter but might take them to their veterinarian or a nearby vet to scan for a microchip.
  • Contact the local police. People may report sightings of your dog to the police or notify them if they are able to get her to come to them. In some locations the police are the ones who pick up found pets or stray dogs and take them to animal control. Sometimes the police will recognize habitual escape artist dogs and know who their owner is.
  • Contact local rescue groups, especially if your dog is a purebred. If someone finds your boxer they may contact a boxer rescue instead of the local shelter. Remember that not everyone knows what to do when they find a lost dog.
  • Print posters and share them liberally. Throw together a “lost dog” poster with a photo of your dog, your dog’s name, other dog specific information, and your contact information. You can also offer a monetary reward. Hand them out to people you encounter and post them on every available surface including light posts, telephone poles and neighborhood notice boards.
  • Create a Facebook page for your dog. I have a circle of friends who I met when one woman’s Labrador/Basset Hound mix was spooked by a large and unexpected crowd at her veterinarian’s office, slipped out of her grasp, and ran off into the woods. He went into survival mode  immediately and spent a month in the subzero January weather while owners did everything they could to capture him and bring him home. Fortunately they were successful and although part of his tail had to be amputated, he was otherwise fine. If your dog is missing for more than a day, social media is a good way to share photos, get tips on sightings and share information on what not to do for people with good intentions who want to help but may hinder your efforts if they do the wrong thing.

One of the most important things is to not give up and don’t lose hope. There are stories every day of dogs being reunited with their owners after weeks, months or even years. Keep calling the shelters daily, keep sharing flyers and your social media posts. Additionally, please research other blogs and resources in addition to this post. Sometimes one blogger or pet professional will have a suggestion or information that someone else does not know or think to share.

Additional Resources: 

The Humane Society of the United States: What to Do if You Lose Your Pet

Petfinder: How to Find Your Lost Dog

Missing Pet Partnership: Lost Dog Behavior

Patricia McConnell: How to Find a Lost Dog

 

Whistle 3 GPS Pet Tracker

Pet ID Week Understanding Microchips and Pet Trackers

Pet ID Week: Understanding Microchips and Pet Trackers

Pet ID Week: Understanding Microchips and Pet Trackers

by Lynn Stacy-Smith

Pet ID Week Understanding Microchips and Pet TrackersHere in our neighborhood we have so many dogs  found by residents that I have joked several times that we should purchase our own microchip reader, particularly since some people are reluctant to take found dogs to the local shelter. Unfortunately that belief stems from worries that the dog will be put to sleep instead of reunited with their owner. Microchips need to be read with a scanner, though, so in order for the microchip to do its job it needs to be taken to a shelter, veterinary clinic or somewhere else who owns the appropriate equipment.

Microchips

Microchips are tiny computer chips a bit larger than a grain of rice that are inserted with a needle into the skin usually between the shoulders in the same way that a vaccination is given. These chips use RFID technology so they do not need a battery and only emit information when they are activated by a scanner.

It is extremely important for pet owners to register their chip and keep the information up to date if their address or phone number changes. Most chip registries ask for a secondary contact, which I suggest be your emergency contact should something happen to you while you are out with your dog. That is morbid, I know, but then again so is most emergency planning. My secondary contact is my friend/breeder and I will make sure that she always has my contact information for the life of my dogs.

Here are some common misconceptions surrounding microchips:

My dog does not need a collar. FALSE

Microchips are a backup to a collar and identification tag. There is not a universal type of tag that is used by all shelters, breeders and veterinarians, which means that there is not a universal scanner. It is possible for your lost dog to be scanned by a shelter with the wrong type of scanner and their chip missed.

A microchip works like a GPS unit to tell me my dog’s location.  FALSE

The technology in microchips only provides information when the chip is activated by a scanner. Unless a scanner is used the chip is idle in your dog’s body.

A microchip stores all of the information needed to get my dog back to me.  FALSE

The only information provided when a microchip is scanned is an identification number. The person who scans the dog must look up the identification number on one or more database to find the dog owner’s contact information. Like any database, the data in it must be maintained to remain accurate.

Once the chip is implanted in my dog I never need to think about it again.  FALSE

Whether you choose to do so on Check the Chip Day in August or at your individual dog’s annual examination with your veterinarian, all dog owners should ask for their dog’s chip to be scanned to ensure that it is still working correctly. Also use this day to check with your chip registry company to make sure all of your contact information is up to date.

The AVMA has a great FAQ list about dog microchips on this page: AVMA Microchipping of Animals

Pet Trackers

More and more pet trackers are entering the market each year. It is important to understand the different options and how they work. Although all of them offer some way of locating your pet’s location, no technology will ever be as good as taking comprehensive preventative measures to keep your dog from getting lost in the first place. A pet tracker can tell you where your dog is but cannot magically teach him or her who to trust or how to avoid cars, predatory animals and other dangerous situations. There is also battery life of one to multiple days to contend with if your dog becomes lost while wearing one. Finally, since they are attached to your dog they are not helpful if your dog’s collar comes off.

Some pet trackers like the TrackR Bravo rely on Bluetooth technology with a range of 100 feet. Once your dog is outside your Bluetooth range, your tracker relies on a network of other TrackR users. While these trackers are fantastic for people who chronically lose their keys or their phones in their own homes, this has some limitations when tracking pets. Unless you have other users of this platform in the area in which your dog is located, you cannot see any information about their whereabouts. At $29.99 this type of tracker is definitely a low-cost option and minimally would fall into the “better than nothing” category. You can get a single TrackR at Amazon for around $24 using your Prime membership.

Other options like the Whistle Pet Tracker use WiFi, Cellular and GPS technology to track where your pet is at all times. These trackers can also act as activity trackers which I suppose could be helpful to see how active an uncrated dog is while you are away. Otherwise my opinion is that if your dog is being active, you should be right there with her.

Jax and Tink both have a Whistle tracker from their initial product launch and looking at their website it appears that they have made several design improvements since that version, including a redesign of the actual unit and the way that it attaches to your dog’s collar. This type of tracker usually requires a monthly service charge. There are other products like the Nuzzle GPS Pet Tracker, the Paw Tracker, and many others. A Google search will yield many results for pet owners who are interested.

At the end of the day, collars, tags, microchips and pet trackers are all emergency resources to help you if your pet is lost. Nothing is as effective as working proactively and tirelessly to prevent your dog from becoming lost. Click here to read 17 Spring Safety Tips to Prevent Lost Dogs and Pet Theft Awareness: Seven Ways to Keep Your Dog Safe from the Love, Laugh, Woof blog archives.

Tomorrow we will discuss what to do if you find a dog as we continue Pet ID Week.

This blog contains affiliate links for products that I use or recommend.

I will receive a small commission for any sales resulting from clicks on my affiliate links. I do not receive customer information and the retail price of your item is not affected. Affiliate links help bloggers earn revenue from their posts in exchange for product recommendations. I only refer products that I truly love and use or strongly recommend after research and careful consideration. 

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Pet ID Week: The Importance of Dog Collars and Identification Tags

Pet ID Week: The Importance of Dog Collars and Identification Tags

Pet ID Week: The Importance of Dog Collars and Identification Tags

by Lynn Stacy-Smith

Pet ID Week: The Importance of Dog Collars and Identification Tags As a diehard Disney lover and a lifelong dog person, one of my favorite animated movies is Lady and the Tramp. When I sat down to write about Pet ID Week I remembered a scene from that movie, in which Lady shows off her new collar and tag to her neighborhood friends Jock and Trusty. As they admire her new collar and tag, Trusty the Bloodhound tells her, “It is the greatest honor man an bestow,” with Jock the Schnauzer adding, “A badge of faith and respectability.”

Of course there are many parts of that movie that make me cringe, like letting the dogs run up and down the street on their own, but then again humanizing animals is part of the fun of those movies, and something that all good dog owners know not to do. I mean, if my dogs could speak English and watch for cars and navigate the human world, I might consider letting them do that, but that is a whole other blog all on its own.

The Journal of the American Veterinary Medicine Association shares the following data about lost and stolen dogs:

  • 10 million dogs and cats are lost or stolen each year.
  • 22% of lost dogs entering shelters are returned to their families.
  • 52% of microchipped pets are reunited with their owners.
  • Among dogs who were microchipped, 35% of the ones whose owners could not be found was due to phone numbers that no longer worked or were accurate.

Ensuring that your pet has up to date identification in the form of both a collar/ID tag and a microchip is the most reliable way to be reunited with a lost dog or cat. 

The most low-tech form of identification for your dog is a simple collar and tag. Unlike the fictional Lady, all dogs should have a collar and ID tag from the first day that they arrive at their home as puppies or as adopted adult dogs.

ID Tags: I strongly recommend purchasing a good quality engraved tag that is less likely to scratch and dull over time like cheaper options. The price difference between a cheap tag and a good quality one is not that substantial and it is worth the difference. The last thing you want is for a good Samaritan to catch your dog, try to contact you, and be unable to read the tag. I really like the Red Dingo tags that you can purchase at Dog Tuff, which are guaranteed to be readable for the life of the tag and come in some super cute designs for the humans to enjoy and match to the dog’s collars. I do not personally care for the tags that offer only a scannable code because of the chance that your dog is saved by someone without a smart phone or a phone at all.

Rabies Tags & Microchip Tags: Your dog’s rabies tag is dual purpose; not only does it show that your dog has received his or her rabies vaccine, but each one is numbered and assigned to your particular dog, giving potential rescuers another way to find out who owns the dog. I suggest attaching it with a separate connector so that if one tag gets snagged and falls off your dog’s collar there is a backup that might help your dog find his or her way home. This is the same with the microchip tag that you should have received when your dog was microchipped. My dogs each have at least three tags on their collars: name/address tag, rabies tag and microchip tag. We will discuss microchips at length in tomorrow’s blog.

Collars: A good quality dog collar with a strong, reliable buckle is also important. I will personally only use collars with a quick release buckle versus a closure like a belt buckle. I also recommend the type that can be embroidered with the dog’s name and your phone number in case your dog’s ID tag falls off but his or her collar remains on their neck. I like these from Orvis, particularly because you can choose the color of thread as well as the collar color and you can get 2 for $30.00.

Lupine Eco series from Cherrybrook

I also love Lupine brand collars, which is what Jackson is wearing right now. They have a great line of Eco collars made from recycled water bottles and can be found along with matching leashes at Cherrybrook; they are so super cute I may have to order one for Tinkerbell in purple. I love this brand because they are made in New Hampshire and are guaranteed even if you dog chews it.

If you crate your dog you should not crate them with their collar for safety reasons. I remove each dog’s collar before putting them in their crates and lay each collar on the floor a few inches in front of the corresponding crate so that I can put it back on each dog immediately upon returning home and they are near the dogs in the event of an emergency.

Some dogs who have narrow heads or who are escape artists wear martingale collars, and I personally suggest that you find one that also has an emergency buckle release as well as the martingale feature.

The Wander Tag Holder from Kurgo

Tag Clips/Connectors: I really like the Wander Clip from Kurgo because it allows you to move your dog’s tags easily from collar to collar but more importantly because they say that it breaks away after 45 pounds of pressure are applied to it to prevent choking. I’ve shared the story of Tinkerbell and the Dishwasher before so I can tell you that the chance of your dog’s tags getting stuck on everyday things in the house is real and not some overly paranoid dog mom thing.

Tag Silencers: After forty plus years of having dogs in my life, I do not even notice the jingle of my dogs’ tags anymore. Sometimes we remove their collars to give their necks a good scratching or when they are rough-housing and let them wander around the house without them for a bit in “naked dog” mode. I also refer to this as “stealth mode” because although I do not notice the jingle of the tags, I notice the silent way that they move around the house when “naked” of their collars. For dog owners who do notice the jingle of metal tags against each other and find that noise distracting, there are a variety of types of tag silencers from the type that go over the tags to rubber rings that go around them.

Tomorrow watch for an all new blog about Pet ID Week and Microchips.

This blog contains affiliate links for products that I use or recommend.

I will receive a small commission for any sales resulting from clicks on my affiliate links. I do not receive customer information and the retail price of your item is not affected. Affiliate links help bloggers earn revenue from their posts in exchange for product recommendations. I only refer products that I truly love and use or strongly recommend after research and careful consideration. 

Puppy House Training: Best Practices & Tips

Puppy House Training: Best Practices & Tips

Puppy House Training: Best Practices & Tips

by Lynn Stacy-Smith

Puppy House Training: Best Practices & TipsI am not afraid to admit that back in 2011 as Jackson’s Gotcha Date was looming, the thing that terrified me the most about starting off life with a new puppy was house training. Since Babe was a two-year old rescue dog when I adopted her, the last puppy I had helped house train was Dutch, and that had been thirteen years prior and only for a week. Dutch had started off as my parents’ dog and only became mine after Mom passed away, so my only time house training him was when I watched their dogs for a week when Dutch was 9 weeks old.

Fortunately our breeder gave us extensive information to prepare us for all aspects of puppyhood, and I studied the PDFs that she sent like I was studying for a state board exam. I was determined to house train him quickly with as few accidents as possible. When it was all said and done, Jackson peed in the house fewer than five times and pooped only once. Tink also had very few accidents and never pooped in the house during her puppyhood; she only has pooped once inside in the last three and a half years and that was when experiencing extreme intestinal distress in the middle of the night and she was unable to wake me to go outside.

Puppy Bladders

A good rule of thumb when considering how long your puppy can be left home alone is that puppies can hold their bladders for the same number of hours as they are months old. For example, an 8 week old puppy is approximately 2 months old, which equals two hours during calm waking hours or light sleep. When extremely tired puppies are sleeping, this time can be longer. When puppies are playing or rough-housing, this timeframe is substantially shorter, with puppies sometimes feeling the urge to urinate as often as every fifteen minutes when extremely active.

Crates

Crates can be the subject of heated debate, but when used correctly, crates become a haven for a dog. Our dogs seek out their crates even when we are home and they have the full run of the entire house. Not only do crates keep inquisitive puppies from accidentally harming themselves by chewing on unsafe items or exploring things that they should not when humans are not home, but puppies do not want to eliminate their waste where they sleep.

A wire dog kennel is extremely helpful when house training. Make sure you purchase one that is sized for your grown dog but has a wire divider that you can use to reduce the area that they can access. If you give a puppy full access to their adult size crate they can easily urinate or defecate at one end and sleep comfortably on the other, and you do not want that to happen. Once they are fully house trained and have not had any accidents in the house for several months you can give them the full kennel room; just be sure to keep making their area larger as they grow.

Do not provide bedding in their crate until they are consistently going to the bathroom outside. Bedding and blankets will soak up urine, and you want to create an environment that is unpleasant if they go to the bathroom in the kennel. Please note that this is not out of cruelty; teaching your dog the rules and expectations of living in a human house is loving and will make their lives better. A few weeks without bedding in their kennel is a small investment to make in their future as a happy, healthy confident dog.

How to House train

The keys to any type of dog training are patience, consistency, repetition, clearly communicating the command, and celebrating their success. Here are the guidelines that I used to quickly house train both Jackson and Tinkerbell in a very short amount of time with very few “accidents” in the house and never in their crates.

  1. Take your puppy outside immediately after they wake up from a nap or in the morning. As soon as they pee or poop praise them happily with a pleasant and exited tone of voice “Yes, good dog! good dog!” 
  2. When your puppy is active and exploring the house, you should always be watching them and be near them. If they start to squat or sniff for a spot to go to the bathroom, pick them up and take them outside or call them outside. As soon as they go, once again use your happy excited tone of voice, “Yes, good dog! Good dog! Yes!” Give them a small training treat at the same time that you are praising them verbally. 
  3. If your puppy is engaging in very active playtime, running around or rough-housing with other dogs in the house, take them outside every fifteen minutes and praise them heartily as described above anytime they go to the bathroom outdoors. 
  4. Take your puppy outside and allow them to relieve themselves before placing them in their crate at bedtime, before you leave the house, or if you are about to do something like taking a shower that leaves you unable to watch them.
  5. Understand that your puppy will likely need to go outside once, twice or even three times when they are first with you if they come home at eight weeks old.
  6. Try to take time off the first week that your puppy is home, like a puppy maternity or paternity leave, or have a friend or a dog walker come in a few times during the work day to let your puppy outside. If your puppy is eight weeks old and you are gone from the house from 7 am until 6 pm, you should ideally have someone at 10 am, 1 pm, and 4 pm if not more often.
  7. If you catch your puppy in the act of peeing or pooping inside, give a calm, firm, “NO!” and immediately take them outside even if they are finished with the actual act of peeing or pooping. If they do additional bodily functions outside, reward them with the praise as described above, “Yes! Good dog, good dog!”
  8. Clean up after accidents with a 50/50 mixture of white vinegar and water. First soak the urine up with an old towel or stack of paper towels. Make sure you soak up as much as possible; many puppy owners use the technique of standing on the paper towels or fabric towel if the accident was on carpet. You may need to do this a few times with a fresh towel or paper towel. Spray liberally with the vinegar/water mixture after you have soaked up as much of the urine as possible. White vinegar helps neutralize the smell of the urine in a way that many other cleaners do not and make it less likely that the puppy or dog will return to that spot to urinate again. 
  9. The fewer accidents, the faster your puppy will become house trained! The more times your puppy goes potty outside and receives that happy, positive reinforcement of your loving, joyful praise along with food treats, the sooner they will figure out that it is the correct spot to go to the bathroom. Dogs want to please you, they want to receive that happy sound plus food. It is important to reiterate once again that to punish a puppy for going to the bathroom inside by hitting, yelling or rubbing their face in the urine or excrement is never ok. A stern, calm “No” is sufficient for correcting behavior. 

Two Appliances Every Puppy Owner Should Purchase

Fortunately small puppies do not put out much volume when they do have an accident inside. However one of the best purchases I have ever made as a dog owner is the Bissell Spot Bot. I ordered it one night at 3 am after Tinkerbell was sick in multiple spots in our bedroom.

It is a small, portable carpet cleaner that has a nozzle and hose or the option of simply putting it down on a spot, pushing a button, and sitting back while it cleans a circular area of carpet. This is great for small accidents as well as when your dog eats a mystery object and vomits it back up in the middle of the night…not that we’ve had that exact scenario happen. Ok, yes, we have. 

Also consider a regular carpet steamer for days when you want to do an entire room, maybe not for puppyhood but as your dog grows up. Even fully house trained dogs have moments in their life when they have horrific diarrhea or are vomiting and get sick in multiple spots of a single room. Trust me, as a lifelong dog owner, I have cleaned up pretty much everything a dog can do. You will want a carpet cleaner if you have dogs and a carpet!

 

How to Be a Compassionate Puppy Owner

How to Be a Compassionate Puppy Owner

How to Be a Compassionate Puppy Owner

by Lynn Stacy-Smith

How to Be a Compassionate Puppy OwnerI. Love. Puppies! If you read that with the same tone of voice as Oprah saying that she loves bread on her Wight Watchers commercial, then you read it correctly! I. Love. Puppies!

When I see a puppy I am the same way that most women are around babies. I cannot wait to hold that puppy in my arms and get puppy kisses and snuggles. Large breeds in particular are my favorite to hold and snuggle because they stay that small for such a short time. I often look at my own dogs and reminisce about when I could hold them in my arms while they slept when they weighed just fifteen pounds, and how they are now big sturdy adult dogs who I love more with each passing day.

How to Be a Compassionate Puppy OwnerIn my book, Love, Laugh, Woof: A Guide to Being Your Dog’s Forever Owner, I write extensively about puppies, how to prepare for them, how to choose where to get your puppy, how to house train them, the first few days with you, and a variety of other important topics. I am able to guide other puppy owners through these essential areas because of the experience I have from raising dogs my entire life and my recent puppy rearing of first Jackson and then Tinkerbell. I have definitely walked the walk of the puppy owner!

Perhaps the most important thing to master as a new puppy owner is to be a compassionate puppy owner. And although I am loath to rely on the dictionary definition of a word to make a point, this is a word that we hear frequently but may not understand entirely. If you’re like me I think about compassion in terms of being understanding and putting myself in the other person or animal’s position. But the definition of compassion, according to Merriam Webster’s online dictionary, has another element to it. The definition reads that compassion is “sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it.” So compassion is not just being understanding, there is an important element of helping to actively alleviate the distress that the other is feeling.

How to Be a Compassionate Puppy Owner
I am looking to you for guidance every step of the way!

So how do we translate this into raising a puppy? It means that we as humans are conscious of the difficulties of being a puppy and trying to figure out the rules of the human world and that we have a desire to help them understand the rules and alleviate any stress that they are going through as they go along the puppy learning curve.

No matter where your puppy comes from, to leave their mother and litter mates is traumatic. No matter how much you love them and plan to care for them, all they know is that everything they have grown used to has changed without warning. Some puppies, like those born into puppy mills, backyard breeders or even worse situations in which the humans do not care about the mothers of the puppies or the puppies themselves, may have never known the love of a human, the comforts of a responsible breeder or foster home.  It is even more terrifying for them to go into the unknown.

Before your puppy comes home, or when you can take a few minutes to yourself if your puppy is already living in your home, take a few minutes to sit quietly and close your eyes. Try to picture a movie screen and the experiences of your puppy playing out on the movie screen. Imagine their life before you adopted them, imagine you are watching from outside the situation as they spend time with their mother and their litter mates, and then imagine your puppy leaving them and making their journey to your home.

Picture how everything looks to them from their point of view. Imagine them trying to figure out their sleeping arrangements, where to go to the bathroom, how to explore new things when they do not have hands or thumbs or the ability to talk to us. Imagine what it must be like to have to explore their environment through trial and error, choosing to chew on something and then being corrected over and over. Imagine what it is like to be lonely in another room without the understanding of when or if you will ever return. Imagine what it is like for all of their basic needs to be fulfilled by you.

How to Be a Compassionate Puppy Owner
Jax took every chance to learn and explore!

When you step back from the situation, watch their journey and experiences as if you were watching a movie, and put yourself in the puppy’s position it is easier to have compassion. It is easier to be sympathetic to their situation and have the desire to alleviate their stress and help them learn in a patient and repetitive manner. When you put yourself in your puppy’s position it is easier to understand that not only do you have an infant of an entirely other species, but that there is a language barrier and different natural instincts.

In my book I talk frequently about the fact that dogs and puppies are not furry humans. They are a completely different species from us. It doesn’t mean we should treat them poorly because of it, it doesn’t mean that we can justify being unkind or unfair. It just means that it is critical to be compassionate, to figure out how they learn, to learn how you can teach them the rules of the house, to understand how you can communicate with each other. It is important to remember that puppies and dogs are sentient beings, full of emotions, thoughts, and feelings like us, but with many differences, too. You love them like they are furry humans but you must treat them like they are dogs and honor the fact that they are dogs.

How to Be a Compassionate Puppy Owner
Jax planning his next puppy mischief or dreaming about the future?

Of course being a compassionate owner does not mean that you never correct your dog or train them. Just like when you parent human children, your job is to teach your puppy the rules of living in their environment to keep them safe and to keep them from destroying your home. A great puppy owner does that with a never-ending amount of patience, fairness, love, and firmness, by teaching and correcting wrong behaviors with repetition, guidance and compassion.

The Love, Laugh, Woof blog is being taken over by puppies!

Watch for more puppy blogs tomorrow and all of next week!