Dog Safety & Emergency Planning

creating a pet care binder
Workshop: Creating a Pet Care Binder
creating a pet care binderThis mini-course teaches you how to create a pet care binder in case someone else needs to take care of your dog, how to find a reliable dog care provider, and a list of people to keep in your life in case you need to travel or are unable to care for your dog for awhile.
Safety and emergency prepping for dogs
Workshop: Safety and Emergency Prepping for Dogs
Safety and emergency prepping for dogsThis course focuses on safety around the house, toxic substances to avoid, collar safety, car safety, identifying and preparing for natural disasters, emergency supplies to have on-hand, and preventing lost/stolen dogs. Click here to view scheduled classes Click here to schedule a FREE one-on-one coaching discovery call with Lynn
Jax and Tink Prove How Quickly Your Dog Can Get into Trouble 
Jax and Tink Prove How Quickly Your Dog Can Get into Trouble 

Jax and Tink Prove How Quickly Your Dog Can Get into Trouble

by Lynn Stacy-Smith Jax and Tink Prove How Quickly Your Dog Can Get into Trouble If you've followed my blog or read my book, you know that I have a very firm rule about never allowing Jackson and Tinkerbell to go outside without a human present at all times. This rule is in place for a variety of reasons, including making certain that the gates are shut and latched, that nobody (like a utility worker or neighborhood child) comes into the yard while we are out there, and to make sure that the dogs stay out of the type of mischief that a curious dog can easily create. [caption id="attachment_3519" align="alignright" width="300"]Jax and Tink Prove How Quickly Your Dog Can Get into Trouble  Chilling in the yard[/caption] As the dogs have grown from puppies to adults, the fear of them getting into something that they shouldn't be eating or touching has diminished somewhat, but they are still dogs, and dogs explore the world with their noses and mouths. Most days, though, I stand outside with them while the most exciting thing that they do is sniff their world and search for treasures of rabbit poop or the certain type of grass on which they love to graze like adorable, small black cows. At four and six years old they get into fewer and fewer situations that would require my intervention, but the "humans outside with dogs at all times" rule will stand for the their entire lives, no exceptions. Last week I had grand plans of filming a product demo for the KeepSafe Breakaway Safety Collar as promised in the blog in which I reviewed this amazing collar. The first part of the video went great, I sat on my deck steps and recorded an introduction to the product, and both dogs came over to give me kisses and "say hello" to the audience, without being told to do so. They were well-behaved as I showed the features of the collar using Jackson as my model, how you hook it to the metal loops if you want to take your dog for a walk and how that acts as an "override" for the breakaway function, since you don't want a collar that breaks apart if your dog pulls on a walk, you only want that breakaway functionality when your dog is wearing it off leash. After I watched the video, there were some changes in lighting I wanted to make and a few edits to my comments, so I set about the task of doing a few more versions, as well as recording demonstrations without the dogs so that I could show the collar around the slats of our fence and deck. Jax and Tink were happy to come and duplicate the "giving kisses" part of the intro and be my model to show how to hook the leash to the collar and override the breakaway function, but when it was time for me to record without them, I swear they knew that they did not have my attention like normal and set about being intentionally naughty. I had expected them to do their normal thing and sniff around the yard, calm and mellow like normal adult dogs. Instead they chose to "exceed" my expectations by getting into every single thing that they could in our yard. Many experts will say that dogs don't think this way, but it was like they were working together and doing "bad" things on purpose. Over the summer our decorative bird house had gone crashing onto our deck during a storm, breaking it apart. It seemed as though it could be put back together, though, and since it was a gift that my husband had brought back to me from a motorcycle trip the first year we knew each other, I did not want to just throw it out. I had carefully placed all of the pieces on top of a deck box on our deck for him to try to fix when he got a chance, and the dogs had not noticed it or touched it since it happened in June. Also over the summer, my husband had purchased a hammock for himself and set it up it on the deck. Because it is so windy in our back yard, instead of leaving it set up, he took one side down so that both ends of the hammock hung from the same side of the metal stand and the hammock stayed folded in half until we wanted to use it. This has also been in the same spot on the deck since June and except for Jax trying to pee on it once, both dogs have also left this item alone. [caption id="attachment_3718" align="alignleft" width="297"]Jax and Tink Prove How Quickly Your Dog Can Get into Trouble  Jax proving that a human should always be watching[/caption] As I filmed a few versions of the demonstration of the collar's breakaway feature, I saw Tinkerbell race across the yard out of my peripheral vision. I know my dogs very well, and I could tell immediately that she had her "I've got something and I'm not going to give it to you" posture as she ran across the yard, her athletic body tucked down low and fast so that she could take corners with ease and play "keep away from Momma" with her contraband item. "WHOA!" I called out to her, "Stop!!" She stopped and went down into a play stance, a huge piece of cardboard hanging from her mouth. "Drop it!" I told her and approached her slowly. She took off at top speed and raced around me, stopping behind me and dropping into her play stance again. "Tinkerbell, I'm not playing," I said in my deepest, most stern dog training voice, "DROP IT." That did the trick and she let me take the cardboard, her tail wagging furiously as if saying, "But Momma, that was FUN!" I walked up onto the deck to put the cardboard on our table, gave Jax (who was just standing on the deck waiting to go inside) a scratch under the chin and told him that he was a good dog, and went back over to our fence to try to get another video recorded. Less than a minute passed and I glanced over to make sure that Tinkerbell had not grabbed anything else, and I saw Jackson tangled completely in the ropes that attach the hammock to the stand. "Jackson, what are you doing, crazy dog?" I called, and ran over to free him. "Buddy, what the heck are you doing?" I asked him. He had his head tangled up in the ropes, one was double wrapped around his leg, and as I walked up he tried to free himself and became even more entangled. "Whoa!" I told him, feeling thankful twice in literally a few minutes that we had taught that command to both dogs. As I freed him, I turned around to see Tinkerbell snatch a long black strip of wood from the bird house, leap off the deck, and run top speed across the yard as far as she could. "Tinkerbell, STOP!" I called again, "What the hell is wrong with you dogs??" I asked to the air, both frustrated and laughing at the same time. This time she gave up her treasure without any fuss, standing there while I came over and took it from her. "Ok, I think we're going to stop making this video for the day," I told her as she trotted along happily next to me. As I reached the deck I saw Jackson trying to make his way behind our gas grill to get to the fat trap that was full of rainwater and disgusting grease from a summer of grilling. "Jackson, OFF!" I told him just in time and body blocked him before he could take a lick of watery grease. I had blocked the access to this doggie delicacy with deck chairs because he had tried this on many other occasions. We headed inside the house and I sat on the floor with them and played like we normally do every day at 4 pm and I laughed to myself about their behavior. "What on earth were you guys doing, Momma has to work to buy you food and cookies!" I told them as they brought me bones to hold and engaged me in our favorite game of 3-way-tug-o-war. My video attempt was most definitely the epitome of the "laugh" of Love, Laugh, Woof. Sure they were going out of their way to be "bad" but I could not help but laugh at their timing and how it really seemed intentional to get my attention back to them. Since I was losing daylight, instead of filming my own video, I found an excellent video featuring the creator of the collar and shared that instead. I thought about how Jax and Tink had done an excellent job of proving my point that you should always go outside with your dogs and pay attention to what they are doing no matter how old they are, because they can find themselves in a dangerous position within a matter of seconds. Jax's escapades with the ropes of the hammock could have become a deadly choking hazard within minutes, and Tink could have easily swallowed shards of wood or perhaps nails or staples had she snatched up a piece with those in it if I had not been there to make her give it up. I will also be checking to see how dog proofed our yard is and not assume that because I am outside with them all the time or that they are grown adult dogs that certain items will not become hazardous on any given day. While this was intended to be a somewhat humorous story of how they were naughty on purpose to get my attention and that I will be recruiting a helper for videos going forward, it is dual purpose as it points out the very serious matter that it only takes a few seconds for your dog to end up in danger in your own yard or inside your home with everyday objects, with or without a collar on. The KeepSafe Breakaway Collar definitely helps alleviate some of the risks involving choking by a collar, but I also strongly recommend always supervising your dog in the yard whether on their own or when playing with the other dog(s) in your home.  

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Collar Safety Awareness Week: The KeepSafe Break-Away Collar
Collar Safety Awareness Week: The KeepSafe Break-Away Collar

Collar Safety Awareness Week: The KeepSafe Break-Away Collar

by Lynn Stacy-Smith   Collar Safety Awareness Week: The KeepSafe Break-Away Collar Earlier this year, I shared with you the importance of ensuring that the information on your dog's identification tags is up to date in case he or she is lost. Later in the summer I also shared some important information on pet collar safety, common dog collar and dog tag hazards, and my own approach to when my dogs should wear their collars and when they should not wear them, in the post Dog Collar Safety: When to Let Your Dog Go Naked.  A few weeks ago I was thrilled when PetSafe contacted me and told me about their upcoming Collar Safety Awareness Week and asked if they could send me one of the KeepSafe Break-Away Collars for me to test. PetSafe is known for products including wireless and in-ground fences, automatic self-cleaning litter boxes for cats (something else I would happily test), digital feeders, electronic pet doors, and a variety of other products for cats and dogs. Of course I replied that I was happy to test out a collar, given my obsession with pet safety and my recent post about collar safety in particular. I was thrilled when not one but two collars arrived last week.  [caption id="attachment_3713" align="alignright" width="225"]Tinkerbell looks stunning in the pawprint KeepSafe Break-Away collar! Tinkerbell looks stunning in the pawprint KeepSafe Break-Away colla[/caption] According to the PetSafe website, over 19 million dogs wear collars every day, and more than 26,000 collar related injuries happen each year. There are 71 incidents a day and over 50% of pet professionals have experienced a collar related incident. In my own blogs I have shared the personal stories of Jackson and Tinkerbell, both of whom have gotten their tags stuck in the wires of the dishwasher while sneaking a lick off the plates, and the story of when Tinkerbell's tags became caught in the heating/cooling vent one night as she enjoyed her habit of snoozing on top of the air conditioning vent. 
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.
In my post Dog Collar Safety: When to Let Your Pet Go Naked, I mention a variety of collar hazards including playtime between two or more dogs, crates/kennels, the dishwasher, and heating/cooling vents. In addition to those, the PetSafe also lists the slats of your deck, fences, and shrubs and bushes as potential choking hazards. Both the tags on the collar and the collar itself pose a risk that can turn deadly quickly, particularly as the dog begins to panic and try to pull or run away even more.  Dog owner Tenney Mudge invented the KeepSafe Break-Away Safety Collar after the tragic death of her beloved Samoyed/Australian Shepherd named Chinook, who she lost to a collar strangulation accident. In order to prevent similar tragedies, Tenney developed and patented the special safety buckle on the KeepSafe Break-Away Safety Collar that releases when pressure is applied. The safety buckle is designed so that it will release, the collar will fall off, and the dog will be free of the hazard.  [caption id="" align="alignleft" width="334"] Photo source: https://store.petsafe.net/keepsafe-collar[/caption] I could not wait to try this out on Jackson and Tinkerbell. The collar is excellent quality, made of a strong but silky polyester fabric. I received the limited edition Bones/Paws pattern which has brightly colored bones on a black background on one side and paw prints on the other, so that when you size the collar to fit your dog, you can see both prints. I love the way the aqua, coral and yellow print pops against their black fur but will also look adorable on any color fur. It also comes in a nylon fabric in black, orange, red, blue and purple.  There is a regular heavy plastic buckle for regular use as well as the special breakaway buckle. There is also a small plastic tag holder to which you can attach your dog's tags.  [caption id="" align="alignright" width="346"] Photo source: http://www.breakawaycollar.com/pics/collarclosed2.jpg[/caption] So how do you keep this collar on if you have a dog who pulls on the leash? That is where the genius of the two metal rings comes in! The emergency release buckle is located behind the rings, so to attach a leash you just need to hook the leash to both rings, taking the pressure off the buckle and making it so that it will not release if your dog pulls on the leash. It is important to note that you should never leave a leash or tie-out attached to your dog when you are not present and awake regardless of which collar you use.  [caption id="" align="alignright" width="360"] Photo source: http://www.breakawaycollar.com/pics/leash2.jpg[/caption] I definitely love this collar, the ingenious design, the nice quality materials, and I am extremely happy that PetSafe reached out to me to test it. I will also share my review of it via video so that you can see it with a leash attached and show you the safety release by pulling on it. Of course I will not put Jackson or Tinkerbell in harm's way for a demo, so I will also try to recreate the situations in which they became entangled to the extent possible without their involvement.  Even with this great safety feature, I will still continue to recommend that you remove all collars when putting your dog into their crate or kennel or if your dogs are about to start a game of what we call Zoomies or Bitey Face. However, this collar offers a  potentially lifesaving release in case someone forgets to remove a collar before the dogs go into their crates or if they become entangled while their humans are asleep, in the shower, or simply elsewhere in the house.  [gallery size="full" ids="3709,3711,3710"]   You can shop for the KeepSafe Breakaway Safety Collar from Petsafe at my affiliate link below.
KeepSafe® Collars Designed to prevent dogs from getting entangled by their collars; the KeepSafe® Break-A... [More]
Price: $9.99
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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

[caption id="attachment_3562" align="alignleft" width="318"] Naked while playing[/caption] 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.  [caption id="attachment_3564" align="alignright" width="225"] Collars while out and about[/caption] 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:

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="250"] RV Pet Safety Device[/caption] 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.    [gallery size="full" ids="3543,3542,3541"] [gallery size="full" ids="3544,3538,3539"] [gallery size="full" ids="3545,3549,3547"]

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. Save $50 with code LYNN50   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. Subscribe
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. [caption id="attachment_3489" align="alignright" width="300"]Teaching Children How to Act Around Dogs Do you see the dog leaning away from the hug?[/caption] 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. [caption id="attachment_3488" align="alignleft" width="300"]Teaching Children How to Act Around Dogs This dog looks more stressed out than happy.[/caption] 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

     
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. [caption width="160" align="alignleft"] Lock It Block It window security bar (affiliate link)[/caption]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. [caption width="256" align="alignleft"] The Green Pet Shop Self-Cooling Pet Pads (Amazon affiliate link)[/caption]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 [caption id="attachment_3432" align="alignright" width="300"]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![/caption] 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. [caption id="" align="alignleft" width="160"] Pet Mesh Shoes with Rugged Anti-Slip Sole (affiliate link)[/caption] 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!

Stop Leaving Dogs In Cars! Period!

by Lynn Stacy-Smith Stop Leaving Dogs In Cars! Period!I normally do not blog when I am angry. Today is an exception because I just watched this video: Police Officers Save 1 Month Old Puppy Trapped In Hot Car. I am astounded that this is still happening, I am pissed off as I wonder what the hell is wrong with people? I normally write with the utmost of diplomacy, perhaps from my corporate background, but also because that's just who I am. I am diplomatic, I try to see all of the shades of gray in an issue instead of just the black and white. But I cannot help but wonder today, are the people who leave their dogs (and their children) in hot cars just plain old stupid or do they simply not care? Idiots, or monsters? Although it doesn't matter because the result is the same: death of an innocent creature. I am not even going to comment on the fact that they believe the puppy in the video was just one month old, or ponder why someone had such a young  puppy out alone instead of at home with its mother and littermates. Had he already left his litter to be placed with such a negligent owner? Of course if that is the case it is no wonder that the puppy ended up in the hands of such negligent, irresponsible and selfish humans, because everyone in the dog world with half a brain knows that puppies should be with their mothers until they are eight weeks old. Not only should that puppy have not been in that car, it was far too early for him to go to his forever home unless something had happened to his mother. With the worst heat of the summer upon us in most parts of the country, I see heat related warnings for dogs and children on a daily basis. In fact rather than reinvent the wheel and create my own graphic for this blog I decided to share an existing one. This is the result of my Google Search and it went on for pages and pages! dogs hot cars goodle search screenshot   What gets me about this rampant problem is that there is no lack of information on this topic, as evidenced by my Google search, so why are some dog owners so utterly clueless? Why are they still inflicting this torture on their dogs? Is it not just common sense? Do people not believe the dire warnings? Do they think that it will actually take just two minutes to run in for a gallon of milk or to pick up a prescription? Do they not know that even if it DID take two minutes, that the temperature is already soaring in those minutes and seconds? I don't know about you, but I cannot ever recall a trip into a store for even the most basic item taking less than ten minutes in recent years. Just the other day my husband and I were going to dinner and I got into the car thinking that he was right behind me. Instead he had stopped to get something he forgot inside the house and so I waited about 45 seconds in the sweltering car. Even with my passenger door open the heat was so intense that in that short a period of time I felt woozy. FORTY FIVE SECONDS! And I'm a grown adult who could have just got out; I actually sat there and waited just to experience the heat as a bit of research, and that was before I thought about writing this blog. My heart breaks for the dogs who have no way to escape. Unless you are literally fleeing your home and running for your life and stopping for life sustaining supplies, there is absolutely no reason to leave a dog in a parked car where he or she will perish in a slow and miserable way. And quite frankly, if I was bugging out or being evacuated and fleeing with my dogs, I STILL  would not leave them in a hot car, I'd go through the closest drive through of a restaurant that served bottled water and let them drink from a cup and figure out food after it was cooler outside! In my (experienced and unwavering) opinion, the only place a dog really needs to go when the temperature soars is to the veterinarian. Other destinations like to obedience school, the groomer, doggie daycare, a walk along a tree covered dirt path, to your local dog friendly beach or to your local holistic pet store can be done successfully as long as the dog never is left in the car alone. Straight to the destination and then back home. Period. Want to make a Starbucks stop? Hit the drive-thru. Need milk? Take the dog home and go back out. Need to figure out what to feed the family for dinner? Take the dog home and go back out. Need cash? ATM or drive up. Dry cleaning on the way? Hmmm...the dog's life versus some clean clothes? Take the dog home and go back out.

The answer to all of these is to take the dog home and go back out. 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. 

This is an area in which Woof really applies because Woof means honoring the fact that your dog is a dog and that he or she does not need to be treated like a child even though you love him or her with the same love that you have for a child. Yes, it is fun for your dog to go on car rides with you if you are not stopping anywhere and you have icy cold air conditioning blasting through your vents. But unlike children who might want to tag along to sweet talk you into a treat, your dog does not need to run to Walmart because you ran out of coffee and then sit and wait in an oven on wheels for you to return. Your dog can stay home and do dog things and when you get your coffee back home you will have a live dog to pet while your drink your coffee, instead of a dead one from leaving it in the car and killing it.

When Jackson and Tinkerbell go places with me when it is warm outside, I actually use my remote car starter and start the car before we get inside so that the air conditioner will start to work before we enter the vehicle. Before I had a remote starter I would start the car, turn on the AC, let my dog take a quick potty break before getting into the car, and then enter once some of the oven-like heat had subsided. And back in the day when I drove really awful old cars and my AC didn't work, I would roll down the windows and let some air flow through the car before my late Babe and I entered.

Of course if you are following me you are probably already living a life dedicated to your dog, a life of Love, Laugh, and Woof, so you know these things and I am preaching to the proverbial choir. I don't know exactly what we do from here to help dogs.  Some parts of the country have passed laws against leaving dogs in too hot or too cold conditions like here in Illinois. Others have passed laws allowing citizens to take matters into heir own hands and break the windows of cars with dogs and children trapped inside to save more lives. Do we keep bombarding people with memes on social media? Start a network of volunteers around the country to pass out flyers in parking lots? We have a National Pet Travel Safety Day as well as Heat Safety Awareness Day; it seems redundant to have a specific day for Hot Car Awareness, but maybe that is the next step for both dogs and children because the tragedies are still occurring all across the country. For now, join me in continuing to educate the public, share one of the many, many pieces of information that you can find on a Google Search, and keep on calling the police when you see dogs trapped inside ovens on wheels whenever the weather is above 70 degrees. [caption id="attachment_1683" align="alignnone" width="530"] source: www.dogsinhotcars.com[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1682" align="alignnone" width="480"] source: www.veterinaryclinic.com[/caption]  
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.  

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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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A Dog Lover's Thoughts on The Walking Dead
A Dog Lover’s Thoughts on The Walking Dead

A Dog Lover's Thoughts on The Walking Dead

by Lynn Stacy-Smith A Dog Lover's Thoughts on The Walking Dead Right now I am catching up on the television series The Walking Dead. I say "catching up" because it's not so much "binge watching" as "having a second helping", if we are going to use a food metaphor. Or maybe a second helping and then some desert...and coffee...and a mint. Ok, it's a bunch of episodes each night after dinner. Every night. There, my secret is out. I do have a blog to write, after all, so I can't just sit around and watch all day long, but there is considerable viewing time every evening. I am not a person who likes gory or disgusting things, in fact I am a complete Nervous Nellie when it comes to horror movies and shows. But when I found that one of my favorite actors from a different show had joined the cast as the latest despicable villain, I stayed in the room a few times during Season 7 when my husband and middle teen were watching. After a few episodes I saw that the story line is about the humans and not so much the walkers, and I learned when to look away from some of the bloody stuff. Fortunately those zombies are a noisy bunch and the sound effect of a blade being unsheathed is always helpful, too! As a result, I've gone from pilot to season to Season 7, Episode 3 in a few weeks. As I've watched, I've noticed the complete lack of dogs. I keep wondering, where did all of the dogs go? Were they smart enough to run away? Did they all perish? Where on earth are they? I mean, the ASPCA estimates that 44% of homes have a dog, so where are they? Are they all in some dog sanctuary with nice secure walls? If so, I want to go there now! Part of me is ok with not having too many dogs in the show because the horses in it have not fared very well nor did the few dogs that I have seen, and I am most definitely someone who cries when an animal dies on-screen. But seriously, where ARE all of the dogs? Several times I've turned to my husband and said, "If society were to go to hell, you know we are not leaving without the dogs. I am not leaving them behind, I am not eating them, nobody else is eating them, we can forage for supplies for them while we forage for our own supplies, they go with us anywhere and everywhere!" He is of course in agreement, as I made sure of his shared love of dogs before we got married, or else he would just be another ex-boyfriend and not my beloved husband. Now, I don't think we are going to be plunged into a world of flesh-eating zombies, don't worry, I haven't lost my mind. However, keeping your dog safe and by your side applies to natural disasters or other emergency situations. Like I wrote about earlier this week in the blog Sharing the Love of Dogs with the Non-Dog Lovers in Your Life, I cannot and will not feel in my heart like my dogs deserve less care than we do. How could I ever look at their sweet faces, their trusting eyes, and leave them behind for an uncertain future? How could I deny them medical care, love, protection, nourishment, and live with myself for even a second, knowing that they are sentient, feeling creatures who put their trust in me on a daily basis. Now, I'm not going to lie. I have thought through what would be the best way to be a dog owner if we were suddenly thrust into the world of Rick Grimes and Daryl Dixon and dead humans chasing us to eat us. It brings up a lot of what-ifs and wondering what the best option would be. For example: Leashed or unleashed: I have a runner's leash here at the house for each dog with a belt that goes around my waist that I attach a special leash to, giving me a hands free option. I bought this to try it out and haven't used it since (that's a whole other blog topic), but if you were fighting off walkers, you could keep your dog close and make sure that he or she did not run off in fear. On the other hand, your dog is probably faster than you are, so would they be better off loose, able to be more agile? Would having your dog attached to you mean that you were tripping over the leash and would be less able to defend both of you? A rock sold reliable recall would mean that they could be off leash, outrun walkers on their own, and come to you when called. Barking: If gunshots attract walkers, and a crying baby is a risk, what about a barking dog? Would you muzzle your dog periodically if they went on a barking spree? I mean, barking is an instinct but if you were hiding quietly you might have to squelch that instinct in a way we wouldn't do in our normal civilized world. But what if you muzzled them briefly and then they ran off, they would be unable to defend themselves or drink or eat. A dog's senses: Since our dogs can hear and smell things better than we can and see better at night, wouldn't they be helpful in detecting when walkers, other humans and other threats were near? People-loving domesticated dogs: I know Jackson and Tinkerbell would probably run right up to a walker looking for tummy rubs and ear scratches. Would they be able to eventually figure out that some people were "different" from others, aka dead and trying to eat them? I know I've read that SAR dogs and cadaver dogs can differentiate between the scent of someone alive versus deceased. Would the walkers have a unique scent? Would dogs in a zombie apocalypse train themselves to stay away from that smell the same way my dogs have trained themselves to come running for peanut butter and run the opposite way when they smell ear cleaner? It seems to me that at the end of the day, dogs would be a helpful companion more than a burden. After all, the world of The Walking Dead has gone back to a dangerous uncivilized world that is more similar to what the world was like when humans first befriended the wolf. Well, there weren't infected dead people wandering around, but people had to rely on hunting and gathering, whether or not to trust other humans and whether other groups were going to be allies or enemies, and somewhere in the middle of that we befriended the wolf (or the wolf befriended us) so that we could be companions, hunting partners, and help defend each other. One conversation that my husband and I had about The Walking Dead is that it definitely makes you think about how you might have to act in the event a catastrophe and how you could prepare for such a thing. As a neurotic worrier and planner, I am 100% on board with planning for emergencies, so in the next two blogs we will talk about how you can include your dog in emergency preparation plans for a world not inhabited by walkers  but still afflicted by a natural disaster or other emergency situation.     Whistle 3 GPS Pet Tracker
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
What To Do If You Find a Lost Dog

What To Do If You Find a Lost Dog

by Lynn Stacy-Smith

What To Do If You Find a Lost DogLiving in a populated suburban area that consists of mostly subdivisions, we have frequent occurrences of dogs who are lost or found by local residents. Fortunately most of us are connected through our neighborhood Facebook groups and most of the lost dogs are returned to their owners rather quickly, but as much as it seems that everyone is on Facebook 24 hours a day, there is still a large part of the population who does not embrace social media as a regular part of everyday life.

It also seems that many people are reluctant to contact animal control, take the dog to the local animal shelter or contact the police department. This stems from a fear that taking a found dog to the local animal shelter means one thing: certain death. This is not necessarily true, though. In fact the local animal shelter will be one of the first places that a dog owner whose dog has been lost should check and the sooner the dog is taken to the shelter the sooner the owner can find it, potentially saving hours of angst and worry for both the owner and the dog.

It is important to remember that the lack of a collar or tags does not indicate whether a dog has a home or not. Collars can fall off or break as can ID tags. Some dog owners do not leave collars on the dog when the dog is in the house because they can cause injury to a dog who is crated or when multiple dogs are playing and rough-housing. It is quite feasible and common that a well cared for and much-loved dog without a collar can slip out the front door or from a collar and leash and become lost.

More and more dogs are getting microchips at puppyhood or when adopted out through rescue organizations, but a chip is only good if it is scanned. As we discussed in the blog Pet ID Week: Understanding Microchips and Pet Trackers, microchips are not GPS units. They only work when scanned by a RFID scanner. The shelter will scan the dog to see if it has a microchip. If they do not do this automatically, make sure you request that they scan for a chip. A veterinarian's office can also do this and some police departments now have scanners for this purpose. Keeping a dog because it is not wearing a collar or because of the risk of being euthanized at a shelter is not fair to the dog or the owners who will likely be worried sick over their missing family member, no matter how good the intentions or motive of the person who found the dog. I cannot imagine the anguish in the hearts of anyone whose dog is missing, not knowing if their dog is alive or not, and that anguish being extended because the person who found the dog was not aware of the proper protocol. [caption id="attachment_3255" align="alignright" width="300"]What To Do If You Find a Lost Dog Collars can easily fall off or a dog can pull out of a collar and leash.[/caption] In recent years a friend of mine lost their elderly Yorkie and were desperately searching for him on social media, with the police, at the local shelters. Many people went out searching for him for hours each day. A neighbor who they did not know had found him and was keeping him "safe" at their home while my friend spent days searching, sick with worry and under immense stress to find her beloved dog, not knowing if he had been hit by a car, attacked by a coyote or picked up by someone with ill intent.

Here are the steps I recommend if you find a lost dog:

  1. If you come across a stray dog, do not chase it. If the dog comes to you willingly and you recognize its body language as welcoming and unafraid, err on the side of caution and keep the dog away from your own dogs or children. You do not want to put your own dogs at risk of bites, fleas, parasites or other illnesses.
  2. Check for a collar and tags and call the phone number on the identification tag. If the dog is in your car you can drive to the address on the tag to see if the owners are home. Finally, you can look the owner's name up on Facebook to see if you have any mutual friends if you live in the same community.
  3. Contact your local animal shelter and the police. This is a good contact to add to your phone before you need it, along with your police department's non-emergency number. Procedures can vary by area and they can tell you what to do next and how to get the dog to them.
  4. Post in your neighborhood Facebook groups that you found a dog and that it has been turned over to the shelter or police, whichever applies to your situation. This will let the owner know that their dog is safe and they can go there to pick it up.
  5. Add a post to any applicable lost/found dog social media pages. For example, here in Illinois we have Lost Dogs Illinois where owners can post information and photos of lost and found dogs.
  6. Share a post in your local Nextdoor network. If you are not a member of Nextdoor, it is a website/app for neighbors to share information. There is not the social aspect of sharing pictures or what you ate for dinner last night, it is strictly informational.
  7. Print posters and post them in your area in case the owner is not on social media. Include information letting them know that the dog was taken to the local shelter for them to claim.
  8. When sharing via social media, consider that dogs can easily travel across county lines or state lines, so if you have access to Facebook groups in nearby areas, post to those, too.
[caption id="attachment_3256" align="alignleft" width="300"]What To Do If You Find a Lost Dog Lost dogs are often scared, watch for body language that says they are approachable.[/caption] Unfortunately there are some unscrupulous and just plain evil people in the world who may try to claim a dog as their own even when they are not the owner. I believe that the shelter is better equipped to weed out these people than the average resident, which is another reason to ensure that found dogs are put into the hands of trained and experienced individuals. This applies to dogs who do not have contact information in the form of a tag and collar or microchip. Finally, as much as people with loving intentions may bond with a dog who they find or want to keep the dog for their own pet, it is morally the right thing to do to take all steps possible to get the dog home to their owner. A lost dog does not mean a bad owner, there are plenty of great dog owners whose dogs slip away out of a leash or an open gate. If you have room in your life for another dog and find that you want to keep the particular dog that you have found, please work with your shelter and ask them to contact you if nobody comes forward to claim the dog and he or she becomes available for adoption.
Tomorrow we will discuss what to do if you lose your dog on the Love, Laugh, Woof blog as we continue to discuss Pet ID Week. 

In addition to this blog, here is some information from the Missing Pet Partnership and The Whole Dog Journal that you may also find helpful.

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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.

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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. [caption id="" align="alignleft" width="290"] Lupine Eco series from Cherrybrook[/caption] 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. [caption id="" align="alignleft" width="236"] The Wander Tag Holder from Kurgo[/caption] 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.

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Create Your Own Dog Care Binder
Create Your Own Dog Care Binder with Instructions for PetSitters

Create Your Own Dog Care Binder with Instructions for Pet Sitters

by Lynn Stacy-Smith Create Your Own Dog Care BinderSeveral years ago when I was updating my annual dog care instructions for our pet sitter I noticed a spare binder on my desk. I added a cover photo, got out the three-hole punch, and the dog care binder was born. I won't lie, I've taken some loving teasing about the dog care binder, or the "manual" as some in my family and inner circle have called it. My husband joked that we never left so many instructions to care for the kids as we do for the dogs. When it comes down to it, though, the human kids can talk; the dogs cannot, at least not in a way that someone new would understand right away like I do through our daily life together. As I mentioned in my other Professional Pet Sitter Week blogs, you never know when you might get called away at the last-minute. Emergencies come up and you might find yourself booking a flight for that same day and hopping on a plane, leaving your home and dogs in the hands of someone else while you go to be with a sick family member or an emergency work meeting. Creating a dog care binder with details on everything someone needs to know to care for your dogs as well as your home will give you incredible peace of mind. Trust me on this, I have walked the walk. [caption id="" align="alignleft" width="250"]Dog Care Binder Love Laugh Woof Sample Half Inch Binder[/caption] As my free gift to you, I have created a PDF with fields that you can fill in on your computer and then print to easily make your own dog care binder: Love Laugh Woof Dog Binder Template with Fill In Fields. You can also print it and hand-write the information if you prefer. I like to use a three-hole punch to add holes in order to keep mine in a small half-inch binder like this Avery version with a spot for a front cover. Here is the information you can include in each field: Front Page: Dog(s) names. This will also fill in the area on the top of all of the pet care pages. Page 1:  Food: Use this section to include the brand and formula of food that you feed, the amount, frequency of meals a day, the time of day that your dogs typically eat, and any additional notes like food allergies, a backup brand, where the pet sitter can get more food if they run out and other information. Outdoor Activity/Walks: Do you want the pet sitter to walk your dog on leash walks or keep them in the yard for play and potty time? Where are their leashes kept? Do you use harnesses or attach to their regular collars? Is there a particular walking route or any quirks of your dog that you want to share? Where are the poop bags located? How do they react to other dogs? Do you require that they heel or walk a certain way? Treats: Use this spot to share the brands/formulas of treats that you permit, as well as how often and when the dogs receive treats. For example "Jackson and Tinkerbell receive treats when they come inside, when they go into their kennels and at bedtime." Also indicate if  you have any snacks like carrots or bananas that they can have and where to purchase additional treats if you run out. Play/Toys: Include information on whether or not you want toys to be left with the dogs when unattended, what games the dogs like to play, any rules involved when playing. For example, "Jax and Tink may not play one hour before or after eating to prevent bloat. Jax likes to play tug-o-war and Tink loves to play fetch. Please do not leave any toys in their kennels when they are gone. Tink may try to eat any fleece toys so please watch her with those. Fleece toys are kept on the shelf in the kitchen when they are not actively playing with them." Page 2:  Kennels/Crates: Use this space to share instructions on whether or not your dogs go in kennels or crates when not attended. For example "Jax and Tink know the word 'kennel up' to go into their kennels when we are leaving the house. They will run right into their specific kennel and wait for a treat. Please secure the top and bottom latch." Front Door Procedures: Does your dog go to a certain spot when the door rings? Are they a flight risk who might run out the door to see a stranger or to follow a scent? Use this spot to explain how you would like this handled in your absence. For example, "Please do not open the door if you are not expecting anyone and use the viewer in the door. Both dogs are to sit and wait on the carpet away from the door. They know the phrase, 'Go to your spot' and must sit and wait until you release them. You can also put them in their crates for a few minutes if you have someone coming over or a pizza or food delivery to err on the side of caution." Grooming: Use this spot to share any grooming requirements while you are out-of-town. Page 3:  Training Commands & Recall Words: This is important since dog owners often use different words for commands. For example, Jax and Tink know both wait and stay interchangeably. They know "off" instead of "leave it" and we use it in many ways, whether it is to leave something alone that has fallen on the floor or to get their attention off of something like another dog while we are walking. Information for Pet SittersSleeping Arrangements: Where do your dogs sleep at night if the pet sitter is staying at your home? Where do they sleep if nobody is staying overnight at your home? If you have multiple dogs, do they each have a preferred sleeping spot? Do they try to "call wolf" by waking you up earlier? For example, I can tell by my ADT alerts that my dogs wake my dog sitter at 4 am when she is here so I have to remind her that unless Jax is holding his tail up at the base or they stand by the bedroom door (signs that they do need to go out versus wanting to get up and eat) that they can wait until 6 am. In Case of Lost Dog: Do you have people in your neighborhood that could post to a Facebook group if the dog(s) escape from the house or yard. Is there a reliable recall word or process you want the pet sitter to take in the event of this emergency? Is there a spot the dogs frequently go to, like my childhood Lab Snoop used to visit our neighbors for a dip in their pool. Page 4:  Heartworm Preventative: Use this space to share the brand of heartworm preventative, the date that your dog receives their pill each month, any information on how to administer the pill and any additional information. This is where you can write something like, "Their pills are chewables but I put a glob of peanut butter on each one to ensure that they eat it. Please use caution and make sure each dog gets their pill and only their pill." Additional Medications: Use this space to list any additional medications that your dog either takes on a daily or regular basis, along with how to give this medicine to them. Also include any medications that you have on hand in the event that something happens. For example, "We have Panalog in the cabinet in case Tinkerbell's ear gets red again." Page 5:  Veterinary Information & Emergency 24 hour Clinic Information: Use this page to list your regular veterinarian, their phone and address, any existing conditions that your dog has, how you would like emergencies handled, and the information for the closest 24 hour or emergency clinic. Page 6:  This is a blank page for any additional information for your specific dog(s) not already mentioned. Page 7: Household Information Heating/Cooling: Do you have a specific temperature at which you keep your home in the winter or summer, particularly to keep your dog safe if your pet sitter is coming and going rather than staying in your home. Is your thermostat on a schedule? Can they adjust it as necessary if they are staying in your home? Who is your preferred emergency repair service for your heating and cooling system. Do you allow windows to be left open if you are not home? In Case of Fire: If there is a fire while the pet sitter is home, are the dogs trained in a particular way? Is there a particular outdoor location where you want them to take the dogs? For example, "To the extent possible, please take the dogs to my neighbor at this address." Other Emergency: Use this space if other emergency situations apply. For example, "If a tornado watch is released, please harness both dogs and take them to the basement. Tink will run right down and Jax needs some encouragement. There is an emergency dog bag in the basement with antlers and treats to occupy them. They have been trained to run to me anytime the tornado siren goes off." Page 8:  Emergency Contacts: Use this space for the names and phone numbers of neighbors, friends or family who the pet sitter can contact if there is an emergency that they can't handle, if there is an emergency and they cannot contact you, or even if they have an emergency and they need to leave town for a sick relative or something beyond their control. In the Event of the Pet Owner(s) Death: Yes, this seems morbid, but in the event of an accident or unexpected death, who should the pet sitter or anyone reading the dog binder and caring for the dogs in that situation to contact? For example, we provide the name and contact information for our breeder and we have told our families and friends in no uncertain terms that our dogs are to go back to her no matter who offers to take them. This is not a topic we want to think about, but it is necessary to provide for our beloved dogs. Security System: Use this area to include any instructions like "Please ensure that the security system is set to Armed Away anytime you are away from the house and Armed Stay if you are sleeping. There are cameras in these locations outside..." Mail: Is the mail on hold or should the pet sitter bring it inside daily? Should they check for packages on a regular basis anywhere other than the mailbox? Page 9: This is a freeform area for any additional instructions for the household, like "Since we are away for Halloween we have bought candy that you can give out. If you are not home or are not up to doing it, just turn off the front light and you can eat any candy left over. We will be watching calories when we get home so don't worry about leaving any!" Additional Documentation: In addition to these pages, I also include the following documents:
  • Our travel itinerary including flight information and hotel/resort or family contact information if visiting family
  • A letter to the vet authorizing the pet sitter to bring our pets in for care
  • Printouts of each dog's microchip information
  • Copies of their most recent vaccination records
  • Pet insurance information
Download your FREE Love Laugh Woof Dog Binder Template with Fill In Fields
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Professional Pet Sitter Week: Finding Pet Sitters & Kennels You Can Trust
Professional Pet Sitter Week: Finding Pet Sitters & Kennels You Can Trust

Professional Pet Sitter Week: Finding Pet Sitters & Kennels You Can Trust

by Lynn Stacy-Smith Professional Pet Sitter Week: Finding Pet Sitters & Kennels You Can TrustBack in 2005 when I first moved to Illinois I had to travel for work with just a few days notice. Being new in town, I desperately researched local kennels to care for my black Labrador Babe, and found one that looked promising. I spoke to the owner on the phone, asked her a lot of questions about the facility, how long she had been in business, her experience with dogs, what she did in the event of an emergency, and then I booked Babe's stay. The owner was somewhat gruff as I dropped Babe off but I had no other options and I was literally headed to the airport immediately after dropping her off. Plus I was hiring her based on her pet care experience, not her human communication skills. Two days later I arrived back home and sped to the kennel to pick up my Babe. She reeked of urine, dog smell and something else that was just generally bad and stale. Her dog bed also smelled so badly of urine that I ended up just throwing it out and buying her a new one. I also had to take her to the vet to be treated for a UTI. I was appalled that she had suffered through those conditions for just a few days; I felt like the worst dog owner ever. As I sat down to write this blog I decided to look on Yelp to see what type of feedback they were getting twelve years later. At first glance there were four reviews, three extremely positive and one with a photo of a dog with sores and lameness. There was also a link that read "Four other reviews that are not currently recommended." Of course I clicked that link, and this is what I found:
"I am in shock!  I asked about coming for a visit to see where my dog would be and was told no, they don't allow that!  She said I could drive by the property and look in the window!  Really!" "That place scares me. I stopped in and the whole property reeked." "My dog came home smelling horrible.... like urine and feces. The whole location always smells horrible. He seems to have a urinary tract infection as he is peeing constantly. He also has been throwing up for two days." "When I picked her up she appeared dirty and was limping.  After a cursory examination I found feces dried on her fur (not near her rectal area) and red-scaly spots between her toes.  The vet determined that she has both a yeast and bacterial infection between the pads of her feet.  This is most likely the result of standing in her own feces and urine for an extended period of time.  The stench of fecal matter and urine was overwhelming inside the facility."
So how do you avoid ending up somewhere like that kennel and find pet sitters and kennels who you can trust ? Research, research, research and more research. Fortunately there is far more information that you can find now in 2017 from online sources and connecting with other humans online.  
Resources for Finding Kennels & Pet Sitters: 
Other Dog Professionals: Reach out to the other dog professionals in your life, like your veterinarian, your dog groomer, your training facility. Not only are they likely to have their own pets who need to be boarded occasionally, but they will probably know other people int he pet care industry. Facebook neighborhood groups: Most towns and even neighborhoods have Facebook groups that you can use to ask for suggestions on local businesses. You may end up with ten entirely different suggestions or find that the same business is recommended over and over. Yelp: When searching Yelp, make sure you look at all of the reviews, even the ones like I found that were listed as "not currently recommended."  Yelp gives an explanation about why they recommend certain reviews over others and based on their explanation, I would personally consider all of the reviews posted by dog owners when finding a pet care facility.  In my opinion, if someone is inspired enough by a positive or negative experience to create an account and draft their first review, I want to know about it. Better Business BureauThe Better Business Bureau website includes business ratings, owner information, how long the business has been open and also has an area for customer reviews and complaints along with the ability for the business owner to address and respond to the complaint. I have not found as much information on here as other sites but it is worth checking. I believe you can tell a lot by the way that a business owner handles complaints. Angie's ListAngie's List lets users grade businesses on price, quality, responsiveness, punctuality and professionalism using the A-F system like you find in academia. You are now able to create a free membership. Judy's Book: Judy's Book consists of user reviews posted directly to the site as well as reviews from other sources. There is also a spot for the best and the worst review, but again when it comes to finding a trusted boarding facility for your dog, I suggest reading every review thoroughly. Google: Ok, recommending you use Google is not exactly rocket science. Most users only go through the first page of results; for this type of research, my suggestion is to go many pages deep and not only Google the name of the business but the owner's name and the address as well. DogVacay: You can search for pet sitters to watch your dog in your own home or in their home, a concept that is growing in popularity more and more. According to the DogVacay information, they have an extensive vetting process and educational courses for their pet sitters and as I spot checked sitters near me they all had rave reviews and five stars (the maximum) with only a few exceptions. You can also find pet sitters who watch your dog in your own home either overnight, go to your home to let your dog outside for potty and play breaks and meals, or for dog walking. RoverJust like DogVacay, you can search Rover.com for boarding in a pet sitter's home, dog sitting in your home, drop-in visits, dog walking and doggie day care in a sitter's home. You can research ratings, repeat customers, detailed reviews, whether or not the pet sitter has passed a background check, if they have taken Rover.com courses, and if they have access to the Rover.com pet care hotline. National Association of Professional Pet Sitters:  The mission statement of the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters is "The only National non-profit professional pet sitting association dedicated to setting the industry standard and championing the welfare of animals." You can search for pet sitters in your area who are part of the group through their Pet Sitter Locator function. Pet Sitters International: Pet Sitters International is "a pioneer in the pet-sitting industry and a trusted educational resource for pet sitters and pet owners alike." You can search for a local pet sitter who is a member of their organization  at this link: https://www.petsit.com/locate.
Questions to Ask: 
Here are two fantastic must use resources whether you are choosing a pet sitter or a boarding kennel: Pet Sitter International Tips for Conducting a Professional Pet Sitter International Boarding & Pet Services association: Questions to ask a pet boarding or daycare facility. 

Tomorrow I will share my dog care binder and information on why it's important to keep dog care instruction handy should you have to leave your dogs with a pet sitter.

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Dog Care Options: Pet Sitter or Boarding?
Dog Care Options: Pet Sitter or Boarding?

Dog Care Options: Pet Sitter or Boarding?

by Lynn Stacy-Smith Dog Care Options: Pet Sitter or Boarding?If you are like me, the thought of leaving your dog in someone else's care is one of the things in life that can cause your anxiety level to soar to levels previously unknown. The list of people I trust to care for Jackson and Tinkerbell is extremely short and even some of my closest friends are not on it. So how do you decide your dog care options and whether a pet sitter or boarding is right for your dog? Fortunately I have found an amazing friend who I also hire professionally to watch my dog who graciously accepts my many post-it notes throughout the house, frequent check-ins, my dog care binder, and all of my other quirks as a dog owner. If you are blessed to have someone like this in your life to take care of your dogs, then you know what an incredible relief it is. Shower them with thanks and pay them well! Even if you rarely travel or if you take vacations with your dog, I strongly suggest having at least one trusted dog care option on-call in the event of an emergency. You never know when you will have to go out-of-town for a family emergency. In fact, in the almost six years since Jackson was born we had three incidents in which we had to leave town on a moment's notice for a family emergency. In honor of Professional Pet Sitter Week we will examine this topic in a series of blogs for both new and veteran dog owners.

Boarding Options

 There are many, many options for finding pet sitters and boarding facilities these days, with DogVacay, Rover.com, Care.com, Yelp and more. So how do you choose what is right for you? Vet Clinic Boarding: Many vet clinics offer boarding for non-medical stays, either in traditional dog runs or in crates in a designated area. Depending on the clinic, boarding is open to just clients or the general public. Traditional Dog Boarding: Traditional boarding kennels have indoor runs for each dog or bonded pair. Some are built with outside areas that your dog can access when their specific gate is open and others are entirely inside and dogs are walked to the outdoor area. Dogs are kept separate from each other throughout their stay and each get solo time outside for potty and play breaks. Doggie Daycare: Doggie daycare is a type of dog care facility in which the dogs are allowed to play together and interact with each other for either portions of the day or the entire day. Dogs are typically separated at night when they are not being watched by a staff of humans and sleep either in crates or traditional dog runs depending on the facility. Dog Care Options: Pet Sitter or Boarding? Pet sitter at your own home: Pet sitters come into your home to tend to your dog in his or her own environment. Some pet sitters are willing to live at your home while you are gone and sleep there overnight. Others make visits approximately every eight hours or more depending on your particular dog's needs. These visits include potty breaks, playtime, meals and fresh water. Pet sitting at the sitter's Home: Some pet sitters now offer dog care in their own home, so that your dog stays with the pet sitter and his or her own pets and family.

Kennel versus At Home?

With so many options for dog care,  how do you decide if you should board your dog in a traditional kennel versus letting them stay at home?  1. Are your dogs in crates/kennels at home? One of my main requirements for an at-home dog sitter is that they be available to stay at my home overnight and sleep here. This is primarily because my dogs are in large wire dog kennels when we are not home. While this is fine for as long as eight hours to ten hours for an average workday, running errands, going to a social event or everyday activity, there is no way I would want them in there for twenty-four hours at a time with just periodic potty breaks. 2. Is the space at the boarding kennel larger than their crates at home?When we board them, we book the "Luxury" kennels in large, which are about three times the size of their crates at home and can fit both of them together. So not only do they have plenty of room to move around, they can be together and snuggle and do a little bit of playing. I also pay for as many extra play sessions outside as I can, to give them extra time to run and stretch their legs. 3. What type of  security is there at the kennel versus at home? I will be the first one to admit that I am a bit on the neurotic side when it comes to the safety of my dogs, but security is something to consider no matter where your pet stays. Does the boarding kennel have a security system connected to the police department? What is their protocol in the event of fire or a break-in? What type of neighborhood are they in? If you choose a pet sitter who is not sleeping at your home, do you have neighbors nearby? Will your police department do vacation monitoring? Do you have a security service for your home like ADT with cameras and fire and flood monitoring? Do you have a doorbell like Ring that records all of the people who come to your door? Do you have a thermostat like Nest to monitor the temperature of your home remotely? Do you have neighbors to help keep an eye out on your house? 4. Does your dog have special needs? When we went on vacation, our senior dogs Babe, Dutch, and Maggie were perfectly fine and happy staying at home with a pet sitter who came to the house four times a day. All three dogs were seniors who got along great, slept about 90% of the day, and had the entire downstairs to roam. When Jackson came into our life and before we knew our current dog sitter, we decided to board him at the kennel to give him more room to move around than his crate would allow. He and Maggie stayed at our veterinary clinic in separate dog runs so that puppy Jax would not trample his elderly sister and re-injure her spine that had been operated on years before. When Tinkerbell joined the family,  she shared a run with Jax at the vet clinic. Once we found our dog sitter who would sleep over, we started leaving the dogs at home with her while she lives in our home while we are away. Different dogs with different needs and different situations. 5. Does your dog do well with other dogs? If your dog is used to playing with other dogs and generally gets along well with other dogs, a doggie daycare option will be fun and your dog might never want to come home. Well, not really, your dog will always choose you, but as long as they play nicely with others, a doggie daycare is like camp for your dog and they are generally worn out from playing and socializing by the time you get home from your trip. Of course your primary goal is to choose the safest, most comfortable option for your particular dog so that he or she is safe and happy upon your arrival home. You want your dog to be happy to see you and as happy and healthy as you left her with her caretaker when you arrive home.

 Tomorrow we will discuss how to find the pet sitter or boarding kennel that is right for you and your dogs at www.lovelaughwoof.com/blog.  

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Pet Theft Awareness How to Keep Your Dog Safe
Pet Theft Awareness: Seven Ways to Keep Your Dog Safe

Pet Theft Awareness: Seven Ways to Keep Your Dog Safe

By Lynn Stacy-Smith Pet Theft Awareness How to Keep Your Dog SafeLast summer I made a new friend for a horrible reason: six very young puppies were stolen from the whelping pen of a hobby breeder and I was one of many people helping these strangers share information via social media to help locate them. Located in the country, they had felt safe putting the momma and whelping pen in their climate controlled barn, not knowing that someone would find out they were there and steal them to try to resell them. A Facebook post advertising the stolen puppies for sale helped the police and breeder start to track down their location. Four of the stolen puppies were located in a box in a dumpster after someone gave a tip that they were there. Of those four, only one was alive; the others had died alone and terrified, away from their mother or their breeder, in a dirty and disgusting dumpster. The other two were found running along a beach in Chicago and were picked up by a good Samaritan and returned safely to their breeder. I was lucky enough to meet two of the surviving puppies and their breeder a few weeks after the incident, and felt incredibly lucky to get puppy kisses from these survivors of such a horrific act. February 14 was Pet Theft Awareness Day, a day originally created in 1988 to increase awareness of pet owners to the crime of pet theft. Here are seven things you can do as a pet owner to help prevent your dog from being stolen or lost. 1. Do not let your pet roam freely: I often think about growing up in an extremely rural area where our dog was allowed to go outside without us and without a fence. Right after that thought I get goosebumps imagining doing that today. That was another time and another place. Yes, we talk about surviving the 70s as human kids with our lack of booster seats, bicycle helmets and seat belts, but things are different and we know better now. Just like you would not transport your toddler without a car seat in 2017, do not let your dog roam freely without a fence. Period. I don't care if you own 1,000 acres, put up a fence to protect your dog. 2. Always go outside with your dog: One of our teenagers asked me a few years ago, "So, the dogs are not puppies any more, when are they going to be allowed in the yard on their own?" My response, "Um, NEVER!" A fence allows your dog to run and frolic and select a place to eliminate waste without a leash. It is not the dog equivalent of plopping your child in front of the TV so you can get stuff done. I will freely admit that when I first moved to our home I did let the dogs outside on their own without a human. One day as I pulled into the driveway after work, all three dogs ran to greet me, right out of the gate that one of the kids had left open while playing with friends. Another day our escape artist Dutch opened the gate on his own and took off down the street before I realized he was gone. My parents' late Beau and my former foster dog Destiny could both jump a regular fence from a standing position. Between dogs going over fences, digging under them, opening up gates on their own, kids or meter readers accidentally leaving gates open, and the risk of pet theft, there are simply too many risks of losing your dog or having them stolen, not to mention things that they can get into when left to their own decision-making. It's not hard to go outside with them each and every time, I've been doing it for six years. In fact, you can stay warm with my winter gear suggestions from last week if you live in cold climates.  3. Do not leave your dog in the car alone: Unless you are only going to places where you can take your dog, skip the car ride and leave them at home. For one thing, in most parts of the country it is simply too hot to leave them in the car for at least six months out of the year if not longer, but it is also extremely easy to break into your car and take your dog. Several years ago there was a tragic story in a nearby suburb in which a man  stopped at a business for a quick errand and left his elderly dog in his van. The van was stolen with the dog inside and the dog was never recovered. I love having my dogs with me every moment I can, too, but I would rather them be safe and sound at home. 4. Do not tie your dog out...anywhere: Last week we addressed the problem of chained dogs, but not in terms of your dog getting lost or stolen. I also do not recommend tying your dog anywhere, even to run into a store for a moment or two. If you are with your dog and your dog cannot go into a business, neither should you. It is far too easy to untie the leash or unclip their collar. There are some locking leashes on the market, but collars can be cut or slipped over a dog's head if someone is really motivated to steal your dog.  5. Utilize cameras and home security systems: There are now many products on the market to help secure your home through alarms and cameras, most of which have apps to send alerts to your phone. Some even allow you to listen to sounds in your yard and speak to people who come to your door even if you are thousands of miles away. 6. Research potential pet sitters & groomers: Hire reputable pet sitters and groomers that you know already, are suggested by trusted friends or other dog professionals, or through pet sitting or grooming companies with reliable reputations. 7. Microchip your dog: Microchips are a permanent way of identifying your dog, but they do rely on someone scanning them with a microchip scanner. It is also essential to keep your chip information current if you move or change your phone number. Microchips won't help in some instances of pet theft when the thieves have no intention of providing veterinary care, but they make it possible that if someone takes your dog to the vet or if your dog escapes or runs away from the thieves. The bottom line: any time your dog is out of your home, keep them on-leash and in your sight. It may seem dramatic to give such strong warnings, but the fact is that dogs are stolen on a regular basis, and this is not a fate you want for your best friend. [caption id="attachment_2789" align="aligncenter" width="200"] Don't miss another blog, sign up for the Love, Laugh, Woof email list![/caption]      
Winter Weather: Protecting Your Dog from Cold and Chemicals
Recently a video by the renowned holistic veterinarian Dr. Karen Becker went through social media channels promoting a method to help protect your dog's paws from the snowy, slushy sloppy mess that waits outside for many of us. If you watch her video here you will probably be just as plain old "grossed out" as I am by the chemicals and toxins in our snow, at least the snow that is getting dirtier by the minute by our roads and sidewalks. Of course those same chemicals and toxins, with the exception of the rock salt (which is replaced by lawn care chemicals in warm months), are on and near our roads and sidewalks all year round, we just don't see them. Being able to witness all of these potentially toxic things on our once pristine snow is enough to consider putting booties on our dogs' feet all year round...and perhaps a canine hazmat suit. Awhile ago I wrote about summer chemicals and how I wash all eight of my dogs' paws after each and every walk or excursion off of our property. This is not limited to summer; I do the post-walk paw wash all year round regardless of the weather. Paw pads may protect your dog from rough terrain, but they can still benefit from a good cleansing after walking through our chemical laden world, especially since it's highly likely that those paws are going to go right into your dog's mouth for their own thorough cleaning.
Here are the steps that I take after walks or once a day if the dogs stay on our own property: 1. Wash all paws in a foot soak using water with apple cider vinegar (1/2 cup vinegar per gallon of water) or an organic pet shampoo. Swoosh the paw through the water and use your fingers to massage the paws for a few second while in the soak. Rinse thoroughly in a second container of plain water and then dry well, including between the toe pads and webbing for breeds with webbed feet. 2. Wipe the entire dog from nose to tail with a damp cloth, including their legs, belly, nose and jowls. You can also use the same ratio of apple cider vinegar to water to soak the cloth or spray on them with a spray bottle, avoiding the eyes.
[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="295"] Kurgo Step & Strobe Dog Shoes[/caption] If your dog will tolerate them, booties are a great way to help protect your dog's paws from the cold and chemicals. There are disposable, biodegradable rubber options at PetFlow  but I love these well-engineered Step-N-Strobe Dog Shoes from Kurgo. After seeing Dr. Becker's video I came across a shop selling a very similar product and I promptly purchased a tin. I am excited to try it out before our next walk. Of course I will still wash their paws when we return home in a dual prong attack on the toxins of the world. You can purchase the Puppy Paw Protection Salve on Etsy here.  A side benefit of products like this made with all natural ingredients is that you can often use them on yourself, too, although I would save the running through the grass barefoot for six months from now when the sun is shining and the grass is not hidden under ice and snow. [caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="570"] Puppy Protection Paw Salve[/caption]  

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Winter Weather & Why We Teach Our Dogs “Hurry Up, Go Potty!”
[caption id="attachment_2593" align="alignright" width="269"] Temperature earlier this week! COLD!!!![/caption] Today was the first opportunity in days that I could actually play with the dogs outside. After several days of below zero lows and single digit highs, today the temperatures soared to around 28 above zero. And yes, I have to write "above zero" because we've had a handful of days that I can remember that were 28 below zero. In case you think you missed an announcement that we've moved to Antarctica or are working holiday jobs up at the North Pole, you did not. We are still here in suburban Illinois, where we see subzero temps in the winter and 90 and above for many days each summer. In fact it would be a great parody of a Miley Cyrus song...Chicago weather being "The Worst of Both Worlds." Of course neither extreme is good for dogs and so we retreat to the climate controlled indoors during times like this. In the summer the dogs don't have to be coaxed inside. When the heat soars above 90, my shiny black dogs want nothing to do with being out there soaking up the sun like I do. They are happiest sprawled on top of the central air vents and we play after the sun has gone to the other side of the house. However, like many Labradors, they see no issue being outside in the freezing cold until their paws start to burn with the cold and they start picking up their feet while trying to figure out what's wrong. Because of my unbreakable rule that I must always be outside with them at all times no matter what the weather or time of day, I am there to intervene before they get frostbite on their paws. Some days it is so cold that my husband and I have to help them plan ahead when it's time to go out. "Hurry up, go potty" one of us will tell them, looking them both in the eye before we open the door. "Got it? Hurry up, go potty!" After saying the words,  I open the door and both dogs leap off the deck and run to find a spot, first to pee, then to eliminate their bowels. "Hurry up, go potty! Good dog, go potty!" my husband or I will call to them. [caption id="attachment_2592" align="alignleft" width="289"] Hurry up, Jackson![/caption] About 90% of the time both dogs heed our words and run to find a place to poop. As soon as they are done we call them back to us, and it is usually about that time that they start to pick up their feet from the cold and head back to the house. When the ground is snow-covered and the temperature is below zero we get about a minute before they pick their paws up in confusion and pain. These moments are the reason we taught the phrase, "Hurry up, go potty" to them. It was something I had taught my late Babe, who I lived with in an apartment and had to leash walk 100% of the time, with the exception of visits to Grandma's to run and frolic in my Mom's fenced yard. It seemed natural to teach it to Jax and Tink while we were house breaking them, especially since it's so easy and I was outside with them anyway watching them do their bathroom business. Most of the time this command has come in handy it has been in times of inclement weather, like thunderstorms or very windy days when I do not want the dogs or myself outside because of flying objects. One time we were under a Tornado Watch when Jackson told me in no uncertain terms that he needed to go outside and by the way he held his tail I knew which type of business he needed to conduct. I gave him the "Good boy, go potty, hurry up!" talk and off he went, taking care of all of his bodily functions in less than a minute before running back to the house with me. So how do you get your dog to go to the bathroom almost on command? Just like anything you teach your dog, it's all about patience and consistency. We simply stayed nearby when our dogs pooped and said very calmly, "Good dog, go potty, hurry up, good dog, hurry up, go potty, good dog, go potty, hurry up" from the moment they assumed their position until they were done. Afterward we would add in a "Yessss, good dog, go potty, hurry up!!" with tons of excitement and praise. Even after they knew it, like now, we will reinforce their training by saying it when they are going even if we do not in fact need them to hurry up. It is important to remember that they are dogs and this is a bodily function, so they will not always go as fast as my dogs do when it's bitterly cold. They still need to sniff to find a spot and won't go if their bodies are not ready for them to go. You can often tell by their body language, the urgency of their request to go outside or even the way they hold their tail if they need to rid themselves of solids. At the end of the day, though, they are living breathing creatures and none of us can go on command if we don't need to.  Don't worry if your dog is already house trained or if you adopt a new rescued dog. Babe was two when I adopted her and she learned very quickly. All dogs are different and learn at different rates, so don't be frustrated if yours is not as fast of a learner; you're out there anyway with them, so you might as well keep working on it. You will be happy the day you give the command and they comply, getting both of you back inside the house faster.      
17 Spring Safety Tips To Prevent Lost Dogs
Now that spring is here (well, depending on the day of the week here in Chicagoland) I have watched as our neighborhood has started to come out of winter hibernation.  With so many adults and kids out and about again, it is a good time to have a refresher course with your dogs and your human kids on methods of making sure the dogs do not get out of fenced yards, screen doors or front doors that open and close constantly. In our neighborhood we are blessed that not only are we adults friends, but our kids are friends too, and they love to play outdoors all day and every day whenever the weather permits. I compare their movement throughout our connecting yards to a school of fish that suddenly darts to a new location without warning. Don't get me wrong, this is fantastic and certainly beats having them in their rooms playing video games, but it also creates some stress on my part because of the amount of time the doors and gates to the yard open and close. Here are my spring training suggestions to keep your dogs safe this season:

Screen doors:

  1. Latch your screen doors: We do this ever since the day we were at a graduation party and we watched one of the host's dogs jump up on the screen door to see something outside and accidentally press down the screen door handle. Without skipping a beat the dog and it's canine sibling were out the door and racing down the street with a roomful of humans racing outside to try to lure them back inside. Fortunately the dogs came back quickly and nothing bad happened. Our screen door has been latched ever since on nice days when we have the front door open.
  2. Check your screen doors for holes and weak spots: Give your screen doors a thorough examination to ensure that there are not places that a young dog (or one who loses all training and composure when someone is outside) could jump through.
  3. Consider replacing screen doors with special pet screen like Phifer Pet Screen or New York wire. Pet screen is considerably stronger and more resistant to nail scratches. We switched to this after my late German Shorthaired Pointer went through our screen door and it has survived two Labrador puppies since then.
[caption width="321" id="attachment_1164" align="alignright"]11707984104_c974bb71ff_m Sit/wait is a potentially life saving skill. photo credit: Miko & Luca via photopin (license)[/caption]

Fence gates:

  1. Teach your kids the importance of making sure the fence gates are closed each and every time they go through them and how your dog's safety depends upon them.
  2. Instill in your children the importance of shutting and checking the gates themselves rather than relying on their friends to do so, so that they let their friends in or out first before they go through.
  3. If you have multiple gates, lock all but one of them to reduce the chances of a gate being left open.
  4. Check each gate every time you let your dogs outside and accompany them outside.
  5. Teach the dogs to sit/wait if you take them through the gate.
  6. Lock gates or use a carabiner or other method of securing the gates to ensure that a dog does not accidentally open them by jumping up on them like Dutch once did.
  7. Keep your dog on leash with you or in their crates inside the house when having large groups or parties in your yard. 
 [caption width="270" align="alignleft"] A carabiner keeps the gate shut but not locked. [/caption] 

Front door:

  1. Train your dogs to sit/wait at the door whenever someone comes to the door or a visitor enters the house.
  2. Require your dogs to sit/wait any time you go in and out of the house with them.
  3. Use a leash when answering the door if you are uncertain about your dog's willingness to sit/wait with an open door.
  4. Teach your children the dog's rules of sitting and waiting before the door is opened.
  5. Instruct kids to step outside to talk to their friends or invite the friend inside (if you do not have a screen door) instead of holding the door open to talk to friends.
  6. Teach everyone in the family the art of body blocking the dog's access to the door in case they break their sit/wait. Body blocking means using your body to restrict the dog's movement.
  7. Depending on the design of your home and your dog's obedience abilities, consider blocking off your foyer or front hallway with pet gates to prevent your dog from lingering by the front door.
 
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Tornado Warnings and Dogs Preparing to Take Cover With Your Canine Best Friend
Tornado Warnings & Dogs: Preparing to Take Cover With Your Canine Best Friend

Tornado Warnings & Dogs: Preparing to Take Cover With Your Canine Best Friend

by Lynn Stacy-Smith Tornado Warnings and Dogs Preparing to Take Cover With Your Canine Best FriendRecently we enjoyed a warm 70 degree day and as I played ball outside with the dogs,  I noticed that our grass is getting nice and green and changing from its dismal dormant brown color. Of course the downside of such a warm spring day here in Illinois is that it sometimes means it is ushering in some wild weather and at least a tornado watch if not a tornado warning. Growing up in the mountains in northern New Jersey meant that I did not grow up with tornadoes. Although I obviously do not want to experience an actual tornado I have become much calmer over the years when a tornado siren sounds, but I still take every watch and warning quite seriously and have several tips to offer to dog owners on what to do when it's time to seek cover during a tornado watch or warning. 21lwzbrgfilHarness & Collar: Regardless of which you use for regular leash walking, I prefer a harness over a collar for emergency situations simply because it is harder for your dog to slip out of a harness. Trust me, I have experienced a terrified dog slipping her head out of a collar when I walked my late Labrador Retriever Babe too close to a marching band in a parade and after the drum section started up out of nowhere I suddenly found myself with an empty collar and a scared dog on the run. Fortunately I found her quickly and tragedy was averted, but during a tornado warning you do not want to recreate the iconic scene from The Wizard of Oz with a dog on the run and a funnel cloud coming toward you. Depending on the size of your dog you can go with something simple like a regular harness for walking, 71lowkipbbl-_sy800_or opt for something you can use if you need to lift or carry a large dog in an emergency like the Rock-n-Rescue dog harness that is made for Search and Rescue (SAR) work. If you have a very small dog you can invest in a carrier similar to what you would use to take your dog on a plane so that you can easily carry him with you. Dog Supplies:  Make sure you have a box of supplies with which you can entertain your dog in addition to a canine first aid kit, even if your basement is finished and somewhere that you and your dog frequently spend time. We have found ourselves hanging out in the basement for as long as an hour  during some storms and I recommend keeping the following on hand: The toys and treats will help distract your dog from her unusual surroundings, the sounds of the storm, the wail of the tornado siren and from your own nervous energy that you might be giving off without realizing it. Practicing basic training like sit, down, stay and other commands that your dog already knows is also a great way to distract them. Both Jackson and Tinkerbell spent time as very small puppies in our basement with me during tornado warnings and these things were invaluable for entertaining very young puppies when they really wanted to get into trouble in an area that had not been puppy proofed. Keeping an extra leash and harness for each dog in the house will ensure that you have them in the event that you find yourself in the basement without time to harness them before you seek cover. I firmly believe that dog owner can never have too many spare leashes stashed in various rooms in case of an emergency situation. Tornado Drills: Yes, I do tornado drills with my dogs. No, I am not crazy. Our canine tornado drills go like this: on the first Tuesday of every month our village tests the tornado sirens. As soon as they start to sound, I jump up and call the dogs to me and reward them with plenty of treats, praise, chin scratches and every good thing that I have at my disposal at that time. Depending where we are at the time, I put them in their harnesses, put their leashes on, and we go into the basement, where they receive more praise and treats. Sometimes we are out in the yard and they follow me to the house, and other times I simply have them sit and stay. [caption id="attachment_3238" align="alignright" width="300"] Work with your dog on an extremely reliable recall for emergencies.[/caption]   A few times I have forgotten that it was the first Tuesday of the month and I have been doing something else when the test sirens sounded. Both times I was thrilled that both dogs woke up from their naps and made eye contact with me, watching me for my next move or phrase. The whole point of this exercise is that I want them to make the association in their head that the sound of the tornado siren means that they look to me, make eye contact, and wait for my next command. If you are at work or away from the house when a tornado siren occurs, practice having your dog come to you during other loud situations or when you can catch the siren when the test happens during the weekend. You can also use this Tornado Warning Siren Sound Effect video from You Tube. In fact as I tested it to include in this blog, both Jackson and Tinkerbell went on alert and made eye contact before running over to me. Of course Tinkerbell, in true Tinkerbell style, jumped into my lap and showered me with kisses, but I consider that a happy little price to pay while doing research for this blog. This blog post contains affiliate links. If you click on these links and make a purchase I may receive a small commission from the merchant. This does not impact the retail price that you pay for these items. Affiliate links help bloggers promote their favorite products and receive a small commission from those recommendations.