tips and advice

Blog, Dogs, Safety and Health

Summer Safety Tips for Dogs!


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Wuf’s favorite dog trainer, Melissa Anderson Knox, shares some important safety considerations for pets now that summer is well under way in Dallas.

Food and Fireworks

Time to grill! If you won’t eat it, your dog probably shouldn’t either. Fatty scraps, leftovers and bones should be disposed of properly. Additional patio pitfalls include alcohol, bug sprays, fertilizers, charcoal, lighter fluid. Keep these and other hazardous items away from your pets.

Forego the fear factor – this time each year shelters are inundated with dogs (and cats) that run away due to fireworks. For tips on keeping your pets safe during the Fourth of July (and other holidays), visit http://apdt.com/pet-owners/safety/holidays/.

Chasin’ Sticks on Route 66

Travelling with your dog can be lots of fun, but planning is critical for a successful trip. Some dogs might prefer to stay at home with a sitter or spend time at canine camp. Not all places accept pets so knowing where to go and if there is a fee, size restriction, etc. will save time and frustration. Some states, national parks, etc. require up-to-date shot records. In the case of severe weather, make sure your emergency plan includes provisions for your pet. Proper ID and a registered microchip can help reunite you with your dog if you get separated.

WOOF, it’s HOT outside

Overheating is the primary concern during the summer, and heatstroke (hyperthermia) can occur when a dog’s temperature reaches 104°F or above. Heatstroke can be fatal and dogs are particularly vulnerable, but heatstroke is preventable if caught and treated in time.

Symptoms of heatstroke can include uncontrollable panting, foaming at the mouth, rapid heart rate, vomiting, and lethargy or uncoordinated movements. Never leave your dog in the car even in slightly warm weather or for short periods of time. If you’re going somewhere and you can’t take your dog inside with you, it’s probably best to leave FiFi or Fido at home.

Causes of heatstroke can include confined space, no ventilation, no water, high humidity, no shade, stress, age (the very young and the elderly) and physical conditioning (heart/lung problems, obesity, poor grooming, short muzzles [(bulldogs, pugs, Pekingese, Boston terriers)].

Schedule walks or outdoor play in the early mornings or evening. When outdoors, alternate play with periods of rest and make sure to include access to cool water at all times.  As a rule, dogs should not be outside unsupervised for any extended period of time, regardless of the weather.

If your dog is overheating, cool him off slowly. Rapid changes in body temperature can cause shock (which can also be fatal). Suggestions for cooling off outside include ice cubes in water bowls, “pupsicles,” shallow “kiddy” pools (small dogs or puppies must be supervised and water needs to be changed regularly), or a shady spot with circulating airflow. A wet towel over the back or under the legs can help as well. Air conditioned spaces and tiled floors provide cooling indoor options.

Don’t forget! Hot pavement can burn paw pads; if it’s too hot for your hand, it’s too hot for your dog’s feet. Walk your dog where there’s grass or wait until its cooler (morning or evening hours when the sun goes down are best).

Shortening long hair can help keep your dog cool, but shaving your dog might cause more problems. Regular grooming will remove loose fur that can contribute to overheating. The layers of a pet’s coat can help protect him from sunburn. Dogs with short coats, lighter colored hair, and lighter skin are more prone to sunburn. Consider pet-safe sunscreen for ears and nose. Before using any sunscreen product, talk to your vet!

Itchy Allergies and Pesky Pests

Bug bites and grass allergies are well-known irritants that cause itchiness and hot spots, and the summer heat can make things worse for your dog. If your dog is itchy, has bare/bald spots, flaky/scaly skin or has sores that won’t heal, schedule a visit with the vet.

Keeping your dog up-to-date on preventatives is crucial since flying insects, worms, ticks and fleas can be more of a problem during the summertime months. Some dogs can have an allergic reaction to flea bites – one bite can cause extreme scratching. Be sure you know how to check for ticks and remove them safely.

Stayin’ Cool by the Pool

Never leave your dog unattended near a pool or other open bodies of water. Make sure your dog can swim before taking him on a boat; consider a canine life jacket for extra protection. Some dogs can swim for extended distances but become too tired to return; a brightly colored canine life vest will help spot him in the water. . Even strong swimmers can have accidents.

Salt water is especially harmful and can cause vomiting, dehydration, and diarrhea. Bring extra water and a travel bowl anytime you’re away from home with your dog. Pond water, puddles, rivers, lakes and streams can all contain toxins and parasites. Tap water or bottled water is best.

Important Notice

A summertime hazard making news is WATER INTOXICATION. From the article, “Water intoxication, resulting in hyponatremia, is a relatively rare but potentially fatal condition that is most commonly seen in dogs that love to play in the water. “

Click here for the whole article and to read more about what to look out for: http://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2013/10/28/water-intoxification.aspx

 

Blog, Training and Behavior Tips

Ask the Trainer: Winter Activities for Dogs


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6745761375_e3ebd1e071The thermometer has fallen and the snow is drifting in the yard. The roads have iced over. Fido and Fluffy stare out the window, pleading for you to make the weather turn warm again.
No matter the conditions outside, your indoor dogs need exercise every day to help them stay healthy and fit. Here are some easy and fun ideas to help battle the winter woes when it just too darn cold to play outside.

Play Fetch

Locate a good space to play fetch and clear the path of all obstacles. Consider a carpeted area if your dog is elderly, has a physical ailment, or if your dog has long nails. Sliding on a slippery floor can be painful or startling if your pup can’t get a good grip.
Snatch up your pup’s favorite toy and get his attention. Toss it down the hallway or across the room and encourage him to go get it. Once he reaches the toy, call your dog back to you and repeat. If your dog has not learned to fetch (retrieve), have a second (but equally exciting) toy ready to toss when your pups returns to you. Toss the second toy when he drops the first. Playing fetch several times a day can be a great way to blow off steam for you and your dog!

Hide-and-Seek (Three Options)

1. Hide several high-value treats in the living room where you know your dog can find them. Encourage him with “FIND IT!” as he searches. Once he gets the game, hide the treat in more challenging locations such as in between couch cushions, under the corner of a rug, under a table, etc.
2. For dogs that are toy driven, follow the same protocol as the treats. Bury the toy in the pillows or under an old towel. I like burying a toy in a laundry basket full of old towels.
3. Hide yourself! I like hiding in the shower or behind a door. Let your dog find you and refrain from jumping out or startling your dog. When you are ready to advance, try hiding under a blanket. You are the reward; I dare to try to keep from giggling and giving yourself away!

Take Brief Walks or Play Outside

As long as you and your dog are safe and prepared for the winter weather at hand, several short but quick and intense walks or play sessions outside can be a good idea. Not all dogs are acclimated to cold temperatures (think Husky versus Greyhound) so ensure your dog is comfortable when you venture outside. Avoid wet weather. Short but energetic and active sessions are best.

Brain Games

Puzzle games, Kongs, and treat balls can all help alleviate boredom and keep your dog entertained and there many on the market to choose from. You can even use them to feed your dog his breakfast! If using treats, be mindful of what kind and how much, since it’s easy to add extra calories, salt, and sugar to your pup’s diet.
Photo by spaceamoeba on Flickr.
Blog, Training and Behavior Tips

Ask the Trainer: Can you teach an old dog new tricks?


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teach an old dog new tricksThe answer is YES!

Here are some key considerations that will set up you (and your pooch) for success.

1. Identify what your dog likes to do: Dogs’ personalities don’t change much after puppyhood. Often, fearful or anxious dogs may remain that way. However most dogs, when you realize what motivates them, are eager to learn at any age.

2. Keep it simple: Teach one word commands. Polish up the standard behaviors your dog most likely learned as a youngster; sit, down, go to your bed, etc. Even though your dog may know these, reward your dog when that behavior occurs naturally. For example, give your dog a high value food treat for sitting, lying down, go to your bed, shake, etc. The frequency of his performing the behavior will increase if the reward is appreciated.

3. Build on what they already know: If your dog knows fetch, for example, the fundamental behavior is a retrieve (identifying a target and bringing it to you). This can be trained into the trick of “cleaning your room” – picking up toys or other things and putting them into a basket.

4. Consider your dog’s physical capabilities: Many older dogs may suffer from physical ailments such as arthritis, stiffness, etc. If your dog has a tough time getting up and down, jumping, etc. then determine what other tricks (behaviors) can be taught while keeping your dog comfortable. If your dog is slightly deaf, you may have to speak louder.

5. Make it fun: The very act of spending time with the dog, plus the sense of accomplishment and understanding that teaching and learning brings, is well worth the effort and improves the quality of both the pet parent and pet’s life. Punishment based techniques are unacceptable, especially for older dogs. Teaching your old dog new tricks can keep him focused and mentally active for a long time. This philosophy can be applied to the human and the dog. Enjoy your time together and make it fun!