Monday, February 1, 2016

Keep Your Dog (and Yourself) from Going Stir Crazy this Winter!

1. Practice Your Training
Frigid winter days are a great time to practice training with your pup. Getting your dog thinking can be just as tiring as a romp at the park. If your dog has mastered the basics, such as sit, down, stay, etc., you can chain them together so that your dog has to do more for his reward. Don’t get too crazy at first – start with two or three commands and build up. For example, try a puppy push-up – ask your dog to sit, lay down, and sit again for a treat. You can also try training your pup a few tricks!
2. Stuff a Kong
This is a good one for when your dog goes into his crate, or when you are leaving the house, and is probably the easiest one to do. Get a Kong, put some treats or kibble in it, seal it with peanut butter, and put it in the freezer until you need it. If you only have one dog, you can give it to her before you leave in the morning, and she can eat through the peanut butter to her breakfast! This is not a good idea if you have two dogs, no matter how well they share and get along when you are there. All bets are off with a high value treat like a peanut butter Kong!

3. Get or make some puzzle toys

Ranging from somewhat easy to difficult, you can find puzzle toys in just about any pet store. You can also make some really fun (and easy) toys if you are the DIY-type. Use your old t-shirts tomake a toy for your pup.

Perfect for strong chewers or tug-of-war fans.

Really easy treat dispenser you can make from a tennis ball.

This puzzle toy is great for rainy days or high energy dogs.

All you need is a water bottle, treats, and a sock.

4. Play “Find it”
Hide your dog’s favorite toys or bone around the house and tell them to “find it.” You might have to help them out at first and lead them to the toy/bone.

5. Play “Hide-n-Seek”

You can also play “hide-n-seek” with people – have one person hide and then have your dog find the person. This is also great practice for the command “come”. After the person hides, they tell the dog to “come” and then the dog gets to go find them! This is especially fun if you have a bigger house with lots of rooms or multiple levels.

6. Go to an indoor agility class

Check out places near you that offer dog training and see if they have an indoor agility class or open gym. Zoom Room is a franchise that has a few locations around the United States, but if one isn’t near you, look around for local trainers with facilities.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Common Behavioral Problems and How to Avoid Them

According to the National Council of Pet Population Study and Policy (NCPPSP), over 95 percent of pets surrendered to shelters have had little to no manners training. Many of the common behavior issues that attribute to the owner's decision to give up the pet are easily preventable. It's important to start training early and continue with consistency. The best thing to give a new pet is consistency and boundaries.

Not to worry! We know you want to love on your new pup and give them everything they could ever want! Love and affection is not mutually exclusive from boundaries. There is a proper time and place for each one, so before you snuggle your new pooch try politely but firmly telling them to sit. At the end of the day you both want the same thing anyway: to make one another happy. Here are 3 of the most common behavioral issues and ways that will help you communicate house rules to your new family addition and keep them in their furever homes!

1. Pottying where they shouldn't
Causes: Proper training methods not followed, separation anxiety, or medical issues

How to steer clear
Rule out urinary tract infection (UTI) or other bladder issues, then video record your dog when left alone to rule out accidents due to anxiety.
-Don't give your pet the chance to go in the wrong place! Cut off access to areas where the dog is having accidents. Close doors, leash dogs in the house and/or crate your pup in a correctly-sized space. Crates/pens should be big enough for the pet to turn around, but not too big that the dog can potty on one side and sleep on the other.
-Learn when your pet needs to "go" by logging accidents. Calculate how long the dog can hold it by using this formula: dog's age in months + 1. So, a 3 month old puppy should be able to hold it for 4 hours. Eating, drinking, just waking up, and being active are all things that will increase a dog's need to potty.
-Take the dog to the same spot every time and stand there for a few minutes. Be boring and non-engaging. When the pup has done its business, get excited! Give your dog lots of praise, treats, or go for a walk!

Breaking misconceptions
Rubbing a dog's nose in an accident is the worst correction for many reasons. First, the dog can't connect the accident to the punishment because of the time between the two. Secondly, because the dog doesn't understand the connection, they will only learn to fear you, and no one wants that!
-Use positive reinforcement instead!
-Don't use walks to get your pet to do their business, use them as rewards. Once they potty on your terms, then they can go for a walk!

2. Jumping and excessive excitement
Causes: lack of mental stimulation, boredom, failure to teach dog to settle and earn attention by being polite

How to steer clear
-Exercise, exercise, exercise! Use exercise time to remove excess energy.
-Teach your dog to be polite with tricks like "sit."
-Workout your pet's brain with pet puzzle toys!
-Have your pup do their tricks for non-edible rewards. It's a great habit to make your fur-riend "earn their keep" by doing simple and polite tricks, like sit. So before you let them outside, give them their food, or toss their favorite fetch toy, try asking your pup to sit first.

Breaking misconceptions
-The truth is, dogs love attention. Any attention is attention! Yelling "bad dog!" is even attention that a bored dog may be happy to receive. Attention can reinforce bad behavior, which we call negative reinforcement.
-The key to preventing bad behavior is management while training an alternative, more desired behavior.

3. Excessive barking
Causes: Dog's desire for attention, boredom, fear, anxiety, or instinct to alert owners

How to steer clear
-Socialization classes! Take your pup to socialization classes and groups regularly to help prevent anxiety and fear.
-Politely exclaim "thank you!" after just a few barks and reward with a treat, chew, or toy if the dog stops barking.
-Reward calm and quiet behavior with praise, treats, and playtime.
-Provide lots of positive stimulation, both physically and mentally so your pup doesn't get bored, Keep toys out of reach and rotate them so they are new and exciting.

With discipline from both you and your pet, you can succeed in cutting out these bad behaviors! 

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Safety Tips for Thanksgiving

‘Tis the season for friends, family and holiday feasts—but also for possible distress for our animal companions. Pets won’t be so thankful if they munch on undercooked turkey or a pet-unfriendly floral arrangement, or if they stumble upon an unattended alcoholic drink.

Check out the following tips from ASPCA experts for a fulfilling Thanksgiving that your pets can enjoy, too.

Talkin’ Turkey 
If you decide to feed your pet a little nibble of turkey, make sure it’s boneless and well-cooked. Don't offer her raw or undercooked turkey, which may contain salmonella bacteria.

Sage Advice 
Sage can make your Thanksgiving stuffing taste delicious, but it and many other herbs contain essential oils and resins that can cause gastrointestinal upset and central nervous system depression to pets if eaten in large quantities. Cats are especially sensitive to the effects of certain essential oils.

No Bread Dough 
Don't spoil your pet’s holiday by giving him raw bread dough. According to ASPCA experts, when raw bread dough is ingested, an animal's body heat causes the dough to rise in his stomach. As it expands, the pet may experience vomiting, severe abdominal pain and bloating, which could become a life-threatening emergency, requiring surgery.

Don't Let Them Eat Cake 
If you’re baking up Thanksgiving cakes, be sure your pets keep their noses out of the batter, especially if it includes raw eggs—they could contain salmonella bacteria that may lead to food poisoning.

Too Much of a Good Thing 
A few small boneless pieces of cooked turkey, a taste of mashed potato or even a lick of pumpkin pie shouldn’t pose a problem. However, don't allow your pets to overindulge, as they could wind up with a case of stomach upset, diarrhea or even worse—an inflammatory condition of the pancreas known as pancreatitis. In fact, it’s best keep pets on their regular diets during the holidays.

A Feast Fit for a Kong 
While the humans are chowing down, give your cat and dog their own little feast. Offer them Nylabones or made-for-pet chew bones. Or stuff their usual dinner—perhaps with a few added tidbits of turkey, vegetables (try sweet potato or green beans) and dribbles of gravy—inside a Kong toy. They’ll be happily occupied for awhile, working hard to extract their dinner from the toy.

7 Signs of Pain in Dogs

When it comes to dogs, pain can be hard to detect. For dog's wolf ancestors, showing signs of weakness made a wold vulnerable, which resulted in danger. Because of this heritage, it is in a dog's nature not to purposefully reveal when it feels pain, sick, or is injured. It's important for dog owners to be aware of these seven signs that signify their pooch is in pain.

1. Gait
A gait is a change in the way your dog walks, like limping, hobbling, or favoring a leg over another. 

2. Energy
If your dog is more lethargic than usual it may mean she or he is feeling a little under the weather.

3. Appetite 
Disinterest in food is a clear indication of ailment.

4. Eyes
Those puppy dog eyes we all love so much can do more than just get a few treats out of the owner. Bloodshot and dilated or constricted pupils can be a sign that something is awry. A dog in pain also tends to squint frequently.

5. Demeanor 
If your sweet pooch has turned from lover into Cujo all of a sudden, it may be an indication that she or he is hurting. 

6. Breath
Shallow, fast breaths or excessive panting for no discernible reason could be a sign that your dog isn't feeling well.

7. Posture
If a dog is hunching over, fidgety, or particularly rigid it may mean they are injured or sick.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Keep Your Pets Safe this Labor Day

Keep Your Pets Safe this Labor Day

Labor Day; it's the last big hurrah of the summer. Everyone will be packing their cars and dashing to the lakes and firing up their grills. Like any other big holiday, we're here to give you a few friendly tips to keep your pet safe for the long weekend ahead.

Beware of Table Scraps and Other Food Dangers
If your dog is a stealth master at swiping food off the table, or has food sensitivities, it's best to warn your guests and politely ask them not to feed your pup anything without your permission. If kids are around keep an eye on any food that they may drop. You'll also want to be aware of the trash, get a trash bin with a lid, or put the trash in an area the dog can't get to. Leftover fat from meat, juice-soaked strings from roasts, bones, and even corn cobs can result in a trip to the veterinary hospital E.R.

Food isn't the only thing to worry about! If you intend on hosting weekend guests, ensure that any medications they bring are kept out of reach of your pets. Keeping bags and purses away from pets is also a good idea to prevent your pets from rummaging for tasty candies that may be packed with Xylitol (which is toxic to pets). Also, while preparing your yard for a big shindig be aware that all herbicides or pesticides are stored safely in a place that pets (and children!) can't get them.

Beat the Heat
Because it's the last big summer party, you will likely spend as much time as possible outdoors this weekend! If your pet is spending that time with you be sure to keep them cool. Never leave your dog in a hot car, even if you just need to "run into the store for just a second." Leaving a dog in a car during warm days can still be a fatal mistake. Elderly dogs and short-snout dogs, such as Shar Peis and Pugs, have difficulty breathing in hot weather. Be sure to watch for signs of overheating, such as rapid panting and glazed eyes. If you notice your dog might be overheating, apply cool water (not ice cold water, as it can lock in body heat) to the belly and groin and take them to a vet immediately.

 Prevent Escape
Labor Day is no Fourth of July, but fireworks are still something to keep in mind. Guests, especially children, may not be as diligent about closing gates or doors as you are. When you're busy entertaining guests it is easy to overlook that your pet may have gotten out, so check on them often. Be sure your pet is wearing their collar with clear identification tags and have them microchipped.

When in Doubt, Call Pampered Pets!
Another great solution to keeping your pet safe is lodging them with us! Our facilities are closed to the public on Labor Day, but we still have staff with the dogs from 6:45am to 7pm every day! Hurry, because we fill up FAST on holiday weekends.
Fort Wayne: 260.489.7387
Napoleon: 419.592.7387

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Teaching Old Dogs New Tricks

Teaching Old Dogs New Tricks

Dogs are our best friends. They provide us with endless compassion, a cuddle buddy on cold nights, and endless hours of joy and entertainment. Even when you've had a hard day, coming home to an excited dog will brighten your day and your problems seem to melt away.

Dogs and humans have been companions for centuries, and because of this dogs are eager to please their human counterparts (and we'd be lying if we didn't say that humans love to please their pets!). To keep your dog safe, happy, and mentally stimulated, it is crucial to teach her basic obedience such at sit, stay, down, and heel.

You can add to this stimulation and strengthen your bond with your best fur-iend by adding in trick training. Trick training is a great way to add enrichment to both your life and your dog's. The feeling of success and the proud moment of successfully learning the trick together is a feeling like no other!

Before you get started, choose what type of reward you know will work best for your dog. Some dogs thrive from a simple praise and lots of petting. Other dogs are very food driven and will do anything for a treat! If you choose to use treats, pick a very special treat that your dog absolutely loves and use it only for training. You should also cut it up into very small pieces to prevent high caloric intake. Another option is using a clicker.

Clickers are a great way to mark the good behavior at the exact moment is performed. If you ask the dog to sit, the clicker is "clicked" the moment the dog's bottom touches the floor, and the reward comes after the click. This lets the dog know exactly what you wanted. Clickers are inexpensive and available at almost all pet stores. To train your dog with a clicker you must first "load" the clicker. All you have to do is click and give them a reward! Repeat doing this to train your dog that a "click" means a reward is coming! Once you've done this a few times, you can begin adding commands and using a clicker to mark the good behavior.

1. High Five

Teaching your dog to high five is very easy and a great trick to amuse friends and especially children.

Start by giving your dog the "sit" command and reward her. Rewards can be praises, using a clicker, or giving her a treat. Just remember to be consistent with your rewards so your dog understands when they have completed what you want of them.

Next, hold your hand out just beyond your dog's reach. With your other hand, tap one of your dog's front paws and say the command "high five." This will get your dog to raise it's foot. As the dog raises its foot, use your outreached hand to gently tap the paw pad (like a high five). Give the dog lots of praise and the reward the exact moment your hand makes contact with the paw.

Keep repeating these steps until your dog automatically raises her foot every time you give the command. If your dog is hesitant to lift her foot, gently tap the inside of her knee until she bends her leg. Once her paw is off the ground, softly tickle to bottom of her foot to encourage her to raise it more. Continue to repeat "high five" slowly and firmly.

Your dog may eventually learn to perform this trick without a verbal command, if it is practice often enough. Simply give your dog the "sit" command and then raise your hand in front of her. Most times, this will be enough to get her to high five you!

2.Wave Hello & Good-Bye

Waving is a great trick to teach after your dog has learned to high five!

Ask your dog to "wave" while holding out your hand. Once your dog raises it's paw, move your hand slightly higher so that she must raise her paw higher. Do not allow her paw to make contact with your hand. Reward her when she raises her paw higher. Repeat these steps, raising your hand a little higher each time until your pup is raising her paw above her head.

If your dog still needs help understanding this command, first ask her to "shake" and when she reaches for your hand ask her to "wave." Do this multiple times until you can removed the "shake" command.

Once your dog understands wave, you can perfect by only rewarding only the best of her waves.

3. Peek-a-Boo

Peek-a-Boo is yet another great (and absolutely adorable) trick you can teach your dog using "high five" or "wave" as the building blocks. 

There are two ways to teach your dog this trick. If you have already taught your dog to give her paw on command then begin by asking her to sit in front of you and ask for her paw (you can use "high five" or "wave" or simply hold out your hand).

Once she offers you her paw, gently grasp it and raise it over her eyes. Gently and firmly say "Peek-a-Boo" and reward her immediately. Continue this process until your dog is a professional at "Peek-a-Boo!"

Another way to teach this trick is by using a small piece of scotch tape. Ask your dog to sit in front of you and then place a small piece of tape or post-it note on the tip of her nose. Do not use any tape like duck tape, as this will be hard to remove and likely hurt your dog. Scotch tape, post-it notes, and painter's tape are all great options that are easy to remove without harming your dog. 

Give the command "Peek-a-Boo." Your dog will lift her paw to wipe the tape from her nose. Once her paw and nose connect, reward her. Next, try gently tapping her nose to get her to raise her paw while repeating the command "Peek-a-Boo."

4. Roll Over

This trick requires your dog to know how to lie down on command. Roll over is a more challenging trick to teach, but has a very rewarding pay off!

Begin by asking your to lie down. Using a treat or toy, lure your dog to roll onto her side while saying "Roll Over." Once she does, reward her! While still on her side, continue to say "Roll Over" and use the lure to get her to roll on her back. This may be more challenging for some dogs. Reward her again for rolling onto her back. Again, use the lure and command to to have your dog roll onto the opposite hip she started on and reward her once more. Once your dog has learned the steps, try putting them together.

Because this is a challenge for many dogs, the pay off for them must be significant. Continue to use the lure to try to get your dog to do a complete roll over. Once she completes a full one with the lure you will want to make a big deal out of it! Give her lots of praise and a few extra treats. Use the lure until she becomes faster and more fluid and performing the trick more readily. Again, you can select for the best "Roll Overs" by only rewarding the ones that your dog best executes.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Traveling and Camping with your Dog

Traveling and Camping with your Dog

The summer months are here, and that means its time for traveling and hitting the trails! Spending time outdoors with your dog offers an unrivaled bonding experience. Safety should always be your number one priority while taking your dog out into the wilderness. Here are some helpful tips to help ensure you and your dog have the best outdoor experience possible.

Development at Early Ages
     Exercise is the best gift you can give to your pet, but you have to start slowly. Too much distance or exertion can cause damage to muscles and joints. A good rule to follow is 5 minutes of outdoor play for each month of age, twice a day. For example, if you pup is 4 months, exercise him for 20 minutes twice a day. This could be playing fetch, frisbee, running, or a brisk walk. Whatever you and your pet love doing together!
     If you decide to take your young dog on a hike, listen to him. Your dog will let you know when the walk is just too much for them. 
     While dog back packs are cute, they aren't a good idea for young dogs. Wait until your pet is fully grown before you strap gear to them. Be aware of your dogs limits and don't pack the bag too heavy.

     The most important training you can teach your dog is recall; that is, calling your dog to return to you if they happen to get out or off-lead, regardless of tempting distractions. Work with him at a secure dog park. A dog whistle is a useful tool in this exercise, but not always necessary. Speak loudly in a low voice when calling your pet. Don't yell. You also never want to call your dog over to reprimand or punish your pet. This only teaches him that coming to you means punishment, and they will likely avoid you when called!
     Another important command to teach before taking your dog camping is "Leave It." This command is used to stop the pet from what they're doing. Dogs are very inquisitive and sometimes that can get them to trouble. If your pet gets excited when he sees a squirrel or raccoon, firmly saying "leave it" will encourage your dog to leave the animal be. This keeps your dog safe! 
     "Stay" is yet another very important command to utilize while camping. Asking your dog to stay in the car until invited out prevents him from jumping out and running near high traffic areas.

Bring along a collapsible or light weight water bowl and a water bottle for your dog. When packing water, pack separate bottles for you and your dog to ensure you both get enough to drink. Dogs do not have the ability to sweat, so drinking water is a key component to keeping cool. Anytime you take a break, offer you dog water (and drink some yourself!).

Carrying your gear as well as your dog's supplies may add up quickly and take a toll on your back. Putting your pup's food, water, and lightweight bowls could really help you out. Dogs can safely carry up to 25 percent of their body weight. Many pet stores carry a few varieties of dog backpacks; buying in-store offers the chance to properly size your pet for a comfortable fit. When packing the backpack, put the majority of the weight (usually water) low and forward, over the dog's shoulders. 

You always need to know where your dog is and allow others to see him too. Flashing red lights that hang from the collar is a great way to do that. Red is a less intrusive color that won't hurt or bother your dog's eyes while wearing it (unlike harsh white lights).

Never ever ever leave your dog unattended while tethered! While at camp, day or night, tethering is a good way to keep your dog wandering away. A braided steel cable sheathed in plastic is the best because the dog won't be able to bite through it. 

First Aid
Get a first aid kit! Many dog first aid kits are similar to humans -- stop bleeding and prevent infection -- but it gets complicated with medications. You can buy pre-made dog first aid kids to supplement your human one.

Other Animals
Fleas and Ticks
You should always keep your pet up-to-date on flea and tick medications! Ask your vet about the best options for your pet. 

Be sure to familiarize yourself with native wildlife before you travel. Be aware if you are traveling to an area with large carnivores such as cougars and bears. More risks are associated with small dogs, such as coyotes and large birds. Make sure you have a strong recall and don't ever leave your pet unattended. 

If you are traveling to an area with venomous snakes, you may consider getting a rattlesnake vaccine for your dog. Training your dog to avoid snakes is also a great way to prevent injury. A strong "leave it" is also a strong tool for snake avoidance.

     Heat exhaustion and hypothermia are life threatening for both humans and dogs alike. In the summer, it's a good idea to plan your hikes near water. This allows your dog to stop for drinks and splash in the water to prevent over heating. Don't shave your dog. His fur acts like a radiator just as much as an insulator, helping him repel some heat and stay protected from sunburn and abrasions. Signs of overheating include coughing, laying down in the shade, excessive panting, and lethargy. Give your dog frequent breaks and water.
     During colder days, nights, or in cold climates keep your dog warm with a pet coat. Watch for signs of hypothermia such as limping, shivering, and walking with a hunch. If any of these symptoms occur, get your pet to warmth immediately.