Monday, July 18, 2011

Keeping Kids and Pets Safe with Each Other

© Colleen Paige

Never allow an unattended baby or young child to be around your, or anyone else’s, dogs or cats if they're aggressive, territorial, or dominant. Children innocently pull on ears and tails, pick up dog toys, and approach eating and sleeping pets without caution. Most attacks on children are committed by pets that are otherwise gentle and non-aggressive. However, when they are eating, sleeping, or in pain, they can lash out and, within seconds, cause permanent and sometimes fatal injuries. A jealous, dominant dog may wait until he is alone with the child to show her that he’s the pack leader. His attempt to scare the child can result in major injury or death.

If properly taught by a parent, a child as young as 8 can establish a respect-based relationship with his dog. Still, because there is so much room for error when children are involved, a parent must always be present. At some point, every dog, regardless of breed or age, will try to challenge its owner. This is normal for dogs, and occurs during canine adolescence, between seven and fourteen months of age.

     Child Safety Tips
  • Never leave children unsupervised around dogs.
  • Teach your children to ask a dog owner if it’s OK to pet the dog.
  • Teach your children to pet a dog under their chin and not by reaching over his back or head.
  • When children are young, guide their hands, showing them where to pet a dog, cat, horse, bunny
    or any other pet, so they learn to touch gently.
  • Teach them never to run at a pet or pull its tail or ears.
  • Remind them that animals hurt too, and to be careful when they are playing near a pet.

    Bringing Home Baby
  • Bringing home a new baby means having less time for your pet than you did before. Cats are very independent and generally tolerate newborns well, but a dog may feel jealous and territorial, not realizing that the baby is a human pack member. Make the changes to the dog's routine slowly, before the baby is born. Have the dog spend some time around children (supervised, of course), so he gets used to them and you can see if he appears to like them. Most people know the spots on their dog’s body that might be sensitive to pinching from little fingers. Practice handling your dog in the way a child might, such as gently pulling on ears, tail, or paws, and reward the dog if he sits nicely without a negative reaction. You might also teach him how to gently accept food from a hand.
  • You can help your dog acclimate to his new human sibling by bringing home a blanket with the baby's smell on it prior to the baby’s homecoming. To prevent feelings of anger and resentment toward the new baby, show your dog twice as much attention and offer special treats to him when the baby is around. This helps create a positive association with the baby. Taking your dog on special outings that do not involve the baby but are only about the dog having fun helps to keep that dog-human bond and quell Spot's possible feelings of rejection. Take time to play with your cat, especially if you used to - to avoid feline frustration and boredom.
  • Until you can gauge your dogs’ temperament toward the new baby, make sure that your dog is leashed and held by Dad during the greeting process. This helps control him without too much fuss, especially if he acts strangely and wants to get too close a look. I also suggest placing a tall baby gate at the entrance of the nursery, to prevent your pets from visiting the baby while unattended.
If you notice that your dog or cat seems uninterested or even upset about the baby, don’t fret. It can take some time for them to bond with this new member of the pack. Keep giving your pets plenty of attention and special one on one time with you, and they'll be ready to play big brother or sister in no time flat!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Keeping Dogs Cool in the Heat, summer tips for dogs

Summer is a fun time of year for humans and dogs alike. Many dogs (and people) love to play outdoors despite the heat. Some homes do not have air-conditioning, so alternative cooling methods must be used. If your dog does not wish to stay indoors with the air-conditioner, or if you do not have air-conditioning, there are still plenty of ways to keep your dog cool as temperatures rise.
Remember that dogs cannot cool themselves by sweating like humans. They might sweat a small amount through their pads, but the main way a dog cools off is by panting. Unfortunately, panting is not enough when it is extremely hot and humid.
Summer safety is no joke, and it's up to you to make sure your dog stays cool and comfortable. Here are some ways to help your dog cool off in the heat of summer.
Fresh, Cool Water
It is essential that you keep fresh, cool water available to your dog at all times. In hot weather, this is even more crucial. Make sure you keep the water dish in a shady location and change the water frequently. To constantly keep fresh water available outdoors, consider installing a watering system that hooks up to a faucet. These systems are designed to provide water as needed and are usually triggered by motion or a specific action.
Shelter from the Sun
Your dog might enjoy a little sunbathing, but she ultimately needs a cool, shady spot to relax. Prolonged sun exposure not only leads to heat exhaustion, it can also cause sunburn. Yes, dogs can get sunburned too. While sunscreen is available for dogs, it is not ideal. The best thing is to offer shelter. Shade from trees is nice, but not perfect. An actual structure is better. Consider getting an insulated dog house, but make sure it is large and well-ventilated. Alternatively, you might put up an open-air tent or canopy. The addition of a fan will help further cool things down. If possible, put the shelter in a shady area to keep it extra-cool. Of course, the most ideal shelter is in your home. If possible, install a doggie door to allow indoor access.
Pools for Cooling
If your dog loves water, then a large tub or kiddie pool (molded plastic, not inflatable) might be a great addition to your yard. You can find tubs or pools at most home stores. Many dogs enjoy playing and lounging in the cool water. Just make sure you supervise your dog at all times. Also, keep the pool in a shady spot and change the water frequently. Do not leave the pool full when not in use, as it may attract mosquitos.Instead of a pool, you might also try running a sprinkler to see if your dog likes it. however, most dogs prefer a pool to a sprinkler.
Cooling Dog Beds
As mentioned before, your dog needs a cool, shady place to relax. While a dog bed is nice and soft, it might also be too warm. this is why many people notice their dogs prefer to lie on tile or concrete floors when it's hot out. However, a cooling dog bed can offer the comfort and softness of a typical dog bed with the coolness your dog craves. Cooling dog beds often use a gel-like material or simply water to keep the bed feeling cool. These beds are especially great for senior dogs as an alternative for hard floors.
More Cool Gear for Hot Dogs
There are several other products out there designed to cool off your dog. Some work better than others, and often it just depends on the dog. If you decide to try out one of these products, just remember that nothing can substitute fresh water and shade. No dog should go for long without plenty of both.
Remember that dogs cool themselves primarily by panting, so cooler air is the best way to prevent and relieve overheating. No matter what you do to keep your dog cool, the best thing you can do is to keep a close eye on her. When in doubt, get her to a cooler area. Be sure to contact your vet immediately if you notice signs of heat stroke.

Information from:
Jenna Stregowski, RVT, Guide

Monday, July 11, 2011

Games to Play with Your Dog

Too few people spend the proper amount of time playing
with their dogs each day. The simple act of engaging your
dog in simple play can have a number of wide reaching
benefits. To start with, it is relaxing for you as a dog

   Secondly, it is incredibly useful for your dog,
especially if they have tendencies toward anxiety and
boredom. Dogs are not like people. They are not hard to
keep busy. If you give them something to think about and
keep them busy, they will take it and ideally it will
reduce that excess energy.

   Something as simple as playing fetch or having your dog
search for hidden treats can be extremely exhausting for
them. It requires a significant investment of mental
energy - such that they will not run out of energy anytime

   Finding the Right Games

   There are plenty of games you can play to keep your dog
busy and help the two of your bond. Here are a few of the
most popular - and effective - ways of doing just that.

   * Hide and Seek - This is an easy trick and it works
well. Just hide from your dog and call them to you. When
he finds you, get very excited to show that they did it
just right. You can make it harder over time by hiding in
smaller, more hidden spots.

   * Treasure Hunt - This is a great way to work a dog's
brain, and there are even toys that can help with this. To
do it, hide treats in various places around your home, or
in the toys themselves. Then have your dog go to the treat
and find it.

   * Trick Response - A simple round of "Simon Says" will
have your dog working to complete the tricks you have
taught him in the past. Make sure to teach the dog the
exact commands you'll use and always praise them for
completing each one, preferably with a treat.

   * Fetch and Catch - Fetch is a great activity and some
dogs will try to make you play constantly. The goal here
is to control the fetch session and make sure the dog
knows when to stop. You can hide the toy on a shelf or
have a command to stop playing.

   * Wrestling - Wrestling is good for larger dogs, as
long as they are good at staying gentle. Set boundaries
and if your dog nips or gets too agitated, make sure to
stop playing to avoid any unwanted behaviour.

   * Tug of War - To play tug of war, make sure you get
something that is only for tug of war. Be sure to teach
your dog how to "drop it" as well. You need to control the
activity to avoid any aggressive responses during the

   Dogs play Tug of War in the wild though, and even if
they don't do it right away, they will almost always join
in eventually.

   Playing games with your dog should be a standard part
of the daily routine you use to wear them out. A walk is
equally important, but play time is a great way to bond
with your dog as well, and can help you train them to
respond in important situations.

   The key is to have fun, not encourage negative
behaviours and to be consistent. Make sure you share the
rules of play with everyone in the house so everyone knows
what they are and are not allowed to do in these games.

   If you play it right, however, you and your dog will
have a very good time each time you start your play
sessions and you'll reap the benefits of a worn out pup.