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. 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Parker's Pointers: Summer Grooming Tips

Grooming pets in the summer can help reduce the heat and make your pet a little more comfortable. Before you grab those clipper it's important to remember that pets have their own natural cooling systems and may not need as much grooming as you think.

Grooming Dogs: Summer Cuts

We know excess shedding hair can be pretty frustrating and it may tempt you to break out the clippers and shave your dog down. DON'T DO IT! Dogs use their coats as natural weather control and do not benefit from being completely shaved down. In fact, this can be uncomfortable and lead to skin problems because your dog's skin isn't meant to be exposed to that level of sun light.
Instead, be more diligent about brushing or combing your dog to remove thick winter undercoat. This will also prevent excess shedding and remove objects that may find their way into your dog's coat while playing outdoors.

Grooming Dogs: Summer Baths

Consider bathing your dog more during the summer months to ensure their coat stays as sleek and well-groomed as possible. Brush your dog before the bath to remove extra hair and dead skin, as well as after the bath. Additional baths can also help reduce parasites. In addition, consider changing shampoos during the summer to one that naturally repels parasites (such as citronella- or eucalyptus-based) or one that soothes skin (such as oatmeal-based) to reduce itching, irritated skin that may be caused by too much sun, parasites or the additional baths themselves.

Grooming Dogs: Summer Nails

Because your dog will be spending more time romping outside, it's important to make sure nails are properly trimmed. Long nails may catch or break, causing injury and pain.
This doesn't mean cutting off more of the nail with each trimming, however. That could lead to cutting the quick, which is very painful for your dog. Only cut the tip where the nail starts to turn under, just as you would during the winter. Increase the frequency of nail trimming. The only way to shrink your dog's quick and thus shrink the length of the nail is to cut the nails more frequently. The best time to do this is after you have bathed your dog when the nails are a little softer and easier to trim. Use a sharp, high-quality trimmer and lots of rewards so that your dog doesn't mind the process.

Additional Cooling Tips

If you are concerned about your dog's heat, avoid exercise or too much time spent in the yard during the peak of the heat. Provide plenty of shade and maybe even a wading pool for your dog.
On the hottest days, make bath time into a game, breaking out the hose and allowing your dog to play in the cool water before and after a quick bath.

Pawfully yours,
Parker Sr.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015



A rare and highly contagious canine flu outbreak has struck the Chicago area. It has been reported that 1000 dogs have tested positive and 5 have been reported dead. Only 20% of Chicago's dogs have been tested and of those dogs, 90% of them have tested positive for the canine flu. The test for canine influenza is relatively expensive. The Lincoln Park area has reported as many as 20 cases per day. Two cases have also been reported in Laporte.

The Indiana State Board of Animal Health says the virus hasn't spread to Indiana, but owners that travel with their pets to infected areas should consider getting their pet vaccinated. Dog parks, kennels, vet clinics, and dog daycares in Chicago are high risk areas. 

The virus doesn't affect humans. Healthy dogs that become ill will likely recover, however old and young pets are at greater risk if exposed. Severe cases could result in pneumonia or death. Symptoms are much like those associated with human symptoms. Fever, coughing, nasal discharge, and lack of energy are all symptoms that characterize the dog flu. It is highly transmittable through sneezing, coughing, nose-to-nose contact, and infected surfaces. Symptoms may last for two weeks.

If you suspect your pet is infected, call your vet immediately and avoid taking your pet to areas where numerous dogs congregate. 

Pet Diets and Frequently Asked Questions

Pet Diets and Frequently Asked Questions

     Like most things today, there are so many choices for so many things. Choosing your pet's food is no different and it can be extremely overwhelming! What's the best? Is my pet allergic to anything? What does by-product even mean?! What's a raw diet? A trip to the pet store to pick up pet food can make your head spin! Well we're here to answer some of those questions.

What is the best diet?
Well, despite every corporation claiming their pet food is "the best," there really isn't one answer for this. There is no blanket diet that is best for all pets. As much as we may think, expensive does not always mean high quality. Some inexpensive foods have years of scientific research done to ensure high quality, while some expensive foods are lacking nutrients or include fillers that are common allergies among pets. 

A good rule to follow is that if the product is over selling itself with over-the-top marketing, it may be too good to be true. If a company cites research or makes claims that it can't support, then that is a warning to steer clear of that brand. Bashing other brands in their marketing is also tactless and a good indicator that the food needs "help" being sold because it isn't the highest quality.

How do I pick a good diet?
A great place to start Here, you can easily find a long list of dog and cat foods complete with reviews, star-ratings, price ranges, descriptions, and ingredient lists. There is even lists of the highest rated foods and grain-free foods.

In addition to checking out ratings and reviews, check the label for "AAFCO," which stands for Association of American Feed Control Officials. These foods have undergone "animal feeding trials" for appropriate life stages and are formulated to meet AAFCO profiles for those life stages. It is especially important to select the correct diets for kittens, puppies, and even seniors. The diet you select for your pet should ultimately be the one your pet does the best on, not what others are pushing you to buy.

If I can't pronounce the words in the ingredients list, it must be bad, right?
Not necessarily. Pets require nutrients, not ingredients. A diet packed with whole ingredients may sound great, but could actually be less nutritious than a diet containing less appealing ingredients, like hard-to-pronounce vitamins and minerals. Some companies add ingredients that have no benefit to the pet, simply to make the product more marketable. These added ingredients only add to the price of the product, without getting any nutrients from it. 

"Human grade" also has no legal standing in the manufacturing of pet food. Once food is destined to be in pet food, it is no longer fit for human consumption. Ingredients sourced from human foods are not always more nutritious, safe, or wholesome than food initially meant for pet food.

Ingredients are listed in order of weight, including water, so high water content such as meat and vegetables will automatically be at the top of the list, even though they may contribute less to the overall nutrition of the diet. Some ingredients of the same source, like chicken, can be split into component parts, like chicken by-product, chicken meal, or chicken fat. This can complicate the assessment. 

What about raw diets?
Despite the buzz, there are no scientific studies that suggest raw diets are healthier than cooked diets. However, there is a significant amount of evidence that raw diets correlate with dental fractures, bacterial and parasitic infections, and other health issues. There is also a potential risk to people. Pets that eat contaminated raw diets have been demonstrated to shed pathologic organisms in their feces and it is likely that areas they spend a lot of time in are also contaminated. The Delta Society has gone as far as banning raw fed pets from participating in pet therapy programs. 

In addition to these health risks, home-prepared and even commercially made raw diets often lack essential nutrients. The commercially made raw diets are also high in fat.

By-products are gross slop compiled of hooves, beaks, and hair!
Nope! By-products are often organs and entrails, which may not seem appealing to us, but they are incredibly high in nutrients. In the wild, many animals will eat organs over meat of their prey because it's higher in the vital nutrients they need. The term "by-product" is derived from the fact that the organs are left overs from the human meat industry because they are less desirable to eat. AAFCO definition of animal by-product excludes hair, horn, hide trimmings, hooves, manure, and intestinal contents. Like any ingredient, the quality of by-products varies.

Are grains bad for pets?
Whole grains, like brown rice, are not fillers; they contain valuable vitamins, minerals, fiber, and essential fatty acids while keeping the fat and calories lower than if animal products were used. Even refined white rice can hold some benefits depending on the diet and the pet. Most dogs, and even cats, are highly efficient at digesting and utilizing nutrients from grains. While some pets are allergic to specific grains, these allergies are no more common than allergies to animal proteins like beef, chicken, and dairy. Many "grain-free" diets substitute grains with highly refined starches from potatoes or tapioca, which often provide fewer nutrients than whole grains, while driving up the cost of the food. 

My dog is eating poo? Why?!
Dogs eating feces is common when the dog is lacking some kind of nutrition. If you suspect your doggy is a doo-eater, talk to your vet!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Safe Spring Cleaning Tips

Safe Spring Cleaning

     Spring is about to be sprung, and we know what that means: spring cleaning! In your cleaning frenzy, don't forget about your pets. They share spaces with you, and how you clean and rearrange can affect them as much as it does any other family member. If you have specific concerns about how your pet might react to your favorite cleaning products, consult your veterinarian. Otherwise, enjoy these pet-friendly cleaning tips to keep your home spotless and your pet safe!

1. All cleaners are not created equal
We all have favorite household products we use, but have you ever taken the time to read the back or research the product? Many household cleaning products can be toxic to your pets. It's best to treat them like you would if you had an infant in the home: lock up all chemicals. There are, however, many natural or non-toxic cleaners and degreasers that will cut through grime just as effectively. Some of our favorite products include Simple Green, Kennelsol, Nature's Miracle, Seventh Generation, Method, and Mrs Myers (just to name a few)! 

Just like humans, animals can have reactions to things like dust, pollen, bee stings, plants, and food. Allergic reactions in dogs and cats can cause minor sniffling and sneezing as well as life-threatening anaphylactic shock. If you think that your pet may suffer from allergies, it is best to consult your veterinarian. 

3. Don't let the bed bugs bite
Warmer weather means fleas, ticks, and heart-worm-harboring mosquitoes are all on the way back. Make sure to give your pet monthly preventatives to protect your pet against these pesky pitfalls. Fleas love hiding in warm, dark beds, so be sure to also wash your pet's bedding and scrub their crate frequently. It is recommended to clean bedding and crates at least once a week.

4. Do the dishes and pick up the toys
Just because a dog lick's their bowl clean doesn't mean the bowl is clean. Using hot water and dish soap, or even your dishwasher, scrub your pets water and food bowls at least once a week. Toys should also be washed once a week. Ropes and stuffed toys can be placed in a normal cycle in the washing machine, and rubber or plastic toys can be hand washed with hot soapy water.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Keep the Garden Growing

Keep the Garden Growing

The Balance Between Pet-Owning and Gardening

     As gardeners, we work extremely hard to keep our flowers vibrant and our produce bountiful! The frustration of your best fur-iend reeking havoc on your garden is all too real! Whether it's pottying on the plants, or digging it all up, we've got you covered with these helpful tips to create a dog-friendly garden.

1. Be the Dog
When planning anything in your home, you will often think "What do I as a homeowner want from this space?" However, we encourage you to think like your dog! Think, "If I were my beloved pampered pooch, what would I want out of this backyard space?" Knowing the characteristics of your dog's breed will also play a role here. Dogs like huskies, chows, and malamutes may only be digging to create a space to stay cool in. This is easily resolved by creating an area for your dog to cool down in, like a small patio or awning made just for him! Dogs that were bred for hunting in tunnels, such as terriers, dachsunds, beagles, and whippets may be digging either by natural behavior or when they find underground animal tunnels. Redirecting their attention with a game (like hiding treats above ground) while outside, or even giving them their own dig box, may alleviate the issue of digging up the garden! Some dogs will dig merely from boredom! Combating this is as easy as socializing at a dog park or doggy daycare, or exercising them as often as possible.

2. Landscaping to Protect
When planing, keep in mind that different levels and placement of gardens can deter a dog from tearing through it. If your dog's favorite pathway is directly through where you want to place your garden, it may be easier to select another location. However, if your heart is set on that location, create boundaries and use verbal commands to redirect your dog away from the garden. Elevated garden beds and mounds may also reroute your dog!

3. Sun and Shade Alike
Like we mentioned before, it's always a good idea to create a safe and cool place for your dog to rest. It's also equally important to leave a sunny spot in your yard completely undisturbed so that your pooch can soak up the sun without crushing your favorite perennials! In this area, you can include a dig box and anything else that reinforces to your dog that "this is your space."

Friday, February 6, 2015

Furrrrrrreezing! Cold Weather Tips for Pet Owners

Cold Weather Tips for Pet Owners 

It's that time of year where frigid temperatures nip our noses. What can you do to ensure your pets are safe and comfortable? Here are some tips!

  1. Keep cats inside.
    Cats are small creatures that don't produce much body heat. They are especially susceptible to extreme temperatures. Leaving them outside can be fatal, so bring them in!
  2. Check for nappers!
    When temperatures drop, outdoor cats will seek refuge in warm car hoods and tire wells. If you know or suspect there are outdoor cats in your area, bang loudly on your car hood before starting your engine. This could save a cat's life!
  3. Keep dogs leashed.
    Dogs frolicking in snow is adorable! The best way to let them enjoy the snow is either a very long lead or in a fenced in yard. Snowstorms make it especially hard to find lost dogs. Always make sure your pet has ID tags!
  4. Wipe their paws!
    When dogs come inside, thoroughly wipe down their legs and paws. This will prevent injury from ice. It will also prevent the ingestion of chemicals, such as salt or antifreeze. You can also use pet safe salts to spread on walkways.
  5. Keep them covered.
    While it may be tempting to shave your Newfoundland to look like a lion, we don't recommend shaving anyone in the cold months! Shaving a dog close to their skin takes away their main defense against frigid temperatures. If you bath them, make sure they are completely dry before taking them outside. If you have a small dog or a short-haired dog, consider investing in a pet coat to keep them toasty.
  6. Cars are refrigerators.
    We all know not to leave our dog in the car during summer months, but did you know leaving them in the car in cold weather can be just as dangerous? Cars can act as refrigerators and can be fatal if pets are left in them for extended periods of time.
  7. Puppies hate cold.
    Puppies don't tolerate cold weather as well as adult dogs do. This may mean your new puppy is harder to housebreak. If you're having trouble, try investing in potty pads and working up to pottying outside when the weather gets warmer.
  8. Feed them well.
    If your dog can't get enough of this weather, increase their protein and omega-3 and -6 fatty acids. This will keep their coat in tip top shape!
  9. Old dogs ache.
    Older or injured dogs will have a harder time with colder weather. Low temperatures can cause joint pain in older dogs, or cause dogs with old injuries to feel discomfort. Keep them warm and cozy while indoors.
  10. Warm in bed.
    Move pet beds off of cold tile and away from any drafts. This will keep them warm and happy!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

National Train Your Dog Month - Tips

National Train Your Dog Month

Here are ten great training tips to help you and your pet have a relaxing training experience!

1. Listen to your dog
 If your dog is showing signs of stress (lip licking, panting without being hot/exerted, tucked tail, half moon eyes), then maybe a break is in order. Your pet is trying to communicate with you that they are uncomfortable or stressed. 

2. Give them tons of affection!
  It's easy to let out frustration when a dog isn't quite grasping the training, but many owners forget to reinforce the good things! Be generous with praise! This helps build a positive relationship and a stronger bond, which will result in the pet wanting to please you by doing well in training! It's okay to be over the top with your affection!

3. Is your pet enjoying the reward?
   Treats are a great way to reward a pet. You don't need to buy high-priced treats that have "all dogs love them" plastered all over the bag. Use a special treat that you know your dog absolutely loves. Pieces of cheese, hot dogs, and peanut butter are among favorites! Small soft treats are especially great for training.

4. Say no to saying no!
   It's okay to say "no" sometimes, but it's not very effective in training. Be specific with commands. If your dog is jumping to greet people, instead of shouting "NO!" try calmly saying "sit" or "down." If you just say "no" the dog may think you want them to jump higher or to the left instead of the right. When you give your dog a specific command the dog knows exactly what you expect from him/her.  

5. Consistency is key!
   Make sure everyone in the household is on the same page. If you plan on attending a training class, take the family with you. If you are training at home, make a list of commands to put in a common space. If you taught your dog "down" and someone else is saying "lay," this can create inconsistencies and confusion in the training. Get everyone on board for your dog's success!

6. Make obtainable goals!
   You probably didn't become an expert in your profession or hobby over night. Don't expect your dog to perfect their training in one day. Learning takes time! "Normal" dog behaviors such as barking and digging will likely take more time to correct. You must also factor in the amount of time the pet was allowed to exhibit a behavior. If the dog was always allowed to jump on visitor's, then the behavior could take longer to correct. All behavior can be changed, some habits just take longer to change! Be patient and understanding. 
7. Feed them brain food!
   Never underestimate the power of high-quality food! Get a food with the appropriate amount of protein. Higher energy dogs need more protein than less active dogs. If you ate fast food that was high in fat and low in protein, you may feel sluggish and find it hard to focus. The same applies to dogs! In addition, the money you spend on better food will save you money on vet bills and will likely add time to your pet's life.

8. You get what you train, not what you want!
 Negative reinforcement is rampant in pet ownership. Has your dog ever been barking and you gave them a bone or toy to try to quiet them? If you have ever caved to your dog to get them to stop a behavior, you're actually rewarding them for that behavior! They learn that their pesky behavior will get them what they want out of you. Every interaction with your pet is a training opportunity. An easy solution is giving the dog a command before a reward. If the dog barks, ask him/her to "lay down" or "sit," then reward them for listening to the command.

9. Rewards are not bribery!
Treats are the easiest form of reward. Why not?! They work wonders! Make sure that the reward produces the treat; the treat should not produce the behavior

10. Let freedom ring!
   A dog should gradually earn freedom. A common mistake is giving the dog total freedom right from the start. This can often result in potty accidents and destructive chewing. Use training crates for safe zones for your dog and block off other rooms in the house. Once your dog's behavior begins to change, gradually let them explore more areas of the house.