Thursday, April 6, 2017

Tips for Walking a Reactive Dog on a Leash

Does your dog have trouble taking a simple walk on a leash? You're not alone, in fact, a large percentage of dog owners experience the same issue. Luckily there are a number of things you can do to reverse this behavior.

Just like humans, dogs have their own unique personalities. Whether your pet gets excited, aggressive, or scared while on leash, these behaviors can be corrected. A majority of dog owners believe that in order to train their dog they must use force and try to dominate the animal. Usually this negative method of training leads to elevated stress levels in your pet. The most effective and humane way to train your 4-legged friend is called "choice training".

 As you may have guessed, "choice training" is all about giving your dog choices and using positive reinforcement. For this type of training you want to use positive behaviors that your dog already exhibits. Say you have a dog who lashes out aggressively at other animals/people while on leash. What you want to do is replace that behavior with a positive one. If you are on a walk and see another dog approaching you could have your dog sit and then reward them with treats and praise. Eventually your pup will be conditioned to use this behavior when approached by other animals/people without lashing out.

Another common issue is simply getting your dog to walk calmly without pulling. A simple correction for this is to reward the dog with treats each time they look back at you while on a walk. The reasoning behind this is that it is very hard for your animal to pull while looking back at you. Presenting them with a treat really helps to bring their focus back to you instead of trying to pull forward.

Positive reinforcement is truly the key to taking control of a reactive dog. The best part is that the dog doesn't see it as you dominating them. Instead, they see you as an equal and someone they can trust. These types of changes don't happen over night so be sure to be patient with your animal. With "choice training" your dog will be MUCH happier but more importantly, you will be too!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Learn to Pet-itate!

Pet-centered meditation (pet-itation) can help you to develop your relationship with your animals while simultaneously improving your own mindfulness. Anyone who has days where they allow their stress to come home to their family and pets can use the practice, and any pet who suffers from anxiety or behavioral issues will benefit.  Over time and with consistent routine, pet-itation will improve the behavior and emotional well-being of everyone involved.  

Below are some suggestions for getting started:

1.)    Pick a Time

It is best to “pet-itate” when everyone is already relatively calm. A good time would be when you and your animals are winding down for the evening. It would be difficult to successfully practice when they are hyper and excited about the day ahead, but you know your pets and everyone is different.

2.)    Pick a Place

Find a quiet and comfortable spot to relax with your pets. Meditation is most enjoyable when everyone is comfortable. Don’t try to control what your animals do once you begin, just let them move around and focus on your own breathing while they get comfortable. 

3.)    Develop a Routine 

Like anything, the more you practice, the more successful you become and the more you will notice results. The best thing you can do for yourself and your pets is to form a daily habit.

4.)    Start small

If you try to pet-itate for more than a few minutes at first, you and your pets might get frustrated or bored. You’ll get there eventually, but start small and build your way there. If it isn’t working, you shouldn’t force it. Walk away and try again the next day.
Think about the long-term benefits for you and your pet’s physical and emotional well-being. Doing this activity together will build an unbreakable bond between you and your pet and it will help with managing stress and anxiety for both parties. The most important thing is to have fun and appreciate the sense of calm and stability that this practice will bring into your pet's life.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

These Common Household Items are Positively Lethal to your Pets!

Warmer weather is coming & that means calls to the Animal Poison Control Center are going to spike to as many as 800 per day. Because of this, March 20-26th is National Animal Poison Prevention Week and we are raising awareness and educating pet owners as to avoid accidents this summer.

If you suspect that your pet has ingested a poisonous substance, you need to respond immediately. The effects of ingestion will not be instant; it depends on the substance, but for some it could take up to 20 minutes before you notice a reaction. 

Some tips to keep your pets safe:

1.      Make sure herbicides, fertilizers, and pesticides are kept away in a secure place. 

2.      If you spend time outdoors and your pet comes in contact with a plant that you cannot identify, take a photo and upload it to this Facebook group that identifies plants:

3.      Keep chocolate away in a drawer. Large amounts can be lethal to dogs and cats. Chocolate is the #1 reason for calls to the Animal Poison Control Center.

4.      Write the phone number for your veterinarian and the Animal Poison Control Center on a sticky note and put it on the refrigerator or another place that’s easy to access in case of emergency.

5.      Educate yourself on what foods could be toxic to your pets:

a        Alcoholic drinks, certain mushrooms, chocolates, grapes, raisons, star fruit, aspartame, chives, onions, coffee and caffeine.

Call your veterinarian immediately if you suspect anything, or if it’s after hours, call the Animal Poison Control Center. When it comes to your pet, you don’t want to take any chances. A professional can give you advice and direction as to whether or not you need to take action or if your pet is okay.

Stay safe, get smart, and don’t hesitate to call if you suspect! 

Friday, March 10, 2017

How to Stop your Pets from Destroying the Furniture

Here are a few helpful tips that might help you to regain some control of an out-of-control chewing situation with your dog or puppy.

1.      Understand Why
Puppies are like babies… They are discovering a whole new world & they explore with their mouths. Just like babies, they teethe & they chew because it gives them a sense of comfort and relief. It is your job to establish rules for what objects are appropriate for chewing. 

Adult dogs might be chewing for other reasons, and it is your responsibility to understand why & manage the situation until they have learned what objects in your home are not allowed to be chewed.  Maybe they never learned not to chew as a puppy, maybe they have anxiety or they are bored. They could be afraid, or just want attention.

2.      Teach & Supervise
Keep your personal belongings that you don’t want to be chewed in places where they are not accessible to your pet. Provide your dog with bright colored toys that are distinguishable from regular household objects. Supervise your dog & have a “safe place” in your home that is just for them where they have access to fresh water and all of the toys that are cleared for chewing. 

3.      Socialize your Dog

Make sure your dog is spending plenty of time with people and other dogs- if possible. They will never learn appropriate behavior if they are never given the opportunity. 

4.      Taste Deterrents & Incentives
You can spray and coat objects like your sofa with a taste deterrents that might make them unappealing to chew… Some dogs will chew right through a deterrent, but some will be put off by the bitter taste. On the other end of the spectrum, give them incentives to chew their toys by using them for feeding. Fill a Kong-type toy with kibble for meal times and occasionally treats. An infatuation will develop between them and their toys taking their attention away from your expensive furniture. 

At the end of the day, it is important to set boundaries, while understanding that things happen! Chewing is part of being a dog owner and occasionally your dog will inevitably chew something that’s important to you. And you’ll love them anyway!

Friday, February 17, 2017

February 20th: Love Your Pet Day!

February 20th is National Love Your Pet Day! While we all show our pets daily how much we love them, sometimes it’s nice to take a day to celebrate them. Moreover, it’s important that pets feel that we love them, as this contributes to a healthy, happy and stress free four-legged friend. If you’re looking for someone to spoil and you aren’t too fond of Valentine’s Day, we have some tips on how you can show your furry friend some extra affection. Keep reading to find out more!

Get Out and About:
Taking your dog to their favorite dog park or a walking route they enjoy is a great way to show them some extra love. While they can benefit from the exercise (as will you), they’ll also get to be outside and enjoy walking a route or spending time in their favorite park which is a significant mood enhancer. Taking a solid chunk of your day to plan around your pet – even if it is just for today while you have the time to do so, shows them how much you love them.

Plan a Playdate:
Because National Love Your Pet Day is in February, we recognize that not everyone can get outside as temperatures remain cool. Additionally, for your cat lovers, we realize (unless you have an outdoor cat), you won’t be taking your feline to the dog park anytime soon. However, this shouldn’t stop you from making the day extra special for your furry friend. If you pet enjoys socializing with your neighbor’s animal or other animals in general, we encourage you to take the time to set up a playdate. There are several meet-up groups online that you can look at so that your pet can get out and socialize!

Reward Them:
If your pet loves playing fetch or rolling in catnip, let them do so for a little longer. There’s nothing better than a happy pet, so feel free to give them an extra treat or break up the treat to make it last longer. If your dog or cat has a favorite toy, consider taking them on a trip to the pet store to look for something new but similar for added play time! Also, if your pet’s bed is looking rugged or beaten up, consider taking today to get a new one that provides comfort and a place for your pet to hang when they aren’t curled up next to you.

Make their Health a Priority:
This may not sound like a way to spoil your pet, but as their caretaker, it should be your top priority to ensure their health is in tip top shape. If your pet hasn’t been in for a checkup recently or you notice something is off, give us a call and schedule an appointment. Trust us, your pet will thank you later!

The reality is, your pet is going to love you regardless, but it’s nice to show them a little extra love every once in a while, not to mention it’s been proven that having a pet makes us happier people with lower blood pressure!  

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Why Your Pet Should Steer Clear of the Valentine's Day Chocolate

It is a well-known fact that dogs should never eat chocolate, as it can be very deadly. It might be less known that cats should also not have a bite of a chocolate bar, but have you ever wondered why such a sweet treat for humans can be so toxic for our furry friends? Chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine. Theobromine is a bitter alkaloid of the cacao plant and can be very harmful to cats, and deadly to dogs. This compound mainly impacts the heart when chocolate is eaten, but the symptoms your furry friend will likely exhibit do not always present themselves immediately.

When Cats Eat Chocolate:
When a cat ingests chocolate, they may begin to show symptoms such:
-       Vomiting
-       Diarrhea
-       Increased by temperature and reflex responses
-       Muscle rigidity
-       Rapid breathing and increased heart rate
-       Low blood pressure
-       Seizures
As with any pet, these symptoms will depend on how much your chocolate has been consumed. You should be aware that milk and semi-sweet chocolate are the most harmful to animals as the number of toxic compounds found in these chocolates are increased as opposed to darker chocolate.

When Dogs Eat Chocolate:
The same goes for cats applies to dogs. Depending on how much chocolate your pup consumes, he or she will start to show signs of chocolate toxicity that include:
-       Vomiting
-       Diarrhea
-       Abnormal heart rhythms and/or increased heart rate
-       Seizures
-       Increased thirst
-       Elevated blood pressure
-       Tremors or the possibility of collapse
-       Elevated body temperatures

As for what to do if your dog or cat gets a bite of your Valentine’s Day chocolate (or any other chocolate for that matter), be sure to contact us immediately. We will be here to help you and cannot stress enough how important it is to stay calm, as your pet can easily pick up on your behavior. Here’s to a happy and chocolate-free Valentine’s Day for our furry friends!