|Posted on March 31, 2017 at 7:02 PM||comments (29)|
Terrific! But, please, do your homework first.
First, be honest with yourself about handling the commitment - being home, walking, training, expense, etc.
Second, be honest with yourself about your experience with dogs and your abilities with regard to training. Do you want a dog who will run with you? A couch potato? Loves other dogs? Loves people? Protective? Able to stay home alone?
Third, research different breeds which fit into your life the best, given what you figured out about yourself in the first two steps. This is more of an elimination step. If you want a dog to be able to be off leash, you wouldn't want a Beagle. If you can only take him on short walks, you don't want a Border Collie, for example.
Fourth, decide if you want to adopt a puppy or an adult dog. Rescuing is a wonderful thing, but it's not for everyone. Please don't be bullied into rescuing a dog you may not be able to handle, that doesn't do you or the dog any favors. Especially if you end up returning the dog, then he/she goes back with one or more strikes against it. The way I look at it, whether you get a dog from a breeder or a rescue, if you raise it well and keep it from needing to be rescued, you've performed a great service either way. I always say that if you get a dog as a puppy, then all the mistakes have been your own.
Fifth, plan ahead for your pet's arrival. I've had way too many frantic weekend calls from people who got an animal on a whim and realize they can't leave their new pet home alone when they go to work on Monday. Educate yourself and be prepared.
Sixth, train, train, train. Walk, walk, walk. Dogs need to know what is expected of them. Crate training is an extremely useful tool. It's not cruel, it keeps your dog safe from injury until they can be alone. Walking is a great way for them to explore while building a bond with you.
Last. Love, love, love.
|Posted on January 7, 2015 at 12:13 AM||comments (405)|
It seems like a great idea, dogs hanging out and playing in a secure, fenced in area while their owners socialize. Except, when it's not. Here are a few of the reasons that I believe dog parks work better for people than dogs.
First, the initial greetings can be intimidating for even the most confident dog as all of the dogs in the park rush up to your dog. Imagine walking in the door at a party and everyone there rushes up to you at once and surrounds you. They are all saying hello, wanting to shake your hand, patting you on the back, the arm, the head until you feel claustrophobic. You don't know if they are all friendly, maybe they are, maybe some are intimidating. All you know is that you're feeling overwhelmed and react by saying, "Hey, give me some space!" Suddenly, you're branded unfriendly or aggressive. That's exactly how your dog feels entering the dog park.
Second, there is nowhere for a scared dog to hide or escape in the dog park. If your dog gets intimidated by another dog, he can't go anywhere to collect himself. He hides behind you and you tell him it's okay. Well, maybe it's not to him.
Third, too many people truly do not understand dog behavior. Or worse yet, many people think they do and really do not, especially with regard to aggression. Some dogs are noisy, growly greeters and players; they are not aggressive dogs, but they can intimidate people and dogs. Other dogs are truly aggressive and their owners don't recognize it and don't discourage the behavior. Dogs can learn a lot of bad behaviors from other dogs at the dog park.
Fourth, take a look at how much exercise your dog is really getting in that dog park. There's some running, then a lot of sitting around, maybe a little more running, but mostly sitting around.
Obviously, this may not apply to all dog park situations, but it's common enough that an honest look is warranted. Dogs definitely need canine companionship and exercise, but from what I've experienced, dog parks aren't the ticket.
|Posted on September 5, 2014 at 12:31 AM||comments (2)|
It happens all the time, two or more dogs greet each other and their owners misinterpret the signs the dogs are displaying. There is some posturing, maybe some teeth bearing but, some tail wagging so the owners think everything is okay. What people don't realize is that there are different types of tail wagging. Let's look at tail wagging a littler closer by looking at the situation and the rest of the dog's body language. Of course, it all depends on the individual dog.
Usually, a happy wag is a low, slower, wide wag, usually but not always. Look at your dog's wagging tail the next time he sees you approaching, obviously, that's his happy wag. Now, if you have, or know, a dog that gets nervous, aggressive or barks at strangers, look at that wag. Chances are, his tail will be straight up, maybe pointing forward and moving back and forth very quickly. He may also have hackles, partial or full, his ears may be up and he may be growling or baring teeth. These are not the signs of a happy dog.
There are some pugs in our neighborhood that Cooper absolutely loathes. He will sit in the window, happily watching the street when suddenly, he will stand up, ears go up, hackles rise and his tail gets erect, goes forward and rapidly whips back and forth. Sure enough, there they are. It's absolutely classic.
So, remember, the next time you're trying to assess a dog's comfort level, don't assume everything is okay because her tail is wagging. There could be pugs out there!
|Posted on October 23, 2012 at 1:31 AM||comments (44)|
People sometimes wonder if their dog would be happier at home with a pet sitter or boarding in a home or facility when they need to be out of town. The answer depends a lot on the dog and the dog's usual environment.
I have found that older or nervous dogs who live in a quiet adult home, usually do better staying at home and having a professional pet sitter stay with them.
Younger, well-socialized dogs do just fine in a boarding environment. Naturally, I think that in-home boarding is preferred to a kennel. Our boarding dogs become part of our family and after the first day or so, they learn the routine and it seems like they forget that they live somewhere else and thrive in our busy house. If I went out of town and left Cooper at home, he would sit in the den and watch for me until I returned.
Dogs are remarkably adaptive and will do well as long as they are well loved and cared for in your absence. The important thing is that YOU feel comfortable and confident about where they are while you're gone.
|Posted on June 20, 2012 at 12:06 AM||comments (36)|
It's a curious thing, you're walking your dog on a breezy day and you feel nice and cool, then you look at your dog who is panting like it's 93° It took me a few years too long to figure out that wind doesn't cool dogs off. Dogs have fewer sweat glands than we do and cool off primarily through panting.
While wind may cool off the overall air temperature, walking in the sun, even on a windy day, may overheat your dog.
Make sure you give your dog lots of water and check frequently for signs of overheating. Since dogs do have sweat glands in their paws, they can cool off by walking in water. Puppies and older dogs may also have more difficulty regulating their body temps, so they need extra watching
We still do group dog walks in summer, even on hot days, but we carry plenty of water, walk on the shadiest trails around and if it's really hot, we go from one shady spot to the next with plenty of rest.
|Posted on March 4, 2012 at 3:12 PM||comments (2)|
That is a quote from a very wise client and friend. People say that dogs are a lot of work and I've never understood what that meant. You need to love them, pay attention to them, feed them a couple of times a day, make sure they have water and walk them every day. What is hard about that? Oh, it's the walking part.
ALL DOGS NEED WALKS. Yes, even little dogs. They need the stimulation from new sights, sounds and smells. Fifteen minutes does not constitute a walk, that's a sniff around. In my opinion, a walk should be a bare minimum of 30 minutes and at least one walk a day should be 45 minutes. Your dog should come home tired and settled. This is not only their entertainment time, but their bonding time with you and hopefully you're not on your cell phone the whole time. And as in a previous post, running around in the backyard or being at dog day care (unless a walk is included) is not a substitute.
Obviously, there is nothing wrong with paying someone to walk your dog for you if you're not a walker. The important thing to remember is that daily, long walks are as necessary for a dog as food and water is. Remember, a tired dog is good.
|Posted on February 12, 2012 at 3:39 PM||comments (171)|
It happens all the time. People get a dog and feed him according to the recommended amounts on the bag of dog food and wind up with a chubby puppy. Unfortunately, those directions are there primarily to sell more dog food than to keep your dog at a healthy weight.
On an ideal weight dog, you can feel her ribs, but not see them. She will have a "waist" that narrows where her torso meets her hips and a tuck underneath. Obviously, this is easier to tell on some breeds than others, but these are good guidelines. Cooper's ideal weight is around 60 lbs and I feed him just under one cup of food twice a day, with treats being a rarity.
As far as what kind of food to feed, I'm a big fan of the Kirkland food from Costco. They are corn free, wheat free and have a lot of the extra ingredients pets need and they love them. I use the Lamb and Rice food for Cooper and also as the treats I give the dogs on the trail and 95% of the dogs love it.
I also use a Kong filled with leftover vegetables, meat and water and freeze it for a special treat for Cooper. It keeps him occupied for a long time, without a lot of extra calories.
|Posted on November 27, 2011 at 5:18 PM||comments (0)|
Taking care of people's pets has a very personal side to it. You are a part of their lives in many of the events that take place. You have knowledge of their whereabouts and the happenings that you wouldn't normally have. You are in their home when they are not there, or you know where they are and when they will return.
Sometimes the events are happy and big, like vacations, weddings and the birth of babies. Sometimes the events are happy and small, like out of town sports tournaments and competitions. But, sometimes the events that require pet care are sad, like accidents, illnesses and even death and again, you have details and a connection to the pet owner that others don't have.
The one common thread that all of the events have is that you are giving them peace of mind. The peace of mind from knowing that their beloved pet is being well cared for and there is at least one thing that they don't have to worry about. This is one part of my job that gives it meaning and makes it so rewarding.
|Posted on November 3, 2011 at 7:38 PM||comments (5)|
Every time I hear someone say that they'd love to have a dog but can't because they don't have a backyard, I cringe. Then I get relieved they don't have a dog because they have usually have such an outdated notion about what it takes to care for a dog.
The idea that dogs need a yard comes from a different era, when Moms stayed home all day and the dog hung out in the yard until the kids came home from school. Then all the kids and the dogs would run around the neighborhood getting all the exercise they both needed. Nobody ever thought of giving the dog a walk because he ran around all afternoon.
Then Moms went to work and kids stopped playing outside, so dogs stopped playing outside and people put them in the yard to play. Great in theory, but neither dogs or kids play in their own backyards unless someone is out there playing with them! Even if there are multiple dogs, they need a stimulus.
At some point in the last few decades people figured out that dogs are much happier and less destructive when they get regular exercise. They need long walks and lots of sniffing new smells - every day and since they're no longer allowed to roam the streets on their own, they depend on us to meet this very basic need for them.
While a backyard is nice when you have a dog,it's not a necessity. Dogs don't need backyards, they need walks.
|Posted on November 1, 2011 at 11:38 PM||comments (156)|
I realized that I really have a lot to say about what I've learned about pets and pet care. I've never really been into blogs, but since I have this one, I think I'll use it! I guess it's time. These are merely observations, I am not a professional dog trainer, but I do spend a LOT of time around dogs and cats and do know a lot about them.