7 ways to help your dog get through the 4th of July

dog

The 4th of July (otherwise known as Happy Scare the Crap Out of Your Dog Day) is looming, and it’s time for some basic management techniques to help your pets make it through the festivities.

  • Make sure your pet’s tags and microchips are up-to-date. If the ID tags have been worn smooth or haven’t been updated with current information, get out the sharpie and write your contact information on the inside of the collar.
  • Even if you normally take off your pet’s collar in the home, consider leaving it on during peak noise and activity times. The sharpie trick won’t help if the collar is hanging on a coat hook when your dog bolts out the door
  • Keep the dog inside the house, in a crate or closed off area, away from high-activity zones. If you just plan to put the dog in the back bedroom, make sure the window is secure; pets have been known to bust right through window screens – and even windows – if they panic. Tape a big piece of cardboard over the window if necessary.
  • If you have a very noise-sensitive or -phobic dog, talk to your vet about possible medications to help keep him calm during the worst of the fireworks.

For other management techniques for noise-sensitive dogs, see our post about helping your dog get through construction season.

  • Take your pup out for a long walk well before the festivities start, so that he’s tired and more inclined to sleep than panic. Make sure he has a safe place to retreat, a Thundershirt or a TTouch wrap to provide calming pressure, a stuffed Kong to keep him distracted, and a human to provide comfort and reassurance.
  • If you’re going to a fireworks show, leave the dog at home. Even well-behaved, well-socialized dogs can get easily overwhelmed in big, noisy crowds with bright lights bursting thunderously overhead.
  • After the fireworks are over, and before you let your dog out into the yard, scan the ground – firework detritus can be sharp as well as poisonous, and no one wants to spend the rest of the holiday weekend at the emergency vet.

If you have any techniques that you find particularly helpful during fireworks and thunderstorm season, tell us about them in the comments. Have a happy and safe holiday!

 

 

 

Summer safety tips for your dogs

slack-imgs.com

Summer has finally arrived, and it’s only natural for us to want to bring our dogs so that they can enjoy the barbecues and festivals with us.

But the truth is that bringing our dogs with us can be deeply distressing to them. Strange people, unfamiliar dogs, loud noises, and toxic foods can all add up to a one very over-stimulated pup.

What can you do to keep your dogs healthy and safe during the summer?

Set up a quiet retreat. 

This is one of the most important things you can do to make life better for everyone in the household. Even if your pets are people-friendly and sociable, it’s possible to have too much of a good thing, and if you are busy entertaining you won’t necessarily know when they’ve had enough. Make sure you have a crate, bed, or travel cage set up in a quiet space, and give your pet a high-value treat (think stuffed Kong) to keep him happy and distracted during the party. If you must have your dog outside, make sure he’s in a cool, shady, protected spot with plenty of water, and check on him often to make sure he’s okay.

Eliminate temptation.

Keep your pets on their usual diet, and don’t give in to the temptation to let them eat table scraps, chips, soda, or alcohol. Aside from the choking hazard presented by chicken bones or ribs, the high fat content of many party foods can cause pancreatitis, vomiting, and diarrhea. When the food is outside, keep your dogs inside. And remember – crates are your friend, especially when you have a dedicated counter-surfer.

Be especially careful when these items are on the menu: garlic, onions, grapes/raisins, chocolate, and anything with xylitol (you’ll have to check the labels carefully; it’s in a lot of foods you wouldn’t expect it to be in, like some peanut butters).

Have your emergency plan ready.

No matter how much planning and management you do, things can still go wrong. Your dog may bolt out the gate when guests are arriving, or jump through the screen when the fireworks start. Know what to do if your dog does go missing and keep that emergency vet information and poison-control hotline number posted somewhere handy.

 

 

Better than chocolate

Jamie and Mimsy

By Jamie Migdal, CEO of FetchFind

I found this nifty little graph of how much money the average person spent on their pet on Valentine’s Day from 2008-2016 (I love statistics!), and, as always, it got me to thinking about all of the extra special things that we buy to show our pets that we love them, and how many of the necessary things that we tend to put off when our lives get hectic.

So instead of giving you another top ten list on why pets are better than chocolate (though both pets and chocolate are good for your heart), here are some things you can do to show your pets that you love them all year round:

Schedule those annual check ups, vaccinations, and dental cleanings. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve let these important appointments creep past their due dates because of my own overscheduled life.

Take your dog to the groomer. It’s easy to let this slide over the winter when you don’t want to deal with a damp dog and freezing temperatures, but you know your dog needs a bath and trim right about now. If you have a pup that doesn’t care to be touched, extra points for finding a low-stress groomer. 

Sign up for a class. It’s time to start instilling new behaviors (or brushing up on old ones) so that you can be ready for the warmer days, longer walks, and bigger crowds.  

Update your first aid and emergency evacuation kits. Everyone should have fully stocked first aid and evacuation kits. If you have the time, you can also take a pet first aid course.

Learn some relaxation protocols. For noise-sensitive or anxious dogs, spring thunderstorms can be pretty terrifying. Take your pup to a TTouch session, lay in a supply of Rescue Remedy, or – in extreme cases – schedule an appointment with a board-certified veterinary behaviorist.

Start researching pet resort or in-home pet sitting options. If you can find a company or sitter that you trust now, you won’t be scrambling for a reservation when you want to get away for a few days during spring break. 

Re-evaluate your pet’s diet and supplements. A dog’s nutritional needs can change rapidly as he gets older, and it makes sense to evaluate those needs regularly. Replenish the pet supplies, re-read the labels on the food, and make a note to discuss any changes with your vet during the appointment you scheduled after reading item #1, above.

Get those professional photos taken! Ask your friends who they used for their pet photos, or just google “professional pet photographers” and look for the pros in your area. A lot of pet photographers will hold day-long photo shoots on major holidays at local retail stores, so keep an eye out for those opportunities as well.

And, speaking of chocolate:

Bookmark the chocolate toxicity meter and poison control hotline info. Because some of our dogs like to have their own celebrations by getting into what’s left of that giant box of assorted chocolates we mistakenly thought was safe on top of the fridge.

 

 

Christmas holiday safety tips

dog-xmas-5By Erin Schneider, CPDT-KA

I am officially in the Christmas mood. The day after Thanksgiving, I turned on the Christmas music, my family and I picked out our Christmas tree, and I am just about done with my Christmas shopping. I am definitely feeling the spirit.

Since my husband and I had kids, we have decided that Christmas will be at our house. Since we no longer travel for the big day, we have an open door policy. We love visitors and welcome friends and family to stop by and celebrate with us. I encourage both two and four-legged visitors, but with kids in the house, I have some rules in place. Because I want the day to be fun and relaxing, I ensure that safety is top priority.

No matter who you celebrate with or how you celebrate, it’s always wise to ensure your dog is set up to enjoy the festivities. Whether you are hosting or visiting, below are some tips to help your dog survive this festive holiday.

Keep presents away: My dog, Bailey, could have cared less about wrapped presents. But as soon as the paper was off, the paper was hers. But some dogs believe that anything on the floor is theirs. If your dog is more like the latter, keep presents up or behind a gate to avoid any disasters.

Pay attention to your décor: I love to decorate the house for Christmas, but I try to be aware of what I decorate with. Tinsel can be very enticing to dogs, but they are a safety concern (if swallowed, they can get tangled in the intestines). Poinsettias are beautiful, but they are poisonous to dogs. And I love lights on the Christmas tree and all around my house. If you do too, just make sure that your dog can’t get to the cords and chew on them. Basically, just use common sense when decorating.

Watch your dog around kids: Christmas is a big holiday for kids. All the presents under the tree, a visit from Santa, cookies, and such can bring a lot of excitement. Because they all might be a little more excited than usual, it is best to keep kids and dogs separated as much as possible. No matter how much your dog enjoys kids, not every kid will feel comfortable around your dog, and your dog might not appreciate the extra chaos that the holidays bring. No matter what, it is better to be safe than sorry, so just keep dogs and kids separated.

Keep a leash on your dog: When your dog is out and about in the house, it is wise to keep a light leash on them. Leashes are a great tool to help keep your dogs away from the Christmas cookies and appetizers, prevent them from jumping up on people, and it doesn’t allow them to escape when the door is left open after Aunt May is welcomed indoors.

Gates, crates, and more gates: Every dog needs some down time, so it is best to have your crate set up in a quiet room. I like to put on some relaxing music or white noise to drown out the noise of party goers and give them a bone or Kong filled with their favorite treat. If you don’t have a crate, set up a small room such as a bathroom or laundry room (make sure there is nothing that they can get into), put down their bed or towel, give them a treat and put up a gate. Make sure that they will be left alone and can have time to relax. If your dog is super stressed and needs to be around people, set up some gates so they are near the commotion, but can’t get out to get into trouble. This also ensures that kids can’t get to them.

Remember, Christmas should be a day of relaxing, sharing memories with friends and family, and letting kids revel in the magic. Pets are such an important part of this holiday, so safety is key. This is my son’s first Christmas, so we have extra special memories to make. I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas!

How will you be spending your Christmas? How do you involve your dog in your traditions?

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Erin Schneider 250x300Erin Schneider, CPDT-KA and owner of Touch Dog Training, is a certified professional dog trainer who employs positive reinforcement behavior modification techniques intended to deliver results while building stronger bonds between dogs and their owners. Erin practiced her craft in Chicago for many years as a Senior Trainer for AnimalSense Canine Training & Behavior. There she taught dog training classes and also conducted private, in-home lessons with pets and their owners. In March 2015, Erin relocated to Colorado and is excited to share her knowledge and expertise with dog owners in the Denver/Boulder metro area.

 

Thanksgiving safety tips

safety-tips

By Erin Schneider, CPDT-KA

Thanksgiving is by far my favorite holiday. I love being surrounded by family and good food. I love the simplicity of it. There are no presents to stress over and no pressure. It is just a day to give thanks. I love the day to spend with family, friends and four-legged companions.

But like any holiday, there can be a lot of chaos. Family and friends are coming in and out, food is all over the kitchen, and kids are running around. For our dogs, it can be a breeding ground of anxiety. It is our responsibility to take extra care to ensure that everyone is having a good time, and that includes our dogs.

Whether you are visiting family or hosting, it is important that you make safety a priority. Below are some tips to help your dog survive this festive holiday.

Give your dog a safe space: It is so important that your dog have a place to go to get away from it all. If you are visiting, make sure you bring your dog’s crate with you. If you are staying home, make sure your dog’s crate is away from all the foot traffic. In either scenario, make sure you set it up in a room that is quiet and away from all of the commotion. Give your dog a Kong filled with his favorite treat, maybe some relaxing music or white noise, and give him a nice break.

Keep a leash on your dog: When your dog is out of his crate, keep a light leash on him. A leash will allow you to grab your dog if they are about to go for the snacks laid out on the coffee table, if they are about to jet out the open front door or if they are acting inappropriately.

Don’t give your dog turkey or turkey bone: If you are like me, you like to give your dog a little treat. Turkey can be great, but make sure you don’t give a piece with any of the skin. Also, no turkey bones. Cooked bones can splinter and cause great harm to dogs. If you really want to get a bone for your dog, purchase a few bully sticks to have on hand. They are safe and you won’t have to make any unexpected trips to the ER.

Watch your dog around kids: I don’t care how much your dog appears to love kids, limit their exposure to kids on a busy day such as Thanksgiving. Your dog might love your kids and put up with their signs of affection, but dogs are less likely to tolerate that same behavior from new people and kids are most likely to get bit. It is best that you teach all children in the house boundaries and to respect your dog’s boundaries. But you are better off just giving your dog a place to be on their own where they don’t have to stress. And the kids should be able to run around without having a dog jumping on them and/or nipping at them.

Thanksgiving is a day to relax and enjoy friends and family, but safety is key. This year my family will be home in Colorado enjoying some of our favorite dishes.

How will you be spending your Thanksgiving? How do you involve your dog in your traditions?

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Erin Schneider 250x300Erin Schneider, CPDT-KA and owner of Touch Dog Training, is a certified professional dog trainer who employs positive reinforcement behavior modification techniques intended to deliver results while building stronger bonds between dogs and their owners. Erin practiced her craft in Chicago for many years as a Senior Trainer for AnimalSense Canine Training & Behavior. There she taught dog training classes and also conducted private, in-home lessons with pets and their owners. In March 2015, Erin relocated to Colorado and is excited to share her knowledge and expertise with dog owners in the Denver/Boulder metro area.

 

 

Dogs in the Workplace – Part 1

by Jamie Migdal, CEO of FetchFind

business dog typewriter

I have picked up more dog poop than you. In fact, probably more than you the person sitting next to you. And next to them. In fact, if I really sat back and thought about the sheer volume of dog crap I’ve had in my hands over the past 20 years, I’d be tempted to contact Guinness and lobby for a new category.

 The formerly mentioned dog poop came from the many dogs in all areas of my life, including, but not limited to dogs I walked during the Out-U-Go days or the dogs in my classroom while I trained with AnimalSense. Not to mention the hundreds of random dogs who have been through my homes, businesses and life in general. The one place, however that I truly despise the poop is in my office. You may be wondering why on earth I’d be picking up dog poop in my office, and to that I answer: What? You don’t? 

As the CEO of four different dog-related businesses over the past 20 years, dogs in the office have been a mainstay. And although I’ve loved each one of the hundreds of dogs that have crossed the threshold of the countless office spaces I’ve occupied, it’s recently dawned on me what all this excrement really costs: loss of productivity.  

Clearly, every time a dog has an accident, there is an impact on productivity as the ritual of poop pick up commences. Think plastic bags, paper towels and lots of disinfectant, not to mention the conversations everyone in the office needs to have about the stink.

The question is: do I need to reconsider the whole dog-in-the-office thing?

 Of course not!  I’m just pointing out what most dog-friendly businesses may be afraid to admit…we love dogs, but they take a quite a bit of time away from the workday, as we have to feed, water, walk and referee them. 

I haven’t taken the time to do any kind of longitudinal study on my observations but am convinced it’s a significant factor to consider as it relates to decreased productivity. 

Clearly poop isn’t a good enough reason to leave the dogs at home, but there are many other considerations when you dip your dog in the company ink. 

This is the first installment in my Dogs in the Workplace series- so I’ll leave you with visions dogs happily converging at the water cooler (read: bowl) whilst their dutiful human counterparts lovingly admire and thank the dog gods they work at a dog-friendly business. 

The jury is still out, and while I certainly have some opinion on the negatives, I can’t ever certify that they will outweigh the positives. 

Until then, please pass me a poop bag.

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The annual Take Your Dog to Work Day is June 24, 2016.

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