Farewell to Whisper

WhisperBy Jamie Migdal, CEO of FetchFind

This weekend we said goodbye to my sweet collie, Whisper. My head is swirling with so many images, memories, and thoughts, yet none of them seem to have a theme, pattern, or direction.  But I want to share them with you, my pet people.

So as a way of working through my grief, I choose to reflect on how much each dog I have ever loved has changed and shaped my life. And how I have found a way to make a career, build a community, and have an impact because of those relationships. Whisper was a deeply significant part of that journey.

Whisper was my daughter’s first memory dog (we had Poodle when she was born, but Poodle died when Sadie was only 18 months old so she barely remembers her).  She was my first purebred dog and she was the first dog that didn’t come to me via being a stray, as every single one of my six previous dogs did. She was my first dog who wouldn’t jump into a car and my first dog who always preferred her space versus needing to being attached to someone. All firsts, all with Whisper.

Whisper and saide

We rescued Whisper five years ago from a very mean breeder who debarked her and let her suffer, untreated, from a variety of autoimmune diseases and abuse from other animals. With the help and support of my long-time friend and mentor, Lynn Brezina, we made the decision to take Whisper home and nurse her back to health and build her a life she deserved.  I can say, with absolute certainty, that we did exactly that.

My husband Drew, our friends, our other pets, and our entire community saw to it that Whisper had five beautiful years on this planet. And she somehow taught all us of about second chances and what it really means to be a force for good in this world despite the all the reasons not to be. In the entire five years we lived with this dog, she never – not for a single second – lifted a lip, growled, or even gave so much as a hard stare. There have been babies, dogs, cats, rats, pet sitters, cars, offices, strangers, and kids everywhere, filling every crevice and every moment of her life with us. And through all that, and in the wake of four years of abuse and neglect before we rescued her, she gave us nothing but kindness. (And the not-so-occasional stealing of food.)

Whisper was a good dog, and we loved her.

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Pet-friendly fun in the Windy City!

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There is nothing we love more than a midwestern summer – unless it’s a midwestern summer spent hanging out with our best pals. If you’re in Chicago, here are some of our favorite dog-friendly venues:

Mercury Cruises – Bring your camera and your pooch for a 90-minute cruise with Mercury! On Saturday and Sunday mornings through the end of September, you can enjoy a narrated historical and architectural tour, complete with dog-friendly highlights. These canine cruises feature safe outdoor seating, water bowls, and a special doggy restroom.

Fido to Go – Summer is a great time for food trucks, and now your dogs can enjoy mobile gourmutt (heh) specialties as well. Fido to Go serves handmade, gluten and allergen-free doggy ice creams, frozen yogurts, and cookies. Check out their next stop by following them on Twitter at @fidotogo.

The Shops at North Bridge – Want to shop with your pooch? Head on over to North Bridge, where the entire mall (except for food venues) is pet friendly. They even have comfort stations, treats, and water on the first and second floors. Bonus: so much lovely air conditioning.

Make sure your dog enjoys the outings as much as you do! For only $5, you can learn how to keep your pooch safe and happy during your summer adventures. Get your I Love Dogs badge here!

Bucktown Pub and Ten Cat Tavern  – There are tons of outdoor patios in Chicago where your pooch can hang while you enjoy brunch or a brew, but if you want your pup to watch the ball game with you inside a friendly neighborhood bar, check out the Ten Cat Tavern or Bucktown Pub (they also have outdoor beer gardens).

Prairie Wolf Dog Park – Chicago has lots of off leash parks inside the city limits, but if you’re willing to head out to Lake Forest you can romp to your heart’s content at the 44-acre Prairie Wolf Dog Park. If you have a dog that likes to run but needs his space, you can enjoy the freedom of trails, open fields, and a swimming hole without having to worry about too much interaction with other dogs.

What are some of your favorite pet-friendly hangouts? Let us know at hello@fetchfind.com!

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ILDGet the I Love Dogs badge for only $5! We’ve hand-picked the 5 most important topics that will take your dog smarts to the next level. These fun, easily-digestible lessons cover the basics of body language and communication, how dogs learn, the top 10 most popular breeds and more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dog socialization: start your pup out on the right paw

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By Jamie Migdal, CEO of FetchFind

When you think of a properly socialized pup, you think of one who is comfortable around both people and dogs, but can still focus on their owners. All we really want is for our dogs to like each other and to listen when we’re talking to them. Below are some ways to make that happen.

Enroll your dog in a basic obedience class. You don’t want a class that focuses on play or dog-to-dog interaction, but rather one that teaches your dog to focus on YOU in the presence of other dogs. While your trainer is teaching you the basics, your dog is learning 1) that every dog isn’t their playmate, and 2) that you are far more exciting than other dogs anyway because you are the Dispenser of All Good Things (i.e., treats and attention).

Let your dog participate in controlled and friendly play. If you have a friend or family member with an appropriate dog, invite them over for a playdate. Keep your play group small, with two or three dogs at the most, and try to make sure that they’re approximately the same size/age/activity level (believe me when I tell you that your elderly chihuahua will not appreciate the company of a 9 month old golden retriever puppy with giant paws). Remember to break up play at least every 5 minutes, to help keep your dog focused on you. If you ever feel uncomfortable with what you’re seeing, it’s okay to stop the session. You can give them a little while to calm down, or you can choose to leave. Your gut is more reliable than you think. There is a fantastic app by Sue Sternberg called the Dog Park Assistant; it will help you identify appropriate and non-appropriate behaviors, and when to break up play if you aren’t sure.

There are a ton of other tips and tricks to try. Contact a reputable local trainer if you are looking for more options or would feel more comfortable with professional supervision and advice during your first few play groups.

 

How to keep the fur from flying

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By Sandie Lee

We love our canine companions, but we don’t love those doggy-generated fur-bunnies scooting across the living room floor, clinging to our furniture or sticking all over our clothes. Plus, who hasn’t found a stray piece of dog hair in their dinner? Unfortunately, when we have the dog, we also have to take the shedding hair; it comes with the territory. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t take steps to combat all that flying fur.

Start with a high quality diet

The old adage “you are what you eat” can be said about our dogs as well. Nutrition plays a huge role not only in your dog’s inner health, but in its outer [hair] health as well.

If your dog’s food is primarily comprised of fillers such as corn, wheat, and by-product meals, then your dog will most likely have dry, flaky skin and lots of shedding hair. One of the ways to combat shedding in dogs is to feed them high-quality dry kibble that has real meat as the first ingredient. By incorporating a good quality canned food to your dog’s dry kibble you can up its moisture content by 78 % (dry food only has 10% moisture). This is an excellent way to ensure your dog stays hydrated. Plus, make sure your dog always has access to fresh, clean water.

A good balance of essential fatty acids and oils in the diet is very important. They can help your dog with the dry skin that often accompanies a dull coat and shedding problems. A high-quality dog food will already have EFAs in the recipe, but your vet may recommend other supplements such as fish or flax seed oils. If you’re adding liquid oil supplements to your dog’s diet, start slow! Adding too much oil at once can lead to digestive upset.

Giving your dog an occasional treat of people food can also help his coat. Good healthy choices for your pooch include eggs, carrots, apples, lean cooked meat, all-natural peanut butter (make sure it isn’t sweetened with xylitol, which is highly toxic to dogs).

Regular grooming is key

All dogs need to be groomed on a regular basis. This not only nabs those loose hairs before they fall out, but it also stimulates the circulation and distributes the natural oils in your dog’s skin to help keep its coat shiny and healthy.

Designate at least one day a week to brush your dog, and spend enough time to get all the loose hair, untangle the matted bits, and check for any skin abnormalities. Don’t know what brush or grooming tool to use? Here is a short list of the basic brush types:

Bristle brushes look similar to the brushes we use. They are best for short-haired and smooth-coated dog breeds such as chihuahuas and greyhounds.

Slicker brushes have tiny, tightly-packed, short wire pins, usually set onto a rectangular base with handle. These are good for many dog breeds with medium or curly hair, including retrievers and spaniels.

Rakes also contain pins and should be purchased with pins roughly as long as your dog’s fur to ensure that it adequately thins the undercoat. The rake works well on dogs with long hair and thick undercoats, such as collies and German Shepherds.

Deshedding tools are specifically designed to get rid of the excess undercoat. These come in various forms and should be used on heavy-coated breeds at least twice a year.

Giving your dog a bath can be a huge help when it comes to controlling shedding, as the hair is loosened and whisked away by the water and by the post-bath rubdown. However, too much bathing can irritate your dog’s skin, dry it out, and actually lead to more shedding. Ask a professional groomer or your vet about the appropriate bathing schedule for your dog’s breed or breed mix.

Then, there are the fleas. These nasty little critters can not only spread like wildfire throughout your entire home, but the itchy bites also do a great job irritating your dog’s skin and adding to the amount of hair that sheds. Make sure to treat your dog for fleas in the spring and fall to prevent them from using your dog as a feasting ground.

“Love me, love my dog…”

The vacuum cleaner is your best friend

Most house guests probably don’t appreciate that layer of dog fur on their clothes after they leave your home, unless they themselves have a shedding dog. To keep the furballs to a minimum, invest in a good quality vacuum, preferably one that specializes in pet fur (they tend to have extra suction power).

Grandma may have had the right idea when she covered her furniture in plastic; the pet hair slides right off. However, today we may cringe at the thought of the sticky, sweaty covers that made sitting on Grandma’s sofa a challenge. The good news is that now there are many nice furniture protectors that are designed for the wear and tear of having a dog. Even a nice throw blanket on Fido’s favorite spot can prevent lot of hair from getting on your sofa; plus, it can be easily laundered or shaken out when it becomes a mess.

Don’t forget car seat covers! How many times have you been embarrassed when you have to unexpectedly give someone a ride and they end up sitting on your dog’s “hairy” seat? This isn’t fun, so invest in some cool seat covers (or even just a giant beach towel) for your car.

One last tip: this may seem obvious, but getting rid of the hair as soon as you spot it can save a lot of time in the future. Keep a few pet hair removers scattered throughout the house so you can always find one when you need it.

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sandie-lee-writerSandie Lee has been in the writing industry for over 20 years. She hails from a small city in Ontario, Canada where there are two seasons – winter and not winter! Her husband and pets, Milo and Harry, make sure she is diligently writing each day to help bring awesome content to her readers.

 

Great Scottie! Fun facts about the Scottish Terrier

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By Emily Bruer

Do you have a Scottish Terrier at home? Are you considering adopting one? Or do you just love learning about dog breeds? Whatever the reason, the following facts will have you falling in love with these tenacious little terriers!

The typical Scottie weighs 18-22 lbs.

The Scottish Terrier’s height ranges from 10-12 inches at the shoulder.

Their life expectancy is about 12-14 years.

Listed as the 60th most popular dog breed by the American Kennel Club.

While many people picture Scotties with black coats, they can also be wheaten or brindle. The black coat didn’t become popular until the 20th century.

Their coat typically consists of a hard wiry outer coat and a soft dense undercoat. When groomed, they should have shorter coat on their backs and sides that blends into the longer areas on their legs, lower body, and beard.

Their personality is often described as loyal, feisty, intelligent, tenacious, and stubborn.

Bred to hunt rats, mice, rabbits, foxes and badgers. They are prone to being diggers because of their vermin-hunting heritage.

Thought to be good watch dogs due to their wariness of strangers and their propensity to bark only when necessary.

Care should be taken to socialize the Scottie as much as possible when young, as their natural wariness can lead to aggression with strange people and other dogs.

Scottish Terriers are not good swimmers due to their heavy “cobby” torsos and short legs, so they should always wear life jackets near water.

Both the Scottie and the West Highland White Terrier can trace their ancestry back to the Blackmount region of Perthshire and the Moor of Rannoch in Scotland.

Scotties were originally categorized as Skye Terriers, along with the modern Skye, Cairn, Dandie Dinmont, and West Highland White Terriers.

The first written accounts of a dog with a description similar to the Scottie are found in The History of Scotland 1436-1561.

Two hundred years later the Scottie was depicted in a portrait by Sir Joshua Reynolds.

Some alternate names for the Scottish Terrier include Scottie, Aberdeen Terrier, and Diehard.

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The nickname of “The Diehard” was given to Scotties by the First Earl of Dumbarton. The Earl was so impressed by the determination of his Scotties that he named his regiment of Royal Scots “Dumbarton’s Diehards.”

Modern pedigreed Scottish Terriers can be traced back to four dogs from the 1870s: Roger Rough, Tartan, Bon Accord, and Splinter II. Splinter II is often referred to as the foundation matron of the modern day Scottish Terrier.

The first written standard of the breed appeared in Vero Shaw’s Illustrated Book of the Dog, published in 1880.

The Scottish Terrier Club of England was founded in 1881. The Scottish Terrier Club of Scotland was formed in 1888.

The Scottish and English clubs disagreed on the breed’s standard, but the issue was finally resolved in 1930 by a revised breed standard based on four dogs: Heather Necessity, Albourne Barty, Albourne Annie Laurie and Miss Wijk’s Marksman of Docken.

John Naylor is credited with being the first to introduce the Scottish Terrier to this country, with his initial importation in 1883 of a dog, Tam Glen, and a bitch, Bonnie Belle.

The first registered Scottie in the U.S. was Dake, who was whelped in September 15th, 1884. Dake was born in Kokomo, Indiana and was bred by O.P. Chandler.

By 1936, the Scottie was the third most popular breed in the U.S.

The breed is prone to Von Willebrand’s disease, which is a hereditary bleeding disorder.  Some other health concerns are Scottie cramp, patellar luxation, cerebellar abiotrophy, craniomandibular osteopathy, cataracts, and glaucoma.

Scottish Terriers have a greater chance of developing some cancers than other breeds: bladder cancer, malignant melanoma,  gastric carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, lymphosarcoma, nasal carcinoma,  mast cell sarcoma, and hemangiosarcoma.

Scottish Terriers have won the Westminster Kennel Club dog show nine times, which is second only to the Wire Fox Terrier.

When Lil’ Sadie won Westminster in 2010, she was given the duty of ringing the New York Stock Exchange opening bell. Lil’ Sadie won 112 Best In Show titles during her show career.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, Washington D.C.

Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt had several Scotties over the years, including Fala, Duffy, Mr. Duffy, and Meggie.

Fala is depicted in a statue with FDR in Washington D.C. – the only presidential dog so honored.

Dwight Eisenhower had two Scotties, Caacie and Telek.

George W. Bush had two Scotties named Barney and Miss Beazley. Barney starred in nine films produced by the White House.

The Scottish Terrier is the official mascot of Carnegie Mellon University and Agnes Scott College.

The most popular game piece in Monopoly (according to Hasbro) is – you guessed it – the Scottish Terrier!

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If you’d like to adopt a Scottish terrier, check out the listings on a national adoption databases like Petfinder or Adopt-a-pet, or breed-specific rescue websites and social media groups. 

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emily-bruer-pawedinEmily Bruer has been penning the adventures of her imagination since she was old enough to hold a pencil. Working at animal shelters for the last five years, she learned an incredible amount about animal care and behavior. She is currently employed at a vet clinic where she continues her animal education. Emily’s love of animals is evident when you step into her home, which she shares with six dogs and six cats, all of whom were rescues.

Big Box, who? Indies rule this holiday season!

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By Candace D’Agnolo, CEO of Dogaholics

Some big shopping holidays are coming up (Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday) and if you aren’t a big box retail business it may feel like there’s no need to even participate.

Think again! Whether you sell via a storefront, online shop or through services, you should participate in them all.

Yes, shoppers are looking for really good deals, so this is a prime opportunity to explore discounting products and services. But even if you aren’t comfortable offering discounts there are lots of ways to still stand out from the competition.

This season can belong to you, the awesome independent business, and here’s how:

Black Friday – November 25

This big box shopping holiday is for the deal-driven, crowd-loving, gift-giving enthusiasts who get up early, wait in long lines, and love traffic. Here are some ideas how you can best grab their attention:

APPROACH #1 – SALES & PROMOTIONS

Start Early & Save Big Sale :With this sales model, the biggest deals start early. For the first two hours, run a huge discount, then the discount decreases every two hours until you close. For example: 20% off 10a-12p, 15% off 12p-2p, 10% off 2p-4p and 5% off 4p-6p.

Incentivize Increased Spending: Offer an increase in discount based on how much they spend. You can do a percentage off: spend $50, get 10% off. Spend $100, get 15% off. Spend $150, get 20% off. Or you can come up with your own business “Monopoly” money and give fake store dollars (i.e., gift certificates) of a $ amount to use with a future purchase, like your own “Doggy Dollars” in increments of $10s and $20s. So when people spend $50, you can give them $10 in Doggy Dollars to use at a later date.

The perk of doing a discount on your whole shop is that you’ll get a good idea for what the hot holiday sellers will be in December. You’ll have a pulse on the items to not only reorder and stock up on, but also the items that people didn’t react to that should maybe be re-merchandised or have their price-points changed.

APPROACH #2 – BECOME A DESTINATION

Be their “Relax & Restore Pit Stop”: Create a relaxing environment in comparison to what they are experiencing out in the Black Friday jungle by offering complimentary water, cold drinks, and snacks. Get a gift certificate to a local spa for a massage and use it as a raffle that all purchases in your store can enter. You can even give each person a bounce back coupon to the salon.

black-dogHave a Pop up Shop: If you don’t sell any merchandise or want to feature a particular vendor, host a pop up table or a pop up shop in your space! Partner with a local vendor to sample out or sell unique merchandise.

Host “Black Dog Friday”: Black dogs are statistically the last to be adopted out from animal shelters, so use the name of the day to honor and raise awareness of black dogs. Collect donations for a local animal shelter, maybe even have them bring a few adoptable black dogs or pick a dog from their shelter to feature/sponsor. As a company, you can even match your client’s donations. This will also be a great PR and photo opportunity post event to share.

Small Business Saturday – November 26

Started by American Express in 2010, this shopping holiday is all about celebrating local merchants and has increased consumer recognition of shopping small to kick off the holiday shopping season.

It’s not necessary to give discounts; instead, use the day to share your unique story and to say thank you to your customers.

CELEBRATE YOU & THEM

Give everyone a small gift with purchase: It can be a plant, a dog toy or treat, a bag of sweets, or a coupon for future shopping. It doesn’t have to cost you a lot of money; it’s the gesture that counts.

Include a personal letter from you in their shopping bags: Use it to tell your story, what makes your business unique, thank them for supporting you and encourage them to continue supporting their local independent retailers the rest of the holiday season.

Promote your community: Share a list of your favorite local businesses to shop.

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Cyber Monday – November 28

Since 2005, the Monday after Thanksgiving is known as Cyber Monday, and is an online-only shopping day. There are a few ways that independent businesses can still take part in Cyber Monday, even if you don’t have an online store.

No online store? No problem! Use Facebook: The majority of Americans have a Facebook account, so if you’re not using your business’s Facebook page to sell, you’re missing out on an easy way to grab audience! Log into your Facebook page, and find the “Shop” tab. Set up a Stripe or Paypal account, and start uploading products! It’s really easy to get started. Just pick just a few items that you want to feature, items that are unique to your business, or your best sellers. Then, put a little extra budget behind boosting these items.

Do a Facebook Live video from your business: Talk about and show all the amazing things you have in store or on offer. Make sure to tell them to call in now and you’ll be happy to take their order over the phone. Offer free shipping! No online store or website even needed.

Don’t sell any items? Do a gift card promotion: Create a gift card item on your website or on Facebook, and offer to apply credit to your customers’ accounts. For example, on Cyber Monday only you could offer everyone an extra $20 for every $100 they spend. This is easy to apply for existing clients and easy for you to mail out cards to them the next day, if they choose that option.

There are so many ways to get involved in what are traditionally big box holidays – with just a little creativity, the right plan and a strong marketing effort to get the word out, you can compete with the big boxes this season!

For a full run down on a great gift card promotion and for other sales tips on to make the most of the holiday season – download your free guide here!

 

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1candaceIn addition to being the CEO of Dogaholics, Candace D’Agnolo is a successful business coach, author, and speaker.  She started Dogaholics as a retail store, and took her initial concept of a brick and mortar location and turned it into multiple revenue streams – retail, services, online informational products, books, merchandise, and now business consulting. Candace is also a board member of Chicago Canine Rescue and loves giving back to her local community. She has helped raise over $200,000 for shelter dogs and find many forever homes. Having a way to give back through her business has been one of the most rewarding experiences of her life.

Dog training, expectations and me

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By Bill Mayeroff

When I started on my FetchFind Academy journey a bit over a year ago, I was pretty excited. I was going to learn everything about dogs and dog behavior and become a great dog trainer and every day of my life would be amazing because all I’d be doing would be training dogs.

I bored my friends to tears talking about it at first. But I just couldn’t stop myself. I was so excited that I had to talk about dog training all the time.

But as I went through the program, I began to wonder if I hadn’t built up dog training to mythical proportions. Was I getting too excited? Would all my initial excitement eventually lead to horrible disappointment that would cause me to (again) reevaluate what I was doing with my life? Could dog training really live up to the expectations I had built up in my head?

Well, friends, I can safely say that the answer is yes. Yes, dog training has and continues to live up to every expectation I’ve had. It’s been challenging. It’s been hard. It’s been fulfilling. It’s been amazing.

Two recent class sessions were spent with each student leading portions of a mock group class. That, folks, was as challenging as anything I’ve ever done. I had to teach a group of dogs some behaviors and talk authoritatively to them about dog behavior. I was a nervous wreck, but my teachers said it didn’t show. And when I was done, it felt fantastic.

That’s when I realized that dog training was indeed living up to the expectations I had created for it. Since I started at FetchFind, all I wanted was to be like the amazing trainers I got to see and learn from every week. I wanted to do the thing they do every day. And there I was, doing it in front of them and doing it well.

That’s a pretty cool feeling. And now that I’ve had it – and now that I have a little experience teaching a private client – I can safely say that it does not dissipate the more I do it. In fact, the more I actually train dogs, the more amazing it feels and the more I know it’s exactly what I’m supposed to be doing. 

So here I am. I finish the FetchFind Academy program in a few short weeks. It’s becoming real, guys. And for the first time in a while, I’m excited, rather than terrified, for what my near future has in store. 

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Start your own dog training journey with Behavior Fundamentals Online!

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Look at these two handsome gents.

After five years as a newspaper reporter in western Illinois and two more as a freelancer in Chicago, Bill Mayeroff‘s life has gone to the dogs in the best way possible. These days, Bill lives in Chicago with his terrier mix, Chester, and works at a small, no-kill animal shelter while he studies to be a professional dog trainer at FetchFind Academy. Bill also blogs about his two favorite things – dogs and beer – at Pints and Pups. 

Halloween Safety Tips

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By Erin Schneider, CPDT-KA

Halloween is just around the corner. I was never a fan, but I have a new love of the holiday since moving to our house. We enjoyed our first Halloween in our new house last year and I loved every minute of it. My husband took our daughter out for her first trick-or-treating (she was Princess Leia) and I stayed home to pass out candy. I loved seeing all the kids in their adorable costumes.

We were dog sitting my parent’s dog, Dolly, during Halloween. When we lived in Chicago, we lived in a condo and didn’t get trick-or-treaters, so I never had to worry about how our dog, Bailey, would react to visitors. Still, I know that Halloween is a stressful day for dogs and I was prepared for having a dog on this hectic holiday.

Dolly isn’t crate trained, so I had some gates set up away from our entryway so she couldn’t get out. I set up a nice little spot for her to relax and hang out. Well, my plans didn’t go very well. Dolly was very stressed and barked the entire time. Shortly after trick-or-treating began, I knew I would have to change up my plan. I quickly set up a safe zone for her upstairs where she wouldn’t hear the doorbell and feel stressed by all the visitors. She was already pretty worked up, so it took her some time to calm down.

Halloween is a lot of fun for humans, but not so fun for our four-legged friends.

It’s scary seeing everyone dressed up in weird costumes, some with extra-scary masks. So below are some tips to help your dog survive this festive holiday.

Keep your dog at home. I know, I know. You have the perfect costume planned for your dog and you want to show it off. Instead, take some photos of them to show off to all of your friends and save your dog the stress. Dogs don’t enjoy being out on such a busy day with “funny looking” people.

Give your dog a safe place to be at home. This is when a crate comes in very handy. Set the crate in a place that is out of the way, give your dog a Kong filled with his favorite treats and let them relax. They don’t need to participate in all of the events of the night. They would be much happier on their own.

If you don’t have a crate, set up a spot in a room such as a bathroom or laundry room. Put their bed in there, give them a Kong and put a baby gate up.

Keep your dog away from the door. It is important to keep your dog away from the door, both for their comfort and for the safety of the trick-or-treaters. Not everyone enjoys coming to someone’s door just to be greeted with an over-enthusiastic dog. It can be quite frightening for kids. I don’t care how friendly your dog is, it isn’t fair to little trick-or-treaters to feel uncomfortable on their special night.

Noise sensitive dogs should be far away from the commotion. If you have a noise sensitive dog that reacts to the doorbell, it’s best to put them in a room far away from the commotion. If you have a crate, put their crate in a bedroom, turn on some white noise or relaxing music to drown out the noise and give them something yummy to chew on.

Remember, Halloween is supposed to be a fun night for all, but safety is key. This year, I plan on giving out candy while my husband takes our daughter, who is going to be Rapunzel from Tangled and our son, who is going to be an X-Wing Fighter Pilot from Star Wars, out trick-or-treating. It should be a fun night!

How do you enjoy Halloween with your dog?

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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.

How studying dog behavior ruins “cute” dog videos … and why that’s a good thing

By Bill Mayeroff

One of the unanticipated side effects of studying dog behavior is that videos of dogs that at one point I might have thought were cute or funny now just make me cringe.

Take, for example, this commercial for the Toyota RAV4:

In it, this couple imagines going camping with their dog and their new Toyota RAV4. The man imagines a scenario in which he throws an object into a river (that appears to have a VERY strong current) which the dog chases. As the dog swims after the object, he and his female companion jump into their SUV and drive along the bank and meet the dog, with the object in its mouth, as it emerges and shakes itself off. The man then throws the object back into the river and the dog jumps back in after it.

Now, at one point, I might have found that funny (though it’s hard to say, as the commercial was released long after I began studying at FetchFind). But today? Not at all.

In what world is it ok to send your dog into a river with such a strong current, jump into your car and meet it downstream? If that happened in real life, the likelihood of the dog surviving are slim. Even a dog that’s a strong swimmer would have issues swimming through that.

Another example of a commercial encouraging bad behavior toward dogs comes to us from Amazon.com:

In this commercial, a baby girl appears scared of the family’s dog – a doofy-looking golden retriever. But what she loves is her stuffed lion.

Her father decides to use Amazon Prime to fix things. He orders a lion mane costume for the dog from Amazon and thanks to the magic of Amazon Prime, he has it the next day. The dog, wearing the costume, comes into the room and slowly approaches the baby, who at first appears hesitant. But at the 28-second mark, the little baby reaches out toward the dog and gently touches its nose.

preview-full-lion_dog

Now, at first blush, this might seem cute. But as a trainer (even though I’m only a rookie), it scares the hell out of me.

I’ll explain.

There are two big problems here. First of all, kids the age of the one in the commercial move in very jerky and awkward ways. Jerky and awkward movements can easily spook a dog, causing it to snap or bite. The other problem is that the girl is reaching toward the dog’s face. And even if the girl had moved smoothly and slowly, some dogs just hate things near their faces. Either way, letting a baby reach for a dog’s face is just generally a bad idea.

There was one other thing that really scared me about that commercial. If you blink, you may have missed it. But it was definitely there. When the baby reached for the dog’s face, the dog wrinkled its nose slightly. While such a thing might look cute, it’s actually a sign a dog might be preparing to snap or bite. That dog was definitely telling the girl it did not want her anywhere near its face.

What bothers me about both of these commercials is that the problems I pointed out were unnecessary. Toyota didn’t need to show a dog jumping into a raging river to show a fun camping experience. There are plenty of fun activities the owners could have been doing with their dog on a camping trip that didn’t involve putting the dog’s life at risk and could have still shown off the RAV4.

And in the Amazon commercial, the girl didn’t need to reach for the dog’s face. It would have been better to show the girl reaching to pet the dog’s back or somewhere around the scruff of the neck or maybe the top of the head. What they did not need to show was the girl reaching straight for the dog’s nose.

Not only that, but by airing these commercials, Toyota and Amazon are tacitly implying that doing these things to dogs is ok. On a rational level, I realize that nobody takes advice about how to interact with dogs from commercials for either car companies or online retailers. That said, both reinforce the misconception that behaviors that appear cute or funny. And in the case of the Amazon commercial, it ignores how dogs communicate and tell us how they feel.

There’s not really any great moral to this. Too often, dog videos touted as “cute” or “funny” or “hilarious” show the dogs in uncomfortable or even dangerous situations. Or they show the dogs displaying behaviors that look “cute” if you don’t know how to read a dog’s body language but that actually indicate high levels of fear, stress or anxiety.

And I just ask that you think about that before you share those videos on social media.

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Look at these two handsome gents.

After five years as a newspaper reporter in western Illinois and two more as a freelancer in Chicago, Bill Mayeroff‘s life has gone to the dogs in the best way possible. These days, Bill lives in Chicago with his terrier mix, Chester, and works at a small, no-kill animal shelter while he studies to be a professional dog trainer at FetchFind Academy. Bill also blogs about his two favorite things – dogs and beer – at Pints and Pups. 

Introducing cat to dog

Tucker layersBy Jamie Migdal, CEO of FetchFind

If you’ve been considering adopting a cat for your previously all-dog household, but haven’t the slightest idea of how to go about that without the fur flying (literally), here are some tips from my friend Katie Moody who, in addition to being a top-notch dog trainer, successfully integrated two kittens into her two dog/two kid/two adult home last year.

Before you even start looking for a cat, do the following:

Assess your dog. Do an honest assessment of your dog’s temperament and personality. If you have a laid-back dog without much of a prey drive, it’s going to be a lot easier to bring in a cat than if you have a high energy dog that chases and nips everything that moves. If you think that you can just toss a cat into the mix and figure that she can take care of herself because she has claws, you’re setting everyone in the house up for failure or injury (or worse).

Assess yourself. You’ll also need to do an honest assessment of how much time you are willing to spend on the introduction process; doing it safely will take more than a weekend, so if you don’t have the time or inclination to do it properly, you might want to reconsider the new addition. (If you need a regular cat fix, plenty of shelters and rescues need volunteers.)

Brush up on training. Your next step should be to brush up on your dog’s training. At the very least, make sure he has solid recall, stay, look at me, and drop it commands. A good go to place can also be very helpful. If your dog hasn’t had any training, sign up for a class. If your dog is an inveterate squirrel-chaser, stop encouraging the behavior (you can’t count on him being able to differentiate between one type of small fleeing creature and another). This is something you should be working on long before you start looking at cats.

If, after all of the above, you feel like you can bring a cat into your home, proceed to the next steps in the integration program.

Set the cat up in her own room. Once your dog has his skills firmly in place, you can bring a cat into the home. Set aside a separate room for the cat with bed, litter box, toys, food, etc., and block off the doorway with a baby gate (fix it securely to the door jamb, so it can’t get knocked over). Let the cat settle down and get acclimated to the new surroundings for a few days before moving onto the next phase. Keep the dog away from the cat during this time, so that he can get used to the smell and sound of a new family member from a distance.

Start the introduction process. Start walking the dog (on leash) past the baby-gated doorway several times a day. If the dog exhibits calm behavior, praise and treat him. Toss the cat a treat as well, so she learns to associate the dog with yummy goodness. If the dog overreacts, don’t scold or use leash corrections; distract and redirect him with other behaviors (sit, down, look at me). Reward and praise when the dog pays attention to you and not the cat. The cat should be left to approach the gate or not, according to her inclination. If she does approach the gate, toss her another treat. Don’t ever force the cat into proximity with the dog.

Move into the main living space. Once your cat seems okay with the dog walking by the room, and your dog is accepting her presence calmly, you can move the introduction into the main living space. For this step, management redundancy is ideal – crate, play pen around the crate, leashed dog. At the very least, you should have your dog on a leash, and tethered if necessary. The cat should always have the freedom to escape to a safe place if it’s too much for her. If the dog starts stalking, chasing, or barking at the cast, or just seems too interested, redirect him with praise and treats. Avoid yelling or jerking on the leash if the dog behaves inappropriately, because stressing him out will make him more aroused and less likely to listen to you. You also don’t want to inadvertently reinforce the association of cat = bad things.

Be patient. Each of the above steps could take weeks, or even months. Your cat and dog may never be comfortable together and will have to live in separate parts of the house for the rest of their lives, no matter how careful the introduction. But whatever you do, don’t rush the process.

Always supervise. After the formal introduction period is over, you can start to leave your dog unleashed and untethered when the cat is in the room. You should never leave your cat and dog together unsupervised, no matter how long they’ve known each other or how well they behave together.

A couple more things – don’t leave your cat’s food where the dog can get at it; feed the cat separately or put the food bowl on a high place. And don’t let the dog get into the litter box; it’s stressful to the cat, and you don’t want to remember that you busted your dog eating delicious cat poop rolled in crunchy bits only after he starts licking your face.

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Photo of Tucker with three layers of security courtesy of Katie Moody.