Recently I came across an interesting article about teaching dogs sign language. I was intrigued by the concept, and I decided to give it a shot with my own dogs. I purchased a book written by the creator of K9Sign. I have a lot of hard work ahead of me, if I want to successfully teach my dogs to sign, but one of the first things that I’ve got to work on is my understanding of how dogs learn. Read More »
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The July 4th Holiday is upon us, and unfortunately it is one of the busiest times for animal shelters due to the overwhelming amount of dogs lost during the fireworks & festivities. The fireworks may be fun for us, for some of our canine friends it can be downright terrifying.
During fireworks displays, or even while setting off fireworks in your backyard and neighborhood, your usually calm family pet may become extremely stressed. The stress overload can cause some pets to try to escape the house or yard. By following a few simple tips for this holiday weekend you can avoid coming home to an empty house and the anxiety of a missing beloved family pet.
- Avoid bringing your pet to fireworks displays, even if they are not usually startled by loud noises or thunder.
- Keep your pet indoors in a quiet, safe, sheltered area. Keep doors and windows closed and locked (I’ve heard stories of dogs opening slider doors or even jumping through windows to escape). Leave the TV on or play soothing music at a normal level to distract him from the noise outside
- Prepare a safe “den” for your pet. If they choose to hide under the bed, in their crate or somewhere else in the house, allow them to. If your dog is not crate trained, and you would like him to be please visit our comprehensive crate training guide.
- Feed your pet before the displays begin and keep a special chew treat on hand as a distraction.
- Nervous or stressed dogs may chew to ease anxiety. Make sure to provide proper chew toys and make sure all cords and other dangerous objects are out of reach
- Try a calming aid to help calm anxiety, or ask your vet for medication to help with your pet’s noise phobia.
- Do not leave your pet outside during the festivities. Even with a fence or a tie-out a dog can go to great lengths to escape the source of their anxiety.
- Always make sure your pet is wearing a properly fitted dog collar with up-to-date ID tags. Consider having your pet microchipped for extra security.
- Try not to reward anxiety with extra attention. It may be hard not to cuddle or fawn over your pet when he is scared, but do your best to ignore axious behavior or practice distraction techniques to turn their focus away from commotions.
Follow these simple steps to enjoy a worry free Independence Day. The knowledge that your family pets are safe and sound will make your holiday all the more fun. Have a great holiday weekend!
Severe Weather can also be very stressful on our pets. Check out this post for tips on keeping you pets calm during severe weather.
For those of you following this blog, you may have read some of my previous posts about Gatsby, my incredibly destructive, adopted German Shepherd mix. I’d like to share some of the techniques I used to help curb Gatsby’s destructive tendencies.
If you have a destructive pet, the first thing you have to do is find the root of the behavior. Does he have separation anxiety? Is he under-stimulated? Or maybe there was a recent change in routine or environment? All of these can be common triggers of destructive dog behavior. Your ‘treatment’ of the bad behavior will depend on the cause, and you may require some professional help if you are dealing with dangerous or extreme destruction in your home.
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I love being outdoors. Walking, hiking, gardening, exploring, I do it all and it’s usually with at least one dog to accompany me. My pets and I can become pretty oblivious as we meander through grassy meadows and majestic forests as we try to take it all in. But, as we wander, it’s important to keep potential dangers to pets (and to yourself) in mind to avoid what could be a fatal encounter – particularly encounters with one of the various venomous snakes native to North America. I don’t believe that snakes are malicious or evil creatures, and I know that they won’t seek me or my dog out to attack, but the thought of a chance meeting in a remote field or woodland can be a distinct possibility when you explore the wild. In such a situation it pays to be informed. Read More »
I put off writing this article for a long because I feared that people would judge me as a bad pet parent. I finally decided to write it when I heard countless other “my dog ate” stories and came to terms with the fact that accidents do happen.
“You think your dog ate what?” Those are the words I heard from my vet over the phone when I was trying to explain I thought my shepherd mix Gatsby may have eaten some pins from a pin cushion.
Let’s back up to the beginning. I got home from work around 6 and started on dinner. Something shiny on the kitchen floor caught my eye. It was a pin. I didn’t think much of it at first, thinking it may have fallen off of some clothing I had recently purchased. Fast forward a few hours. We were returning from our evening walk when I spotted a toy I didn’t recognize in Gatsby’s crate. I picked it up and my heart stopped. It was the pin cushion from the sewing box.
To be honest, my first reaction was “There’s no way he ate any, they appear to all still be on the cushion.” Despite my denial I checked his mouth and peered down his throat. No blood, no needles, nothing abnormal. He was also acting normally. I suddenly remembered the pin in the kitchen and started searching for more pins. Immediately I knew that there was going to be a problem. I was finding pins left and right. Some were broken and some were bent. Even thought my denial still persisted (who eats pins, right?) I called my vet. She instructed me to go to the emergency pet hospital for x-rays.
At this point I was still calm, steadfastly denying to myself that either of the dogs had actually eaten any of the pins, but better safe than sorry. They took the dogs back for x-rays and then the vet came to speak with me. She gave me the good news first: Barret was free and clear, no pins in his belly. On the other hand, Gatsby had eaten enough pins for the both of them. From there almost everything else is a blur. The x-ray image was frightening. A cluster of what I later learned to be 11 pins were sitting in his stomach. One had already made its way toward the intestines.
Because of the sheer number of pins he had ingested surgery was his best option. If we took the “wait and see what passes” approach the damage could have been irreversible. I was told when a dog has ingests pins, and it is less than 3, they will generally pass without an issue with monitoring. I was astounded to learn that this wasn’t the first pin-extraction my vet had performed! I would do anything for my “kids” so I signed the papers, sent him into surgery and went home to wait.
It was about 2 AM when the vet called to let me know he was out of surgery and waking up. They were only able to find and remove 9 pins despite multiple x-rays taken during surgery. I was to pick him up from the hospital and take him to my regular vet in the morning. He was released later in the day with strict dietary restrictions, medications, and instructions. I was also charged with the unpleasant task of dissecting any bowel movements to be sure the last 2 pins made it out safely.
The next few days we were still really worried about him. He had no interest in food and wasn’t going to the bathroom. After about a week I finally was able to find a food (scrambled eggs) that he would eat. We breathed a sigh of relief when we found the last pin in his stool a few days later. Despite the fact that he was still vomiting and was losing weight, the vet assured me that he would get back to normal soon, having endured a pretty invasive surgery it would just take time. After a few vet office visits and several different medications he was on the mend.
The experience has taught me a few lessons, mainly that some dogs really can (and will) eat anything if given the opportunity. I was always very careful about leaving things out or leaving doors open before, but (lesson #2) dogs can be very sneaky. Finally, I learned that both my dogs are integral parts of my life and that when it comes down to the wire I would do anything to make their lives long, healthy, and happy.
So ends my tale of the canine pin cushion. If you have one, please feel free to share your own “my dog ate” story in our comments section.
So now that Spring has sprung (YAY!), pet owners across the nation may find themselves dealing with more than foul weather and slick roads. The warmth of the sun and the extended daylight becons the emergence of dormant wildlife from their cozy winter dens. Perhaps none is so dreaded than those with tell-tale black and white markings and unmistakeable scent – the skunk.
Mojo and the Fog of Eternal Stench
I know a Great Pyranees named Mojo that has a particular fondness for wildlife. He can often be seen roaming the farm fields and woods edge in search of something to make friends with (or harass) whether it be a herd of deer or a plump groundhog basking too far away from his hole. Unfortunately for his family he doesn’t discriminate – he’s happy to greet anything he comes across, even the local skunks. I often wonder if he likes the smell or if his gentle, fun-seeking nature just makes him keep trying to get aquainted with them. Regardless of his motives, it seems as if he constantly reeks of his overnight encounters, much to the dismay of his family. My guess is he’ll never learn or accept that the fascinating striped “cats” don’t want to be his friend, and the noxious perfume is supposed to be a hint. Read More »
Over the course of the last year, I’ve learned a lot about training new dogs, especially puppies. I thought I might share some of the tips I’ve learned and found useful with my “kids”. Here goes, hope you find them helpful! Read More »
Let me give you a little history. For as long as I can remember, I have loved animals of all shapes and sizes. At the age of 6, I got my first pet (a Bichon Frise named Francis). When I was in middle school, my mom bought me another dog, a Bichon named Mandee. A few years later, we brought home her sister, a bichon/poodle mix named Mollie. Mandee and Mollie were my responsibility to train and care for when I lived at home, which gave me my first glimpse into responsible pet ownership.
When I was in college, my now-husband and I took in some feral kittens. Kitten ownership was a challenge, never having owned kittens before I did not know how to prepare myself or my home for such chaos! We got through it with minor bumps along the way. Fast forward four years. A few months after we bought our first home, we wanted a dog (we finally had a yard!) Read More »