Dog Behavior

Ingredients for a "Happy Hound"

Guest Post by Jessica Brody

Noemi-macavei-katocz-c7bUIRBqapA-unsplashAs a doggy parent, taking care of your four-legged companion comes naturally. Your dog loves your company and that seems to be all a dog needs. But the basics of dog care are important and will provide a good foundation. As much as your dog needs love, they also need nutrition and playtime. So here are some tips to make sure your four-legged friend is not only happy, but healthy as well!

Good fences make safe dogs

Your dog might prefer to have free rein over the neighborhood but as hard as this might be to believe, not everyone loves your dog as much as you do. So to protect them from all kinds of threats that range from traffic to other dogs to less-than-enthusiastic neighbors, consider installing a fence around your yard.

Craftsmanship, height and style choice are the keys to results that are both secure and aesthetically appealing. If you’re handy you can install it yourself, but if not, searching websites like Angi.com will lead you to reputable fencing companies near your location.

Navigating the claims of dog food makers

There are many kinds of dog food that vary greatly in quality and price. The trend toward holistic dog food is a move in the direction of healthier ingredients. According to veterinary doctor Natalie Stilwell, however, there are no industry standards when it comes to labeling a dog food “holistic,” while terms like “organic” or “natural” are more defined. So it’s best to do a little research before being won over by the claims made by the manufacturer.

Humans and dogs are really different when it comes to digestion. So while it’s tempting, it’s best to keep table scraps to a minimum, or to at least know what’s not good for your dog, since some foods can actually pose a health risk, according to Animal Planet. For instance, common food items such as milk, chocolate, garlic, avocadoes, grapes, and raisins should all be avoided.

If you want to reward your dog, look for treats made specifically for them, such as doggy ice cream, cookies, and flavored treats. Make sure the dog food you serve is up to par too, containing plenty of protein, veggies, fruits, grains, and a clearly labeled “best by” date. Keep in mind that dogs need different food for various stages of life, so check in with your vet to ensure your dog is getting the right kind of food to promote healthy growth and development.

Walks, yes, but also playtime

You already know that your dog needs daily exercise, but a walk around the neighborhood is only half of it. Your pooch needs playtime to burn off energy, satisfy their natural need to explore, and provide physical and mental stimulation. By offering opportunities for play, you not only prevent bad behaviors such as chewing or barking, but also teach your dog important lessons with boundaries.

When you take your dog to the dog park, you don’t want to be shunned because your dog doesn’t know how to play nice. By playing with your dog, you can build up obedience while also addressing bad behavior, both of which carry over into other areas. As long as your pooch is having fun, nearly any form of play can be beneficial. Check out a new hiking trail, or try new activities such as flyball or agility courses, and keep that brain sharp with puzzle toys and new tricks. You can even get your dog speech buttons to help them better communicate.

Add doggy daycare to the mix

Unfortunately, not everyone can take their dog to work. Consider a dog walker or doggy daycare for the long blocks of time when you have to be away. At doggy daycare your dog will get to play and socialize. They may be so tired they’ll fall asleep on the ride home. They’ll look forward to going and you'll feel good knowing they aren’t bored at home all day.

Once they’re used to going, doggy daycare can cure separation anxiety. It establishes a routine and provides physical exercise. It can help ease your play and walk responsibilities for when you’ve had an exhausting day, and you still get to be together to relax at the end of the day.

Your dog is probably going to love you no matter what. But feeding your dog right and providing exercise and mental stimulation can keep your dog healthy and happy.

Jessica Brody created http://ourbestfriends.pet/ so others could find a place to share stories and photos of their beloved animal companions.

Photo by Noémi Macavei-Katócz on Unsplash


How to Camp with a Reactive Dog

Guest Post by Tadej Kožar

Patrick-hendry-eDgUyGu93Yw-unsplashWould you love to bring your dog with you when you camp? What if your dog is reactive and not reliable outdoors? It is possible to take a reactive dog camping with you, but you will have to consider a few things before heading to a campsite or out in the backcountry.

The worst scenario can happen at a campsite that is crowded with other campers and their pets. If your dog will react to any of them even while just passing through you could have a stressful camping experience.

First, it is important to know why your dog is reactive so you work with him to fix the issue. Here are the most common reasons for a dog being reactive:

The lack of socialization
This is one of the most obvious factors for a dog’s reactive behavior. If your pup wasn’t introduced early on to various situations with people and other animals he can be reactive. It is best that you introduce a young puppy to new things as soon as possible as the brain is more perceptive in the first 4 months of a dog’s life.

Bad past experience
If you got a dog from an owner who mistreated him, this can be a problem. Your dog could associate people with pain and bad things and react negatively. It is important that he gets your trust. You will achieve this by working with him on a regular basis and reassuring him that he can trust people.

Your dog could be in pain
Your dog’s reactive behavior could actually be a reaction to his pain. Take your dog to a vet to determine if he has any health issues that make him reactive.

How to help a reactive dog when camping

Dogs with behavior issues require work, patience, and good techniques to overcome the problem successfully. Here are some tips for how to camp with a reactive dog:

Research the campsite

As the owner of a reactive dog, your responsibility is to find a more peaceful campground with not so many people, pets and events. Your dog will have an easier time coping with a new environment, people, and situations this way. Campgrounds that have adequate privacy between pitching plots are the best options.

Set up a dog-friendly camp

When you arrive at the campsite, let your dog research the place first. This way he will get familiar with the new environment. Then prepare a specific place for him so he can enjoy the quiet and rest undisturbed.

Get a pet-friendly tent

If your dog likes to sleep with you or close to you, get a tent that is appropriate for dogs. Some camping tents have a vestibule that is breathable and big enough for you and your dog to spend the night inside. You can even opt for a tent that has a vestibule floor made of material so your dog’s claws won’t tear apart and destroy the tent.

Set up a crate or an x-pen

If your dog is used to being outside, you can set up a place for him to relax, eat and walk. You can buy an x-pen, crate, or portable fence where he will feel comfortable and not so anxious.

Additional help

If you have a very reactive pet you can cover up his crate or place where he relaxes when you have to cook a meal or collect firewood. Use tarps, blankets, or towels to cover the place where he stays so he can’t see “the triggers” that will make him react.

What to avoid

One big mistake dog owners make is putting their dogs on a short leash. If you restrict your dog’s movement, he can be even more anxious and aggressive. Instead, give him his own place (crate, x-pan, etc.) where he will have more freedom.

Dog-friendly activities

Enjoy the outdoors with your dog and make sure you provide activities that will make him calm and comfortable.

Long walks

Take your dog for a long walk. He will be occupied with discovering new surroundings and sniffing around. Sniffing is the most basic behavior that makes dogs calm and this is exactly what your dog needs.

A walk will keep your dog occupied and mentally and physically stimulated so he won’t be able to react to the possible triggers. However, if he still finds a way to change his calm behavior, take him away from distraction and talk to him calmly.

Have a morning and an afternoon walk so your dog can explore and release his excess energy. The purpose of such action is to stop the reaction and offer him a better, calmer solution.

Play with your dog

Bring along your dog’s favorite toys that he can play with. With an interesting toy like a bone, rope, or a ball he will be occupied and less triggered by other factors and situations.

Change your dog's behavior in a moment

Changing your dog’s behavior is the most crucial thing to do when he starts to show signs of feeling uncomfortable. When you see a trigger that he is most sensitive to, take him away or give him his favorite toy so he can be focused on other more familiar things. It is important that you know what triggers his problematic behavior and to react accordingly.

Make your dog feel comfortable

Every dog that exhibits reactive behavior needs to feel calm and comfortable. Use your dog's name and talk to him quietly when he feels threatened. Try to get away from the trigger. This is an important step in the rehabilitation of a reactive dog.

Pack his gear

No matter where you take your dog camping you need to take care of his gear. He must have some sort of blanket or a bed where he can relax. If he is not used to resting in the vestibule of your large group tent then give him a sleeping area that reminds him of home.

Leash or harness

Use a leash or a harness when you walk with him. Don’t let him wander around the campsite by himself as he could get triggered easily by wild animals and smells. He can still enjoy a walk if he is restrained.

Treat pouch

A treat pouch is basic gear for a reactive dog. It will come in handy on walks and when you want to divert your dog’s reactive behavior. Give him a treat from time to time when he behaves and also use a small treat when you want to divert his attention to a triggering situation, human or an animal.

Having a reactive dog demands a lot of work, patience, and techniques so you two can camp together peacefully. It is crucial that you know your dog's triggers so you can prepare for them while you camp.

Photo by Patrick Hendry on Unsplash

Tadej Kožar is the founder of Camping Valley. The site is an extension of his lifestyle and passion for the outdoors. Tadej believes we live in a technological era but nature is reminding us more and more that we should go to the places where our heart and soul feel like home.


Ah-Choo! Does Your Dog Reverse Sneeze?

Simone-dalmeri-FUR242Eu_z4-unsplashMy little dog occasionally snorts uncontrollably. While the episode doesn't last long, it's actually pretty frightening to watch since it looks like he is in considerable discomfort. According to our vet, it's a harmless condition that's quite common in dogs. The official name is "mechanosensitive aspiration reflex" but it is colloquially known as "reverse sneezing."

If your dog ever does this, PetPlace.com has published a very comprehensive article about reverse sneezing that should allay any fears. The article includes:

  1. What is Reverse Sneezing in Dogs?
  2. What Does a Reverse Sneeze Look Like?
  3. How Long Do Episodes of Reverse Sneezing Last?
  4. What Does Reverse Dog Sneezing Sound and Look Like?
  5. What Causes Reverse Sneezing in Dogs?
  6. Which Breeds are Most Likely to Reverse Sneeze?
  7. What is the Treatment for Reverse Sneezing in Dogs?
  8. How to Stop a Reverse Sneezing Episode in Dogs
  9. What to Watch For
  10. Prevention of Reverse Sneezing in DOgs
  11. FAQs About Reverse Sneezing in Dogs
  12. Final Thoughts on Reverse Sneezing in Dogs

Read the article here:

https://www.petplace.com/article/dogs/pet-health/reverse-sneezing-in-dogs/?

Photo by Simone Dalmeri on Unsplash


How to Get Your Senior Dog Moving Again...Safely

Screen Shot 2021-03-31 at 12.18.51 PMAccording to the Dog Aging Project, "Decreased mobility can be a huge factor in decreased quality of life for our senior dogs." In a recent blog post, the Dog Aging Project offers some valuable tips and tricks to get your senior dog moving again...safely. The post addresses these two common questions:

  1. My dog has a lot of trouble getting up and walking on hardwood or tile floors. What can be done to help her?
  2. My senior dog can no longer jump into the car or up on the couch. How can I help him?

Of course, you should speak with your veterinarian -- but this post shares some excellent, specific tips and tricks in answer to each of these questions. If you have a senior dog who is having any kind of mobility issues, this information is well worth reading. You can find the post here: https://dogagingproject.org/mobility-tips-and-tricks-for-senior-dogs/?

Image: Dog Aging Project


Does Your Dog Suffer from CDS?

Sharon-mccutcheon-j7mcNG_2vuo-unsplashDogs can suffer from dimentia just like humans. About 68 percent of dogs ages 15 to 16, and 28 percent of dogs ages 11 to 12, are affected by Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS).

This helpful article discusses in detail signs, symptoms and treatments for CDS. According to the article:

Many vets use the acronym DISHAAL to assess for cognitive dysfunction. DISHAAL stands for

  • Disorientation
  • alterations in Interactions with owners, other pets and the environment 
  • Sleep-wake cycle disturbances 
  • House soiling
  • changes in Activity 
  • Anxiety
  • Learning and memory impairment. 

If your dog exhibits any of the above signs, it could be CDS or some other condition -- but you definitely want to consult your vet. Start your assessment and improve your understanding of CDS by reading the article here: https://www.nextavenue.org/dementia-in-pets-what-you-need-to-know/

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash


How to Enrich Your Dog's Life

Lena-balk-Jh7mx7fMXzE-unsplash"Canine enrichment" is a phrase dog behaviorists use to define specific ways for how to make a dog's life happy and healthy. In a recent article for The Bark, animal behaviorist and dog trainer Karen London discusses tips which she discovered in the book, Canine Enrichment for the Real World: Making It a Part of Your Dog’s Daily Life by Allie Bender and Emily Strong. London highlights the following important points about enrichment:

  • "Ideal enrichment varies by individual as well as by breed"
  • "Providing choices to a dog is a great form of enrichment"
  • "Physical exercise affects the brain, mood, digestion, memory, appetite" and more
  • "Safety and security are critical elements of enrichment"
  • "Mental stimulation is an important part of enrichment"
  • "Let them be dogs!"

The article is worth reading -- and the book is a must if you want to really enrich your dog's life!

Photo by Lena Balk on Unsplash


A Great Dog Story

This is a dog story we had to share because it shows how wonderful and unexpected a relationship can be between dogs and humans. This little fella, Paco, was found on a road one day and adopted by a guy who lives quite an adventurous life. As you'll see in the video, Paco fearlessly accompanies him on all of his adventures! If you'd like to see more of Paco's adventures after watching this video, just search "Paco the adventure dog" on YouTube.

 

 


How to "Quarantrain" Your Dog

Dog-2871914_1920Many dog owners are starting the new year where they left off in 2020 -- by staying close to home because of the pandemic. This reality can be actually be very positive for you and your dog. In fact, you can use the time to do some "quarantraining." According to certified trainer Kathy Callahan writing in Whole Dog Journal, the pandemic gives dog owners "a chance to use our household routines to prompt a handful of simple one-minute sessions throughout the day."

Callahan offers some specific tips for exactly how to use these short daily sessions to train your dog while you are spending more of your time at home. The "sit" command is a good example. Writes Callahan, "It’s the one thing that all owners work into their daily routine. Every single time they feed the dog, they ask for a sit first. Dog does behavior A; dog gets reward B. Reinforcement each time, 365 days a year. That makes for a rock-solid behavior." Callahan says you can apply this same basic principle to training your dog to follow other commands.

"Quarantraining" is an idea worth trying. Read Callahan's interesting article here:
https://www.whole-dog-journal.com/training/quarantrain-your-dog-how-to-train-your-dog-while-staying-home/ 

Image by Sarah Richter from Pixabay


If You Have a Senior Dog, Read This...

Pavel-anoshin-m-fvIeA9WZU-unsplash
The Dog Aging Project has published an authoritative, comprehensive article just for senior dog owners: "Understanding Behavioral Changes in Senior Dogs." It discusses:

  • Why do we see behavioral changes in senior dogs?
  • What behavioral changes should I look for in my senior dog?
  • What should I do if I see behavioral changes in my older dog?

The article offers a good overview of DISHA, a broad classification of behaviors that may be related to cognitive dysfunction, which is commonly seen in senior dogs.

Check out the complete article here: https://dogagingproject.org/understanding-behavioral-changes-in-senior-dogs/?

Photo by Pavel Anoshin on Unsplash


Your Dog's Sleeping Position Actually Means Something

Screen Shot 2020-10-14 at 2.26.30 PM
Ever watch your dog sleep? Ever notice that your dog's sleeping position changes now and then? Well according to dog behavior experts, each sleeping position means something a little bit different. For example, dogs who sleep on their side with their legs extended feel safe, relaxed and are at a comfortable temperature. On the other hand, dogs who sleep all curled up with their limbs tucked in want to protect themselves and preserve body heat.

Ready to learn more about your dog's sleeping positions? Check out this cute infographic of ten sleeping positions and what they mean, courtesy of Casper.


Do You Sleep with Your Dog?

Sad-1930479_1920Some dog owners may not admit it, but in the privacy of their own homes, they allow their dogs to sleep in bed with them. That means your dog is spending lots of time in your bedroom -- and that could cause some interesting challenges.

The folks at Slumber Yard have put together a handy guide to "Pet Safety for the Bedroom." It includes pros vs. cons for sleeping with your pet, tips to make sleeping with your pet safe and comfortable, and a very helpful list of seven specific suggestions for how to pet-proof your bedroom.

You'll find the free guide here: https://myslumberyard.com/blog/pet-safety-for-the-bedroom/

Image by Renato Laky from Pixabay


Should You Adopt a Second Dog?

Dogs-189015_1920If you've owned your dog for awhile, you undoubtedly have developed a special bond. One reason your dog naturally bonds with you is because dogs are pack animals. Dogs are generally happier as part of a pack whether it's human or canine, but most dogs seem to welcome a canine companion. So the question is: Should you adopt a second dog?

Dr. Stephanie Borns-Weil, the veterinarian who heads the well-regarded Tufts Animal Behavior Clinic, believes that "dogs in general are happier with other dogs. It's hard on social creatures not to live with their co-species members." Still, getting a second dog should not be a hasty decision. “A dog might enjoy another dog initially,” she says. "But the two dogs may not display their full range of behaviors in that situation, and they have to make a quick decision based on initial impressions. We’re layering our own best judgment over that to create what is essentially an arranged marriage that may or may not work to best advantage.”

The Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine has some excellent, authoritative suggestions for how to add a second dog to your household in an informative article, "Would Your Dog be Happier with a Second Dog?" Read it here: https://www.tuftsyourdog.com/dogownership/would-your-dog-be-happier-with-a-second-dog/

Image by Manfred Antranias Zimmer from Pixabay


7 Tips on Canine Body Language from the ASPCA

This information is provided as a public service from the ASPCA.

Erda-estremera-JBrbzg5N7Go-unsplashDogs communicate with one another and with us using their own elegant, non-verbal language. These seven tips focus on seven important aspects of a dog’s body: eyes, ears, mouth, tail, sweat and overall body posture/movement. Staff and volunteers can use this information to interpret what an animal is feeling.

Eyes

When looking at dog's eyes, pay attention to the white part of the eye (the sclera), and consider the focus and intensity of the dog's gaze. When a dog is feeling tense, his eyes may appear rounder than normal, or they may show a lot of white around the outside (sometimes known as a "whale eye".) 

Dilated pupils can also be a sign of fear or arousal—these can make the eyes look "glassy," indicating that a dog is feeling threatened, stressed or frightened.

A relaxed dog will often squint, so that his eyes become almond-shaped with no white showing at all.

Mouth

A relaxed dog will likely have his mouth open and may be panting, with no facial or mouth tension. The corners of his mouth may be turned upward slightly.

A fearful or tense dog will generally keep his mouth closed, and may pull his lips back at the corners (also known as a "long lip".) He may also be panting rapidly. A panting dog who suddenly closes his mouth in response to something in the environment may also be indicating increased stress. Drooling when no food is present can also be a sign of extreme fear or stress.

A dog displaying a physical warning may wrinkle the top of his muzzle, often next pulling his lips up vertically to display his front teeth. This is called an "offensive pucker." The muzzle is wrinkled and the corner of the mouth is short and forms a C-shape. This warning often comes with a tense forehead, hard eyes. The dog may also growl—all very clear warnings to anyone approaching.

Some dogs display a "submissive grin" or "smile". This is also a gesture where a dog shows his front teeth, but a smiling dog is doing just that. He usually shows a lowered head, wagging tail, flattened ears, a soft body posture, and soft, squinty eyes along with those teeth. Teeth don't always mean aggression—it is important to consider the whole body and the context to understand what a dog is saying.

Yawning and lip licking may be an early sign of stress, particularly when accompanied by a tight mouth and often a whining sound.

Ears

Dogs have a wide variety of ear types. Although it may be easier for us to see ear position in dogs with erect ears, even floppy-eared dogs like Basset hounds can move the base of their ears forward and back to show different emotions—just look at the direction of the base of the ear. When a dog is relaxed, his ears may be slightly back or out to the sides. As a dog becomes more aroused, the ears will move forward, pointing toward a subject of interest. When their ears are most forward their foreheads often wrinkle.

Tail

When observing a dog's tail, there are two things to consider: the position of the base of the tail, and how the tail is moving.

A relaxed dog holds his tail in a neutral position, extending out from the spine, or maybe below spine level. As the dog becomes more excited or aroused, his tail usually rises above spine level.

The tail movement may be a loose wag from side to side or sweeping circular motion. As the dog becomes more excited or aroused, his tail usually rises above spine level. He may also move his tail side to side in short, rapid movements as he becomes more excited.

A fearful dog will tuck his tail between his rear legs. The tail may also be held rigid against the belly, or wag stiffly.

Hair

Much like your own “goosebumps,” the hair can raise along a dog’s back when he is upset or aroused. This is also known as piloerection or “raised hackles” and can occur across the shoulders, down the spine, and above the tail.  Hackles don’t always mean aggression is imminent, but they are an indicator that the dog is excited or upset about something.

A frightened or stressed dog may also shed more than usual. 

Sweat

Dogs pant to cool themselves, but panting can also be a sign of stress, particularly rapid panting accompanied by a tight mouth with stress wrinkles around it.

Dogs also have the ability to sweat through their paws. You may notice a dog leaving wet footprints on the floor if he is particularly upset.

Overall Body Posture and Body Movement

When initiating play, dogs often start with a play bow and generally follow up with exaggerated facial and body movements. A playful dog's body movement will be loose and wiggly, with lots of movement and brief pauses during play.

A dog who seems stiff, moves slowly, or who keeps moving away may not be interested in social interaction with this playful dog.

Looking away, sniffing, scratching, lying down, or other avoidance behaviors may also indicate that the play session is over.

A fearful dog may lean away, lean back, tremble, crouch, lower his body or head, or roll onto his side or back. Often, his eyes will often be fully open with large pupils, his forehead will be wrinkled, and his tail will be lowered or tucked.

An extremely fearful dog may freeze completely or frantically try to escape, and he may urinate or defecate when approached.

A dog displaying aggressive body language will look large, standing with his head raised above his shoulders. His body will be tense, with weight either centered or over all four feet or leaning slightly forward onto the front legs.

A dog displaying aggressive behavior may also have a wrinkled muzzle, a short lip, and a hard eye.

Photo by Erda Estremera on Unsplash


Free Guide to At-Home Dog Training

Screen Shot 2020-07-02 at 1.50.09 PM
If you've been spending lots of time at home with your dog, why not put it to good use with some training?

Training your dog—whether it's a puppy or you want to teach an old dog new tricks—can be a rewarding experience for both you and your dog. Training not only keeps dogs safer in unpredictable situations, it’s also an excellent way to strengthen your bond and deepen your relationship. 

However, it can be hard to know where to begin, so the folks at Rover have put together a "Dog Training 101 guide" authored by certified professional dog trainers. Throughout this guide, you’ll find tips and information focused on positive reinforcement. This training philosophy aims to help your dog associate wanted behaviors with good things like treats and attention.

The comprehensive guide includes six chapter and is available here: https://www.rover.com/blog/dog-training-101/


Therapy Dogs and Autism

Screen Shot 2020-06-29 at 2.59.23 PM
The federal government's Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that, in 2020, about 1 in 54 children in the U.S. is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. Autism or autism spectrum disorder is a set of conditions with symptoms such as repetitive behaviors, challenges in communication and social skills, sleep disorders and sensory sensitivities.

There are varying degrees of autism, and while there is no cure, there are many therapies, tools and interventions that may be helpful. One option families explore is bringing an autism therapy dog into their family. A therapy dog is trained to provide comfort in a therapeutic context. Outside of medical settings or an institutional environment, a therapy dog is an option for people with autism because they can help encourage social interaction as well as being calming.

DogDigz offers a helpful, comprehensive guide to the use of therapy dogs for children. It includes:

  • an explanation of the differences between therapy, companion and service dogs
  • types of dogs for specific circumstances
  • how a therapy dog can help a child with autism
  • organizations that can help

Get this free guide here: https://dogdigz.com/therapy-dog-autism/

Image: DogDigz.com


5 Ways Your Dog Can Help You Get Through COVID-19

Jumpstory-download20200713-171305Guest Post by Lynell McCready

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is warning people that dealing with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is stressful. It’s important to take steps to help manage potentially overwhelming emotions and anxiety. 

During this trying time, families have suffered an economic burden; they have had to shelter in place and practice social distancing. All of these factors contribute to anxiety. It’s crucial to find a way to ease stress and to find enjoyment. If you are a pet owner, you know that your dog or cat plays an active role in relieving your anxiety. Consider five ways your pet can help you through the COVID19 pandemic. 

1. A Pet is Good for Your Mental Health

There is a reason thousands of families welcome dogs and cats into their hearts each year. A pet makes a great companion if you are stuck at home and cut off from friends and family. Your dog is a friendly ear when you need someone to talk to or a great distraction when you feel the stress mounting. 

Often pets can pick up cues for how someone they love is feeling, too, so if you are sad or lonely, your dog will be there to provide comfort and may even make you laugh. 

2. Pets Give You Purpose

When you are stuck at home, it can be a struggle to find a reason to get up out of bed. A dog that needs exercise or grooming provides purpose. It’s not just about you. There is someone special in your life that needs your help, and that is motivating. 

Having a dog means you must stick to a schedule, get out of the house several times a day, and do some cleanup. He is the gift that keeps on giving by letting you know that there are still things you must do even if you are sheltering in place. 

3.  Dogs Keep You Moving

Staying home puts you at risk of becoming inactive. Lack of physical exercise can encourage chronic illnesses such as high blood pressure and diabetes. People who live sedentary lives have a higher risk of developing obesity, heart disease, and dementia. 

The pandemic may mean that you can’t go to the gym, play tennis or even golf. The things that kept you active in the past are out of your reach right now, except for maybe one. The need to walk the dog doesn’t change because there is a virus out there. 

Having a dog can be a source of activity. You can take her with you for a run or go to the park and play. It’s a chance to get outside and breathe in the fresh air. 

4. Take a Break

For many, the pandemic means working at home. It’s easy to get caught up in your work and forget to take a break. You don’t have colleagues to get a cup of coffee with or to remind you it’s time to quit for the day. 

Your office buddy is now the four-legged variety that nuzzles your leg when it’s time to get up from the desk. She is there to let you know it’s been several hours since you took her outside. Your dog keeps you on schedule when being on the clock means staying at home in quarantine.  

5. Add a Little Sweetness to Your Life

Between watching the news reports and interacting on social media, it’s easy to get caught up in the negativity. Add that to the fact that you are stuck at home either by yourself or with your family, and it’s easy to feel like there is little joy in life right now. 

A dog is nothing but joy. That unconditional love and lasting sweetness will remind you that there are good things in life. This situation is temporary, so focusing on the negative does more harm than good.

When you feel that negative energy taking over, sit on the couch, and have a cuddle. Maybe it’s time to grab the leash and take a walk or do some training. Your dog is ready anytime you are, so make the most of his positive nature and let it help you fend off the negative. 

When the pandemic is over, you will look back on your time with your pet and develop a new appreciation for what a dog or cat brings to your life.

Lynell McCready has had pets all her life, and each one has taught her something different about not only herself but how she wishes to view the world. But it wasn’t until a job in the late nineties that took her away from her animals did she realize the impact that we have on our animals’ lives. For the last 15 years, she’s been a pet-sitter, offering and assuring people who do have to leave their pets that they will be well-loved and taken care of while they are away.

Image: Jumpstory


Pandemic Causes New Emphasis on Dogs and Homeowners Insurance

Screen Shot 2020-06-29 at 3.06.06 PM
One good thing that has come from the COVID-19 pandemic is animal rescue shelters have seen a spike in dog adoptions. In a happy turn of events, “foster fails” account for many of these adoptions — when pets who were to be temporarily fostered are bonded with and become a long-term member of the family. 

People are finding themselves spending more time at home with their dogs — all day, every day. However, one thing these pet owners may not have considered is: What happens when they return to work, and their dog is suddenly left alone at home for extended periods of time? People’s social lives will also return to normal, meaning their dog will suddenly be exposed to house guests and visitors for the first time. How will their dog behave in these new situations?

You may think your dog is predictable, but how sure are you they will be on their best behavior when they are confronted with new people, places and situations? Dogs are not always as predictable as people may think. If your dog happens to bite someone or damage another person’s property, do you know whether or not your homeowners insurance will cover the damage?

Here's an informative guide for dog owners about dog behavior and homeowners insurance: https://www.coverage.com/insurance/home/new-pet-owners-guide/

Here's additional information about whether pets are covered by homeowners insurance:
 https://www.thezebra.com/homeowners-insurance/coverage/does-homeowners-insurance-cover-pets/

Image: Coverage.com 


Your Dog... Home Alone

This information is provided as a public service and reproduced from https://avltoday.6amcity.com/helping-dogs-adjust-home-alone-asheville/?

By Brook Bolen for AVL TODAY

Home-office-5091293_1920As we get further along into Phase 2 of the Governor’s three-phase plan to reopen the state, more of us will be venturing outside the home more frequently, and many of us will be returning to the office. How can we best help our dogs avoid the “Back to Work” blues and prepare for added solo time?

I spoke with Pia Silvani, a pet behavioral specialist — also the Interim Director of the Asheville Humane Society’s Behavioral Department — to find out what pet parents can do to make the transition as painless as possible. Here’s what Pia suggests doing ASAP:

  • Stop taking your pets with you everywhere (even if that’s just inside your house). “If they’re clingy, and they follow you around from room to room, close the door and leave them alone,” she says. “If they’ve been sleeping in the bed with you throughout quarantine, put them back in their dog bed.”

  • Leave your furkids alone for a few hours each day. Now that we can leave home again, step outside and run some errands. “Little spurts of time away will help them get used to you leaving again,” Pia notes.

  • Stick with a routine. If you’ve been going on lots of walks in quarantine, keep them up, but get up early in the morning so you can fit them in. “It’s very important to make sure your pet gets adequate exercise,” says Pia. Similarly, if you keep music or the TV on during the day, be sure to leave it on for your pooch while you’re gone.

  • Start waking up earlier. If you’ve been sleeping in and lounging in bed, start getting up earlier so your dog gets used to it, too.

  • If you work remotely, then implement some distance at home. Start by shutting the door to the room where you’re working. Even seemingly small changes like this can help your pet acclimate to spending less time with you. 

  • Bring your dog along to the office if you can. Let your pooch join you for half a day and then take them home. 

  • Extend your lunch hour to run errands or other things you might do after work. That way, you can go directly home to see the one(s) who’ve been waiting for you all day long.

  • Talk to your neighbor and see if they can check in on your dog during the day (alternately, hire a pet sitter/walker). These folks can let your dog out to relieve themself and give a few belly rubs. 

  • Keep in touch with your veterinarian. If your dog shows signs of anxiety, there are lots of natural products to help pets feel more calm + comfortable, Pia says. In the event they need something stronger, your vet can prescribe the appropriate medication.

Image: Pixabay.com


Will a Mask Freak Out Your Dog?

Face-5017365_1920Wearing a mask in public may become the new normal -- but have you considered what your dog may think of it?

Here's what the IAABC (International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants) has to say about masks:

Many dogs get freaked out by people wearing something on their face. If your dog is nervous or reactive, help them cope with the sudden increase in "scary" people (including you!):

- Use positive reinforcement to show them that masks mean good things

- Wear your own mask for short periods indoors, let your dog see you put it on and take it off

- Keep your distance from strangers. You should be doing this anyway, but try to stay far enough away that your dog doesn't react.

Help them cope, like they're helping you cope!

For more, check out the IAABC's Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/iaabcorg/posts/10159754816014126

Image: Pixabay.com


Participate in a "Dog Choices" Study

Screen Shot 2020-04-24 at 2.01.26 PM
Would you like to take advantage of being home and spending lots of time with your dog -- while contributing to dog research? Then participate in a "dog choices" study by the Horowitz Dog Cognition Lab at Barnard College, Columbia University in New York.

Designed to understand dog choice-making, this study is a game you play with your dog, wherein you offer him or her 7 choices each day for 7 days. It uses materials, food, and spaces in and around your home: all the choices can be incorporated in an ordinary day with your dog and it should take less than 30 minutes per day.

If you are interested, you must complete an online form, as well as a spreadsheet, by Wednesday, May 20. Start by filling out the form linked here.