Holiday Safety Tips
Keeping Your Pets Safe During the Holidays
By Lisa King
In my last column, I outlined how to keep your dog safe at Thanksgiving. The concerns at this American holiday are mostly about food, but Christmas offers a whole new set of dangers for dogs and cats. When making decorating decisions this season, keep your pets’ safety in mind. Here are some guidelines to follow.
A lot of your precautions will depend on the personalities of your pets.
- How well-trained is your dog?
- Is he food-motivated?
- Is your cat a jumper and climber?
- Is she likely to try to climb the tree and knock off ornaments?
In any case, place your Christmas tree in a corner to reduce its accessibility to pets. Secure it to the ceiling or a high curtain rod with string or fishing line so your pets can’t knock it over. Move furniture away from the tree so cats can’t use themas launching pads to jump on the tree. If possible, put the tree in a room with a door so you can shut pets out when you leave the house. You can also put a folding gate around the tree to keep dogs away from it— of course; your cat will just scoff at this barrier.
When trimming the tree, leave a foot or two at the bottom of the tree undecorated. Don’t use edible ornaments; chocolate, candy canes, and popcorn and cranberry garlands can be tempting to dogs especially. Hold the tinsel—if swallowed, it can cause serious intestinal problems. Fake snow and flocking are toxic to pets as well. Use mostly unbreakable ornaments if you can. Sparkly, glittery ornaments are very appealing to cats. Don’t leave ornament hooks where pets can swallow them. Clean up any broken ornaments promptly.
Why Candles May Not Be Safe for Cats
Never put real candles on a tree. In fact, be careful where you put any candles. Don’t put them where a cat can knock them over. Don’t leave pets unattended in a room with lit candles; when you leave the room, blow them out. Make sure your fireplace has a sturdy screen that keeps pets from getting too close.
Keep the area around the tree vacuumed. Both real and fake pine needles can perforate intestines. Use a large, sturdy tree stand and cover it up, since the water inside contains pine resin and possibly flame retardant and other chemicals.
If your cat tries to climb the tree, put foil around the bottom of it and wrap some foil around the base of the tree. Cats dislike walking on foil.
Many other holiday plants are toxic to dogs and cats. Mistletoe; holly; amaryllis, narcissus, and other plants that grow from bulbs; and to a lesser extent, poinsettia, are all on the verboten list. Keep these plants out of your dog’s reach. If you have a cat, keeping things out of reach is more problematic, so perhaps you should forego buying these plants all together.
Pet Safety When Wrapping Gifts
When you wrap packages, shut your pets out of the room. If a dog or cat swallows a ribbon, your vet might have to remove it surgically. Pets can also run into trouble around bits of wrapping paper, Styrofoam and sharp scissors. Put the presents under the tree at the last moment so your pets aren’t tempted to explore them. Empty cardboard boxes, however, make fine playthings for cats.
After you’ve opened presents, clean up all paper and ribbons right away. Small gifts like toys and jewelry that a pet might swallow should be put away quickly, too.
If you have guests over, make sure purses and coats are in a room inaccessible to pets. Dogs have been known to root around in purses and take out vials of medicine.
The best way to ensure a safe holiday for all involved is to think ahead of time about your pets’ safety and take appropriate precautions. A new Christmas toy or two can also provide a distraction and a reward for good behavior.
About the Author: Lisa King is a freelance writer living in Southern California. She is the former managing editor of Pet Product News International, Dogs USA, and Natural Dog magazines. Lisa is also the author of the well-received murder mystery novel “Death in a Wine Dark Sea.”
Can Your Dog Herd?
By Audrey Pavia
Ever notice your dog trying to round up the kids while they are playing in the backyard, or move the cats around the kitchen in an orderly manner? If so, your dog is exhibiting more than just weird behavior. Depending on his ancestry, he might be letting you know that he has a good dose of herding instinct in his blood.
Thanks to two organizations devoted to preserving dogs’ natural working instincts, you might be able to find out if your dog has what it takes to herd more than just kids and cats: he might be able to learn to herd livestock.
In the days when the majority of dog breeds were being developed, agriculture was the way most dog-owning families earned a living. Farmers and ranchers needed the help of their dogs to manage an assortment of livestock, from ducks to horses. As a result of this early breeding, a vast number of dogs still possess the herding instinct that was bred into them generations ago.
To see if your dog has the inborn ability to herd and has the potential for advanced training, have his herding instinct tested. Not only it is fun to watch your dog’s instincts really kick in the first time he’s asked to work sheep or ducks, but you might decide to train him for competition, which can be loads of fun.
Herding Dog Breeds
The American Kennel Club, which registers purebred dogs, has designated 51 breeds as having herding instincts. Any AKC-registered dog from one of these breeds is eligible to be AKC herding-instinct tested. These breeds include the Australian Cattle Dog, Australian Shepherd, Bearded Collie, Belgian Tervuren, Bernese Mountain dog, Border Collie, Boxer, Cardigan Welsh Corgi, Collie, German Shepherd, Giant Schnauzer, Old English Sheepdog, Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Rottweiler, Samoyed, Shetland Sheep dog and Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier, among many others.
AKC Herding Test for Dog Breeds
At an AKC-sanctioned herding test, your dog will enter a pen with a tester and some livestock, usually sheep or ducks. The judge will let your dog interact with the livestock, gauging how he handles them. For a dog to pass a herding instinct test, he must show an interest in the livestock without being aggressive, and must show a propensity for driving and fetching the animals.
After your dog is tested, you’ll be given a card with the judge’s comments on your dog’s natural instincts. The card will indicate whether your dog passed or failed.
If your dog passes the test, you’ll receive a certificate from the American Kennel Club in the mail. You can then take your dog’s herding abilities even further by training him to work.
Registering A Herding Dog with the AKC
If your dog is not registered with the AKC, is not a breed considered eligible for herding testing with AKC or is a mixed breed, you can still have his herding instinct tested. The American Herding Breeds Association (AHBA) provides herding capability tests to all dogs, designed to determine whether a dog has the instinct to herd livestock. Dogs who have shown to have the needed instinct can go on to be trained for competitive AHBA events.
About the Author: Audrey Pavia is an award-winning freelance writer and author of “The Labrador Retriever Handbook.” She is a former staff editor of Dog Fancy, Dog World and The AKC Gazette magazines. To learn more about her work, visit www.audreypavia.com.
ABC Grooming Instruction Program Canadian Student of the Month– November 2013
Animal Behavior College’s grooming student, Margaret Fox, lives in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Margaret began grooming when she started Animal Behavior College’s grooming course in February of 2013. Her love for grooming grows every day. She is currently enjoying her externship at Pet Planet Ranch Market, located in Strathmore, Alberta. Continue reading
ABC Grooming Instruction Program Student of the Month– November 2013
Michelle Franco is one of Animal Behavior College’s achieving grooming students. She resides in San Burno, Calif., and works as a Salon Manager at Shamrock Ranch, in Pacifica, Calif. Michelle is currently enjoying her externship at Le Chein Fortune in Millbrae, Calif. Continue reading
ABC Dog Training Program
Student of the Month
Nicole Turesky lives in Minneapolis after moving from upstate New York in July 2013. She is volunteering at the Humane Society and hopes to develop a massage program for shelter dogs. Continue reading
Dog Obedience Instruction Program
Canadian Student of the Month
Amanda Leask is an ABC student nearing the end of her externship in the dog obedience program. She presently assists her mentor trainer’s classes in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. After she graduates, Amanda would like to open a dog daycare, boarding kennel and training center. She would also like to become an ABC mentor trainer while continuing to build on her knowledge base. Amanda knows she has truly found her calling and looks forward to her future as a dog trainer for years to come. Continue reading
ABC Veterinary Assistant Program
Student of the Month
Stacia Orange, a student from Wenatchee, Wash, knew she wanted a career in the animal industry, but was just not sure which one yet. As time went by with her assortment of animals, including dogs, snakes and an iguana, she decided a career in the veterinary field as a veterinary assistant was something she wanted to do. Following her externship, she was hired on part time as a veterinary assistant at Cascade Veterinary Clinic. She plans to continue studying and eventually become a veterinary technician. Continue reading
Animal Behavior College
Dog Obedience Training Program
On-Site Dog Obedience Training Program
This is the second on-site classroom of dog obedience trainers who graduated from Animal Behavior College. Every one of the 10 graduate dog trainers is a U.S. veteran who fought for and served our country overseas. Many of the students have given up time away from their families to complete the on-site classroom Dog Training Certification during the last 6 months.
Each and every student, along with their instructor Beth Harrison (A Paw Above Dog Training), participated in the Best Friends Animal Society “Strut Your Mutt” event. Together, spearheaded by Jackie and her classmate Hailey Ulrich, the students were able to raise over $1,200 to donate to BestFriends.org. The entire class spent a minimum of one day per week for the last 6 months volunteering at Best Friends A.S. in Mission Hills, Calif. The students held numerous play groups with the shelter dogs. They also worked with the dogs in terms of training, socialization and behavior. Many of the students went above and beyond their duties, assisting Mike Harmon and the staff at Best Friends in cleaning the kennels.
Jackie had read a poem that Animal Behavior College shared on Facebook a few weeks ago, and she decided she was going to write her own poem to share at graduation.
The Untrained Human
Poem by Jackie McKenzie
We saw the puppy in a happy pet store.
I said I’d have to have it, and I wanted nothing more.
The first day home we played and played.
And, I laughed at the little poo-pooh the puppy made.
We allowed the pup a care-free life to run the house and chew everything in sight.
It’s so cute to see my old sheets in shreds, the puppy is even allowed in my bed.
But then something happened, it grew so big; and now it’s poops are larger than a pig.
My couch is now gone, along with the rug.
What happened to that cute little game we called tug?
I got this number from a friend at the store, she said call this trainer, they’re a dog trainer galore. They went to a school that can train any fool.
That’s right, we went to ABC (Animal Behavior College), a place that loves dogs, and had the education to fix any wrongs.
Now let’s go handle the untrained human one dog at a time.
Jackie also left the fellow graduates with some words of encouragement.
“Go forth and save dogs, my fellow classmates. Let your training never fail you. Dog Trainers always remember, Why, How, Show, Try…l’chaim.”
We wish all the graduates of the On-site Dog Obedience Training program a wonderful, happy and successful career as Dog Trainers.
Find out more about Jackie and the work she and fellow students did helping shelter dogs at Best Friends Animal Society: http://www.animalbehaviorcollege.com/blog/animal-behavior-college-student-loves-animals-best-friends-animal-society-volunteer/
Watch the entire ceremony: School for Dog Trainers
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One Volunteer at Best Friends Animal Society forms a bond with Pit Bull named Chad
Training Shelter Dogs
Jackie McKenzie is one of the 14 Animal Behavior College students in the On-site classroom program for Dog Training this semester. This specific On-site Dog Training class is held at the Animal Behavior College Valencia, Calif. campus. Every week Jackie and her classmates volunteer at Best Friends Animal Shelter in Mission Hills, CA. Volunteering is a wonderful opportunity for the student dog trainers to receive real-life training experience. Each student works with different shelter dogs that need to improve socialization skills, house training, and better manners. During Jackie’s time at Best Friends she has built a strong connection with Chad.
Chad is an America Pit Bull that Jackie describes as really awesome and sweet. In the past few months Jackie has trained Chadwig (her nickname for the dog) to heel, lay-down, sit, stay, and circle. “He is very easy to work with and he learns fast.” Her first impression of Chad was that he is a bit intimidating. But, Jackie says “once you get to know him he is a lovely dog.” She would love to see Chad get adopted and find his forever home. Jackie admits that working with Chad has opened up her mind to American Bully breeds. Before the experience at Best Friends she did not know how kind and loving the breed can be.
Back in September Best Friends held a fundraiser in Los Angeles called Strut Your Mutt. Jackie and several other students including Hailey Ulrich all participated in the event representing SGT. Mack’s Bully Pack. Together they were able to raise over $1,200 as a team, to donate to Best Friends Animal Society. All the students love Best Friends and really enjoy the opportunity to help train shelter dogs. It is an awesome way for them to gain experience, and it increases the chance that someone will adopt one of these wonderful pets.
Jackie has been a member of the Army National Guard for over 8 years. Her job title has been Military Police since her enlistment. Jackie has done three deployments and visited many countries around the world. During her service Jackie was stationed in Iraq twice and Afghanistan once. She said that deployments were always something that she looked forward to. She enjoys the service so much that she recently enlisted for another 6 years. Jackie has always been an animal lover, ever since she was a child. She grew up on a dairy farm in Michigan. She has a knack for working with dogs. Shortly after she returned from her last deployment her wife suggested that she pursue a career in dog training.
Jackie decided to Google “how to become a dog trainer?” That is how she found Animal Behavior College. Jackie knew that she had the talent be a dog trainer, but wanted the education as a way to add credibility to her future career outside of the National Guard. Her next goal is to develop the hours, time, and case studies needed to become Canine Good Citizen certified. Jackie McKenzie says the skills she has learned in school like: back chaining, patience, and motivation, makes dog training a breeze.
After graduation at Animal Behavior College Jackie plans on moving back to Salem, Oregon. She would like to begin training service dogs for Veterans. Maybelline will be her first service dog. Jackie said that she loves her so much, she couldn’t see not having her forever. Back at home she has 2 other dogs (SGT and Ralphie), 3 cats (Layla, SMAC, and Zumiez), and a snake named Cocooi. She loves to do anything outdoors like fishing, shooting, and camping. Jackie also spends some of her free time playing PlayStation 3 games like Grand Theft Auto or Assassins Creed; and she loves watching Law and Order SVU.
Jackie plans on going back to visit her parents farm for the holiday season. When asked what was it like growing up on a farm? Jackie said “It was one of the best experiences anyone could have.” She has truly done some amazing things in the short time that we got to know her here at Animal Behavior College. We salute you for all your hard word, service, and sacrifices. Great work Jackie. Keep it up.