Dog Training Tip of the Month

Safety, Health, and Recreation
  • Have a Happy Halloween with your Hound! - October 2008
    It’s that spooky, haunted time of year again, and many proud dog owners desire to show off their pooches by dressing them up in adorable doggie costumes. Doggie Halloween costumes and canine couture have skyrocketed in popularity over the past few years, and numerous dog owners have followed the trend. However, not all costumes are designed for comfort, and perturbed canines may blatantly show their disdain for wearing clothing. The key is to ensure that your pooch is comfortable and that his breathing and movement are not impaired by the clothing. Your dog trainer can help you with these steps.

    To properly fit and accustom your canine to his costume, follow these steps:

    • Purchase your pooch’s costume early so you can help him become used to wearing it over a period of two to four weeks.

    • Bring your dog along with you when you purchase the costume (if possible). Stores may not allow you to try the costume on your dog, but you can at least estimate the size by holding it up to his body.

    • When fitting a costume, check the hemlines around the neck, feet, and tail. If it feels tight, it’s most likely uncomfortable and potentially hazardous to his health.

    • After purchasing the costume, take it home and begin getting your dog used to it at least several days before Halloween.

    If you have an animal trainer, have him or her help you with the following steps during your training sessions:

    1. Start by simply draping the costume over your dog’s back, and treat him lavishly for being a good sport.

    2. Then, you can move on to putting the costume on loosely, and again, treating him generously for compliance.

    3. Practice dog training by having your dog sit, lie down, and stay while wearing his costume to ensure that his movement is not impaired.

    4. Once he seems comfortable with the costume, zip or Velcro it accordingly and allow him to wear it around the house for a short period of time each day or during private sessions (if your dog trainer recommends and allows it). Again, deliver cues like sit, lie down, and stay to ensure a proper fit. Treat him abundantly for his obedience.

    • Make sure your canine is always supervised by you, a family member, or a dog obedience trainer when wearing his costume.

    • If your dog attempts to remove the costume, or if he seems unhappy or uncomfortable even after you have followed all advice from this article and from your animal trainer for getting him used to wearing it, do not force him to wear it. Remove the costume and either attempt a simpler idea (such as adorning him with a festive Halloween bandana) or allow him to avoid a costume altogether. While some simple dog training will suffice for many dogs, other dogs simply will not put up with wearing a costume.

    For safety’s sake, it is also a good idea to attach reflective patches to your dog’s costume so he is easy to see on Halloween night. Trick-or-treating with your canine can be fun (as long as he is friendly, non-aggressive to animals or people, and not afraid of costumed kids), but safety is a crucial factor. Consult your dog trainer for advice if needed. If you are not 100 sure that your pooch will enjoy being out and about on Halloween, keep him inside and have him help you greet trick-or-treaters. The children will surely be thrilled by your festively dressed canine.

    Happy Halloween!
  • Holiday Food Considerations - November 2008
    While you’re preparing for your holiday festivities, picking out a turkey, and inviting your friends and family to your dinner table, please take a moment to consider your dogs’ eating habits, especially during this time of abundant table scraps and leftovers. There are safe and rewarding ways to share the holidays with your pooch; however, sharing too much food or feeding directly off the dinner table can create not only poor health but bad habits, too. Incorporating dog training into holiday meal considerations can not only save you from the stress of having a begging dog at your feet, but it also enhances your canine’s obedience level.

    Here are some guidelines for feeding your dog properly in everyday life:

    • When feeding your dog her normal meals, make sure to feed her an appropriate amount (not too much, not too little). Take treats used for dog obedience, such as doggie biscuits, and table scraps into account. If you’re confused about how much to feed her, your dog trainer can usually provide you with some guidelines, though consulting your veterinarian is recommended.

    • Puppies normally need to be fed twice a day while older dogs can usually be fed once a day.

    • However, certain factors must be taken into account, including the dog’s energy and activity level (including animal training sessions), environment, size, breed (if known), and current state of health. Again, talk to a professional animal trainer or your veterinarian if you are unsure of how much to feed your dog.

    • Puppies should be fed food meant especially for puppies as it contains the essential nutrients that their bodies need as they grow. As a general rule, they may be switched over to adult dog food as soon as they’ve matured past the puppy stage. This is usually one year for small dogs and two years for large dogs.

    • If you notice that your dog is getting skinnier or fatter on her current diet, adjust the portions (by making them larger or smaller) accordingly. Find out what weight is appropriate for your particular dog by consulting your veterinarian, and try to maintain that weight by exercising your dog (dog training is a great form of exercise!) and by weighing her regularly to track her weight.

    • If you notice that your dog is not finishing her entire meals or that she finishes her meals and continues to beg for table scraps, she may need to have her meal portions adjusted.

    • If you have a dog that is particularly active (e.g. trains for and/or competes in agility trials, plays ball excessively, or simply has a higher level of energy), her feeding rations should be compensated and increased. Likewise, dogs that are particularly lazy (e.g. they live in an apartment and/or lie around all day) should be fed less as they are not burning off as many calories.

    • While dogs are not true carnivores and can survive on a vegetarian diet, make sure to speak with your veterinarian if you are considering this route. It is crucial that all dogs get the recommended amount of calories, protein, fat, etc. each day.

    Table scraps are an important factor to consider around the holidays, not only in feeding your dog appropriately but also in consideration of her level of dog training and obedience. When eating a meal, do not feed your dog directly from your plate or at any time while you are still eating or sitting at the dinner table. This encourages begging, which can be annoying to you and your holiday guests and is an overall bad behavior. It is also detrimental to any animal behavior that you and/or your dog trainer have worked on with her so far. Instead, wait until after everyone has finished eating and reward your dog for minding her manners by taking her outside, asking for an obedience cue (sit, down, etc.) and treating her with a piece of meat or potato. Or, you may decide to give her an extra yummy dog food meal by putting doggie gravy on top of her everyday kibble as a special treat. Your canine can enjoy the holiday festivities, too, as long as it is in moderation and under the right circumstances.

    Also, when cleaning up after a holiday meal, make sure all leftover bones and other discarded food scraps are thrown away in a place where your dog cannot dig for and extract them. It is important to train dogs to avoid scraps, as turkey, chicken, and other animal bones can splinter in a dog’s throat, stomach, and/or intestines and cause major medical issues. If her level of dog training is not sound enough to trust her in the company of a trash can full of yummy goodness, take the trash out or put it up on a counter to eliminate the option for bad behavior. Even with a solid foundation in training from the best animal trainer in the country, you cannot 100 reliably prevent a dog’s desire to dig through the trash for delicious scraps, and the risk can be immense.

    May you and your canine have a wonderful holiday season!
  • Pros and Cons to the Fall Season - September 2011
    With fall just around the corner, and October being Adopt-A-Shelter-Dog month, it is important to know the season dangers for your new adoptee or even your current canine friend.

    There are several benefits to the fall season for your dog. The cooler weather means cooler road temperatures which is kinder to your pets’ tender paws. Cooler outside temperatures often encourages owners, dog trainers, and even kids to get out and exercise by playing with their pets more, which makes for a happy dog! The holiday season usually brings more guests over to the house which means more attention and playtime for your pet pooch. Along with the holidays comes pumpkin and pumpkin pie! Pumpkin is actually very good for dogs. It is both nutritious and low in calories. Pure canned pumpkin is a good source of fiber and is also recommended for dogs suffering from constipation.

    While the Fall season offers a happy home environment for your pets, there are also some dangers that come along with the Autumnal months. Acorns and oak leaves are poisonous to dogs and can cause intestinal blockage. Water with oak leaves can also be very poisonous to dogs. Make sure they stay away from acorns and do not allow them to drink from puddles. Tree debris, pine needles and pine cones could damage a dogs’ gastrointestinal tract. Don’t forget that dogs love playing in piles of leaves but be careful what is hiding in the pile so your dog does not get an unpleasant surprise. Depending on the area where you live, some hibernating animals can be dangerous to your pooch!

    Halloween brings lots of candy and kids to the house for trick-or-treating. However, beware of trick-or-treaters who may drop a sweet candied morsel around your yard. Chocolate can overproduce insulin in dogs, and when their sugar level decrease, they could be at risk for liver failure. In addition to the candy dangers, remember, trick-or-treaters in costume, to a protective or territorial dog can be a bad situation. Be sure to confine your dog to a more peaceful part of your home to prevent any Halloween night problems that may arise.

    Fall has its own plants and pollens that can affect your dog. Ragweed pollen and mold spores are some of the allergens your dog could run into; causing itchy eyes, drippy noses and sneezing. If you feel your dog might be suffering from allergies, make sure to visit your vet for professional advice. Finally, during the holiday season, many families have turkey. Be sure to keep turkey bones and scraps away from your dog. Turkey bones can be a choking hazard, causing splintering and possibly a puncture to the internal organs.

    By knowing what dangers you may encounter in the fall, or with any season, you will know what to look out for in order to protect your favorite four pawed friend!

  • Work Out Together - January 2008
    Dog Working Out With Trainer

    Exercise With Your Pet

    The amount of daily physical activity your dog needs depends on her age, breed, and current state of health; however, every dog requires and thrives on at least 30 minutes of vigorous daily exercise. Practicing your canine’s dog training with her can help to satisfy some of this daily requirement, but you will probably still need to supplement it with some light exercise.

    Workout Together - Benefits

    If you are an active person with an established exercise regimen, try incorporating your dog’s exercise and animal training into your own routine. Involving your best friend will brighten up her day. Not only will she be getting extra time to spend with you, but she will also obtain added socialization, become more focused, sharpen her training skills, and maintain her fitness and health.

    Safety Tips

    When exercising together, there are several things to keep in mind. First of all, make sure your dog is properly hydrated and has access to a sufficient amount of water during and after exercising. Secondly, if walking or running on concrete or other rough surfaces, check the pads of her feet frequently for cuts and scrapes. Try changing up the surfaces on which you walk and run; constant running on concrete can be hard on a dog’s joints and bones. Your dog trainer can give you advice on suitable, safe surfaces for your dog to run on. Additionally, while walking, running, or hiking, do not let your dog’s animal training slack. She should still obey all of her obedience standards while exercising. Also, make sure to follow all leash laws at all times. Allowing your dog to run off-leash can not only earn you a ticket, but it could also cause her to dash out into the street or up to another (less friendly) dog. Socializations with other dogs should be done in a controlled environment, often with your animal trainer present to ensure that everything goes smoothly. Finally, make sure you start off slowly and gradually build up the distance that you walk or run.

    Additional Workout Suggestions

    Here are some ideas for working out with your dog. Not all dogs will enjoy all activities, so find what the best joint workout routine is for both you and your canine. Consult your dog obedience trainer for suggestions.
    • Walking or running

    • Hiking

    • Mountain biking

    • Rollerblading

    • Dog park

    • Interactive fetch

    • Hide-and-seek

    Both you and your canine companion will benefit from brisk activities like these. May you and your dog have many enjoyable, healthy outings together!
  • Dog Park Basics - August 2013

    Dog Parks


    Know how to keep your dog safe at the dog park

    Dog parks are excellent places to socialize and exercise your dog. However, if you’re not prepared, it can be a bad or even traumatizing experience for your dog. Safety is the No. 1 concern when at a dog park; following the advice below can help make it a fun and positive experience each and every time.

    Before You Go

    Become familiar with the park before you bring your dog. Become aware of designated spots for small dogs and big dogs. Check to see if there are water, bowls and bags for waste. If not, you’ll need to bring your own. Make sure your dog is up-to-date on vaccinations and flea-and-tick preventatives. Observe how crowded it is and keep in mind that weekends are usually much busier than weekdays.

    Understanding Canine Body Language

    Everyone can learn more about canine body language. Even if you know the basics, spend time watching the dogs at the park and study everything: from the wrinkles on the forehead to the positioning of the tail. Being knowledgeable of canine body language can make the difference between redirecting and preventing a dog fight and having to break one up.

    Developing a solid recall when your dog is distracted is crucial for times when she is charging toward another dog or person, or a fight is about to break out.. If you need help with creating a strong recall, contact a local dog trainer.

    Don’t let the park be the only exercise your dog gets. It is a great idea to exercise your dog before going to the park to help release some of her energy. Overly hyper dogs can set off others dogs, which could result in a fight.

    To the Dog Park

    Leave treats and toys at home, or better yet, your car. Treats and toys can create jealousy or possessive aggression between dogs. If you give your dog treats and toys when you leave the park, it will be easier to end play and go home.

    Walk into the park quickly. Most dogs will crowd the entry when a new dog arrives, and it can be overwhelming even for the most socialized of dogs. Take your dog’s leash off after the first gate before entering the park. It can create extra tension when a dog is on-leash and the others aren’t. In addition, be positive. Talk to your dog in a happy voice; and relax. If you’re nervous, your dog will feel it and will probably be nervous as well. If you are unsure of how your dog might act with the other dogs, it is perfectly fine to muzzle him as a precaution until you are confident of her behavior.

    Remember, this is your dog’s socialization time, not yours. Supervision is essential to dog park safety. If your dog is getting too rowdy with another dog or vice versa, call her to you for a few minutes. You can practice obedience during this time and praise your dog, then let her return to play. You can certainly make your own friends at the park, but always keep an eye on your dog.

    Be prepared in case a dog fight does happen. The easiest way to break up a fight is to have Spray Shield, a citronella spray that interrupts an attacking dog and is safe for animals and people, unlike pepper spray. This convenient spray can be attached to your belt and can be purchased in pet stores or online. Another option is to have an air horn to distract the dog with. As a last resort, the owner of the attacking dog should lift his back legs up. Be careful not to pull the dog away because if he is biting into the other dog it can cause serious damage. By lifting the back legs up a few inches, the dog should let go of the other dog and look back to see what’s going on. At that second, grab the dogs to separate them.

    Leaving the Dog Park


    Even if your dog is behaving perfectly, it is a good idea to call her to you, give lots of praise and then let her go back to play. By doing this at least a few times throughout your visit, it teaches your dog that listening and focusing on you is fun and it doesn’t mean the end of play. This will also help tremendously when you call your dog to leave the park. Make sure to give your dog her favorite treats or toy when you get in the car.

    Remember, dog parks can be a wonderful experience for you and your dog, but accidents and fights do happen. By following these guidelines, you’ll help to make it the best experience possible.

    By Cara Lederman
  • Canine Vehicle Safety Systems - February 2008
    Studies show that seatbelts save lives – according to the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), 64 of people killed in car accidents were not wearing a seatbelt. For this reason, and due to the enforcement of seatbelt laws, most people wear seatbelts while driving and while riding in the cars of others. However, many people neglect to follow the same precaution with their dogs, allowing their dogs to roam freely inside the cab of their vehicle and endangering their lives, though it is simple to protect them using a safety system and dog training. Think about it – the average Labrador Retriever weighs approximately 60 to 75 lbs, which is the average weight of an 8-year-old child. An unrestrained Labrador would receive the same trauma that an 8-year-old child not wearing a seatbelt would in an accident. We wouldn’t let our children ride without seatbelts, so we should make sure we “buckle up” our precious companions as well. Owners can do this with the help of a dog trainer and specialized restraint system.

    While seatbelts did not always exist for dogs, this has changed in the recent past with the invention of canine vehicle safety systems. One excellent canine restraint system is the Ruff Rider “Roadie,” which is manufactured by Ruff Rider Products, LLC. Animal training sessions can help animals get accustomed to using the system. The Roadie's tensile strength exceeds the Society of American Engineers’ tensile strength standards for human seatbelts of 5,000 pounds. In addition, when creating the “Roadie,” consideration was given to the forces that occur in all directions while traveling in the car in both normal and emergency situations. Thus, this system was manufactured with great attention to all things that could go wrong and injure a dog while he is a passenger in a vehicle.

    Canine vehicle safety systems can be purchased from many pet supply stores. Bring your animal trainer along with you on your shopping trip for assistance. The “Roadie” offers 5 models to choose from, and they manufacture systems that fit dogs ranging in weight from 7 to 160 lbs. Make sure to choose the right size for your dog as proper fit is essential in maximizing the efficacy of the system. Also, read all manufacturers’ instructions for adjusting and applying the harness to your canine. Be patient during the first few tries as your dog may resist being strapped down. Some patient dog training by you and possibly your dog trainer will be necessary to accustom your pooch to being belted in. However, while applying the harness may prove tedious at first, it can make a world of difference in the event of an accident.
  • Just Say No to Table Scraps – Human Foods that are Poisonous to Dogs - March 2008
    When little Fido is sitting at your feet under the dinner table with his wiggly tail wagging and his eyes bright and pleading, it can be tempting to toss a scrap of your dinner under the table to him. He gobbles it up with delight and awaits his next treat, and you can almost see his adoration for you growing. However, any dog trainer or veterinarian will tell you that there is more than one reason to avoid feeding table scraps to your beloved, spoiled little guy. Not only does it harm his level of dog training obedience by teaching him that begging brings rewards, but you can also inadvertently be causing harm to your pooch. Here we will discuss human foods that are poisonous and sometimes deadly to canines.

    According to the Humane Society of the United States, the following foods are harmful and even potentially deadly to canines, so should never be used by an animal trainer or owner:

    • Chocolate, coffee, tea, and other products containing caffeine
    • Alcoholic beverages
    • Fruit pits and seeds
    • Bones from fish, poultry, and other meat
    • Fat trimmings from meat
    • Any candy containing the artificial sweetener Xylitol
    • Grapes and raisins
    • Onions and onion powder
    • Garlic
    • Salt
    • Macadamia nuts
    • Mushrooms and mushroom plants
    • Hops
    • Potato, rhubarb, and tomato leaves and stems
    • Yeast dough

    Moldy, spoiled foods, such as those found in garbage, are another source of toxins that can cause illness in a dog. Garbage often contains multiple toxins that can induce vomiting and diarrhea. In addition, other organs and systems are affected and the damage can be permanent and severe. This is yet another reason to avoid feeding your canine table scraps. If you insist on spoiling your canine companion from time to time, remember that table scraps are not nutritionally balanced and should never exceed 10 of his diet. Consult your ABC Certified Dog Trainer for advice if your dog is digging in the trash or “counter surfing” (meaning stealing food from counters). Some targeted animal training sessions can teach both you and your dog how to prevent these behaviors.
  • Swimming with your Best Friend… Safely! - May 2008

    Water Safety Tips For Dog Owners

    dog ready to go swimming

    It's Great To Bring The Family Dog!


    Many dog owners are surely considering bringing their pooches along on their summer excursions to enjoy the season together. In regards to canine water safety, what precautions should be taken to ensure an enjoyable and secure experience for both dogs and the water enthusiasts they accompany?

    Not All Dogs Can Swim

    It is important to consider that not all dogs can swim well enough to be completely safe when in or around water, but dog training can provide them with useful skills. Basset hounds, French bulldogs, and English bulldogs, for example, have very short legs that usually cannot move quickly enough to keep their bodies afloat. Also, dogs of breeds that naturally have a low body fat percentage, such as Doberman pinschers and Boxers, are more likely to sink. While many dogs love water and can swim without a problem, others do not like water or are afraid of it. This can inhibit their ability to swim. Any dog can drown, and hypothermia is always a risk.

    Water Introduction

    To ensure that your canine is comfortable in water, some animal training will be required prior to taking him/her out on the water. Consult your ABC Certified Dog Trainer for techniques and follow the advice provided here. Begin by assessing your dog’s skills in a swimming pool or just off the shore of the lake or ocean. Never throw your dog in the water – introduce him/her to swimming slowly without encouraging a negative reaction. If he/she seems happy and proficient at swimming, you can attempt an outing on your boat or at the beach, but keep your first outing brief. Again, consulting your animal trainer is recommended.

    Canine Floatation Device

    You may consider purchasing and using a canine personal flotation device (PFD) as this can help your dog to float in case he/she falls off of a boat or gets pulled out into the ocean. Many manufacturers have created PFDs for dogs that come in various sizes and colors. Bring your canine (and, if necessary, your dog obedience trainer) with you when purchasing a PFD so you can try it on him/her and ensure correct sizing with help from your dog training professional. PFDs for canines often come equipped with a handle on the back of the vest that allows the owner to lift the dog out of the water if necessary. You may want to choose a vest of a color that stands out, such as neon yellow or orange. This can help you to find your dog in the water.

    Sunburn Caution

    Remember that the sun’s rays and heat are harmful not only to humans but to dogs, too. When conducting animal training in the sun, remember that dogs can get sunburned (especially those with short fur and/or pink skin) or suffer severe repercussions of heatstroke just as humans can. Owners should be aware of early heatstroke symptoms of heavy panting, rapid breathing, excessive drooling, bright red gums and tongue, and standing four-square in an attempt to maintain balance. Your animal trainer will know what to look for. White or blue gums, lethargy or unwillingness to move, uncontrollable urination or defecation, labored, noisy breathing, and shock are all signs of advanced stages of heatstroke. You can cool your dog down by applying rubbing alcohol to his/her paw pads, applying ice packs to the groin area, hosing him/her down with water, and allowing the dog to lick ice chips or drink a small amount of water. Pedialyte to restore electrolytes is also recommended. If your dog is not cooling down, immediately take him/her to your veterinarian.

    Have a ton of summer fun with your dogs!
  • Caring for your Dog while on Vacation - June 2008
    Summer time is a popular season for getting away on vacation, and many airlines and hotels will not allow owners to bring their dogs along for the trip, especially those of larger breeds. True relaxation will prove difficult if you are constantly worrying if Fido is being well taken care of. So, how do you ensure that your beloved canine is properly cared for while you and your family enjoy your trip?

    Here are a couple of reliable options for leaving your pet behind and keeping him or her happy and comfortable until you return. You might even receive dog training as an added bonus!

    • Boarding kennels – Boarding kennels are brick-and-mortar businesses that have been established for the sole purpose of housing and caring for pets while their owners are away. According to the American Boarding Kennel Association (ABKA), there are approximately 9,000 boarding kennels in the U.S. and Canada offering services to more than 30,000,000 pet owners annually. Some kennels even have a dog trainer or two on staff and provide training (also known as board & train) to dogs that are boarded in the kennel, upon the owner’s request. To find a boarding kennel in your area, you may try an internet search, phone book, or better yet, personal recommendations from experienced friends, your animal trainer, or even your veterinarian. Some veterinary facilities also offer boarding services. Make sure to book your pet’s stay as early as possible as boarding facilities can become booked up, especially during popular vacationing seasons. Also, check out the facility personally in advance to make sure that supervision, sanitation, and security are up to par. All boarding kennels should require that your dog is up-to-date on his or her immunizations. For canines, required immunizations are the DHLPP (distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parainfluenza, and parvovirus) and bordatella vaccines as well as the Rabies vaccine. Inform the kennel staff of any special instructions upon booking your canine’s spot; for instance, if your canine is dog-aggressive and must be kept away from other dogs, it is essential for the kennel to be aware of this in advance.

    • Pet Sitters – For some dog owners, hiring a pet sitter may be preferable to boarding their dog in a kennel. A pet sitter is a person who comes to your home to feed, water, exercise, and watch over your pet while you are away. Sometimes pet sitters also work as dog obedience trainers. Many offer the option of staying at your home for 24-hour supervision, though you can also choose to have them stop by once or twice daily instead, depending on your preference. Some families have the ideal situation of a pet sitter who stays in and provides animal training to their canine throughout the vacation. Another one of the benefits of hiring a pet sitter is that your pooch or pooches can stay in the comfort of their own home during your absence. This can be especially comforting for the dog. You can also give more specialized instructions for care of your pet, such as daily maintenance of your canine’s dog training. It is recommended that you meet with potential pet sitters before choosing one to confirm their qualifications. Some pet sitters are certified through Pet Sitters International (PSI) or the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters (NAPPS), meaning they are pre-screened by the association. These and other sitters can achieve certification in pet CPR as well, which can be an added comfort to an owner away from home. Your pet sitter may also be an ABC Certified Dog Trainer as many of ABC’s graduates become pet sitters post-graduation. If you desire a sitter who is educated in animal training, try browsing ABC’s online database for graduates who market themselves as pet sitters.

    No matter which option you choose, make sure to personally check out the facility, sitter, or animal trainer before leaving on vacation. Also, ensure that your pet is essentially healthy, and if he or she has special medical needs, inform the kennel operator or pet sitter of required medications prior to your departure. ABC wishes you and your pets a happy summer!
  • How to Protect your Pooch in the Cold - January 2010
    Cold weather affects pets as well as humans. Some pets are better suited for cold weather than others. There is a common belief that dogs “will do just fine” if left outside. This is not true; professionals, including veterinarians and dog trainers will tell you that all pets need proper shelter and protection from the cold. Pets should not be left outside for long periods of time in freezing weather as they can suffer hypothermia and frostbite just like humans. Senior pets with arthritis have a more difficult time in the winter cold. Be cautious of icy walks, provide warm and soft bedding, and handle pets gently.

    A designated area inside is the best option, but if that is not possible, an adequate shelter that is insulated with blankets or straw and that is protected from the outside elements will help retain your dog’s body heat. Using a heated water dish will keep the water from freezing. Consult your dog trainer or a pet care specialist at your local pet supply store about finding heated water dishes.

    The use of heat lamps, space heaters, and other electrical devices is not recommended as they may not only burn your pet but may also create a fire hazard. Pet product suppliers have heated mats for pets to sleep on. These mats could also be placed under a doghouse. Be sure to read all manufacturers’ directions carefully to avoid misuse or injury to your pet. Also, note that outdoor pets require more food than normal for energy and for maintaining body heat.

    Large chunks of ice can get between your dog or cat’s footpads, causing discomfort. Clipping the hair between the pads will help in keeping such ice from forming. Some dogs will tolerate dog boots, which offer protection when walking in snowy areas or on icy sidewalks. Your groomer can help you in trimming the fur between your dog or cat’s toes. Salt and de-icers can cause chapped, dry, and painful paws, and afflicted pets will lick their paws. This could cause stomach irritation and vomiting. Be sure to wash your pet’s feet with warm water after a walk on icy ground. When walking your dog or cat outdoors you may also consider providing a sweater of some sort for him. You can find these at different pet stores in your area, you can even make one yourself out of an old sweatshirt. ABC wishes you and your pets a happy winter!
  • Pets and Fire Safety - February 2010

    Pets & Fire Safety

    Fire rescue dog

    Accidents

    Accidentally leaving the oven on, or letting a candle burn without supervision is a common mistake, but when it comes to your pets, that mistake could turn deadly. According to ADT Security Services, nearly 500,000 pets perish in house fires each year, due to the fact that most pet owners, whether they are well-versed in dog obedience or not, are unaware of how to keep their animals safe from fire. In honor of Pet Fire Safety Day, which takes place on July 15th, the National Volunteer Fire Council urges all pet owners to take the necessary precautions. There are several ways in which a responsible pet owner can be prepared in case of a household fire. Each of these methods is useful, whether you are with your dog, or he is home alone.

    Turn Off Appliances

    One of the leading causes of house fires is leaving cooking food and electrical appliances unattended, chiefly space heaters, as they can ignite flammable materials if they are left running for too long. Dogs are often curious about fire, and can endanger themselves when left near open flames unattended. Be sure to turn off all of your appliances and extinguish open flames before you leave your home, and regularly monitor them when they are running.

    Escape Plan

    In addition to creating escape routes for the two-legged members of your family, you should also be sure to take precautions for the four-legged ones. Having an escape route planned in case of emergency is crucial to the safety of your family, and your pet. In order to prevent your dog from being trapped in the event of fire, consider installing a doggie door, for a quick and easy escape. This is especially useful if he is home alone when the emergency occurs, and you can be assured that he is capable of escaping if you are not around to help him.

    Smoke Alarm Training

    Testing your smoke alarms is also an important factor in fire safety, and you can employ the use of dog training to assist you in creating escape routes with the help of smoke alarms by teaching your dog to run outside when the alarm goes off. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Smoke alarms should be tested monthly, and have their batteries replaced annually. Dogs become frightened and confused in event of an emergency, so it is important to use obedience training tactics to help them in this difficult time.

    Pet Alert Signs

    One of the most important ways to ensure the safety of your pets in a fire when you are not home is by installing a pet alert window cling. Window clings allow you to list the number of pets that you have, and firefighters can recognize them, and rescue your pets from the flames.

    Use these tips to ensure that your dog will be taken care of in case of a fire-related emergency.
  • How to keep your hound happy in hot weather - March 2010
    The summer season is an enjoyable time for all, but can be dangerous for dogs if the necessary precautions are not taken when the weather heats up. There are many simple ways to protect your best friend from the heat, even if you have little to no experience with dog obedience .

    • Proper grooming is a necessity for the comfort of your hound when dealing with the summer heat. Your dog trainer and veterinarians alike may recommend that you take your dog in for a trim when the weather gets warmer. For an accurate comparison, imagine wearing a full fur coat when it’s eighty degrees outside! As you can guess, having a heavy layer of fur can be incredibly cumbersome, and increase your pet’s risk of suffering from heatstroke. Since dogs are just as prone to sunburns as humans, it is not recommended that you shave him past one inch above the skin.

    • Another important factor to keep in mind when taking precautions in the heat is to ensure that fresh, clean water is available to your pet at all times when it is hot outside, as all dogs are prone to dehydration when their supply is too low. When he is outside, it is also vital that you provide your pet with a shady place to escape from the heat. Even with proper water supply, a dog can still become overheated when they are left out in the sun for a long period of time without a hiding place. If it is excessively hot, it is recommended that you keep your dog indoors.

    • It is important, even during the summer, to regularly exercise your dog. However, you must keep in mind that the asphalt heats up under the rays of the sun, and your pooch’s sensitive paw pads can burn if they linger in one spot for too long. In order to prevent this from happening, it is recommended that you keep walks limited to early morning and evening hours, when the air is cooler. If you must walk your dog during the hottest hours of the day, make sure to shorten the length of time you spend walking so that your pal does not get overheated.

    All of these tips will keep your hound happy & safe during the summer season. For more information on how to keep him healthy in the heat, consult your local veterinarian.
  • How to Prepare Your Pooch for a Vet Visit - May 2010
    An inevitable part of a good pet owner’s duties when caring for their dog, is to maintain their health. Naturally, keeping your best friend healthy involves an annual visit to…pause for dramatic music…the dreaded veterinarian. Even the word ‘vet’ strikes fear into the hearts of many otherwise brave dogs, and you may find yourself unable to speak the word itself in their presence, referring to it as the ‘V-E-T’ every time your pal is around. A trip to the vet for a dog is the equivalency of you paying a visit to the dentist. Painful, but necessary. In your case, although you may repeatedly put off the detestable appointment, is that you are aware of the importance of the visit. Your dog, however, is not.

    All that your pal knows is that a visit to the vet means that he will be poked, prodded, and pricked in uncomfortable places for no good reason! Not to mention, he is in a cold, strange place filled with unusual noises, bad smells, and unfamiliar people.

    Even if your pooch is sick, or in pain, they do not recognize the importance of seeing the doctor. Regardless of whether or not it helps them feel better in the end, your pal may fight tooth and nail in attempt to escape the visit. Unfortunately, it is an unavoidable part of being a pet owner. However, by employing a few helpful tips, you can make the process of this event a lot easier to handle.

    • First and foremost, part of the reason why your dog may be so fearful of the vet visit is because he is shy or uncomfortable around new people. When you put him in a situation where he is away from you, being handled by strangers, he can often react with fear, or even aggressive behavior. Even if your dog does not normally behave this way, you would be surprised to find how much his nature changes when he encounters a high-stress situation. To avoid this, it is important to socialize your dog early on. It is a good idea to introduce him to new people and situations as often as possible. That way, he learns to be more trusting with strangers, and is less likely to react violently when you take a trip to the vet. If you establish the mentality that the vet’s office is not scary early on, it will make future visits more pleasant.

    • With older dogs that have had prior experience at the doctor’s office, it is a little more difficult to help them adjust to the atmosphere. It is likely that your pooch has already adopted a negative attitude towards the vet, making the situation a bit more complicated. In order to get past this preconceived notion, it is important to get your dog used to being touched. You can start this exercise by making sure that your pooch is in a relaxed state, and gently touching his ears, his feet, and his mouth. If he reacts aggressively, use dog training methods to correct him, and repeat the act. When he gives you a positive response, reward him. By doing this, your dog will learn that being handled can be a pleasant experience, and will be less likely to lash out when he is touched by a stranger.

    • In the event that your dog is not hurt, and is simply going to see the vet for one of his yearly check ups or vaccinations, a good way to get rid of some of that excess energy is to take him out for some exercise. By playing a game of fetch, or just taking a few laps around the park, your dog will feel a little more at ease, which creates less likelihood for behavior problems at the vet.

    • Even when your pooch is properly trained in dog obedience, sometimes he just doesn’t get along well with other dogs. If your dog is not normally friendly with other pets, his dislike of four-legged company will be amplified in this high stress situation. In order to avoid any acting out on your dog’s behalf, notify the staff ahead of time, and keep him outside of the building and away from other patients until the vet is ready to see him. That way, you will not be adding any extra anxiety onto yourself, and onto your dog.

    • Remember, your dog’s behavior relies not only on how much obedience training he has, but also on your attitude towards the situation. As any dog trainer will tell you, your pal is a sensory creature. If you are nervous at the vet’s office, he will pick up on your attitude, and may behave in a similar manner. To avoid this, try to keep calm when inside of the office. When you are at ease, your pal is more likely to feel the same way. Remember that you are there for your dog’s benefit and well-being, so try to stay positive, even if you are worried.

    By establishing positive coping skills such as the ones listed above, you and your pet will be able to have a safe and happy experience at the vet’s office. Visiting the doctor is not always a bad thing, so keep in mind that your pet could use reassurance in the event of a visit. With preparation, tact, and understanding, your pal will be on the path to a better attitude towards the veterinarian.
  • Dangers in the Back yard - June 2011
    In dog training you learn about the dangers your dog might face when on a walk. It is important to know how to hold onto your leash properly, approach corners cautiously and always keep an eye out for other dogs. Over time, keeping our four-legged friends safe outside of our home becomes instinctual. Once the walk is over, and we return home to let them run freely in the back yard, a common assumption is that there is nothing to worry about, and that the back yard poses no danger to our pets. However, can you honestly say that your back yard is safe? There are certain maintenance obligations and safety precautions that you must follow before you can allow your pooch to run free behind the house.

    • Yard Management – Before letting your dog into the back yard make sure you go through every corner to check that it is secure. In dog training key aspects are covered about why your dog might escape from the back yard. We must take precautionary steps in order to avoid this. First thing to do is going through and make sure there are no gaps in the fencing of the perimeter of the backyard. Depending on the breed of dog, you might want to dig at least 6 inches below the fencing and install a wire mesh under it to prevent tunneling. Padlocks are always the best choice for gates as latches can be loosened by the wind or a strong dog.

    • Toy Breeds– Due to the fact that they are less costly, easier to maintain, and are the best choice for kids and the elderly the toy breed popularity has soared. However allowing them to run unsupervised in the backyard is a very dangerous habit, especially if you live in rural areas. One of the quickest predators that are often overlooked is birds of prey. So if you have noticed eagles, hawks, or owls in your area, never leave your dog unattended or allow him to get too far away from you. Other predators that might get into your backyard include but aren’t limited to Bob cats, Cougars, Raccoons, and snakes.

    • Toxins–In dog training, one of the most important things that there is to teach a dog is the leave it cue. When setting up a safe backyard for your four legged friend, you have to be able to stop them from getting into trouble with plants or other animals that could be dangerous. You will need to be as proactive as possible and keep an eye out for certain plants and animals to manage the environment. There are a variety of toxins created by animals such as spiders, insects, and toads. Other materials that could potentially poison your dog are fertilizers, certain algae, pesticides, plants, and pool cleaners. Certain plants like grape vines, azaleas, castor beans, sago palms, kalanchoe, and traps that contain metaldehyde also pose a threat. These are just a few items to be wary of.

    • Climate- Hot summers can cause your dog to suffer heatstroke. There are particular breeds that are especially vulnerable to heatstroke, so make sure that you are aware of your dog’s heat tolerance. To avoid this, you should have a nice shady area in the yard for your dog to rest beneath when the temperature rises. A good way to provide this is to plant trees, build a dog house, or consider investing in a covered porch. Always keep fresh cool water available for your four legged friend, and make sure you secure it so that it cannot be easily knocked over. Not all breeds are able to tolerate being left outside during the cold either. This is true for more of the companion dogs, and or dogs with short coats that are bred to live in warmer climates. In this case, a dog house that contains blankets or a dog bed is recommended to keep your pet warm.

    Whether you are on a walk or in your back yard, you must make every attempt to stay proactive in keeping your friend safe, healthy and happy. Prevention is the key, so always stay cautious and manage your pet’s environment.
  • Flying the Skies with Your Pet - October 2011
    Many people consider their pets as part of the family; therefore it should be no surprise that they want to tote their furry friends with them on vacation. Millions of animals accompany their guardians for travel within the U.S. and abroad every year. Vacations are being designed with animals in mind. It is more common today to locate pet friendly hotels within the travel community. In some cases it may be better to leave your pet at home depending on their age and health. If this is the case leave them in the hands of a trusted sitter that will be accountable with your family member. Sometimes your local dog trainer will also offer pet sitting services, or they may be able to at least recommend a reputable sitter.

    If you are taking to the skies, consider what season you will be flying during; Spring, Summer, Fall, or Winter? Some airlines will not allow animal travel during spring and summer months due to the fact that pets are cargo and that is where they will be stored during transport. During vacation scheduling call the airlines to see what their policies are on pet travel.

    Ask questions such as:
    ** How long does the aircraft sit on the tarmac?
    ** If it is an extended period of time on the ground are pets removed and given water?
    ** If there is a lay over will you be reunited with your pet?

    To avoid your animal suffering with an upset stomach during travel, do not feed them for 6 – 8 hours before flight. Make sure your pet is wearing a collar with identification. Always try to book non-stop flights. Avoid traveling in extreme temperatures. Most airlines will not allow travel during these conditions. If at all possible watch to make sure your pet has been loaded on the plane or ask the flight attendant for verification your pet has boarded. Carry water with you for your pet and freeze a small bowl of water to put in the travel container for the flight.

    Lastly, if traveling abroad check with the receiving airport about quarantine restrictions. You might be extremely upset if you take your pet to Hawaii or Guam to find out they can’t leave the airport. Enjoy your pet friendly vacation!
  • Is Your Pet Winter Ready? - January 2012
    You might be ready for the cold winter season, but is your pet? To assure that you and your four legged friend are ready for the chilly weather, acquaint yourself with the following 9 winter dangers and how to avoid them!

    1) Proper Housing - During the winter, it can get very cold which can pose a severe problem for your pet. For most dogs that are left outside, even if protected by a doghouse, a severe wind chill can pose a threat to their health. Make sure your doghouse is well insulated. The door of the doghouse should be facing away from the wind to avoid any more exposure than necessary.

    2) Proper Grooming - Dogs can develop dry skin due to the extremely dry winter weather. Dryness of the fur and skin can cause your dog to scratch and bite at their coat creating hot spots. (A “hot spot” is a skin lesion or scab caused by excessive biting or licking from your canine.) To avoid this, be sure to brush your dog regularly and possibly think about supplements or a shampoo to help with the dry skin.

    3) Proper Feeding - If your dog spends a lot of time outdoors, consider giving him more food than normal to avoid malnourishment. More food will provide more protein to keep your dog’s fur in good shape. If you live in an area that freezes, be sure to monitor your dog’s water bowl, or consider getting a heated bowl to keep the water from freezing. This will help prevent your dog from becoming dehydrated.

    4) Common Cold Weather Toxins - As with any season, you must be careful of antifreeze that can leak or spill from your car. If your dog consumes any antifreeze from a small leak in your drive way, this can kill your dog if not treated immediately. Dogs are very attracted to the taste of antifreeze, so be sure to keep it sealed up and out of harm’s way. You might consider using animal safe antifreeze which is free of ethylene glycol. Ethylene Glycol is the chemical that makes the antifreeze sweet (and appealing to your dog) as well as toxic.

    5) Chilly Weather Chemicals - The chemicals and salts that melt the winter ice on the road and sidewalks can also be poisonous. When taking your dog on a walk, they can pick these substances up in their pads. If they do accumulate traces of these chemicals on their feet and then clean their paws when they return home, they will end up ingesting the chemicals which can cause their stomach to become upset (at the very least). To prevent this, be sure to rinse your pet’s paws with warm water when you return from a walk or event outside where they may have come in contact with these substances. Remember to let their paws dry before letting them back outside again!

    6) Frosty Temperatures - Exposure to temperatures below zero, even short term, can cause frostbite of the feet, nose or ears. Indicators of frostbite may be red, gray or white colorization of the skin and possibly peeling skin. Be sure to remove ice and snow from paws and fur right away. Ice can form in the toe pads as well so make sure to thoroughly check your pooch’s paws. Also, think about clipping the fur between the pads to reduce the amount of snow that can collect there.

    7) Proper Feeding Utensils - Metal bowls and buckets can cause a problem in freezing temperatures. If the bowls freeze your pet may get their tongue stuck to the metal, which will in turn cause them to get scared, try to pull away, and ultimately cause themselves injury. If it is below 32 degrees, be sure to use plastic or ceramic pet bowls.

    8) Sensitive Dogs - Some dogs that do not have enough fur, or have low body fat, are not easily adaptable to cold weather. Older or sickly dogs can be extremely sensitive this time of year as well. If possible, keep them indoors in a warm environment, or in a warm shelter outside. Sweaters or jackets can give them an extra layer of protection as well.

    9) Safety in Warmth - Every year numerous house fires start with space heaters being knocked over by pets (and sometimes humans!). Make sure that if you use a space heater to warm your home that you purchase one that will shut off automatically when tipped over. These are safer for you and your pet!

    By educating yourself on these common dangers and knowing how to avoid them through preparation and proper dog training, you will be able to have a safe and comfortable winter season with your pets!
  • Springtime Travel - March 2012
    Springtime is just around the corner and now is the time to start planning your spring and summer vacations. Wait! Do not forget about your dog! Nothing is quite as fun as planning a vacation, packing up and heading out of town for a weekend or longer trip. It is always nice to get away. A change of scenery from time to time is always good for you and is good for your dog as well. Why wouldn’t a dog love to travel and be exposed to new places? When planning your trip with your pup, there are a few things that will help you make the trip a positive experience for everyone.

    1) Visit your vet and make sure your pup is healthy and caught up on vaccinations. Make sure to bring these records with you when you travel, just in case!
    2) ID your dog. Whether you microchip or just have his and your name on his collar, make sure that all of the information is current.
    3) When packing, include your dog’s food, food and water dishes, treats, blankets, dog bed, leash, grooming supplies and toys. Providing familiarity can assure the physical and mental comfort of your dog. Do not forget a container of drinking water for the vehicle and a first aid kit.
    4) Make sure to research “dog friendly” accommodations. Find out in advance which hotels or motels at your destination or on your route allow dogs. Many hotels do not accept dogs, or have size or breed restrictions. If your dog is allowed to stay at a hotel, respect other guests, staff and the property. Remember that one bad experience with a canine guest may prompt the hotel management to refuse to allow any dogs in the future. Be considerate of others and leave your room and the grounds in good condition.
    5) Consider the climate of your vacation. Depending on the dog the change in climate might cause your dog to struggle to adapt. He can become uncomfortable and irritable and this could really be a bad experience for everyone on vacation.
    6) Plan on frequent breaks. Frequent stops are not only good for bathroom breaks, but dogs need to stretch their legs just as much as we do. This is especially essential if you are traveling in hot weather. You need to make sure that your dog is staying hydrated.
    7) To keep your pup safe in the car, make sure to use a dog seatbelt and /or harness or a crate. A crate is an excellent way to keep your dog safe in the car, and is required for airline travel. A crate can also keep your pet from getting into trouble in a hotel or at your host's home. Stock the crate with a comfortable mat, your dog’s favorite toy and a water bottle.
    8) Like humans, some dogs experience motion sickness. Take along ice cubes for your dog to lick and mouth, which are easier on your dog than a large amount of water all at once. Keep feeding to a minimum during travel to prevent stomach upset, and only allow small amounts of water periodically in the hours before the trip.
    9) Finally, vacationing with your dog can aid in dog training. By spending a vacation together, you will have the time and the opportunity to take advantage of your and your dog’s undivided attention. Enjoy this time and be safe!
  • Train Your Dog to Run on a Treadmill - April 2013

    Treadmill Train Your Dog

    One of the major causes of canine behavior problems is lack of exercise. Dogs are born to run, jump, chase and bite. If dogs don’t have the opportunity to get the necessary exercise, they will probably develop underlying behavioral problems that owners aren’t going to like. Learning to train your dog to use a treadmill can help her get the exercise she needs.. The treadmill lets your dog run regardless of weather; plus, it eliminates distractions and gives her a great physical and mental workout.

    Dog & Treadmill Introduction

    Start off by introducing your dog to the treadmill when it is turned off. Lure your dog on and off the treadmill, while making sure to praise and treat her when all four paws are on the treadmill and she is facing the right direction. If, by chance, your dog is hesitant to get on the treadmill, start counter conditioning. To do this, you should fulfill her daily needs on the treadmill—e.g., meals, treats, attention, etc. Once your dog has a success rate more than over 90 percent following the lure, introduce a cue. The cue can be a word or phrase tied in with the dog’s action of having all four legs on the treadmill. Also keep in mind if you ever catch your dog on the treadmill, make sure to lavishly praise and treat her, making the treadmill a fun place.

    Treadmill Desensitizing Your Dog

    Now begin desensitizing your dog to the noise of the treadmill. Whenever your dog comes to you while you’re on the treadmill, treat and praise her. You can also treat and praise her for being near the treadmill while it is on. Once she grows accustomed to the sound, turn the treadmill off and have her climb up back onto it. Start the treadmill on the slowest speed, and have your dog stay close to your baited hand as the tread starts to move. Praise her for stepping forward on the track and reaching for the treat. Once your dog grows accustomed to this, you can place the treats at the front of the treadmill (the non-moving part) and encourage her to eat the treats.

    Start Your Dog Slow

    Next, start feeding your dog from the front of the treadmill; also it’s also time to begin increasing the time gap between treats. As your dog adjusts to the treadmill, you can gradually increase the speed and duration of the sessions. (Do not treat your dog at higher speeds, as it could present a choking hazard). After a few weeks, your dog will be able to run on the treadmill from 5 to 10 minutes. At that point you can start increasing the time of each workout by 1 to 2 minutes. Build up gradually till you reach 30 minutes.

    You should never leave your dog unattended or tie her leash to the treadmill. Running on a treadmill can give your dog a great workout. Providing your dog with regular exercise can lead to better behavior. Remember, a tired dog is a good dog.

    As with all exercise programs, check with your veterinarian to make sure the pet is healthy enough..

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