Monthly Archives: July 2014

Make a Disaster Plan for Your Pets

The best way to keep your pets safe during an emergency
is to keep them with you.

When disaster strikes, the same rules that apply to people apply to pets: Preparation makes all the difference, and if it’s not safe for you, it’s not safe for them.

Take a few minutes to make a plan and assemble this emergency kit for yourself and your pet.

Let’s Get started.

(1)  Start Getting Ready Now

*  ID Your Pet *
Make sure that your pet is wearing a collar and identification that is up to date and visible at all times.  You’ll increase your chances of being reunited with a lost pet by having him or her microchipped.  If your pet is adopted from a shelter or rescue organization, make sure the registration has been transferred to you and is not still with the adoption group.

Put your cell phone number on your pet’s tag.  It may also be a good idea to include the phone number of a friend or relative outside your immediate area — in case you have had to evacuate.

*  Create Your Disaster Kit *

*  Find a Safe Place to Lodge BEFORE disaster strikes *
Some communities have groups that have solely focused on providing emergency sheltering for pets, and other communities simply don’t have the resources.  That’s why you should never assume that you will be allowed to bring your pet to an emergency shelter.

Before disaster hits call your local office of emergency management to see if you will be allowed to evacuate with your pets and that there will be shelters that take people and their pets in your area.  And just to be safe, track down a pet-friendly safe place for your family and pets.

Find a pet-friendly hotel or motel:

Make arrangements with friends or relatives.  Ask people outside the immediate area if they would be able to shelter you and your pets — or just your pets — if necessary.  If you have more than one pet, you may need to arrange to house them at separate locations.

Consider a kennel or veterinarian’s office. Make a list of boarding facilities and veterinary offices that might be able to shelter animals in disaster emergencies (include their 24-hour telephone numbers).

Plan for your pet in case you’re not home

A disaster or evacuation order may come when you’re out of the house.

  • Make arrangements well in advance for a trusted neighbor or nearby friend or family member to take your pets and meet you at a specified location.  Be sure the person is comfortable with your pets and your pets are familiar with him or her.  Give your emergency caretaker a key to your home and show her or him where your pets are likely to be (or hide) and where your disaster supplies are kept.
  • If you use a pet-sitting service, it may be able to help, but discuss the possibility well in advance.

* * * * * * *

(2)  If You Evacuate, Take Your Pets

Rule number one:
If it isn’t safe for you, it isn’t safe for your pets.
  Even if you think you will only be gone for a few hours, take your pets.  You have no way of knowing how long you’ll be kept out of the area, and you may not be able — or allowed — to go back for your pets.

Pets left behind in a disaster can easily be injured, lost, stolen, or killed. Those left inside your home can escape through storm-damaged areas, such as broken windows. And pets turned loose to fend for themselves are likely to become victims of exposure, starvation, predators, contaminated food or water, or accidents.  Leaving dogs tied or chained outside in a disaster is a death sentence.

Rule number two:
Evacuate early
.
Don’t wait for a mandatory evacuation order.  Some people who have waited to be evacuated by emergency officials have been ordered to leave their pets behind.

The smell of smoke, high winds or lightening may make your pet more fearful and difficult to load into a crate or carrier.  Evacuating before conditions become severe will keep everyone safer and make the process less stressful.

* * * * * * *

(3)  If You Stay Home, Do It Safely

If your family and pets must wait out a storm or other disaster at home, identify a safe area of your home where you can all stay together.  Make that safe area animal friendly:

  • Close off or eliminate unsafe nooks and crannies where frightened cats may try to hide.
  • Move dangerous items such as tools or toxic products that have been stored in the area.

Be sure to close your windows and doors, stay inside, and follow the instructions from your local emergency management office.

  • Bring your pets indoors as soon as local authorities say trouble is on the way.  Keep pets under your direct control; if you have to evacuate, you will not have to spend time trying to find them.  Keep dogs on leashes and cats in carriers, and make sure they are wearing identification.
  • If you have a room you can designate as a “safe room,” put your emergency supplies in that room in advance, including your pet’s crate and supplies.  Have any medications and a supply of pet food and water inside watertight containers, along with your other emergency supplies.  If there is an open fireplace, vent, pet door, or similar opening in the house, close it off with plastic sheeting and strong tape.
  • Listen to the radio periodically, and don’t come out until you know it’s safe.

* * * * * * *

(4)  Keep Taking Care Even After the Disaster

Your home may be a very different place after the emergency is over, and it may be hard for your pets to adjust.

  • Don’t allow your pets to roam loose.  Familiar landmarks and smells might be gone, and your pet will probably be disoriented.  Pets can easily get lost in such situations.
  • While you assess the damage, keep dogs on leashes and cats in carriers inside the house.  If your house is damaged, your pets could escape.
  • Be patient with your pets after a disaster.  Try to get them back into their normal routines as soon as possible.  Be ready for behavioral problems caused by the stress of the situation.  If these problems persist, or if your pet seems to be having any health problems, talk to your veterinarian.
  • If your community has been flooded, search your home and yard for wild animals who may have sought refuge there.  Stressed wildlife can pose a threat to you and your pet.

* * * * * * *

(5)  Be Ready for Everyday Emergencies

*  You Can’t Get Home to Your Pet  *
There may be times that you can’t get home to take care of your pets.  Icy roads may trap you at the office overnight, an accident may send you to the hospital — things happen.  But you can make sure your pets get the care they need by making arrangements now:

  • Find a trusted neighbor, friend, or family member and give him or her a key to your house or barn.  Make sure this back-up caretaker is comfortable and familiar with your pets (and vice versa).
  • Make sure your back-up caretaker knows your pets’ whereabouts and habits.
  • Let your back-up caretaker know where your pets’ food is and where you normally feed them and keep their water bowl, and if they need any medication.
  • If you use a pet sitting service, find out in advance if they will be able to help in case of an emergency.

*  Heat Wave  *
High temperatures don’t just make your pets uncomfortable; they can be dangerous.  Here are basic guidelines for summer safety.

  • Never leave your pets in a parked car.  Not even for a minute.  Not even with the car running and air conditioner on.  (Download our “Hot Car” flyer)
  • Watch the humidity. Dr. Barry Kellogg, VMD, of the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association says, “Animals pant to evaporate moisture from their lungs, which takes heat away from their body.  If the humidity is too high, they are unable to cool themselves, and their temperature will skyrocket to dangerous levels — very quickly.”
  • Don’t rely on a fan.  They don’t cool off pets as effectively as they do people.
  • Provide lots of shade and water.  Any time your pet is outside, make sure he or she has protection from heat and sun and plenty of fresh, cold water.  A doghouse does not provide relief from heat — in fact, it makes it worse.
  • Limit exercise on hot days to early morning or evening hours, and be especially careful with pets with white-colored ears, who are more susceptible to skin cancer, and short-nosed pets who, because of their short noses, typically have difficulty breathing.  Asphalt gets very hot and can burn your pet’s paws, so walk your dog on the grass if possible.
  • Look for signs of heatstroke, including heavy panting, glazed eyes, a rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, excessive thirst, lethargy, fever, dizziness, lack of coordination, profuse salivation, vomiting, a deep red or purple tongue, seizure, and unconsciousness.
  • Treat suspected heatstroke immediately.  Move your pet into the shade or an air-conditioned area.  Apply ice packs or cold towels to her head, neck, and chest or run cool (not cold) water over her.  Let her drink small amounts of cool water or lick ice cubes.  Take her directly to a veterinarian.

Learn MORE about hot weather safety.

*  The Electricity Goes Out  *
Keep your pets with you.  If you’re forced to leave your home because you’ve lost electricity, take your pets.  If it’s summer, even just an hour or two in the sweltering heat, whether outdoors in a yard or inside an apartment, mobile home, or house, can be dangerous.  Find a pet friendly hotel.  If it’s winter, don’t be fooled by your pets’ fur coats; it isn’t safe to leave them in an un-heated house.

If you stay at home during a summer power outage, ask your local emergency management office if there are pet-friendly cooling centers in the area.

* * * * * * *

Plans aren’t just for pets

Disaster plans aren’t only essential for the safety of pets.  If you’re responsible for other kinds of animals during natural disasters, disaster plans for feral or outdoor cats, horses, and animals on farms can be life-savers.

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Happy Tails! – LUCY

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Lucy and her fursibling loved each other!
She has done great on her first day.   🙂
Here is a photo of her in her new dress.
* * * * * * *
If you would like to send us an update on your adopted
K-9 Angels Rescue dog, please send a short write-up and photo(s) to
happytails@k-9angelsrescue.org.   We LOVE to get updates!
* * * * * * *
Do you want to send us updates & photos
but still need to choose the Love of your Life?
Surely you can find THE ONE right here!
* * * * * * *

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Happy Tails! – BENTLEY (pka S’more)

.
We just want to thank you for giving us the opportunity to be first-time puppy parents!   You weren’t lying when you said training is not easy, but it’s been a blast so far and we are having a great/fun time with the newest member of our family.
 .
Thank you once again for our little Bentley (S’more)!!
Attached is a picture of the cutie hanging out after play time.
* * * * * * *
If you would like to send us an update on your adopted
K-9 Angels Rescue dog, please send a short write-up and photo(s) to
happytails@k-9angelsrescue.org.   We LOVE to get updates!
* * * * * * *
Do you want to send us updates & photos
but still need to choose the Love of your Life?
Surely you can find THE ONE right here!
* * * * * * *

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Fear of Thunder and Other Loud Noises

You can help make sounds less scary to your dog

  • Firecrackers, thunder, and other loud, out-of-nowhere sounds often leave dogs frightened and wanting to flee to a safer place.

These types of fears may develop even if your dog has had no traumatic experiences associated with the sound.  Many fear-related problems can be successfully resolved.  If left untreated, however, your dog’s fearful behavior will probably get worse.

Outlet for anxiety: destruction and escaping

The most common behavior problems associated with fear of loud noises are destruction and escaping.  When your dog becomes frightened, she tries to reduce her fear.  She may try to escape to a place where the sounds of thunder or firecrackers are less intense.  If she feels less afraid by leaving the yard or going into a certain room or area of the house, then the escape or destructive behavior is reinforced because it successfully lessens her fear.

For some dogs, just the activity or physical exertion associated with one of these behaviors may be an outlet for their anxiety.  Unfortunately, escape and/or destructive behavior can be a problem for you and could also result in physical injury to your dog.

Fear by association

Your dog may also begin to associate a particular startling noise with other things in her environment, and she may grow afraid of these other things because she associates them with the loud noise that frightens her.  For example, dogs who are afraid of thunder may later become afraid of the wind, dark clouds, and flashes of light that often precede the sound of thunder.

Dogs who do not like the sound of firecrackers may become fearful of the children who have the firecrackers or may become afraid to go in the backyard, if that’s where they usually hear the noise.

What you can do

Method 1: Create a safe place

Create a safe place for your dog to go to when she hears the noises that frighten her.  But remember, this must be a safe location from her perspective, not yours.  Notice where she goes (or tries to go) when she’s frightened.  If possible, give her access to that place.  If she’s trying to get inside the house, consider installing a dog door.  If she’s trying to get under your bed, give her access to your bedroom.

You can also create a “hidey-hole” that is dark, small, and shielded from the frightening sound as much as possible.  Encourage her to go there when you’re home and the thunder or other noise occurs.  Consider using a fan or radio near the spot to help block out the sound.  Feed her in that location and help your dog associate that spot with other “good things” happening to her there.  She must be able to come and go from this location freely.  Confining her in the “hidey-hole” when she doesn’t want to be there will only cause more problems.

The “safe place” approach may work with some dogs, but not all.  Some dogs are motivated to move and be active when frightened and “hiding out” won’t help them feel less fearful.

Method 2: Distract your dog

This method works best when your dog is just beginning to get anxious.  Encourage her to engage in any activity that captures her attention and distracts her from behaving fearfully.

Start when she first alerts you to the noise and is not yet showing a lot of fearful behavior, but is only watchful. Immediately try to interest her in doing something that she really enjoys.  Get out the tennis ball and play fetch (in an escape-proof area), or practice some commands that she knows.  Reward her with praise and treats for paying attention to the game or the commands.

As the storm or other noise builds, you may not be able to keep her attention on the activity, but it might delay the start of the fearful behavior for longer and longer each time you do it.  If you can’t keep her attention and she begins acting fearfully, stop the process.  If you continue, you may inadvertently reinforce her fearful behavior.

Method 3: Behavior modification

Behavior modification techniques are often successful in reducing fears and phobias.  The appropriate techniques are called “counter-conditioning” and “desensitization.”

These techniques must be implemented very gradually, and they condition or teach your dog to respond in non-fearful ways to sounds and other stimuli that have previously frightened her.

Be careful using behavior modification: If these techniques aren’t used correctly, they won’t be successful and could even make the problem worse.

Begin by exposing your dog to an intensity level of noise that doesn’t frighten her and pairing the noise with something pleasant, like a treat or a fun game.  Gradually increase the volume as you continue to offer her something pleasant.  Through this process, she’ll come to associate “good things” with the previously feared sound.

Example:

  • Make a tape with firecracker noises on it.
  • Play the tape at such a low volume that your dog doesn’t respond fearfully.  While the tape is playing, feed her dinner, give her a treat, or play her favorite game.
  • In your next session, play the tape a little louder while you feed her or play her favorite game.
  • Continue increasing the volume through many sessions over a period of several weeks or months.  If she displays fearful behavior at any time while the tape is playing, STOP.  Begin your next session at a lower volume, one that doesn’t produce anxiety, and proceed more slowly.

For some fears, it can be difficult to recreate the fear stimulus.  For example, thunder is accompanied by lightning, rain, and changes in barometric pressure; your dog’s fearful response may be to the combination of these things and not just the thunder.  You may need professional assistance to create and implement this kind of behavior modification program.

Consult your veterinarian

Medication may be available which can help reduce your dog’s anxiety levels for short time periods.  Your veterinarian is the only person who is qualified and licensed to prescribe medication for your dog.

Don’t attempt to give your dog any over-the-counter or prescription medication without consulting your veterinarian.  Animals don’t respond to drugs the same way people do, and a medication that may be safe for humans could be fatal to your dog.  Drug therapy alone won’t reduce fears and phobias permanently, but in extreme cases, behavior modification and medication used together might be the best approach.

What not to do

  • Do not attempt to reassure your dog when she is afraid.  This may only reinforce her fearful behavior.  If you pet, soothe, or give treats to her when she’s behaving fearfully, she may interpret this as a reward for her fearful behavior.  Instead, try to behave normally, as if you don’t notice her fearfulness.
  • Do not put your dog in a crate to prevent her from being destructive during a thunderstorm.  She’ll still be fearful when she’s in the crate and is likely to injure herself, perhaps even severely, while attempting to get out of the crate.
  • Do not punish your dog for being afraid.  Punishment will only make her more fearful.
  • Do not try to force your dog to experience or be close to the sound that frightens her.  For example, making her stay close to a group of children who are lighting firecrackers will only make her more afraid, and could cause her to become aggressive in an attempt to escape from the situation.

These approaches will fail because they won’t decrease your dog’s fear.  Merely trying to prevent her from escaping or being destructive won’t work, either.  If your dog is still afraid, she’ll continue to show that fear in whatever way she can — whether by digging, jumping, climbing, chewing, barking, or howling.  Finally, know that formal training won’t make your dog less afraid of thunder or other noises, although it could help boost her general confidence.

When all else fails

If your dog has severe fears and phobias and you’re unable to achieve success with the techniques we’ve outlined here, you should consult with an animal-behavior specialist and your veterinarian.

Adapted from material originally developed by applied animal behaviorists at the Dumb Friends League in Denver, Colo. All rights reserved.

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A Message via Winnie

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July 28, 2014 · 6:30 pm

Are Two Dogs Better Than One?

Two-Dog Household

The answer to the question, “Are two dogs are better than one?” depends, of course, on whom you ask.

Some people have had a very positive experience adding a second dog to the family “pack.”  Other folks, especially pet owners whose dogs don’t get along, wish they’d left well enough alone.

The success of a two-dog arrangement depends on several factors, including the personalities of both dogs as well as the humans in the household, how much time and effort is spent integrating the new dog into the family, and how well dog-to-dog aggression (if it exists) is managed.

John Kelly, a columnist for The Washington Post and owner of a senior black Labrador Retriever, wrote recently about his experience dog-sitting a friend’s Lab-Vizsla mix.  While Kelly enjoyed observing the distinct personality differences between his dog, Charlie, and the visiting dog, Hendrix – not to mention the disparity in energy levels between a 14 year-old and a 5 year-old – he was clearly not sold on the idea of acquiring a second dog by the end of Hendrix’s visit.

Social Facilitation: Dogs Helping Dogs

In a recent blog post written by Nicole Wilde, a certified pet dog trainer and canine behavior specialist, she describes the positive influence a family’s existing dog had on a newly acquired and very anxious dog.

Betsy and the new dog, Buster, are Cocker Spaniels.  Wilde was hired to help rehabilitate Buster’s chronic anxiety, which caused him to be fearful of everyday stimuli.  During Wilde’s first session with Buster, he wouldn’t approach her even when she offered food treats.  Betsy had been locked away in another room to reduce distractions, but Wilde asked the owners to let her out.

As soon as Betsy entered the room and ran to greet Wilde, Buster approached her as well.  His personality changed dramatically in Betsy’s presence, and Wilde was able to work with him, first with Betsy in the room, and eventually, without her.  Betsy was “socially facilitating” Buster.  According to Wilde, “Social facilitation means that one dog’s behavior amplifies or changes another’s.”

This can be especially helpful when one of the dogs is fearful, like Buster.  I have a client who adopted a year-old, five-pound shelter dog and brought him home to live with a five year-old 70 pound Golden Retriever who up to that point had been the “only child.”  The golden learned tolerance, but more importantly, the tiny fearful shelter dog learned to take cues from the calm, self-possessed golden.  The little guy is much more social and confident outside the house when he’s in the company of his “big brother.”  Clearly, the Golden Retriever provides positive social facilitation for the little one.

It’s important to keep in mind that social facilitation can also work in a negative way in certain situations, for example, when one dog’s howling or barking sets off the same behavior in the second dog.

Tips for Choosing a Second Dog

Obviously, this isn’t a decision to take lightly.  If things don’t go well, you can re-home the second dog, but this will be hard on everyone involved – especially the dog.  It’s best to spend plenty of time arriving at the right decision for your family, your current dog, and the new pet.

Generally speaking, opposite sex dogs do better together.  In the case of two males, the dominant dog will become more dominant than he would have been on his own, and the submissive dog may become much more so.  Since the dogs are living in your home rather than in the wild, they are stuck with this arrangement, and it can be very stressful.

Two female dogs thrust together often cannot establish a stable pack order.  And believe it or not, females are more likely to fight to the death than males are.

Same sex dogs living under the same roof can be a special problem if one of them is a terrier, or even a terrier mix, according to terrier experts.  Normally a dog will stop attacking when the other dog yields.  But terriers have a trait called gameness that may cause them to continue to attack even after the other dog surrenders.

I have this frustrating issue in my home between two female terriers. Their issues didn’t develop immediately, but after about a year together they started fighting and made it very clear their goal was to kill one another. Now I live in a “gated community,” which sounds very fancy but really it means the girls are permanently separated.  This requires a lot of planning and coordination to prevent interactions and fights. It’s a lot to manage and far from ideal.

You can consider a dog of the same breed, but opposite gender as your current dog.  You can also consider a different breed and gender.  Often, larger males and smaller females work well together in the same household.  Generally speaking, males are inhibited against aggression toward females, and larger dogs are inhibited against aggression toward smaller ones.  That said, if there’s a tremendous size disparity between the two dogs, you’ll need to take precautions to prevent the bigger dog from accidentally injuring the smaller dog.

Other Considerations

Adding a second dog to your family can more than double your pet care expenses and the work involved in caring for your four-legged companions.  If one dog acquires a contagious disease, the other can also catch it.  The dogs can injure each other in fights, or simply during play. Keeping two dogs separated for medical or behavioral reasons can present its own set of challenges.

Travel is much easier with one dog than with two.   And not only is boarding two dogs more expensive, but bringing your pet along on trips tends to benefit his socialization and behavior.  If you typically take your dog along on trips but don’t think you can manage it with two dogs, keep in mind that leaving your current dog behind will put him at a sad disadvantage.

It’s important to consider all the angles and gather all the information you can before deciding whether or not to add a second dog to the family.  It can mean a huge change in daily life.  With sufficient resources of time, energy, money and physical facilities, two dogs can be a great arrangement.  If possible, a trial period with the new dog is ideal.  Only you can decide.

 

Source:  Dr. Becker

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The Parental Pause

Puppy with food

A lot of my clients are also parents.   One thing I’ve noticed over the years is that parents repeat themselves a lot, for obvious reasons. Sometimes, children don’t listen to them even if they know what the parent wants.  So the parent repeats themselves until their child does what they ask.  When parents do the same thing with their dogs and don’t get a response, they assume that their dog is being stubborn.

I often hear dog owners tell me that their dog is stubborn.  When I hear that, I wonder if the dog is really stubborn, or if they are just waiting for a different cue, like their human companion reaching into their pocket for a treat.  If the dog hears “Sit, Sit, Sit, Sit” and then sees their human companion reach into their pocket, is the cue “sit” or reaching into their pocket?

The dog is probably waiting for the treat.  So one of the tips that I tell my clients is to give the dog a second or two to respond.  I call it the three second pause.  This works best if the person and dog are in an area where the dog can’t disengage from the owner and walk away.

Make sure that the behavior you are working on is something that the dog knows first.  The point of this exercise is to get a faster response from the dog the first time you ask.  Say your cue, if the dog doesn’t respond, count to three, say “No,” – or whatever negative marker you are using and then repeat.

You want your dog to understand that their response isn’t the one you wanted.  Try not to make your “No,” – or your negative marker, a scary or aversive one.  It just means that they won’t get a treat for that.  A lot of trainers call this a “No Reward Marker.”

When your dog finally does the behavior you have asked for, treat and praise.  Keep telling your pup “good” while they are doing the behavior you asked for to encourage them to continue.  This will make the behavior that much stronger.

Using this process is kind of like your dog having an “Aha!” moment.  Letting your dog think things through on their own is a great way to make sure that they are associating the word to the behavior and not another cue, like reaching for a treat.

Source:  ERIC GILLASPY CPDT-KA

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