Sunday, October 1, 2017

20 Halloween Tips for Dog Owners

by Carrie Boyko, CEB
courtesy S. Gilbert
During our #Coupaween Twitter Party, I shared a good many Halloween safety tips, alongside Arden Moore's expert tips. I've combined some of our tips to make this a quicker read that is even more helpful.

If you missed the party, or simply found it tough to keep up, I hope the following tips will get put to good use on Halloween evening or if you have a themed party. Feel free to leave your additional thoughts in comments below.
  1. Avoid K9 bolters by keeping dogs on leashes or in a closed room when you green trick-or-treaters.
  2. Make sure your pet sports a reflective collar for visibility with ID tags, name, your cell phone number and microchip.
  3. When opting for costume wear, check for fit and comfort. Do a dress rehearsal a few days early to allow time for modifications.
  4. Have important numbers available: vet, ER vet, ASPCA poison control hotline.
  5. Making your pet's costume yourself? Avoid buttons or small items that can be swallowed.
  6. Consider pet's visibility when selecting costumes. Dogs may be more easily frightened when they cannot see well.
  7. When checking for fit, also look at body language. Nothing too tight?
  8. Simple, yet stylish goes a long way. Velcro bow ties or pleated tuxedos on male dogs is very dapper.
  9. When taking Fido out to trick-or-treat, choose light-colored costumes for best visibility by others.
  10. Black costumes are very hard to see in the dark AND difficult to recognize when worn on a black dog. Choose contrasting color to your dog's fur.
  11. Dogs will often hang their head when extremely unhappy with costume. Consider removing headpiece or footwear.
  12. Be sure costumes are made of breathable fabric and are fire retardant.
  13. Help your dog become more comfortable with costume by daily practice with treats and praise. Go slow!
  14. Reduce stress by treating your dog to a brisk walk before sundown on Halloween eve.
  15. Associate costume with pleasurable activity by letting Fido wear it while eating.
  16. Dogs who won't wear costumes will often tolerate a bandana, reflective collar or collar light.
  17. ONLY take well-socialized dogs on house to house trick-or-treating.
  18. Candy and wrappers all out of reach!
  19. Candles are dangerous. Choose battery-operated versions for safety.
  20. Simplify costumes by using only the key components. Example: Wizard of Oz's Dorothy's red slippers can be easily made to slip over dog's paws without being slippers. Think out of the box!
Happy Halloween,

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Sunday, July 31, 2016

Training Your Super Puppy To Be Fearless

by Carrie Boyko, CEB

Baby Oliver Plays With a Soft Plush Toy
Are you planning to add a furry member to your family this holiday season? You're not alone. Although the downsides are often touted, a well thought out addition is fine. The reality is that many families choose this time of year in order to use the extra time off to begin house training and bonding with their new family member. Today I'd like to offer a few tips from the Whole Dog Journal, along with my own enhancements to their ideas, sure to aid in helping you raise a fear-free pup.

Although ideally you'd want your new little buddy to have these experiences prior to entering your home, adding these enhancements to your holiday playtime will most certainly be good for his growth and potential to be a wonderful family member:

    • Give your pup a chance to experience walking on 7 types of surfaces: carpet, concrete, wood, vinyl, grass, dirt, gravel, and wood chips. Each different texture will have its own lessons, most importantly that different footing is needed and nothing should be feared by a variety of textures under the pads of the feet.
    • Offer 7 different types of play objects for a variety of stimulation: big balls, small balls, soft fabric toys, fuzzy toys, squeaky toys, paper or cardboard (toilet paper/paper towel centers are perfect), metal items (without sharp edges and sticks or pieces of hose. Remember that all playtime with toys should be supervised to assure your puppy's safety.
    • Include 7 different locations in your puppy's experiences: front yard, back yard, basement, kitchen, car, garage, laundry room and bathroom. You'll want your little one to know all of these places are safe and fun, so make sure to offer pleasant experiences in each.
    • Introduce your pup to at least 7 different types of new people: babies, children, seniors, people with canes, walkers, or wheelchairs, people in uniforms, people wearing hats, and men with beards.
    • Provide 7 different challenges for your pup to work his problem-solving skills: climb around inside a box, climb off the top of a box, go through a tunnel, climb up steps, climb down steps, climb over obstacles, play hide an seek, go in and out of a doorway with a step up or down, run around a fence. Surely you'll be able to find even more challenges like these. Each will teach your new friend lots of ways to solve new problems.
    • Offer meals in a variety of different containers: metal, plastic, china, cardboard, paper, pie plate and a frying pan. Don't forget to also use food-dispensing balls for a slower way to serve a meal, while your dog learns to push the ball around the house to retrieve his dinner.
    • In addition to these ways to eat, your pup should learn that eating in a variety of locations is also a good thing: crate, yard, kitchen, basement, laundry room, living room, bathroom and even an RV. The lesson is clear; wherever you offer food to your pup, it's still yummy!
    • Exposure to many different types of noises will help your pup learn that sound is not a scary thing. Include as much variety as possible, focusing on things like banging pots, thunder, loud music, traffic, sirens, vacuums, landscaping equipment, fireworks, dog parks, and crowds

Want to get your puppy started as a doga partner early? Try our short yoga videos that include tips on yoga poses as well as how to include your pup in your practice. Join us for more doga fun as we continue to expand this series.

What are your ideas for helping your littlest new family member get a good start? I'd love to share your tips. The comment link is always open!

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Friday, April 29, 2016

Behind the Wheel: 7 Safety Tips

by Carrie Boyko, CEB

Tanner ALWAYS Rides in the Back
I have a couple--sometimes 3--favorite tagalongs for errands, dog park visits, checking in with Grandma and other fun outings that are dog-friendly. With each passing year I seem to learn new things that help me to maintain a safe drive for all participants. Hopefully you'll take a minute to soak these up:

  1. Always use crash-tested seatbelts and harnesses, attached to either the car's seatbelt system or the cargo tie downs. These could save not only your dogs' lives, but also your own. You don't want a dog in your lap while trying to maneuver during a potential accident situation, nor do you want a flying dog to hit you or the windshield in case of an accident. Securely fastening your pups using an unbreakable harness and seatbelt are essential. As American Express would say: Don't leave home without it.
  2. If your pint-sized pup is accustomed to riding up front, please, please, please,
    Locked and Loaded
    in the Back
    evaluate your airbag situation. Older models may not have them; newer models may have ones that cannot be turned off. The latest models have on/off switches or are automatically turned off when no weight is on the seat. Know your car's potential for deployment in the passenger seat. When in doubt, move your toy-sized dog to the back.
  3. If you assess your front and side airbag situation and determine that your pup is safe from a deployment, there's still one additional safety matter to attend to. While carseats do generally include seat attachments and clips for the dog's harness, these rarely are made to withstand the pressure of an impact, leaving your pup at risk of a snapped tether, forcing him into projectile mode. Avoid this by assuring the carseat is secured by the automobile seatbelt, and then attach your pup to the seatbelt using a crash-tested harness and tether. I know this sounds like a mouthful, but once it's in place, it only takes a few seconds to hook your pup in when you head off for some fun. Let's make sure you both arrive alive.
  4. When carrying a single, small dog in the back seat, use either a folded seat back to raise his level, or place an elevated carseat in the center. The center of the back seat is the safest place for your pup in the event of a collision. Be sure that the carseat you select includes the option to secure it to the car's seatbelt, and purchase a separate crash-tested carseat harness and tether to keep Fido safely in his seat at all times.
  5. Your medium to larger dog must always ride in the back seat or on the forward-folded platform behind you, with a seatbelt harness tethered to the luggage tie downs or the car seatbelts. This safety measure will keep Fido from trying to join you up front, interfere with your concentration or your ability to steer, see ahead and control the vehicle. These safety concerns are just as important as his own safety.
  6. Remember that one of the most common injuries our pets' doctors see is foreign objects in our dogs' eyes. Despite the joy your dog exhibits when riding with his head out the window, for his safety you should keep the windows closed or at least only cracked, to protect his peepers from injury.
  7. Finally, consider loose items in the cabin area of the car. Anything heavy enough to cause harm should be tied down or placed in the floor area where they are least likely to come into contact with your pup. 
Secure Heavy Items to Protect Your Pets
Now, it's your turn. What are some other safety tips for your dogs when riding in the car? Hit the comment button and share your thoughts.

Happy riding,

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