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Kids and Dogs: Preventing a Dog Bite

Young smiling boy holding a puppy

Teach kids to respect dogs to prevent a dog bite.

 

Kids and dogs just seem to go together. There is nothing better than growing up with your best pal by your side. I loved having a dog when I was growing up. But not all dogs are kid friendly, so it is extremely important for you and your children to be able to understand when a dog, including your own, is stressed. It is also very important to teach your children to treat the family dog with respect and treat, to prevent a dog bite.

For most parents, when the family dog bites, it seems like it came out of nowhere. But dogs give warning signals that they are uncomfortable. It is our job as parents and dog owners to make sure to not only protect our children but also protect our dogs. We need to keep our dogs out of stressful situations so that they do feel the need to protect themselves. Here are a few things you can teach your kids not to do to or around the family dog or any dog. 

The Don’t to Prevent a Dog Bite:

 

Teach kids to not hug the dog to prevent a dog bite.

Teach kids to not hug the dog to prevent a dog bite.

  • Never hug any dog. While we humans love hugs, dogs do not like to be hugged.
  • Do not step or stand on your dog. Just like we do not like to be stepped on, neither do our dogs.
  • Do not pull on any dog’ ears or tail or handle roughly. Nobody likes to be treated that way.
  • Do not disturb a sleeping dog.
  • Never run up to a strange dog.
  • Do not yell or scream at or near your dog. Loud noises can startle a dog.
  • Do not get in your dog’s face. Teach your kids that dogs need personal space just like people do.
  • Do not put your hands or face near the dog’s food bowl, especially while they are eating. How would you like it if someone stuck their hands in your food?
  • Do not take your dog’s toys away from them while they are chewing on them.

The Dos to Prevent a Dog Bite: 

Respecting dogs can prevent a dog bite.

Respecting dogs can prevent a dog bite.

  • Always ask permission from you and from the dog’s owners before petting a strange dog.
  • Play with your dog. Fetch is always a good choice.
  • Get involved with training your dog. I loved teaching my dog cool tricks. Well, I still do.

Teach your kids to be polite to the dog and teach your dog to be polite to the kids and everyone can have a safe and happy life together.

 

 

 

If you would like to learn more about keeping kids safe around dogs, please contact us about our Dog Bite Safety Education program.

What is Separation Anxiety in Dogs? Does Your Dog Suffer From It?

What is separation anxiety in dogs? Does your dog suffer from it? Here is my experience of living with a dog with separation anxiety, the signs to look for and what you can do to help your dog if you suspect he or she is suffering from separation anxiety.

Dog looking out window

Dogs with separation anxiety may chew through walls to get out and find you.

Many years ago, I adopted a beautiful four-month-old puppy from a couple who kept him in a dark, hot garage 24 hours a day. They rarely let him out, even to relieve himself. It was four horrible months for this little guy, so when I brought him home he was immediately attached to me and panicked every time I had to leave him. The first two weeks weren’t too bad as I had taken vacation time to help him adjust to his new life with me, but I did notice that when I left the house, even for a brief time, he would panic.

I once ran up to the local store, leaving my puppy gated in the kitchen, only to receive a call from my alarm company stating my alarm had been triggered, again. This time the poor guy had pulled the microwave off the counter. One of the previous times he had knocked over the cabinet where I kept my china. He ate through the drywall by my front door and urinated and defecated all over my house, no matter how many times I took him out. All because I left him.

A well-meaning friend suggested I crate him. He turned that crate into a twisted mass of metal. It was incredible he didn’t physically hurt himself. I cannot imagine what torment that poor dog went through.

I hired a trainer to help me help him, but he needed more than a trainer. This was 30 years ago. Today, trainers, veterinarians, and behaviorists know so much more about how to help dogs with separation anxiety. This is not to say that there is an easy fix for separation anxiety, there isn’t. But you can help your dog if you are willing to put in the work.

What are the symptoms of separation anxiety?

  • Getting upset as you are getting ready to leave.
  • Overly excited when you return.
  • Urinating and defecating in the house while you are away even though they have had ample opportunities to relieve themselves before you left.

    Dog destroying item

    Dogs with separation anxiety may become destructive

  • Whining
  • Barking
  • Panting
  • Excessive salivation
  • Destructive behavior
  • Vomiting

What you can do to help:

  • First things first, see your veterinarian in order to make sure there isn’t some underlying issue that is mimicking separation anxiety.
  • Feed your dog just before leaving the house. This can help your dog associate something positive with your departure.
  • Keep your departures and arrivals low key.
  • Provide your dog with lots of interactive toys to keep them occupied.
  • Sometimes adding another dog to the family can help, but there is no guarantee.
  • There are medications that may help, but they are not long-term solutions.
  • Hire a dog walker or pet sitter to keep your dog company while you are away.

    Sad dog

    A dog with separation anxiety may be helped if you are willing to put in the work

One or more of the solutions above may help your dog cope with their separation anxiety. Be patient, it may take some time to figure out what works best for your dog.

Do you think your dog suffers from separation anxiety? Contact us to see how we can help.

How Much Does It Cost to Own a Dog?

So, you have decided you would like to add a dog to your family. Wonderful! Dogs are great for getting you out of the house for some exercise, they are therapeutic and lots of fun. But how much does it cost to own a dog? 

Puppy in lap

Should you purchase a dog or adopt one? Weigh the cost.

Before adding a dog or any pet to your household it is important to determine how much your dog is going to cost you on a yearly basis. Not just how much it will cost to purchase or adopt your new pal, but how much it will cost for food, training, veterinary bills and more.

Let’s look at some of the costs you will incur.

Purchase or adoption

If you are set on a pure breed puppy your purchase price could be as much as $5,000 if you get your puppy from a reputable breeder. Shelters and rescue organizations also have purebred dogs up for adoption, but you may not get that cute 8-week old puppy (see our blog on the pros and cons of getting a puppy). If you have your heart set on a particular breed there is a rescue group for every breed out there. Shelter adoption fees can range from $35-$75, and usually include vaccinations and spay/neuter and microchip. If you decide to adopt from a rescue organization, adoption fees can be anywhere from $200-$700 depending on the breed and the rescue’s expenses. These dogs too are vaccinated, spayed/neutered and microchipped.  

You can save quite a lot of money if you are willing to adopt a puppy and even more money if you adopt an adult dog.

Veterinary Care

Just ordinary annual vet care is going to cost somewhere between $100 to $400. This does not include possible emergencies which can run into the thousands of dollars. While pet insurance can help with some emergency expenses, most companies do not cover annual vaccinations. If you insure your pet, which we think is a great idea, you will usually have to put out the initial expense of emergency or extraordinary veterinary care. You then get reimbursed for a portion of that care. In the long run, pet insurance can save you a considerable amount of money.

You will save a good amount of money if you adopt from your local shelter or rescue as these dogs are already spayed/neutered, which is a big expense. Rescue dogs are also vaccinated, so you could have as much as an entire year before your new dog needs to be vaccinated again.

Heartworm, Flea and Tick Control

Heartworm can cost as much as $300 per year depending on the size of your dog. Flea and tick control will run anywhere from $50-$250 per year.

Dog balancing cookie on nose

The cost of food will depend on the quality.

Food and Treats

If you want to feed your dog nothing but the best, it can cost you as much as $600 per year depending on the size of your dog. If you are not picky about what your dog eats you can most budget for about $150 per year, but you may spend more on vet bills.

Bowls, Beds, Toys, Leashes, and Collars

This is an area where your personal style and tastes can affect your monetary output. If you are looking for designer items, you will usually spend more than if you are shopping at your local dollar store.

You might be able to find some great items at your local garage sales or local buy, sell trade groups.

Training

Yes, your new dog is going to need training. Group classes usually start at around $125 for a six-week class, but if your new buddy needs more personalized private training you could spend anywhere from $60-$100 per hour depending on where you live and the experience of your trainer.

Grooming

Dog grooming can be very expensive depending on your dog’s breed and coat length. You also must take into consideration how often you want your dog bathed and how much effort you are willing to put into the process. Are you comfortable trimming your dog’s nails and expressing their anal glands? If this gives you pause, then your grooming bill will be more. In other words, your short-haired Labrador that you are willing to bathe, and trim nails is going to cost considerably less than your Goldendoodle that needs monthly professional grooming. So, if you are willing to get a little wet and have the patience to trim your dog’s nails and such you could be looking at grooming costs as low as $30 per year, but if you have a higher maintenance dog and/or if you are using a mobile groomer, your grooming bills could run as much as $1,500 a year or more.

Dog getting a bath

The cost of grooming will depend on how much effort you are willing to put in.

Other Considerations

If you live in a house will you need a fence to keep your new companion contained? What about taking your dog out for a car ride? You will then need a crate or other restraint. And what about if you want to or need to go out of town? You will then need someone to care for your dog.

Having a dog is a lifelong commitment and being aware of the possible costs of dog ownership can give you a good idea if you are ready to make that commitment. We hope the answer is a resounding yes! Dogs are a wonderful family addition.

Would you like to learn more about caring for your new dog? Contact us.

Thinking of Getting a Puppy? What are the Pros and Cons?

Getting a puppy is a big commitment. If your family is considering bringing a new pup into your home you first need to make sure this is the right decision for your family’s lifestyle. A new pooch can be a wonderful addition to a family, here are some puppy pros and cons. 

Puppy

A puppy can be a great addition to your family

The Pros of Getting a Puppy:

Cuteness Overload!

Puppies are very cute, but remember that cute little ball of fur is going to grow into an adult dog. Don’t bring a puppy into your life just because it is adorable.

Puppy with ball

Your puppy will love to play.

Fun!

Watching a young pup play and romp is so much fun. Watching them tumble and roll with their favorite toy will give you your daily dose of laughter.

Health Benefits for You

You will get a lot of exercise chasing after and playing with your new addition. As your puppy matures into an adult dog you will both enjoy getting exercise on your daily walks. Studies show that people who have a dog at home have fewer heart attacks and if they do have a heart attack they have a better survival and recovery rate.

Less Stress

Petting a dog has been shown to reduce stress and lower blood pressure. It also increases dopamine and serotonin levels.

The Cons of Getting a Puppy:

Constant Supervision

Puppies can get into trouble quickly. Puppies must be supervised at all times. When you can’t be there to supervise, crate training your new family member will help keep him or her out of trouble.

Chewing 

Puppy chewing on a person's hand

Puppy teeth can hurt.

It is natural for puppies to want to chew. They will chew your shoes, your furniture, electrical cords and even you.

They Need to Relieve Themselves Often

As a rule of thumb, a young dog can only hold it for as many hours as his or her age is in months. So, if you have a 2-month-old dog he or she will need to go out every two hours. This is where a professional dog walker can really help you while you are at work.

Puppy on leash

Your puppy will need to go out often.

Lots of Cleaning up

While you will try to be diligent about taking your puppy outside, accidents do happen. There is also the potential mess if your puppy chews something up, such as paper or a pillow.

Having a puppy in the house can be fun and entertaining, but they are also a lot of hard work. Make sure all family members are ready for such a big responsibility. If you decide that a puppy is right for you, have fun and enjoy!

If you would like more information on our puppy visits for your long work days, please contact us.

The Dog Walk: Tips to Keep Your Dog Safe

Taking our dog for a walk is one of the great pleasures of owning a dog. However, there are a few things you can do to keep you and your dog safe and get more enjoyment from your time together.

Focus on Your Dog

Man looking at his phone while walking dog.

Stay focused on your dog, not your phone.

Being aware of your surroundings while on your walk will keep you both safe. If you are distracted by a phone call, text message, Facebook or music you will likely miss something potentially dangerous to one or both of you such as your dog eating something off the ground, an oncoming dog or an approaching stranger. 

The purpose of your walk should be spending quality time with your dog, so enjoy.

 Don’t Let Your Dog off Leash

Even if your dog has a totally reliable recall, letting them off leash can be dangerous. All it takes is for them to see another dog, a cat, a squirrel or something else that makes them run off.

Other Dogs Can be a Problem

While your dog may love others of his kind those other dogs may not be so friendly. In the interest of safety, it is best to keep your dog away from others.

Even if the owner of the other dog seems to think it’s alright for the dogs to meet, no one asked the dogs. Play it safe.

Make the Walk Fun!

Walking your dog should not be a chore it should be a fun adventure for both of you. So, stay alert but enjoy!

Bring Water Along

You should always bring water along for both you and your pal. Even when the temperatures are a bit cooler it is important for everyone to stay hydrated.

When it is very hot outside, staying hydrated is especially important. You can find collapsible bowls at your local pet supply store, so you can pour a drink for your four-legged friend.

Never Leave Your Dog Alone

 It only takes a minute for your dog to be stolen or harmed, so never leave your them alone. There are always heartbreaking stories of dogs that are missing and their owner only left them for a brief moment.  Don’t take the chance!

Keep an Eye on Where Your Dog is Sniffing

You never know what people have thrown out of their car window or just dropped on the grass. Chicken bones or other items could be potentially deadly.

If you use a regular leash such as a four or six-foot lead you are more likely to keep your dog away from some potential danger on the ground. Using a retractable leash gives you much less control.

Watch Where Your Dog is Walking

Happy dog

Taking your dog for a walk is a great way to bond with your dog.

Broken glass is everywhere, so keep your eyes looking ahead to where your dog is walking. There are so many things on the ground that can hurt your dog’s paws.

Keep to Well Lit Areas

The safety of you and your dog is important. Walk in areas that are well lit.

Walking in areas that are dark or underpopulated puts you at risk for falls or worse.

Be present with your dog and you will both enjoy the walk much more.

Taking your dog for a walk can be a great way for you both to unwind and enjoy some quality time together.

 

If you work long hours, but would still like to get your best pal out for an adventure, please contact us for more information on our dog walking service.

Why Tethering Your Dog is a Bad Idea

 

Dog tethered with a chain

Tethering puts your dog at risk.

                                                                                                                                                                    What is tethering? According to Rebecca Wisch of Michigan State University College of Law“Tethering or chaining a dog under most state laws means that a person ties a dog with a rope or line to a stationary object.” Chaining or tethering your dog outside seems innocent enough, but there could be some big consequences. Sure, the dog gets to be outside and you have the peace of mind he will not run away, but at what cost? Here are a few of those possible costs:

Aggression

Dogs that are continually tied up can get frustrated with their inability to move about, causing them to become aggressive. Dogs are also territorial and that small plot of land they are confined to becomes something that needs to be fiercely defended. Also, dogs are very social beings and being confined outside, away from interaction with others for long periods of time can be psychologically and emotionally damaging (think solitary confinement).

Escape

If your dog is tethered in a yard that is not secure there is a possibility that one day that tether will snap, and your dog will escape. Ask yourself this question; would you come back?

Injury or Death

Dogs that are chained run the risk of getting entangled in their chains or tethers, breaking or cutting off circulation to a limb. They can injure their necks and backs when they hitting the end of their tether. They also run the risk of hanging themselves if their chain is caught on an object. Tethered dogs are vulnerable to attack from other animals as well as venomous snakes and insects. Extreme heat and cold can be deadly to dogs confined to the outdoors. And dangerous weather events such as hurricanes and snowstorms can also be life-threatening.

Neglect

Dog tethered with a chain

Tethering can cause emotional and physical harm to a dog.

Are tethered dogs really thought of as family members? Are they getting regular meals and fresh water? Are they provided with adequate shelter? What about veterinary care? What about simple things such as affection and play? They are simple things that dogs need.

These are just a few of the damaging effects of being tethered outside. It is no wonder more and more states, cities and towns are making it illegal to tether your dog. Click here for a comprehensive list of the states that have addressed tethering and chaining.

Here in Florida, there are several cities that have made tethering illegal, but the whole state is not on board yet. Here are the Florida cities and counties where it is illegal to tether your dog (Sourced from PETA.org): Collier County, Fernandina Beach, Hallandale Beach, Hernando County, Hillsborough County, Lake County, Lee County, Miami-Dade County, Marion County, Martin County, Mount Dora, Okaloosa County, Palm Beach County, Pasco County, Pembroke Park, Pinellas County, Sarasota County, and St. Lucie County.

What can you do if you see a dog that is tethered? Call your local Animal Control and report the abuse.

What Leash is Right for You?

As professional dog walkers, we are very particular about the types of leashes we use. We do not walk dogs on retractable leashes or bungee type leashes. But why? Isn’t it nice to let your dog have a little freedom out on the walk? If you are using one of these types of leashes let us give you a couple of scenarios and then you can make a more informed decision about the type of leash you want to use.

The Retractable Leash

You are out for a morning stroll when an off-leash dog charges your dog. Your dog runs circles around you trying to escape his aggressor. Suddenly, the cord from the retractable leash is wound so tightly around your legs you can’t move, and your dog can’t move because he/she has used up the length of the retractable leash trying to escape. You are helpless to rescue your dog or to even help yourself. If you are wearing shorts there is a possibility that the cord from the leash will cut into your skin. Ouch!

Dogs meeting on retractable leashes

Retractable leashes limit your control over your dog.

Maybe you and your dog meet other dogs on leash, but in the chaos of greeting, the dogs’ leashes get entangled, the dogs panic and a fight ensues. Using a retractable leash makes it so much more difficult to keep leashes untangled than a standard leash.

Or, what if you are out for a walk with your dog and you accidentally drop your retractable leash? The leash retracts, and the plastic handle of the leash hits your dog sending her into a panic. As your dog runs the plastic leash handle continues to hit your dog sending her into more of a panic.

Bungee Leashes

If the snap on this type of leash breaks while the leash is stretched it can snap back hitting you in the hand, face, eye or some other part of your body. Again, Ouch!

 

Standard six-foot leash

I personally use a six-foot leather leash. Yes, it’s a bit more expensive, but you get what you pay for. Leather leashes last, they are more comfortable in your hands, they don’t collect dog hair. Leather leashes are great for strong active dogs. You can also purchase a nylon leash, but make sure you test the feel in your hands. I find nylon leashes harder on the hands. Nylon leashes can collect dog hair and while they can come in fun colors, those colors may fade over time.

Retractable leashes

Retractable leashes can get tangled or caught on something.

The type of leash you use is important for your safety and the safety of your dog. Choose wisely.

How to Tell if Your Pet is Overweight and What to do About It.

 

Did you know that over 50% of dogs and cats in the United States are overweight according to the latest veterinary surveys? An obese pet is at greater risk of developing severe health problems. Is your pet fat?

What are the Health Risks?

  • Heart disease

    Overweight dog

    Having an overweight pet puts them at risk for several health issues.

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Kidney disease
  • Arthritis
  • Many forms of cancer

How can I tell if my dog or cat is overweight?

There are many Body Condition Score (BCS) charts you can find online, but here are a few guidelines for dogs and cats:

  • Obese – It is difficult to feel the ribs because there is a thick layer of fat. The base of the tail is thick and it is difficult to feel the tail base because there is a thick layer of fat. When viewing your pet from above, the back is widened and no waist definition. When viewing your pet from the side there is no waist and your cat may have that hanging belly that swings from side to side when it moves.                    

    Overweight cat

    Having an overweight pet puts them at risk for several health issues.

  • Overweight – It is hard to feel the ribs because there is a sufficient layer of fat. The base of the tail is somewhat thick and hard to feel because of the layer of fat between the bone and the skin. When viewing your pet from above the back is widened and there is little if any waist definition. When viewing your pet from the side there is little if any belly tuck and your cat may still have that hanging belly that swings from side to side when it moves.

What is the ideal body condition for my dog or cat?

  • You can easily feel the ribs.
  • You can feel the base of the tail.
  • When viewing your dog or cat from above there is a defined waist.
  • When viewing your dog or cat from the side there is a belly tuck.

What can I do to help my overweight pet?

Cutting back on their food and increasing exercise are two great places to start. Talk to your veterinarian about how much you should cut out of your pet’s diet and how much exercise they suggest. This is also a great time to rule out any health issues that are already present or are brewing.

 

Start increasing your pet’s exercise gradually. Just like you can’t get from couch potato to marathon runner, neither can your pet.

While you can grab a leash, and take your dog for a walk, exercising cats take a little more creativity. Use your cat’s inner hunting instinct and play, play, play. Cats are more active at sunrise and sunset, so those are the times you will get more play activity from your cat.

If you don’t have the time to exercise your dog or cat, consider hiring a dog walker or pet sitter to get your pets moving.

Dances with Dogs has a proven track record of helping pets drop unwanted pounds. Click here for more information on how we can help you help your dog or cat lose the weight.

Running With Your Dog

Jogger running with two dogs

Running with your dog can be fun for both of you.

If you want to run with your dog you should take a few precautions before you get started:

Before You Start

1. Before you start a running program with your dog, make sure he or she is healthy enough for the endeavor. A trip to the vet should be first on your list before starting.
2. Once your pooch is cleared to start running, don’t take off on a 10-mile run. Just like people, dogs need to be conditioned. Start slow and build up your dog’s endurance.
3. Training is important. Your dog needs to learn how to run alongside you so that you can both enjoy the time together.
4. Not all dogs are meant to be runners. If your dog is older, short-snouted, or just too small to keep up, leave them at home when you go for your jog.
5. DO NOT run your dog if it’s hot outside. Dogs do not disburse heat the way we humans do. Keep some of these things in mind: [Read more…]

Travel with Your Dog: Tips and Tricks

Dog in car

Travel with your dog can be a lot of fun

Recently my dog Kensi and I took another road trip to the mountains of North Carolina. This is becoming an annual event for us. I rent a beautiful cabin and we go hiking every day. It really is my bliss, hanging out in the woods with my dog. But there is a stressful side to this travel with your dog thing, how do you keep your dog safe when you are on the road? [Read more…]