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Halloween Safety Tips for Your Pets

dog wearing bee costume

Halloween safety tips that will help you keep your pets safe and calm.

Halloween is right around the corner and while we are planning what costume we will wear and what treats we will be handing out we also need to think about our pets. Here are a few Halloween safety tips for your pets.

Walk with Care

The Halloween decorations start showing up on our neighbor’s lawns a month before Halloween. Some of these decorations can be very scary for our dogs. Whether it’s an inflatable skeleton riding a motorcycle or a giant inflatable pumpkin, for our dogs those things can be terrifying. This is the time to make those walks as positive as possible. If your dog is too stressed out by those novel Halloween decorations it might be wise to skip your walk until the decorations are gone or contact a professional dog trainer who can show you how to make those decorations less scary for your dog.

Six children in costumes trick or treating at woman's house

Keep your pets away from open doors. People in costume can be scary for your pets.

Keep Them Calm and Secure

Halloween can be a very stressful time for our pets. Doorbells are ringing, there are lots of knocks at the door, there are strange people coming to the door dressed in costume, children are yelling “Trick or Treat!”. It’s all very stressful on our pets. The best thing you can do for your pets on this stressful night is put them in another room with the door closed and either turn on a radio, television or white noise machine. Do not leave your pets outside.

Identification

While you want to keep your pets confined and away from open doors accidents happen. Make sure your pets are wearing a collar with an identification tag attached. Collars can get lost, so your pet should also be microchipped.

Tire Them Out

Before the Halloween festivities begin, get your dog out for a nice run or game of fetch in the backyard. Breakout your cat’s favorite toy and get them playing. By tiring your pet out, you should be able to reduce some of their stress.

Ceramic pumpkin filled with Halloween Candy

Halloween Safety Tips for Your Pets Include Keeping All Candy Safely Out of Reach.

Keep Candy Out of Reach

Chocolate is toxic to both dogs and cats and can cause symptoms of vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, rapid breathing, and even death. The darker the chocolate the more toxic to your pets it will be.

Xylitol is found in many types of candy and gum. Xylitol can cause liver failure, a drop in blood sugar, and seizures in dogs. If you suspect your pets have ingested chocolate or any candy it is best to be safe and get them to the veterinarian.

two bernese mountain dogs dressed up like clowns on white background

Have “dress rehearsals” if you want to dress up your pets for Halloween.

Let’s Play Dress Up

Not all pets like to be dressed in costume. If you want your pet to wear a costume on Halloween practice “dress rehearsals” before the big day. When getting your pet used to wearing a costume make it a positive experience and if they are uncomfortable, don’t force it.

Are Your Pets Ready for Halloween? We Would Love to See Pictures of Your Pets in Costume!

 

 

How to Train Your Dog to Sit

English bulldog sitting next to a person looking up at them.

Sit can be the basis of other behaviors you can train your dog to do.

Whether it is your new puppy or older dog, teaching them the sit command is an important lesson for them to learn. It is also, usually, one of the easiest commands to teach. Here is an easy way to train your dog to sit.

Having your dog sit when asked can come in handy in a variety of situations from sitting before going out of a doorway, sitting at the veterinarian’s office, sitting for a nail trim, to sitting beside you at an outdoor café. The sit command is a versatile command and will serve you and your dog well throughout your years together.

What is the Best Training Method?

Here at Dances with Dogs, we only use positive reinforcement training. What does that mean? We only use treats, toys, and praise. We ignore bad behavior and reward good behavior. Wouldn’t you work harder if you knew that every time you got it right something great was going to happen? How hard would you work if you knew that if every time you got it wrong something bad was going to happen?

Why Should You Train Your Dog to Sit?

Having your dog learn the sit command is essential, so this is one of the first commands they should learn. It is also the base for other behaviors they should learn, so learning the sit command is the start of great learning experiences for your dog and great training experiences for you.

How Long Will It Take?

Each dog learns at a different pace just like people, so be patient. Learning sit is a fairly easy command for dogs to learn, so it shouldn’t take too long. It also depends on how much time you invest in the process. You want training to be fun, so it is important to keep your training sessions to about 10 minutes in length. If you try to train your dog for longer periods of time you run the risk of him/her getting frustrated, distracted, bored or just tired.

How to Train Your Dog to Sit 

Before you get started, you need lots of yummy treats. These treats should be small (pea sized) and something your dog finds incredibly delicious. Some things that work well are small pieces of cheese, cooked chicken, dried liver, a dog food roll cut into small pieces, cut up hot dogs, etc. You want something that really keeps their attention and doesn’t take too long for them to eat. If your dog is not motivated by food try using their favorite toy or praise. 

Step 1 

Hold a small piece of treat in your hand, so that your dog can smell it and then slowly raise your hand up and back over their head so that they have to look up. This should cause them to have to sit down. If your dog tries to jump up to get the treat your hand may be too high above their head. Lower your hand a bit and try again. 

Black and tan puppy lifting his head up and beginning to it.

When starting to train your dog to sit, hold the treat just above his head so that he must lift his head. This should cause him to sit.

Step 2

Just as your dog sits say “yes!” or “good” or whatever word works best for you and pop the treat in their mouth.

Step 3

Once your dog is consistently sitting 5 times in a row during your practice sessions you can then put a command word to it. So, say “sit” as you raise your hand above their head and as soon as their rear end hits the ground reward and praise.

Step 4

Once your dog has the behavior down, you can phase out your treats by only giving them occasionally. Mix it up. Sometimes give your dog a treat every three sits, then every 5 sits, then every two sits. Keep them guessing, that is part of the fun.

Step 5

Always have fun and end on a high note. Always try to end your training sessions when your dog has done the behavior correctly. Even if your dog is having a great training session don’t be tempted to push it. You want every session to be fun.

Things You Should Never Do

Never push on your dog’s back end to get them to sit. You could do physical harm to your dog and it does not help your dog to learn to sit.

Never repeat your command. In other words, ask your dog to “sit”, but never say “sit, sit, sit,” if your dog doesn’t sit after the first request.

Never yell or shout at your dog. If you are getting frustrated it is time to call it a day. Try to end your training session on a positive note even if that means asking your dog to do something they already know like fetch a ball or give kisses. But, if you are finding yourself raising your voice it is time to take a break.

Papillon surrounded by dog toys

When you train your dog to sit you may find that toys motivate your dog more than food does.

Troubleshooting

If your dog just won’t sit there could be several reasons. Make sure it is not medical. Does your dog sit on her/his own when not being asked? If not, a trip to the vet may be in order. Are your treats yummy enough? Make sure you are using very high-value treats when teaching a new behavior. If your dog still isn’t interested in treat maybe food isn’t his/her thing. Try using a ball, toy or praise as a reward instead. Are there too many distractions? If there is a lot going on when you are trying to train it might be a good idea to move to a quieter area.

If You Would Like to Learn More About How to Train Your Dog, Please Contact Us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Easy Peanut Butter and Pumpkin Dog Treats

I love baking for my dogs and giving them homemade dog treats is the best! This recipe is one of their favorites. It is such a quick and easy dog treat recipe that will leave your dog wanting more and I hope you will have fun making them.

Heart-shaped cookie cutter

Cut your treats with a heart-shaped cookie cutter to celebrate Valentine’s Day with your dog.

This is a cookie cutter recipe and I found some really cute dog bone and dog paw shaped cookie cutters online, but you can use whatever cookie cutter shape you like. Hearts might be fun for Valentine’s Day.   

This recipe usually takes me about 50 minutes to an hour to complete from start to finish.

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cups of canned pumpkin
  • ¼ cup unsalted peanut butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 cups whole wheat flour (much healthier than white flour)

I like to use organic ingredients when available although this recipe will work with the ingredients you have available.

Directions:

  • Preheat your oven to 350°
  • Beat the canned pumpkin, unsalted peanut butter, and eggs together in a large mixing bowl using an electric beater on medium-high. You want to make sure these ingredients are mixed together very well.
  • Slowly mix in the flour one cup at a time until the mixture is not sticky.  You may want to add the last cup 1/4 cup at a time.
  • Place mixture on a flat, floured surface.
  • You will need to knead the mixture a few times.
  • Roll out to a thickness of ¼”.
  • Using your cookie cutters cut your treats into your desired shapes and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet or silicone baking mat.
  • Bake 20-25 minutes. The longer you cook the treats the crunchier they will be.
  • Make sure the treats are completely cooled before feeding them to your dog. 
Dog taking treat from hand

Your dog will love these easy to make treats.

Please let us know if you made these for your dogs and how they liked them in the comments below.