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Hiking With Your Dog

Hiking With Your Dog

Going Hiking With Your Dog

If you live in Arizona, you know there are several spots to go hiking with your dog. There’s Camelback Mountain in Phoenix, the trails leading up to Flat Iron, Browns Peak, and several others. Just like human hikers, dogs need the right equipment to stay safe. Getting ready for your hike means not leaving home without these essentials.

Collapsible Water Bowl

It’s fairly easy for your dog to overheat. This is especially true while hiking and exerting himself in the Arizona heat. Dogs do not sweat like humans, so it’s important to ensure that they don’t get too hot. Your furry friend will keep hiking until he drops, therefore, it’s your job to make sure that doesn’t happen.

It is very important to offer them water throughout your journey. One of the easiest ways to do that is by bringing a collapsible dog bowl on your hike. Small, collapsible dog bowls help regulate the amount of water poured so you won’t have to dump excess water. If you dog wants more, simply refill it. Chewy.com offers several types of collapsible bowls. Most offer a quick release clip that can be attached to collars and leashes.

Canine Backpack

If you’re off on a serious hike, you may be carrying lots of equipment. If your dog is able, consider a canine backpack so that he can carry some of his food and water. Check with your veterinarian about how much and if your dog should carry one. The general rule is that your pup can carry about one quarter of their own weight.

Footwear for Your Dog

You are going hiking with your dog and you’ve chosen the proper foot attire for yourself. You’ll want to consider doing the same for Fido. We all know that dogs do not adore those little dog booties. However, they can provide protection from the rough terrain. For instance, if your dog cuts a pad on the way in, getting Fido back out could be spell trouble. Dog booties take a little getting used to, therefore, try them on at home before your big hike.

Energy Snacks

Are you packing snacks for yourself for your hike with your dog? If you are, you’ll want to pack some for Fido, too. Just like you, he will need a little energy boost to keep him going. There are several energy bars and snacks on the market for dogs. Depending on your preferences, such as all natural, or avoiding specific ingredients, you’ll want to find the right ones. Pawtivity, an adventure blog for dogs, put together a list of the best energy bars for dogs 2018. This list may not be exhaustive, however, it is a good start.

The Proper Collar

Just like choosing the proper footwear, consider choosing the proper collar for your hike with your dog. A quick release collar will ensure that you can easily free your pup from a tricky situation such as being stuck on a tree branch. Collars made of nylon or other fast-drying materials are best. Also on Fido’s collar should be an ID with your cell phone number in the event the two of you are separated. Be sure to carry your phone on your hike.

K9 First Aid Kit

If you were a Girl or Boy Scout, you will remember the motto of “Be prepared”. If you’re like many hikers, you may want to bring a K9 first aid kit. For a list of what to bring, the Animal Health Foundation, with the help of the Humane Society, has put together a detailed list of items.

For More Information

If you have questions about this topic or general questions about pet care, you can contact Kara Jenkins, Owner of TLC Pet Sitter. We are also available by email at info@tlcpetsitter.com. View more of our articles on pets here.

Why Not a Dog Park?

Why Not a Dog Park?

Why Not a Dog Park?

The Reasons We Warn Against Them

When we think about taking our dog to a dog park we begin to conjure ideas of our pet frolicking with other dogs.  We tend to believe that this will be a great experience for them and that they’ll be a happier dog for having had the experience.  This couldn’t be more untrue.  Furthermore, we warn against taking your dog – and especially a puppy – to a dog park!

Hazards and Risks at a Dog Park Outweigh the Benefits

In March of 2018, in California, a small dog was attacked by two larger dogs at Lodi park and was fatally wounded.  While this is an extreme example, it is not uncommon for injuries to occur to dogs at dog parks.  Injuries can sometimes occur because of the co-mingling of large and small dogs.  In other cases, dog fights erupt between same-sized dogs as they try to assert themselves.  If your pet is not well trained for the type of interaction that occurs in a dog park, altercations will occur.

Like People, Not All Dogs Want to Be Social with Everyone They Meet

For some dogs, taking them to a dog park can make them extremely anxious.  It is like being afraid of the water and being pushed into the pool for them. 

Like people, some dogs prefer the comfort of familiar faces or only in small numbers.  Just as we do not chat with everyone we meet, our dogs do not have to play with every dog they meet.  The pressure to do so can make them uncomfortable or aggressive.  Rather than place our pups in this position, find a more suitable alternative.  For instance, schedule a few minutes with the neighbor’s dog every week. This may be all the socialization your dog needs- or wants.  Older dogs, especially, tend to prefer to go without playful interaction with other dogs.

The goal is to ensure that your dog feels relaxed and can leave at any time they start to feel uncomfortable.  Other options include pet socialization classes where the number of dogs is limited and it is monitored in a controlled environment by pet professionals.

Germs, Illness, and Parasites

If that doesn’t get your attention, we’re not sure what will.  Did you know that viruses can live in the soil of the dog park for an extended period of time?  This is true for any soil. This makes dog parks a veritable breeding ground for all types of viruses and parasites.  Because shot records are not required at the door, your pup could be mingling with unvaccinated or unhealthy animals.  This is especially dangerous to a new pup who has not yet completed his full schedule of vaccinations. This pup is therefore more susceptible to the germs.  Safer spaces for your pets include training classes, doggy day care, or boarding kennels where shot records are required prior to entry.

Anti-Training

The energy in a dog park can often be frantic and chaotic.  It doesn’t take long for a dog to get reinforcement from the experience that this behavior is acceptable. This teaches them that their owner has little or no control over them.  If you’ve visited a dog park, you’ve noticed at least one frustrated owner trying to get their dogs attention. It is usually to no avail.  This behavior can often carry over at home.  Undoing what the dog park has taught your dog can be frustrating for both you and your dog.

Elevated Protective Behaviors

Does your dog guard their toys?  Do they maybe even guard you a little?  Does your pet tend to want to keep the water bowl to themselves?  Is your dog the bully of the playground?  Dogs can be instinctual when it comes to guarding their resources.  If another animal tries to take what they believe is theirs it can result in a combative response.

Lasting Trauma

A young dog may feel long-term affects of an unpleasant experience at a dog park.  If they are attacked, especially unprovoked, your dog may begin exhibiting aggressive behavior of their own.  As a human, you may witness what you believe to be a small event happening to your dog that unexpectedly has lasting affects.  These incidents are likened to childhood trauma in humans.  Similar to someone playfully jumping out from behind a corner and yelling “Boo” to a small child who is too young to understand that won’t always happen again, but feels forever as if it will.

Inattentive Owners

All types of dogs come to a dog park.  The same is true for the owners.  There are some great dog owners who watch after their pets.  They keep an eye on them, break up incidents before they escalate, pick-up their messes, watch for inappropriate play or behavior, and are simply aware of their animals.  On the other hand, some owners spend more time on their phones or talking to other people to be bothered with their pet.  In these cases, their dog is left unchecked and can often create the problems mentioned above that you and your dog are trying to avoid.

To be safe, we recommend that you skip the dog park altogether and find better, safer alternatives for your pet.

For More Information

If you have questions about this topic or general questions about pet care, you can contact Kara Jenkins, Owner of TLC Pet Sitter. We are also available by email at info@tlcpetsitter.com. View more of our articles on pets here.

Hazards of Christmas Decorations for Pets

Hazards of Christmas Decorations for Pets

Hazards of Christmas Decorations for Pets

Including the Not So Obvious Ones

The Christmas and holiday season is upon us.  If you’re like many, there are time honored traditions visible in most corners of your home.  From the fresh cut Christmas tree to the twinkly lights to the masses of sweet confections.  It’s an exciting time for all of us.  Not unlike having a toddler in the house, extra precautions are needed.  The hazards of Christmas decorations for pets may not be immediately obvious.  With a little preparation and consideration this holiday season is sure to be festive.

Dangers of a Christmas Tree

The Christmas tree, decorated from head to toe, feels magical to some.  The smell of fresh pine and the twinkling of the lights can mesmerize and delight.  Until your pets get a hold of it, that is.  With an innate desire to chew on sticks and twigs, your pup may seek out the perfect branches for a snack.   While this may seem harmless, did you know that oils from a fir tree can be quite irritating to mouth tissue?  It can cause excessive drooling and even vomiting.  Even more hazardous are the needles of the tree if ingested.  If consumed in enough quantity they can  puncture the lining of the intestines.  Worse, the needles can create a blockage in your pet’s intestinal tract.  Both can have serious consequences.  We recommend keeping an eye on your pets while the tree is in your home.

If you live in an area like Arizona that doesn’t get a lot of snow, you may be tempted to bring a flocked tree home.  Flocking is a process that deposits small fibers onto branches to simulate the look of snow.  Beware that if Fido starts to nibble and ingests too much flocking, he could become quite ill.

There’s one more item to be conscious of with a fresh tree.  Many of them are treated with chemicals to extend their life span after being cut.  These chemicals can seep into the water supply in your tree stand.  When Fluffy gets thirsty and sneaks a sip from the tree (which looks like a big water bowl to her) she may be ingesting poison.

Sparkly Lights

No Christmas tree is complete without a bounty of beautiful lights.  Whether you’re an all-white-lights kind of person, or prefer blinking multi-colored lights, every tree comes alive with them.  Your pets couldn’t agree more.  For whatever reason, many pets are drawn to the cords of lights.  Whether they are on your tree, mantle, or around a door frame, pets are intrigued.  Did you know that electrocution from chewing on cords is the most common form or electrical injury for pets.  Electrocution, as it sounds, is quite painful.  It can cause burning and scaring of the mouth and surrounding tissue and hair.  Some animals even experience long-term complications from injuries sustained during cord chewing.  If you have a pet that likes to chew, we suggest keeping lights up and away from their reach.  Even if you think you can trust your pet, it is wise to periodically check cords for chew marks.  Or, an extreme alternative that we’ve seen is placing a cage around your tree.  This may dampen the Christmas mood a bit, however.

christmas decorations for pets

Christmas Decorations for Pets

Bringing out your favorite decorations from years gone by can be a tricky prospect with a tail wagging pup or a cat that can leap tall buildings in a single bound.  If you need to scale back this year because of a new family member, here are a few alternatives that are safe and mostly pet proof.

  • Paper decorations dyed with food coloring are inexpensive and safe ornaments
  • Shatterproof Christmas ornaments will last for years and usually survive a swat or bump off of the tree
  • Silk Christmas ornaments are an alternative to glass and will withstand the curiosity of pets

Decorations Not on Your Tree

Even though the biggest attraction for your pets may be the tree, there are other hazards of Christmas decorations for pets to keep in mind.  This abbreviated list may help you keep your home pet-friendly during the holiday season:

  • Poinsettia Plants – which are mildly poisonous to pets if ingested
  • Advent Calendars – which often contain candy that can make your pets ill
  • Live Mistletoe – which is mildly to moderately poisonous to pets and humans
  • Cookies, Cakes, Pies – Some contain ingredients, such as chocolate or nuts, that can make our pets ill
  • Jerusalem Cherry – which cause painful intestinal issues
  • Lilies and Daffodils – which can cause convulsions and are fatal when ingested in large amounts

For More Information

If you have questions about Christmas decorations for pets or general questions about pet care, you can contact Kara Jenkins, Owner of TLC Pet Sitter. We are also available by email at info@tlcpetsitter.com.

Holiday Foods for Pets

Holiday Foods for Pets

Holiday Foods for Pets

What’s Safe and What to Avoid

With the holidays rapidly approaching, you may be doing a lot of menu planning.  Many of the holidays have traditions surrounding food, and none more so than Thanksgiving. You may be already aware that there are many foods unsafe for your pet. However, this list will show you that it is possible to prepare holiday food for pets that is delicious and safe for them.

Turkey

What would a Thanksgiving meal be without turkey? Luckily, the meat from this bird is safe for your pets as long as it is thoroughly cook. It should also be given without the skin. Of course, never give your dog the bones from the turkey. Bones can splinter easily becoming sharp weapons in your dog’s delicate digestive tract. In order to qualify as a good Thanksgiving food for pets, the turkey meat should be unseasoned.

Sweet Potatoes

There are several traditional Thanksgiving vegetables that your pets can enjoy with you.  Sweet potatoes are often a pup favorite.  They are rich in many nutrients, such as Vitamins A and C, fiber, and potassium.  Most dogs will gladly chow down on some raw or dried pieces of sweet potato. You do not want to give your dog the canned kind or any that have been baked with marshmallows.  Most marshmallows contain Xylitol, which is toxic for dogs.  Your pets also do not need the additional sugar that is often found in sweet potato casseroles.  

Want to make a home made treat for your pup for the holidays?  Enjoy this recipe for a DIY Sweet Potato Dog Chew.

Green Beans

Another great veggie to share with your pets is green beans. They are high in both fiber and Vitamins C and K. The trick here is to feed them to your dog while you are cooking up your green bean casserole. Your pet will much prefer the raw, crisp version over the finished product. If your secret green bean casserole recipe involves onions or mushrooms, it is even more important to not let your dog sample it, as these ingredients are toxic to them.

Pumpkin

This fall classic is often one of the first foods to make an appearance at the holidays. That being said, feeding your animals leftover pumpkins from Halloween is not advised and could make your pet very ill.  You can, however, feed them pure fresh pumpkin. This holiday food for pets can be either raw or cooked, but it should not contain any added sugar or spices.

Bread

The bread debate; should I or shouldn’t I?  Dogs are not going to get much nutritional value out of bread (just like us).  Feeding your pup small servings of white bread or dinner rolls from time to time won’t hurt them.  It won’t help them either.  Bread is a filler food and doesn’t contain any extra nutrients that they are not already getting from their daily dog food diet.  There can be significant health risks, however, from bread dough or not fully cooked bread.  The yeast in many breads, if uncooked, will continue to rise once it enters your pets tummy.  Read more about bread and your dog here from the American Kennel Club.

Avoid Feeding Your Pets These Foods, Any Time of Year

Walnuts and Raisins

Many people know that raisins and grapes are dangerous for dogs.  These mini treats pack a punch to your pups kidneys. Avoid them always.  What many people do not know is that several types of nuts, in particular walnuts, are also very dangerous.  For more information on nuts and pets, reading this article will help.

Mac and Cheese

This holiday food for pets should be approached with caution. There is a debate on mac and cheese in the pet community. Dogs and cats do not need a daily dose of dairy products.  But some sure do love it!  However, some pets, even cats, can become intolerant of dairy products.  This is especially true in older pets.  In these cases, even small amounts of mac and cheese could result in gas, vomiting, and diarrhea.  You know your pet best, if their tummies can handle it, keep the treat to one small serving.  

Mashed Potatoes with Garlic and Onion

Garlic and onion can make your dogs very ill. Even the powdered versions can wreak havoc on your pets body.  Further, raw potatoes should be avoided as they contain an element toxic to animals; solanine.  If your pet loves potatoes, be sure that they are fully baked or boiled (and cooled) before serving to your furry friend.  Skip the salt and butter, too, for the best version for Fido.

As always, for items that may affect the health and safety of your pet, consult with your veterinarian. 

For More Information

If you have questions about holiday foods for pets or general questions about pet care, you can contact Kara Jenkins, Owner of TLC Pet Sitter. We are also available by email at info@tlcpetsitter.com.

Halloween Safety Tips for Pets

Halloween Safety Tips for Pets

Halloween Safety Tips for Pets

It’s almost Halloween time again. We humans may be looking forward to ghosts and ghouls, but it can be a stressful time for pets. There are many sights and sounds that can scare your pets during Halloween. Taking a few precautions to minimize the spooky factor for your pets can go a long way. With these tips, you can make this Halloween safe for everyone.

Keep the Candy Away from Furry Paws

For many, Halloween is mostly about the candy. Those masses of sugary treats are intended for human trick-or-treaters. Most commercial candy can be toxic to your cat or dog.  Did you know that chocolate and pets are a dangerous combination as it can cause illness?  Even candies without sugar, like sugar-free gum, can be harmful to your pets.  These treats are often made with ingredients that can cause problems for animals. For a more complete list of harmful foods for pets, visit the ASPCA website.

To make sure that your holiday fun isn’t interrupted with a trip to the veterinarian’s office, it is best to keep those treats up and away from anything non-human. This includes zombies, scarecrows, and dragons. With all of those pets and non-pets roaming around this time of year, be sure to keep a close eye on the candy bowl. Pets especially love to grab things when you are distracted by the Princess trick-or-treater at the door. If you suspect your cat or dog did ingest candy or chocolate, contact your veterinarian immediately.

If you absolutely have to treat your dog, there are a few non-candy alternatives that your pup will love. For instance, these Boo Bars from Blue Buffalo. They are made with pumpkin and cinnamon.

Limit Your Pet’s Costume Time

A cat or dog in a Halloween costume can be cute. However, most pets do not enjoy having their movements constricted by an awkward costume. That feeling may cause your pet to panic and become stressed.  When your pet feels that stress it can cause a dog or cat to hide or run away in fear.  If your pet will be wearing a costume for even a short time, be sure to inspect it. Check the costume for parts that may be a choking hazard. For instance, small parts can be easily chewed off.  If you are looking for a simple costume, consider a festive bandana for your pet. Some companies even make personalized bandanas for Rover.

Keeping Your Pet Calm During the Halloween Festivities

Halloween brings a lot of visitors to your door. This can be a frightening time for your pet. The constant flow of strangers – looking unusual – can increase your pet’s anxiety levels. On this evening, you may want to consider keeping your pets in a separate room during trick-or-treating times. Pets kept in a separate room will also ensure that Mittens and Rover won’t try to run out the front door. Just in case, however, make sure that your dog or cat has updated identification tags. In general, having updated tags is a good safety tip any time of the year. It can help you be reunited with your pet if they decide to make a dash for the door.

For More Information

If you have questions about Halloween safety tips for pets or general questions about pet care, you can contact Kara Jenkins, Owner of TLC Pet Sitter. We are also available by email at info@tlcpetsitter.com.

Nail Clipping for Dogs – Helpful Tips

Nail Clipping for Dogs – Helpful Tips

Nail Clipping for Dogs

At TLC, we know that your dogs are more than just pets; they are family members. And because you want to care for them like one of the family, you do what you can to make sure that they look and feel their best. Nail clipping for dogs is more than just a manicure for them. Learn why dogs need to have their nails clipped and common mistakes to avoid at home. Also, you can trust most professional groomers to offer nail clipping for dogs as part of their services.

Why Clip Your Dog’s Nails?

Did you know that nails that go unclipped can cause your dog pain? Many veterinarians warn that unclipped nails can turn their paws into a splayed foot which reduces traction. Unclipped nails for extended periods of time can also lead to deformed feet or injure the tendons causing pain.

New Clippers

If this is your first time clipping your dogs nails, purchasing clippers meant for dogs only is your fist step. Never use clippers meant for people.  When searching for a pair of clippers, find a pair that is comfortable and easy to control.  There are clippers available that are motorized, which can sometimes decrease the amount of time spent on each nail and make the process a bit smoother for your furry friend.  Grinding your dogs nails also mitigates the chance that you’ll cut them to the quick (which causes bleeding). Take a look here at the 2018 list of best nail grinders for dogs.

Nice And Slow

Don’t rush through the process of clipping your dog’s nails. If you do, then there is a chance that you could tear the nails or clip them  too short. This is one of the important nail clipping tips for dogs because cutting the nails too short can sometimes cause excessive bleeding. Make your dog feel like he is special for getting his nails clipped instead of making it seem like a chore or a common task. Prop your dog’s paws on your leg to allow for as much comfort as possible. An idea to consider is to let someone hold a spoon of peanut butter for your dog to lick on while you’re clipping his nails. Massage your dog’s legs to relieve some of the stress in the muscles, making it easier to approach the paws while clipping the nails.

Offer A Soothing Touch

Before using clippers, you can place an item that has a similar feeling on your dog’s paws. This simple action can get your dog accustomed to something being close to the nails and the feet. Try to let your dog get used to the sound associated with the clippers by squeezing them nearby, getting closer to your furry friend until you’re able to gently clip each nail.

For More Information

If you have questions about nail clipping for dogs or general questions about pet care, you can contact Kara Jenkins, Owner of TLC Pet Sitter. We are also available by email at info@tlcpetsitter.com.

Keeping Your Dog Cool

Keeping Your Dog Cool

Are You Keeping Your Dog Cool Enough?

Your dog has been with you through thick and thin and it’s only natural to want to reward him with road trip fun or time at the beach. But when things outdoors get steamy, it’s easy for him to become dangerously overheated. Are you keeping your dog cool enough? These important tips will help you keep your best friend cool and safe all summer long.

Take It Easy

Leave the midday fetch games behind on hot, humid days. Enjoy exercising during cooler hours in the early morning or evening. Dogs are dependent on a steady supply of fresh water to stay cool, so pack a collapsible bowl and enough for both of you to stay well-hydrated.

Paws and Hot Pavement Don’t Mix

Asphalt and concrete pavement can reach temperatures in excess of 100 degrees Fahrenheit before the air temperature hits 80. This leaves your dog’s sensitive pads vulnerable to burns and encourages his body to absorb more heat. Try protective booties, or take a cue from your best friend and roll in the grass or pool instead!

Never Leave Your Dog in the Car

The temperature inside your car reaches dangerous levels within minutes on a warm day – even in the shade and with the windows cracked. Your dog is safest at home. If you hate leaving him behind, make it up to him by bringing back a special treat!

Signs of Overheating

Heatstroke is a life-threatening emergency that requires immediate first aid and veterinary care. Senior dogs, puppies, snub-nosed breeds and those with serious medical conditions are at increased risk.

Signs include:

• Weakness
• Abnormal behavior and responses
• Difficulty breathing
• Dry eyes and gums
• Vomiting
• Drooling
• Restlessness
• Muscle tremors

If not treated promptly, these symptoms can quickly lead to seizures, coma and death. Prevention is the best medicine, but if you suspect your dog is suffering heat-related symptoms, take measures to cool him on the way to the veterinarian. If he can drink, offer him water. Apply cool, wet towels to his abdomen, armpits and head.

Don’t be afraid to take your best friend on a warm-weather adventure, just take these simple precautions and both you and your dog will have a fun and safe summer!

For More Information

If you have questions about keeping your dog cool or general questions about pet care, you can contact Kara Jenkins, Owner of TLC Pet Sitter. We are also available by email at info@tlcpetsitter.com.

Redirected Aggression in Pets

Redirected Aggression in Pets

Redirected Aggression in Pets

Perhaps this has happened to you. You come home and find your mild-mannered pet has ravaged a curtain or torn apart a shoe from your closet – objects she has never paid attention to before. What is going on here?

It could well be a case of misdirected aggression from your dog or cat. Have you ever been upset with your boss at work and taken out your frustration on a co-worker instead? That is a form of misdirected aggression. Dogs, who are social creatures living in a hierarchal environment, do the same thing. If a dog is upset or out of sorts or challenged, he may lash out at an alternate target. Which could well be your favorite sofa cushion or TV remote.

Cats, who operate more as independent contractors, are especially prone to misdirected aggression. When a feline routine is disrupted a cat can take out its displeasure in myriad mysterious behaviors – including aggression towards you.

Understanding an incident of misdirected aggression is critical. Your pet is demonstrating an appropriate behavior but choosing an inappropriate target. If you can analyze your pet’s surroundings you can perhaps decipher the cause and correct it through counter-conditioning. One way a pet sitter can help is to minimize disruptions in your pet’s daily routine during your work and travel schedules. Stress reduction helps keep anxiety levels low and property destruction to a minimum.

At TLC we can help pet owners assess common redirected aggression in pets and help channel that energy into appropriate responses.

For More Information

If you have questions about redirected aggression in pets or general questions about pet care, you can contact Kara Jenkins, Owner of TLC Pet Sitter. We are also available by email at info@tlcpetsitter.com.

Raising a Puppy

Raising a Puppy

Raising a Puppy

If You Want a Great Dog, Raise a Good Puppy

Raising a puppy sounds like a good ole’ time of throwing a ball and watching him scurry after it. We all know how holding a sweet puppy can just melt your heart. However, there is so much more to raising a puppy. Becoming a responsible puppy owner requires a lot of work and patience. If you want a great dog, raise a good puppy.

Never Know “No!”

Your puppy was born into this world completely helpless and blind. Now, in your care, he is fully dependent on you to teach him about the world around him, as well as what behaviors are unacceptable. Unfortunately, many trainers using old, outdated methods still tell you that the first thing you should teach your puppy is the meaning of “No!” The science and theory of learning, however, states otherwise. A puppy learns quicker and far more consistently when you can prevent his bad behaviors and reward the good ones. This motivates him to perform good behaviors instead of focusing the bad behaviors. An excellent example of preventing bad behaviors would be the use of a crate or playpen for housebreaking. Keeping your puppy in a safe place while you cannot keep an eye on him prevents him from wondering into another room to potty. When you take him to the proper potty place, you can reward him for doing his business. With time and consistency, he will want to potty in the right place, because you have positively conditioned him to do so!

Training Starts Now

The very first thing you should do with your puppy is begin training. This does not mean that you should begin a full training session before stepping foot indoors, but it does mean that the moment your puppy becomes yours, you should jump straight into his schedule! Dogs rely on schedules, and your puppy is no different. If he is given the ability to potty at the correct times, eat at specific times and given ample exercise and play times you have already started training! Puppies learn from repetition, and a schedule will get his mind and body in sync with the schedule you have made for him.

Involve Everyone

Even if your puppy is meant to be yours and yours alone, ask others to chip in on his care. Puppy care can be a difficult and daunting task to do it right all alone. Puppies need a potty break every hour or hour-and-a-half. If this doesn’t fit your schedule, ask a close friend of family member to do it and get them involved in your puppy’s life. It will be both rewarding for you, your friend or family member as well as your puppy. There may be times when you cannot be there when your puppy is in need, and it is helpful for him to learn to continue his schedule, even when it is with another person.

It’s Cute Now, But Not Later

Your puppy’s jumping and barking may be cute now, but when that little Labrador grows into an extra-large canine, it will just be annoying! A large, or even medium sized dog can easily knock over a person, making it a dangerous behavior to learn. Begin your puppy’s obedience by reinforcing behaviors like: no pawing, jumping, or being forceful with others in order to get what he wants. It’s simple to teach. First, hold a toy or treat that your puppy wants and wait. Then, he will get excited, jump, bark, or even lay down. These are all typical behaviors puppies use to get what they want. Finally, the moment he gives up and looks the other way is the moment you reward him by giving him the treat or toy! Continue doing this throughout the day, especially during play sessions. He is learning that he must be polite and gentle to get what he wants.

Consistency is Always Key

You will hear this one a lot, but it is for good reason. If you let your puppy get away with something you have just reinforced bad behavior that you were working to change. Telling yourself, “It’s okay, just this one time,” will simply add confusion to your puppy’s understanding of boundaries. Stick with your puppy’s training regimen and schedule. Remember to keep it training fun. After all, it is just one big game to your puppy. With the right attitude, it can be a fun game for you, too!

For More Information

If you have questions about raising a puppy or general questions about pet care, you can contact Kara Jenkins, Owner of TLC Pet Sitter. We are also available by email at info@tlcpetsitter.com.

Spay and Neuter for Dogs: What You Need to Know

Spay and Neuter for Dogs: What You Need to Know

Spay or Neuter for Dogs:

What You Need to Know

It has become a widely held belief that every pet owner should spay or neuter their dog without question. However, what spay and neuter advocates won’t tell you are some of the risks. Along with the benefits, there are risks to this life altering surgery. Not every dog must be spayed or neutered. Every pet owner should consider the options and make a personal choice, just as they would with every other decision relating to their pet.

spay neuterBenefits

Most of the benefits associated with spay or neuter procedures are true. Your dog will most likely calm down from his hormonal need to multiply, but this does not mean he will gain weight and become slow. He will maintain all of his natural energy and healthy weight as long as you provide a quality diet and daily exercise.

A spayed female is given prevention from mammary tumors and will never get Pyometra (a life threatening infection of the uterus). A male who is neutered also is given prevention from an enlarged prostate and testicular cancer, as his testicles will be fully removed in a typical neuter.

Risks

Your veterinarian should go over the risks involved in this surgery before-hand. These risks may include problems with anesthesia, especially in small dogs. If you have an experienced vet who is passionate about what they do, the risks are lowered. Going under anesthesia will lower your dog’s body temperature, which should be constantly monitored. Other problems, such as anaphylactic shock can also occur in a dog who has a reaction to a type of anesthesia.

Along with the typical risks of anesthesia from the surgery itself, you also have to keep an eye out for infection around the incision. While your dog is recovering, you must watch for signs of pain and discomfort. Your vet can provide medications for pain if it is severe.

The removal of a major body part will place stress on anyone’s body, even your dog’s! When a reproductive organ is removed, such as the uterus or the testicles, the dog’s body undergoes a change. Removing these organs adds a higher risk to joint problems, incontinence, and some types of cancers. If neutered before the age of 2, a dog has a significantly increased chance of hip dysplasia and major hair or coat changes.

spay and neuterThe Big Decision

Still unsure if you should spay or neuter your dog? First, you should ask yourself if you feel you can handle an intact animal. A dog who is kept intact has a higher likelihood of marking, or urinating on objects within your home. This can be addressed through training with diligence and consistency, but you must ask yourself if you have that kind of patience to deal with a dog urinating in a home at 2 years of age!

Almost any dog of any breed can be taught boundaries and to stay within their owners’ sight. However, keeping a watchful eye on a female dog in season can be challenging. If she is not monitored carefully, you could end up with an unwanted litter.

Not everyone is able to successfully raise a pet that is not spayed or neutered.  For those simply seeking a best friend, it may be best to get your pet ‘fixed’. The downside to an altered pet is that the increased risk of long term health problems. They may also require more vet care in their senior years. If you do choose to spay or neuter, it may be safer to wait until your dog reaches full maturity.  At 2 years old, risks associated with arthritis, mobility issues, and hip dysplasia, are decreased. For some who are up to the challenge, consider keeping your dog intact primarily for your pet’s health, but also to maintain a healthy wallet!

For More Information

If you have questions about spay or neuter procedures for dogs or general questions about pet care, you can contact Kara Jenkins, Owner of TLC Pet Sitter. We are also available by email at info@tlcpetsitter.com.

Aggressive Dogs and Knowing the Signs

Aggressive Dogs and Knowing the Signs

Aggressive Dogs

How to Spot Fear & Aggression in Dogs

News headlines are constantly highlighting dog attacks. As such, even more dogs are being euthanized in shelters as they are deemed aggressive, dangerous and unpredictable. Would it surprise you to hear that all of this would be preventable with a basic knowledge of canine behavior?

The Fearful Attacker

It is true that no dog attacks without reason, and almost every time that reason is that his body language was ignored. The vast majority of dogs who bite, bark, growl or lunge do so out of fear. Something occurred, whether you can see it or not, that made the dog feel threatened and fearful. His language was ignored, and thus he reacted in the only way he knew to protect himself. Other behaviors can come into play as well, such as resource guarding which is another fear based behavior. Remember being told as a child to not pet an eating dog? It is because a dog with resource guarding problems may lash out if prompted, even when you are just trying to be his friend.

The fearful dog who causes harm to a human or other animal is a serious danger. The people and animals around him can become hurt or even killed, which also puts his life in danger. If your dog has a bite history or at risk of biting, don’t try to train him yourself! You need a specialist or experience animal behaviorist to help your dog get a better grip and understanding of the world around him. This expert help will keep you all safe!

Unpredictable Shelter Dogs

Shelter dogs are often characterized as aggressive dogs. Dogs who are healthy and yet considered non-adoptable according to a shelter’s temperament testing system also falls into the category of being misunderstood. These dogs are in need of help and are often just scared. A scared dog will act in the only way he or she knows, which is to protect themselves from harm. This is often seen as an aggressive dog.

Considering a dog has no ability to understand what humans are telling them, they have no idea if the next person that walks into their kennel, picks up their food dish or puts a leash on them will cause them harm or not. The human may unknowingly provoke the dog by moving their body in a manner that gives the dog reason to be fearful, such as walking straight up, bending over the dog, reaching a hand towards the dog and even eye contact.

There is hope for these shelter dogs if they are given a chance. The fear in them can be changed through the training method called counter conditioning. It is a simple, but time consuming tactic based on the premise of changing a dog’s emotion over his trigger. The trigger can be a human, another dog, or even loud noises.

Counter Conditioning for Fear in Aggressive Dogs

Teaching a dog to accept something that he is terrified of can be challenging. It can take from a few days to months to change how a dog feels about something, but it can be done! Counter conditioning is the act of doing just that, and it requires patience, time and consistency. Get started with a handful of irresistible treats and the dog’s trigger at such a distance that the dog hardly notices. Every time the dog acknowledges the trigger without reacting, give him a treat. Work up, over time of short sessions, to having the trigger within only a few feet from the dog without him reacting. When you get to that point, you can call it a big success!

Dogs who are euthanized or have lashed out, bitten or snarled over resource guarding is a terrible tragedy. Resource guarding is a natural behavior that even the dog’s wild cousins, the wolves’ exhibit. Resource guarding is when a dog feels protective over an item, food, or even a person or another dog. This is the dog’s fear of that item being taken from him. Even this dangerous and overly common behavior can be trained out of a fear aggressive dog, sometimes within days!

Don’t Throw In The Towel!

It is extremely rare that a dog may be beyond the ability to rehabilitate or reform in their fearful and aggressive behaviors. Professional help is often times the best answer, but those few who are lucky enough to have the natural ability to communicate with dogs and are educated in the theory of training can effectively treat or even cure fear aggressive behaviors. Learn all you can, and never throw in the towel!

For More Information

If you have questions about aggressive dogs or questions about pet care, you can contact Kara Jenkins, Owner of TLC Pet Sitter. We are also available by email at info@tlcpetsitter.com.

Free Feeding Your Pet While You’re Away?

Free Feeding Your Pet While You’re Away?

You Want What’s Best

Is Free Feeding Your Pet a Good Idea?

So you’re going away for a few days. It can be tempting to simply leave a self feeder full of kibble out for your cat or dog, but it’s not always the best idea. Consider the following before you begin free feeding your pet while you’re out of town.

What is Free Feeding?

Free feeding, also known as grazing, is when you set out a large, unmeasured quantity of food for your pet. It’s different from meal feeding because your pet has the opportunity to eat throughout the day instead of at predictable intervals.

Unlike when you measure a portion of kibble that your pet can nibble until the next scheduled serving, free feeding doesn’t have any means of portion control. You would keep topping it off every time it gets low and rely on your pet to determine how much to consume.

What are the Advantages?

Of course, the biggest advantage to free feeding is the convenience. Once you set out the food, you wouldn’t have to do much monitoring other than keeping it full. Some animals benefit from free feeding, particularly elderly or sick pets who need help keeping their weight on. Pets who are prone to anxiety from food insecurity may have to be free fed as well.

What are the Disadvantages?

However, free feeding kibble throughout the day has serious health drawbacks. Especially when you’re out of town, some cats and dogs will begin grazing on their kibble out of boredom. Then, their overeating could lead to obesity, diabetes, kidney disease, and urinary tract disease. For cats, a free fed diet can also lead them to be more sedentary, because they are naturally more active before meal time.

Dogs in particular have a harder time knowing when to stop eating. Dogs’ wild ancestors, wolves, instinctively gorge themselves on large prey animals, and then go days without eating while they digest. Today’s dogs express that wild instinct by eating as much food as there is in front of them. Since the kibble expands in their stomachs, some dogs will eat to the point of becoming nauseated.

What Are Some Alternatives to Free Feeding?

If you’re only going to be gone for just one evening, you might want to invest in a timed feeder. Timed feeders come in a variety of configurations. Some have a reservoir on top and a mechanism on the bottom that turns to measure an amount of kibble. Others pop open to reveal a pre-measured amount of food, which is particularly useful for wet food.

However, if you’re going out of town for an extended period of time, the best thing you can do is hire a pet sitter. A pet sitter can monitor your cat or dog’s eating levels to make sure that they have a healthful appetite. Our professional pet sitters also have emergency plans in place, so you don’t have to worry about your pet ever missing a meal.

Questions About Free Feeding ?

If you have any questions about free feeding, or other questions about pet care, you can contact Kara Jenkins, Owner of TLC Pet Sitter. We are also available by email at info@tlcpetsitter.com.