The Vocal Dog ~ Train Your Pooch to Quiet Down

barking dogBarking comes naturally to dogs as a form of vocal communication but, in excess, can be quite a nuisance for the human members of their pack, as well as their neighbors. If your pooch barks incessantly when left home alone, bellows at birds and squirrels he spots outside, or becomes overly vocal when visitors arrive, a bit of proper training can help.

Often, a pet parent’s immediate reaction to a barking dog is to shout at him. Unfortunately, since your dog responds to tone, he probably misinterprets your yells for barking, thinking you’re joining in on the fun. As well, your shouting may influence Fido to bark even more, as it’s a form of attention. He may even begin to bark at nothing, just to get a reaction from you. Most forms of verbal or physical discipline will be perceived as attention from his human. Once the attention stops, he will likely continue to bark assuming more attention will follow.

Why Do Dogs Bark?

There are many reasons why dogs bark ~ to show excitement, distress, affection, nervousness, boredom… they simply can’t express emotions the way people do, so they bark their emotions. Your dog considers barking a solution to a problem. If he barks when you leave him home alone, upon your return he thinks his barking called you back. If he barks at your neighbor taking a leisurely stroll down your street, once the neighbor is no longer in site, he thinks he successfully chased off a threat.

Possible Solutions for Possible Causes

Pent-Up Energy ~ While there are emotional factors at play, one of the main reasons these emotional factors result in boundless barking is simple ~ your four-legged friend has pent-up energy. Be sure to fulfill your dog’s mental and physical needs on a daily basis. Challenge him with brisk walks in new environments, obedience games and play time. This alone may do the trick. After all, more exercise = less energy = diminished desire to bark.

Seeking Attention ~ Another possible solution is to change his belief that barking results in attention. Rather than scold or give him physical contact when he barks, silently turn your back to him and walk away. Be patient and wait as long as it takes for him to be quiet. Hopefully, he will soon learn barking is counter-productive.

Stimulation ~ If your dog barks at a specific stimulus, such as other dogs or the vacuum cleaner, work to desensitize him to the stimulus. Begin with the stimulus at a distance and gradually work it closer to him, rewarding him with treats for every few feet the stimulus moves toward him. You want to teach him to equate the stimulus with something good ~ yummy treats! Repeat the process as often as it takes, and keep in mind it may take a few days or even a few weeks for the new behavior to be learned.

The Bait and Switch ~ Finally, try teaching your pooch an incompatible behavior. When he starts barking, command him to do something else. Perhaps toss a treat on his bed and say “go to bed.” Teach him to react to a stimulus that would otherwise make him bark by commanding him and rewarding him to do something else.

Don’t let your dog drive you barking mad! Work with him to curb his undesirable behavior and remember, reward is the best motivator. Praise him as he does the right thing, not afterward. Hopefully this will eventually teach your dog to do the right thing next time!

 

It’s Not Always “In the Bag” When it Comes to Your Cat’s Food!

cat foodDoes the food you provide your cat fulfill his nutritional needs? Not sure how to answer that very important question? Then, chances are, the answer is “no.” You see, cats require several different nutrients in their diet in order to maintain a healthy life. These nutrients include amino acids from protein, fatty acids, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and water. A better understanding of how your cat uses these nutrients and how much he needs is a good starting place for determining which food is best.

Cats are carnivores, which means they obtain most of their protein from meat, fish and other animal products. Consider this ~ in the wild, cats hunt and kill, thus meeting their needs for protein and water. But as a domesticated pet, unless he goes out on the prowl regularly trolling for mice, he relies on you to fulfill his nutritional demands. And a diet based solely on dry kibble simply won’t do the trick.

 Dietary protein contains 10 essential amino acids that your cat cannot produce on his own. They are the building blocks for a healthy diet, and also assist in glucose production to provide him with energy. Amino acid deficiencies can result in serious health issues. For example, insufficient amounts of the amino acid Taurine in your kitty’s diet can cause retinal degeneration and blindness, deafness, heart disease and heart failure, a poor immune system, reproductive failure and birth defects in offspring. While it is found in abundance in animal-based proteins, Taurine is either entirely absent or present in only trace amounts in plants.

Dietary fats provide the most concentrated source of energy, containing twice as much energy as protein and carbohydrates per gram. These fats supply your cat with fatty acids that play a very important role in cell structure and function, and keep your feline’s skin and coat healthy. The fact that they also make your cat’s food even more tasty and appealing is just the icing on the cake!

Of course, cats need energy to sustain their daily activities. While protein and fat contribute greatly, so do carbohydrates. Just like a runner who splurges on a pre-race carbo-loaded meal, your cat’s energy soars when he has carbohydrates in his diet. Major sources of carbohydrates in commercial feline fare include legumes and cereals. However, while beneficial, there is a thin line between too little and too much. It is best to select a food that has less than 10% carbohydrate calories. Diets high in carbs negatively impact the blood sugar levels of cats.

Vitamins and minerals take part in a large range of metabolic activity, and deficiencies can cause a myriad of health problems. The following are vitamins and minerals that should be present in your cat’s meals:

  • Vitamins A, B1, B6, B12, D, E and K
  • Folic Acid
  • Niacin
  • Pantothenic Acid
  • Riboflavin
  • Calcium
  • Chlorine
  • Cooper
  • Iodine
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Manganese
  • Phosphorus
  • Potassium
  • Selenium
  • Sodium
  • Zinc

So what should you feed your favorite feline? The answer is simple ~ wet food. Dry kibble may be cheaper and easier, but most commercial brands lack what your cat needs, mainly because: A) they are water-depleted, which inhibits urinary tract health, increasing your cat’s risk for urethral obstructions; B) they are high in carbohydrates, which negatively impact your cat’s blood sugar levels and can result in a serious hypoglycemic state; C) the bulk of protein included is from plants, whereas your cat needs animal protein; and D) they are highly processed, resulting in the destruction of nutrients. On the other hand, most wet foods provide a high water content, low carbohydrates, animal-based protein and are more easily digested and utilized by your cat’s body. Besides these health benefits, the variety wet foods provide keep your cat from getting bored by eating the same dry kibble meal after meal.

Need help determining which wet food is best for your furry friend? Read the label on the can ~ the first ingredient should be meat. Don’t be concerned if there are no grain ingredients, and steer clear of foods with fillers like corn and rice. Remember, if cats were in charge of the commercial pet food industry, they would package meals with instructions reading “remove mouse or rabbit from freezer, thaw and serve.” Give Fluffy what he wants and needs ~ a diet of yummy, nutritious wet food.

Nutritional Supplements for Your Pet

pet supplementsA recent study showed that nearly half of adults in the U.S. take one or more nutritional supplements regularly in an effort to improve their overall health and well-being. Supplements do just as the name suggests – they supplement our diet with the vitamins and minerals that may otherwise be lacking. Ideally, we would get all that we need from the food we eat, but with today’s society of fast, processed and pre-packaged food, that just isn’t the case. So, if people benefit by adding supplements to their daily diet, wouldn’t it make sense that your precious pet would benefit as well?

Your pet’s nutrition is important for living a long, happy and healthy life. As with the food we eat, many of the pet foods on the market today are overly processed and contain fillers to provide non-nutritional bulk. While premium foods are ideal and often provide a well-balanced diet, a bit of supplementation based on your pets needs can be quite beneficial.

Choosing the Right Supplements

The most common supplements for pets are used to aid joint health, condition and protect the skin and coat, improve digestion, and increase overall well-being. While there are several marketed supplements, it’s likely you have what your pet needs right at home in your kitchen pantry or medicine cabinet.

Coconut Oil. We’ve all heard of coconut oil’s many benefits for humans, but did you know it is also safe and effective for your pet? Coconut oil contains lauric acid, a “healthy” saturated fat that boasts antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties. Fed regularly to your furry friend, coconut oil can clear up skin conditions, prevent yeast and fungal infections, soften and deodorize coats, improve digestion and nutrient absorption, increase energy, reduce kitty’s hairballs, aid in ligament and arthritis issues… just to name a few.

Pumpkin. It’s not just for Thanksgiving anymore! Fiber-filled pumpkin is safe for your pet and can aid in constipation relief; promotes a sense of fullness for pudgy pooches, possibly aiding in weight loss; helps with hydration (pumpkin is composed of 90% water); and is a natural source of vitamins and minerals that benefit day-to-day cellular function. Be sure to use all-natural, canned pumpkin – not pumpkin pie filling!

Vitamin E. Key for healthy skin and eyes, as well as strong immunity in people, those Vitamin E softgels in your medicine cabinet can also be beneficial to your pet. Great for dry skin, softgels can be popped and the liquid inside massaged directly into your four-legged friend’s skin, added to bath water, or dribbled onto your pet’s meal. Vitamin E, when ingested, also benefits pets who experience mild arthritic discomfort.

Yogurt. Plain yogurt is a delicious treat for your cuddly companion. Just as with humans, the live cultures in yogurt keeps the good bacteria in Fluffy and Fido’s gut balanced. If you have a puppy or a dog on antibiotics – both of which are prone to yeast infections – a little yogurt as a snack can help keep the infections at bay. Keep in mind, adult cats are lactose intolerant, so don’t overdo it!

Turmeric. This pungent, bitter flavored spice is used as a supplement for preventing cancer and to reduce inflammation from arthritis. Simply sprinkle on your pet’s food, beginning with just a quarter teaspoon per day, and gradually increase to up to one teaspoon. Introduce the spice slowly to avoid shock to the digestive system, and discontinue if side effects appear.

While the above supplements are safe for most pets, always consult with your veterinarian before using, to determine the proper serving size, and to avoid any possible adverse reactions, particularly in pets taking medication.

Selecting Your Child’s First Pet

pet ratChoosing a first pet for your child can be a daunting task. A young child may not comprehend the needs of a pet or be able to recognize the proper way to handle one. And, with pets having much shorter life spans than humans, introducing a new pet may also result in your child’s first experience with death. Yes, there are many questions to ask yourself before making the commitment to bring a pet home for your child – Is my child old enough? Will he be kind to the pet? What pet would be best suited for him?

If you have a toddler, it likely isn’t a good choice to introduce a pet such as a hamster or fish. Not only do they have short lifespans – which will inevitably lead to the explanation of death – they are small, fragile and require sensitive care. Yes, it may be a good learning experience, but always keep the animal’s safety and needs in mind.

Hermit Crabs. Believe it or not, hermit crabs are actually an ideal first pet for a child. They are interesting, low-maintenance, extremely social and can live ten plus years with the proper care. And their regular molting and new shell growth will likely intrigue your child. Yes, a hermit crab is a great option for introducing your child to the world of responsible pet ownership.

Rats. If you and your family aren’t the skittish type, a rat may be an ideal first pet. Though they come with a negative association, rats are actually quite intelligent, social and easily tamed creatures. They often become emotionally attached to their humans and even enjoy a good cuddle. Despite popular opinion, rats are quite clean, when purchased from a reputable source. They can live up to two or three years, with proper care and exercise, and thrive when they have a rat companion by their side.

Cats and Dogs. Of course, when most of us think of a proper pet for our child, we think of a cat or a dog. Indeed, cats and dogs are wonderful pets, but be conscientious of the fact that cuddly kittens and precious little pups usually aren’t an ideal choice. They require a lot of patience and training in order to grow into well-adjusted adults, and a child likely can’t fulfill that need. Sure, you can take on the task yourself, but do you have the time and the composure to handle a child and a fur baby? Instead, consider adopting a more mature dog or cat. Adult animals are typically more tolerant of children and have likely been trained to some extent, making it an easier transition into your home and into your child’s heart.

A first pet can be a lesson in responsibility for any child. To ensure a pleasant experience for everyone – including the animal – be confident that your child is ready for a pet and do your research before making a pet choice. And, as importantly, be willing and prepared to take on the responsibility yourself, as any pet comes along with certain expenses (food, veterinary care, etc.) and requirements (regular feedings, exercise, training, etc.).

Four Nail Trimming Tips for Your Furry Friend 

pawGiving your four-legged friend a paw-dicure can be quite the task for some. Whether it’s the result of an accidental cut of the quick in a previous nail trimming session or the dislike of having his paws touched, your pet’s aversion to nail care can take a stressful toll on both. Seeing the fear in your beloved pet’s eyes can be heart-wrenching, but if that fear results in flailing, snapping or biting during the nail trimming process, it can also be dangerous for you both. But don’t despair; if your dog or cat runs for cover at the mere sight of nail clippers, there’s still hope!

It’s important to keep your pet’s nails trimmed for many reasons: doing so prevents breaking and bleeding of nails that grow too long; long nails can interfere with normal paw movement; and unkempt nails can scratch your furniture and floors – not to mention you! –  as well as snag your rugs and upholstery. While it’s ideal to familiarize your pet with nail clippers and regular nail trims early on in his life, that isn’t always possible. Teach your furry companion to relax during trim time with these helpful tips…

Begin with a clean slate. Pets often have a negative association with clippers that have been used on them in the past. Think about it… if your mother nipped your skin while clipping your nails as a child, making you bleed, wouldn’t you be a bit hesitant to let her have a go at it again? Try purchasing a new pair of clippers that are distinctly different in appearance from your current pair.

The first time you introduce the new clippers to your pawsome pet, act excited, with a positive and happy tone in your voice; be fun and dramatic; reward him with ample treats, rub downs and cuddles. After a few minutes, put the clippers away, as well as the treats. A few moments later, let the party begin again. Repeat this process as often as necessary to allow Fluffy and Fido to grow a new, positive association with the clippers. It may be helpful to bring the clippers out of hiding periodically, even if it’s not time for a trim, just to reinforce the positive association.

Slow and steady wins the race. Don’t attempt to get all of your pet’s nails trimmed at once. Start with one, and reward your fur baby with a treat. You can even enlist a partner to hold a spoon of peanut butter within licking distance to keep Fido’s thoughts otherwise occupied. Speak as you trim, maintaining a calm and soothing tone, as you progress slowly, working your way from one nail to the next. If you’re weary of accidentally cutting the quick, trim a little bit of each nail at a time, and have styptic powder nearby just in case. Remain mindful of your pet’s body language to alert you if you cut too close or if agitation sets in. If he becomes anxious or uncomfortable, stop the session and start again later, allowing him time to relax and unwind.

Scrub-a-dub-dub. Your pet’s nails soften while being bathed, so clipping after his bath may make the process easier – although this probably won’t help if your fur baby is a feline! If your pet is fond of bath time, try combining the two activities. A friend of mine suggested I clip my ornery Pug’s nails while he was in the tub, his feet soaking in warm water. I was skeptical, but it actually did the trick! The warm water soothed and distracted him, softened his nails for easier clipping, and made the process virtually stress-free for us both. Be sure to clip the nails prior to bathing, to avoid any exposure to soap or other irritants should an accidental bleed occur.

Seek professional help. If all else fails, there’s always your trusty veterinarian. If you or your pet are still weary of nail trimming time, make an appointment for a nail clipping at your vet’s office. The staff there know all the tricks of the trade and will get it done painfully and correctly. After all, it is better to be safe than sorry.

Interesting Facts About Your Favorite Feline

catHave you ever looked at your whiskered, finicky, four-legged friend and wondered about her heritage, capabilities, habits and so on? Have you ever thought to yourself, “it sure seems like Fluffy sleeps too much”? Well, perhaps these interesting, amusing and remarkable cat facts will shed a little light on your ponderings about your favorite feline!

 

  • According to a study done by the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, cats who fall from a distance of 5.5 stories up to 32 stories have a survival rate of approximately 90% (assuming they are treated for any injuries that may occur because of impact with the ground).
  • Talk about a cat nap ~ cats spend 70% of their lives sleeping!
  • When cats grimace, they are usually “taste-scenting.” The expression permits air, which contains organic molecules, to waft close to a special organ (located between your cat’s nose and incisor teeth) for processing. The cat’s tongue may be recruited to help move and circulate the air, sort of like the feline version of wine tasting.
  • The average litter size for a cat is four to six kittens. But, in 1970 a Burmese/Siamese cat gave birth to a record 19 kittens!
  • In the 1960s, the CIA tried to turn a cat into a bona-fide spy by implanting a microphone into her ear and a radio transmitter at the base of her skull. She survived the surgery but sadly was hit by a taxi on her first mission.
  • Cats’ ears are quite amazing. They can hear sounds as high as 64 kHz – compared with humans, who can hear only as high as 20 kHz; they can move 180 degrees; and they can move independently of each other.
  • King Charles I of England(1600-1649) had a black cat that he loved dearly. Stories have been passed down through the generations that the king’s black cat brought the king good luck. The day after his black cat died, the king was arrested and later beheaded, thus supporting the belief his cat provided his luck.
  • Most cats don’t like water because their coats do not insulate them well enough. However, a cat breed known as the Turkish Van does not have the insulation problem and LOVES water!
  • Adult cats spend as much as half their waking hours grooming (licking) themselves.
  • In ancient Egypt, cats were held in the highest esteem. When a cat dies, their human family would go into a deep mourning and shave their eyebrows as a sign of respect. The cat would be mummified and buried in a pet cemetery or family tomb along with such provisions as milk, mice and rats. A tomb in Beni Hassan (an ancient Egyptian burial site) discovered in 1888 was found to contain approximately 80,000 buried felines.
  • The oldest cat video on YouTube dates back to 1894 (the year it was filmed, not the year it was posted on the internet!). It features two cats boxing and is aptly named “The Oldest Cat Video on YouTube: 1894 Boxing Cats.” Check it out!

We’ve always known cats are incredible creatures, but did you ever realize their history, abilities, habits and lives were so intriguing?

Increase Your Dog’s Daily Dose of Exercise with These Simple Tips

exercise dogAs a pet parent, your dog’s health is your responsibility. And an integral part of keeping your pooch healthy is providing him or her with sufficient exercise. We all know walking has the best benefits for overall health in humans, but what about for our canine companions?

It just so happens your dog’s primal need is to walk! Just as horses need to run and squirrels need to climb, dogs need to walk; it’s in their DNA. Sure, letting Rover run around the backyard can be good exercise, it is no substitute for taking him for a walk. Activities like time in the yard, visiting the dog park and playing catch in the house don’t offer the same mental stimulation your dog gets by investigating every sight, sound and smell when you take him for a walk. As you and your dog walk, he’s gathering information about how his territory has changed since the last time he was there, and taking him to new locations generates a sensory excitement like no other.

So how can you find time in your busy day to give Rover the walking wonderfulness he so craves and deserves? It’s simple ~ find a way to include him in your plans!

In the mood for some window shopping? While you obviously can’t bring Rover with you when you visit the mall, you can take him along for some window shopping in your favorite downtown area or outdoor shopping plaza. As long as he’s well-behaved and securely leashed, you should have no objections from shop owners, fellow shoppers or authority figures as Rover stays by your side as you take in the window views.

Need to chat with your neighbor? Rather than pick up the phone and call your neighbor two streets over to ask if she wants to join you for dinner, throw a leash on Rover so the two of you can walk over to ask in person. It may not equate to a long walk, but a short walk is better than nothing!

Heading to your parent’s house for a family get together? Even if their home isn’t within walking distance from your home, you can still drive and get some stroll time in by parking at a nearby restaurant or store and walking the rest of the way.

Need to pick up a few things from your local grocery store? Enlist a family member or friend to join you and Rover on a walk to the store, where your people partner can take care of Rover while you’re inside picking up what you need.

Is a trip to the hardware store on your weekend to-do list? Take Rover along for the ride, then leash him up and bring him inside. Many hardware stores allow dogs (ever notice the woman at Lowe’s pushing her puffy Pomeranian around in the cart?), so take advantage and bring Rover with you on your next visit (check with the store first, of course!). Either before or after your shopping spree, walk him around the grounds for some extra exercise and mental stimulation.

Craving some ice cream? Most ice cream shops have outdoor seating and welcome dogs. Some will even give Rover a complementary doggy sundae! If you live within walking distance of an ice cream shop, take Rover over for a special treat; if not, drive most of the way and park within a mile or so, then walk the remainder of the way.

Whatever your daily plans, chances are there’s one way or another to include your precious pooch in a way that will allow for some extra activity. Not only will an impromptu walk in undiscovered territory be a thrill for your pooch’s senses, but it will also enhance your already strong bond.

Does Your Dog Care When You’re Stressed?

stressedDoes Your Dog Care When You’re Stressed?

Many pet parents feel their dog can read their emotional state and respond accordingly, much like a human would, providing sympathy and comfort in times of sadness, and jumping for joy during happy times. Personally, I’ve had experiences with my dog being extra gentle around me when I wasn’t feeling well, being unusually energetic when I’m acting like a big bundle of happiness, and licking my tears when seeing me cry. I know, without a doubt, that my precious pooch empathizes with me. But, if I were to make that statement to a group of scientists or psychologists, it is more apt to start a debate rather than bring nods of agreement.

Empathy is a Very Complex Emotion

The problem is, empathy is a very complex emotion and the consensus is that the mind of a dog is quite similar to that of a two or three-year-old human, with scientists believing clear evidence of empathy in a human doesn’t appear until his fourth year. Many scientists suggest that a dog cannot be empathetic, but simply sniffing and pawing at a person who is acting in an unusual way out of mere curiosity.

Studies Show…

A study was conducted a few years ago by two psychologists in London to determine whether or not dogs do indeed show empathy when a pet parent is in emotional distress. In the study, the pet parent sat six feet away from a stranger and engaged in several activities, with the pooch present. The two humans would take turns speaking, humming in an unusual fashion, and pretending to cry. The psychologist reasoned that if a dog was showing empathy, his behavior would focus primarily on the person crying, resulting in attempts to comfort or help. It was anticipated that the dog would nuzzle, whine, lick, lay their head on the person’s lap, and offer similar comforting behaviors.

If the dog is simply upset by his parent’s crying, it should go to that person to provide comfort. However, suppose the stranger cries. The dog will not be expected to comfort a stranger who does not have a bond with him, but rather would go to his own pet parent for comfort. The psychologists found the dog actually approached and tried to comfort not only his own parent when crying, but also the stranger, offering what appeared to be sympathy and support much in the way humans display empathy for one another.

More recently, two Psychologists from New Zealand furthered research on the subject by studying whether or not dogs empathize specifically with stress and the findings were nothing short of amazing. They exposed 74 people and 75 dogs of varying breeds to one of three different conditions in order to check the response of both humans and dogs to the sounds produced by infants, all while being filmed. The first group heard the distressing sound of a crying baby; the second an infant babbling; and the third a sample of computer-generated white noise. After listening to the sounds for 13 minutes, saliva samples were taken from the people and the dogs in order to test their cortisol levels, as it is believed the presence of cortisol – a.k.a. “the stress hormone” – might be an indication of empathy for the crying baby.

While neither the people nor the dogs showed a change in cortisol levels in response to the sound of the baby babbling or the white noise, the outcome was different when it came to the sound of the baby crying. The dogs showed alertness, followed by signs of stress, and there was a sharp increase in the concentration of cortisol in their bodies. The same held true for the people in the study. In other words, both the dogs and the people seemed to pick up the emotional distress of the crying baby, effecting their own emotional responses and behavior. In the video clips that support the study, the dogs become obviously upset when hearing the baby’s cries, showed submissive body signals, and sought comfort from their pet parent.

Whether the reactions from the dogs in this study were true empathy or not, the findings serve as yet another example of the fact that dogs do pay attention to our feelings. Like we as pet parents needed scientific studies to tell us that!

Preparing Your Pet for a New (Human) Baby

Many pet parents think of their pet as the “baby” of the family, and when a new infant joins the ranks, he may not handle it well. Not only will he likely receive less attention, but he’ll have to become accustom to new sounds, sights and smells that could very well leave him feeling stressed and insecure. The actions and behaviors of his humans, the presence of a new, loud, strange looking tiny human, combined with a likely change in his routine, can throw off the most well-behaved pet.

Help Fido or Fluffy out by using your pregnancy time to prepare him for the new family addition. Devise a baby-friendly routine for him that will result in minimal changes in his life once baby is born. Familiarize him with sights and sounds of babies to help him remain at ease once the real thing comes into his territory. Something as simple as YouTube videos of babies crying may help, or have a friend visit your home with her baby – just be sure to keep your furry friend well secured for safety purposes. Just don’t try to do too much at once – after all, you have nine months to prepare him.

A happy and submissive dog will naturally show respect for any human – even an infant – so there are a few rules that are wise to establish before baby comes home:

BOUNDARIES. Set an invisible boundary for Fido or Fluffy, making the baby’s nursery off-limits by warning him with a low and stern “NO” when he attempts to enter the room. Later, allow him to enter when supervised, giving him the opportunity to sniff the area. Ensure he leaves the room when you tell him to do so. This tells your fur baby you have control over the room and he needs to respect that control. Repeat the process often, giving him the chance to sniff new items are they are added – just be sure he does not jump on, chew on, spray, lick or bite anything. Some pets fear things that move, so be sure to push the baby’s stroller around in front of him, or rock the rocking chair, to test his reaction. When calm behavior is displayed, reward him with treats and affection to form positive associations with nursery and its contents.

BABY-FRIENDLY ROUTINE. Whether Fido is accustom to an evening walk at 6 p.m., or Fluffy requires a play session in the early afternoon, chances are your routine will change once baby arrives. Soon-to-be parents should create a new routine that will satisfy the needs of a baby and their four-legged friend, and stick with that routine once the new baby comes home to limit undue stress for all parties involved.

MAINTAIN REGULAR EXERCISE. If your yard is fenced, it will be tempting to put Fido outside alone rather than walking him regularly once baby arrives. Big mistake! A dog needs exercise as much as he needs food and water. Keeping up a routine of walking Fido every day with a baby in tow can be a challenge, but here are a few ideas that may make it doable:

  • If Fido’s usual walk time needs to be shortened, consider a doggy backpack (yes, there is such a thing!). A backpack loaded with 10 to 12 percent of your dog’s weight creates a challenge your dog will love, and it will tire him out in just a fraction of the usual time.
  • If Buddy is small, older, and/or extremely well-behaved, a walk beside the stroller carrying baby may work just fine. Take a few practice runs, teaching him to walk calmly beside an empty stroller, to get a feel for his reaction and to gauge his performance.
  • Call All Breed Care to schedule private walks for Fido! Let us help you by taking off some of the pressure, keeping you free to tend to baby and Fido free to enjoy a regular schedule of invigorating daily walks.

Preparing your fur baby for the addition of a human baby is of the utmost importance. Do all you can to make the transition a smooth and stress-free one!

Socializing Your Adult Dog

dogSocialization does not end after puppyhood. While it is ideal for the foundation for acceptable behavior to be laid early on (pups are most adaptable between three and twelve weeks of age), continuous encouragement and reinforcement is a must. But what if you were lax in the socialization department when Bella was a baby, or you adopted Angus when he was four years old… is it too late for them to learn? Absolutely not! Most canine behaviors can be positively impacted with effort, time and – most importantly – patience.

Just as socialization among humans is important, teaching us how to get along with others, it is also vital for your canine companion. Proper socialization teaches her how to respond in a healthy way to things that may make her anxious or afraid, such as people, other animals, noises and objects. Help your adult dog become confident and friendly with the following exercises.

Family First

Your family is your dog’s pack; the group with whom she will spend most of her time. The safer and more comfortable your dog feels at home, the less fearful and anxious she will be. When welcoming a new, adult dog to your pack, keep attention and affection set at a slow yet consistent pace. You don’t want to overwhelm her or, on the other end of the spectrum, invite separation anxiety to develop. In the beginning, it’s better to have a slightly bored dog than one who is over-stimulated. Spend a few weeks to allow your furry friend to build a bond with her pack. In this time, do not introduce her to anyone outside her pack, or take her to any new places.

Introduce New People Slowly

Try to introduce your dog to only one new person each week. If your pooch is aggressive, it’s best to keep her on a leash during introductions, until she becomes familiar and settles down. On the other hand, when introducing a nervous or timid pooch, let her take her time approaching her new friend when she sees fit. Upon meeting, have the visitor speak in a happy, low tone and offer your pooch a treat, imprinting the interaction as a positive one.

Visit the Dog Park

It is important for your adult dog to develop a well-balanced behavior around other dogs; you don’t want her to be too ambivalent or too aggressive. After her first few weeks alone with her human pack, leash her up and take her to the local dog park. But… stay outside the fence, giving her an opportunity to smell the smells, see the sites, hear the sounds… get accustom to her surroundings. Each time a dog comes to the fence to check her out, give her verbal praise and a treat to make the experience a positive one. It may take just a few visits, or a dozen, but once you feel she is comfortable with her surroundings, and confident she will interact well, take her inside for some more personal interaction.

Enroll Her in Class

If your own training techniques fall short, or it seems your adult dog is just set in her ways, enlist a professional trainer to help. Not only an obedience class a great way to socialize her with other dogs and people, it will also teach you both learning commands that can make the socialization experience a more comfortable and successful one.