Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Choosing the Best Shelter Dog for You

Adopting a dog from a shelter has a common checklist for different families. Your home, children’s ages, time and energy may all be considered. With so many choices at dog rescues, choosing the right shelter dog is challenging.

Thankfully, you can make an informed decision with some due diligence.

Here are things to consider:

Your Experience Level: 

Some rescue dogs may require unique handling or medical needs. Dogs with a history of physical or verbal abuse need time to acclimate. Neglected dogs may be despondent or very shy.

You should consider how the dog’s history may affect care. Do you have experience handling a dog with temperament issues? Will you have the time and patience to work with a dog reluctant to go on walks? Each shelter dog has vast potential in the right environment.

Hounds for Heroes is an organization that trains many shelter dogs to be valuable companions. Los Angeles Investor Elliott Broidy started the non-profit to match wounded veterans with shelter dogs. Similarly, matching your capacity and time with a rescue dog’s needs is a best practice.

If you simply want a ‘ready to go’ dog, work with the rescue to find a best fit. Many shelter dogs come from good homes. First time dog owners may consider these canines to start with. You can build dog handling skills and perhaps return in the future to adopt a pooch with more complex needs.

Your Activity Level: 

Ripped furniture, barking and anxiety. These are all symptoms of a bored dog. Much like us, dogs have different personalities. While all dogs deserve some fun time, some require more extended activity.

Are you an active person? Determine how much you’re willing to increase or decrease activity levels for the new dog. Ask the shelter staff about what they’ve observed. You will avoid frustration by picking a dog that matches your energy level.

Your Family: 

Children and dogs are often best friends. Cute baby and dog photos draw raves on the internet. However, young children may tug a dog’s ears or innocently antagonize a pooch. This behavior should be cautioned with any dog and some education may be needed.

Sit down with your children BEFORE bringing a dog home. Set firm rules on what is acceptable.

Tip: Framing rules in a child’s perspective is helpful. Ask ‘Would you like it if someone pulled your ears?’ This helps children understand what is being asked of them.

Summary:

Dogs enrich our lives in many ways. You will provide a loving home for the right dog with simple preparation.

A How to Guide on Fun Ways to Bond with Your Dog

Spending time with our dogs is a highlight of the day. Being greeted by wagging tails and wet noses melts away stress. However, the routine joy our pups bring us does not have to be standard.

There are fun and easy ways to increase the bonds with our dogs. Changing up our activities has benefits on several levels. These include:
  • More Effective Training 
  • Home Health Checkups 
  • Increased energy and happiness for both of you 
Here are some tips to add variety and fun to your dog’s life. (After all, it’s all about them!)

Walk Different Locations and Routes:

The daily walk is a staple dog activity. Walks provide valuable exercise and the chance to socialize in ways home life does not offer.

You can maximize these benefits by walking different places. Consider parks or outdoor malls where the sights and sound are new. Go for a ride and roll down the windows in route to a new location. Your dog’s keen senses will anticipate the fun, as he gets anxious to see what lies ahead.

At minimum, walk a different route in your neighborhood from time to time. This could be simply going left out of the driveway instead of right. You will likely notice increased alertness and energy. The benefits often carry over back at home.

Many dogs are more calm and attentive after a unique spot has been explored. The mental stimulation is also an effective training tool. Hounds for Heroes trains service dogs using similar techniques. Founded by Philanthropist Elliott Broidy, the non-profit matches wounded vets with service animals.

Tip: Walking in new places may overcome walk reluctance. This varies from dog to dog, but a change of scenery could motivate your pup to walk more (or simply get started)

Credit: Humphrey the English Bulldog (Writer’s Dog)

‘Let’s try a new place. I’m sick of the same old bench.’



Dog Massage: 

Massages are an easy way to improve your dog’s health and increase pet/owner bonds. The benefits of massaging your dog include: 
  • Reduced Joint Stiffness: This may also encourage you dog to walk more. 
  • Improved Circulation: Tied to joint stifness with similar benefits. 
  • Strenghtens Bonds: Massage is an interactive activity.
  • Home Health Check Up: In a relaxed state, you can examine the coat, skin, mouth, eyes and ears in ways usally not possible. You will also become familiar with how the dog feels to your touch. This helps you notice if subtle changes take place. 
Each dog/owner duo has different schedules. The key is to pick a time where your dog is calm and accepting. For instance, immediately before or after a walk is not preferred in most cases. Some ideal times for doggie massage could be:
  • Before or after sleep 
  • Cool down periods after walks. About an hour or so when the adrenaline rush is dropping. 
  • Before potty breaks. Your dog can expel toxins released by the massage afterwards. 
Make sure to overestimate your strength during the massage. DO NOT apply any pressure or touch your dog’s spine. Avoid using treats to lure your dog for a massage. He or she will simply expect more treats instead of sitting calmly!

Here’s a checklist for effective dog massage:
  • Softly rub under the chin and rub the cheeks with small circular strokes. 
  • Gently rub fingertips up and down 2 inches AWAY from either side of the spine. 
  • Rub between the paw pads. 
  • Gently flex front and back paws. 
Summary: 

Increasing the health and happiness of our dogs doesn’t have to be expensive. We can simply invest a bit of time for much stronger bonds.

So, You Taught Your Dog to Roll Over

If you taught your pet to roll over, shake hands or play dead, don't go spraining your shoulder patting yourself on the back.

Check out what this guy did!


Friday, March 14, 2014

Demand Justice for Bryan

CARE2.COM PETITION

When Janice Galloway of Hohenwald, Tennessee, left her daughter at home sick with the family dog, Bryan, a few days ago, she never expected to receive a call saying that Bryan was dead. Tragically, that's exactly what happened -- the Galloways' neighbor had shot Bryan to death in front of his 13-year-old owner, Peggy.

According to Peggy, Bryan was out in the front yard when she heard the sound of a gun going off. Terrified, she ran to see what was happening. That's when she saw her neighbor, an off-duty postal worker, shooting her dog at point-blank range. Though Peggy screamed "Please stop shooting my dog!" her neighbor wouldn't stop. He shot Bryan a total of three times, leaving the family dog dead on the ground.

According to the neighbor, Bryan "approached him" in his front yard. After he tapped the dog in the face "to get it moving along," he went in, retrieved a semi-automatic rifle, and started shooting.

On what planet is this an appropriate reaction to a dog being in your front yard? Bryan lived very nearby. He had never attacked anyone. He may have recognized the neighbor and wanted to make friends. And instead, he suffered a painful, agonizing death in front of his teenage owner.

Bryan and the Galloways deserve a full investigation into this matter. Sign the petition to demand justice for Bryan!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Demand an END to Selling Pets on Craigslist


Selling pets on Craigslist is actually against Craigslist's Terms of Service, but the company is failing to enforce their own rules, leaving hundreds of helpless animals open to abuse. Most people offer to give away their pets for FREE. They have no idea the environment their pet is going into. It is unfair and not right in any sense.

Craigslist also needs to stop "Free to Good Home" ads. The animals are even more in danger from these ads. Here are several ways animals given away on Craigslist could be in danger:
  • These helpless animals may be used as bait animals for dog fighting. 
  • People who torture and kill animals like to search the listings for new victims. 
  • Other people that source animals for research facilities all use these ads to find pets. 
  • A newer phenomena is pet flipping – searching free adds for pets to sell for a profit elsewhere (they often end up in one of the above categories).
(source http://www.chicagonow.com/raining-cats-dogs/2013/08/rehoming-pets-on-craigslist/)

Take a stand against animal abuse and help put an end to selling animals for a small fee and giving away for free ALL ANIMALS on Craigslist. 

SIGN THE CARE2 PETITION TODAY!!

GREAT RESOURCES:  http://www.craigslist.org/about/prohibited

You Shall Not Pass, Dog

Great compilation of dogs terrified of walking past cats!

Didn’t see that bite coming? Look a little harder

By Nina Stively, DogTime.com Contributor

Being a professional in the world of animals, my social media feeds are generally chock-full of doggy photos, kitty memes, and adorable pet videos. But recently, there has been a disturbing trend among these videos and the longer it goes on, the more dangerous the situation becomes. I’m talking about the videos where a baby, toddler, or child is interacting with a dog in an unsafe manner and, in spite of the clear inappropriateness of the situation, and the dogs many clear demonstrations of stress, an off-camera adult is holding the camera and chuckling.


 “Battle of the Cookie! Pug vs. Baby” is one video where a dog displays several warning signs of a potential bite (thankfully, no one was hurt).


Perhaps equally disturbing are the comments below each video, such as “No way a yellow Labbie would hurt anyone” or “People, not all dogs have food aggression,” and “Baby is in no harm.” Really? No harm?

Dogs give warning signs nearly every single time before biting someone. No matter what breed, or how well trained or socialized, it is incredibly rare for a dog to bite someone actually out of the blue. But, if you are not watching for the signs, you are not listening to what your dog is so desperately trying to tell you, before he resorts to his last option — a bite.