Tuesday, June 18, 2013

1st Week of Summer: Take your dog to work day

What comes to mind when you think of summer?  For most people, the season brings back a nostalgic feeling of freedom.  Growing up, it was the time you were carefree; no school, no homework, just days of play and three whole months of vacation.  Even as an adult, summer is still the time to slow down, relax a little more, and enjoy your free time a little more.

June 21st is the official start of summer and Southern California has plenty to offer when it comes to dog-friendly activities.  So why not go try new things, start a tradition, or just enjoy the beautiful weather with your four-legged best friend?
This week, the first day of summer happens to fall on the same day as “Take your dog to work day.”

Take your dog to work day was first celebrated in 1999.  It was created by Pet Sitters International to celebrate great companion dogs and to help encourage their adoption.  If your workplace doesn’t celebrate yet, now is the time to get involved.

The first step to bringing your dog to work is convincing your boss or HR manager to let you do so.  For help in this area, go to the official ‘Take your dog to work Day’ website and download the TYDTWDay Action Pack.  This pack and the website are full of information to share with those in charge, along with ideas to help you plan your first successful TYDTW Day.  It will help you address concerns, such as building codes and co-worker dog allergies, and give you pointers on avoiding problems the day of. 
Another way to convince the boss is by sharing the benefits of celebrating the day.  ‘Take your dog to work day’ provides the unique opportunity to increase community involvement by partnering with a local animal shelter, rescue group, or humane society.  It is also a low-cost perk for employees who may have experienced pay cuts or other decreases in benefits. 

And if those reasons aren’t enough, try sharing some cold, hard facts.  In 2006, the American Pet Products Association (APPA) found that:
  • Nearly 1 in 5 U.S. companies allow pets in the workplace.
  • 55 million Americans believe having pets in the workplace leads to a more creative environment
  • 50 million believe having pets in the workplace helps co-workers get along better
  • 38 million believe having pets in the workplace creates a more productive work environment
  • 37 million believe having pets in the workplace helps improve the relationship between managers and their employees
Everyone may jump on board or you may have to take baby steps and try again next year.  But even if you are not allowed to bring your dog to work, there are other ways to celebrate at work, like having a fundraiser for a local animal rescue, or a pet photo contest, or dog themed luncheon (with hotdogs and bone-shaped cookies).  For these and other great ideas on how to prep for and celebrate ‘Take your dog to work day’, check out the official website.  Whatever you end up doing, enjoy the first day of summer with you pup!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Moving with Pets

Moving is a stressful time for us humans, but it can be even worse for our dogs.  Dogs need stability to feel secure, so moving can seriously upset them.  Add your moving anxiety on top of that and you have a very unsettled dog acting out of the ordinary. 

Many people put great effort into helping their children understand why they have to pack up all of their things and leave all of their friends behind when they move.  Have you ever tried doing the same thing with your dog to help ease the transition?  Here are a few ideas to help you:

1.        A happy & soothing voice - Any dog owner would tell you that their dog understands what they are saying. The dog may not get every single word, but he gets the gist of it.  For that reason, you should sit down with your dog and tell him what is going on.  Keep your voice positive and try to get him use to the words moving, new home, and packing. Try to keep your emotions neutral when talking to him, especially if the move is hard or emotional for you; he will pick up on that. Try to be encouraging and positive when he sees his things being packed up as well.  

2.     A familiar and secure space - Dogs originally slept in dens. So naturally, they tend to like squeezing into small spaces that help them feel secure. For this reason, dog crates come in handy as it is a den-like place that the dog is familiar with and can move with him. If your dog is not crate trained or has no personal space to call his own, you may consider getting one before you move (so he has time to get comfortable with it). Put a few of his things and some treats in there to help him get acquainted with it.  His crate (or personal space) should be the last thing to leave the old house and the first thing in the new house to help him adjust.

3.     An early visit - If you can, visit your new home with your dog before you move.  Even if you can’t go inside, let him sniff around outside and go for a walk around the neighborhood. He can get use to the smells of your new home and the surrounding area.  You can give him periodic treats to make it an even more positive experience. Also, if possible, leave one of his toys at the property so he can make a positive association with it when you come back.

4.     An old toy & a new one - While you may want to get all new dog toys, bowls, and beds to go with the new homes d├ęcor, don’t be so quick to throw out your dog’s old things. To him, they are the only familiar thing in an unfamiliar place, and as such, they will bring him comfort.  Instead, bring his old bed, bowls, and toys to the new house along with a couple of new toys (a reward for moving).  Then as you settle in your new home, replace his doggie belongings slowly, giving him time to adjust to each new item.  

5.     Odds and Ends – If you are cleaning or painting your new home, be aware of the harsh chemicals and fumes in the air that can be harmful to you and your dog.  If you can, put your dog in a safe place outside where he can get fresh air until you are finished.  And whether he is inside or out, always ensure plenty of ventilation while cleaning or painting.  If it is too stressful for your pup to be around, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Ask a friend or family member to watch your dog for a day or two.  Or, if they are not available, find a local pet sitter or dog daycare that can help.  They may also come in handy for the first few weeks after the move, if your pup is acting out (having trouble adjusting). A few extra dollars spent on pet care is much better than having to replace the carpet or any ruined furniture.