Friday, December 20, 2013

Getting Ready for Copmany: Party Prep


So, you’re having a party and you plan to have your four-legged family member in attendance too.  After all, it’s your party and you’ll have your dog there if you want to; which is fine as long as you keep your guests in mind. 
As a host or hostess, you think of everything to pull off a successful party; from stocking up on food and drinks, to playing great music, and even having a game or two to break the ice.  But sometimes we get so wrapped up in our plans to entertain that we forget to plan for interactions with the dog. 
Here are some basic safety tips to enforce at your next party to ensure everyone has a good time, including the dog.

1.      Take your dog for a long walk or run before the event.  Your dog is less likely to be hyper, disobedient, or stressed out once strangers start coming to the door.

2.      Don’t let anyone feed the dog.  Giving a dog table scraps after dinner is one thing, but having 15 different people give your dog whatever food they want is dangerous (especially when they don’t know your dog’s regular diet).  There are many human foods that dogs simply cannot digest or may be toxic. Be sure to keep the following foods away from your dogs on any occasion:

            A. Onion and garlic - can cause haemolytic anaemia in both cats and dogs.

            B. Raisins and grapes - can cause kidney failure.

            C. Avocado - contains a substance known as persin which is toxic to both dogs and cats.

            D. Mushrooms - the toxins in these can cause shock and can even lead to death.

            E. Chocolate - this contains theobromine which is toxic to both cats and dogs.

             -Courtesy of Jane Grishaw’s article “The dangers of feeding table scraps to cats and dogs”

3.  Don’t let anyone give your dog any drinks – whether it is alcoholic or not. Caffeine, sugar, and alcohol can make a dog very sick.  You may think letting your dog get a little tipsy is funny but you are putting your dog’s life in danger, not to mention, potentially costing yourself a large vet bill and animal cruelty charges if someone were to report you.

4. If you plan to use noisemakers (or anything that might startle our dog) put your dog in a quiet room on the other end of the house and turn on calming music to avoid upsetting him/her.  A frightened dog will become irrational and unpredictable in their behavior and may also become aggressive.

5.  Be sure all doors and side gates are properly closed after each guest arrives.  You may be too wrapped up in a party to notice your dog is missing.  By the time you realize your dog is missing, if he’s not still wandering, he could have been hit by a car, been picked up by a stranger, or picked up by animal control.   

Don’t let these avoidable issues ruin your holiday cheer.  Be a responsible pet owner: keep your pet’s health and safety in mind so you can both enjoy the New Year together.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Getting Ready for Company: Introducing a Stranger


You may be expecting company this holiday season.  Whether it’s 2 people or 20, introducing your guests to your dog may be a little daunting, especially if he isn’t very social.  Having strangers in the home can be stressful for a pooch, and meeting a dog for the first time can be stressful for a human.  Here are a few things to practice with your pup to help ease any anxiety for your dog and your guests:

Leash your dog before answering the door- This keeps you in control of your dog.  Afterall, it is your home, you should be in control of who enters it – not your dog.  Keep the leash loose most of the time so you don’t send the wrong message to your dog.  A continuously tight leash could tell him that you’re anxious which can in turn make him anxious.  If you need to correct bad behavior, such as pulling or jumping, quickly tighten the leash then release.  You can also have him sit and stay until he has calmed down.

Reward calm behavior- Have your dog sit and stay before answering the dog.  Reward him for his calm behavior with a treat (which you can keep near the door), verbal praise, or hand him his favorite toy to hold.  You can also have your guest offer him a treat when you open the door.  But please remember to keep your pups feet on the floor when saying hello.  Jumping on a person is never a polite greeting (in both dog and human etiquette).

Never force a situation- If a dog doesn’t want to sniff a hand or be pet, then do not force him to.  That is how dog bites happen.  It may be best for your guest to simply ignore your dog until he (your dog) decides he wants to greet them. 

Do not have your dog greet people when agitated- If you are expecting company but your dog is not in the mood to be social, or if your dog is overwhelmed by the number of guests, have a quiet place he can go for a time out.  Time outs aren’t always bad; sometimes dogs just need some quiet time.

Have your guests greet your dog properly- Body language is everything to a dog, which a lot of humans take for granted.  Dogs are communicating with us constantly but we tend to ignore the signals or misunderstand them, which can lead to a dog bite.  Ensure your guests are greeting your dog properly to avoid any problems.

·         When greeting a dog it is best to avoid direct eye contact, as it is very dominating and dogs can feel threaten by that. 

·         You should never get in a dogs face, with kisses or the like.  Dogs should be allowed to smell the back of your hand before you touch them.  And remember, they have an excellent sense of smell so no need to put your hand right up to their nose. 

·         You can ask the dog out loud for permission to pet him, and if he seems open to your approach, pet him on the shoulder or under his chin.  Do not lean over him or pet him on the head because this too can be taken as a threat.        

Practice these techniques as often as you can.  You can do this whenever someone comes to the door or even when you meet strangers out in public, like at the pet store or coffee shop.  The more you expose your dog to these situations the better he will be at greeting strangers.  For more of a challenge (and a little bit of fun) you can teach your dog to shake hands when he meets strangers.  Everyone is sure to love your perfectly polite pup.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Taking the Purrfect Pet Picture

Ever wonder how the professionals get great animal photos? Getting your dog to sit in one place for any amount of time is helpful but you don’t need to have a trained stunt dog to capture the perfect photo.  Here are a few tricks of the trade to get great pet photos this holiday season:

1.       Use natural light – By using natural light you avoid using the flash, which not only causes red eye but can frighten your pet.  Go outside or in a room with a big window to naturally light your picture.

2.       Focus on the eyes – An animal’s eye can be very expressive.  Stay focused on them to help bring your photo to life.

3.       Go to your pet – Capture your pet in his/her natural environment.  This will help keep him/her comfortable and more than likely result in a better shot.  You can also sit on the floor or lay on your belly to get a shot from his/her eye level.

4.        Give your pet Character – Help convey the character of your pet by getting of picture of him/her doing what he/she does best.   If she is a lazy cat, capture her yawning.  If he is a playful dog, get a shot of him fetching a toy.

5.       Close up – Don’t be afraid to go in for a close up shot.  Some of the best pet photos just fill the frame with a pet’s face.

6.       Surprise your pet – Let your pet play while you set up your camera.  When you are ready, whistle, or use a noise maker, to get his/her attention then quickly snap the shot.

7.       Schedule accordingly – If you plan to schedule a photo session, do so accordingly, to make sure it’s when your pet is alert but not overly excited.  Did he just wake up from a nap? Does she have lots of energy in the afternoon?  Is he feeling sick? A grumpy dog, a tired dog, and a hyper dog do not make very good models.

8.       Have patience – Taking pictures of animals is not easy and rarely works out on the first take. You may need to take several shots before you get a good one.  If your dog is very excited, just wait a little bit and he will calm down.

9.       Experiment – Try approaching your pet in different ways, from different angles, and in different positions.  If you just focus on shooting a lot of pictures in the moment, you can worry about the results later.