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Is This Really My Dog?

Your Dog’s Got a Personality. Get Used to It!

You know how some parents want their kids to grow up to be doctors and they end up with musicians? The same kind of thing can happen with dog owners and their beloved pets. We sometimes hold our puppies to expectations that they can’t fulfill, nor should they. They, like children, manage best with acceptance. So do we.

 

Ringo is my first dog. I adopted him a year and a half ago, and he gives me tremendous joy. Through him, I’ve been given sense of loving purpose with which I’m sure many of you other packpeople out there have long been familiar, but to me, it’s still something new.

Once in a while, so is his behavior.

I can’t lie: when I adopted him, with his sweet little face and quiet disposition, I imagined he would change the world, one melted heart at a time. He seemed a perfect candidate for therapy dog training, and after he aced his first obedience course, he earned his American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen certification at the local dog club. He was on his way, I thought, to a career of healing, visiting local hospitals to spread his warm, magical fuzziness wherever it was needed.

Then he started growling.

About six months into our relationship, Ringo got comfortable enough to reveal his true self. He’s not that “into” people. He trusts only a few, shows affection to even fewer, ignores many and downright dislikes the rest (“grrrrr…”)

Sure, I was disappointed, but I’ve come to accept that he’s a living, thinking being, full of his own opinions and tastes. His behaviors I can train (treats have proved helpful in meeting new people), but his personality is his own. He’s “aloof.”

“That’s okay,” said one of his trainers. “He doesn’t have to like everybody; he’s just not that kind of dog.”

When he likes someone, however, he really shows it. That’s the kind of dog he is. He’s also the kind of dog who sits on command, leaves my things alone and never makes messes in the house. He may not be therapy dog material but in other ways, he’s a dream.

Nobody’s perfect, and the same goes for dogs. The best that we can do is encourage their best assets, despite the expectations we place on them.

If you’re new to dog ownership, take it from me. More likely than not, your dog’s behavior will change in some way during your first year together. That’s not necessarily bad, but character-building, for both of you. You’ll need to practice acceptance, discipline and the diligence to research the most effective ways to deal with negative behaviors. In doing so, you’ll see that your pet’s brightest traits and talents will truly shine.

Ringo may never be a therapy dog, but that’s okay. He may never be a doctor, either, but if he decides to take up a musical instrument, I’ll pay for lessons. What matters is that I encourage him to be the best Ringo he can be.

Good, Ringo! Good boy!

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Getting a Pet Can Improve Aging in place

In partnership with aginginplace.org, we would like to publish this great article today. You can find the original post on http://www.aginginplace.org/seniors-and-pets/

Are you wondering how you are going to care for your pet as you age in place? Are you wondering if you should adopt a pet as you age in place? This guide will help you decide on the best choice for you. Studies have shown that owning a pet can be physically and mentally beneficial for people of all ages. In the case of senior citizens, “just 15 minutes bonding with an animal sets off a chemical chain reaction in the brain, lowering levels of the fight-or-flight hormone, cortisol, and increasing production of the feel-good hormone serotonin. The result: heart rate, blood pressure, and stress levels immediately drop. Over the long term, pet and human interactions can lower cholesterol levels, fight depression and may even help protect against heart disease and stroke” (Byrne, 2015).

If you are mostly immobile, a cat may be the best option because you don’t have to walk them. A small dog that uses pee pads or a caged animal may also be a good option. Senior dogs and cats are better for the elderly because they are more calm, quiet, and less maintenance. Be sure to have the pet checked out by a veterinarian. A pre-existing illness or disease could drain your bank account or make you sick. For those seniors who want a dog, there are many reasons to be wary of jumping into pet adoption too quickly. The lack of mobility and inability to drive to and from the vet, groomer, or pet store worries them. The initial costs are usually high. They also worry that if and when there comes a point when they can no longer care for the dog, that the dog might be taken to a shelter and eventually euthanized. Many seniors feel like their worsening health condition is a burden, and a pet might possibly add to that.

PETS_infographic_aginginPlace

Top 6 Reasons Seniors Should Adopt a Pet

There are numerous reasons for adopting a pet. From companionship to security, pets can provide seniors a better quality of life and improve aging in place. Finding the right pet for you or your family member is easy, and the benefits can be far-reaching

Matching Older Dogs with the Elderly

Pets for Seniors in Illinois created an adoption program that matches senior dogs and senior cats with senior citizens. They worked out solutions to the issues that seniors have with pet adoption, and the program is very successful. The program pays for most of the adoption fee, chooses calm and housebroken older dogs, and provides support every step of the way. If the animal is not a good fit, the organization will take back the pet and refund any fees. Other humane shelters around the nation are trying to replicate this model.

Pet Therapy for Seniors

Those who work caring for the elderly say that pets pull withdrawn seniors out of their shell, provide mild activity and cardio through walking and grooming the pet, and offer a way to feel needed and connect with the world. Pet therapy can also help with Alzheimer’s Sundowners Syndrome. Nighttime can be very confusing and disorienting for folks with Alzheimer’s disease. This is when some Alzheimer’s patients try to run away or leave their home. A pet can prevent this issue by keeping those with Alzheimer’s connected and occupied.

“Animals’ non-verbal communication and profound acceptance can be soothing for those with difficulty using language; some may even connect with memories of their own treasured pets”

“Animals’ non-verbal communication and profound acceptance can be soothing for those with difficulty using language; some may even connect with memories of their own treasured pets” (Byrne, 2015). Pet therapy has shown to improve appetite, social interaction, brain stimulation, and tactile activity. The unconditional love of a dog brings healing and meaning to a sometimes lonely stage in life. Ask your doctor, physical therapist, or social worker about any pet therapy programs in your community. Just because you give away a pet or choose not to take one into your home, it doesn’t mean that you can’t visit with other family pets or receive pet therapy. There are pet therapy home visit services all over the country. Alliance of Therapy Dogs and Therapy Dogs International are volunteer-run organizations with outposts all over the world. A local volunteer will come to your home and bring a trained service dog that is very well-behaved. The dog can play, cuddle, and perform commands during a half-hour or one-hour session.

Service Dogs for Seniors

For seniors with disabilities, a service dog might be the best option. “The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) of 2011 defines service dogs as those trained to do work directly related to a person’s disability.  Emotional support animals and dogs used as crime deterrents are excluded from this definition.  A service dog is expected to accompany a person with a disability at all times” (Wang, 2013). Service dogs go through extensive training to remain calm and help their owner with mobility issues.

Service dog skills include: opening doors with a strap, pushing doors closed, helping their handler dress and undress, helping those in wheelchairs sit up straight & place feet and arms on footrests and armrests, preventing falls, and retrieving wheelchairs and walkers. It’s amazing the tasks these dogs can do! In an emergency situation, service dogs are trained to perform life-saving tasks, like retrieving medication, calling 911, opening the door for EMT and first responders, running to get help or barking for help after identifying an emergency and laying down on their handler’s chest to help them a cough or breath better. For hearing impaired owners, service dogs are trained in alerting their handlers to the presence of other people or particular sounds, retrieving dropped objects, carrying messages, and warning that an unseen vehicle is approaching. For visually impaired owners, service dogs are trained in avoiding obstacles like moving vehicles, signaling a change in elevation, locating objects on command, and retrieving dropped objects.

Find the right service dog for you. Pets often increase the amount of exercise pet owners get versus non-pet owners. More exercise isn’t always a good thing for older people with injuries and susceptibility to falls. There are also some nonprofits in existence that will help elderly folks care for their pets when walking their dog multiple times a day or cleaning out the litter box is too burdensome. Look to see if there is one in your area.

If you want to learn more about 

  • The cost of Pet Ownership
  • The Risks and
  • How to Care for Your Pet While Aging in Place

Please visit http://www.aginginplace.org/seniors-and-pets/ and let us know what you think about this article. Thank you. 

 

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Collar vs. Harness

The Competition Runs Neck-and-Neck.

So I’m talking with fellow packpeople David and Yurda about pertinent blog topics and the age-old issue of leashing dogs with collars vs. harnesses comes up. Naturally, there is no easy way to answer this – there are arguments for both and I’ll get into that in just a bit – but the funny thing is that no sooner had we discussed the topic than I discovered that Ringo (my 15 lb. mix of corgi, dachshund and possibly seal) needed a new harness. My neighbor Connie, who takes care of Ringo when I work late, had noticed redness on his chest, and the subsequent discovery of frayed, protruding stitching on his harness’ chest strap sent Ringo and I straight to the pet store.

Why does Ringo wear a harness? It’s this simple: when I adopted him, he was wearing one. He always wears a collar for ID as well as decorative purposes, but for leashing he and I are accustomed to the harness. I like the security of its hold over his torso, and as he’s a smallish dog, I’m more at ease knowing I won’t inadvertently hurt his somewhat delicate neck. Looking over the vast selection of collars and harnesses at our neighborhood pet supply store, however, it’s clear to see that there are countless options available, in styles ranging from eco-friendly hemp fiber to breathable nylon mesh to bright, bold and bejeweled.

Collars vs. harnesses. Everyone’s got an opinion, and you’re best to form one of your own, with expert guidance from your veterinarian. Here are some thoughts, though, that seem to recur in many dog care forums on the subject:

Basic collars, when fitted properly, are a comfortable choice for dogs without “pulling” tendencies. Some collars can be useful for training, with choke chains and prong collars providing methods of correction (and in these cases, it’s highly important that humans are trained for their safe and sensible use). Collars are also easy: easy on, easy off, and even if you opt for leashing your dog with a harness, the addition of a collar is more likely to accommodate pet ID tags with a characteristic metal D ring.

Leashing on a harness minimizes the risk of injury to a dog’s neck and back, particularly in smaller breeds. Simple nylon harnesses can be purchased, as well as specialty harnesses designed to provide the same corrective effectiveness as traditional training collars. Harnesses are also available which provide transportation safety, with designs that are compatible with automobile safety belts.

After about 30 minutes of walking back and forth and trying things on in the collar and harness aisle, Ringo and I settled on something new (for us, that is). Typically, he’s been wearing a simple nylon-strap harness, but this time we opted for a breathable mesh harness that covers more of his chest than his previous gear, allowing pressure to be more evenly distributed across his chest. It’s a Comfort Control Harness made by Four Paws Products, and we chose a fetching shade of royal blue because that’s all the store had left in the appropriate size, and also, we’re fancy. We walked around a bit in the store parking lot to “test drive” the item, and the change in attire suited us both. I felt no loss of control in guiding Ringo at my side and he seemed perfectly comfortable.

So I urge you to consider all your needs when choosing not only between a collar or harness but also which collar or harness. There are thousands of them out there. You might even choose more than one, for different applications. Take a look at fit, finish, materials and construction involved as well – Ringo’s reddened, irritated chest taught us both, the hard way, to examine details like stitching and seams for durability and comfort.

Then, adequately equipped, you’ll enjoy peace of mind and greater control over a safe and secure dog.

This way, Ringo. RINGO. THIS WAY. Good boy!

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De La Doggies – Dog walking and photography in Downtown Los Angeles

meandlilly-1I met Marissa at the South Los Angeles Animal Shelter on a Sunday morning, while she was holding a big heavy camera and waiting for the shelter staff and volunteers to guide her. At the time, I was volunteering at another animal shelter and had come with a dog trainer to show new adopters basic dog training skills, with the help of the shelter dogs. While we were waiting for the first potential adopters and spending some time with the shelter dogs in the play yard, I asked Marissa to join us. We talked about dogs and the shelter system in Los Angeles and discovered that we had a lot in common — like our passion and love for dogs.

Today, after nearly 2 years, I’m very excited to voice our support for Marissa, who has just started her new business offering pet photography and pet sitting services in Downtown Los Angeles.

Allow me to introduce this very talented photographer and passionate animal lover to the Packpeople audience with her own words and bio:

Hello,

I am Marissa de la Torre and Dog is my God.

When I moved to Los Angeles from Oakland, California this time, three years ago, I didn’t have much. I didn’t have a job, not many friends, and not too many hobbies or passions.

Growing up I always enjoyed photography, thanks to my dad, and I was lucky to grow up with dogs in our household. As a matter of fact, I had no siblings growing up, so the doggies were often my play mates throughout the years.

When I first arrived in L.A. I moved into a condo right behind a Petco. The very first day I moved in I decided to visit. I always loved going inside Petco and visiting the rats, mice and guinea pigs — watching them and taking photos always made me happy.

While there I noticed an adoption event going on, that was adopting out dogs and cats, Save a Life Rescue. I was immediately drawn to the furry mammals. After visiting them for awhile, I then talked to the founder of the rescue and soon found out they were in need of a photographer. I was ecstatic. It all seemed perfect — I can use and learn my new digital camera my dad recently bought for me, I could hang out with dogs and cats and help find them forever homes and I can literally do this in my backyard, every Saturday! Tula-1

I then began my romance with doggies and photography, and most importantly it was for a good cause, and I had found a new hobby!

I helped Save a Life for a year and then moved to Downtown L.A. and then began volunteering my time in local high kill animal shelters. It was then I quickly learned about the big problem L.A. had with homeless pets and how packed shelters were with dogs being surrendered or found on the streets, with not enough people adopting or knowing where to find a new pet at.

I soon discovered and starting volunteering my time for non-profit organizations and groups like; United Hope for Animals, L.A. Love & Leashes, and The Lu Parker Project, that were helping a lot of these dogs and cats in the shelters get the proper exposure they deserved through photography and networking. To take a picture of a homeless dog, post it online and see the dog get pulled from the shelter into a loving home, made it all worth it and reassured me time and time again I had picked the right hobby 🙂

Batman-7Fast forward three years, I am still living in Downtown L.A. and have had a string of 9-5 jobs that were not particularly interesting to me, but they paid the bills and I feel I was doing what I was supposed to do, whatever that means. Similar to when I had first moved here, I did not have any clear goals on what I wanted to do for work and had no real passions I thought I could potentially make into a career. It took some time, a lot of jobs I did not like, a lot of support from friends and family and most importantly my continuous time with doggies to finally realize that I could make spending time with the furry mammals into my career. It really just boiled down to me taking that jump and being confident and prepared!

So now I am proud and happy to officially launch my own dog service business, De La Doggies, offering dog sitting, dog walking and most importantly dog photography in the Los Angeles area.

walker-1I think I can finally say I love my job and most importantly I feel rewarded and fulfilled as a human to be helping take care and provide for human’s best friend, dog.

For more info, rates and examples of my photography work with dogs, please visit my website at: www.deladoggies.com follow me on Twitter and like my Facebook Fan page. You can also find me on tumblr.com and dogvacay.com

All you need is Woof!

~ Marissa

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To Treat or Not To Treat?

Treats for dogs

The dish on giving your dog “people food”

Our dogs can be so darned cute that it’s tempting to lavish them with the finest things possible… but remember: they’re dogs. What may be our idea of a delicious treat may not always be the healthiest option for our little friends… and the way we give it to them can affect their behavior more deeply than we might expect. Finally, before you give your pet a special treat, ask yourself exactly who you’re rewarding: your dog, or you?

“People foods” warrant really careful consideration. Know that certain foods, even in tiny amounts, can be toxic, even fatal, to dogs. Raisins, for instance, may cause kidney failure, and only a few macadamia nuts can cause muscular tremors or paralysis — a huge price to pay for a seemingly innocent snack. Before you decide to give your dog any food that isn’t expressly prepared for dogs, be sure you’ve done your homework and investigated a few educated opinions on the subject, by asking veterinary experts or studying online.

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30 miles/hour can kill you and your dog

Safety for your dog in the car.

I’m always shocked how careless and frivolous some people are with their dogs driving in cars. I see them jumping on the driver, licking the face and sitting on their laps. For responsible travel with a pet is to properly secure the animal. In an accident, an unrestrained dog becomes a projectile, risking serious injury to the animal and human passengers. For your, your family’s and dog’s safety, do not allow pets to ride in the front seat, no matter how much the pet enjoys it. Pets riding in the front seat can be thrown into the windshield if you have to make a sudden stop or your air backs can injure them, if they have to launch out. Dogs on the back seats are very dangerous too, if they are not secured.

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Tag your dog!

Importance of micro chipping and identifying your pet with a tag!

Every year a few hundred thousand dogs get lost under different circumstances in the U.S.  1 in 3 pets will get lost during their lifetime; 10 million pets get lost every year. Losing a household pet is losing a member of the family. Tragically, few are reunited with their owners. Many strays are lost pets who were not kept properly indoors or provided with identification in the U.S. or lost dogs end up in shelters where they are adopted out to new homes or even euthanized. It is relevant that your dog has identification at all times. It’s so important to start to microchip and tag your dog today if he or she is not already.

Every day I look at dog’s collars and harnesses and I’m always astonished how many dogs are running around without a name tag. If I ask handlers and owners, I always receive the same answers: “My dog is always with me” “I take care of my dog” “My dog doesn’t run away” ” I think the sound of the tag is annoying for my dog”. “I live around the corner”.  Here are two important things you really need to do.

Implant a microchip: A microchip is a transponder in the size of a rice grain. It can save your dog’s life and your dog can be identified if found by a shelter or veterinary office. Microchips are implanted by veterinarians between the dog’s shoulder blades under the skin and most dogs do not feel anything being implanted. Several brands are available. Every single chip has a unique numeric code, which can be detected by a hand held device. Do not forget to register your dog with the microchip company, otherwise your dog can not be traced back to you if found, and always update your contact information promptly when you move or get a new phone number. A microchip is effective in reuniting a lost pet with his owner only when the owner’s contact information in the microchip database is accurate.

Create a name tag: Keep current identification tags on your dog at all times, people can directly connect with you without taking the dog to a vet. The dog’s name and your current phone number and your address are a must on the tag. You can find tag machines at every pet store or on the internet.

Most dogs from animal shelters are already micro chipped and come with a name tag. Please be a responsible dog owner, protect your dog and cat and tag your pet, it is not expensive or complicated and can safe your pet’s life!

You can find more information about micro chipping here. Also, feel free to check Home Again‘s website.

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Lost Dogs: Hows, Whys and Lowering the Risk

A dog that loves you can still run away!

Barley, the German Shepherd next door, loves his owner. It’s not uncommon to see him jump on his daddy, give him a great big kiss, then sit dutifully at his side.

It’s also not uncommon to see Barley unattended, in the street; or as he was just three nights ago, wandering up our driveway.

“Barley!” I yelled out the window, driving very slowly into the carport. “What are you doing?”

He jumped on the side of my car, all 100 pounds of him, to say Hello. Fortunately, he’s friendly, so I was able to lead him up to our landing, where my neighbors and I were able to leash him and call his owner, who showed up minutes later. The talking-to we gently gave him about the frequency of this game is another matter, but the fact remains, Barley likes to run.

Dogs, given the slightest chance, will get lost. Yes, there are dastardly sorts out there who will steal dogs, abandon them, do anything but preserve their well-being, but aside from that (and I understand that’s a big “aside”), dogs are hard-wired to roam. They can be our most loyal, most loving friends, but it’s important to remember that even our most attentive dogs can be prone to exploring. It’s nothing personal. It’s instinct.

Walking around our neighborhood, Ringo and I see signs for “Lost Dogs” all the time. Here’s what else we see:

  • Dogs enjoying the outdoors – in inadequately fenced yards
  • Dogs without visible ID tags (to review a great post on the subject, read Tag your dog!)
  • Dogs walking alongside their owners – offleash (I don’t care what anyone says, I think this is a bad idea)
  • Dogs walking in and out of doors without supervision (there’s this one chihuahua that actually comes out into the street to bark at us whenever we walk by; to me, this is no different from letting a toddler walk outdoors at his own discretion)
  • Unaltered dogs – which increases the chance of wanderlust (literally!)

A break in a fence or a casually opened door is an invitation for a dog to go exploring, hunting, maybe even running if a dog gets scared for any reason. Remember, dogs are descended from wolves, who find great rewards in scouting away from their home base… and just like their ancestors, our dogs aren’t immune from getting distracted or even bored. There’s a whole world out there, and it’s tempting.

Talking about this to an online community of PackPeople, I realize I may be “preaching to the choir”… but there is no harm in overstating the obvious, even if only to share it outside of our circle, to get more people aware of the precautions they need to take with their little friends.

Maybe we can get those who are mere “dog owners” to start thinking about the attentions their dogs need, to get them to that next step of thinking about the relationships they have with their dogs.

Together, we can lead them to their packs… and help them stay together!

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Hike or bike?

Not every dog is good for biking, consider hiking instead!

Get some great exercise with your dog outdoors. A long hike or a bike ride? Which one is the best choice for you and your dog. All dogs love to walk and follow you every where you go. Spending time with you outdoors is on of the most important things for your dog. Outdoor activities will bond you with your dog and keep you healthy. Sun, rain or snow. Let’s go!

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The Elegance of Gymnastics and Dog Training

Guest article by Julie Stack ~ Thank you for submitting

I always look forward to the Womens’ Olympic gymnastics sports competitions. The Olympic gymnasts are mesmerizing to watch as they tackle each apparatus with such grace, artistic ability, strength, and flexibility.  A gymnast must have complete focus, strength and coordination to perform well, especially on the balance beam.  As I watched the Olympics this year, I wondered if there are similarities between gymnastics and the world of dog training.  For one, it takes time to learn and practice whether you’re a dog trainer or giving that dazzling gymnastic performance.

I have always been in awe of the balance beam, since it requires not just technical ability, but strength and timing can make or break you.  Consider the careful steps one must take and the timing it takes to always land on the balance  beam after each back walkover or giant leap in the air; if you misjudge the distance, you will fall.  As I train with the shelter dogs, I often think about that fine line one must walk with the dogs and its similarity to a  gymnast walking on the balance beam.  Just as with gymnastics, you need to hit that mark each time or deliver your dog treat on time when teaching a dog  “sit” or  “down” so that the dog understands the association. In gymnastics the goal is to always stay on the balance beam without losing balance, and in dog training you need to keep your balance also, and stay focused on your dog so he does not get distracted.  Becoming a world class gymnast requires rigorous training hours and discipline to achieve Olympic dreams.  Dog training also requires discipline and focus and trying to help the dog you are working with achieve greatness, so they have a stronger chance to be adopted or make progress during training classes.

Several active star canine athletes are Prince and BeeBee at the Washington Humane Society. They are roommates also, and I really enjoy their company when I volunteer. BeeBee has a beautiful brindle coat, and is definitely the one who wants to be taken out first, and she is very confident and wants to go out in the yard to work on training or run around with her friend Prince. BeeBee is a whirlwind, and if she were a person, she would be a world traveler! She has very attentive sits that would score her a perfect score in the Olympic games!

The other great guy, Prince is very charming, and has a warm presence, he looks to you for confidence and is polite and really wants to be a part of your home!

Please consider fostering or adopting Prince or BeeBee. They are located at Washington Humane Society www.washhumane.org , 1201 New York Ave. NE, Washington, DC, 20002. If you would like to do anything extra to help Prince or BeeBee, please contact Danielle Bays at dbays@washhumane.org