Costumes, Treats, and Tricks

If the pumpkins, witches, and candy corn appearing everywhere didn't tip you off, let me be the first to tell you that Halloween is coming up this Monday. The time has come to prepare. I am not talking about the costume you have been laboring over for months or the mega bag of candy you bought at the superstore last month. I am talking about preparing your pets for a safe Halloween. Let's review three common Halloween dangers and how to prepare for them. Costumes Issue: Costumes may pose a risk to animals that ingest pieces of them, of course, but the bigger risk is animals being frightened by costume pieces which can alter your appearance, profile, way of moving and possibly even sound and smell. This applies to family members as well as friends, neighbors, and trick or treaters. Solution: Don't take your pets trick or treating with you or keep them with you when you answer your own door. Instead, confine them...
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Who Needs a Hug?

Should we hug our dogs? This is a hot topic around the internet today, so I thought it was worth a few thoughts. Dogs are typically not big into hugging (and often not big into petting, especially the short "pat pat" variety). These behaviors that are reinforcing to humans, which often leads us to believe (hope? wish?) that they are reinforcing to our dog as well. Such a belief is unfair to our dogs, since, after all, we appreciate their dog-like qualities in so many other ways. Who else will like our face when we're having a bad day or be so excited to see us, even when we have massive bedhead? I can almost hear you right now saying, "I hug my dog all the time and he's fine." Most of our dogs will tolerate some of these behaviors, at least from people they know. The level of tolerance will vary greatly from dog to dog. For each dog, it will...
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Talk to your dog! (Your phone’s not listening)

Have you ever seen this? Someone is walking down the street with one hand on the dogs leash and the handle of the stroller and the other holding their phone to their ear. As you approach with your dog, what are you thinking? Do you feel confident that they will be able to react if their dog starts to lunge at yours? Or maybe you are a parent of small children. How do you feel as someone approaches your family texting on their phone while their dog eyes your unsteady toddler warily? I will admit right now that I am sometimes guilty of paying more attention to my phone than to my dog, whether it's texting, talking, or checking the baseball scores. However, in a recent push to improve our walking, I am working to become more aware of my own behavior and how it effects my dog. Part of this effort is understanding the role of technology. I have recently heard several...
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BOO! Watch Out for Halloween

This week is Halloween—the start of the fall yard decoration season. The return of cold weather means that winter clothing, including parkas, hats, gloves, and scarves, are making a return as well. What does this mean for you and your dog? Yard decorations can be scary for many dogs. They appear where nothing was before. Many move, flash bright lights, or even make noises, all of which dogs may find unnerving. Halloween decorations will be quickly followed by holiday decorations at many houses. As a dog owner or walker, you are responsible for being aware of these potentially scary objects and planning accordingly. Never force dogs to approach things they may find scary. A forced approach may reinforce fear in the object and also erode your dogs trust in you to keep him safe. Additionally, a sudden movement or sound from a motion sensitive decoration may also startle your dog, increasing fear. Keep in mind that scared dogs may also redirect...
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Life of the Party: 5 Tips for a Safe and Successful Party – With Pets!

Christmas has come and gone. Stockings have been opened and family have departed, but with New Year's Eve fast approaching, party season is far from over. Whether you are planning to entertain for or in the New Year, here are a few tips to help you host a successful gathering. 1. Consider individual needs. Not everyone is a party animal. You may have your heart set on a free-for-all with children and dogs running gleefully around the backyard (ok, maybe not in Maryland for New Year's), but unless you select your guest list carefully, that just isn't going to be in everyone's best interest. The needs of human and animal guests need to be carefully considered. If you want to let all your friends bring their dogs, are all the dogs likely to get along? Do you have enough room to separate them if you need to, either because they don't get along, or because some are overwhelmed by the number...
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