Did you know January is National Train Your Dog Month? The Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT) began the campaign in 2010 and it’s been a huge hit with dogs and their people ever since.
According to the APDT, January is the perfect month because many people have brought home dogs and puppies over the holiday season. Since it’s the beginning of a new year, what better time than to train your new family member. It’s a month dedicated “to bringing awareness to the importance of socialization and training, and most of all, to inform the public that training your dog can be easy and fun!”
Although January is the month, it’s important to realize that training and education last throughout the year and beyond. But there’s no better time to start than the beginning of the year.
Even if your dog has been a part of the family for some time and might need some work, you can reach out to a professional who can offer additional guidance and suggestions for new behaviors.
Training your dog only leads to happy dogs and happy pet parents. Keeping them well balanced in their daily lives is not only beneficial to your dog, but also to you.
“Too many dogs are turned into animal shelters each year for behavior and training issues that could be easily solved with proper socialization and positive, gentle, science-based methods of training. Moreover, we want the public to know that training your dog is not just beneficial, it’s FUN!” according to the National Train Your Dog Month website.
It’s easy to start getting involved with a variety of training resources and events from training tips and videos, found at the website. For anyone who loves dogs, has dogs or is ready to bring a dog into the family, training is for them. Help celebrate and tell everyone you know, from trainers, veterinarians, and groomers to shelters and friends who have dogs.
The Association of Professional Dog Trainers is a great resource for trainers and pets parents alike. You can search for trainers in your area and find out about educational programs.
Some people like to make resolutions and some don’t. Like most things, it’s a matter of personal choice. Some people make resolutions and follow through. Others fall through. But there’s one thing we all want in the New Year, and that’s to have a great one, possibly better than the previous year.
While we strive to have a better
year for ourselves, we can also aim to do more for our pets. Maybe you didn’t spend as much time last year as you would have liked with your pet. Maybe you and your pet need more playtime together. Maybe they need even more exercise.
Forget about resolutions, as some of them can seem intimidating and difficult to achieve. Instead try to just make a list and call it New Experiences for Me and My Pet. They can include:
Reading labels: Check out the labels on your pet’s food. If you haven’t before you might find some unhealthy ingredients. Pet food doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg, but be informed so you can make good decisions. Check out http://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/ for dogs, and http://www.petmd.com/cat/slideshows/nutrition-center/determining-best-cat-food-ingredients-label for cats.
Weight not, want not: Vow to keep your pet at a healthy weight. Just a little extra weight on your pet can be dangerous. Just as with people, overweight dogs and cats are susceptible to diabetes and hypertension. Keep your pets off the junk food or anything that is loaded in sugar and fat. For example, for dogs, carrots and green beans are a healthy, nutritious alternative.
Make sure to take your pet in for yearly exams to ensure they are in good health; that goes for dogs and cats. As Benjamin Franklin said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” When you keep up with their health, they can live longer, healthier and happier lives. That makes you happy, too!
Take a hike! Sure, you should take your dog (and some cats), always on a leash or a harness, and yourself for a nice walk. By doing so, you both get some exercise and will enjoy spending time together. Broaden your horizons and once in a while schedule a nice hike. You’ll get to spend more time outdoors and see beautiful areas that you might not normally get to experience.
You know what they say, all work and no play… Set aside time every day for playtime. Even if it’s just for five or 10 minutes, throw a ball, or play Frisbee or chase with your pet. Your dog will thank you for it, and you’ll be happy you did. The result here is lots of smiles and a happy dog. For cats, get feline-appropriate toys and watch them just have fun while they run and chase.
Take your pet on a trip. Have you ever vacationed with your pet? More hotels across the country allow pets these days offering pet friendly rooms. You can find out everything you need to know at http://www.bringfido.com/destination/. In addition, The Humane Society of the United States has tips on whether to take your pet with you, and tips if you do.
- Take five for a belly rub or scratch behind the ear. No matter what, even if you’ve come home from a hectic day, take five minutes to show your pet he or she is appreciated, cherished and loved. Give a belly rub or a long scratch behind the ear. Your pet will love you more and you may find your own stress levels have decreased.
Who doesn’t love to play dress up? Some of our beloved pets love it, too. And even though it may not be Halloween, there’s something more chic for your pets: National Dress Up Your Pet Day.
In support of our loving pets and the pet fashion industry, National Dress Up Your Pet Day was created and is celebrated every year on Jan. 14.
Not an official holiday, although some of us pet parents think it should be official, the holiday was established in 2009 by Colleen Paige, pet lifestyle expert and animal behaviorist.
Do you have a dog or cat who is styling? Loves new outfits? Does your dog love a great denim dress? How does your cat get creative with hats? As long as your pet is up for it, dressing up is a great way to bond and show off your furry family member.
However, there are dogs and even some cats who absolutely love a great outfit, or even just a hip scarf. It’s always important to be mindful of your pet’s reaction to dressing up. If you can tell your pet is uncomfortable and really does not want to take part, it’s best to leave your dog or cat naked except for a collar and tags. A birthday suit is just fine for those who don’t want to partake.
She encourages pet parents to make sure not to force their pets into wearing costumes. It should be about bonding and having fun.
Most important, the article says, “Garments should allow pets to see, hear, breathe, eat, and relieve themselves comfortably, and should be made of breathable material that prevents pets from overheating. Clothing should fit properly and be rid of any parts and small pieces that can be chewed off and swallowed by the pet.”
Make sure to keep it lighthearted, have fun and as always, take lots of photos. You never know when your pet might be asked to be on America’s Next Top Pet Model.
The holiday season of 2015 has come and gone. As is typical every year, the holidays brought new additional family members into some homes, from puppies and older dogs to kittens and older cats. The one thing those pets all have in common is that they went into a new home, a new environment with new smells, new people, maybe other pets, and a host of firsts.
Whether you brought in a new dog or cat to your home, there’s an adjustment period for your beloved pet that is different than it is for humans. The best thing you can do is to get ready: Prepare your new pet and your family. Also remember that patience is key.
To start, make sure to do your research and choose a good veterinarian. It’s also important to start off with a collar, proper tags and ID. A microchip is also a great idea in case your dog or cat gets out and gets lost.
For cats, the first 24 hours in the new home are very important. Cats are all about territory, so it’s not uncommon for cats to find a place and hide for a while. If you can, start preparing before you bring in your new feline, according to Bringing Home A New Cat. Here’s some other great tips from the article and more:
- “Choose a room for the litter box” and fill it up with enough litter. A corner is an ideal spot.
- Safety is important so ensure your cat feels safe by providing “a safe haven for the cat to hide in.” Try a covered cat bed or a box you can turn upside down and cut out two doors. The box should be large enough for your new cat to spread out, stand up, take a nap and pretty much chill.
- Provide scratching posts in all rooms for your cat’s sake and yours.
- Cat-proof the rooms in your home and ensure there are raised surfaces for your cat to sit on and observe the world and his or her territory.
- Until your cat feels at home, your valuable items are best moved out of the way until Miss or Mr. Kitty is more at home.
- Give your kitty space and time to adjust to the new surroundings.
- Ensure your cat has a bowl with enough water.
- When your new cat feels comfortable he or she will approach you so just let that happen.
- Your cat may take time to eat. It may take a couple days, but be sure to have high-quality cat food available.
Whatever you do, be patient. Cats are not called finicky for nothing! They’re special, each with distinct personalities, so let them figure out their new surroundings. Before you know it, your new feline family member will be calling it home.
Welcome Home, Fido
Dogs are different than cats and bringing them into a new home is different as well. Dogs get stressed very easily, especially in a new environment. Sometimes any training or positive potty habits get lost during the move due to being unfamiliar and scared. It’s also a time when many people give up on their dogs out of frustration. Again, a little patience goes a long way.
According to Tips for the First 30 Days of Dog Adoption, “Your new dog will be confused about where he is and what to expect from you. Setting up some clear structure with your family for your dog will be paramount in making as smooth a transition as possible.”
The following advice and tips from the article and beyond can help smooth over this important transition time:
- Because your new dog will be stressed and uneasy, pick a place where he or she initially will spend most of the time, such as the kitchen, which can help in case of accidents.
- Dog proof anything and everything you feel your dog could get into that may cause accidents, from electric cords to anything that breaks. This is a great time for baby gates.
- Have a crate ready if you plan to crate train.
- Enroll your dog in training classes or one-on-one training. If you plan to train on your own, ensure the entire family is on the same page with commands and direction. Socialization classes are also great to help your dog’s socialization skills with other dogs and people.
- Give your dog time to adjust to the new home. If you have children, make sure to properly introduce them, and teach your children the correct way to interact with the dog.
- Talk to your vet and do your research on the best nutrition for your dog’s best health.
- Keep your dog on a schedule for feeding, play time, socialization, and alone time.
- Praise your dog for positive behavior.
- Try to keep things calm and stress free at home so you can try to get to know your dog. This will also help him or her become more comfortable in the home.
Remember, when you bring in a new pet to your home, patience is key, and the more you prepare and learn, the better for you and your new dog or cat as those first few days are crucial. The better prepared, the better for all.
Anyone up for a road trip? Your bags are packed and you are most definitely ready to go, as the song “Leaving on a Jet Plane” said. With suitcase in hand and beloved pet travel companion at your side, the open road awaits. Do you have everything you need for your pet?
- Food and bowl. Check
- Water and bowl. Check
- Medicine and first aid kit. Check
- ID tags. Check
It’s time to hit the road, Jack.
But wait. Aren’t you forgetting something? Sure when you get in the driver’s seat, you don’t start your car until you have your seat belt fastened. What about your pet? If by some horrible twist of fate you got into an accident and your pet was not safely secured in the car, he or she easily could be in great danger.
What can you do to ensure your pet is safely secure in your vehicle for the trip? There’s so many ways to prepare your pet for that ride in the car, and safety is among many:
- First things first: Your dog should not ride shotgun. Keep your beloved pet in the back seat. Just as airbags are dangerous for children, they pose great danger for pets. And never keep your pet in your lap. Not only is it dangerous for you and your pet, you can get pulled over by the police.
- Never allow your pet to run loose inside your vehicle. It’s dangerous for your pet, and it’s also a huge distraction for you, which can lead to vehicular accidents.
- Seatbelts have been known to save lives, but when it comes to safety harnesses for dogs, some are better than others. They’ve even done tests. Check the Center for Pet Safety report and the video using crash test dogs so you can make an informed and important decision.
- A barrier fence can prevent your pet from flying into the front seat if you stop short. Couple that with a recommended safety harness for extra security.
- Don’t allow your dog to be loose and hang out an open window. Flying debris can cause eye injuries, and outside distractions can cause your dog to take a leap out the window resulting in serious injury or death.
- Two for the price of one: A car seat and carrier combo attaches to a vehicle’s seat belt. It also doubles as a carrier for your pet when you’re out of the vehicle.
- Use your pet’s very own crate and make sure the crate is secured in the vehicle. Crates can also provide your pet a sense of security.
- Your pet should always wear an ID tag even while traveling. Also keep a pet emergency kit handy in the car in case of injury to you or your pet.
- It is not recommended, but if you must place your pet in the bed of a pickup truck, it is imperative to make sure you use a crate that is securely tethered to the bed of the vehicle. Riding in the back of a pickup is extremely dangerous. One short stop and your pet can go flying out of the bed and into traffic, which can be fatal for your furry family member as well as cause accidents.
Remember, if you stop for potty breaks for your dog or you have reached your destination, be careful when getting out of your vehicle in areas that are unfamiliar. Make sure your pets are either in a crate or carrier. If your dog is on a leash, hold tight. Pets have been known to bolt in strange surroundings.
Keep your pets safe on all your journeys. Your day trips and vacations will be much more enjoyable for all.