DOGS HAVE PERSONALITY!

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Every Dog Has A Unique Personality! No Two Dogs Are Alike!

We know dogs are sentient beings, meaning they have feelings. But do dogs also have personalities? 

I have found several researchers who have actually researched this question. Research on dog personality identified several dimensions to their personalities.  Here are some:

  1. Reactivity (approach or avoidance of new objects, increased activity in novel situations)
  2. Fearfulness (shaking, avoiding novel situations)
  3. Activity
  4. Sociability (initiating friendly interactions with people and other dogs)
  5. Responsiveness to Training (working with people, learning quickly)
  6. Submissiveness
  7. Aggression

A basic fact: Dogs do have a personality, and it can be described in very specific terms, just like those of humans. 

These traits even have their equivalents in human personalities. For instance, reactivity and fearfulness are features of human openness to experience, Submissiveness and aggression are components of human agreeableness, sociability is a manifestation of extraversion-introversion in humans. 

That is the research aspect. I also know any pet parent will tell me all about their dogs personality. If you have more than one dog like I do, you are able to see the different personality between the multiple dogs. It has also been determined that genetics also have influence on personality for dogs. 

Considering all these facts and pet parent observations, let's discuss dogs personality in lay persons terms. 
 

  • Confident Dog -  this is the dog who (if socialized well) loves people and other dogs. This is the dog who is comfortable in his surroundings and may be a bit of a challenge in training. This dog knows what he wants to do and will attempt tcommunicate this to you. Respecting this dogs confidence will help a pet parent enjoy being with this dog versus developing power struggles over who is the boss. 

 

  • Shy Dog - This is the dog who may physically move back from new people or other dogs. This is a dog who is timid about his environment and may even shake and demonstrate discomfort with new situations. This dog is sensitive to loud noises and harsh sounds. It’s important to give a shy/timid dog plenty of opportunities to succeed to help boost his self confidence, and daily exercise to stimulate his mind.

 

  • Easy Going Dog - This dog is laid back and greets new situations and people with positive energy. This is a happy dog. This dog can be fun to train and always seems up for an adventure. Spending time training and playing with this dog will be fun for him and his pet parent. 

 

  • Adaptable Dog - This dog is eager to please and that makes him a candidate for being fun to train. This is a dog that can adapt to change in his environment. This dog is often co-operative and affectionate and  may also be a candidate to be a Therapy dog. 


 Enjoying our dogs unique personality is important. Accepting or dog as he is, is just as important. Trying to make a dog behave differently than their personality dictates is not going to be successful. No one wants to be in a relationship where the goal is to change who they basically are. 


Getting to know our dogs personality and enjoying this unique quality is part of our journey getting to know each other.     
 
 DOGS HAVE PERSONALITY!   

WOOFS & SMILES!

A DOGS WISDOM

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I felt compelled to address the reality we are living in this newsletter. As a country we are experiencing pain and loss that feels overwhelming for many of us. Our country is divided on many issues. Having discussions about race, gun control, gender and other differences can be difficult. Yet if there is a positive to the negative we are experiencing it is the many people coming together to help each other. The human spirit is admirable.

In addition to our human brothers and sisters we can also look to our dogs for comfort and even wisdom at times like this. Dogs bring insight to cope with the potential stress of the unknown. Our dogs are always there for us and even more importantly, they carry a wisdom they live by and are willing to share with us. 

LISTEN - Dogs are wonderful listeners. They don't speak the human language but they always look like they know exactly what we are saying...even if they don't. ;-) Listening more is always productive. We can learn to listen with an open mind. Being open to ideas different than our own can help our world become bigger and sometimes better. Listening for the truth helps us make better choices.   

BE IN THE MOMENT - no one is better at being in the moment than our dogs. They don't worry about what will happen or about what has been. They live in the present constantly. It is not possible for humans to live in the present like our dogs but we can work to become better at it. Focusing on what is happening now helps us experience the moment and this can mean fewer regrets and more joy in our life. Sort of like our dogs. ;-) The now can also be challenging. Being grounded in the present can help us deal with challenges more effectively and with a sense of calm. Our dogs can coach us on being in the moment. Dogs do not think or behave like victims. They share their resilience and forgiveness with humans even when it may seem unwarranted. 

AUTHENTICITY - Dogs don't care how much money we make or how we look or what we are wearing or what kind of a car we drive. Dogs look into or eyes and see our soul. They want to be with their pet parent all the time. Dogs do not care about the material things we sometimes put a lot of value on. Being authentic comes naturally to a dog. I love the quote "Be yourself because everyone else is taken." Self acceptance and love of self contributes to self confidence and self esteem. Our dogs accept us for who we are at all times. Let's follow their lead. Accepting ourself and others for who they are is a great beginning to have a discussion with those who may agree or even disagree with our point of veiw. 

COMPASSION -  Looking into our dogs eyes just makes us feel better. Our dogs are always there for us no matter what. They never judge us. As humans, it is so easy to judge and it is so hard to be judged. Dogs want to be with us and console and comfort us if we appear to need it. They tune into our feelings and seem to know when we are sad or upset or happy. Dogs have a natural empathy and compassion for humans that is notable and appreciated by those of us who love them. We can learn a lot about empathy and compassion from our dogs. We need empathy and compassion now more than ever.

HUMOR - I have observed my dogs to have a brilliant sense of humor. They make me laugh everyday. Dogs have a natural curiosity for life and explore everything they can. Dogs seem to know the necessity of play and exercise and play with a robust joy. We may need to be reminded of the importance and positive impact humor and play have on our life. Our dogs can teach us much about humor and play. Dogs support us during our grief and help us experience the benefits of humor. 

Dogs can teach us so many more things like forgiveness, loyalty, unconditional love, to always greet those you love, enjoy the journey, and the importance of a good nap. Dogs have the ability to bring people together. Dogs live from a place of love. As we look to our dogs for life lessons let's also express gratitude for their presence in our life and note that the little things are often the most important things in life. 

WOOFS & SMILES!

TRUST YOUR DOG!

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What does it mean to trust your dog?

Trust works both ways. As pet parents it is important for us to give our dogs reason to trust us. We do that by respecting them as the sentient being they are. Relating to our dogs as beings who feel, means we will only touch them with loving touch. No physical abuse of any kind will be expressed toward them. Basic kindness and respect is essential to establishing trust. 

We need to give our dogs reason to trust us.

Relating to our dogs as sentient beings can allow us to see the world from our dogs perspective. Empathy toward our dogs and attempting to understand how they feel about what is happening is a great way to build trust. Learn as much as you can about canine body language. Our dogs are talking to us all the time with their faces, tails, posture, ears, eyes and every part of their body. Getting on the floor with them helps us think about what it is like to walk on four legs; what it is like to have paws and not digit fingers. See the world as your dogs does and you will be amazed at how trust will build between the two of you.

It is very important we are always there for them when they need us. Making sure they are fed, provided shelter and given the exercise and love they need as well as the medical care when necessary. Meeting our dogs basic needs is something our dogs can trust and depend on us to provide. 

Dogs like routine. My dogs let me know it is time to feed them. After they eat they routinely go outside. Dogs develop routines and adapt to living as a member of our family. They come to trust us to always be there for them consistently and positively. Repeated loving trustworthy behaviors we extend to our dogs builds trust. 

Being fair is important. When a dog does what you ask it is only fair to reinforce that behavior and not tease or withhold the treat or reinforcement. Teasing our dogs and making fun of them is not fair to them. Negative behavior does not build trust. Punishment does not build trust. Deep and binding trust develops over time spent together being kind, fair, respectful and protective of our dogs. 

The bottom line is being there for our dogs builds trust. Dogs are also very intuitive. They know which humans like dogs and those who don't. They know who is kind and who is not. They know when their needs are being met on a regular basis.

Be your dogs advocate. Dogs cannot speak for themselves. 
They depend on us to know them well enough that we can describe any physical or emotional differences to the vet. We need to be there to protect them from toddlers being toddlers and pulling and pinching them and more. We need to protect them from other dogs and all situations that could jeopardize our dogs safety. This advocacy builds trust.

It is impossible to build trust if yo don't spend time together. Spending time with your dog engaging in activity together will allow both of you to get to know each other and build trust and a partnership. You will also have fun. Being with your dog just feels good. 

Another aspect of trust is the pet parent learning to truly trust their dog.

When I began Nose work training with my dogs I had to address this aspect of trust. In nose work you learn to read your dog's body language and learn what he does when looking for the hide in the search. The dog has to find odor hidden in a tin and it is often not visible. The dogs nose will find the hide. The handler needs to trust their dog has the ability to find the hide. When the handler over thinks this and tries to guide the search, usually the hide is not found. Learning to trust your dog is better at this then you are is a leap of "trust" for many pet parents/handlers. Dogs are better at this. The ability of their noses far surpass ours.

This experience has allowed me to trust my dogs more in other day to day situations. When my dogs resist doing something I listen to them even more now. Pressuring them to do something because I think they should and not listening to them does not build trust. If my dog does not want to go outside, does not to want to eat something, or resists anything at all, I check out possible reasons for this resistance. Jazz was resisting eating and it took me a while to figure out he was reluctant to eat because the food was too cold. He is older and likes his food warmer. Since I have been warming his food he eats with a robust enthusiasm.

Trusting our dogs know what they need and know what they are doing is the other part of the trust equation.   
 
Trust Your Dog!   

WOOFS & SMILES!

HOW MUCH IS THAT DOGGIE?

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How much does it cost to have a dog become a member of our family? 

We love our dogs very much and it seems we will do everything we can for them. But sometimes what we want or need to do for or dogs costs money we don't have. When this happens it is heartbreaking. Dogs do cost money. I have seen people surrender a dog because they can no longer afford to feed their dog or perhaps cannot afford the medical care their dog needs. Sometimes these situations are unavoidable.

Life happens to all of us and who is to say hardship could descend upon you and force you to have to find a way to care for your dog that does NOT include you anymore. 

This does happen to people who truly love their dog. There are some steps we can take to be preventive regarding the cost of having a dog in your life. 
  
First let's look at the estimated cost of bringing a dog into your family. 

The following is an excerpt from Petfinder's THE ADOPTED DOG BIBLE.This chart will give you a rough idea of how big a finnancial commitment you should plan on. These costs are estimates based on a survey of pet parents around the country-some may be higher or lower depending on where you live and the dog you adopt.

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Not many of us truly think of the cost in the bigger picture. We may think to get food and a leash and collar to being our new family member home. There is so much more to consider as this chart indicates. 

There are two options that could help with unexpected expenses like surgeries, cancer treatments and other serious health issues. 

1) Health insurance is becoming more available and proving to be very helpful when needed. There are various insurance policies. Seeking recommendations from other pet parents who have had experience with a specific insurance company can be most helpful.

2) Setting an amount of money aside only to be used for veterinary emergencies can also be helpful. You could make sure this money is left alone and it will be there when you need it for your dog. 

Thinking of our dogs as members of our family and treating them like a family member means being able to meet the costs involved in keeping them safe and healthy.  

Here's to a long and healthy life for your beloved dog.   

WOOFS & SMILES!

 

CELEBRATING OUR DOGS!

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How may of you celebrate your dog's birthday? 

I am sure many of you do. I see dog's birthday celebrations posted on Facebook all the time. We are excited to celebrate our dogs special day, recognizing when they came into the world. Sometimes we may not know the exact date but we come up with one that works as well. The important thing is our dog has a birth date to grow in years by. 

I see birthday celebrations involving swimming, ice cream, toys, and other physical exercise like walking, playing fetch, hiking, and many other fun things for pet parents to do with their dogs. And who doesn't love presents. I know my dogs love a new toy any time for any reason. On their birthday they get to pick one out at the pet store. They may not fully understand the birthday focus but I know they feel extra special. 

Remembering our dogs birthday and celebrating with them is fun for our dogs.  

Of course everyday is a celebration of life for everyone we love and our dogs are included on that list. Dogs have a joyful zest for life. It is contagious when you are with them to feel that exuberance. Dogs keep us in the moment. Being in that moment with them is a celebration of life all it's own, so enjoy every moment you can with your dog. Celebrate the new learnings like successful potty training or basic obedience behaviors mastered like sit, stay or come. New tricks like shake, or roll over. Or maybe that ribbon they earned in a canine sport or activity. Our dogs are very smart and love to please us. Keep them growing and learning and celebrate them along the way. 

Celebrating life also celebrates life ending. When our dogs are getting ready to leave we can also celebrate them. I have seen pet parents create the most impressive bucket lists for their dogs and they make sure every item on the list is met. Things from running on the beach to an ice cream cone are just a couple of many fun unique things I have seen on these loving lists.

Some people take that last walk together and let their dog off leash to sniff where ever they want. They spend the day with their dog and invite the veterinarian to their home to spend the final minutes with their dog in the familiar and safe environment of their home. 

Many of us keep ashes or return our beloved dogs' ashes to a place they loved like their backyard. 

Bringing our dogs into our family and saying good-bye to them are both big responsibilities we have as pet parents. 

Dogs need us most of all when they leave. Always be there for your dog, especially at the end of life.
  
Life with a dog is the best! Life with your dog is amazing! 

WOOFS & SMILES!

THE GIFT OF TIME

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Because TIME is so valuable it is one of the greatest gifts we can give to anyone, but especially to our dogs. 

If you have embraced a dog as a member of your family, you know how much your dog loves being with you. You are his whole life. Everything in a dogs world revolves around the pet parent they are bonded with. We have our jobs, friends and so much to keep us busy in our daily lives. Our dogs have us. They look forward to every opportunity to be with us. 

We can build special moments into our day as intentional time with our dogs. For example:

  • When you leave the house tell your dog where you are going and how long you will be gone. Give him/her a little low calorie treat. Make the leaving matter a fact but special for your dog.
  • When you come home celebrate being home with your dog. He/she has been waiting for your return and is greeting you with joyful enthusiasm. Share the same feelings with your dog and share how happy you are to see him/her. 
  • I work from home and every 3-4 hours I take a break and spend time with my dogs. They may need to go outside or we may play a little ball or other play time activities for a short while. If you work out of the home you can do this on week-ends and when you are home. 
  • Relaxing in the evening is a great time to snuggle with your dog. If your dog is not a snuggler, acknowledging him/her with words and petting may work well. 
  • Intentionally schedule play time with your dog. This can be a few minutes or as long as you have time to spend together. Running in the yard, playing fetch or ball or the game "find it" in the house on rainy days are great options. Your dog may have a favorite toy they love to play with and may share with you like a tug toy. 
  • You may pursue a canine sport together.This will give you class time, practice time, and possibly competition time together. It is a great way to build your bond and relationship not to mention getting got know a lot about each other. 
  • Going for walks is a wonderful way to spend time together. This is a win win because you both get important physical exercise.
  • Dogs need mental exercise as well. Have some puzzles handy for your dogs to do. My dogs know where theirs are and will tell me when they want to play the puzzle games by nudging the box they are in. 
  • Taking your dog with you on errands can be fun for both of you. Remember to have your dog secured in the car safely and never leave a dog in a car in warm weather.  
  • Preparing your dogs meals and telling them this is the time for them to eat can be a fun time for both of you as well. You can be creative. ;-)
  • Saying good-night is a sweet thing to do. Most dogs have rituals before going down for the night. Saying good-night can be one of them you share.  

I talk to my dogs a lot. We don't speak the same language but we get to know each others body language and can anticipate each others needs when the bond and relationship is strong.

Spending time with our dogs allows us to get to know each other and that makes being together more enjoyable.  

Time with our dogs is the best gift we can give them! 

WOOFS & SMILES!

The Power of Touch

We love hugging our dogs but do they love being hugged? Touch is very powerful. We communicate love with touch. We can also communicate abuse and hate and anger with our touch. Dogs are not meant to be hit or abused. A commitment to the use of positive training techniques will encourage positive touch. There is no need to hit or shock or demean a dog to teach them a behavior. Dogs want to please us and they want to live in peace and calm in our human world. Shaping their behavior with positive training techniques like food and praise and positive touch results in learned behaviors and a dog who looks forward to learning. The pet parent also looks forward to the learning experience and trust and a bond are reinforced.  Every dog is a unique being. Every dog has different preferences for being touched. A recent study found dogs really don't like to be hugged but prefer to be petted and given positive verbal praise. Food actually came in behind praise and being petted. However, combining food with praise or positive touch was also preferred by the dogs in the study. But that can certainly vary from dog to dog. For example my girl Jive, loves to be pet and loves to cuddle. She will let almost anyone pet her and snuggle with her for hours. Jazz, my boy is very different. Jazz will lay on the floor next to me and lick a toy of his. He will do this for a long period of time. If I get up to move to another room he will move with me. Jazz has favorite spots he likes to have petted. He loves having his hips pet and will back into people he likes so they will pet his hip area. He also enjoys brief hugs and even a kiss on his head once or twice during a day...but only from me. It is very important to know who can pet your dog and where your dog likes to be touched. Your dog will communicate this to you.   Spending time with your dog touching and petting them will accomplish a few things.  Touching our dogs helps us get to know our dogs body. You may find a lump or bump that appears to be new since the last time you spent time petting your dog. If there is anything your vet may need to see you may find it early and thus it can be treated sooner. Children love to hug dogs. It is important to supervise children with our dogs at all times. Children can get very excited and hug a dog too much and too hard and too long. This can make a dog very anxious and even frightened. A dog relies on the pet parent to supervise and look out for them. Be there for your dog and the child. Preventing a negative consequence is the best outcome for everyone....but especially the dog who ultimately pays the price.    Loving touch is soothing and relaxing for both you and your dog. Positive touch builds trust in your relationship with your dog. Pet parents experience a relaxed state and in some instances even lowered blood pressure. A positive perk! Positive touch communicates love and respect. For some dogs touch is not comfortable. A dog like this will need patience and time to feel comfortable with touch.  Every dog has different preferences when it comes to being touched. Part of the relationship with a dog is learning what these preferences are by spending time with our dog. Time is a great gift to share with each other. Touch is essential to love. Petting your dog lovingly will bring joy to your relationship. Your dog will love you for it.  WOOFS & SMILES!

We love hugging our dogs but do they love being hugged?

Touch is very powerful. We communicate love with touch. We can also communicate abuse and hate and anger with our touch. Dogs are not meant to be hit or abused. A commitment to the use of positive training techniques will encourage positive touch. There is no need to hit or shock or demean a dog to teach them a behavior. Dogs want to please us and they want to live in peace and calm in our human world. Shaping their behavior with positive training techniques like food and praise and positive touch results in learned behaviors and a dog who looks forward to learning. The pet parent also looks forward to the learning experience and trust and a bond are reinforced. 

Every dog is a unique being. Every dog has different preferences for being touched. A recent study found dogs really don't like to be hugged but prefer to be petted and given positive verbal praise. Food actually came in behind praise and being petted. However, combining food with praise or positive touch was also preferred by the dogs in the study. But that can certainly vary from dog to dog.

For example my girl Jive, loves to be pet and loves to cuddle. She will let almost anyone pet her and snuggle with her for hours. Jazz, my boy is very different. Jazz will lay on the floor next to me and lick a toy of his. He will do this for a long period of time. If I get up to move to another room he will move with me. Jazz has favorite spots he likes to have petted. He loves having his hips pet and will back into people he likes so they will pet his hip area. He also enjoys brief hugs and even a kiss on his head once or twice during a day...but only from me. It is very important to know who can pet your dog and where your dog likes to be touched. Your dog will communicate this to you.  

Spending time with your dog touching and petting them will accomplish a few things. 

Touching our dogs helps us get to know our dogs body. You may find a lump or bump that appears to be new since the last time you spent time petting your dog. If there is anything your vet may need to see you may find it early and thus it can be treated sooner.

Children love to hug dogs. It is important to supervise children with our dogs at all times. Children can get very excited and hug a dog too much and too hard and too long. This can make a dog very anxious and even frightened. A dog relies on the pet parent to supervise and look out for them. Be there for your dog and the child. Preventing a negative consequence is the best outcome for everyone....but especially the dog who ultimately pays the price.   

Loving touch is soothing and relaxing for both you and your dog. Positive touch builds trust in your relationship with your dog. Pet parents experience a relaxed state and in some instances even lowered blood pressure. A positive perk!

Positive touch communicates love and respect. For some dogs touch is not comfortable. A dog like this will need patience and time to feel comfortable with touch. 

Every dog has different preferences when it comes to being touched. Part of the relationship with a dog is learning what these preferences are by spending time with our dog. Time is a great gift to share with each other.

Touch is essential to love. Petting your dog lovingly will bring joy to your relationship. Your dog will love you for it. 

WOOFS & SMILES!

Socialization - Why is it so Important?

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What is socialization and why is it so important? 

Socialization is preparing our dogs to greet new experiences with calm and confidence. It is teaching our dogs to be social with other dogs and other people. With puppies we have a window of time from three weeks to around sixteen weeks when they are most comfortable accepting new experiences. After that it becomes more difficult. If you bring an older dog into your life who has not been socialized, you will need to be very patient and comitted to helping your dog successfully greet new experiences. Going about it slowly with a lot of love will help your dog trust you and perhaps trust some of the new experiences. In some instances you may have to protect your dog from experiences he/she has been unable to embrace. Doing your best with your dogs best interest will provide the best possible outcome. Inviting the help of a professional trainer may also be an option. 

Socialization is (like training) a life long experience.

Truly a dog can have a new experience  every day of his life. A socialized dog can greet these new experiences with calm and confidence. Sometimes dogs are more comfortable with people and not comfortable with other dogs. Sometimes a dog is comfortable with other dogs and not with people.

It is important to socialize dogs to other dogs and to people.  

When a puppy or a dog of any age joins your family, you can invite friends and neighbors over to meet your dog and welcome and celebrate your new family member. This way your dog or puppy will have a chance to meet people with beards, wearing bright colors, glasses, hats, high voices, lower voices, tall, short, and many more new experiences. Taking your dog on walks or to scheduled play dates or even a well supervised dog park can give your dog opportunities to meet other dogs. These events need to occur as often as possible. I took my dogs to meet persons in uniforms. I asked kids with skateboards to let my dog sniff the skate board. Any time I asked someone to engage my dog in a socialization opportunity, they were always more than happy to do so. 

Socialization is helping our dogs become familiar with the environment they live in.

It is a way to make their world bigger and more interesting. Socializing our dogs helps reduce any anxiety they feel about being in a new situation. The more opportunities our dogs have to successfully master a new experience builds their confidence and when they have the next new experience they can face it with more confidence and less anxiety. Over time the result is a more confident and more relaxed dog. 

I am always taken aback a bit every time some one comments on how "calm" my dogs are. 

I am mot sure why I have that reaction. Perhaps it is because I live with my dogs and experience their calm demeanor every day. It does seem whenever someone meets my dogs they comment on how calm they are. I truly believe that is a result of the socialization and the training they have experienced, which by the way continues to this day. As I said, training and socialization are life long. 

A dog who is trained and socialized is truly a joy to live with. May you and your dog/s know much joy in your life together. 

WOOFS & SMILES!

MUTUAL RESPECT

They say respect is earned. This is true for pet parents and their dogs for sure. All relationships require a foundation of trust and respect to flourish and grow. This is especially true when two entirely different species make up the relationship. Canines and humans are different species who also enjoy some similarities.

Understanding and respecting these differences as well as similarities is important. 

Canine Specie
Anatomy
Dogs walk on four feet and anatomically have very different digestive tracts from humans. Dogs have a keen sense of smell that far surpasses the human olfactory abilities. Dogs can sniff out bombs, drugs, bedbugs, diseases, and any treat no matter how well it may be hidden. These are only some of the many things dogs can locate with their sense of smell. Dogs hearing is also very keen. A dogs anatomy is different from a humans but we share some diseases like cancer. Dogs need routine medical/veterinary care. Dogs also need physical exercise to maintain over all heath.

Language
Dogs bark and use their entire body language to communicate with us and each other. Movement of their ears, tail, mouth, eyes and posture all have meaning for different reasons. Dogs can learn and understand an average of 30-40 words (sometimes more) in the human language. 

Intelligent
Dogs are as bright intellectually as a 2-3 year old human toddler and need mental exercise as well as physical exercise to maintain a healthy state of mind and body.  

Sentient
Dogs are sentient beings. This means dogs have feelings. They feel love, fear, pain and sadness and many more feelings. Dogs express these feelings with their body language. Dogs communicate with each other with barks and touch and also through their eyes. They also communicate with their humans in much the same way.

Human Specie

We walk on two legs and have a more complicated anatomy than dogs. We are responsible for taking care of our dogs. They need us to take them to the veterinarian and to provide them with food and water and most of all love. Dogs are very dependent on us. Respecting this dependency and not abusing it is a wonderful thing. We already have our dogs attention and do not need to impose any dominance on them. This is a level of respect that promotes a positive bond.

We need to speak to our dogs often. Tell them where we are going and when we will be back. Look into their eyes and share our thoughts about them, and they will look back into our eyes and do the same. Looking into each others eyes stimulates the hormone oxytocin which is often called the "love" hormone. Learning our dogs body language and what it means is part of communicating with them.
As communication grows so does respect for each other because we now understand each other more. 

Our dogs are intelligent and as we embrace this about them this too creates a mutual respect. Making sure they have mental stimulation with toys they need to work to find a treat or treat hides they can find are fun ways to offer mental exercise for our dogs. Canine sports and fun games like fetch are also excellent mental exercise.  When we view them as the intelligent beings they are we find ourselves  enjoying being with them even more and see clearly the need to provide them with mental exercise.

Thinking of our dogs as sentient beings is very important and helpful to our mutual relationship. When you perceive your dog as feeling lonely when you are gone you may tell him you will miss him and when you will be back. You may even leave soft music on in the background to drown out natural sounds that may cause them to react. Recognizing they feel happy is a wonderful feeling to share with them. Your happy tone of voice tells them you are happy to see him and be with him. Understanding your dogs emotions and sharing them together is an automatic level of respect that develops between the two of you. 

Love and respect build the foundation for a life long relationship of happiness for you and your dog.

WOOFS & SMILES!

What Do I Feed My Dog?

What do I feed my dog?
One of the most confusing and potentially challenging issues a pet parent faces is what to feed their dog. There are so many different recommendations. There are so many different diets. There are so many different foods. A pet parent often does not know where to begin. 

These are the basic diets/food to select from:

1 - Dry food (kibble)
2- Wet food (usually in a can)
3- Raw diet (protein based with meat and poultry)
4- Vegetarian Diet (plant based protein)
5- Any combination of the above

What the experts suggest         
The current argument seems to be between the raw meat based protein diet and the vegetarian plant protein based diet. I am not a nutritional expert. I follow people who I think are. The holistic veterinarians and nutritionists I follow suggest dogs are definite carnivores and a meat based raw diet is the best food for our dogs. I am a vegetarian and I feed my dogs a raw meat based diet. I also supplement the raw with fruits, vegetables, sardines, and many other healthy foods dogs can safely have. Grains and carbohydrates are not healthy for our dogs to eat in a daily diet.

The two things dogs definitely need in their diet are:
Balance & Variety.  


VARIETY
If we feed our dogs the same dry kibble day after day it would be similar to if we ate (for example) the same breakfast cereal every day for every meal. Eventually our immune system would begin rejecting the cereal and we would experience some physical symptoms. The same thing happens to our dogs and the symptoms for them are often itchy skin as an allergic reaction. Variety is very important for our dogs. Dogs need protein, fresh veggies and fruit and fish like sardines and other foods that are healthy for them to eat. A wide variety is important. Variety keeps the immune system happy and keeps dogs interested in eating not to mention other health benefits like strong bones and internal organ vitality which are signs of good health.  

BALANCE

We are what we eat and that applies to our dogs as well. Obesity is the number one health issue for humans and the number one health issue for dogs. Balance in a dogs diet is essential. Rotating protein and vegetables and fruit will keep a healthy balance in your dogs diet. It is important to feed foods that will provide the mineral and vitamin supplements a dog needs. Balance is best obtained with a variety of foods and a rotation of those foods. In my book "Being A Super Pet Parent" I provide a list of all the foods dogs can have and a list of all the foods dogs should NOT have. 

What diet is best for my dog?
Of the diets available to select from, I think a combination may work well. I personally cannot afford to feed my two dogs a total raw diet. Since I prefer to purchase the ready packaged raw food that comes with all the mineral and supplements already in it, that can get expensive. So I supplement the raw with fruits, veggies, fish and other health foods for them that I may have available. I give them their health supplements mixed with some pumpkin after their morning meal. I avoid junk treats and make homemade treats. There are also healthy treats you can purchase ready made that are good for them. 

The diet you select for your dog will be a result of how much money you can spend, how well you know your dog and how informed you are about the food choices. I encourage you to be informed and read all the labels on the food packages. Research or read the work of nutritionists in the dog world like Steve Brown
Introduce new foods to your dog gradually. Your dog will let you know the foods he likes and the foods he does not care for. Keep food fresh and rotate the foods. 

A healthy diet will promote a healthy dog who can live a robust life by your side. 

Let food be the medicine and medicine be the food.  - HIPPOCRATES

WOOFS & SMILES!

COULD YOUR DOG BE A THERAPY DOG?

Do you ever think your dog would make a good therapy dog? Many of the people I know and talk with say yes to that question. We love our dogs so much and often we think how nice it would be to share that love with others. We want other people to feel what we feel when we are with our dog and we truly think our dog could help people feel better if they are in a nursing home or in the hospital as just two examples of where therapy dogs visit people.

If we think about dogs providing therapy in the broadest terms I believe all dogs who are loved give that love back to their pet parents and that in itself is therapeutic.

Research has shown a hormone called oxytocin is shared between our dog and us when we experience those hugs and loving gazes into each others eyes. This hormone exchange highlights the warm feeling of being loved. This happens to us at home living with our dog and this exchange also occurs in the pet assisted therapy experience between the dog and whom ever they are visiting. This experience contributes to the success of pet assisted therapy work.

Even though all dogs can share love with us not all dogs are necessarily suited to be pet assisted therapy dogs. Dogs who are not comfortable with new people or new environments would be more stressed doing this work. Temperament is important but so is training.

If you have the perfect dog for doing pet assisted therapy work but your dog has no basic obedience training...this needs to be addressed before doing anything else. 

For a dog to become registered with any pet assisted therapy organization, basic obedience training is a must for the dog to pursue the additional training needed to qualify to do pet assisted therapy work. The training involves class work for the handler and the dog. A dog needs to demonstrate an ability to tolerate loud noises like equipment and elevators as well as new and different people of any age. 

Here are some considerations for pursuing pet assisted therapy work:

1) There are a few organizations available for you and your dog to work with. Pet Partners is one. Inter Mountain Therapy is another. There may be even more. Find one that fits your values and is accommodating for you to work with.

2) There is a cost for the initial training and the ongoing renewal training which varies a bit with each organization. This also involves a clearance from a health standpoint from your vet initially and with each follow up renewal. This is also a cost.

3) You may need to purchase some basic equipment like a short working leash for your dog and a bag to hold the treats and other items like a water dish etc. for the time you are both on the job. Sometimes the organization you trained with has a scarf or other items you may wish to purchase.

4) There is a commitment of time from you. Organizations who rely on volunteers need volunteers to be reliable. Being reliable and professional is important as you are representing the organization you trained with and are representing pet assisted therapy with your conduct. 

5) I find it important to do therapy work with a business or non-profit organization that has a volunteer program in place and specifically a pet assisted therapy volunteer program in place. This can cover possible liability concerns and just makes it easier because the expectations and guidelines are already in place. Things like where to be and where not to be in the facility. Where to enter and exit. Where your dog can go to the bathroom and other specifics to the facility you are visiting.

You could also be the one who helps develop a volunteer pet assisted therapy program where one is needed. That would be awesome!

There are benefits to doing pet assisted therapy work:

1) You feel good seeing the joy your dog brings to other people. You may visit a nursing home or a hospice. You and your dog may need to try a couple different settings before you find one that feels ideal for the two of you. 

2) Your dog develops confidence and experience with new situations and new people. He also enjoys the interaction with the people you are visiting.

3) The bond with you and your dog grows. Your time working together builds respect and appreciation between the two of you. You enjoy being together and learn more about each other in the process. Together you become a solid team which is great experience for both you and your dog.

4) You will quickly learn the staff in the facility need their therapy time with your dog almost as much (if not more sometimes) than the clients you are visiting. You will develop relationships with the staff that will become memorable as well as those with the clients.

I have been doing pet assisted therapy work with Jazz and JIve for almost ten years. We began in Children's Hospital and now are working with children in a trauma pre-school setting. It seems children are our calling. When we are on our walks if a young child is walking or a smaller child is in a stroller, both Jazz and JIve seem to think they need to meet the child. It is not always appropriate for that to happen but when it does the dogs and the child are delighted. 

If you decide to join the world of pet assisted therapy with your loving dog i know you will both benefit and enjoy the journey together. 

WOOFS & SMILES!

ALPHA IS A MYTH

The Alpha concept as we know it today has been promoted with the understanding that wolves have an Alpha wolf who fights off other wolves and is the leader of the pack. And that because dogs are decedents of the wolf the dog also has an "Alpha" drive that must be overcome by the human.

This theory has been proven wrong scientifically from research by Dr. L David Mech who studied wolves for 13 years in Northern Canada. There are other scientists who have studied wolves with similar results.

Dr. Mech determined wolves lived together in family groups and that there was NO ALPA wolf who fought off other wolves. 

Dr. Mech states there is a natural dominance from parents to children in wolves. This is not unlike the natural dominance that exists with dogs and even humans. Many of us can relate to the natural respect we show to our parents and we see mother dogs discipline their puppies all the time. The puppies have an instinctive respect for this discipline toward their mother.

Temple Grandin takes this a step further and determines what dogs need are parents and not pack leaders. Being a pet parent using positive training techniques is the best way to develop a bond and long lasting relationship with your dog.

Another aspect to the Alpha theory is that we have to "dominate" our dogs or prove to our dogs that we are in charge. We are Alpha and they are not!

This is so unnecessary. We already have our dogs attention big time! Dogs are the one specie that has almost entirely turned their dependence over to the human.

Dogs depend on humans for love, shelter, food, water, medical care, safety and companionship. 

When these needs are not met for dogs we see the consequences on a global level. When dogs don't have shelter we see them struggle to find protection from the elements. They become homeless and struggle to find food. When they become injured or sick they often don't get the medical care they need and may not survive. They certainly don't feel safe and are not happy. Their life is perilous and frightening. Dogs know humans will protect them and take care of them and most of all love them. There is no need to impose dominating behaviors on our dogs to get their attention. There is a dependence in place that makes the human/dog relationship natural to develop. 

The Alpha Concept can easily equate to the use of more negative training techniques. 

These kinds of training techniques can achieve quick results but do so often through fear and intimidation. Using positive training techniques is being a positive pet parent and will result in long term learned behavior for your dog and a positive bond and relationship for the two of you.  

You do not have to be the "Alpha" in your relationship with your dog. Being the pet parent and building your relationship together based on mutual love and respect will bring both you and your dog years of happiness together.  

WOOFS & SMILES!

WALKING THE DOG

Walking a dog seems like an easy enough thing to do. It certainly is something we see pet parents do often if not daily. I would like to talk about Why, When, What we need and How to walk our dogs.


WHY
Why do we walk our dog?  Most pet parents will tell you they walk their dog because they believe their dog needs the exercise and this is true. All dogs, even small dogs, need to get up and move. Walking is an excellent way to build muscle tone for dogs. Obesity is one of the biggest medical concerns for dogs and for humans. Walking your dog will give both you and your dog beneficial exercise. 

Some people say because they have a big backyard for their dogs to run in, they don't consider walking their dogs essential. I have a big yard for my dogs to run in. My dogs can run faster when they are playing together in the back yard than they can on a walk. However, taking my dogs for a walk makes their world bigger. There are new places to sniff, new dogs and people to meet and squirrels and rabbits and so much more to see on a walk. If you have a nature trail or fun place to walk it makes the experience even more fun for both of you. Backyards do not replace the need for a good walk. 

WHEN
When is the best time to walk your dog? It is important to keep the weather and temperature in mind when you go walking with your best friend. On hot days remember dogs sweat differently than we do. They sweat by panting from their mouth and through the paw pads of their feet. With fewer sweat glands, they do not have the ability to sweat like we do so they are in much more danger of heat exhaustion. If your dog is older it is especially important to consider the temperature when walking. Always take fresh cold water with you on longer walks. If your dog finds a shady spot and sits or lies down there, he may be telling you he needs to rest for a few minutes. A young healthy dog could be your running partner but remember the need for hydration for your dog as well as yourself. Even a younger and healthy dog may be at risk running in very hot temperatures. On warm weather days, it is best to walk in earlier mornings when it is cooler or at dusk when the sun has gone down. 

In colder weather dogs have needs as well. Some times it is thought because they have a coat over their entire body they do not need anything else to help keep them warm. This is not the case. On very cold days I have coats my dogs wear. Some times snow booties are also a must to keep the paws not just warm but protected from salt treatments and other chemicals used on ice and snow. On colder days it is helpful to walk at noon time when the sun is warmer. Time of day is not at much a consideration in colder weather, but do wear a coat and or booties if warranted for your dog. 

WHAT
What do you need to walk your dog? There are different equipment for different dogs. I recommend a six foot leash. I do not recommend the flexi or retractable lead. Jerking with the retractable lead can cause discomfort and even medical issues for your dog. Letting your dog wander off on the full length of a retractable lead means you cannot reach your dog if you need to in a hurry. If another dog is coming your way and you do not have control of your dog that is just not a good situation. The pet parent can also get hurt with the retractable lead snapping on their hands or fingers. A six foot lead allows your dog space to sniff and keeps him close to you. Your dog senses your energy and feelings through the lead when you are in closer proximity to each other as well.

There is also the use of a collar (which all dogs need to have with proper ID tags) but also a harness can be helpful. Not all dogs are the same. My dogs are very strong and can pull me easily. I use a walking harness that clips to the leash at the front of their chest. This allows me to have control of their bodies and they do not feel a tug and pull sensation like they would if the leash clipped to the harness on their back. I don't want to teach my dogs to pull when I am walking them so this works well for us. It is important to find the leash and collar or harness that work best for you and your dog. Your trainer or your vet can help you.  

HOW
How do you get your dog to walk and not pull? This is the most common challenge when we begin walking our dogs. Dogs need to learn how to walk on a leash. A young puppy has a lot of energy and drive to play and run. The only way you can walk most dogs on a leash is to rain them. I support only positive training techniques to do this. You will need an abundance of low calorie healthy treats when you begin this training. You will also need an abundance of patience. Contacting a trainer who employs positive training techniques is very helpful to get you started. Once you have mastered the art of walking with your dog, you will enjoy many walks together. Your walks will be a pleasure for both of you.

A big plus to walking your dog is that you spend time together and that helps build the bond between you. Be  informed, be safe and have fun together!

WOOFS & SMILES!

4th of July Safety Tips for Dogs

 When if comes to the 4th of July and fireworks almost all dogs have a reaction to the noise. Dogs in general are sensitive to loud noises. Some dogs have a stronger reaction than others. I have friends who tell me how their dog hides in a spot in the house that feels safe to him during thunderstorms and of course when fireworks are going off. That spot can be under a bed, or in a bathroom. Really anywhere the dog feels a sense of escape from the noise. Loud noises can frighten or disorient dogs. If a dog is outside and hears a loud noise like fireworks, he may become disoriented and try to run away from the noise. This is why we see so many dogs missing on this day every year. 

Here are some tips to keep your dog safe:

1) Make sure your dog gets a long walk and the opportunity to exercise (potty) before people gather and all the festivities begin. 

2) Make sure your dog is micro chipped and has a ID tag on his collar with all the important information for someone to contact you. If you are putting a micro chip in for the first time, make sure you register it.

3) Keep toxic foods out of your dogs reach. This would be chocolate or alcohol and any other food you may serve that is toxic to dogs. 

4) Keep citronella and insect repellent away from your dog. Don't use human insect repellents on dogs. Only use products made specifically for dogs.

5) Don't let your dog play with "glow" jewelry for children. The liquid can be toxic for dogs.

6) Watch your dog around the hot grill so he doesn't get burned trying to sniff out the good smells. 

7) Consider leaving your dog at home when you go to the fireworks event. Dogs don't enjoy the noise and are not awed by the explosions like we are. Shut all the doors and windows and draw the shades. Turn on some music and leave your dog with a kong full of treats to occupy him. 

8) Thunder shirts work for some dogs by giving them a swaddled feeling. These can be purchased in local pet stores or online.

9) Essential oils can also be calming for dogs. Consult with a holistic vet who is knowledgable about essential oils. 

10) If your dog is anxious normally, consider staying home with him and play some games in a quiet atmosphere. Keep him assured and distracted from the fireworks. Have the TV or music playing. Keep the doors and windows closed to keep out as much noise as possible.

11) If your dog is extremely anxious consult with your vet for some options to calm him.
  
Your dog will thank you for your consideration of his needs. Being a pet parent means doing what we can to make sure our canine family member is safe and taken care of always. 

WOOFS & SMILES!

 

Summer and bugs are here!

Summer is here and so are the ticks and mosquitos. I don't know about you but I worry about my dogs getting bit by these annoying bugs. I especially worry about Jazz because he is older but that really doesn't matter to the ticks and mosquitos. The traditional ways of treating our dogs preventatively have been in place and trusted for years now. However, over the last few years I have become increasingly concerned about the chemical composition of these traditional preventive treatments. I found myself looking for alternative treatments that would be more natural and not harmful with potential side effects for my dogs. I am not the expert on what is or what is not the best treatment for your dog. I can only share my researched journey and what works for my dogs. I do know that many other people also have found alternative treatments and use them with success as I do. Traditional treatments work. I am still using some traditional treatments for my dogs but I am also incorporating some holistic or natural alternatives. 

FLEA & TICK - Your vet will guide you to use the long prescribed drugs to treat your dog for ticks and fleas. I have found some natural treatments that are working very well. Dr. Karen Becker at MercolaHealthyPets.com
offers many holistic options. I use her essential oil as a topical on the dogs applied similar to the long standing chemical applications. I also use the essential oil spray every time my dogs go out for a walk or do any kind of activity outside. 

It is important to check your dogs at least once a day for ticks. I keep my dogs in a summer hair cut that also makes it easier to find ticks. When we go for walks I like to avoid letting the dogs off the trail into high grasses where ticks often are. They certainly enjoy their walks but I am attentive to where they are walking at all times. If you want your dog to romp in the woods and high grasses then make sure they are protected as much as possible and despite the best protection it is still important to check every day for ticks. Ticks are a reality we have to deal with.

Another resource for natural product alternatives is DogsNaturallyMagazine.com   
They have products that are effective and safe natural options as well. I also use some of their products.

Another resource I find helpful is Dr. Deva Khalsa also a holistic veterinarian. I like her practical approach and use of natural products that can be most helpful in caring for our dogs. 

There are many other resources I am sure you can find and already may be aware of. 

It is important to research options carefully. Your dogs health is the utmost priority. Traditional and natural treatments for various reasons are choices we make for our dogs overall health. Diet of course is also important and there are holistic and natural options in diet as well. Over all health for our dogs is related to their food, exercise and the medical and preventive treatments we administer to them. Being informed will help you along your journey.  

Wishes for a safe and funfilled summer for you and your dog!

WOOFS & SMILES!

Benefits and Etiquette of Bringing Your Dog to Work

It is becoming more and more acceptable to bring your dog to work. A 2008 study conducted by the American Pet Products Association (APPA) found that 17 per cent of employers had pet friendly workplace policies. Pet related business have even higher percentages of pet friendly workplaces. We have a national bring your dog to work day that happens annually and each year it seems more work places are open to inviting our canine friends to join us for that work day. With that in mind I thought it would be helpful to look at not only the benefits of this but also the etiquette necessary to make this a successful event. 

Benefits for the employees

  • Having your pet with you at work eliminates any stress you may feel about how your dog is doing at home or elsewhere without you. Also, being with your dog creates a feeling of calm and happiness our dogs just naturally bring to our lives. This of course reduces our personal stress level. 
  • Other emlployees enjoy having a dog in the work environment and this promotes positive conversation and interaction among co-workers. Dogs are always in the present moment. They share positive energy that is in a way contagious. People who enjoy being around dogs enjoy this good feeling and love to share it with others. Thus stress can be reduced for other co-workers as well.
  • When your dog is with you, you do not have to worry about what he is doing and what he may need. You are with your dog and can meet his needs as they arise. That may save you the cost of a professional dog walker or even doggie day care for the day. 

Benefits for the dog

  • Your dog is with you, the person he most wants to be with. He is happy and feeling good. This means your dog's stress level is reduced as well. If our dog is not comfortable around noise and other people, the work place may not be the best place for him. It is important to know your dog and make sure he is as happy to be at work with you as you are having him there. 
  • Dogs love routine. Going to work with you will become part of your dog's routine as well. It is something he will look forward to doing with you.

Benefits for the employer

  • A Pet friendly image develops for the employer. Potential employees looking for a pet friendly work place will be attracted to an employer like this. Some employers offer the ability to bring your pet to work to specifically attract the Millennial generation and other potential employees.
  • Studies have determined employee turnover is less when employees like coming to work. Having dogs in the workplace often makes the workplace a pleasant place to come to work. Also, employees are generally experiencing reduced stress during the workday in this environment. Hiring and replacing employees who have left can be costly to all employers. Reduced turnover is a plus financially and overall employee stability and longevity is a positive statement about an employer. 
  • On a similar note employee performance is enhanced when employees are less stressed and enjoy working in the environment. Increased performance is a definite benefit for the employer.

Etiquette for all

Employees
1) need to be sensitive to other co-workers who may have allergies to dogs. If there are a number of employees with allergies bringing a dog to work may not work. Even one person with allergies in the area is not a good experience for anyone. Pet free zones may be the solution.

2) need to make sure their dog is comfortable in this environment and is socialized well to people and loud noises and equipment like office printers, chairs, elevators and anything else specific to your work environment. If your dog is familiar with the environment he will adjust to the specific sounds and activities.

3) need to make sure their dog is able to get outside to eliminate and get some physical exercise. Even if only brief periods it is important for your dog to move physically and have a place he can eliminate comfortably. If a dog has pent up energy he could take it out by chewing on something in the office that is meant to be off limits for his safety and the safety of others. 

4) need to limit the treats and food that co-workers may want to feed your dog. Make sure your dog gets the calories comparable to the activity level he is expending. Also, people are well intentioned, but mot all food is safe for a dog to eat. Bringing treats for co-workers or customers to give your dog may be the best scenario.

5) need to keep your dog safe from interaction with people who may invade your dog's space and touch him in a place that may bother him. Most dogs really don't like being pet over their head. Be mindful of where your dog is at all times. When everyone understands how to interact with your dog things will go well. 

Employer
1) Must be prepared for any legal issues that may arise. Have a lawyer involved in making decisions to bring dogs into the work place to prepare for the possibility of dog bites, or other incidents. 

2) Having a workplace "pet policy" is necessary. Work with a lawyer, and perhaps some employees to layout expectations and consequences for the dog and the pet parent. It will address things like when and where the dog can be in the workplace. Whether in a crate or on a leash. Where to take the dog outside on what area of the property, how to address co-workers with allergies, and other related information. This will help everyone to know what the expectations are. 

Dog - needs to be comfortable in the workplace environment. That means he is a socialized dog who enjoys being around people and possible noises throughout the day. A dog who is trained and socialized is more able to be successful in new environments. 

Bringing your dog to work can be a win win for everyone: the dog, the employee and the employer. 

WOOFS & SMILES!

Being a Pet Parent "MOM"

Mother's Day is May 14, 2017. Realizing this I thought it would be nice to share the newsletter I wrote last year for Mother's Day. It recognizes all we do for our beloved dogs as their human parent, but also what we get in return. I hope you enjoy the read and I wish a wonderful Mother's Day to all pet parent Mom's!
 
Ten Reasons Mother’s Day is for the “Mom” Pet Parent too!
 
1) Commitment -  We make a life long commitment to the very end to love and care for our beloved dogs. Our dogs bring joy to our lives from the time they are a puppy to the time they are ready to cross over the rainbow bridge. 
 
2)  Canine Children - Some “Mom” Pet Parents only have canine children. This makes the parent relationship especially meaningful. For some Pet Parent Moms this means never having had a human child, only canine children and for others it can be before human children come into the family or after the human children leave the family.
 
3) Nutrition - We provide nutrition and even make homemade treats for our dogs. We research and make sure what they eat is safe and nutritional for them. 
 
4) Exercise - We provide exercise and take our dogs for daily walks. We enjoy the fresh air and connecting with nature together. We are exercise buddies and we both gain the benefits of being physically active.
 
5) Training - We spend time training our dogs so they can live comfortably in our human world. Teaching our dogs good manners and how to behave well at home and in public is a parent responsibility we take very seriously.
 
6) Health Care - We take our dogs to the veterinarian for wellness check ups and when they are sick or injured to make sure they get the best of care. We are advocates for our dogs health because they need us to speak for them.
 
7) Grooming - We take our dogs to the groomer and make sure they are properly groomed for their needs. We keep their toenails trimmed and their teeth brushed. Canine hygiene is important in preventing physical and dental problems for our dogs. We focus on prevention.
 
8) Gifts - Whenever we are shopping we make a point to check out the dog section in the store for that special toy or chew we know our dog will like. We are always thinking of things that will make our dog happy.
 
9) Socialization - We make sure our dogs have a chance to play with other dogs. Socialization and playing with other dogs and humans is important and fun for our dogs.
 
10) Unconditional Love - All these things we do for our beloved dogs pale in comparison to the unconditional love our dogs give us every minute of every day. We are grateful for the gift of having these wonderful canine children in our life. 


Wishes for a pawsitively awesome Mother's Day to all our dedicated
Pet Parent Moms!


WOOFS & SMILES!

Pet Etiquette When Visiting Friends

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When visiting friends or family and they invite you to bring your dog here are some things to consider:

1) Your friends and family need to invite you to bring your dog. It is imposing to invite your dog when they may not really be up for that. If you know the person well and they know you well they will automatically consider your dog coming and make sure you know that. Other wise it is a difficult situation and you may be better off staying at a pet friendly hotel.

2) Bringing your dog with you any where is a big responsibility. You must first have a dog who is comfortable being in new places and with new or other people. Remember a dog is leaving their home and familiar environment just as you are. Not all dogs like change and not all dogs do well with this kind of change.

3) A dog who has received basic obedience training is a must. Training is a dogs right and a pet parents responsibility. Training helps our dogs to be comfortable in our human controlled world. Knowing the expectations and being able to perform them is essential for a dog. Expectations like leave it, sit, stay, come, etc. Bringing an untrained dog anywhere is putting the dog in a stressful situation as well as the people you are visiting.

4) Clear with the person you are visiting there preferences for where the dog can go to the bathroom and make sure you clean up behind your dog. What area of the home may be off limits to the dog and where can the dog safely be. Will there be small children. If so supervision of children and dogs by and adult is necessary at all times. Dogs and children can have a great deal of fun together but an adult needs to be there to make sure the fun does not escalate for either the dog or the child. I supervise my two grandchildren, who are 2 and 4 years of age, at all times. I don’t want anything to happen to either of them. Safety is primary for the dog and the children.

5) Bring food and even water for your dog. If the water is very different from what your dog is used to drinking it can be a problem for their tummy. Keeping the diet the same is also a transition of sameness for the dog’s comfort and digestion. 

6) Bring a crate, if your dog is crate trained. This will be a safe familiar space your dog can be in when he feels a need to feel calm and safe. When I can’t find my dogs in the house I always find them getting some alone or quiet time in their crates which are open at all times for them to come and go at their desire.

7) Bring toys and familiar articles for your dog to play with and give him something to do as well. 

8) Most of all don’t forget your dog is with you after you arrive. You have brought your dog so make sure he can participate is some of the activities with you and the people you are visiting. 

9) Respect canine and human needs and have fun!

Woofs & Smiles!

Pet Parent or Pet Owner

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The term "pet parent" has been around for a while. Often I hear people refer to their dogs as "fur children" or "children with four legs" and there may be other similar references. The reference to our dogs as children and members of our family is powerful and I would say a standard of acceptance in our society today. This is in part demonstrated by the money we spend on our dogs apparently increasing every year. But also by the love we feel toward our dogs. People are often vocal about their dogs and how much their relationship with their dog means to them.

Despite this obvious statement of love and commitment to our dogs viewed as members of our family, it seems our reference to ourselves is still often as a "pet owner". You might be saying there really is no difference between a pet owner and a pet parent. So let's discuss these two references and how they may indeed be different from each other.   

PET OWNER - a pet owner is a term that has been used for years and years to describe human beings who "own" have a dog in their life. It has been perfectly acceptable and carries with it the responsibilities a human being has to a dog whom they consider belonging to them. The sense of a dog "belonging" to someone is reinforced by a few things. 

-- We purchase dogs - we pay money for a dog. We purchase them in an interaction with money that exchanges indicating we now own this dog. Often times people will pay an lot of money to purchase a purebred and often the expectation is that the dog will make money for the human as a result of this financial investment in the dog. Perhaps become a winning show dog, or breed the dog to sell the puppies. This reinforces the concept of "ownership" of a dog. At some level most people are influenced by this way of thinking about a dog as an object that is owned as a result of being purchased for money. We equate dogs to a monetary value. We equate ourselves to "owning" our dog. 

--Grammar objectifies all animals - Our grammar objectifies all animals. When I was writing my first book whenever I referred to dogs as he or she the software I was working on would automatically correct me and tell me to be correct I had to refer to the dog as it or that. I spoke with my editor about it and she suggested I write a disclaimer at the beginning of the book to satisfy the grammar critics, which I did. I wanted to refer to dogs throughout my book and in all my writing and conversations as the sentient beings they are. 

--Laws define dogs as property - our laws define dogs as property and many divorce situations find this challenging in the process of settlement. Dogs are often fought over for who will retain custody because our laws are black and white about them being property only. Dogs are found to be at risk in other legal situations as well. Being regarded as property is opposite to the sentient beings our dogs are.

Food for Thought - When we think of dogs as objects or property we purchase and refer them as objects like it and that, on some level it just makes it easier to surrender a dog or treat them as more of an object versus the sentient being they are. 

PET PARENT - When people refer to themselves as a pet parent, they are saying they regard their dog as a member of their family but more importantly they view their role as a pet parent as different from that of a dog owner. The term pet parent focuses on the human being more than the dog. 

--Integrates the dog into the family as a full fledged family member - a pet parent embraces their dog as a true family member. The dog is respected and loved as a the sentient being they are. Acknowledging the dog experiences feelings is much different than viewing a dog as an object. Developing a bond and a relationship with the dog built on trust and respect is critical to a parent-dog relationship. Providing the dog with socialization and training using only positive training techniques is key. Educating yourself about your dogs physical and emotional needs is essential. A pet parent does all these things and more. A pet parent views them self as the responsible partner in the relationship to provide food, shelter, love and medical care in addition to love and building a relationship with their dog. A pet parent also commits to their relationship with their dog until the very end. A pet parent lives up to their role in the relationship.

--Language is important - a pet parent refers to their dog as he or she. They know the power of language and also know language can change behavior. If we shift our thinking to dogs as sentient beings and not objects and we refer to them in the sentient sense of he or she, we will have an impact on not only our own thinking but that of others as well. 

Food for thought - as pet parents we make a shift in our thinking from pet owner to pet parent. We think of ourselves differently. The focus is primarily on our role in the relationship with our dog. We are responsible to be informed, educated, and loving in all we do with our dog. Our dog benefits from our shift in thinking from owner to parent. This shift needs to be intentional. I remember when I first began considering what I wanted to refer to myself as in my relationship with my dogs. I found myself saying pet owner without thinking. I didn't have to work long to change it to pet parent but it was definitely a conscious effort. My hope is that others who view themselves as pet parents will make this same conscious effort to address them self as "pet parent" at all times. This will promote others to think about how they perceive themselves in their relationship with their dogs and more and more people will refer to themselves as the pet parent they genuinely and already are. 

Being a pet parent is so much more rewarding than being a pet owner. Your dog will thank you!

Woofs & Smiles!

Dogs Have Feelings Too!

It hasn't been that long that we have changed out thinking about dogs and view them as sentient beings. Beings that experience emotions like fear, pain, joy, sadness and even jealousy.  It has actually only been a few years since this was clarified. At last check there were 2,500 studies that prove dogs think and feel. I quote some of the people who have done this research, like Dr. Stanley Corin, in my book. What is crucial about this research is that it is time we think about our dogs as capable of experiencing emotions and stop thinking of them as objects that don't have feelings. I remember people saying things like: "It is only a dog. It doesn't care what you do to it." Please notice the use of the term "it" in referring to the dog. When I wrote my book the software I was writing on would correct me every time I referred to dogs as he or she and told me to be grammatically correct I had to refer to them as it or that. I explained this to my editor when I was writing my book and she suggested I put a disclaimer at the from of my book to satisfy the grammatical gurus which I did. 

Referring to and thinking of a dog as an object makes it easier to abuse them and neglect them and even "get rid" of them. Seeing them as an object or a thing allows us not to feel responsible for causing them any emotional trauma. This emotional detachment from dogs and other animals helps explain the treatment of many animals in our society.  

One of the most powerful things we can do, besides recognizing and respecting our dogs feelings, is to refer to them as sentient beings whenever we talk about them or write about them. Using he and she to refer to them will have an impact. Language can change behavior. 

I want to talk about some of the feelings our dogs experience and how we know they are experiencing them.

Happy - we know our dogs are happy when they greet us when we come home. It delights us to know they miss us this much and are so happy to see us. Dogs are happy when they can spend time with us. Their tail wags and they have a smile on their face when we engage them in play and walks and rides in the car. Just being with us makes our dogs very happy and they tell us this with their body language. Their tail is wagging, the smile on their face, their relaxed body language and the happiness in their eyes and their vocal sounds all tell us how happy they are. 

Fear - dogs tell us they are frightened by loud noises in many ways. I have a friend who says her dog dives under the bed or other furniture during thunderstorms. Fire works can be difficult for many dogs. Implementing negative training techniques result in a fearful dog. A dogs body can tremble with fear and anxiousness in any situation they feel fearful. Children or adults poking dogs with sticks and throwing rocks at them for fun is cruel and causes dogs fear for their safety. Neglected and abused dogs live in a constant state of fear. Feeling fear is frightening for all sentient beings. 

Pain -  This is a more difficult emotion to read on our dogs sometimes. Language barriers can be challenging. The more you know your dog the more you will be able to know when things are not right and they may be in pain. Dogs will often go to their pet parent and try to tell them they are experiencing pain by looking at them or even showing them the paw or part of their body they are concerned about. When you get that quizzical look or pleading stare it may be a message from your dog they are in pain. Of course our neglected and abused dogs feel pain often in addition to the fear they live in much if not all the time. 

Sadness - Dogs feel sadness in many ways. When my dogs are separated I can tell they feel sad to be away from each other. I know they are sad when I am gone for long periods of time. If you should take something meaningful, like a special toy, away from a dog they can feel sad. Loss is often sadness for our dogs as well. You can tell by the sad look on their face; the sadness in their eyes and the overall lethargy of their body. Dogs also live so in the moment their resilience from sadness to joy is exemplified when we come home and they greet us with their joyful excitement to see us.

Jealousy - Yes, our dogs even feel jealously. When I am petting one of my dogs I immediately have the other one right there demanding the same attention. If one of my dogs gets a treat of course the other one wants one as well. When we do activities together if one has to wait their turn, especially JIve, she will howl and bark to make her displeasure known that Jazz is getting the attention. Dogs are all about being in a relationship with their pet parent. They can feel jealous having to share that relationship on many different levels. 

Shame - I peronally am not a fan of the dog shaming posts you see online. When you look into the face and eyes of these dogs wearing shame based signs in the name of human entertainment my heart sinks for the dog. Dogs are sensitive and have feelings. Their sensitivity is one of the things we love about them. We love that they anticipate our feelings and needs. Yet some people find humor in shaming dogs. Being sensitized to the fact that dogs have feelings and feel this shame is important.

Respecting dogs have feelings and respecting the actual feeling the dog is experiencing is crucial to developing trust and a long lasting bond in our relationship with our dogs. Research also indicates dogs think at the level of a 3-5 year old child. The ability to think and feel make our dogs perfect for a relationship with us as humans. the more we recognize, respect and value these qualities in our dogs, the more our communication will improve and our relationship will grow.  

Accepting our dogs have feelings allows us to experience empathy for them. Relating to our dogs on an emotional level is awesome!

Woofs & Smiles!