Monday, July 24, 2006
When traveling by car, make sure to make multiple rest stops to prevent accidents or restless behavior in the car. Remember to leash Pup-Pup BEFORE you open the car doors! The dog rescue groups that we work with get too many dogs found wandering on turnpikes. Purchase a canine seatbelt and make a couple of trial runs in your neighborhood to allow your dog to adjust to the new restraint. Most pet stores carry one or more styles of canine seatbelts. While you're packing for the kids, prepare a doggie travel kit that includes: food, bottled water, bowls, treats, favorite toy, blanket, and plastic bags suitable for poop pick-up and disposal. Also include complete copies of his health record in Pup-Pup's travel kit and don't forget an extra collar with all the necessary identification info in case he loses the one he has on. As part of your travel planning, check ahead for pet friendly hotels and campgrounds. This can be done at www.petswelcome.com.
If you're traveling with your pet by plane, make sure to get complete information ahead of time from your airline. Find out if your pet is small enough to travel in the cabin with you, and what you need to do to facilitate that. Most airlines require advance reservations for pets traveling in the passenger cabin and there's usually a pre-paid fee. Some airlines require you to rent or purchase their in-flight carriers. On travel day, allow lots of extra time at the airport to go through check-in and security with your dog.
Larger dogs cannot travel in the passenger cabin and must fly separately as cargo. There are many risks associated with this practice and most vets and pet professionals don't recommend it especially if it's only for a vacation. The least of the evils is that it's a very unpleasant experience for the dog, and problems multiply from there, including dogs that get lost like luggage, or are injured or killed by in-flight conditions. I'm not trying to be an alarmist here; I just know of many people who've lost dogs who flew in cargo. If you have to fly with a large dog, hold food at least 6 hours prior to flight to avoid vomiting and/or diarhhea, both of which are common problems in-flight. It's not a bad idea to ask your regular veterinarian if a sedative or anti-nausea medication is appropriate.
Thursday, July 13, 2006
So when does a dog's behavior become a problem? Sometimes it obvious, like if she steals food off "people surfaces" (counters, tables). Or jumps on every guest who comes to your house. However, sometimes we wonder if our pup is behaving "normally", meaning are they behaviorally healthy?? For example, what about a dog who startles easily? Or one who cannot stand to let you out of his sight? Or we might wonder if its normal for Fluffy to pee on the living room rug when there are workmen in the house.
Here are some indicators of canine behavioral health:
- Friendly toward people she meets, including well-behaved children.
- Friendly toward other friendly dogs, both those he lives with and those outside the family.
- Will readily give up control of food, toys, and other desired objects.
- Can be left alone for reasonable periods of time without panicking.
- Is relaxed during normal, everyday handling and touching: wiping her feet, brushing her coat, looking in her ears, looking in her eyes.
- Calms down quickly after being startled if there's no cause for alarm.
- Barks when necessary or appropriate, but will stop when told to.
- Plays well without becoming too rough.
- Doesn't damage his owner's possessions.
- Is affectionate without being needy, clingy, or annoying.
- Can adapt to changes such as travel, movement, confinement to a carrier with minimal problems.
If your dog doesn't meet half or more of these criteria, she needs help, preferably from a trained canine behaviorist who's willing to meet with you and your pet in your home to determine what factors might be altered to support changes her behavior. Of course, all of the criteria are not of equal importance. If your dog growls at friendly strangers, he needs immediate help, even if he meets all of the other criteria. Some of the criteria on the list may be less important to you than others, depending on your lifestyle. For example, if you have small children it is crucial that your dog not guard his possessions. Toddlers must be able to approach a pet that is eating without getting bitten! On the other hand, if you live in the country and/or your neighbors don't complain, you may be tolerating an abnormal amount of barking, simply because you've never trained your dog to stop when told.
And, no it's not healthy for a pet to pee on the carpet when there's a stranger in the house, or for her to leap up in a fright when someone drops something nearby.
So when does a dog's behavior become a problem?