February is Dog Training Education Month

Dog Training for National Dog Training Education Month

Dogs stand out among all animals due to their unique traits such as obedience, protection, loyalty and beauty. A well-trained fur friend in your life provides a great amount of happiness! The purpose of this exceptional month is to bring awareness to training your dog. You can do it yourself, but it is always advisable to seek the services of a professional. Training can bring loads of fun to both you and your friend, along with strengthening your bond to each other.

Why February? 

You may wonder why the training should be done in February. It’s simple; February comes after holidays with all its numerous celebrations. Use February to strengthen your relationship with your fur friend. Training is a great way of teaching your dog good habits that will last a lifetime. If you start the year off with training, imagine how impressive your dog will be end of the year and many happy years to come.

Interesting Statistics 

Only 4 percent of all dogs undergo training, of that only 2 percent of households out of those trained, seek the services of professional dog trainers. A recent survey conducted by American Pet Products Association shows that there are 46.3 million households with dogs in the U.S. This means that an estimated 44.5 million dogs have not undergone any training. Also, only 5 percent of puppies are taken to socialization classes. Socialization helps puppies and adult dogs adapt to the world around them and develop healthy behaviors.

Understanding Dog Training 

If you have little to no experience, you may think training your dog can be challenging and frustrating. Dogs can learn a lot of things easily and within a short time. As pet parents your probability already know dogs are quite intelligent. This can make training them easy and sometimes with minimal effort just a few minutes of consistent and daily routine. Additionally, dogs naturally love to learn new things and when stimulated they will thrive. Plus, training is the best way to spend time and develop a bond between you and your fur friend.

Socialization

A well socialized dog will help guarantee a happy, healthy, and well-disciplined fur friend. Having well mannered and trained dog will help with fewer dogs being abandoned due to behavior problems.

One important thing that you should keep in mind is that the earlier you take your puppy to socialization classes, the easier it will be for them to adapt to new experiences. A dog that has undergone socialization training feels confident. Make February the month to start making your dog a well-mannered, socialized family member.

What Does Dog Training Involve? 

Dog training is not just about teaching your dog how to sit for food. It involves mental, emotional and physical training aspects. Understand that it is a communication between totally different species with two different languages. You and your fur friend will need to learn how to speak to each other.  You may be astonished to find out that your dog learns behaviors that you thought were impossible. It is always thrilling to see your fur friend learn new things such as sitting down when asked to, leaving toys and fetching their toys. One of the most important things to do is to develop a great relationship by engaging with positive reinforcement and trust.

As earlier mentioned, socialization is a core activity during National Dog Training Education Month. If you do get a new puppy take it to a socialization class, to help them learn about the world outside their home appropriately. We all want pets that are well adapted to live with people & other pets without any anxiety

Inexperienced dog owners will try various temporary fixes that makes the life of a dog difficult. People sometimes isolate dogs from other family members, yell at them or even subject them to uncomfortable collars. Some sadly even us negative reinforcement. These are very inappropriate ways of handling pets. Your fur friend needs respect, care and affection and they will treat you the same.  A dog that is subjected to no training can be confused and poorly equipped to handle life at home or outside the home.  February is the best time to take an initiative to remind both experienced and new dog owners the importance of training their four-legged friends. It takes time, practice, rewards, praise, consistency and you will be able to achieve amazing results. Learn how to combine these factors and you will not be disappointed by the results.

Finding the Perfect Dog Trainer 

Finding a professional dog trainer can be a daunting task. You want the best value for your money and to ensure maximum comfort and benefits for your pet. Research and ask around; ask local rescue organizations, your vet, other dog parents if they would recommend a trainer.  Word of mouth matters a lot in such cases.

Research for professional organizations for dog trainers. Some of the reputable organizations include Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT), the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT), and National Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC).

Once you locate a professional, ask them if it is possible observe a class. Look for different things such as:

  • Are the dogs being trained happy? Interact with some of the dog owners and ask them how they feel about the progress. Ask what they feel about the trainer and his efficiency.
  • What is the focus of the trainer regarding skills imparted to dogs? What are some of the materials required such as clickers, toys, and harnesses?
  • Is socialization part of the class?
  • Does the environment and training facility look comfortable and secure for your dog?
  • Is the training environment clean?
  • If the trainer asks for proof of vaccination, it is a sign that dogs in the facility are healthy.
  • Are positive reinforcement techniques used? Physical punishments are not suitable for dog training. Ask the trainer what training philosophy is used. This will help you to understand whether the trainer will handle the training professionally.

Kick out anxiety

Some dogs can be anxious when left alone at home. Your dog knows when you’re about to leave because there are things it associates with your leaving; grabbing your keys, putting on certain shoes and clothes.  It is time to change that narrative. Do little things like wear your work shoes on while at home, wear them around the house or wear them on walks. Your dog hopefully will learn that you are not necessarily leaving. With time, hopefully the panic will be ease.

Bathroom matters

House training should not be a dirty task. You can get all kinds of advice from books, internet and other various sources. The APDT offers a tip sheet and webinar to help you in dog training. Also understanding that odor removal is an essential part of dog training. Use products that are specially designed to remove pet odors. Like any other training process, it will take time, practice and rewards.

Child safety

The safety of your children and your dog matters a lot. If you have children, educate them about the importance of properly handling and treatment of dogs. Interacting with canines can be tricky for kids so teach them the importance of understanding a dog’s body language. Your child will need to know when a dog wants to be alone and when to play. Your dog will also need to be trained how to interact with kids and play with them safely.

Your fur friend should also be trained on how to interact with all people, not just little ones. Some of the things to train your dog may include; not jumping on people.  Little things like this will make life easier for your family and your canine friend.

Learning is bonding 

February is time to have fun while training your best friend. Dogs love practicing new things and learning new skills, mental stimulation is just as important as physical exercises. Your fur friend will relish the chance to have your full attention and the two of you will make priceless memories. You and your friend can learn from each other such as; moods, body language and develop a hidden connection with each other.

Understand that your dog’s training is a gradual process. Don’t expect your dog to learn new things within ten minutes, but once learned it is a lifetime of rewards. Be patient and you will be amazed by what your dog can learn and is willing to learn. Consistent and daily training will ensure that your dog’s training progresses. Also, it will ensure unwanted behaviors are not learned. Be willing to hire professionals for the best results.

References:

https://www.americanpetproducts.org/

https://apdt.com/

http://www.ccpdt.org/

https://m.iaabc.org/

WINTER PET SAFETY

 

Winter is the only time that you can build snowmen and sled during the day and when night time falls you snuggle warm by the fire. As much fun as it can be for us, it may be difficult or dangerous for our pets, especially if that pet was not built to survive the cold winter. Below are some ways to keep your pet safe during winter.

  • Keep an eye out for any automotive fluid

Both windshield washer fluid and antifreeze which often do not freeze are hazardous to pets. So if you want to take go snowshoeing or hiking with your pet then stay clear of any puddles that might have antifreeze or washer fluid and ensure your pet does not go running around in automotive areas or in other people’s garages.

  • Clean your pet’s paws

Products that are used for melting ice can get stuck in the paws of your pets and most of the time the pets will try to remove it by licking it off. Low humidity can also cause the paws of your pet to crack and start bleeding. Also, paws may start bleeding if they are encrusted in ice or from the frigid snow. Ice and salt melt products can burn and irritate pets’ paws and if it is ingested it can be fatal to them. When your pets are coming out of the snow, ensure you wipe off their paws and get them dry. To make it even safer for them, wipe their stomach as well the entire legs in case they laid down in the snow. You can rub a small amount of petroleum jelly on the pet’s paw pads because it will help in preventing additional irritation. Pet booties are always a good idea. Make sure they fit snug to keep ice and snow out. There are even latex or rubber disposable booties.

  • Be aware of the lowering temperatures

Short-coated dogs and cats do not do very well in cold temperatures. There are even some furry breeds like Malamutes and Huskies that may still encounter problems during winter. When the nights get colder then it’s time to bring in your pets and snuggle on the sofa or bed. Pets can also benefit from winter pet clothes like dog clothes, dog coats or sweaters. However, there are some pets that cannot tolerate any type of clothing no matter the weather so be careful not to force one on it cause it may be irritating its fur. These items help in keeping your pets warm and it also helps that they are really cute. Koa’s House Pet Supplies has a variety of warm pet clothes for winter that are very beautiful but also functional. Even pets that have a natural fur coat cannot fully ward off the cold. Therefore, ensure your dog has a warm dog coat and a dry place to sleep that is off the ground. If you have a large dog breed then may be able to tolerate the colder temperatures better than a smaller dog. However, if your animal has a heart disease, endocrine disorder, diabetes or kidney disease then it is very vulnerable during the cold months. The cold weather will compromise its body heat regulating capabilities and the pet may end up suffering from hypothermia. Avoid taking sickly pets outside during winter as the cold weather is very difficult for them.

  • Keep pets away from your car and out of it

Cats love to be warm and most of the time they will cuddle up to your car once you park it because of the heat from the engine. They may end up sleeping there and when you start your car in the morning you may end up hurting or even killing it unintentionally. So before you start driving honk your car or knock your hood a couple of times to startle the animal. Additionally, you should never leave your pet in the cold car during winter. Cars can hold in cold temperatures just like a refrigerator. If you leave your pet in the car it may end up freezing to death so be careful.

  • Leash your animals

Do not let your dog out of its leash especially in very bad snowstorms. They can easily get lost because they will lose your scent due to the snow and it will make them lose their sense of direction. Most pets get lots during winter more than any other season in the year. Dogs with light colored fur can easily blend in with the snow thus making them very difficult and even impossible to spot. It’s important that your pet has an ID tag and you should get it micro-chipped. These microchips are small implants that will help in identifying your dog in case it gets lost. If you have your pet already micro-chipped then ensure it is current. Unlike pet collars, these microchips will never go missing or fall off and the procedure to get them at the veterinary clinic is not as expensive as you would think.

  • Be aware of the signs on your pet when you are out during winter

It so much fun to go outside in the snow and run around with you your dog but you should be aware of some signs that your pet will show when it has stayed out in the cold too long. If your dog starts shivering or is starting to show signs of fatigue then you should realize that the dog is freezing and you should go back to a warm place. In addition, any kind of redness on the extremities like the ears, slowing down or looking for warm places to burrow is a sign that your animal has stayed outside for too long.

  • Take your pet to the veterinary clinic

According to experts, pets should have two checkups every year especially the older animals. If you can schedule the pet exam to be in fall or in the early winter season that would be even better because it will ensure that your animal is in a good condition to face the coming cold weeks. Proactive vets will measure your pets joint range motion, check its vital organ function, measure its muscle mass and create a wellness plan for upcoming winter.

  • Grooming

Do not clip or shave your pet’s fur when the winter months are getting closer. Let your pet maintain its long coat because it will keep it warm even if it may be a hassle to groom and brush them regularly. You do not want your pet to have matted fur because it will interfere with its ability to regulate its own body heat, plus it is uncomfortable.

 

  • Exercise you pets

Even though the weather is cold, it’s important to maintain your pet’s physical condition. If you allow your dog to eat and sleep all day then you are making it predisposed to injury once it starts running around again after winter. If you live in an area where it gets really cold outside during winter then you can get you your dog to exercise by taking them to an indoor dog park or to a warm water dog pool.

  • Don’t let your pets go near frozen water bodies

Be aware of lakes, ponds or any other type of inland water then you are aware that they tend to freeze over during winter. Be careful with your pets near this frozen waters because animals can fall very easily through the ice. If that happens it’s very difficult for them to get themselves out and if you haven’t noticed then a pet can end up drowning

  • Change your air filter and have your furnace inspected

Ensure that your heating unit is checked for any carbon monoxide leaks before you get into winter. Carbon monoxide is invisible and odorless but it has dangerous effects on both humans and pets. Since your pet will spend more time in the house than you then she will be more vulnerable to carbon monoxide poisoning. Have your air filter in the house changed twice in a year because a lot of things like mold, dirt, pollen, allergens, and dust can accumulate in them if they are not changed. Ensure your pets have filtered air in order to reduce the allergen load in your house especially during winter.

  • Ensure your pet is safe from potentially dangerous sources of heat

If you are using a space heater or a fireplace then you should expect that your dog will burrow near or next to it to keep warm. Keep a close watch to prevent any part of the dog from being burned or from the dog knocking a heating unit like a heating coil over thus causing a disaster.

  • Things to consider before taking you dog snowshoeing

Snowshoeing is an amazing way of keeping fit for both the dog and the owner through the winter. It offers a different perspective to the summer trails because of a dramatic change to a trail and a scenery that you were used to during the warmer months and the trails are generally deserted during winter. Snowshoeing is not as easy as you would think just because you put on snowshoes. There are something’s that you have to be considerate about, especially if you are taking your pet with you.

  1. Get your pet a checkup before the trip: – walking in snow especially if it’s deep and powdery is much more difficult than what most people expect. A veterinarian will check to ensure that your dog is healthy and fit enough to take on such a rigorous activity in cold weather.
  2. Ensuring that the trails are dog-friendly: – Nordic ski areas, some hiking trails, and groomed snow parks are good places to take your dog snowshoeing but ensure that you check the rules in case there are things like snowmobiles allowed because it will make it unsafe for the dog.
  3. Just like yourself, keep your dog warm: – depending on the fur that your dog has and the breed, it may be necessary to go to Koa’s House Pet Supplies and get him some dog clothes and dog coats which insulated to keep him warm and protect him from the harsh elements. You should keep in mind that a dog coat may not be enough especially if your dog is small. You may have to get him some dog boots to protect it from the frozen ground and a blanket to cover him with him during breaks.
  4. Keep your dog hydrated: – during summer a dog will pant and they are more likely to drink water if they get thirsty. In the colder winter months, your dog will not necessarily show you any signs that they are overheating and they are not willing enough to drink water when they get thirsty. It will be your responsibility to ensure that your pet is hydrated by offering them water frequently and to make it even better you can add dog-sports drink or no-sodium chicken stock as a way to entice them to drink more.
  5. Be aware of hypothermia signs: – elderly dogs and puppies are very susceptible to hypothermia. Some signs of hypothermia include dilated pupils, shivering and very slow breathing followed by frostbite and lethargy. If your dog starts to show some of these signs then cover him immediately with a blanket, give him some warm fluids and take him to the veterinarian.

With just a few simple precautions, winter can be an amazing time of the year for the entire family including your pet. So when you want to enjoy a warm fire in your den, curl up with your pet and just doze off enjoying the winter.

 

Hiking With Dogs – Be Prepared

Over the years we have hiked Texas forest and the Mountains of Colorado. Over those miles we made some mistakes and learned a few things. There is a lot to consider when you are planning a hiking trip: Maps, GPS, first aid, weather, shelter, food, pack weight, water. That is just the basics for you. Now you need to consider your fur family needs.

Here are a few tips to help you along the way.

Dogs Hiking
Furry Tired Dogs Make Great Pillows
  1. Is your dog ready for days hiking in what may be strenuous conditions?

It is always a good idea to do a few practice hikes prior to heading out for multiple days. Just like you, your dog needs to be physically ready before heading out. Long training walks or treadmill training is a great way to get them ready. Take into consideration your dogs breed and overall health prior to setting out on a multi-day hike. We treadmill train all of our dogs to ensure they are ready for the adventure. As always consult your vet to ensure your fur family is ready.

  1. Trail Etiquette

Believe it or not there are proper trail manners. Aggressive dogs, dogs that run up on others, jumping on others, chasing wildlife, or just not being under voice control is frowned upon. When you are far from civilization, a little problem can quickly escalate to an emergency and put an end to your trip. Ensure you dogs are ready for the adventure by practicing trail manners on local trails before departing.

  1. Dog Blanket

We have spent many nights in a two person backpacking tent with three dogs; One 110lb Lab, one 55lb Husky and one 50lb pittie. It can get crowded and uncomfortable fast. We quickly learned that packing a dog blanket and placing it in the vestibule of the tent helped with space constraints. Packing a dog bed is just not an option when weight and space is a consideration, but after a long day hiking your dog deserves a comfortable place to rest his paws. Ensure your dog cannot run off in the middle of the night.

  1. Food

Food for your fur family is important. It will be powering them over the mountains, across the plains and through the valleys. Food is also a huge weight and space hog. We highly recommend freeze dried food that is rich in calories and light weight. Freeze dried food can be easily re-hydrated with water at camp. As with any food, start your dog on it slowly by adding a little in each meal until they are 100% on the new food.

  1. Water

Water may be the most important consideration. Do not depend on there being water along the hike route. Even if there is, it may not be suitable for your dog to consume. Waterborne pathogens in water can make your dog sick. A sick dog at camp or during a hike is not fun for you or them. Always, carry extra clean water for them too. Carry a filtration system and when needed prepare enough water for yourself and your dog.

  1. Bowls

Like you, your dog will need something to drink and eat out of. Carrying a space consuming bowl is not practical. You should opt instead for a collapsible double bowl. This will enable you to provide water and food at along the trail and at camp.

  1. First Aid

Accidents happen, be prepared. When putting together a first aid kit, think about items that can be used for you and your dog. Things like vet-wrap bandages are wonderful. There are many pet first aid kits out there, none that seem to be well geared to hiking and saving space, so put your own pet & people kit together and save.

  1. Waste Disposal

Pack it out. Carry plenty of waste bags. Some parks do allow for waste to be buried, so check the local regulations. This helps keep our eco-system healthy and waterways clean.

  1. Packs

Fit & Test any dog packs prior to heading out on your adventure. Your dog should feel comfortable with the pack, not stressed. Fit test the pack in a location that your dog feels comfortable and confident. Do not wait until the trail head to put a pack on your dog for the first time. Try a few outings around the home front prior to heading out. Packs should fit slightly snug but not too tight, they need to breath be balanced and not shift around during activity.

  1. Pack Weight

A good rule is that your dog should not carry more than 25% of their body weight. This percentage is for dogs that are healthy and physically conditioned to carry the extra weight. Start out light and work up. If your dog is older or not in top shape then less weight is better. Have you dog carry things that will get used along the trip. Like his or her food, so their pack gets lighter as the trip goes on.

  1. Booties

Boots for dogs! These are great for dogs with soft paws that are not conditioned for long hikes day after day. But these booties often come off easily, so pack extras. Get your dog accustomed to the booties prior to your outing. Fit test them in the comfort of your home and try them out around the neighborhood prior.

  1. Microchips and Tags

Have you pet micro-chipped. In the case that your loved one ever goes missing, this increases the odds of them being reunited. Tags, Tags and more tags. When your dog is roughing it on a hike tags get lost or damaged. It is best to always have extras on your dog. We like to have two on the collar and one on their harness.

  1. Safety Lights

When night rolls around you need a headlamp or lamp. Keep your dog easily visible with a LED collar or glow sticks. We like the solar/usb rechargeable LED collars. If that is not an option, pack glow sticks, or even an extra headlamp and put it around your dog’s neck like a collar. Works great and this way you have an extra headlamp and your dog is easily visible… One less thing to carry

  1. Coats and Rain Coats

Depending on climate and where you are hiking, it is important to prepare yourself and your dog for the weather. Pack a coat & rain coat for your fur family. Helps keep your dog dry and not smelling like a wet dog. Also, consider packing a cooling bandana for warmer climates. They work great.

Chocolate Lab Hiking
Either Bring Your Dogs Coat or Be Prepared to Give Yours Up
  1. Treats

We all love snacks during a long hike, same goes for your fur family. Clip a treat bag to your pack or belt and reward them throughout the hike. It will help keep their energy and spirits up. Also helps with training them along the way.

  1. Have Fun!

Enjoy this time with your fur family. They will surely enjoy it.

What you do you consider an absolute must have when hiking with your dog? Let us know!