Thursday, June 29, 2017

Just Say Home--Boom!

At this time of year I'm of course asked about getting dogs to handle the sound of fireworks. Well, it's pretty much too late for that. It's June 29--you can't desensitize your pup now. Do try: put on a recording of firecracker sounds while your dog is having dinner; keep the volume low and not too close to where he's eating. If he has a bad response, pull back: let it play for just a few seconds at a time. Increasing the volume and duration gradually can sometimes help with the real thing. Add in some extra fabulous treats.

The sounds of sudden explosions sure aren't normal, so how can you make things better for Sam? Go buy a Thunder Shirt right now. Put it on when you're home just relaxing, then take it off after an hour or two. Then do that again. Now add a little lavender oil to the shirt for added relaxation. Now try both for most of the holiday weekend. You can also add a Calming Collar of synthetic pheromones that simulate a lactating female--they love Mama even as adults. Dogs who have a particularly bad response can even get a little help from your vet with a bit of medication. Have a young puppy? Now is the best time in her life to desensitize her! Give her a bone she's never had before and watch her ignore those sounds.

This 2017 Fourth of July extravaganza will be particularly long: there may be fireworks from Friday evening through Wednesday, since the holiday itself falls on a Tuesday! Yikes. Your TV or radio should be on the entire time to disguise some of the noise. Your windows should be closed. YOU SHOULD BE HOME!! YES, YOU SHOULD SKIP THE BARBECUE! "My dog is just fine with the Fourth of July sounds." How do you know? Because you are home with her? That may be a big part of why she's fine. Indeed, lots of dogs have little issue with the noises--my own included--but leaving them to listen to random "gunshots" at home by themselves is just not fair. You know what's the most unfair? Bringing them with you to the park to see the fireworks! And skip Fourth of July parades, too!  Those are crazy ideas.

Nationally animal control sees a 30 percent increase in lost pets on the Fourth, and July 5th is the busiest day at shelters! If we love our dogs, we don't want them to be afraid. So just stay home. Put another tofu dog on the grill pan inside and cuddle with Sophie. She'll love the time with you and she'll know you have her back. You can party on Labor Day.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

What to Look for in a Pet-Sitter

I just had a lovely vacation--without my dogs. I love vacations with my dogs, too, of course, but once in a while it really is good to take a break, and I took a two-week trip, which I haven't done in years. I was able to do that only because I have the most trustworthy, capable pet-sitter on the planet. It's no fun to go away and worry--but I never worry when their gal is on the job. They literally love her as much as they love me.

What do you need in a pet-sitter? You need someone you can trust to be practical and use her head in every situation. My brain goes to worst-case scenarios like earthquakes: I know that Dawn would get everyone out safely with food and water and be in touch with me as soon as possible. Tommy had a health thing going on just before I left (because they are always healthy till you're going out of town!), and though he seemed fine, he had a little relapse, and she was watching him carefully and knew to reach out to me and see if he should go to the vet--and she took him (which is no fun with him).

Your pets would love life to be as usual as possible: meals at normal times, walks as scheduled, dog beds in the regular spots, no wild parties happening while their parents are away. If they could tell you, they would ask for someone to live at your place and be a substitute mama. What can also work really well is the dog going to the sitter's place so he's still in a home situation. I could never board my dogs; it would be too big a change for them and no way would I not worry--about dog fights and canine flu and lack of attention and the foreign environment.

Pet-sitters should take a Pet First-Aid/CPR course. They should have lots of actual experience with animals! These days, there is an app for everything, but I wouldn't want someone I've never even met to walk my dogs! I've met "sitters" who let a three-pound puppy bounce around the car--and out--with no harness or collar and who don't know when and what the dog is eating! Your job, in addition, is to leave comprehensive instructions and emergency numbers to keep things as usual and safe as possible. Just knowing you say, "Wait," before going out the door with the dog can keep a dog from running away when the sitter is there!

They love you unconditionally, and they're your kids: give them the best. Do I have staff people for pet-sitting and dog walking? You bet! :-) But we book early....

Have a great trip!