Category Archives: Companion

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Dogs Whac-a-Mole

Boredom Setting In?

Are You So Bored Your Pets Are Too?

Life is a bit different these days. While we hope it will revert to normal soon, for now we can enjoy the extra time at home with our pets. You might feel “stuck at home” verses “safe at home”, or that you have “nothing to do” versus “time to do new things.” It turns out you’re not alone, your pet might be feeling the exact same way!

Many people and their pets are starting to feel the boredom setting in. By now, there’s a good chance that walks aren’t as exciting, you’ve run out of things to binge watch on your TV and the wet spring weather might be keeping you indoors. We’re here to help with creative ways to entertain your pets indoors.

Fun and Affordable Activities Keep the Boredom From Setting In

Whack a Mole:

This fun game is taking the internet by storm and it’s not hard to see why.  This Whack a Mole can be played with cats and dogs alike. Just like the addicting arcade game, you will have loads of fun playing this game with your fur babies. Grab a cardboard box and either a treat or toy for your pet. Cut a series of holes in the top of the box and a large hole in the side for your arm. Then you’re ready to play! Challenge your pet’s mental and physical reflexes for hours!

Link to article: https://www.rover.com/blog/dogs-whac-a-mole/

Hide and Go Seek

There are two different versions. Option 1 requires your pet’s favorite toy or treat. Hide this item in different locations around the house and watch them seek it out.  Or if your pet prefers to seek you out you have all you need to play! For option two, get your pet to sit and stay while you hide somewhere in the house. Watching them run around and try to find you is a great laugh and they’ll love the challenge!

Learn a New Trick

Why not use this extra time to learn a new trick. This will challenge both you and your pet as you try to learn from each other. Teaching your fur-baby a new trick will bring you closer together as you bond with positive reinforcement and rewards. There are loads of ideas for tricks from rolling over to fetching a new item, playing dead to giving hugs! Our treats have proven to be a very motivating reward for training.

Scavenger Hunt or Obstacle Course

Transform your living room into an exciting place that will both exercise your pet physically and mentally. Using household items, toys, and some healthy treats, you can create a series of courses to train and stimulate your pet.

Freeze Their Assets

If you have an outdoor space or garage that’s shielded from the rain, this one could be a great option for you. Take your pet’s favorite treat or toy and place it in a s sturdy bowl or Tupperware™ container.  Fill the bowl or container with water, or water and soup stock, and then place it in the freezer overnight. When the water has fully frozen, give it to your pet for hours of entertainment.

Do it Yourself!

Try making a new toy for your pet out of items you have in your house. Find a bit of rope (or upcycle some from a destroyed toy), use a t-shirt or towel, etc. Get creative and your pet will love having a new toy that smells like you!  Just be sure to supervise your pet whenever they play with this toy in case pieces break off.

We’d love to hear some of your ideas. Go to our Facebook page and send us a message. Maybe we’ll add your idea into another article in the future!

Stay safe and well!

~The Staff at Northwest Naturals


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Dog in harness

When Good Intentions Go Bad

Service Dogs and Their Owners Are Increasingly Encountering Untrained Pets

We all love our dogs and most of us wish we could take them with us wherever we go.  It might evoke a tinge of jealousy when we see service dogs and their handlers or tempt us to grab a harness and bring our dog along in tow.  But, as more and more people try to pass their pets off as service animals, or bring them into public places where pets are not allowed, the working dogs (and their owners) are the ones who suffer most.

It seems innocent enough.  The harnesses, collars, etc. are available to the public.  All we have to do is buy one and we could easily take our dogs anywhere, right?

We wish it was just that simple.  There are two negative outcomes that have arisen from this situation.  The first is dangerous: Service dogs are either distracted or engaged and miss warning signs that put their owners in serious danger.  The second, is unfortunate discrimination, when these individuals and their working dogs try to gain access to an establishment that has had a negative encounter with fake therapy, service, or working dogs.

Stranger Danger:

Working dogs are highly trained.  From sniffing out potential dangers, to detecting changes in their handler’s health, these dogs are on alert when they’re out and about.  Now, interject a dog who isn’t trained, who innocently enough wants to play.  This playful pup distracts the working dog or lunges to play with it. If it’s a seeing eye dog, any sudden movements could knock their human off balance and cause them injury.  If this dog is a therapy dog, it could miss out on the signs it’s designed to detect in their owner at the risk of their owner’s health and well-being. Whatever the outcome, it creates a stressful situation for the person who needs the assistance of a service dog.

Discrimination that Goes Beyond Breed:

Any discrimination against pets, let alone our beloved dogs, is not cool.  It flies in the face of everything positive about our pets.  But for a moment, place yourself in the shoes of someone with a service dog.  Bringing their dog into establishments goes far beyond accessibility.  Their life very well may depend upon having their service dog with them.  Today, we are seeing reports of service animals (wrongly) being denied entry to certain businesses or locations.  While this is illegal, it’s also very harmful.  It’s furthering a culture of us against them, isolating the people who depend on their dogs, and inhibiting them from living a life as full as the rest of us.

What Should We Do About It:

Rather than try to pass our pets off as working dogs, we should try to frequent more businesses that allow pets.  We can happily spend time with our loved ones, and people with service animals know ahead of entering these places of our presence there.  This allows them to take precautions such as bringing another friend or family member along in case of an event.  These places love your pets, their employees get the highlight of hanging out with your awesome dog for a bit, and you both get out of the house on a safe, enjoyable errand, dinner, beverage, etc.

Shops like Lowes, TJ Maxx, and Homegoods are pet friendly.  More and more bars and restaurants are either dog friendly or have dog friendly tables.  Parks and other outdoor spaces are becoming meetups for pet parents that allow both to socialize, get out of the house, and get some fresh air.

Tip: If you’re not sure about a local establishment, say because you’ve never seen a pet there, or you just don’t want to cause a scene, pick up the phone and speak with a manager.  Most will tell you their policy, which is either a yes or a no. There are sometimes clauses such as, if you’re dog breaks something or makes a mess you are responsible for the replacement of the item and/or cleaning up the mess.

We all love our pets, and we don’t necessarily think of the ramifications that our actions can have on the people who need service animals. As a society, we all benefit when we look out for each other.


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stranger danger and dogs; people safety with dogs

Stranger Danger and Dogs

Stranger Danger and Dogs

How to Help Minimize Frightening Situations for Your Pet.

There’s good news and bad news if your pet is nervous around strangers.  The good news is that the general public is gaining more knowledge about safe ways to interact (or not) with strange dogs and their owners.  More and more people are learning to ask, “is your dog friendly?” or “can I pet him?” before reaching out their hands or telling their kids to “go say hi!”.  The bad news is that there is still a portion of the public that does not have this knowledge.

Whether your dog is a working dog and should not be distracted, gets nervous with strangers or close proximity to them, or is a rescue and growing used to their new environment there are steps that you can take to help reduce their interactions with kids and strangers.  Training, and desensitization, and avoiding situations that can be frightening are the first step, but there are some additional steps you can take to avoid these encounters.  We’ll take a look at some of them in this article.

Yellow Is a No Go

Thanks to the yellow leash project, the significance of yellow leashes and collars is making the rounds.  Yellow has become the color that signifies a dog is nervous, working, or for some other reason should not be pet.

Red Means Stop

In addition to yellow leashes and collars, some pet owners will use a red leash or collar to ward off people and children who might otherwise approach their pet.  Opt for Bright shades of red that will catch people’s attention and hopefully give them pause when approaching.

There are a few downsides with these color choices.  Some people simply like the color or like the way the color looks on their dog.  Other nondog owners might now be aware of the significance of the colors.

Spell It Out

In combination with the yellow or red options, or even on other harnesses, it’s a good idea to also spell out “No Pet” so that people clearly get the message.  These options are available both online and in certain pet stores.  Bandanas are another option for displaying the “I’m nervous” or “do not pet me” message to strangers who might assume otherwise.

Other Alternatives:

Muzzles

While it might seem mean or extreme to muzzle your dog, it can help send the message that children or untrained adults should not approach you.  Muzzles can also help to reduce bites or the perceived threat of a dog bit if the situation does progress too far.

Staying Calm

Dogs take their cues from their humans.  If you’re nervous, anxious, or even fearful of a situation and its potential outcome, your dog is going to pick up on that energy.  When you see a group of people approaching, the best, and first thing you can do for your dog is to take a deep breath and form a plan. In doing so, you now have the ability to reassure your dog that he/she is okay.

Moving to Avoid Confrontation

If you’re out for a walk or taking a hike and see people approaching, you have the time to maneuver your dog to the side or off the trail.  Another helpful move is to place your body between the dog and the source of his/her fear.  This body language can be a signal to other people that your dog is not friendly and should not be approached.

Communication

Whether it’s talking to the approaching people, or your dog, communication can be key in getting through the situation without any altercation or confrontation.  Talking out loud to your dog in a calming and reassuring tone, but loud enough for the people to hear you can be a non-confrontational way of informing the people that your dog is not one for socialization.  Making eye contact and saying hi to the oncoming people, gets their attention.  And if they’re in the middle of telling their kids or approaching your dog themselves, it gives you the ability to simply apologize and explain that your dog doesn’t do well in social situations.

 

For more activities that you and your dog can enjoy click here!


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View from a plane window

Flying with Your Pet

Come Fly Away With Me

A Short Guide to Safely Flying with Your Pet.

Summer travel is on the rise as we plan our much-needed vacations.  If you’re making plans to bring the entire family, this is one article you want to read.  Many vacations are great for road trips, but there are other destinations that require a plane ride.  How to safely fly with your cat or dog (or other companion animal) might seem like a moving target.

You can stop chasing your tail.  We’ve got what you need to get started if you’re planning to use airline travel with your pet this summer.  Start here, and then when you’ve made your travel plans, be sure to check with the individual airline on their policies, rates, and restrictions.

Types of Pets

While we firmly believe that all pets are created equally, airlines see them a bit differently.  Almost all major airlines break animals into companion animals and working or service animals.  They strongly differentiate between pets who are trained to assist their humans in some way and other companion animals.  One of the reasons for this differentiation is the method or manner in which pets are allowed to travel on airlines.  You can find more about the Department of Transportation’s Guidelines here.

Companion Animals

Typically what we think of when we hear the word pets.  While you pet might have obedience training, or be well behaved, they aren’t trained in a specific task.  Companion animals are allowed on board planes but there are fees involved.  Each airline has a different fee structure so be sure to check your specific requirements when planning your trip.  Companion animals that are small enough to fit in a carry-on item and be safely stowed under your seat are allowed to travel in the plane’s cabin.  Larger animals such as large breed dogs must be crated and stowed in the luggage or cargo area of the plane.

Service Animals

Service animals are those trained in a specific task, whether that is as a seeing eye dog, a mobility aid, or a medical detection dog just for example.  These dogs are highly trained and have important jobs to do.  Most airlines do not charge a fee for service animals to accompany their humans on a plane and may travel in the cabin of the plane with no restrictions as they are almost always leashed and are trained to ignore distractions.

Emotional Support Animals

In addition to service animals, there is an additional category of working pets called emotional support animals.  These have much less training and generally only require a strong bond with their human.  Often these animals are prescribed by a mental healthcare professional.  These support animals are also allowed to travel in the cabin of a plane regardless of size or breed.

Emotional support animals are coming under more and more scrutiny of late.  There have been quite a few stories about passengers refusing to sit next to a support animal or being attacked by one. Other stories include animals we might never think of being a support animal, oh say like a snake, or a peacock, brought on board a plane.  While many of these animals genuinely serve in a supportive capacity, there has been an abuse of the system by travelers and their companions as these dogs don’t have a fee and can be brought into the cabin of a plane.  Airlines are seeking to crack down on these instances.  This has prompted other articles such as this one by Orivs, and this one by CertaPet.

If you are traveling with an emotional support animal, be aware that you may be required to show proof of your need in the form of a note or prescription from your medical provider.

Additional restrictions: Some airlines have put in place age restrictions, stating that animals younger than four months cannot fly in the cabin.  If you’re planning to fly with something other than a dog or cat, check with your airline as now some have placed restrictions on the types of animals they’ll allow.  Additionally, with some of the recent news stories, some airlines have put in place dog breed restrictions these mainly affect the bully breeds or “pit bull type” dogs.

Making the Decision to Fly

Airline travel is stressful.  From the rush of people, to arriving in new and unknown destinations, to the noise, there are a lot of different things that can stress one (human or animal) out.  The first question when determining if and how you can fly with your pet, is it good for them.  If your dog or cat has severe separation anxiety, it might be better to bring them with you, but you’re worried about them flying in the cargo hold of an airplane in which case maybe leaving them in the care of a loved one or finding an alternative method of travel is ideal.

If you’re planning on travelling with your pet, check out our article on microchips here.

If Air Travel is a Must:

The first step when flying with your pet is to determine into which category they fall.  Then, check the rules and restrictions for that category with your favorite airlines.  If your preferred airline is too restrictive, try searching a few of their competitors.  Remember that not all airlines are the same.  Some accept more exotic pets while others do not.  If you have a smaller pet such as a small dog or a cat, you typically will be able to board the plane with them.

If you have a larger dog, you may need to check the size restrictions and make the appropriate plans to have them fly in the cargo hold.  This may include dropping them off and picking them up in separate areas of the airport.  You’ll also need to look at the recommendations for providing your pets with the safest accommodations for their flight.

Third, it’s a great idea to talk to your veterinarian about your specific pet and airline travel.  Your vet knows your baby and will be able to help advise you on the best and safest means of travelling together.

Fourth, save up some extra cash.  If you were to bring a human friend, you’d have to purchase them an extra ticket.  In a similar vein, and as stated above, almost all airlines charge fees to fly with your pets.  Look these up and pay them ahead of time when you are booking your travel so that there are no surprises.


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seniors man and woman walking side by side outdoors with man walking dog

Pets & Senior Citizens

Benefits

Popular culture and media show us that people of all ages benefit from pets. Seniors especially benefit from this type of relationship. Pets not only enhance seniors’ lives but also improve their health. There are many amazing benefits that pets can bring into an elderly person’s life.

Pets provide a comfort system and help to increase the production of the feel-good hormone, serotonin. They have also been shown to reduce blood pressure and stress levels in humans and can help lower cholesterol, fight depression, and help protect against heart conditions. All great reasons for seniors to have a pet!

Pets & Loneliness

Recent studies have proven that pets can cheer up lonely seniors and enhance their quality of life. One of the most challenging aspects of aging is isolation and loss of social interaction. Many senior citizens may begin to feel cut off from the outside world and struggle with depression. Those feelings of loneliness can lead to stress, anxiety, and medical complications.

If you know an elderly person living alone and struggling to find the motivation to get out, ask them to pet-sit for you. See if they’d be interested in fostering a homeless pet. Or offer to come to visit them with your four-legged companion, especially those with no family near-by.

Pets in Senior Living Communities

Many senior living communities do have Pet Coordinators to help care for the animals to assure they are getting proper activity, food, medication, and love. These pet-friendly communities are thriving as pets have become community mascots and give residents reasons for social calls; all great for seniors’ stimulation.

Finding the Right Pet-Friendly Community

It’s important to do your research when choosing a pet friendly community as some communities offer dog grooming and dog walking services for many sizes and breeds, while others only allow small pets with a weight restriction (usually under 20 pounds) — limiting the pets to small birds, cats, dogs, fish or rabbits. Some communities only allow pets on a case-by-case basis. So, make sure to contact your communities of choice and ask about their pet policy.

Caring for an animal stimulates physical activity and gives many people a feeling of purpose. This is very important for seniors to incorporate into their everyday lives. Pets need exercise too! This companionship often promotes the purpose and healthy living, the relationship is not one-sided; the benefits are reciprocal to both parties.

Many times, the best prescription for healthier living comes with four legs and fur. If laughter is the best medicine, then pets must be the best cure!