Category Archives: Companion

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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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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!