Hot Weather Safety Tips for Dogs

Now that spring has officially sprung, summertime festivities are here! Between the barbeques, games, and Fourth of July festivities, there are some important things to consider when it comes to your pets.

Be it extreme heat or excessive summer travel, warm weather can be especially tough on animals, so it is critically important to keep the unique summertime needs of your animals in mind.

To help ensure you and your furry companions get the most out of the summer’s beautiful weather, we’ve put together a list of helpful tips and considerations you can use to avoid common dangers. Take a look!

1. Avoid Exercising Pets in Hot Weather

While this may seem like an obvious hazard to avoid, sometimes, it can stay hot all day — making it difficult for us to keep our pets happy and healthy at the same time. During the hot summer days, walk your dog in the early morning or late evening, when the temperatures are not as hot and there is more shade available. On excessively hot days, keep walks and playtime short for everyone’s safety.

Moreover, pets react to heat in unexpected ways. For example, you probably know that dogs pant to cool themselves down, but did you know they also sweat through their paws? While the temps outside may cool down, that tar road that’s been soaking up heat all day can quickly exhaust your pet or burn their sensitive pads.

With this in mind, be sure to look out for common warning signs that your pet is overheating:

  • Glassy eyes
  • Hyperventilation
  • Pale coloring
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Erratic pulse/heartbeat  
Heat stroke can occur anywhere — not just in a hot car — so it is important to know the signs! [Image courtesy of Petplan.]

2. Know Your Pet’s Limits in Summer Heat

For those of us with new additions to the family it can be difficult to gauge how long an animal is comfortable spending time in the heat. When there are several animals to a household, it can also be difficult to recognize that some pets fair better than heat than others.

For example, dog breeds like German Shepherds or Akitas have a far shorter tolerance for heat than Pointers or Retrievers. The point is that like people, our pets have unique tolerances. Older or short-nosed breeds are also less tolerant of heat By keeping a close eye on their individual thresholds, you can ensure that your pets stay happy and healthy this summer.

[Image courtesy of SheKnows.]

3. Keep Fresh Water and Places to Cool Down Available

Again, while it may seem obvious, it is often overlooked. Keeping enough water and shade available for your pets is paramount to their well-being. All that panting and heavy breathing can dehydrate them quickly, so be sure to keep deep bowls of water out.

Additionally, it’s important to provide shaded areas where you pets can cool down. Considering the fact that animals regulate heat differently than we do, alternatives like fans won’t do the trick. Instead, consider tarps or tree shade and stay away from closed spaces like dog houses—which obstruct airflow and can make the problem worse.

4. Keep Your Pets in Mind When Traveling

Summer is the time for road trips, vacations, and lots of traveling. However, this can also mean dangerous situations for your pets. First, NEVER leave you pets alone in a car. In 70 degree weather, car temperatures can exceed 104 degrees — leaving pets at high risk of heat stroke. If you see a pet left alone in a hot car, take down the plate number and call either animal services or the police. In some states, Good Samaritan laws allow people to legally remove animals from vehicles, so be sure to check up on your state’s laws.

Summertime is also when the majority of us take our pets on hiking trips and adventures. With this in mind, pets are often in high-traffic areas like roads and parking lots, so always keep your pets on leashes until they’re safe from traffic and in a designated leash-free area. Also, be sure that your dog is microchipped and has a visible form of identification, like a tag or collar; this will greatly increase the chances of finding your dog if he or she does get lose or wander off.

When traveling with pets, be sure to plan ahead and keep your dog’s needs in mind.
[Image courtesy of Column Five.]

5. Keep an Eye on Your Pets During the Festivities

Summertime is the season for barbeques, pool parties, fireworks and more. However, these celebrations can be a stressful or dangerous time for your pets. First, summer is synonymous with flea and tick outbreaks. It’s virtually impossible to eradicate fleas, ticks, and other pests in your outdoor space, it’s important to get your pets on a regimen of preventative medications to limit their risk of fleas and Lyme disease.

Second, festivities are a stressful time for pets. If you’re thinking about attending a party or hosting one of your own, it may be best to keep your four-legged friend home and away from the commotion.

Additionally, the loud noises from fireworks are a common stressor for pets— which explains why more pets go missing on the Fourth of July than any other day of the year. With this in mind, consider keeping your pets indoors. If you know your pet gets anxious around loud noises, consider using a therapy blanket or vest designed to help calm dogs and lessen the stress of loud noises and sounds.

Read more about keeping your pets safe during Fourth of July festivities.

Interested in looking at local pets up for adoption? Visit the Survivor Tails website or check us out on Facebook!

Dog Training 101: Top Tips for Best Behavior

When you adopt a dog or add a new pet to the family, training is a critical part of establishing a routine and ensuring success. Here are some tips for training your dog as well as insight into different forms of training.

Beginner Basics: Establishing a Potty Plan

The most important first step with puppies (or even older dogs that a new to your household) is establishing a bathroom schedule.

Creating a consistent, routine is critical. Bathroom schedules must be routine to establish proper habits and teach dogs to understand that they go to the bathroom outside and not in the house.

Age is a good marker for a time frame of how long dogs can hold their bladder. The general rule of thumb is that dogs can hold their bladder one hour for every month of their age, so, if your dog is three months old, they can hold it for three hours. Please note that this is only a general calculation and that accidents happen during potty training.

Since they cannot hold their bladder as long, puppies need to go out often while they are house-training.

For dogs less than six months old potty breaks will be more frequent and happen at regular intervals, such as 30 minutes after each meal and after they drink water. Dogs 6 months to 1-year-old can hold their urine and bowel movements for longer, but still, require frequent trips outside on a regular basis.

Often dogs will give you cues that they need to go out. Pay attention to signs, especially as you and your new family member are getting to know one another. As your dog grows and learns, you will become more familiar with their cues, such as going to the door or trying to get your attention another way, making it easier.

Remember, your dog is learning — it is up to you to provide proper structure and rewards for good behavior. Read more tips about house-training here.

When house-training your new pup, be sure to take them out often and establish a regular bathroom schedule

Hiring a Trainer: When is the Right Time

One of the most common questions that dog owners have is when to enlist the help of a training. The answer is — the sooner, the better. Most trainers offer classes starting at 4-6 months of age. By then, your puppy should know some basic commands, such as sit, down, come, and possibly, stay.

Don’t worry if your dog does not have full command of these cues. Trainers are professionals and they want to help you as much as possible. Establishing an early relationship with a trainer will be beneficial to both you and your dog, especially if you a training refresher in the future.

Never Too Old: Teaching Older Dogs

We are all familiar with the classic adage “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” However, that is not true. Older dogs can and should still be learning as they continue to develop and mature. This is especially true when adopting an adult or senior pet — these animals often come from unstructured environments and need routine and training to settle into a new home. The good news is that more mature dogs often have a basic understanding of commands and house-training; they may just require a fresher as they are learning their new home and family.

Steps to Success: Types of Training

There are several different training methods for dogs and cats. Here is a look at some of the most popular:

Positive Reinforcement: Positive reinforcement is probably the most popular type of training. It is particularly helpful with potty training, as mentioned above. With this type of training, a reward (treat, praise) is given for good behavior, and bad behavior is ignored.

Clicker Training: This method is fairly popular as well. The premise is similar to positive reinforcement. The clicker is used to reinforce good behavior. When you give your dog a command, you click the clicker as they perform that command, so that they associate the click sound with getting a reward, such as a treat.

Relationship-Based Training: This method helps to build the relationship between dog and owner. This effective method is designed to let the owner and dog bond together while training. Read more about relationship-based training.

Positive reinforcement is a great training tool for dogs.

Training Resources

Trainers:

Training Books:

The ASPCA also offers lots of tips and resources to help with many common dog behavior issues.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Pet Adoption & Children: 4 Tips to Pick the Perfect Match for Your Family

There’s nothing quite like the excitement of bringing a new friend home to your family. Whether you’re looking for a new exercise buddy, a companion for cuddling, or anything in between, choosing a new pet is a big deal.

For families with children, however, choosing the right pet can be especially hard. You want the best for your kids, and want to make sure your pet and children are the best possible fit for each other.

To help make sure your newest family member is the perfect match for you and your children, we’ve put together a list of helpful tips to help you find the ideal rescue companion.

1. Understand the Kind of Characteristics You’re Looking for in a Pet

White dog with red toy

When it comes to pets and children, having a clear idea of what characteristics you want in your pet can go a long way. For example, dogs with high energy can make great backyard playmates and adventure buddies, but if the pet is too physical, it may not be an ideal match, especially if you have young children.

Even if you do not have young children, consider if you have other companion animals; many dogs love having a buddy, while others do best as an only pet. The same goes for cats and mixed-species households.

Plenty of dogs are great around kids (and other animals), so it is essential to understand your needs and do thorough research before adopting. Take the time to understand what kind of traits you would like your pet to have — attributes that compliment your family and your lifestyle — and look for a dog or cat that matches them best!

2. Consider Personality and Temperament Over Breed

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Too often, families will choose a pet based on the overall reputation or look of a breed. While a pet’s breed can certainly play a role in its behavior and temperament, their individual personality and overall behavior are far more critical.

Just like people, every pet has unique qualities that make him or her special. When it comes time to find the perfect match for your children, understanding these special quirks and personality traits can give you a much clearer and dependable idea of how well a potential pet will fit in with your kids.

3. Keep Your Living Space in Mind

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The type of pet you choose for your kids greatly depends on your family and your family’s living space. Large dog breeds are often better suited for households with room to accommodate their energy, such as a large fenced-in yard or close access to a park.

For those that live in apartments or smaller sized homes, it may be appropriate to consider pets more tolerant to small-space, indoor living. Cats make great household companions and don’t require a daily walk or romp around the yard. 

By keeping your living space in mind, you’ll be able to provide the ideal home for your pet, while creating an atmosphere that your pets and children can both enjoy.

4. Consider Where You’re Getting Your Pet

If you’re reading this, we’ll assume that you’re considering adopting your newest family member, which is excellent!

Good Boy

Unfortunately, breed stereotypes and misinformation can sway people to thinking they should buy a dog from a breeder or pet store. Bred animals live sad lives, often in deplorable conditions, and nearly all pet-store animals come from puppy mills. With 7.6 million companion animals in shelters across the U.S., you can rest assured that there’s a perfect pet for your children patiently waiting for a new forever home. So please, adopt, don’t shop!

When it comes to finding the perfect pet for your kids, it’s crucial to understand your new buddy as an individual, rather than a “type” —  which goes far beyond breed. Another benefit of adopting is that shelters and rescue groups know much more about the overall temperament of an animal and can help you gauge their characteristics, personality, and temperament, and get a sense of whether or not a specific pet would be a good fit within your home.

Interested in looking at local pets up for adoption? Visit our website or check us out on Facebook for a list of adoptable dogs.

Winter Activities for Dogs to Keep Them Happy and Healthy

During wintertime, it is not always easy coming up with activities to keep your dog happy and active. Temperatures drop below freezing, you have to deal with rain, snow, and sleet as well as concerns about the chemicals used on the sidewalks to melt the snow hurting your furry friend’s paws. Keep reading for some tips on entertaining your dog and helping them release some energy during the winter.


Practice or Teach your Dog Some New Tricks

Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? For dogs or puppies that don’t know a lot of commands, you can practice very useful ones, such as “sit”, “stay” or “come.” Once you have the basics down, you can move on to more advanced commands, such as “roll over” “speak” or “play dead.”

Although these tricks are not very demanding physically, they require a lot of mental energy from your dog so they are a great winter activity that can be practiced indoors. Remember to limit your training sessions to about 15 minutes so that it stays fun for you and your dog. Practice these tricks daily and your dog will be fully trained by spring time!

Schedule Playtime with Other Dogs

If your dog is good with other dogs, it’s always good to put a playdate in the calendar. Just as with kids most dogs like to socialize and will even correct each other while playing, making it easier for you to supervise. If playing indoors, make sure that they have enough space to play safely. If outdoors, make sure it is not too cold and that they have an appropriate place outside where they can run and play, such as a fenced in yard or park. Bring some toys and let the fun begin! Remember, all dogs play differently so be sure to use your best judgment for your pet.


Take Your Dog for a Walk

Unless the temperatures drop below zero, it’s okay to take your dog outside for short periods of time. Most medium and large dogs can walk outside for about 30 minutes as long as the temperature is above 20 degrees F and they are in good health. If your dog is on the smaller side, limit their outdoor exposure to 20 minutes and consider buying them a coat and protection for their paws.  For pups who don’t like wearing little booties, try a dog-safe gel that can be applied to paws to help prevent cracks and bleeding. Hurtta has an amazing collection of coats for dogs for all types of weather!

Sign Your Dog Up for a Class

Winter is the perfect time for an indoor agility or swimming class. There are plenty of classes for dogs who have never swum before as well as  advanced swimmers. Just as with humans, swimming is easy on their joints, so it is perfect  for senior dogs or those with arthritis.

 A new class such as agility will also provide a mental and physical stimulation for your dog, making it the perfect activity for dogs with plenty of energy! There are many great resources in the Boston area, but a quick online search for your area will yield other options for swim classes, doggy daycare, agility classes, and more.

Make Mealtime Fun

There are so many ways to make mealtime fun for your dog. You can grab a treat dispenser or a food puzzle that your dog has to solve in order to get his reward. Make sure you purchase high-quality toys that your dog cannot tear apart — you want to keep them safe and entertained when they’re home alone. And remember, all dogs have different chew strength and habits, so always buy the size and durability appropriate for your dog.

Kongs are very popular and have proven themselves with dogs of all sizes! As an added bonus, food toys and puzzles slow down your dog’s eating pace, keeping him or her safe from gastrointestinal conditions.  

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We know the weather can make it tough, but keeping your dogs happy and active in the winter is very important. Do you have any winter activities that you like to do with your dog? Let us know in the comments!