Since moving to Colorado we’ve seen quite the sway in temps. It was 70, yes 70, last week and this week…well it’s not 70 let’s just say that.
The ASPCA has created an animated infographic highlighting tips to help keep animals safe when the temperatures drop and asked me to share!
While these tips may seem like common sense for some of us, there are so many dogs left outside in negative temps without any shelter at all. And being that we have two short haired dogs who start lifting their paws after a few minutes in negative temps – we totally get it – dogs get cold, too.
So check out these graphics that have vital information on how to help dogs that may be left out in dangerously cold conditions or cats that are living outdoors. #staywarm
Please, people. Give your dogs shelter and a warm place (may I suggest a house?) to stay out of the nasty weather.
We also use Natural Dog Company’s PawTector. Good stuff.
If you are going to give your dog a bath, just make sure there is plenty of time for their fur to completely dry.
We we’re at the vet the other day for a routine checkup and the tech ask if we want to have Rio’s nails clipped. I politely decline and mentioned that we do them ourselves. Meaning, I do them. Antonio refuses as he might cut them too short.
When looking at the prices, I found that they charge 20-something bucks for a nail trim! I mean, I know I’m frugal and all, but seriously? Hire me, I’ll clip your dog’s nails. Totally not out to bash my vet (that we love), because I realize nail trims can be a total pain in the a_ _ for dogs like Lola, so this might be a case of where one ruins it for all.
Back to clipping dog nails. It sucks. Just ask Lola.
Rio on the other hand, piece of cake. 10 nails, followed a biscuit and he’s good to go within a few minutes.
Lola’s nail trims run more along the schedule of a trip to get a manicure. They take forever. She would literally run when she saw the clippers. She would yelp at every trim (drama queen). She would pull her paw away at the very last minute almost causing me to clip her toe off. You name it, she was not an easy patient.
But we’re finally there! I can clip her nails without her running from me, without help from Antonio and without her yelping at each “click” of the clippers. I may be the only one that can trim her nails, but that’s fine by me.
Please note: hardly anything in dog-land is an overnight fix. Everything takes time (and patience). We got to this point with Lola after several months. Months. So obviously don’t expect these tricks to be miracle workers – you still have to put in the time, but over time, your dog will should come around.
So let me save you some time and stress (for yourself and your dog) and share the little tips and tricks for trimming your dog’s nails that have worked for me!
1. Learn how to properly clip nails.
It’s important to learn how to properly trim your dog’s nails before diving in. If you clip too short, they will bleed. Which brings me to my second tip:
And make sure you have good clippers! Crappy clippers can mean un-clean cuts and pain for your dog. We use the Miller’s Forge brand and they have been awesome (and I think we only paid about $10 for them).
2. Always keep Kwik Stop nearby.
This is where Murphy’s Law comes into play – if you don’t have it next to you when trimming your dog’s nails, you’ll accidently cut too short.
3. Trim often.
This is a weekly routine with Lola. The more often you clip, the faster the quick will pull back.
4. Trim near a light or in daylight.
I’m lucky, Lola and Rio have white paws which means I can see their quick. So when I’m trimming their nails, I always make sure to have a bright light behind me or do it in the daytime near a window. This just gives me a little extra insurance and enables me to get as close to the quick as possible without causing the nail to bleed.
5. Bend their front paw back.
This is probably the one tip that helped me make progress with Lola. I eventually got to the point where back paws being trimmed were fine, but front paws? A nightmare. My theory: because she was watching me, she would anticipate the clip and it would freak her out. Here’s my solution:
I started asking her for a sit, giving her a treat and then grabbing her front paw, folding it under so that her paw was facing the ceiling and then I clip one front nail at a time. Treats are given in between. Here’s a visual below:
6. Bring on the treats!
Treats are essential. Don’t even bother if you’re not willing to reward. Lola now associates nail trims with fun and deliciousness. One nail = one treat. A tiny treat, but a treat nonetheless.
I started small, by desensitizing her to the nail clippers. I would touch her feet with the nail clippers and in return she would get a treat. I did this for several days. In between I would also get her used to me touching her paws, something she isn’t particularly fond of either.
Next I would do a few nails at a time and be done for the evening. You can work up to this as well. Start small, if you are making great progress, don’t push it. Oh yeah, did I mention it’s 10 times easier to do this when they are absolutely pooped out?
Sometimes I have to laugh at the text conversations the boyfriend and I have…I mean really, they’re quite romantic:
Me: Morning! Hope your day is going well, how does Rio’s poop look?
BF: Good morning. He didn’t go yet…
Me: Oh, well that’s a good sign! Let me know how it looks when he does go.
BF: He just went poo – it looks much better, mostly solid!
As I was typing out the title to this post I was thinking to myself, “Gross…”. But then I look back at all the times I was in desperate need of advice and was looking for exactly that. Dealing with foster dogs and Lola, who has a very sensitive stomach, we’ve had no shortage of dog diarrhea around here. So here ya go, tips and advice on what to do when your dog has diarrhea.
1. Skip a meal
Give your dog’s systems a chance to flush. Try not to feed anything for at least 12-24 hours.
2. Slowly introduce a bland diet to your dog
After skipping a meal, the next thing I feed my Lola and Rio is a bland meal for at least a couple days. Here’s what we usually make: rice + boiled ground beef + a spoonful of Greek yogurt.
You can also try Rice + boiled chicken (or turkey) + a small amount of pure pumpkin.
3. Pepto Bismol
Seriously. After my vet recommended this, it has been a life (and money) saver. Pepto is something you likely have in your medicine cabinet – and it works. I give Lola and Rio (40-50lbs) a tablespoon or so and serve it right on top of the bland dog food or give it alone. This combined with the above tips has cured many episodes of an upset tummy.
4. Fish Zole
Okay, I won’t lie – when my dogs have had parasites such as giardia, coccidia, or just diarrhea, there isn’t much I wouldn’t have done for a Metronidazole (Flagyl) prescription. It stops diarrhea almost instantly. And yes, we’ve had all of the above. Unfortunately that’s one of the downsides to fostering dogs – but they’re totally worth it.
Well here’s the life-changing news I found out recently: you can buy an over-the-counter product called FISH-ZOLE (found at Petsmart, Walmart…or any fish supply store) which is the prescription Metronidazole (Rx) bottled and labeled for fish tank use. It is a bottle of 250 mg x 100 tablets of Metronidazole. It’s the same tablets that your Vet will prescribe to you for any parasite or diarrhea issue; same tablets, same color, same size – the same. Here’s the recommended dosage: a 25lb dog should get one 250 mg tablet twice per day, a 50lb dog would get two (500mg) tablets twice per day for a total of 5 days.
5. Slowly re-introduce your dog’s regular diet
After your dog has a chance for their system to calm down, work out whatever was upsetting their GI, slowly re-introduce their normal diet. For Lola and Rio we usually make a big batch of the rice and boiled beef, and give a couple spoonfuls on top of their food for the first couple days back on regular food.
Note: These tips have saved us so many times! However, I’m not a vet nor am I advising you not to see a vet – because anytime we think something is wrong with Lola or Rio, we don’t hesitate to make them an appointment. But sometimes we try a new brand of treats or they eat something they shouldn’t and these simple tips have saved us and made them feel better almost immediately. *If your dog has liquid/water consistency stool vs. pudding type stools, it’s time to contact a vet. Liquid stools could lead very quickly to dehydration.
Enough about dog poo, here are some other articles I think you’ll enjoy:
“Born From Love. Driven By Passion. Fighting for Life.”
KAE-O is fighting against the abuse and abandonment of pit bulls by donating 25% of its proceeds to their current non profit partner (currently Karma Rescue in California).
If their mission isn’t enough to persuade you, their amazingly comfy and stylish clothing will. Because we’ve all bought that Gildan cardboard t-shirt that while yes, a portion of the proceeds went to a good cause, is never going to be worn. Not with their clothes! The ‘Save a Life’ hoodie I’m wearing in the photo is seriously my favorite sweatshirt, hands down.
Grounds & Hounds Coffee Co. was started by Jordan Karcher, who just so happens to be a rescue dog owner himself. The company was born out of his passion to give back to the animals by offering delicious coffee – two of the most important things in my life!
Fair trade, organic coffee company where 20% of all revenue received is donated to rescue groups. Pretty awesome. And coming from a coffee snob, I’m confident in saying that you’ll love their coffee.
I’ve been swooning over these dog tags for quite a while after finding them on Etsy. And after getting to know owner and founder, Melissa, I knew it was a company I’d proudly stand behind. Their customer service is top-notch, their designs are amazing, and they are very reasonably priced!
Check out the full line of unique, artisan, pet oriented id tags & accessories from Woo Woo Workshop!
And trust me, we have definitely heard our fair share of the “woo woo” song!
4. Great books for dog lovers!
If you haven’t read the story of Wallace the pit bull you’re missing out. This book will have you laughing, tearing up, and cheering Wallace on in every chapter. Pit bull advocates and dog lovers alike will enjoy this amazing true story of an underdog who rose to the top, becoming one of the most influential pit bulls in history!
*For a $25 donation to Wallace the Pit Bull Foundation, you will receive a Wallace book, pawtographed with Wallace’s paw stamp! Each book is hand stamped from an image of Wallace’s actual paw print taken on the day he passed. Purchase on WallaceThePitBull.com!
If there’s anyone that has a magnificent way with words it’s Ken Foster, author of I’m a Good Dog. His insight, intelligence and stories will move you beyond words. Fellow pit bull lovers, this book is a true gift; one that should be given and received.
*Purchase I’m a Good Dog by Ken Foster through Amazon.com.
5. Pet Subscription Box
Subscription boxes just might be taking over the world and for good reason: they are a darn good idea. I mean, who doesn’t like to get packages in the mail? I feel like a giddy nine year old waiting for a package to come – so knowing that something for my dogs would be coming every month (and what’s inside is a surprise!), is a perfect gift.
I personally recommend BarkBox – they are a great company who believes in giving back (they’re a sponsor for the Monster Holiday Drive we are participating in and will donate one box to our drive for every subscription)! This box is guaranteed to brighten you and your dog’s day when it arrives at your doorstep each month!
These aren’t your average bag of dog treats, people; these are more like the filet mignon of dog treats. I’m kind of picky about what goes in our dogs mouths if you haven’t already noticed. And there’s no doubt that they eat cleaner and healthier than I do. Check out our review of Spot Farms treats from earlier in 2014!
We love that Spot Farms offers human grade treats made using the very best antibiotic-free meats from farm families across the U.S. You won’t find any fillers such as corn, wheat or soy in their treats!
“We make sure our treats are chock full of things that are good for your dog, like antioxidant-rich cranberries and Omega-3–rich flaxseeds.” -Spot Farms
Find Spot Farms dog treats at Petco, Wag.com and too many other places to list, ha. Check out their site for the deets.
7. Homemade Dog Biscuits
If you have the time and you’re looking for a small thoughtful gift to hand out to a handful of friends, homemade dog treat recipes are totally fun to make (and cost effective)! Get creative and package them in cute little bags. Here are a couple of my favorite treats that would package well:
Let’s admit, we’ve all been at that point with a dog where we are frustrated and confused. With Lola, I have felt this way many times. She was our first dog (not counting childhood dogs) and besides being ridiculously easy to potty train, she has challenged us with everything else. Rio has been the ‘easy’ dog and generally listens and picks up on things very quick.
Not that Lola is a bad dog. No, not at all. She doesn’t chew, doesn’t destroy things (besides stuffies and her toys) and is really one of the most loving dogs. Our issues: she doesn’t have a reliable recall. At all. She has a little bit of a ‘barking at unnecessary things’ issue. And as Antonio puts it, she can be a little bit of a burra at times.
To say Lola has kept me on my toes as her handler would not be an understatement. She’s tricky, because if you put her in an obedience class she has one of the most reliable recalls of all the dogs. And it makes sense: run to mom when called (versus strange people that I don’t know) and get rewarded with awesome treats – no problemo! Now put flyball practice into the situation and it becomes a game. Or insert a squirrel or rabbit into the scenario and you won’t get that reliable “come” until the object is out of sight.
“We’ve tried everything and nothing is working.”
Have you ever caught yourself saying that?
It’s easy, really easy to become frustrated, lose hope and push the issue aside using the excuse that it’s the dog’s fault. But what if it isn’t the dog? Maybe we just need to try harder, try differently, try understanding…Training and learning is an ongoing process as a dog owner, as a human being. And I notice that when I start to slack in my duties as a dog owner, it reflects in Lola and Rio.
She wasn’t purposely being stubborn as I just assumed she was – I was misguiding her. I was her biggest obstacle in training.
So maybe it’s not that your dog is stubborn, unwilling and just doing it out of spite. I believe that once we begin to realize this and make the change, that we’ll start noticing a difference. I don’t blame Lola’s recall issues on her – we as her owners have not practiced as we should nor have we set her up to succeed.
Lola was capable, Lola is capable. She just needs the right tools presented to her in a clear manner that she understands. Dogs generally want to please you and earn your acceptance and they will work hard to do so. But we have to make sure we are enabling them to succeed. And if we are continually rewarding them (in their minds) with the things we don’t want, why should we expect change?
It’s never an easy time when you personally or someone you know has lost a pet. I went through this not too long ago with a friend and have gone through it with my childhood dogs. I’m still convinced Lola and Rio are living until they’re at least 30 years old, you with me?
So the question that always arises, “What should I get them?”
With my friend, I wanted it to be a thoughtful memorial for her dog without being something that she would’ve likely purchased herself (such as an urn).
Here are several ideas that I hope will help you when you know a pet who has crossed ‘the rainbow bridge’:
ONE – Pet Memorial Stone
I personally love this idea – it is such a great memorial idea that will work for anyone – male or female. Whether placed in your yard, garden (or anywhere you please) it is something that will last a lifetime.
This is actually one of the gifts that I gave a friend. This is a great idea because you can customize the charms and personalize it with their initial. And this necklace is actually something that I would wear on a daily basis.
We have not touched any flea and tick preventatives that contain chemicals since the beginning of the year. It was time to pay attention to what we were applying to our dogs and I regret not taking action sooner. After all, what we put on their skin is absorbed into their body and organ systems. I find it a little scary that tests on laboratory animals with active ingredients found in spot-on products resulted in thyroid cancer, liver and kidney toxicity, and convulsions.
So that meant buh-bye Frontline.
Not to mention, I was a little disappointed after we came back from a hike and pulled off 10 ticks between the two dogs. A week after applying Frontline. Ick.
So I began the search for a natural and safe solution to repel fleas and ticks from the pooches.
I was overwhelmed at the options and also the reviews that I was reading. Some appeared to do nothing, some received fairly good reviews and other options such as essential oils were said to be just as dangerous as the chemical-filled repellents if not used properly.
1. Only Natural Pet Flea & Tick Tag: this tag attaches to the dog’s collar and uses holistic technology that repels fleas and ticks by using your pet’s own bio-energetic field. We have had this tag on Lola for about three months now and no ticks thus far. Our house backs up to a wooded area and we also go on hikes and walks throughout the neighborhood. It’s said to last for up to a year – making the initial ~$40-50 investment seem minimal. More info on the Flea & Tick Tag from Pet360.
2. GNC Flea & Tick Wipes: I could take or leave these. They were nice to just “wipe and go” but I actually ended up just using them on my own arms and legs. The wipes themselves were rather small, thin, and hard to wipe across the fur. It also didn’t seem to distribute much of the repellent on the dogs. I would’ve needed about five wipes to feel like I really protected Lola. So maybe I’ll just keep these for myself. If it came in a spray, this might be much easier to apply thoroughly. I’m just glad I bought these on clearance for $4.99.
3. Apple Cider Vinegar Spray: we have used apple cider vinegar for many uses with our dogs. And while we don’t really have a problem with fleas in Minnesota, I’d definitely use as a repellent if I lived elsewhere (crossing fingers this will be someday…). For a simple flea repellent spray, mix two parts ACV to one part water. It’s believed that fleas cannot handle the odor or taste of the apple cider vinegar. Plus, it can even be used as a rinse if your dog already has fleas. Check out Kristen’s blog post on Well Minded about using apple cider vinegar as a repellent.
4. Natural Flea & Tick Spot On Treatment: we used this on Lola and Rio before we went to Colorado. My complaint about this product was that it is extremely oily. Like take Frontline and multiply by 10. It even discolored Rio’s fur between his shoulders until we bathed him. And then anytime we would go to pet him or Lola our hands would be full of the almond oil mixture because it managed to spread out into about an 8-inch circle. Other than that, it seemed to do the job for the week we were out there (no ticks). It eventually absorbed in as well, although it did take several days. I’m not sure it would work for the full month that it’s claimed to – the smell seemed to almost disappear completely after a week or so and we usually bathe our dogs more than once a month. I probably wouldn’t purchase this product again.
5. Essential Oils: essential oils can be very helpful if used correctly. I’m finding out there is quite a bit of research involved and even contrasting information out there – so do your research, consult with a professional, and educate yourself before using on your dog.
• 1 Drop of Thieves Hand Soap or Castile Soap (emollient)
Combine ingredients in a spray bottle and shake. Spritz on as needed. You can also use this recipe on yourself and horses.
Another option is to place a drop or two of oils on their collar or in a collar diffuser to deter insects and ticks.
Things to keep in mind when using essential oils:
Just because a product is natural, does not mean it is safe. While essential oils can be very therapeutic and helpful, they can also cause harm to your dog (+ you typically pay for what you get with oils).
How much and how often you have to apply oils depend on the general health of your dog, where you live, weight and daily activities.
Never apply essential oils directly to your pet’s skin without properly diluting them or using a carrier oil (mixing with olive oil, coconut oil, almond oil, grape seed oil to name a few).
Essential oils that should not be used on animals: Anise, Clove Leaf/Bud, Garlic, Horseradish, Thyme, Wintergreen, or Yarrow, to name a few.*
About a month ago, I walked Lola for the first time in almost two years on a regular collar. Without being pulled. I wasn’t sure if I would ever be able to say that.
As many of you are aware, a while back we switched to a trainer who uses all positive reinforcement and clicker training. And our experiences couldn’t be better.
In the few short weeks that we had been working with Linda Legare CPDT-KA-KPCTP, we made more progress than we did in several months at the first training facility we took Lola to when she was a pup.
Instead of punishing unwanted behaviors (i.e. pulling), we built positive associations with desired behaviors. We learned to be patient and consistent. We began to teach our dogs what we wanted them to do and rewarding them when doing so.
When we are outside, there are a squirrels, cars, birds, people…distractions. We had to increase the treat value whenever we were outside. For us, this meant using beef liver or chicken (hot dogs and lunchmeat are also great options). If I were to bring kibble or something ‘boring’, Lola would’ve never been willing to work for those – so that was part of figuring out what makes Lola tick.
We first worked on reinforcing Lola being next to our side and making eye contact. Whenever she would do so we would click and treat. We began building this focus inside our house and then brought her out in the yard and so forth.
When the walks began, we started out in the boring part of the neighborhood. We walked the opposite way from her favorite ‘run-crazy, play-disc-and-ball’ park. After all, we wanted to set her up to succeed.
We also only worked on strict heeling for about 5 minutes of the walk. We didn’t want to burn her out and as long as she wasn’t pulling on the leash, let’s face it, we were happy.
Possibly the most important thing we changed: we stopped allowing her to pull us. This was likely the hardest part, as easy as it truly is.
Lola walks on my left side – so to set up our walk position, I held the leash and clicker in my right hand (sometimes even put my wrist through the leash handle) and treats in my left (closest to her).
She then chose whether to keep the leash loose or walk out to the end of her leash with full tension on. I left the leash alone. I did not pull her back, I did not yank on it. Instead, I did my hardest to keep her attention. Patience is key here. This meant a short time between each command (combined with a lot of coaxing noises coming from my mouth, ha). Walk a couple steps, stop and sit, walk a few more steps, stop and sit. This kept her on her toes and thinking, about me, about what to do. Whenever she made eye contact > click, treat. Whenever she was in the correct heel position > click, treat. Whenever she sat next to my side > click, treat. In the beginning, it was a lot of click, treat, click, treat, click, treat. Note to self, bring a lot of tiny treats.
When she broke her concentration (which happened a lot) and ran to the end of her leash (also happened a lot), I stopped dead in my tracks and didn’t budge. The moment she broke the tension in the leash and turned back towards me > click, treat. This took longer than desired in some cases. And sometimes, she didn’t turn back to look at me on her own. In those instances, I looked next to my side where she should have been and said outloud, “Where is Lola? Come, Lola” and directed her to the correct position. Once she was there, we started all over again. Sometimes (quite often) we didn’t make it very far on our walks, but in reality – we did. We were taking baby steps that would soon prove their worth.
Once we started getting better and building focus, we began the walk on her harness (the Freedom Harness) and about one-third of the way into the walk, I would switch and clip the leash onto her regular, flat collar. The first few times it didn’t go so well. She immediately pulled to the end of her leash and my reaction was the same – stop. She looked back and turned towards me – yes!! Click, treat. I then began coaxing her along and maintaining eye contact for several strides and kept clicking and treating every time. Before I knew it, we had just walked at least 50 feet with her not pulling! I was beyond thrilled. Maybe, just maybe, we would be able to walk on the leash like a team one day!
Stop jerking the leash. Since switching trainers and methods, we had to nix this bad habit ourselves. Instead of ‘popping’ the leash if she didn’t do as we requested, we instead reward her for the good. The progress we made in just two months was mind blowing.
And as I mentioned before, another one of the most helpful tips was to use a shorter chain of commands. Walk a few steps and sit. Walk a few more steps – sit. Walk one step – sit. Keep your dog on their toes and thinking. This really worked great if Lola was having a hard time focusing on me. We weren’t making it anywhere in record time, but that wasn’t exactly our intentions.
This video below was from a recent walk we took together. I’m sooo proud of her.
Does your dog pull? Have you been able to make progress? I truly encourage you to find a trainer in your area and begin using clicker-training. Truly putting the time and effort in and setting a goal for you and your dog will make a world of difference. I used to get so frustrated with Lola and myself and would never make it more than a few days of trying a new method, but trust me, you can do it – we did! Persistence, patience, and repetition.
Try not to get frustrated and only work on your walking for about 10 minutes at a time – and remember, even a few seconds of your dog focusing on you is improvement! If you notice yourself getting irritated, just stop and come back to it later. Good luck!
I have a special guest today sharing tips for dealing with storm and loud-noises-in-general anxiety. His name is Opie. Opie is a rescued, 15 year-old pup who is owned by a good friend of mine, Trish. Trish has pretty much “been through it all” when it comes to dogs and she is always one of the first friends I call when I have those, “Oh my gosh, this happened…what can I do!?” moments.
Luckily, Lola and Rio do not seem to even flinch with all of the crashes of thunder and lightning that have seemed to be taking over as of last week. And the sound of fireworks, lit off by our teenage neighbors quite frequently during any given week when the temperature is above 65, also doesn’t seem to bother them. However, I know plenty of friends who dread storms, loud booms, and fireworks because their dog becomes a frantic mess! So…let’s let Opie tell us a thing or two about what has and hasn’t worked for them!
Thunder Days & Boomie Nights – by Opie Phillips
The white stuff is gone from the ground and the green stuff has arrived. That means it won’t be long before the humans do their annual ritual of blowing things up and making loud noises when it is dark outside. Don’t get me wrong, dawgs… the boomie holiday is great because humans move their kitchen outside and drop their burgers and hot dogs and potato chips on the ground. And they forget to watch the table sometimes so we can sneak some really good food, too.
When I was a young pup in Arizona, I actually liked thunder boomies, firework boomies, lightning and parties. I moved to Minnesota when I was about three years old and the first year Dog Mom took Gomer and me to the park for the fireworks. We loved it and had a great time. The second year on the boomie holiday, some teenagers threw some firecrackers at me while we were walking on the trail. I jumped in the air even though there wasn’t a fence! I was really scared; after that, I wasn’t the same. Anytime I heard a sudden loud noise – car backfiring, thunder, fireworks or even if Dog Mom dropped something – I kind of freaked out. Okay, to be perfectly honest, I really, really freaked out.
One time when Dog Mom wasn’t home during the fireworks, I broke a window and got out of the apartment. Another time, during a thunderstorm, I pushed the patio doors out of the wall and ran and ran…and ran. I wore the pads off my feet that time; I couldn’t help it. The noise was more scary than the pain in my feet. Dog Mom came home and she chased me for three hours. Truth is, I didn’t hear her or see her, I was so scared. When the thunder stopped, I stopped running and she carried me home.
I guess what I’m saying, dawgs, is that I had a really bad case of crazy. We tried everything the people we knew would suggest to help me not be so scared. Maybe some of these things will work for you when you are scared… so I’m gonna list all of them even if they didn’t work so well for me (they may for you!):
Eat a filled Kong. Really, does any dog want to eat when they are scared? Well, if you do and it works for you, go for it!
Stay in your crate … I broke a tooth trying to chew my way out (even though I like being in it when it isn’t loud outside.)
Wear a Thundershirt. (I chewed mine off…)
Drown out the noise with loud music – especially something like Through a Dog’s Ear music CD.
Use ear plugs… those kind that humans wear on airplanes or the Mutt Muffs that dogs wear on airplanes.
Say yes to drugs. We tried Ace Promazine and Alprazolam. Both made me sleepy and drooly…but didn’t decrease my crazy.
Then Dog Mom learned about a woman named Victoria Stillwell. She read her article, “Dealing with Fireworks Anxiety,” and we tried some of the gradual techniques that Victoria mentions in the article. They started to work to calm me down… a little bit. The key is to start now – not when the fireworks boomies and thunder boomies are already here.
Wanna know what it was that really worked to calm me? It was a mix of Victoria Stillwell’s conditioning techniques and thePeace and Calming Essential Oil Blend from Young Living. A few weeks before the boomies, Dog Mom put some on my dog bed and then on my collar when I was sleeping. Anytime I was calm, she would give me a whiff, but not when I was playing or being obnoxious. Then, she found these collar diffusers…and I have one on my collar all the time. I’ve had mine a couple of years now. Anytime I get anxious, Dog Mom puts a drop of Peace and Calming in my collar diffuser and I calm down. We love it.
I hope that you are not afraid of thunder boomies and firework boomies. But if you are, maybe you can share this article with your humans and they will learn something that will help you not be so scared.
What does a therapy dog do exactly!? Can my dog be a therapy dog – what is required of them? I wouldn’t even know where to begin!
So while I’ve done a little research myself on therapy dogs (as many of you know, I am in the process of becoming a therapy team with Rio), I’ve consulted with a couple experts: Laura Bruccoleri and her dog, Piper, as well as Kellie French and her dogs, Marri and Cedric!
*Laura and her dog Piper, who you may know as ‘Pipers Page of Life‘ on Facebook, are two friends of ours that have been doing therapy work for several years. Piper is an American Pit Bull Terrier and is an amazing breed ambassador!
*Kellie is the Volunteer Education Director at A Rotta Love Plus (animal rescue in Minnesota) and also works with PRIORITY Paws partner organizations. So what does PRIORITY Paws stand for? Pit bull & Rottweiler Interactive OutReach, Instruction, & Therapy for Youth. They are helping the breed, helping youth and reducing violence!
PRIORITY Paws conducts dog-therapy groups with youth in crisis who reside in local youth-services organizations. Pit bulls and Rottweilers provide the youth with a tremendously powerful parallel: the dogs’ stories of abuse, neglect, and negative social perception often mirror those of the youth, and can inspire the youth with stories of redemption and resiliency.
Helps the Breed
PRIORITY Paws reduces the risk for violence against animals, and improves the perception and treatment of the pit bull and Rottweiler breeds.
Research has demonstrated that animal-assisted programs can reduce the propensity for violence against animals by increasing empathy and improving overall attitudes toward animals.
It has been demonstrated that animal-assisted programs can reduce the propensity for violence against animals by increasing empathy and improving overall attitudes toward animals and humanity in general. As the youth form a relationship with the PRIORITY Paws dogs, they develop a deep sense of appreciation and trust for these breeds.
I asked Laura & Kellie many of the most common questions that arise with therapy dogs and here’s what I found out!
What are some of the most important things a therapy dog MUST be able to do all the time?
“I believe the most important quality could be the fact that Piper can and does remain calm in any given situation. She’s non-reactive to loud or disruptive distractions and actually seems to help spread calmness to those around her.” – Laura
Therapy dogs should have a very even temperament. Keep in mind that there is more a therapy dog than just having a friendly dog who loves people. The dog’s demeanor, temperament, and focus on you are very important when ‘on the job’.
Is there a lot of training to become a therapy dog?
“It really depends on the dog. Personally, I have two dogs with very different personalities.
My first registered therapy dog is high energy. She became so overly excited about everything and everyone, that we went through a lot of dog training classes (or what my trainers have always referred to as ‘human training’), various obedience classes and even a Rally and Agility class which really helped me learn how to appropriately manage a high energy dog in situations where she needs to tone it down. After she mastered keeping her butt down on the ground for a solid sit/stay and keeping all four feet on the ground when greeting people, we were ready for the therapy dog test.
In stark contrast, my slower (slightly dopey) male who I adopted at about one-and-a-half years old, only needed a basic obedience and Canine Good Citizen (CGC)/therapy dog class and easily passed the therapy dog test.
However, be aware of the available national therapy dog organizations that provide registration/testing in your area, as different organizations have requirements.” – Kellie
“I did a lot of research and used very reputable resources for referrals as to which organization to register with. Everyone has different preferences to meet their needs. It’s best to research each organization to see which one suits you best. I feel it’s best to talk to individuals who have experience with a few of the organizations you have selected.” – Laura
Do you have to have an open schedule to do therapy work?
“It really depends on the type of therapy work that you’re interested in doing, but generally, no. You can visit organizations when it works best for you. Adult assisted living facilities and hospitals are two most commonly visited types of places where therapy dogs are welcome. Both places are open 24/7, so daytime/evening/weekend visiting is available.
If you’re interested in doing therapy dog work with children, daytime opportunities are more common. However, various libraries have read programs where you can bring your therapy dog into the library and children can practice reading, while the therapy dog quietly listens.
And there are various other opportunities that may be available as well. Most national therapy dog organizations have lists of organizations who are requesting therapy dogs in your area, so that’s a great place to start.” – Kellie
How often do you visit places with your therapy dog? Is there a certain amount required?
“Currently, one of my dogs does therapy work for approximately two-four hours per month and my second dog and I volunteer that amount of time approximately every two months.
For us, there is no required amount of time; however, you’ll have to check with the national organization that you’re registered with to determine if they have requirements.” – Kellie
What is the best part of being a therapy dog team?
“For me, I love working with kids, especially youth who have experienced trauma, violence, and/or abuse and neglect.
Watching a therapy dog display kindness, affection, and attention to the kids then have these kids smile and sometimes even open up about their difficult experiences is truly amazing.
Within one group that I was part of, one of our therapy registered Rottweiler’s laid her head in a girls lap. The girl at first ignored the dog as she was pretty shut down. Soon she started petting the dog and by the end of the group she was starting to talk and participate in group.
Later I learned that she had just been sexually assaulted a few days prior and would not speak. The staff at the shelter reported that this is the first time they heard her speak, so they were excited to help her healing begin. It was truly an amazing moment which I will never forget.” – Kellie
“The best parts of being a therapy dog team are the smiles and excitement I receive. Visiting the children with Autism disabilities had proven the most positive outcome.” – Laura
Is your dog allowed to go in stores with you if he is a therapy dog?
“No. Therapy dogs have to be allowed into facilitates based on the policies of that organization.
Just because my dog is registered as a therapy dog does not mean that I can take my dog on public transportation or have a right to bring my dog into any facility.
Most organizations that allow therapy dogs often have a volunteer training for their facility that you have to go through. You will likely even have to fill out an application and background form to volunteer there with your therapy dog.
Unfortunately, some organizations who welcome therapy dogs continue to have a breed ban. In Minnesota, our Children’s Hospital does not allow therapy dog teams that are pit bull or Rottweiler teams. So certainly, be aware of discrimination and I will always encourage people to meet with people at those organizations to change this policy.” – Kellie
What’s your favorite therapy job?
“Piper’s favorite jobs, I believe, are working with the Autistic children at the Elementary School and the children with cancer at the Children’s Hospital.” – Laura
Being a Pit bull, have you ever been discriminated against at a facility?
“At first, when being interviewed by certain facilities, when giving the information that she was in fact an APBT, there was a sign of hesitation in their voice. But each and every personal interview and meeting prior to each visit has proven to be a success and the reaction is typically, “She’s an amazing dog and we can’t wait to have her our facility!”.
Changing minds to those who doubt her because of her breed has been one of Piper’s best accomplishments.” – Laura
“Unfortunately, some organizations who welcome therapy dogs continue to have a breed ban. In Minnesota, our Children’s Hospital does not allow therapy dog teams that are pit bull or Rottweiler teams. So certainly, be aware of discrimination and I will always encourage people to meet with people at those organizations to change this policy.” – Kellie
Where do therapy dogs go?
Schools – Children Reading to Dogs
DSRD (Disaster Stress Relief Dogs)
And wherever else therapy dogs are needed!
Has your dog ever done something silly/embarrassing while ‘on the job’?
“Ah yes, various moments like this. We had a group outside and Cedric plopped out a big smelly poop, which of course, the kids found hilarious!
Cedric also has had tremendous gas at times and also drools excessively if someone is making something yummy that he can smell (we always come prepared with a small towel to wipe him off).
Dogs of course are never embarrassed by these normal bodily functions, so it creates a great conversation to have with kids about how care-free dogs can be and then we turn this into a conversation about how to deal with moments like this in school, with peers, etc. It’s a great segway into talking about key life skills such as those!” – Kellie
“Piper always has silliness about her. She tends to “plop” down on the laps of the children or places her paw on the book they’re reading to her preventing them from turning the pages, hahaha!” – Laura
Do you think you have a dog who would be great as a therapy animal?