Category: “Rescue Blog”

How to Teach Your Dog to Fetch

How to Teach Your Dog to Fetch
Fetch is excellent exercise for your dog, but what if it doesn’t come naturally? Here’s how to teach this fun-filled game.

I have three dogs. One of them, a big mixed breed named Monster, loves to fetch. I didn’t even have to teach him — the first time he saw a ball, he put it in his mouth, then dropped it at my feet. I picked it up, threw it, and he enthusiastically fetched it and brought it right back. He will fetch anywhere and all day long.

I also have two very serious working Border Collies, Echo and Radar, who were rescued from a neglectful situation as 8-week-old puppies. They’re shy — until you get them around sheep. They’re 11 years old now and help me on our Colorado farm.

However, they’ve never fetched a ball in their lives. It’s not that I haven’t tried to teach them; they just see no rational reason to fetch a ball and bring it back to me only to have me throw it again.

I’m OK with them being uninterested in fetching; we have lots of land for them to run on. But many dog owners live in cities and want their dogs to fetch — it’s a great way to get exercise, and it can be done safely in your own backyard.

I don’t advocate making dogs do something they find uninteresting (I’m not talking about obedience and good manners, of course). But a game of fetch isn’t a bad thing to want to teach your dog.

Here’s how I taught Echo to enjoy fetching:

1. I found a cat toy that had feathers attached to the end of a thin, springy pole. I showed it to Echo and made a huge deal about the feathers. First, I put the toy on the ground and let Echo sniff and explore it. I picked it up and put it back down, but this time I put small pieces of cooked chicken under the feathers. Echo can be shy with new objects, so I wanted her to feel confident in exploring and seeking the chicken under the feathers. It worked!

2. Next, I put down a second feather stick and put chicken under that one, too. Echo felt braver and went to explore it. As she did, I ran to the other feather stick and placed chicken under that one. She began to get the idea and started trotting back and forth between them.

3. I began to verbally encourage Echo to really run between the two sticks. Once I had that motion from her, I surprised her and picked up the stick I ran toward and called her to keep running after the stick I was dragging. She did! I did these three steps in short sessions for a few days in a row. Her eyes got wide, and her body language expressed delight just at seeing the feather sticks.

4. It’s hard to toss a slim stick with fake feathers at the end of it — and it would be awkward for a dog to pick up and carry — so I slowly made a switch after Echo was really excited about the feather stick. I glued string onto a tennis ball and began the process anew, although I placed the ball next to the feather stick on the ground with some chicken under it. I ran across the room to a second tennis ball I had placed with chicken also under and next to a feather stick. Echo followed me at a trot, went to the ball, pushed it aside, and gobbled up the chicken.

5. After I got Echo used to the tennis ball, I got her revved up to run back and forth between each ball on the ground and then, just as I did before with the feather stick, I tugged on the tennis ball via the string I had glued to it. Echo followed it! When she picked it up in her mouth, I praised her. Then I ran away from her, hoping she’d still hold the ball in her mouth. She didn’t. She kept dropping it, although she enthusiastically ran after me. I tried to get her to put the ball in her mouth and carry it, then decided to switch to a squeaky, soft, smaller squirrel-shaped toy I had seen her carry in her mouth. That did the trick! She was happy to put that in her mouth and chase after me.

6. From there, it was easy to get her to chase me with the squeaky toy in her mouth. When I stopped running, she did, too, and simply spit out the toy. I praised her, then picked it up and teased her with it, tossing it a few feet away. I did go back to pulling the toy along with the string a few times, but she didn’t need much remedial work. Of course, I can’t throw a small stuffed toy as far as I can a solid tennis ball, but that’s OK for Echo and me. I’m just thrilled that she gets excited over, fetches, and returns to me with this toy in her mouth.

If you have a dog who isn’t interested in fetching, first look at your own reasons why you want this from your dog. If there are solid reasons (like a safe way to get some exercise in), try these tips, and soon enough you’ll have a fetching Fido!

Originally posted on by Annie Phenix, CPDT-KA  on 09/01/2016.

9 Surprisingly Dangerous Snacks for Dogs

9 Surprisingly Dangerous Snacks for Dogs

Originally Posted on Daily Treat by Elisabeth Geier

I’m not gonna lie: sometimes, I feed my dogs people food. A cheesy cracker here, a piece of popcorn there. Certain days, I even let them lick the yogurt cup or peanut butter jar clean. For the most part, if your dog doesn’t suffer from allergies, these occasional bites are harmless. It turns out, however, that certain human snacks are dangerous for dogs.

We all know not to slip our dog a chicken wing (seriously, never slip your dog a chicken wing), but you may be surprised to learn which other popular people-snacks can pose a health hazard to your beloved pet.

Guacamole: Avocados may be a delicious miracle food for humans, but unfortunately, they can be problematic for dogs. That’s mostly due to the potential presence of a toxin called persin, which can cause stomach upset. It’s worse with certain varieties, and most present in the peel. Still, better to be safe than sorry.

Guacamole also contains garlic and onions, which can cause anemia and gastrointestinal distress. If you must give your dog a treat from the fiesta table, stick to one or two plain tortilla chips (but not more than that—too much salt is another no-no).

Mixed nuts: Almonds are too rough to be digested properly and can damage your dog’s esophagus and stomach; pecans left out too long may mold and develop a dangerous toxin; and macadamia nuts are downright poisonous. Mixed nuts are a nice snack to keep around the house, but keep them away from your dog.

Raisins: Raisins are a sweet addition to your bowl of cereal, but they’re toxic to your best friend. Grapes and grape products are among the most dangerous foods for dogs, and consumption can lead to kidney failure and even death. Keep raisins, grapes, grape juice, and anything containing them far away from your pet.

Ice cream: It’s tempting to give your dog a lick of your cone on a hot day, and chances are, a little won’t hurt. But ice cream in large quantities is a no-no for dogs. The dairy content can cause gastrointestinal trouble (i.e., diarrhea), and the sugar content is way too high for them. Also, commercially-produced ice cream can contain nut traces, chocolate, and other substances that are dangerous for your dog. Thankfully, there are plenty of dog-friendly frozen treats available!

Beer and other alcohol: This one should be a no-brainer, but some people think it’s funny to offer their dog a sip of beer. Alcohol in any quantity can be dangerous for animals; it has the same effect on their brain and liver as it does on humans, but it takes a lot less to do a lot more damage in dogs. According to WebMD, even a small amount of alcohol can cause vomiting, diarrhea, coordination issues, difficulty breathing, and worse. Keep your dog out of the cooler at your next tailgate.

Snack mix: Cereal snack mix is one of my favorite treats, and I know how tempting it is to throw a handful to the dog. But commercial snack treats often contain onion and garlic powder, both of which can cause tummy troubles. Snack mix is also high in sodium, and too much salt can cause excessive thirst and urination.

Leftover ribs (and other meat scraps and bones): Dogs and bones go together like peanut butter and jelly, but only some bones are safe for your pooch. Cooked bones leftover from your barbecue may splinter and cause an obstruction or injury to your dog’s digestive system, and fatty meat scraps can lead to pancreatitis. Dispose of bones and meat scraps in an area your dog can’t reach, and if you must give them a bone, offer a whole raw bone (with supervised chew-time) or a safe chewable instead.

French fries: Confession: French fries are my favorite food, and I love to share them with my dog. But fries are high in fat and sodium, and overindulgence can lead to dehydration and an upset tummy for us both. Salty snacks in general are a bad idea for dogs; too much salt can even lead to ion poisoning. So it’s safe to toss your dog one or two fries at the drive-through, but don’t super-size their serving.

Candy and gum: Chances are you’re not letting your dog go wild in the candy aisle, but accidental ingestion of candy or gum can cause serious damage. Aside from the choking hazard posed by small, sticky treats, many sugar-free gums and candies contain xylitol, a popular sugar substitute that can be lethal to dogs. Stick to candy-shaped toys, and keep the real deal out of reach!

Table foods dogs can eat: In case you’re worried you can never safely sneak your dog a treat from your own bowl of snacks, here are a few human foods that are okay in small amounts:

  • Unsalted, raw or roasted peanuts removed from their shell
  • Unsalted pretzels
  • Plain, cooked chicken
  • White rice and pasta
  • Low-fat cheese, as long as you know your dog doesn’t have a lactose intolerance
  • Raw, unsalted peanut butter (check the label and avoid brands sweetened with xylitol)
  • Small amounts of plain bread

It’s only natural to want to treat your dog, and if she doesn’t have allergies or a particularly sensitive stomach, a morsel of human food here or there won’t hurt. But avoid the dangerous foods listed above, and remember: moderation is key. Most of your dog’s food should be, well, dog food. Happy snacking to you and your pooch!

8 Essential Things To Do When You See A Dog Left In A Hot Car

8 Essential Things To Do When You See A Dog Left In A Hot Car

Originally Posted on: by Rachel Crocetti

Summer is here and for most people (and dogs) that means so is the unbearable heat. Summer for humans means wearing less clothing and taking a dip in the pool or ocean, but summer for dogs can be harsh. Imagine not being able to take off your winter sweater, even when it’s 95 degrees out. It’s painful to even think about! For dogs, that is their reality.

By now we all know the rule: do not, by any means, leave your dog in your car in the summer (or ever, for that matter). According to the Humane Society of the United States, when it is 80 degrees fahrenheit outside, the inside of a car can rise up to 99 degrees fahrenheit within only 10 minutes! So that means your ten minutes in the cool grocery store to grab your milk means a painful, sweltering, and possibly deadly situation for a dog left in a car.

Now that we’ve had a refresher on the rules, the question remains – what do you do when you see someone else’s dog in a hot car? Here are a few tips from the experts:

1. Get informed.

According to the Humane Society, the first thing that you can do to help a dog in a dangerous situation is to learn the facts yourself. Check out your town or state’s laws on leaving an animal in a car. Gather the phone number of the police department’s non-emergency line and also the animal control department in your town. Be prepared so that you aren’t left trying to solve the problem at the last minute, and wasting what could be precious and critical moments for the overheated dog.

2. Take down the car’s information.

The Humane Society says that when you see a dog left in a car, immediately take down the vehicle’s model, make, color, and license plate number. These can be used to report the owner for neglect or irresponsible behavior, and also to identify who the owner is.

3. Have the owner paged.

Go into the local businesses or buildings nearby and notify a manager or security guard. Insist that they make an announcement over the intercom with the license plate number to inform the owner of the dire situation.

4. If you can’t find the owner, call the authorities.

This is when having emergency numbers saved in your phone comes in handy. Call the humane authorities or the police to come and assess the situation.

5. Do not, by any means, leave the scene.

This is probably one of the most important things to keep in mind. If you have to, have someone else watch the car and the animal while you run inside the building. According to PetMD, signs of heatstroke include restlessness, excessive thirst, heavy panting, dark tongue, rapid heartbeat, fever, vomiting, and lack of coordination. Keep a close eye on the dog for these symptoms, as it could mean that the situation needs to be acted upon very quickly.

6. If the authorities take too long, take action.

If you very honestly believe that this dog is in bad condition and showing symptoms of heatstroke, assess the situation and get a witness to back you up. Remove the dog from the heat immediately and wait for the authorities to arrive.

7. Take proper steps to care for the animal.

When the dog is removed from the hot car, the situation isn’t necessarily over yet. Get the animal into air conditioning as soon as possible and give him cool water to drink.

8. Spread awareness.

While it may seem like an easy thing to remember, some people don’t realize the dangers that heat can have on animals. Kindly remind friends and family to leave their pets at home when they run errands. The Humane Society suggests asking local businesses to hang up signs during the hotter months reminding people not to leave their dogs in their vehicles. Most importantly, if your town doesn’t have a law regarding leaving dogs in cars, attend a town meeting and start lobbying for one.

While we hope that you’ll never have to use these tips, it’s important to have them handy just in case. According to the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association), hundreds of pets die from heat exhaustion every year. With these tips, you may be able to lower that number.

Remember – a cool dog is a happy dog! Hot dogs are only good at barbecues!

Sources: Humane Society, PetMD, AVMA

Kids Who Grow Up With Dogs and Cats Are More Emotionally Intelligent and Compassionate

Kids Who Grow Up With Dogs and Cats Are More Emotionally Intelligent and Compassionate

Originally posted by Starre Vartan
Mother Nature Network
April 27, 2015
Original Post

If you’re a parent, the idea of adding the care and feeding of an animal to your responsibilities might feel like too much work. But having a dog, cat, bunny, hamster or other animal as a part of the family benefits kids in real ways. Studies have shown that kids who have pets do better — especially in the area of Emotional Intelligence (EQ), which has been linked to early academic success, even more so than the traditional measure of intelligence, IQ.

Even better news is that unlike IQ, which is thought by most experts to be unchangeable (you can’t really change your IQ by studying), EQ can improve over time with practice. Animal friends can help kids do that by cultivating the very skills that lead to better Emotional Intelligence. (And pooches and kitties aren’t even trying; it just comes naturally.)

The following EQ skills are developed by children with pets:

1. Compassion: According to this overview of the scientific literature by Nienke Endenburg and Ben Baarda in The Waltham Book of Human-Animal Interaction, “If there are pets in the house, parents and children frequently share in taking care of the pet, which suggests that youngsters learn at an early age how to care for and nurture a dependent animal.” Even very young children can contribute to the care and feeding of a pet — a 3-year-old can take a bowl of food and set it on the floor for a cat, and at the same age, a child can be taught to stroke an animal nicely, maybe using the back of the hand so they don’t grab the animal. Supervising kids during the first few interactions is a teaching moment. Later, once they have learned the ropes, their memory and understanding of a life outside themselves will be stimulated each time they interact with the animals. Older kids can be responsible for walking a dog or playing with it in the yard, cleaning out a cat’s litter box, or taking veggie scraps from dinner to a rabbit or hamster. A study of 3- to 6-year-olds found that kids with pets had more empathy towards other animals and human beings, while another study found that even just having an animal in a classroom made fourth-graders more compassionate.

2. Self-esteem: Caring for pets also builds self-esteem because being assigned tasks (like filling the dog’s water bowl) gives a child a sense of accomplishment and helps him feel independent and competent. Pets can be especially good for children who have very low self-esteem: “[A researcher] found that children’s self-esteem scores increased significantly over a nine-month period of keeping pets in their school classroom. In particular, it was children with originally low self-esteem scores who showed the greatest improvements,” write Endenburg and Baarda.

3. Cognitive development: Kids with pets play with them, talk to them, and even read to them (that last activity is more common than you’d think), and the data backs up the idea that this additional low-stress communication benefits verbal development in the youngest kids. “Pet ownership might facilitate language acquisition and enhance verbal skills in children. This would occur as a result of the pet functioning both as a patient recipient of the young child’s babble and as an attractive verbal stimulus, eliciting communication from the child in the form of praise, orders, encouragement and punishment.”

4. Stress reduction: In surveys of kids who are asked about who they would go to with a problem, children regularly mentioned pets, indicating that for many, animals can provide emotional support and an additional way to mitigate negative emotions when they are feeling stressed. “The ‘social’ support given by pets has some advantages compared to the social support given by humans. Pets can make people feel unconditionally accepted, whereas fellow humans will judge and may criticize,” write Endenburg and Baarda. Animals are great listeners and are non-judgmental — if a kid does badly on a test or angers their parents, an animal will still provide loving support.

5. Understanding the cycle of life: Talking about birth and death with kids can be hard for parents. Learning about them via the lives of animals can be an easier way for both parties to learn about these basics of life. While experiencing the death of a pet can be difficult and painful, it can also be an important learning experience. “… the way in which their parents and others near to them deal with the situation will have an influence on how children cope with death in general throughout their lives. It is important for parents to discuss their feelings of sadness openly and to share the associated feelings with the child. Parents have to show that it is all right to have such feelings. Learning to cope with sad feelings, for instance when a pet dies or is euthanized, is important and parents have to help their children with it,” write Endenburg and Baarda.

In addition, experiencing or talking about the other side of death — birth — can be a simple and age-appropriate way to begin the discussion about sex.

Of course all of the above positive benefits depend on the structure of the family, the number of siblings or other non-parental adults around, and of course a child’s own genetic tendencies, but only children and those with few siblings (or the youngest of a group) often become more pet-oriented.

If any of the above concepts sound familiar to adult readers, that’s because some of the same benefits are relevant for grown-ups too, including the social support and stress reduction.