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How to Turn Your Rescue into a Well-Behaved Pet

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There’s no greater gift you can give to a rescue than a loving home. And while you can rest assured your new furry family member appreciates every ounce of love you send their way, that doesn’t always mean they’re going to be a perfect fur angel.

As you know, rescues come from all walks of life. Some may be needing a new home after their elderly caregiver has passed away. Some may have been abandoned or neglected by their previous owners. Some may have already spent a good deal of time in a rescue facility or foster home. Whatever your rescue’s background, you may not truly get a feel for their level of training until you’ve brought them home. So, what can you do to turn a rescue with no training into a well-behaved pet? Here are a few tips:

Set them up for success. Moving to your home will be a big transition for your new pooch, so do what you can ahead of time to make the change as easy as possible for them. First, do a sweep of your home with an eye out for hazardous materials, such as cleaning supplies or small objects that could end up being choking hazards. Make sure these are safely stored away before your pet arrives. Then, do a sweep of your home looking for factors that might get your pooch into trouble. For example, if there’s an antique chair and you’d be devastated if it were chewed on, move it to an area of your home that will be off limits to your pet. If you have a fenced-in backyard, make sure there are no escape routes and keep a close eye on whether your pet is a digger. Taking precautions early on can make the whole transition go a lot more smoothly.

Make training a family affair. Your kids are probably even more excited than you to bring home your new four-legged family member. They’ll want to show your pooch affection and get as much affection back as possible, so they may shower your pet with treats and encourage bad behavior, especially if it’s funny–what’s more hilarious than watching dad’s slipper get ripped to shreds! So, from day one, make sure your kids are on board with training. Be sure they’re aware of what behaviors to look out for and know how to handle them. Make sure they help your new dog avoid problems by picking up toys, shoes, socks, etc., that a not-yet-trained pooch might mistake for a toy. Keep in mind that it will be helpful for your kids to know basic commands, like sit and stay, so if possible have them come with you to your pet’s obedience classes.

 

Get them on a schedule. Right away, get your rescue on an eating and potty schedule. This routine will make life easier on both of you. If you’re lucky the rescue facility that previously housed your pet, already had them on a good schedule. Check with them to see what time your pet will expect to eat, how often your pet typically needs to potty, and so on. The structure a schedule provides will help you both get settled into your new life together. This is also another great way to involve your children. If you have an older, responsible child, assign them to fill up your dog’s water and/or food bowl each morning before school. Younger kids can be in charge of alerting you any time they see your pooch waiting by the door to go outside. Of course, you’ll still need to keep an eye on these things yourself, but assigning these chores to your kids keeps them involved in the training process and can help create consistency with the whole family.

Socialize your pooch. One great way to help your pooch get used to being around other dogs is an obedience class. Many pet stores offer them. Just check with one in your area or ask your vet for a recommendation. If you’re confident your rescue can handle being around other dogs, you can help them further socialize and get out some energy at your local dog park. Dog parks are also great places for your kids to practice using commands they’ve learned on your dog. Most cities and towns, regardless of size, have at least one bark park for their local dog owners.

Know how to handle disobedience. There’s a good chance your rescue had a hard life before coming to live with you. Keep that in mind the first time they chew on something they shouldn’t have or have an accident on your new rug. Do not ever yell at or threaten to hit your rescue. Instead, ignore bad behavior while rewarding the good. When your dog does something right, give them a treat. That way they’ll associate the behavior with something good. Make sure your kids know how to handle bad behavior. If for example, their favorite shoe gets chewed, tell them they should let you know rather than scold or yell at the dog. At the same time, they shouldn’t hide a pooch’s bad behavior either. Make it clear that the dog won’t be “punished” for bad behavior, but you still need to know about it in order to plan the dog’s training properly. And by all means, be patient. Despite the old saying, old dogs can learn new tricks; it may just take them a little longer.

While getting a rescue is certainly exciting, it usually doesn’t take long for reality to set in once you get them home. But not to worry, while rescue dogs need a lot of love and attention, they’ll give it back to you in bundles.

 

Dog Scooting, What’s Behind It?

scootHave you ever seen your dog scoot his butt across the ground and wondered what the heck that’s all about?
This will teach you what you never thought you wanted to know, but what is very important to your pet’s health.

You may have heard the words anal glands associated with this behavior.
Technically they are anal sacs which contain glands, but I won’t go into detail yet because I don’t want to scare you all away before the important stuff.
There is some question about the purpose of the fluid emitted by the sacs.
Some believe it is saturated with “scent-formation” that provides essentially the same information your dog gets by sniffing butts.
Some believe it contains territory marking scent and others believe it is released to lubricate the anus during defecation.
Whatever the reason for its existence, it is a fluid that needs be expelled from the body regularly, like urine, because it contains toxins.

The sacs contain copious amounts of sweat and oil produced by the respective glands contained within.
These make up a very stinky brownish fluid that is released through very small ducts which lead to the inner edge of the anus. gland
If the fluid builds up it becomes more and more solid until it cannot pass through the ducts anymore, which is called impaction.
If the impacted sacs are not corrected quickly it can lead to infection and eventually abscess.

For most dogs the oily-like fluid is expelled naturally during defecation. However for approximately 12% of dogs, especially small breeds, this process does not occur naturally and requires intervention.
Some dogs have unusually small ducts and it makes it difficult for even the normal fluid to move.
Your veterinarian has the knowledge to manually express the sacs of fluid by gently pressing on them, an altogether unpleasant experience for everyone involved.
Frequent trips to the vet can become quite expensive.
If you’re looking for a way to help your buddy without dropping all your dough, you can start by increasing the fiber in your pet’s diet.
It is commonly believed that if your pup has to pass a large stool, large enough to expand the anus, the stool will push against the sacs releasing the fluid naturally.

Because some of you may be concerned about your pet’s comfortability during the big-poo process, let me calm your fears and tell you that dogs cannot get hemorrhoids. Also, in comparison to having icky anus toxins stuck in their body, a large poo has to feel quite pleasant.
A consistently high-fiber diet may be the solution to an occasional booty-scoot, but if your dog has had the scooting issue for a while it could be too late for just a diet change. Impaction often presents itself through inflammation and pain, and sometimes the impacted sacs are pushed to the surface and become visible. So if your dog has pain passing stool and his butt doesn’t look normal, it’s time to visit the vet.
In severe cases your vet may recommend surgery to drain the sacs. Or if the issue occurs frequently your vet may recommend surgically removing the sacs to avoid future complications.
If you’re a very brave soul you can ask your vet (and some groomers) how to express the anal sacs yourself.
If your vet thinks home care will be enough to keep your pet healthy then don’t forget to buy gloves!

Help your buddy stay healthy by watching his bowel movements (it’s not gross because you love him!) If his droppings seem small or mushy, start with diet change, including reducing or removing soft food.
Watch for sore-butt behavior. It’s not always scooting, it could be biting at the anus or base of the tail, pain or discomfort sitting on rear end, or inflammation.
This article focuses on dogs, but cats and other mammals also have anal sacs. When in doubt, seek professional help!

As pet sitters, we will let you know if we see this behavior.

Looking for a Pet Sitter?
Four Paws Pet Sitting Services serves Raleigh, Cary, Apex, Holly Springs, Morrisville, Garner and Wake Forest NC.

Thanks to Michelle Falk-Nixon for this important article.

Guide and Service Dogs

Guide Dogs

What are guide dogs?

Guide DogGuide dogs are trained to lead the blind or vision impaired. The dog acts as a pilot to direct its owner in a straight line unless directed to turn, while avoiding obstacles in all directions.

How do I get a guide dog?

Blind Veterans are assessed and trained for orientation and mobility. If a guide dog is preferred, information on how to contact guide dog schools is provided. Partnership with the guide dog is provided through non-VA affiliated guide dog schools.

What benefits does VA provide?

Blind Veterans with working dogs are provided veterinary care and equipment through VA Prosthetics and Sensory Aids. VA does not pay for boarding, grooming, food, or any other routine expense associated with owning a dog.

Service Dogs

What are service dogs?

Service DogA service dog is a dog trained to do specific tasks for a person that he or she cannot do because of a disability. Service dogs can pick things up, guide a person with vision problems, or help someone who falls or loses balance easily. For example, a service dog can help a blind person walk down the street or get dangerous things out of the way when someone is having a seizure.

Protecting someone, giving emotional support, or being a companion do not qualify a dog to be a service animal. To be a service dog, a dog must go through training. Usually the dog is trained to:

  • Do things that are different from natural dog behavior
  • Do things that the handler (dog owner) cannot do because of a disability
  • Learn to work with the new handler in ways that help manage the owner’s disability

Because the handler depends on the service dog’s help, service dogs are allowed to go to most public places the handler goes. This is the case even if it is somewhere pet dogs usually cannot go, like restaurants or on airplanes. But there are a few exceptions. For example, service dogs can be asked to leave if they are not behaving well.

How do I get a service dog?

Each Veteran’s case is reviewed and evaluated by a prescribing clinician for the following:

  • Ability and means, including family or caregiver, to care for the dog currently and in the future
  • Goals that are to accomplished through the use of the dog
  • Goals that are to be accomplished through other assistive technology or therapy

The Veteran will be informed of an approval or disapproval of their service dog request. Veterans approved for service dogs are referred to Assistance Dogs International-accredited agencies. There is no charge for the dog or the associated training.

What benefits does VA provide?

Veterans with working service dogs are provided veterinary care and equipment through VA Prosthetics and Sensory Aids. VA does not pay for boarding, grooming, food, or any other routine expense associated with owning a dog.

Additional Resources

Non-VA Related Resources

*The links above will take you outside of the Department of Veterans Affairs Website. VA does not endorse and is not responsible for the content of the linked websites. The link will open in a new window.

Do You Know The Symptoms of Diabetes in a Dog?

dog_insulinWhat Are the Symptoms of Diabetes in Dogs?

The following symptoms should be investigated as they could be indicators that your dog has diabetes:

 

Change in appetite
Excessive thirst/increase in water consumption
Weight loss
Increased urination
Unusually sweet-smelling or fruity breath
Lethargy
Dehydration
Urinary tract infections
Vomiting
Cataract formation, blindness
Chronic skin infections

This information is from : WebMD for pets

If you need pet sitting and are worried about leaving your pet because he/she has diabetes, no worries!

We will be glad to administer insulin.

Give us a call for your pet sitting and dog walking needs.

Four Paws Pet Sitting Services  919-388-PAWS (7297)

Positive Reinforcement Training Tips

They don’t call them “man’s best friend” for nothing!  Domestic dogs have for thousands of years lived with humans in various capacities, from aiding in hunting to protecting livestock. In order to perform these functions, dogs learned to communicate with people and perform as their owners wished.

Dogs are highly sensitive and responsive animals. They can tell when their owners are happy, sad, or nervous, and they may express these emotions themselves.

Because dogs do have feelings, and intelligence that may be compared to that of a toddler (some breeds are as smart as a human seven-year-old!), it’s important that you refrain from treating your pet negatively. Continually shouting at a small child may scare him into submission, but it probably won’t make for a happy or healthy young person in the long run, even if he does obey.

Your dog does not understand that you’re angry he got into the garbage bin; for one, dogs get into things because they’re dogs, and for two, his brain just isn’t going to connect your harsh tones and loud movements with all the fun he had with leftovers this afternoon. Just as with small children, dogs need to be coerced into behaving well with smiles and cheer.

Your pet will understand when you’re unhappy with him, but he won’t understand why so well as the fact that you just are. That’s why it’s important to work on refining your dog’s behavior in a different way, with positivity.

Positive reinforcement is one of the best methods of training your dog. It’s easier for your dog to understand what he did right, rather than grasping the concept of some arbitrary human rule he didn’t follow (such as resisting sticking his muzzle into the appealing-smelling trash bin). When you’re happy, your dog is happy as well.

As such, two of the best ways to train your dog are with enthusiasm and with puppy treats. Both of these need to be awarded to your pet immediately after he performs the desirable action, so that he understands and repeats it again.

Because dogs understand human emotions so well, it’s key to praise him when he does something correctly, even if it’s by accident. Use upbeat vocal tones, and repeated phrases like “Good dog!” Respond in this way when your dog completes commands, and pair it with petting and physical affection when you’re really proud.

Treats are a great idea for training. Your pet gets a treat for sitting instead of jumping on visitor, for not barking when the doorbell rings, when he fetches an item, and so on.  As long as they don’t trigger a food allergy, treats are a safe and effective way for modifying behavior and completing training. Be patient at first, since your dog probably won’t understand right away.

It doesn’t take much to make dogs happy–pets and treats, please! Check out the infographic below for more on how to get your pet to please you with positive reinforcement.

Positive Training small

by Amber Kingsley, Guest Author

Caring For Your Best Friend’s Feet

pawsA friend of mine, a veteran of the military, shared this mantra with me, “Take care of your feet, because your feet take you everywhere.” I always remembered that fact and for us humans, it can often be associated with many types of medical issues, particularly those that are connected with a number of conditions like diabetes and circulation problems, since our lower extremities are the furthest from both our hearts and brains.

In another chapter from my personal adventures associated with my beloved canine companions, during the dog days of summer, in the quiet suburb neighborhood where I live, I always walk my dog with bare feet during the hotter months. Although my neighbors tease me about this relentlessly, my mind tells me that, if the sidewalk or asphalt is too hot for MY FEET, it must most certainly torture my dog’s sensitive little paws. Anyone who has ran quickly across a hot beach with no shoes can certainly relate to this circumstance. OUCH!

The same is true for our pets, especially dogs, whose paws propel them everywhere in life. Taking care of these delicate extremities is vitally important for their mobility, health and overall welfare. When they have issues with these tissues, sometimes they can chew, lick and irritate these sensitive areas, which only makes the matter worse. Here’s some ways to watch and protect the paws of our beloved four-legged pets:

Paws Don’t Come With A Preventative Care Manual

Although there’s no such thing as “perfect” when it comes to preventative care, there are some steps that we can take to help our pets with better paw protection:

Trimming their nails is a daunting task at best, but taking some preventative measures when you’re a DYI kind of pet owner is essential. Consider taking some of these steps to prevent excessive bleeding from cutting too close to the quick.

Check your dog’s footsies regularly for signs of irregular abuse, cracking, peeling, redness, swollen areas and other areas of possible irritation and infection. Consult your veterinarian if these problems look serious or you see limping and excessive licking, chewing or favoritism, which can complicate matters.

Some dogs that have anxiety problems, or they are particularly stressed for some
reason, others are aging with arthritis and other muscular conditions can be more prone to issues with their legs and paws. Again, see your veterinarian for solutions and relief that go beyond the “cone of shame.”

huskies

In extreme climate conditions, both hot and cold, pet owners should resort to protective devices such as booties, to protect their pets from unnecessary harm from the elements.

Younger dogs that are more fast moving and are therefore particularly vulnerable to paw injury and abuse, especially on rough surfaces. They should be monitored more closely and watched for signs of increased wear-and-tear that can occur with higher incidences with these more active individuals.

There’s another idiom for the care of feet and delicate paws that that goes along with our human endeavors that goes, “Take care of your feet because they’ll carry you for life.” Extend the years you spend with your pet by ensuring their paws, legs, heart and soul, will be with you for life. Both yours and theirs.

Written by Amber Kingsley

Why Cat’s Need Moist Food

A purebred Snowshoe Lynx-Point Siamese kitten eating wet cat food from a saucer in a modern kitchen.

Friskies 3 oz. can for $0.99 with 172 calories; Hills Prescription Diet 5.5 oz. (split can in half for each feeding) 180 calories; Iams chicken 3 oz. 94 calories; Drs. Foster Smith ($30.00) for 24 cans 94 calories & must be ordered by vet or on-line.

For adults:    It is best to feed a more moisture-rich food from a pouch or can. Feed them twice a day but take uneaten their food away after 2 hours so that they don’t graze. Make sure there are NO added preservatives, colors or flavors.

Store brands (3 oz size):

Fancy feast ($0.75) 76 calories; Iams ($1.00) 96 calories; Evo ($3.99) 120 calories; Blue Wilderness ($2.00) 132 calories; Hills Prescription Diet 180 calories

Healthier Foods:

A new product, Nature’s Variety,  is a pre-made Raw food you can order at: http://www.naturesvariety.com

Also check out Wellness food in a pouch, it is grain free and the consistency of gravy $1.59 per 3 oz. pouch

May your cat find what it is craving!!

 

What is a Pet Train?

 

Young dog , maltese puppy looking out the car window

To get a dog or cat from it’s current spot to a loving home, volunteers offer to drive part or all of the distance with the animal. My friend just became a part of this amazing puzzle over the weekend!
It started with a sick 5-year old’s announcement that Santa was bringing her a tiny white dog with a big brown spot for Christmas. She fixated on this one thing and even prayed for it at night. Her poor parents tried to convince her that a cuddly, stuffed dog would be a wonderful present but the girl cried out “No! I just know it’s going to be a real dog!”
So, the couple searched every local rescue and pet-agency for a small white dog with a spot. This time of year, there was nothing even close! They searched far and wide, even looking outside the state and region. Finally, they located a small white dog with… one spot! An older woman in New York was moving into an Assisted Living Home and could not bring her dog.
The couple struggled with how to bring the dog over 509 miles to their home in Raleigh, North Carolina by Christmas. They posted a “Can you help us friends?” request on Facebook and it was re-posted several hundred times!
The wonder of Social Media is that all the puzzle pieces came together, and here is how the pet train finally happened:
A co-worker’s cousin was going from New York to Washington DC and volunteered to take the pet this first leg of an 8-hour journey. A friend’s mother could take the pet from DC to her holiday destination of Richmond, VA. From there, a vet was heading to Wake Forrest to be with her family and volunteered to meet the Coleman’s at a Walmart parking lot with their new dog.  Everyone was thanked on-line for their role in the pet-transport train and the little girl will get her wish-come-true on Christmas morning. For now, the little white dog with a spot is staying with a friend and has no idea how many people volunteered to make it’s future brighter.
There are also organizations to help with transporting pets, both on a volunteer basis: http://www.freedomtraintransports.com/ and for a fee: petmovers.com; thepetwagon.com; ipata.org.

Beware, Holiday Tips for Pets

Christmas Dog And Kittens.Last year, my best friend had to spend Christmas Eve in a crowded pet hospital while her pet was sliced open and a long ribbon removed from its stomach. The wait for services was long, and her vet warned her that from Thanksgiving through the New Year, the number of  Emergency room visits for pets triples.

With all the chaos of visiting family, friends, ribbons and boxes – holidays hold many wonders and temptations for family pets! Below is a top-ten list of things to watch-out for when going about your festivities:

1. Do not tie anything around your pets neck that can choke and strangle them, try a pet-tested vest or fancy collar instead
2. Ribbons/Tinsel can cause intestinal damage as it twists and bunches inside your pet’s intestines
3. Plastic bags can suffocate a pet quickly, make sure to put them in recycling
4. Pine trees can and will topple over as your house-cat/panther attempts to climb them. Be sure to anchor them well, if possible place in a corner for more support
5. Rich dairy is not good for pets  avoid the old wive’s tales of cats & cream
6. Poultry bones & fat trimmings may cause intestinal issues or pancreatitis
7. Don’t let Fido drink liqueur – their livers are not equipped to process it and a “little” bit to us is a whopping big drink to them
8. Keep glass ornaments and breakable figurines up high, out of sight and reach
9. Keep these plants up high away from pets:
a. Mistletoe berries are highly toxic, can cause stomach upset and has the potential to cause fatal heart problems
b. Holly can cause vomiting, diarrhea, nausea and lethargy
c. Poinsettias are known to cause diarrhea and vomiting
10. Electrical cords should be hidden under rugs or tape, or sprayed with Bitter Apple to deter chewing/playing with them