Archive for July, 2012

Tips for Traveling With Your Dog

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

Some dogs are great travelers while others can be particular. While every pet owner would love have a wonderful adventure like John Steinbeck and Charley, some pets require a little extra care. It’s all about being prepared.

Often, the ease with which you can travel with your pooch depends on how big he or she is. Toy dogs and minis can fly easily enough as carry-on luggage on some airlines—provided they are allowed in the main cabin—but the bigger guys will have to ride under the plane. If you drive, you have to consider many things, like how many rest stops you’ll encounter and finding a hotel that accepts canine companions.

Here are a few tips on making traveling with your dog much, much easier.

The Fear of Flying

The hardest thing for many dog owners is getting over the fact that they have to leave their mid- to large-sized dog in the storage compartment of a plane. Somehow, leaving him a rawhide and a squeaky toy just doesn’t seem to make up for sticking him next to the engine and landing gear.

Keep these things in mind if flying is your only option:

  • Sedation: Let your vet know that you’re about to fly with your dog, and you’d like to make it more comfortable for him in his crate. Some vets will prescribe pills that will more or less put your dog into nap mode for up to eight hours—the perfect amount of time. Be aware, though, that your dog probably won’t actually sleep that entire time, it’ll just make him groggy and unresponsive for most of the trip. Also look for natural herbal sedatives that contain chamomile, ZIZIPHUS JUJUBA SEED, scullcap, and passionflower that naturally calm your dog rather than chemically. If you do choose sedation make sure to test the pill or herbs at home before you go on the trip.
  • Layovers: A direct flight or extensive layover?
  • If you feel confident enough about your sedative, choose a flight that gets you from A to B in one shot. It’ll give your pooch a chance to fall asleep in his crate, because once he’s unloaded and shuffled around and then reloaded, it’ll only agitate his situation.
  • However, you can also break up a long flight by scheduling a layover that lasts a few hours. You can always leave the airport, let your dog get a sniff of freedom, and then head back through security (which is a tremendous hassle). Still, many major airports these days have special areas where pets can run and play and blow off some steam before heading back into their crate. Keep these places in mind if you’re traveling through a major metro area.
  • Cost: You will incur an additional cost when you fly a pet, so do some research with your chosen airline and make sure your specific breed is allowed aboard. If you’re keeping your little guy as carry-on luggage, remember to reserve a spot early or the airline could force you to put him in the storage area.
  • Incontinence: Obviously, your dog’s routine is blown apart the second you leave your home. In order to make sure Spot or Sprinkles doesn’t make a mess in the airport, carry along UGODOG pads when you can’t handle the size of the potty crate. He’ll recognize them from home and prevent you from having to call in backup for a cleanup on aisle 5.

The Perils of the Road

Ground travel beats air travel in most aspects, except for one: time. It takes considerably longer to reach your destination when you go on four wheels than if you take a turbojet, so prepare Fido for life on the road:

  • MapQuest: Plan a route that takes you through areas with rest stops that provide space your dog can run around in. Many hours in a small car can give most pooches a case of the GET-ME-OUT-GET-ME-OUTs, so don’t skimp on the toys and rawhide chews, either.
  • Food and water: Be mindful of how often your dog is eating and drinking, and pay attention to their signal that they need a break quickly. Since your dog isn’t at home and can’t sit in front of the door or head over and use his UGODOG pee pad like usual, he’s got to find other ways to get your attention. Pack some extra UGODOG pads for the trip just incase he has trouble going anywhere else.
  • Hotels: Obviously, many hotels and motels don’t want your dog anywhere near their already sub-par carpets. It’s always worth it to spring for a place where your dog is welcome; it’ll make Peaches feel at home and let you return to a bit of normalcy for a night. Besides, you’ve got the UGODOG pads with you, so taking care of his needs is as easy as ever.
  • Reminders from home: Make him or her more comfortable by bringing their bed, bowls and toys so it will have the scents they are used to and make sleeping and eating more comfortable.

Don’t forget to bring a camera regardless of how you plan on traveling. Catching your dog at his most vulnerable can make for some great pictures. It’s also a way to keep your focus and ensure that you’ve always got Noodles’ needs at the front of your mind.

Photo Credit: R Hensley

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What is Crate Training?

Thursday, July 5th, 2012

Dogs are increasingly loveable animals, capable of eliciting great joy and displaying deep loyalty. They can keep you active, keep your spirits up, and can keep your heart healthy (physically and otherwise). Of course, dogs need guidance and proper training from a young age to ensure obedience and strengthen your bond.

If you’re a new dog owner or planning to get a puppy, you might consider crate training.

What Is It?

Crate training is a method of training your dog by teaching him to accept a crate as a familiar, safe location where your dog can comfortably go to sleep or relax. It’s a lot like letting your dog have their own room.

Proponents say that crate training helps to reduce separation anxiety, prevent destructive behavior, and keep pups away from dangerous household items. A crate also acts as a mobile indoor dog house, transportable from room to room. It’s also a great way to housebreak your puppy as dogs do not like to go to the bathroom where they sleep.

Isn’t That Cruel?

Most people hear “crate” and think “cage” and immediately assume that it’s a cruel way to confine your pet. It’s true that a cage can be cruel, but only if used incorrectly. You should never put your dog in its crate all day while you’re at work, for example. Crates create a comfortable space for your dog to sleep and nap if they choose, but should not be used for confinement.

More importantly, the crate should never used as a form of punishment. The crate is not jail; it’s home. If you treat it as such, the dog will have no problems resting or hanging out in that crate when he needs some privacy—like a dog house. On the other hand, treat that crate as a penalty box and your dog will definitely hate it.

Preparing Your Crate

The crate you get your pup should be big enough to give him room to lie down flat on his side and tall enough for the dog to sit up without hitting his head. When in doubt, choose the larger size. A crate too large is better than a crate too small.

Keep the crate close to a “people area,” like the kitchen or living room, to avoid isolating your dog. However, don’t place the crate near drafts or heat sources. You don’t want your puppy to be stuck in an uncomfortable or dangerous area.

There are two main types of crates to choose from:

  • Vari-Kennel: The traditional form of transport for any dog, the Vari-Kennel makes a nice crate depending on your dog. Some pups may take time to accept the crate, in which case you should take the crate apart, essentially just leaving the bottom half of the crate. It may take anywhere from a few hours to a few days for your puppy to get the hang of the crate.
  • Wire Mesh: Wire mesh is the preferred type of crate as it offers better air flow and gives the dog a nice view of the surrounding area. Make sure to tie the crate door back to stay open even if the crate is jostled.

Outfit your dog’s crate with all the comforts it needs, from a comfy bed and blankets to plush toys. Make that crate into an inviting, comfortable home. In terms of the bedding, most puppies prefer soft bedding, but others will push the bedding to one end of the crate and rest on a hard, flat surface. If the puppy urinates on the towel or bedding, remove it until he stops relieving himself in the crate.

How to Crate Your Pup

When applied, a crate helps you predict when your pup needs to use the bathroom, allowing you to take him to the next spot when necessary. The key to proper crating is a schedule of feeding, play, and bathroom breaks.

  • After he eats, put your dog in his crate for 10 to 15 minutes. Then take him to his designated bathroom area. Be patient. Once he does his business, praise him and give him a treat.
  • Spend some time playing with him for half an hour, whether it’s tussling in the grass, going for a walk, or playing fetch. Take this time to connect with your pup.
  • After a half hour of play, crate your puppy for a nap. Every hour, take him out to pee. If he pees, give him extra play time. If not, he can go back into the crate. This isn’t an especially rigid component. Just remember to reward him for good behavior and try to prevent mistakes.
  • Increase the intervals you take him out by an hour for every month. You’ll start at once every hour when he’s six weeks. At two months, take him out every 2 or 3 hours. At three months, take him out every 4 hours, and so on.

Crate Training Reminders

Crating isn’t a 100 percent successful training method, though success rates are much higher with puppies. If your pup is clearly miserable or frantic when placed in the crate, get rid of the crate and try something new. Crating is simply something to try. Don’t force him into the crate; it’s inhumane at that point and can lead to physical injury. Certainly don’t get mad at him either. Be positive and supportive and your dog will only return the favor.

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