Posts by Jenn

The 411 on Pet Halloween Safety

Posted by on Sep 14, 2010 in Environment, Paws for Thought, Safety | 0 comments

Have you started to stockpile your Halloween stash? Searching the aisles for that particular candy that your kid’s desire? My husband and I always try to have the best candy (or so we hope) behind our door. And, as hard as we try, we never quite have enough….so by the end of the night, the kids are receiving Nutri-Grain bars, raisin packets and the like. Not so much fun for them I am sure! We do have a four legged kid named Abe and we always make sure that he is happy and safe during Halloween including making a batch of his oh so favorite treats…the recipe is below! To keep your pet as safe as Abe, please keep the following pet safety tips in mind: Keep Pets Indoors- Please, I repeat, please keep your pets indoors the night of Halloween. There will be many pranksters out, who just might find it funny to let your pet out of the gate, antagonize your pet or even worse. Chocolate, Candy and other Yummies- By all means, all candy, especially chocolate is a big NO NO for Fifi and Fido. Chocolate is toxic to a pet’s system and can have fatal results. Not to mention, the wrappers, foil, twist ties, etc. surrounding the candy can cause choking or may lodge in the pet’s intestines. Candles- We all know that Fido’s tail can whip around as fast as a category two and will take out anything in it’s path. Please keep all lit candles far out of your dogs range. And definitely remember to extinguish candles prior to leaving your home. Trick or Treaters- If your dog is like Abe, he likes nothing better than to run to the door and sniff each and every trick or treater who eagerly holds out their bag for candy. A warning for this behavior: dogs may get spooked by costumes and excited kids…causing them to bolt out of your open door or perhaps become scared/nervous. The best precaution is to not let Fido greet the trick or treaters without being on the other end of his leash. If your dog is nervous- It is better to leave him in a room with all of his favorite things while you are greeting trick or treaters or hosting a Halloween party. He will feel much better and you will not take the chance of your otherwise friendly FiFi becoming snappish. Costumes- If you choose to dress your pet this season, please make sure that their costume is not constricting in any way. If the costume includes a mask, please ensure that the eyeholes are wide enough not to impede Fido’s peripheral vision. Limited vision could cause your dog to become nervous and potentially act out of the norm. Give your pet extra water when dressed as he may become warm and try not to leave his costume on for extended periods of...

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Hotels Roll Out the Welcome Mat for Pets and Their People

Posted by on Jul 25, 2010 in Lifestyle, Paws for Thought, Travel | 0 comments

If your vacation dreams include Fido lounging by the pool…you are in luck!  A variety of hotel and motel chains are not only pet friendly…but offer amazing services to ensure the comfort of your Fido or Felix!  All that is left to do is get the all clear from your vet, learn your destination’s pet policies and hit the road. Quality Inn & Suites near Ybor City and the Fairgrounds is a new hotel and they want to meet your pets!  Quality Inn has a $25.00 pet fee and no weight limit.  They have had cats, dogs and even a ferret or two sign their guest book.  Quality Inn is part of the Choice Hotel group which includes other names you may know such as Sleep Inn, Comfort Inn, Comfort Suites, Clarion and others.  Choice Hotels has over 2,500 pet friendly hotels across the country…so chances are, a Choice Hotel will be where you are vacationing.  Their website also offers pet safety and travel tips.  Visit: Westin Harbour Island greets your under 40lb pet with a Westin Heavenly Bed, food mat, food bowls and a goody bag.  Leave your collar, leash and food at home?  They’ve got those items on hand! Westin is part of the Starwood Hotel Group which is the parent company of Westin, Sheraton, W Hotels, Four Points and others.  This world-wide company offers many pet friendly hotels.  Visit their website to find one! Looking for a smaller, boutique hotel?  Hotel Indigo is the one for you!  The boutique hotel chain is part of the Intercontinental Hotel Group and offers 36 unique hotel experiences world-wide. The Hotel Indigo I spoke with is located in the heart of St. Petersburg and offers access to pet friendly restaurants, dog parks and more!  Visit If your idea of a vacation includes spa time, gourmet meals and a lot of pampering…and you want the same for your dog…you must visit either the glamorous Ritz Carlton or a posh Loews Hotel.  The Ritz Sarasota offers a Privileged Pup program wherein your under 20lb Fido can enjoy either a Therapeutic Swedish, Full Body Relaxation, Invigorating Sports or Senior pet massage.  All massages are 60 minutes and cost $130.  Organic meals prepared by request. Loews Hotels have a motto:  Loews Loves Pets!  And they certainly do.  From spa packages at the Loews Don Cesar to Su ‘Ruff lessons at Loews Coronado Bay your pet will be nothing but spoiled.  Loews has a low pet fee of $25 and no weight limit! State and local laws will dictate what each hotel can offer and allow.  A quick phone call to your destination will give you all of the information you need for a fur fabulous...

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How to Choose a Good Trainer

Posted by on Jul 25, 2010 in Paws for Thought, Training | 0 comments

How to Choose a Good Trainer We know many of you added a new four legged friend to your family over the holidays.  Now is the perfect time to think about teaching the new dog a few tricks and pleasant manners around people and other animals.  Training your dog should be fun! A skilled and professional dog trainer employs humane training methods which are not harmful to the dog and/or handler A competent instructor will allow and encourage you to observe a class prior to making the decision to enroll. In a well-run class, dogs and people will be enjoying themselves and having a successful learning experience. Look for an instructor who is approachable and who encourages participants to have a good time. If space permits, an instructor should welcome and encourage all family members and others who interact with the dog to attend class. A skilled class instructor will: Provide a clear explanation of each lesson. Demonstrate the behavior(s) that students will be teaching to their dogs. Give students ample time in class to begin practicing the day’s lesson. Assist students individually with proper implementation of techniques. A skilled and professional trainer will encourage dialogue and be courteous to both canine and human clients alike. Remember, a well behaved dog makes a happy owner!  Article information courtesy of...

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The Importance of the Walk

Posted by on Jul 25, 2010 in Excercise, Health & Wellness, Paws for Thought | 0 comments

If you are like me, by the time you get home from a full day of work and everything else you do after 5pm, the last thing you want to do is walk your dog.  So, you resort to throwing the ball in your back yard a few times or wrestling the dog in your apartment to get out that pent up energy. The dog may actually seem a bit tired after this minor activity….panting and frequenting his water bowl.  Most likely, within the next 30 minutes your dog has just as much energy as he did when you first walked through the door.  Trust me; he has MUCH more energy to get out of his system.  Unused energy can manifest itself in several ways.  If, your dog is showing signs of anxiety, nervousness or aggression most of this can be remedied by walking.  I know it sounds crazy and if you are a Caesar Milan fan you know with EVERY client he meets, the dog is not getting the exercise he needs. If you consider that dogs are truly pack animals the idea of the walk makes sense.  When their ancestors lived in the wild they were always on the go.  Hunting and foraging for food and water was their daily routine.  It meant survival.  Walking as a pack gave them not only the exercise they needed but also a sense of purpose and an understanding of their role within the pack.  Even though dogs have evolved over the years, they are still pack animals and need to maintain their rightful place within YOUR pack.  Walking will create this bond with your dog and give him a sense of purpose. Now, many of you are probably saying my dog pulls or my dog hates walking!  The pulling part is easy to fix as is the hating the walk part.  Here are a few recommendations: Use the correct leash and collar.  I am not a big fan of the retractable leash.  Especially when you are training your dog to walk nicely.  Retractable leashes give the dog far too much reign over the walk and it can cause accidents to occur.   I broke my hand a few years ago using one of these! Small dogs seem to do well on a harness.  If they where a collar and you are constantly pulling on it, you could potentially injure their trachea.  Harnesses will apply pressure to the chest and not the neck. Larger breeds can do well with a Halti, Gentle Leader or a prong collar.  I know many people believe that a prong collar is cruel but I think it is just misunderstood.  But, this is for another article! Using a sturdy leather leash is better than nylon, cotton or other material.  Leather leashes give the dog less room to pull and are very strong.  These are highly recommended for medium to large breed dogs. 2.  Consult a trainer.  If you are really having trouble walking your dog, consult a trainer.  Many of them will provide a phone consultation for free.  There are group classes and private lessons that you can choose from as well.  Interview a few potential trainers and go from there.  It may only take a lesson or two to get you and your dog on the right track. 3.  If your dog hates walking, begin going on short romps around the neighborhood and lure him with treats.  After you return home, give him a lot of praise and a very special treat of some sort.  In this way, he will begin to realize that walking means...

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Collars, Leashes, Harnesses, Haltis, Gentle Leaders…Oh MY!

Posted by on Jul 25, 2010 in Lifestyle, Paws for Thought, Products | 0 comments

I have written in the past about the importance of the walk and some of the most common collars and leashes available to help you and your four legger make it around the block.  As promised, here is more information on gear to control your wayward pooch! Buckle Collar The standard buckle collar if sized properly will allow for a secure fit around the neck and provides less of an opportunity for the collar to slip off during walks or play.  These collars typically come in a variety of colors, styles and material and are great for attaching an identification or license. This collar is not necessarily good for a dog that is a constant puller while being walked.  Often dogs that are pullers will gag or choke when exerting force against these types of collars.  Special attention should be given to those feisty small breeds who insist on walking you!  If pulled too hard, harm could be done to their windpipe.  Head Collar (Halti or Gentle Leader) The head collar (not to be confused with a muzzle) fits around the bridge of the dog’s muzzle and neck.  The head collar allows minimal force while allowing maximum control in moving your dog in the desired direction.  This collar is excellent for those dogs that are pullers and for those owners who don’t feel comfortable with a choker or prong collar. The combination of this collar and proper training can do wonders in making your walks enjoyable for both you and your dog. While initially your dog may seem uncomfortable with this collar (pawing at it or refusing to move) over time and patience they will adjust.  If used incorrectly or if the dog is pulled with too much force strained neck muscles could result.  Martingale Collar The martingale collar is a slip collar that has limited capability to tighten.  (think of a choker collar covered with material). This allows the dog to be comfortable while still giving the owner some control.  While the collar does not easily come off the dog’s neck even when back pulling, it is not very effective for those dogs that are constant pullers. Harnesses A standard harness wraps to a dog’s body and when fitted appropriately provides good comfort while minimizing pressure on the neck.  The standard harness is typically effective for controlling little dogs that pull.  It is not very effective however for big dogs since they can utilize the full force of their legs and chest to pull.  *There are certain no-pull harnesses available which vary pressure between the dog’s front legs and chest to provide the necessary control. Choke Collar Many trainers and owners use the standard Choke collar.  To be used correctly, the timing and release of the correction must be mastered.  It is a quick jerk that is applied at a correct angle, speed and with proper timing.  Many trainers are able to use this type of collar flawlessly, but it is very difficult for the average dog owner to learn.  If you are using a choke collar and notice that most of the time your dog is pulling and gagging…this may not be the correct collar for you. Prong Collar Widely misunderstood, the Prong Collar dates back 2,000 years to the Monks of New Skete.  They used the collar as a training device as does modern day training phenom Cesar Milan.  The concept of the prong collar is to apply pressure evenly around the neck which is much gentler and safer for the dog. The smaller the links the more effective the correction.  It has limited tightening capacity unlike...

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