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DOGS AND BABIES: HOW TO TEACH DOGS ABOUT BABIES

children-and-dogsThe bond we have with our childhood dogs cannot be aptly describe by mere words alone. But in order for that bond to thrive, parents of both the pet and canine variety should be aware of a few key points to ensure that little ones and furballs live in harmony (and have a lot of fun along the way!)

OBSERVE BODY LANGUAGE
Dogs will usually give all sorts of warning signs before being pushed to their absolute limit. Nobody really enjoys being clamoured all over, sat upon or pushed around and usually if a child is doing this (which a child should not be) to a dog the dog’s body language will stiffen.

Happy, relaxed body language means the dog is comfortable, confident and happy. Stiff, jerky body language means the dog is uneasy, fearful or upset which can lead to an unwelcome incident. Teach your child to be respectful of a dog’s space and to interact in a manner that is polite, but always keep an eye on your dog’s body language too, especially with very young children.

HANDLE YOUR DOG
Little ones are always going to play a bit roughly while they learn the social dos and donts of life. In order to prepare your dog for this somewhat rambunctious addition to the family pack, handle them frequently.

Get your dog used to being touched all over — on their tail, their ears, between their toes, their bellies, their necks etc. — and make it a positive experience. This will help a dog be ready for little hands all over them.

INDOOR VOICES
It is no secret that dogs have very acute hearing. Loud screaming and crying can frazzle a dog, so be sure to have a quiet space that your dog can occupy when your babe starts fussing. As the child matures, teach them that quiet voices are nicer for Fido.

ESTABLISH A ROUTINE
Puppies and children are very similar in many ways. In particular, both do better when they are given boundaries, structure and routine. Creating a routine for your dog and your child to interact together helps both to learn what is expected of them. For older children, giving them a dog-friendly task such as brushing the dog after dinner, helps them to understand their dog as a unique personality with certain needs, likes and dislikes.

REINFORCE BASIC LESSONS
Dogs can benefit from a refresher course in basic training to brush up on their ‘sit,’ ‘stay’ and ‘drop it’ commands. Children should also be taught that roughly stealing a dog’s toys and food is rude. Teaching both parties basic lessons such as this will help to create a respectful bond.

TEACH EMPATHY
Often times little ones don’t realize that their actions are effecting others, so be sure to teach them that how they act towards others — especially animals — means something. Be sure to teach your child that how they act effects Fido’s mood and can hurt their feelings. Translating dog behaviour into the basic language of moods and feelings can help small children better relate with the family furball.

EXTRA PREPARATIONS
Of course, if a dog has difficult behaviour issues or if you are not comfortable preparing your dog-friendly home for a baby and a dog, it is always recommended that you consult a professional, experienced and certified dog behaviourist to help your family adjust.

{Photography by PAWSH Studio.}

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SEPTEMBER PET OF THE MONTH CONTEST

Sept-2013-pet-of-the-monthThis month — just in time for the beginning of fall — we have some delicious prizes up for grabs from our friends at Domestic Beast for the Pet of the Month contest! To learn more about what you could get your paws on, keep reading!

HARRY BARKER BON CHIEN TREAT TIN

RETAIL
$12

WHY WE LOVE IT
The Harry Barker Bon Chien Treat Tin is made from sturdy, recycled steel, and FDA approved.

ISLE OF DOGS TREATS
Soft & Chewy, Healthy
Crunchy, Smile

RETAIL
$17

WHY WE LOVE THEM
Health – Made with antioxidant-rich blueberries, whole grains and vegetables to help maintain overall health & wellness

Smile – Help scrub tartar from teeth.

To enter simply email a photo of your pet (with their name) to info@pawsh-magazine.com.

Oh, and don’t forget to vote for August’s Pet of the Month. Here are the nominees….

August-2013-Pet-of-Month
1. Ox
2. Ellie
3. Finn
4. Josephine

To vote for your favourite furball, simply write their name on our Facebook page wall. The pup with the most votes by Friday, September 13th will win! Good luck everyone! xo

REVIEW: SLEEPYPOD AIR

sleepypod-review-pawsh sleepypod-review-pawsh-2Traveling with your pupster is a popular topic here on Pawsh, so today it gives me great pleasure to share a quick review of what I personally believe to be one of the best pet travel carriers ever created. Presenting the Sleepypod Air.

The Sleepypod Air is the only airline approved pet carrier that allows for in-cabin pet travel. Not only does it adjust to suit all sorts of seating arrangements, but it has a soft fuzzy lining to ensure your pet’s comfort.

Even if you’re not traveling by plane, the Sleepypod offers many desirable features. For example, it folds down flat — something I personally enjoy when hopping on the GoTrain in Toronto with Rory so that she can sit on my knee, but I still have her carrier nearby just in case.

The Sleepypod Air also makes a wonderful cozy crate when it comes to bedtime. In fact, any new puppy parents might consider using one of these for their pup’s crate from the get go, so that pup can have his or her bed all the time, even if you sleep over at a friend’s house.

The variety of bright candy colours mean there is a style for everyone and the versatility of this piece is a wonderful addition to any excursion — big or small — that you may be planning with your pet.

To find out more, visit Sleepypod’s official website.

{Special thanks to Sleepypod and Oliver the Maltese for modelling}

{Photography by Pawsh Studio}

DOG PARK ETIQUETTE: 6 KEY DOG PARK MANNERS

dog-park-manners-1 Dog parks are lively, bouncy environments that to the outside eye look chaotic, intense and perhaps even a little bit scary. Fortunately, however, they are more often than not very welcoming places — a friendly subculture of pet parenthood that allows dogs and their people to socialize and enjoy some rejuvenating fresh air.

Like any culture though there is a certain etiquette that comes with going to an off-leash dog park. Here are six important dog park manners to mind (assuming that your pupster already has great recall)…
dog-park-manners-2
1. KEEP CALM WHILE ON LEASH
Dogs sometimes like to great new arrivals to the park boisterously and will run up wildly to say hello. If this happens while you are arriving in the off-leash area and your dog is still on leash, keep calm to help your dog keep calm. This sort of greeting is completely different from a strange dog charging up to you on a street; although it may still be a bit nerve-wracking.

Do not yell, stiffen or try to shoo the greeters away. Allow all the dogs to sniff each other (that is their way of saying hi officially) and let your dog off to join in on the fun. Ideally you will want to let your dog off leash as soon as you pass an off-leash sign to avoid being in the middle of the park with lots of dogs running up while your dog is still not free.

If your dog is fearful of having other dogs run up to them both on and off leash, an off-leash dog park may not be the best environment for them. Consider instead a small doggie daycare group or dog-walker or go to your local dog park during less busy times of the day.

dog-park-manners-32. IT’S NOT ALL FUN & GAMES
While it is true that dogs will be dogs and play roughly with one another — they’ll chase around wildly, wrestle like there is no tomorrow and happily bark until they lose their voices — it isn’t always all fun and games at the park. Keep an eye on your dog’s body language and behaviour to avoid any undesirable incidents.

If your dog is being hounded relentlessly by another, despite trying to get away, growling or giving usual signs to back off, it is perhaps wise to intervene. Similarly, if your dog is the over-excited one who fails to recognize another’s signs to call it quits, direct them away to another area of the park.

Likewise if your dog is jumping all over other people or poking noisily around other people’s belongings, step in to correct their behaviour. Remember that a dog park is a public space and that you are responsible for your dog’s behaviour. Do not allow your dog to do whatever they please just because it is the dog park.dog-park-manners-4

3. STOOP & SCOOP
You may be outside in a large grassy field, but that doesn’t mean you should let your dog do their business just anywhere and then leave it be. Imagine how horrid dog parks would become if every four-legged visitor did that? Pe-eww! Keep a mindful eye on your pup as they frolic and bag their ‘doo.’ Forget your doggie bags? Just ask a fellow dog park visitor for one (or two so you’re covered on the walk home as well!)

4. NO SQUEAKING PLEASE
Lots of dogs like to play fetch at the park, so bringing balls and Frisbees is a lot of fun. Squeaky toys, however, are widely regarded as a dog park faux-pas. Squeaky toys are designed to speak to a dog’s natural hunting instincts and are very much loved by dogs of all shapes and sizes. Bringing such an item — a high-value item — to a raucous dog park can mean disaster. Dogs may fight over the squeaky toy, so air on the side of caution and leave the high-pitched noises at home.

dog-park-manners-5
5. DON’T TREAT BEFORE YOU SPEAK
Treats are a no-brainer at the dog park and practically every pet parent will have them tucked away in their pockets. But don’t treat a dog other than your own without their person’s permission. While you may want to spoil the adorable new fluffball at the park with lots of goodies, a lot of dogs have allergies or are on special diets. Or sometimes dogs are being trained without food and treating unexpectedly can disrupt their progress.

You wouldn’t want a total stranger giving your kid candy, would you? The same principle applies to kiddies of the four-legged variety. Similarly, don’t assume you can pick up any dog you like — even if they are a squishy puppy. Respect the dog’s space and presence as well as their person’s and always ask before you treat.

6. DON’T IGNORE YOUR DOG
Don’t be that person — the person who lets their dog off-leash and is then completely engrossed in their smart phone and oblivious to their dog’s whereabouts or antics. Your dog is your responsibility at the park. Make sure they are behaving in a dog polite manner (tip #2 above) and make sure you know where they are at all times so they don’t get lost.

Follow these tips and you’re dog will have a wonderful — and polite – park experience!

{Huge thanks to my incredible friend and talented artist Tonya Pet Photography for photographing this special “Pet Wellness” column.}

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This article was made possible by DogTrot Fitness — Canada’s exclusive distributor of the PetRun line of dog treadmills — the ideal solution if your dog doesn’t love dog parks.
dog-treadmills-dogtrot-fitness-pawsh-magazineAdequate exercise is equally important to your dog’s wellness as a healthy diet. Even if you can’t run WITH your dog, we can help you meet his exercise needs, regardless of weather. With running decks scaled to suit any stride, there’s a PetRun treadmill for every size of dog!
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BEATING THE BACK-TO-SCHOOL PET BLUES

back-to-school-pet-blues-2-550 We all know that the lingering scents of fresh pencil shavings, pristine looseleaf and never-before-used pink eraser are enough to make any child groan with dread, but did you know that the back to school season can also affect your pets?

As youngsters catch the early morning bus, teenagers pack up for college dorms and parents return to work for fall, many pets are inevitably left at home alone for extended periods of time, confused and even depressed by the shift in household dynamics.

What are back-to-school pet blues?
This phenomenon is called ‘back to school pet blues,’ when dogs and cats in particular go through something of a ‘mood funk’ as everybody heads back to the classroom. Why does it happen? Well, put yourself in your pets’ paws. Summer holidays are jam-packed with trips to the cottage, lots of extra walks, lively playtime and best of all there’s always somebody around to snuggle up to. Then all of a sudden, the leaves change colour and everybody disappears without explanation. Wouldn’t you be a little sad too?

The disruption of routine between seasons can be more traumatic for some pets than others. For instance, herding breeds, like Border Collies, tend to perceive the children of a household as their respective ‘flock’ and their sudden absence can create feelings of boredom and anxiety.

Other signs that your pooch may be having some difficulty adapting to these changes can include destructive behaviour (like chewing furniture and scratching walls), separation anxiety, inactivity and even depression. Cats, on the other hand, are a little trickier to read and if emotionally stressed will resort to sleeping more than usual, changing their vocalization habits (either more or less depending upon the feline in question) and even spraying to vent their frustrations.

What can you do?
Although sadly nobody has the power to make summer last forever, there are measures you can take to ease your pet into the back to school transition. First and foremost it is important to maintain your pet’s feeding schedule.

Pets, like people, often look forward to their meals and are excited to hear the kibble bag rustle, so keep breakfast and supper at the same time everyday. Also, try to avoid drastically changing your pet’s times to go out – believe it or not, Mother Nature can also be trained to abide by a schedule and altering this without warning can be stressful, not to mention messy.

It is also vitally important to increase your pet’s physical activity, as the ‘feel good’ effect of endorphin’s also effects dogs and cats. Bring your pup with you on your morning jogs before work or have the kids take Fido out for playtime after dinner. Cats also benefit from more exercise and activities such as chasing fluff balls on string are a great way to keep kitties moving.back-to-school-pet-blues-3-550

Of course quelling those sad puppy-dog eyes in the morning may seem impossible, but there are ways to reassure your pet that all is well while you’re away. Providing positive association with your absence is very important for a well-adjusted pet, so treat them to a new toy which they only get to play with when you take off for the day.

Challenging toys, like the Classic Kong or Tricky Treats Ball, are best as they require ‘working’ for a treat and will keep dogs entertained. It won’t take long for your canine chum to look forward to their special toy and inevitably the sound out your car pulling out of the driveway.

There is also the option of looking for doggy-daycares in your local area or hiring a dog-walker to let your pup out at lunch if you can’t make it back in time. Leaving an article of clothing out for your pet to sniff and lie down with while you’re away is never a bad idea either.

What not to do
It’s easy to feel guilty leaving your dog or cat for the day by themselves, but spontaneously getting another animal as a friend for the one left at home is not an ideal solution. Owners need to be aware of what is best for their family pet and adding a new animal to the household can create more stress, not less.

The addition of any new pet to a family home requires planning and time so that everyone involved can acclimatize to the new member and bond. It is unreasonable to expect your pet to become best friends with a new puppy all by themselves and if you’re not around to supervise territorial issues can potentially arise.

Back to school now
Anybody with kids knows that back to school requires a lot of preparation, shopping and encouragement. You want your child to succeed in the new semester and feel as comfortable as possible returning to the world of lockers and cafeterias. Similarly, pets need a bit of extra attention too during this busy time of year.

Don’t wait until the day your kids go back to start a new routine with your pet, but instead gradually introduce changes over the course of a couple of weeks. There’s no reason why every member of the family can’t earn an A+ for good behaviour this September.

{Photography by Laura Merikay}