Friday, 18 July 2014

Tips For Traveling Safely With Pets

Co-Authored by Kendra Thorton Travel advocate, TV personality, PR business woman, and Karen Rosenfeld Dog Behaviorist, Canine Holistic Wellness - the Ottawa Valley Dog Whisperer

When our family goes on vacation, I always make sure we make plans to ensure that our dog is safe and comfortable. This is a challenge for many people, as pets can make traveling more complicated. I’m going to be hosting family members who will be visiting me in Chicago next month. Since they’ll be bringing their own dog, I’m planning to offer them some suggestions on how to make the trip easier for everyone. The following are some of the ways that I make sure everyone, including our dog, feels at home while we’re on the road.

Most dogs have a toy or other object that helps them feel relaxed. I’ve found that bringing a familiar item along really helps our dog stay calm while we’re traveling. In our case, it’s a blanket, but anything familiar will do the job. Another trick that works with our dog is to massage some aromatherapy oil into her coat to help her to relax. If you try this, just make sure you choose an oil blend that’s safe and non-toxic to pets.
There are a few steps that should be taken prior to taking your pet on a trip. I always bring our dog to the vet for a complete check-up and to catch up on any vaccines she might need. Another thing I did was having her micro chipped. This is a painless procedure that makes pets easy to track if they ever get lost. Finally, if you’re traveling out of the area make sure you check laws and regulations about transporting animals. For example, if you travel abroad there may be quarantine laws in place.
When I book hotel rooms, I always check into their policies regarding pets. Aside from seeking a hotel that allows pets, I search for one where our dog will be as comfortable as possible. There are quite a few pet friendly hotels that are happy to recommend places where you can walk your dog. Some go as far as to prepare continental breakfasts for dogs, which any dog will surely appreciate! Check on the hotel’s website to find out their policies and attitudes towards pets. If necessary, give them a call and ask any questions you might have.
Planes are usually the fastest and most direct way to cover long distances. They are not, however, the ideal way to travel with pets. Animals do not enjoy flying and most airlines are not too crazy about the idea either. The one time I tried flying with my dog she ended up stuck in the cargo hold. I would never do that again unless there were absolutely no other options.
When our family goes on vacation, I want everyone to have a good time. This includes our family dog. I find that it really helps to keep the same routine as we follow at home as much as I can. For example, I feed and walk the dog at the times that she’s grown accustomed to. This helps make it feel like home to her, even if we’re hundreds of miles away ~ Kendra
What To Pack - The Basics 

  • Bags (poop bags)
  • Bed and/or blanket
  • Bowls for food and water
  • Collar, considering bringing an extra
  • Leash, considering bringing an extra
  • Harness if using one
  • Crate / Kennel if using one
  • Grooming supplies
  • Medicines/supplements if applicable
  • Food / treats, especially if your dog has a sensitive digestive system that is  adversely effected by sudden changes in diet
  • Toy if your dog enjoys having one or two
  • Towels
  • Water bottle
  • Water for traveling in the car
  • Your dog’s papers (medical, vaccination records, ownership) - particularly important if you are crossing an international border
  • First Aid Kit

Emergency Preparedness - Health and Safety Basics

First Aid Kit
For instructions on how to make your own amazing all-natural first aid kit Go Here >>

Emergency Health Care - Know Where to Go
Consider looking up and writing down the contact information and hours of operation of some veterinarian offices or alternate and complementary medicine health care providers along your travel route and near where you will be staying.  This can save valuable time in an emergency situation.

How to Help an Anxious Dog Travel Comfortably

The Psychology of Travel Anxiety
When it comes to communication dogs are very insightful - if you expect your dog to get anxious you are actually directing your dog to be anxious. Vehicle anxiety is a psychological state that results in one or more of the following physical symptoms - barking, panting, whining, inability to ‘settle down’, wanting to hide or escape etc. Solving the issue is best accomplished by addressing and resolving the all elements that contribute to the anxious state, including:
  • The psychological state (human and canine)
  • The physical state (human and canine)
  • Food, diet, nutrition (canine)

Herbals for Travel Anxiety
In addition to providing appropriate psychological and physical support you can also purchase a holistic herbal or homeopathic tincture / tonic to help reduce your dog’s stress. 

There are many good quality herbal tinctures, tonics, homeopathic remedies that can be purchased on-line or from a good-quality pet store or natural health store. Be careful to check the ingredients list. Many products including those made for pets contain alcohol, toxic fillers, and slipping agents, artificial sweeteners, and other inappropriate ingredients.  Make sure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions and dosage carefully.

If your dog has allergies or any health medical conditions please makes sure you check all herbals and homeopathic remedies for interactions and cautions related to your dog’s condition and medications prior to use.

Motion Sickness
Some dogs experience motion sickness - another condition that can be cured when addressed properly and with patience. You can read more on treating motion sickness here. Herbs such as ginger, anise or peppermint are good choices for treating nausea.  And do not feed your dog for at least an hour before vehicle travel, but do not restrict water intake. An empty stomach (no food, water is fine) helps to avoid the onset of nausea.

Food, Nutrition, Diet and Travel Anxiety
Diet matters.  Dogs, just like people have more serotonin in their gut than in their brain. A dog ‘food’ (i.e. processed commercial dry or wet food) that contains grains, chemical based preservatives, artificial food colouring, artificial flavours, poor sourced protein, and other toxins definitely contributes to increased levels of anxiety. If your dog is anxious - proper attention to creating a truly supportive diet is important to supporting an over-all cure.

When this type of behaviour is addressed properly vehicle anxiety and motion sickness can be resolved.

I am Lost - I am Found

Make sure that you have a better chance of recovering your dog if he/she wanders off. Even a well trained dog can end up lost when the unexpected occurs...
  • If your dog does have ID tags:
    • Check to make sure the ring that holds the tag on the collar is secure
    • Make sure all information on the tag is current
  • If your dog does not have an ID Tag:
    • Make sure you get one - even if your dog is micro chipped -the person that finds your dog may not know about microchips or have access to a facility that scans for chips
    • Include the following on the tag
      • Dog’s name (essential)
      • Your phone number (essential)
      • Your name (optional)
      • Your address (optional)
  • Make sure you always have available a recent photo of your dog 

Car Travel Safety

For important tips of car travel safety with your dog - guidance on what's best, the front seat or back seat; options for making sure your dog is not injured during a sudden emergency stop;  the right way to use a crate in the car if you need to do so and other life saving do's and don'ts Go Here >>

...and last but not least, have a good trip! ~ Karen

Need Additional Assistance?
If you require additional support and guidance I would be pleased to assist you via my In-Person or On-Line Services…

Dog Obedience Training and Behavior Modification Services:
Diet, Nutrition Wellness Services:
  • Unbiased Diet, Nutrition, Product Advice is available via this service
  • Holistic Diet, Nutrition Wellness Plans are available via this service

Car Travel Safety for Dogs - Do's and Don'ts

Front Seat, Back Seat - What’s Best?
The back seat of a vehicle is safer place for your dog than the front seat.  The most serious hazards posed by the front seat are safety-bag deployment, front wind shield if you are forced to break suddenly, and if your dog is not calm in the vehicle - interference with your concentration while driving.

If you are going to allow your dog to ride up front with you, consider putting a properly fitted harness on your dog - in the case of a sudden stop your grip on that harness may save your dog from injury.

  • Never tether your dog by his/her collar
  • Never restrain your dog in the car with a leash attached to your dog’s collar - your dog can end-up with a crushed larynx or other serious / fatal neck injuries.
Dogs with motion sickness generally do better in the back passenger seating area as opposed to the front seat.

Safety Restraints
Even if your dog is a calm traveler, if you are forced to make an emergency stop your dog may incur a minor or major injury - or worse end-up ejected from the car, particularly if the car windows are open.  There are many simple ways that you can reduce the risk of injury to your dog…

Harness and Seat-Belt Tether
Purchase a comfortable harness and seat belt tether. Adjust the tether-length to allow your dog to sit, stand, turn around - but don’t make the length too long or you defeat the purpose of  the restraint. If you are traveling with more than two dogs it is not advisable to harness and tether the dogs in close proximity to each other as tethers can become entangled around the dogs’ neck and legs.

Crates / Kennels
Crates are not necessary for all dogs but for some dogs with travel anxiety and separation anxiety a crate can be a supportive mini-environment within your vehicle to support an anxious dog to transition and change his/her association of travel from fear and uncertainty to calm, comfort - normal.

If using a crate please make sure you select a crate that provides good air flow - don’t use a closed plastic/resin crate as air flow may be restricted leading to heat exhaustion or freezing.

If your dog is not crate-trained make sure you introduce and acclimatize your dog to the crate prior to your trip.

For tips and a comprehensive guidance on how to crate train your puppy or dog, Go here >>.

Car Barriers
When traveling with one or multiple dogs - a well-secured back seat, or car barrier is a very good option to ensure safety.  If your dog is in the back cargo area make sure you support good air flow to avoid heat exhaustion, freezing and general discomfort.

Dog Booster Seats
For small-breed dogs and puppies the pet-industry offers many types of dog booster seats.  Simply secure the booster seat to your vehicle seat making sure to follow the booster seat manufacturer’s instructions. Look for a booster seat that includes a tether to strap or secure your dog into the booster seat. Never secure the tether to your dog’s collar - always secure to a properly fitted harness.

Car Window Screens
If you are worried about your dog putting his/her head too far out of the window, or jumping out of the window leaving the windows rolled-up in the heat is not a solution. Your dog can quickly and mortally succumb to heat exhaustion. Consider installing made-for-dogs car window screens that can be purchased from a reputable retailer.

Other Important Life Preserving Tips…

First Aid Kit - The All Natural Holistic Way
For instructions on how to make your own amazing all-natural first aid kit Go Here >>

  •   Don’t allow your dog to sit in the lap of the person that is driving
    • Allowing your dog to sit in your lap while you are driving endangers you - the other occupants of your vehicle, including your dog, and other drivers. 
  • Don’t allow your dog to put his/her head or other body parts out the window - a rock or insect can do serious damage at high speed impact
    • Dust and other detritus can cause an eye infection or ear infection, or more serious damage
    • Your dog can learn to enjoy having his/her nose at the open window rather than having his/her entire head out the window. If you have trouble training your dog get professional help of use one of the safety restraint options that I discuss further below.
  • Don’t ever leave your dog in the car on very hot summer days
    • Even with the windows open your dog can get heat stroke and die
  • On more moderate summer days don’t leave your dog in the car with the windows rolled-up or windows just slightly open. Even on moderately warm days the heat in a car can build-up quickly.
For more tips on traveling safely with pets Go Here >>

Need Additional Assistance?
If you require additional support and guidance I would be pleased to assist you via my In-Person or On-Line Services…

Dog Obedience Training and Behavior Modification Services:
Diet, Nutrition Wellness Services:
  • Unbiased Diet, Nutrition, Product Advice is available via this service
  • Holistic Diet, Nutrition Wellness Plans are available via this service

Monday, 14 July 2014

First Aid Kit for Dogs, Cats - Natural, Holistic

Whether you are just enjoying time at home or traveling - when your dog or cat needs first aid, a well prepared all natural first aid kit can reduce stress, save you a trip to the veterinarian's office and ensure fast relief for your pet.

Be prepared for the inconveniences of summer - bug bites, ticks, hot spots, sun burns and common issues that can come-up unexpectedly any time of the year - diarrhea, ear infections, eye infections, etc. You can make your own holistic first aid kit for your dog and cat, you will be glad you did...

Holistic All-Natural First Aid Kit

Perfect for home and travel with your pet - here's what you will need...
  • Bandages - self adherent pet bandages
  • Clean towel and washing cloth
  • Cotton swabs
  • Insect repellent - natural herbal spray and/or natural herbal spot-on and collar drops
  • Tick removal tool
  • Natural Essentials
  • Sun Screen - for your dog’s nose and for dogs with thin or sparse fur
    • Don’t use conventional human--made-for sunscreen as it contains multiple toxins as do the majority of made-for pet sunscreens, including those sold in veterinarian offices.
    • Coconut oil, sesame seed oil, jojoba oil or wheat germ oil are good natural sunscreens and moisturizers. 
      • You can make these natural oils even more effective by adding 5 to 20 drops of therapeutic-grade lavender (or another dog-safe, cat-safe essential oil) for every ounce of coconut, sesame or jojoba oil
  • To heal a sun-burned nose just apply a little vitamin E 

Need Additional Assistance?
If you require additional support and guidance I would be pleased to assist you via my In-Person or On-Line Services…

Dog Obedience Training and Behavior Modification Services:
Diet, Nutrition Wellness Services:
  • Unbiased Diet, Nutrition, Product Advice is available via this service
  • Holistic Diet, Nutrition Wellness Plans are available via this service

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

How to Crate Train Your Puppy, Dog - Tips for Success

Introduce and familiarize your puppy or dog to a crate the right way your dog will not fear or take a disliking to the crate. The crate will not be associated with anxiety and stress…

Introducing, Familiarizing Your Dog with His/Her Crate 

Encourage Your Dog to Explore the Crate On His/Her Own
When first introducing your puppy or dog to a crate, leave the crate door open and  allow your dog to explore the  outside and inside of the crate. Provided you are grounded in your own emotions - i.e. you ‘feel’ that the crate is just another item of furniture in the house, your dog will have no reason to have an adverse reaction to the crate - your dog will be supported in normalizing the existence, presence  and use of the crate. 

Your dog should use his/her nose to sniff the crate, explore both the inside and outside of the crate at his/her leisure. You can put a favorite blanket or toy in the crate to further encourage your dog’s curiosity and normalization of the crate. Don’t make a big excited fuss over the crate - high pitched voices, excited energy etc. Remember that you want your dog to associate the crate with ‘normal’, calm, grounded - relaxed. Don’t wind your dog up, instead quietly - from a place of inner warmth just enjoy watching your dog explore. 

Closing The Door For The First Time
If you feel uncertain, nervous, guilty, anticipate reactive behaviour etc. your dog can sense how you feel and your dog will not be comfortable with the closing of the crate door. Why should he/she be comfortable if you are not? If you want your dog to be in a certain state-of-being you must be in that state first. Dogs love pure logic because they are insightful communicators. Once your dog has entered the crate you can close the door - provided you think of closing the door as normal. It is up to you to lead - you can create normal  or you can create stress.

If you anticipate that your dog will panic, will be uncomfortable, and will not like the crate - you are directing your dog to panic, be uncomfortable and not trust the crate. Dogs are literal beings - not because they are simple-minded nor stupid but instead because they are very aware communicators.
Once a dog has found a crate to be a normal, comfortable place, leave the crate door open when the crate is not in active use - this way the dog may choose to use the crate as a place of rest even when you have not directed him/her to go to the crate. 

Letting Your Dog Out of His/Her Crate

To Let Your Dog Out of The Crate…
The same principles that apply to closing the crate door apply to opening the door - normalize. When you go to let your dog back out of the crate, make sure you are grounded (calm, normal) and that you are not in a hurry. If your dog is excited - just breathe to direct your dog to calm. Don’t speak, don’t obsess about your dog’s state, don’t argue or plead - just breathe and clear your thoughts. Don’t open the door until your dog is calm. Dogs understand how to pressure and dogs are persist - if you want calm you have to work for it -  direct from a place of pure logic.

When your dog is calm, place your hand on the crate door handle - but don’t open the door yet.  If your dog’s excited state is initiate or further heightened when you reach for a touch the door handle, take your hand off of the door handle. Once again help your dog calm. When your dog is calm your hand can go back to the handle.

Open the door a little - if your dog escalates to excitement gently close the door and start again. When your dog calms open the door slightly - don’t ‘guard’ the opening. If you feel the ‘need’ to guard you are inviting your dog to compete with you for the opening. Don’t create a competition.

Just because you open the door does not mean that your dog should push his/her way out through the door. Indicate to your dog to sit. Do not allow him/her to ‘bolt’ out of the crate.

Stand in the space created by the open crate door - occupy the space with a comfortable grounded stance - one leg slightly in front of the other. When your dog is calm, release the space by moving to one side of the open door and then use your hand to draw his eyes up to you and then use a hand gesture to indicate that he/she can now step out of the crate. Then cue him/her to calm once more by taking a deep breath as he/she exists the crate.

Time to clean my face and wake up!

Don’t Wind Your Dog Up
When you come home don’t create an environment of high energy, intense excitement - just be normal. Do you want your dog to jump all over you, whine and bark, be anxious when you leave and arrive? Learn how to great your dog with selfless love by greeting in silence.

Dogs With High-Level Anxiety
Determination, presence of mind and patience is required to affect change. Work on your own self-control, and self awareness first. Follow the steps above and do not allow emotion - yours or your dog’s to rule. Staying grounded takes practice - it is not reasonable to expect your dog to be grounded and calm when you are not.

Don’t Allow Your Dog to ‘Own’ His/Her Crate
It is important to teach your dog that that he/she does not own his/her crate. The crate is a ‘common’ space - a space that is not singularly owned - it is a shared space.

I have worked with dogs that were allowed to ‘own’ and guard his/her crate to the point of extreme aggressive-reactivity - should anyone (human, dog, cat) approach the crate. It takes skill and knowledge to reverse this behaviour and while I can do so, it is better to avoid creating the situation in the first place.Save yourself and your dog the distress...

Don’t use a crate as a place of ‘punishment, don’t use the crate in anger. Doing so creates many issues including aggressive reactivity.

Not For Punishment
A crate should NEVER be used as a means to ‘punish’ a dog. In-fact when working with your dog you should never seek to punish. Dogs do not require punishment. Punishment simply serves to destabilize a dog. Punishment creates insecurity, fear, the need to react defensively, to shut down - psychological damage which can also result in physical damage. A dog requires fair, logical, respectful mentoring.

Make Sure the Crate is the Right Size for your Dog
Your dog should be able to comfortably stand up and turn around in his /her crate.

Location Matters
Never place a crate in a location that:
  • Gets overly warm
  • Where there is a cold draft
  • Where the air quality is poor
  • Where lighting is harsh
Should You Cover the Crate?
Covering the crate can lead to expectations that are not met and the end result can be increased anxiety for you and your dog. Some people, trainers and behaviorists included believe that by covering the crate they will moderate or even solve a dog’s crate-anxiety. Covering the crate may simply serve to reduce air circulation and therefore reduce air quality. When I work with a client whose dog is suffering from crate-anxiety and the crate is covered, one of the first things I do is remove the cover. Then I teach the client how to resolve the root cause of the anxiety.

A Comfortable Place
The dogs in my own pack lie in their crates when they feel like it. They are allowed to lie down wherever they like in my house – including on couches. Sometimes they prefer a crate. No one dog in my pack owns a crate – they all share the spaces in the house including crates. Why do they choose the crate? The crate is a space of comfort and calm and all of the crates in my house are comfy – they are lined with dog beds and some have pillows too.

Even dogs who are capable of escaping any crate – like my dog Sarah (German Shepherd X Husky) will accept being in a crate when coached and mentored the right way. Sarah is a wily, intelligent and resourceful canine who spent the better part of her first year as a stray – wiliness meant survival. Sarah can open any type of crate door handle/lock and escape at will - however if I put her in a crate she will stay in it. My control over Sarah is not based on physical force - no amount of physical restraint can stop a determined dog from attempting to and escaping from a crate, room etc. My control over Sarah and my client’s dogs is based on self-restraint, self-awareness, self-discipline, respectful and logical communication - true leadership.

I work with dogs that have extreme separation anxiety - including cases where a dog has suffered severe injury while chewing through and escaping from for his/her crate.

Hate The Crate?
Many people think that their dog’s reason for extreme behaviour is that he/she ‘hates’ his/her crate.

Not so.

In the majority of cases it is the human that:
  • Accidentally enables an existing condition of insecurity (i.e. in the case of an adopted dog), or;
  • Creates the insecurity in the first place. Returning the situation back to normal requires that all aspects of the situation be addressed - human and canine.
Is Crating Cruel?
A crate can be a place of great cruelty...
  • A dog should not live his/her life in a crate
  • A crate, as noted further above should not be used to punish a dog, dogs should not be punished - dogs need coaching and mentoring - not punishment.
A crate can be a place of comfort, support...
  • A crate can be an amazing tool to help a dog learn to transition from a state of insecurity to a state of normal, grounded, confidence. 
  • A crate can be a place to help the healing process - after physical trauma or surgery
 A place of positive support or negativity - it all depends on the human.

Need Additional Assistance?
If you require additional support and guidance I would be pleased to assist you via my In-Person or On-Line Services…

Dog Obedience Training and Behavior Modification Services:
Diet, Nutrition Wellness Services:
  • Unbiased Diet, Nutrition, Product Advice is available via this service
  • Holistic Diet, Nutrition Wellness Plans are available via this service