July 4th Safety Tips for Every Pet Owner

For many, the 4th of July means barbeques with the family, fun in the sun and of course- fireworks! While firework displays provide us with plenty of entertainment, they can be downright scary for our pets.  It’s not uncommon for cats and dogs to go to great lengths to escape upon hearing those booming noises and seeing those flashes of light. Because of this, shelters see an influx of runaway pets every year after 4th of July festivities.

Below are a few tips for keeping furry family members safe this 4th of July:

Keep pets inside during local fireworks displays: Keeping dogs and cats inside will not only reduce chances of them running away, but will also minimize stress due to unfamiliar sounds. If at all possible, it’s best to stay home with your pets.

Close windows, curtains and doors: This will help keep out as much sound and flashing light as possible.

Turn on the TV or some music: These more familiar noises might calm a pet’s nerves and drown out some of the loud noise from outside.

Make sure all pets are wearing secure collars with proper identification: It’s always better to be safe than sorry. Pets have been known to dig under fences, pop out screens and perform other tricky escape attempts upon hearing fireworks. Just in case your beloved pet does manage to get out, up-to-date identification betters your chances of  a quick homecoming.

Top 5 Training Mistakes for New Dog Owners

When bringing home a new puppy or even an older dog that needs to brush up on his manners- training is crucial to the happiness of both you and your new canine friend. When training that lovable new ball of fur, keep in mind that there are a few common mistakes to avoid:

1.)    Long Training Sessions: Spending too much time on any one training session can be trying to both your patience and that of your canine companion. Keep in mind that puppies have especially short attention spans. It’s best to start with short training sessions, maybe 15 to 20 minutes. As your dog becomes more accustomed to the training process, you can start to increase the length of sessions a little at a time.

2.)    Inconsistency with Commands: Once you choose certain command words- stick to them! Not doing so will cause confusion for you pup and will not produce the desired outcome for all the hours spent on training. For example, “down” can either mean “lay down” or “get down” if the dog is jumping up. It’s crucial to pick a single meaning for each command and remain consistent.

3.)    Training when you’re in a Bad Mood: Make sure you have a positive attitude when beginning a training session. You will be less likely to lose your cool and yell- which only frightens the animal and does not enforce correct behavior. You will also be more likely to be patient and encouraging, two things that will help your sweet pup through the training process.

4.)    Correcting a Dog for something that Happened in the Past: No matter how mad you are about that chewed-up shoe or the accident that Fido had in the house, it’s important not to correct the behavior if the incident occurred more than 5 minutes ago. You should only reprimand your pet if you catch them in the act- and physical force should NEVER be used as punishment.

5.)    Not Using Enough Positive Reinforcement: The best way to see results when training is to REWARD good behavior! Treats can be used as an effective source of positive reinforcement- but some owners are afraid their pet will become too treat motivated. A whole lot of praise and a good old fashioned belly rub make for an excellent alternative to treats and will surely teach your pup that his behavior was correct.

June is Adopt a Cat Month!

If you’re considering a feline addition to the family, don’t forget to check out your local shelter before opting to buy. The ASPCA has declared June to be “Adopt a Shelter Cat Month” to raise awareness for the growing number of cats in need of forever homes.

Sadly, an animal is euthanized every 8 seconds in shelters across the United States. Choosing to adopt a cat helps save two lives; the animal you take into your home and the animal that is able to use the empty space in the shelter. However, it’s important to make a responsible decision regarding the adoption of a new pet so that it never ends up back in a shelter. If you rent your home, make sure pets are allowed. Also, be aware that pets require both a time and a financial commitment.

If you feel prepared for adoption, you’ll be sure to be repaid with plenty of love and companionship. So, don’t hesitate to participate in Adopt-a-Cat month if you’re ready for a new feline friend!

Health Benefits of Pet Ownership

Pets rely on us for everything. We provide them with food, water, attention, veterinary care, pet medications and everything else their furry little paws aren’t able to provide for themselves. But what recent studies show pets can give us in return is invaluable- our health.

Owning a pet is linked to a variety of health benefits including lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, a slower heart rate and less stress. Thanks to plenty of walks and play time, pet owners also typically lead a more active lifestyle than those who don’t own a furry companion.

Pet owners not only usually experience better physical health, but also benefit mentally. The love and companionship provided by a pet has been shown to decrease feelings of loneliness and depression, outbursts, and instances of mood disorders. It’s no wonder why therapy dogs are now specifically being trained to comfort the elderly, Alzheimer’s patients and even cancer patients.

Pets  improve both our physical health and our quality of life. So the next time your sweet pup is not so sweetly chewing up something he’s not supposed to, remember all the benefit you’re getting from his tail wagging companionship!