5 ‘Paw-some’ Gift Ideas for Pets this Holiday

The holiday season has officially arrived. If you’re scrambling for ideas to complete the shopping list for your loved ones, don’t forget the four-legged friends we spend so much time with throughout the year.

Here are 5 ‘paw-some’ ideas for the pets in your life.

1.      Give the Gift of Comfort

Aside from running around and playing, most dogs and cats really enjoy lounging around the house, napping, and snuggling. If you prefer your pets didn’t add fur to the family couch, consider giving them their own space to lay. There are lots of options for mini couches, pet beds, and even cat hammocks. Opt for one made of quality materials and beds that include therapeutic support for maximum comfort.

2.      Treats for Days

Outside of what we mentioned above as top activities, some of our feline and pup family members love food and treats. In moderation, treats can be a great way to reinforce positive behaviors and to show appreciation. If your pet is a lover or treats consider loading them up on some as a gift this year that you’ll provide responsibly over the year as they complete required tasks. There are also many subscription options out to consider if you’d like some surprise treats and toys to arrive on your doorstep each month.

3.      Grooming Bliss

A visit to the groomer is something that’s necessary for pets. Proper hygiene is critical for overall health and makes them all that more enjoyable to cuddle with. Consider taking your pup for the works as a gift this holiday. If they usually go in once a month for a wash, make this gift extra special and take them in for a wash, special conditioning, nail trimming, and haircut to make them feel ultra-pampered.

4.      Snuggle Time

Some of the best gifts are those that aren’t bought at all. The same is true for our pets. Most of them appreciate attention and time more than any gift. If you’re constantly on the go and haven’t found as much time to bond with your dog or cat this year, consider giving them the gift of extra time this holiday. They’ll be sure to purr and wag their tails in excitement at the gesture.

5.      Freedom!

If you’re looking to give your pet more freedom around your yard or in your home without putting their safety or your valuables at risk, then consider buying a hidden fence system as a gift this season. As a pet containment system, it helps you to offer boundaries where they can roam freely without concern, while still leaving them out of harm’s way. Think about the peace of mind this will give you when you’re at work or if you want the family to enjoy the outdoors in summer and don’t want to use a leash in your own yard. The possibilities are endless.

DogWatch of Western Mass provides the Pioneer Valley and surrounding areas with professionals that have years of experience in installing, training and providing excellent customer service to pet owners. Get in touch today!

Happy Holidays!

Planning a Pet-Safe Thanksgiving Meal

We’re just 10 days away from Thanksgiving and the start of the holiday season. If you’re hosting dinner for the family that day, it’s now crunch time. As you’re thinking about the dinner menu this year for loved ones to gather around the table to enjoy, you might also have your pet on that list. After all, they are our companions, friends, children and family members too.

If you’re planning on including your pet in this year’s Thanksgiving meal, be sure to not only cook their food separately with no sodium or spices but also become familiar with the list of foods that could be downright dangerous and toxic. While appetizing to us humans, there are foods that could actually cause our pups and kitties and become ill or worse.

Here’s a closer look at what to serve and not serve to this very special guest at Thanksgiving dinner.

Seasonings Can Wreak Havoc

While it’s true that our pets can eat certain foods served on this day – like turkey and even pumpkin or sweet potatoes, that doesn’t mean its okay for them to ingest it the way you have prepared it for the family. Spices, onions, and garlic can be very dangerous for pets. If your turkey has been smothered in butter, salt and flavorings, it is not okay for your dog or cat to consume.

Ham is Not Safe

In addition to turkey being a potential issue, ham is a definite no-no. The fatty, pork can quickly add up to extra calories your pet does not need and the bones can become splintered and cause harm to your pet’s stomach and digestive system.

Exercise Caution around Sweets

Chocolate is one of the most known foods that are dangerous to dogs. Keeping desserts off the floor, out of reach from pets and being vigilant to sweep the floor when guests leave is important. Other sweets can be deadly too. Grapes, artificial sweeteners like Xylitol – all known to be deadly. Be very careful with these items around your pets this holiday.

So What Can they Eat?

Fresh, wholesome natural foods cooked separately from your other meals can work well if incorporating your pet into Thanksgiving dinner is a must. Sweet potatoes, turkey and even pumpkin puree cooked simply in water with no additional spices or flavors will be tasty to your pets and a welcome treat. Remember to adjust their other feedings so you’re not overdoing it calories wise.

Have a terrific Turkey day!

Daylight Savings Tips for Pet Safety

This past weekend we turned back our clocks an hour for daylight savings. This was established as a way to make better use of daylight for farmers and those who relied on the daylight for their daily tasks. Whether you’re happy to add in an “extra” hour of sleep or are sad to see the darkness come more quickly a night, the truth is changing our clocks can take some getting used to for most.

Not just humans, but especially our four-legged friends can become confused when they suddenly realize dinner time is happening later and your return home from work looks much different out in the yard.

Here are tips to help keep your pet safe and healthy with daylight savings.

Adjust Slowly

Planning in advance for schedule and time changes makes sense. Animals are creatures of habit and if you’re suddenly planning on taking your daily walks earlier in the day before it gets dark, this could throw your pup off. Instead get them slowly accustomed to the changes by starting your walks earlier weeks before to give them time to get used to the new schedule. The same is true for feeding time. Both cats and dogs seem to know when it’s time to grub. If you miss the deadline you’re likely to hear the whines and purrs as they wait. If you’ll be feeding them later or earlier start doing that gradually as well.

Stay Safe on Evening Walks

If you plan to keep the same walking schedule in the late afternoon and will now be out in the darkness it’s important for your safety and the safety of your pet to ensure others on the road can see them. Use reflective gear like collars and harnesses to help them be seen and always bring a flashlight or other flashing device to ensure they and you can be seen.

Positive Reinforcement & Training are Key

As with any new changes and positive behaviors your pet is able to take on, it’s important to always give them praise and appreciation so they know they are right on track and doing good. It’s not only a great way to bond but it also increases the likelihood they’ll repeat the correct behaviors in the future.

Some training might be needed if your pup is still young and extra patience may be needed for older pets, but with the right attention and love, adjusting to less daylight can be a breeze for your family and pets.

Want to give your pet freedom and safety? Consider having a hidden fence installed. Offer them the ultimate freedom where they can roam around the house or the yard in the boundaries you set.

Get in touch today to learn more!

Trick Or Treat: 3 Ways To Keep Your Dog Calm This Halloween

For us humans, Halloween can be an exciting time. Dressing up and handing out candy to the neighborhood kids can be a lot of fun. To dogs, however, Halloween can be somewhat stressful. Even if your pup is a true “people dog,” the rapid influx of new scents making their way to your doorstep can be quite overwhelming.

What’s more, you don’t want to risk scaring away those cheerful little ghouls either. As friendly as your canine companion may be, it’s hard for strangers to distinguish a “nice” bark from a “mean” bark when they ring the doorbell. Therefore, it’s best for both parties if Fido is sufficiently contained during peak trick-or-treating hours.

Here are 3 tips you can use to keep your dog calm.

1. Take Them For A Run

Take your dog for a brisk walk or run before the night begins. Giving them a good workout will help to tire them out. Once they’re exhausted, they’ll be less interested in investigating the many knocks on your door.

2. Occupy Them With Toys & Treats

Children aren’t the only ones who deserve treats on Halloween. After taking them for a run, reward your dog with a well-deserved snack. If they still have a lot of spunk left, then distract them with their favorite toys. While many dogs do tend to trade toys for new visitors, you could always try purchasing a brand new toy for the occasion. Remember that new toys are just as much fun for them as they are for us, so pick something good!

3. Use An Indoor Dog Fence

Ideally, you should keep your dog as far away from the front door as possible. While dogs will be able to sense incoming visitors, the distance will help muffle their barks of excitement, which will make trick-or-treaters feel more at ease.

Try Pet Boundaries By DogWatch

While it’s important to keep your dog contained, there is no need to keep them so restricted that they can’t enjoy the night too. DogWatch’s pet boundaries use wireless technology to keep your dog safely out of the way. There’s no need for baby gates or closed doors: these wireless devices establish an effective boundary line that prevents dogs from roaming beyond their specified limits.

If you’re interested in our pet containment systems, or you need help setting them up, then contact DogWatch Hidden Fences of Western Massachusetts today!

Top Tips for Puppy Proofing Your Home

If you’ve made the decision to welcome a four-legged friend into your family, congratulations. The years of companionship, loyalty, and warmth these pets bring to a household is undeniable. If you’ve also taken the plunge as owners to a newborn or young puppy, hats off to you! Much like young children, puppies require attention, extra care and careful assimilation with others in the household.

With the right steps you’ll be on your way to a house with an additional family member everyone loves and soon those chewed up slippers and accidents on the floor will be long past.

Here are our top tips for puppy proofing your home.

Keep Things Tidy

Puppies are curious creatures. They love to explore and they love to chew. If you’ve got belongings you care about, you should exercise caution when leaving them behind. Don’t keep them in reach of the puppy and be sure to hide dangerous wires, plants or other small objects that can present a hazard for these little fellows. Even if you can’t keep a close eye every second keeping a tidy and neat space for them will eliminate some of your concerns.

Learn to Share the Space

One thing most families don’t consider when opting to bring home a pup is that they will now become part of the shared space in your home. Teaching toddlers to pick up their toys, to respect the dog’s space and to avoid chasing or antagonizing them is key to growing successful relationships and bonds.

Start Training Early

One of the best ways to show dogs how they can be comfortable with their family members is to offer them obedience training early. This teaches them proper tools for commands, communication and even how to be understood by their owners. Trainers work with canines on socialization, enrichment and primary behaviors they should know.

Set Boundaries

One of the best ways to protect and give your pup a sense of security is to set boundaries for them. There is speculation about whether or not crate training is needed but even if you’re not going that route, giving a young dog free reign of the home isn’t the right choice. With indoor hidden fences, you can set up safe boundaries so that your dog and roam freely inside and still protect them when you can’t be there to monitor their every move. Keep them off the couch and out of the trash with ease.

Contact DogWatch of Western MA for a free estimate.


Study: People Connected to Dogs More than Other Humans

For most dog-loving families it’s easy to understand the bond our four-legged friend shares with us. They aren’t just the family pet or an accessory. They complete the home. They are loyal, loving and for most families, an additional member of the family unit.

If your dog is more like your child and experiences the same joys with you as the relationships had with human children, you’re not alone in your love for your canine companion.

One recent study even found that humans are connecting and feeling more empathetic toward dogs than they even do with other adult humans.

According to the research, which was published in the journal Society and Animals, people showed more empathy towards staged news reports about attack victims when they were either a human child or a dog – puppy and full grown, more so than other adult humans.

It makes sense that hearing about the pain inflicted on the dogs would evoke pain and sorrow if they are being seen as a child family member.

And just as we’re reshaping our relationship with dogs, they too are seeing their human owner’s in new ways over the course of time.

This is especially true as the domestication of dogs has continued to shape their behaviors and they are now responding to their human companions in more communicative ways.

So what does all of this mean?

It means our dog friends are here to stay and their permanent role in the household is becoming solidified.

The more we care for our pets, the greater the need to protect them from harm. You can make their safety a priority both indoors and while outside with the help of DogWatch.

Using a hidden fence ensures the dog stay within the safe boundaries you set without sabotaging your scenic view or the look of your home.

The system works using buried wire that carries a harmless radio signal around the boundary you designate. Wearing a small receiver on the dog’s collar will warn them with light stimulation when they get too close to that boundary.

Let your doggy companion roam freely outdoors and enjoy the yard or give them freedom in the home while keeping them away from the kitchen, trash or other possible dangers.

Contact us today to get a pet containment system from DogWatch!

Including Pets in Disaster Planning

Natural disasters are important risks for families to consider regardless of where they live in the country. Everything from hurricanes to wildfires has potential to put you and your loved ones in harm’s way. Coming up with an emergency plan that your family understands and is confident in following should Mother Nature strike is a great tool for survival.

What we don’t always talk about, and that’s become an issue in many news reports following up on the aftermath of recent catastrophes is a plan for wildlife and pets who are also affected by these events.

As a responsible dog or cat owner and family with a four-legged friend, it makes sense that these members of our home are also included in the disaster planning phase. They should have the same accommodations and advance preparations made as other members to make it out safely should disaster make its way to your home.

Here are some tips for including pets in your emergency preparations.

Make Plans to Take Them

You should never leave your pet behind if you and your family are evacuating. They could be injured, lost or worse.  Even if you are unable to carry them along find a friend or a safe shelter for them to go to as the dangerous weather situation passes.

Microchip & Collars

In the event that your dog does take off because they are startled and is separated from you during evacuations, having their collar with emergency contact information and a microchip is a sure way to help you get reunited with them.

Make an Emergency & Pet First Aid Kit

Just as humans may run into danger during an emergency situation, pets too can become injured or need medical attention. With a first aid kit, you’ll have the all proper tools required to address their needs.

In addition to bandages, scissors, ointment and flea and tick spray, you should also have a few days worth of food in an airtight container and clean fresh water for your pet. To help reduce any stress from the change in the environment it’s also a good idea to pack some familiar toys to keep your pet occupied.

The last thing you want in these trying times is to be worried about any member of your family’s safety (your pets included). By making plans in advance that include them in the route to safety you’ll save yourself time and heartache.

Collar or Harness: Which is Better for Dog Walks?

Taking your dog for a walk is likely one of the favorite parts of their day (other than mealtime of course). Dogs truly love their outdoor time and take pride in the ability to be outdoors sniffing around in nature and stretching their legs. Not all dogs, however, are as comfortable with walking alongside their owners in public places like parks and in many locations leashes are even mandatory. Choosing the right option (harness or collar) can be the difference from an uncomfortable walk for both you and your pup or one that’s fun and relaxing.

Here are some tips on choosing the right collar for your dog and the ways a harness may help you stay in control while you walk.

Collars for Everyday

It’s difficult to compare collars to harnesses in terms of walking since they can serve different functions. Collars are a terrific option to keep identification on your dog, quickly snap on a leash when needed or walk with ease if there are no distractions in the environment. However, they are not the best option for walking if your dog is apt to use their neck to pull as injuries can result. Even dogs that aren’t inclined to pull on the leash, are small and lightweight or can walk alongside their owners off leash with no issues are at risk with a leash attached only to their collar.

Get Maximum Control with a Harness

Harness options are best if you walk your dog frequently and in areas that have potential dangers such as car horns or a squirrel scurrying in the roadway. If you have a larger breed dog that pulls with strength you’ll also find control is easier with a harness. Since most harnesses are wrapped around the body, it gives dog walkers more control holding a dog in place or keeping them from taking off and being put in potential danger. Differently designed harnesses can be chosen to restrict pulling and even provide additional comfort for pups.

Skip the Walk

If your dog prefers his own space (like your backyard) to get in activity for the day, protect him by setting up boundaries with invisible electric fencing. The outdoor hidden fence options allows you to keep your property aesthetically pleasing to look at while giving your pet enough freedom to run around, roam and play freely within the boundaries you’ve set.

If you’re in Western Massachusetts and looking to have a hidden fence system installed at your home, contact DogWatch today!

Positive Reinforcement is Key to Dog Training

Training your dog is a great way for yourself and others to truly enjoy the companionship and love your four-legged friend provides. From young puppies still learning and growing, to senior dogs that we’re never truly shown proper behaviors in their young years, there is a large range of times and ages when training can happen for dogs.

Each of these will have their own unique set of challenges, but once training is successful and you’re able to confidently have your dog with you and others around or while you’re out and about, you’ll be happy you put the effort.

Here are some of the reasons positive reinforcement is key to successful dog training.

As with Humans, Rewards Motivate

Earning a reward for a job well done is something most can relate to. All those allowances you earned as a kid when you did chores around the house are one way to think about it. For dogs, the motivation works much the same. Once they learn what actions evoke a positive reaction and enjoy the reward they receive after doing it, they’ll soon make the connection that repeating this in the future will likely get them rewarded again. That is how positive reinforcement works in dog training. What the reward is can vary though. It could be a treat, an overly excited petting or some additional snuggle time. How you present these rewards, when and how will all affect how well the dog is trained.  Fine-tuning your plans to match your needs is key.

Punishment is a Difficult Tactic All Around

While using punishment tactics like losing your attention or being put on the leash can also work good to train your dog on certain actions, it is not the optimal way to help them learn new habits. There is a very thin line between having a dog understand the punishment being given to them and correcting their action without them possibly becoming afflicted by it.

As an added bonus, dogs who are given positive reinforcement are typically also, happier, more confident and the types of dogs that make dog/human companionship admirable.

If you’d like to incorporate dog training as a way to give them more freedom around your home or while outdoors, DogWatch of Western Massachusetts has professionals that tailor their training programs to help your pet learn voice commands and their boundaries in that space. Together with a hidden dog fence, that means your pet can enjoy more freedom and you can have peace of mind knowing their safety won’t be put at risk.

Ready for a Hidden Fence?  Get a free estimate!

Pets & Road Trips – Tips to make it Enjoyable for All

Summer road trips can be some of the most enjoyable adventures. Whether you’re riding solo and taking in nature’s scenic beauty or bringing the whole family on a destination vacation, there are precautions and preparations that help ensure the ride is enjoyable for all.

Bringing your pet along can add to the need for careful planning. Here are some tips for taking road trips with your pet as the copilot.

Plan Bathroom Breaks

While this is a pretty standard element for any road trip, planning for pet bathroom breaks is important. Since the ride may be scary or new, they may need to go more frequently along the way and the best way to prevent an accident is to plan in the extra stop. As an added bonus you’ll have time to stretch and rest your eyes.

Comfortable Seating

While not extremely high on the list of priorities, having comfortable seating for your pet to enjoy the long ride will help them to relax better and can even provide valuable protection for the car’s upholstery. If they’re not sharing the backseat, a hammock style pet seat protector can keep them safely on the seat while you drive.

For pets that will be in a crate for the duration of the road trip, you should also ensure they have enough room to move around and lay comfortably. You may also want to purchase a harness designed for use with a seat belt to best protect your pet during any sudden stops or impact.

Monitor Window Use

Depending on the size of your dog, it’s a good idea to monitor how low you’re lowering your windows while you drive. It’s never advisable to let your dog hang his entire head out of a fully open window as you’re driving. There is a danger not only of foreign objects hitting them in the face like rocks and branches but their ability to suddenly leap out of the window in search of a squirrel they spotted while the rest of traffic is still moving creates a very hazardous situation. Not to mention the fact they could mistakingly go hurling out of the open window should an accident occur.

Alternative Vacation Options

If the thought of getting into a vehicle that will be moving, forget about for many hours, terrifies your pet, there are options that can leave you with peace of mind. Consider hiring a sitter you trust to stay at the house with your pet. They’ll get the added advantage of being in their own comfortable space, not having to brace for the bumpy ride and the freedom to roam around those areas designated safe for them throughout the house.

Contact DogWatch of Western Massachusetts to give your pet ultimate freedom. A pet containment system for the outdoors or indoors combined with expert training makes it so that your pet can roam and play freely and you can focus on having fun and relaxing on your trip.