What We Feed our Pets Matters

Today, our four-legged friends are becoming even more important members of our households. It’s far more than just a pet-parent relationship for many. In fact, ever since the pandemic, families across the country have introduced new companions into their homes, and the “humanization” trends as experts refer to the phenomenon are skyrocketing.

What this means is we’re now allowing our pets to sleep in the bed, share TV time with us and even eat in the kitchen with us at mealtime. For many buying holiday gifts and adding pets to the holiday festivities along with the rest of the family are all becoming commonplace.

One area that’s seen recent growing interest is the food our dogs are eating. Just like humans are striving to feel better and eat better, they’re also looking to find natural and healthy meal options for their pets so they too can live a long, quality life.

Projected to reach up to $81B by 2031, the pet food market is certainly on the upswing.

As this shift happens, we’re seeing more people move away from mass-produced kibble and foods with tons of fillers and ingredients that no one can pronounce. Instead, they are being replaced with fresh options that are organic, natural, and have sustainable ingredients.

So what are some great options to feed dogs? Things like fruits and vegetables (that are prepared properly and are not toxic to your pet) are key. For some breeds, heavy meat-based meals may be okay, for others grain-free.

Natural food diets can have so many benefits. It’s all about understanding your dog’s unique needs and ensuring they get the properly balanced diet to support them.

Just as with humans, eating better translates to feeling better. Not just inward but also our appearance. Better skin, less inflammation and allergy issues, and more.  As such, many pet parents are also looking for holistic and nutritional ways to help their pets improve their skin and coat health as well as strengthen their joint and digestive systems.

It’s important to talk to a board-certified vet if you plan on making drastic feeding changes for your dog to ensure the changes are not just healthy but also what they need.

How to Create a Stress-Free Space for Your Dog

Stress-free environments are good for everyone. Both humans and our pets crave areas where they can feel safe, protected, and unwind. It can be difficult to achieve this if you’re co-living with pets and haven’t set appropriate boundaries. Things like keeping out of the kitchen or the shoe closet. Or staying within your own backyard’s property line has to be taught and guided.

Plus, having a dog that’s happy and comfortable means getting in the right kinds of foods, enough bathroom breaks, and physical activity that’s vital to their functioning. This balance can make you both feel great when it comes time to snuggle at the end of a long day.

Here are a few ways you can create a stress free space for your dog.

Establish an Actual Safe Haven

Dogs find great comfort in having an area where they can tuck away and lay unbothered. Yours may have already chosen a spot, perhaps under a table or in a hallway where you’ll typically find them relaxing away from everyone. If they haven’t chosen a spot yet you can dedicate one for them by using a bed, crate or blankets tucked in a corner. Make it away from foot traffic and comfortable enough for them to retreat to when they want to relax.

Create Consistent Routines

There’s nothing more relaxing and safe feeling for a dog than staying on routine. Establishing consistent practices helps them to feel they are meeting their goals daily and gives them a pattern to follow each day. This level of comfort can also decrease stress and help them to feel more at ease.

Invest in a Hidden Fence

Our hidden fences create a safe space for either indoor or outdoor time for your dog. You’ll both gain peace of mind knowing there’s the freedom to roam without getting to unrestricted or dangerous situations. Contact DogWatch of Western Mass today!

What is the Best Age to Train a Dog?

Training a dog is something most people think about when they bring home a new puppy. Like human children, these young pups often need some extra care and attention to show them right from wrong and the correct ways they should eat, play nice with others, and even use the potty.

Sometimes, older dogs or those that have experienced trauma or illness may also need to be trained again. The age that a dog can be trained and have effective results can vary from dog to dog but with the right dedication and patience, an old dog can certainly learn some new tricks.

Early Stage Dog Training

According to experts, the ideal time to train a dog is when they are around 7 to 8 weeks old. This is a great time as they are still new to the world to start to understand commands and what is expected of them.  Since most of the things your pup will be doing every day – like mealtime, using the bathroom, and socializing will all be introduced at this time too it can be easier to get your dog to just learn what you’re asking of them all at the same time.

Benefits of Training Older Dogs

While you may think an older dog has seen his best days and cannot be trained to do things he’s already conditioned to do one way, there are actually many benefits over young pups when it comes to the training experience. For one, the older dogs are going to be far more intelligent and less hyper, and distracted as you teach them new commands. That means less having to repeat yourself and more time spent showing them the task at hand. Another benefit of training an older dog is that if they already have the basics like “sit,” “lay,” “down” then they can move on to more advanced tasks like scent tracking or rollover.  

You should of course always adjust your training for older dogs based on their condition. If they are having a hearing, vision, or other physical constraints you should take these into consideration no matter how much they want to please you by obeying the new commands you’re giving them.

At DogWatch Hidden Fences of Western Massachusetts, we provide safe, secure, electronic underground dog fence and pet containment systems so you can both feel comfortable living in and around your home. We also offer training & installation to help your dog get comfortable with their new boundaries.

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Pool Safety for Dogs

Dogs love to participate in fun activities, including swimming, with their human companions. Your pet may get overly excited in and around the pool, which is why it’s essential to train your dog and take precautions to keep it and others safe.

Enroll Your Dog in Swimming Lessons

Dogs instinctively know how to swim to some degree, but they tend to use only their front legs, which causes them to get tired quickly. In swimming lessons, your dog can learn to use both its front and rear legs, which is more effective and will help your pet conserve energy.

Don’t push your dog too hard. If your pet is overweight or sedentary, it will get tired quickly. It will need time to build up its endurance.

Some dog breeds have difficulty swimming because of the way they are built. In that case, a flotation device can keep a dog safe in the water. A flotation device can also be helpful for a pet that has arthritis, tires out quickly, or is still learning to swim.

Teach Your Dog How to Get in and out of the Pool Safely

Dogs often love to jump into a pool but have trouble getting out. Teach your dog to enter and exit the pool via stairs. That will help your pet calmly and safely get out of the pool when it’s tired. Teaching your dog to use stairs to get in the water, rather than jumping, can prevent a collision with a person and serious injuries.

Keep Your Dog away from the Pool When Humans Aren’t Around

If you don’t have a fence around your pool, you should install one. A dog can get tired in a pool and drown if it can’t get out. A dog can also drown if it falls or jumps into a pool with a cover.

An outdoor hidden fence from DogWatch of Massachusetts is an effective way to restrict your dog’s movements in the yard. You can decide where you want your pet to be able to go and which areas should be off-limits. Those areas can be marked by an underground wire that emits a radio signal.

Your pet can wear a waterproof collar that will emit a warning signal if the dog gets too close to the boundary. The collar will emit a correction, a mild but safe stimulation if your pet goes farther. With training, your dog can learn where the boundary is and stay away from the pool area. Contact us today to learn more about how an outdoor hidden fence can keep your dog safe or to request a quote.

4 Reasons Your Dog is Licking Its Paws

Paw licking may seem like an innocent action by your pet. Isn’t that after all how cats clean themselves? But for many dog owner’s the licking can sometimes become continual and cause even greater issues for the dog. It’s important to know what if your dog won’t stop licking his paws, there could be more happening.

Here are 4 underlying reasons for your dog’s incredibly annoying and constant paw licking habit.

1. Injury or Parasite

Licking at a wound could be an issue for your dog. If they’ve returned from time outdoors they could have cut or scrapped their paw if you notice they’re suddenly licking away at it, you’ll want to check to be sure they’re not injured as the wound should be cleaned and monitored to prevent infection. Even if there are no visible cuts there could be issues like parasites or fleas making your dog super itchy and irritated and licking is the only thing he can do to try to soothe it.

2. Skin problems

Other skin problems caused by bacteria or dermatitis could also be leaving your dog in an uncomfortable situation which leads to constant licking. Even allergies to freshly cut grass or other environmental contaminants could trigger this reaction. If you know your dog has allergies or is getting dirty while outside it makes sense to keep a towel and some water to wipe down their paw and coat when they come back indoors.

3. Food allergies

Speaking of allergies, did you know food allergies could also present themselves in the form of itchy paws? According to the AKC, ingredients in your dog’s food that they are allergic to could leave to paw issues. If you recently changed food and notice this is happening it’s a good idea to check the ingredient list and try switching to a different brand to see if it alleviates the problem.

4.      Boredom or Anxiety

The final reason and most common one for your dog licking constantly at its paws is boredom. Exercise and playtime are so important for pups, older dogs, and some breeds. Without a daily walk (or two) and time spent getting tired, they can become irritated and bored and start licking at their paws to keep occupied. Make it a point to set aside time to play with your dog even if it’s just a few minutes of tossing the ball in the yard, they will thank you by remaining calm and quiet for the rest of the night.

3 Things to Do When Your Dog is Behaving Badly

Training your dog to behave well is something many owners struggle with. Whether you welcome a new puppy into your home or adopt a dog from a shelter, taking the needed time to train and help dogs improve their demeanor and communication is key to a fruitful and mutually pleasing relationship.

While dogs are great companions and friends, it’s important to remember that they possess qualities unique from humans. The way they understand commands and their instincts all play a role in their actions.

The key thing you want to do to start working on their behavior issues is to find the sources of them. Yes, there is usually more than one cause. Here is a closer look at the typical reasons why your dog is having behavior issues.

Tip #1: Identify Reason for Bad Behavior

Oftentimes dogs will act out when they are lacking or wanting something else as a way of communicating that issue to you. Things like boredom can affect their personalities and end up becoming bad behaviors. Before you try to help your dog try and see if there are things they are needing or wanting that could help correct some of the poor behaviors.

Tip #2: Reward Good Behaviors Only

It’s important as you work on helping your dog to learn new behaviors and replace the bad ones with corrected actions that you only reward them at a time when the job was done well. Many owners will provide rewards and treat to dogs even after a bad behavior and this teaches them it’s ok to still do wrong and get the treat.

Tip #3:  Use Training to Correct Behaviors

The great news is that training – both on your own or with a professional can be used to correct and retrain dogs out of bad behaviors. Whatever things they are doing (chewing shoes, barking constantly, etc.) they can likely be trained out of with the right techniques.

Dogwatch of Western Mass provides wireless pet containment systems for both indoor and outdoor use. We also provide perimeter training to help your dog understand the boundaries. When your dog feels free and confident they will also display that appreciation in their behaviors.

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Tips for Socializing Your Dog with Boundaries

When it comes to training your dog to be safe around the home, the yard, and other people, there are few tasks at hand. First, you need your dog to feel comfortable with you and with your surroundings. Comfortable enough where they are not retaliating or trying to escape, but also understanding who is boss in the situation. What you say goes and when you call them to come back or to stay out of a certain area they will obey the command. Working up to this goal isn’t always easy.  Here are a few tips when it comes to both socializing your dog and getting them to obey boundaries at the same time.

To start, in public, crowded places – especially with other dogs present, you should keep them by your side so they feel safe and when you are confident and able to unleash them, they should already understand and react at your command to come back. If they are still not good at doing this is could be difficult to get them to cooperate with other dogs and could also let other dog park attendees feel uneasy.

Practice at home, in your yard, or in the house and call their name.

When they listen and come at your call praise them with rewarding cuddles or a small treat until they will do it automatically. Test it out slowly, maybe on a solo walk with your dog, and see how they respond before you try this in a crowded dog park where they may lose focus with everything going on.

Social skills are another key step. Playing well with other dogs and knowing the difference between dog play and being too aggressive is very important to share space with other animals. This can be harder to work on in a solo environment. If you know others with dogs perhaps book a short outing together and see how the dogs do together. If they are getting rough, it will be easier to break them up and show them what’s acceptable and not versus lots of dogs running around while you try.

The other important thing when it comes to dogs understanding and obeying commands is respecting boundaries. Not just to protect your future and belongings but also to keep them safe. Perimeter training should be your first step in this task. You want to walk the perimeters of the yard or home with the dog so they will be where they are allowed to go. Do this several times. Repetition is key. It will take longer for some dogs to understand these are the boundaries. Incorporate treats and commands after time to show them when to stop at the boundary and not to cross over.

Sometimes though, despite best efforts, your dog will need some additional help and security staying within boundaries. And that’s Okay! With a pet containment system from DogWatch, your pet can roam and play freely within the boundaries you set. Not just while out in the backyard, but you can also keep your pet off the couch, away from the trash, and out of the dining room or kitchen. Need some assistance with the training? We can help with that too! Our professional trainers will teach your dog how to safely obey the hidden fence boundaries in a way that matches your pet’s personality.

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Acupuncture for Dogs and Cats

Pets suffer from some of the same health problems that humans do, and they can benefit from some of the same treatments. Although people often think that ailments should be treated with medication, holistic treatments such as acupuncture can be effective and don’t have some of the side effects that are common with prescription and over-the-counter drugs.

How Can Acupuncture Help Pets?

Acupuncture is a type of holistic care that focuses on the body, mind, and spirit. For dogs and cats suffering from inflammation, pain, arthritis, limited mobility, anxiety, digestive problems, skin conditions, and allergies, acupuncture can be helpful. Acupuncture needles can stimulate the nervous system, improve blood flow, reduce inflammation, and relieve pain. Acupuncture may be used in addition to or instead of other treatments, such as medication.

How Does Acupuncture for Dogs and Cats Work?

Acupuncture treatments for pets are very similar to acupuncture treatments for humans. If your pet needs treatment, a veterinarian will first examine the animal and discuss its medical history. The veterinarian will insert thin acupuncture needles into your pet’s skin at specific locations to stimulate the nervous system. The needles are generally left in the skin for approximately 20 minutes.

The process isn’t painful. It may cause anxiety for your pet at first, but dogs and cats generally relax after a short time. Your pet may feel stiff or sore for a day or two after receiving acupuncture treatment.

Not all veterinarians offer acupuncture services. Acupuncture for pets should only be performed by a veterinarian with appropriate training. If your pet’s current veterinarian doesn’t offer acupuncture services, ask for the name of a qualified provider in your area.

Keep Your Pet Safe from Harm

Pets often need acupuncture and other forms of care because of injuries. While it’s not possible to prevent all injuries, you should do as much as you can to keep your pet safe. One way to protect your dog from harm is to keep it in your yard when you’re not taking it for a walk or a ride in the car.

Constructing a physical fence around your property can be expensive, and it can block the view of the neighborhood and the landscape surrounding your home. In addition, a fence can require expensive and time-consuming maintenance.

An outdoor hidden fence is an effective way to keep your dog in your yard, and it’s more affordable and easier to maintain than a physical barrier. An outdoor hidden fence can encircle the perimeter of your yard, or you can give your dog access to a portion of the property and keep other areas, such as a garden, off-limits.

DogWatch of Massachusetts has been making hidden fence systems since 1990. We’ve earned a reputation for selling quality containment and training products and for providing customer service with honesty and integrity. Contact your local dealer today to learn more.

Tips for Soothing Your Dog’s Heat Rash

The summer weather has been dangerously hot this year in New England. At the time of this post, we’re undergoing a record heatwave and parts of the nation are experiencing temperatures well above 100 degrees. While most dog owners know this weather is not a time to keep the dog outside, go for long walks or even take them for a drive, your dog could still experience problems due to the overall sticky, warm temperatures.

If your dog has a heat rash here are some things you can do to help keep them comfortable. You should always see a vet ensure the rash is irritation and not anything else – but even after they may have prescribed antibiotics or other topical – your dog may still show signs of being itchy or stressed over the rash.

Keep the Area Cool and Dry

While you’re waiting for your dog’s skin to recover, it’s important to help keep the area cool and dry. Anytime they get overheated and moisture sits on their coat and skin, there is the possibility for rashes and irritations to occur. When your dog is in from the outdoors before to give them a cool wipe down with dog wipes.

Stop Scratching & Licking

While your dog might not be able to help himself with all of the itchings and licking to soothe the rash it can lead to more issues so it’s important to keep them distracted or use “the cone” to divert them from the action while it all heals.

Use Topical Creams and Medicine

Depending on how serious the rash – or sometimes the resulting infection can be, your dog may have to take medicine like antibiotics or topical medicines to soothe the rash. If you have prescribed these meds it’s important to take them for the full recommended time to ensure that all infections are cleared up properly.

Keeping Your Doggy Cool Outside During the Hot Summer Months

Your dog may enjoy going along on trips to the beach and hikes in the woods during the summer, but you need to keep it safe in the heat. Know how to help your dog maintain a healthy body temperature and how to spot signs that it’s struggling to cope.

Don’t Expose Your Dog to Extreme Heat

If possible, keep your dog indoors if the temperature and/or humidity are particularly high. If you have a choice, take your dog for a walk or hike in the morning, before it gets too hot, or in the evening, after it’s cooled off.

If your dog has to stay outside during the day, make sure that it has a shady area where it can relax. A doghouse has poor air circulation, so it’s best to let your dog stay in an open area. Give the dog plenty of cool water. If you’ll be gone for a significant amount of time, put ice cubes in the water.

Never leave your dog in a parked car for any amount of time, even with the windows open. The temperature can get dangerously high in a short amount of time.

Avoid Surfaces That Could Burn Your Dog’s Paws

Pavement can get extremely hot on a sunny day and can burn the pads on your dog’s paws, even if it’s wearing protective boots. If the pavement feels hot to the touch, keep your dog off it. Stay inside, let your dog play on grass, or take it for a walk on a shaded trail.

Keep Your Dog Hydrated When Participating in Outdoor Activities

If take your dog along when you spend time outside, stop every 15 to 20 minutes to let it drink some cool water. Don’t give it too much water at one time. If possible, let your dog go swimming or run through a sprinkler to cool off. If your pet is panting excessively, move it to a shady area and give it more water.

Recognize Signs of Heatstroke

Pay attention to your dog’s breathing, energy level, and other cues when you spend time outdoors. If your dog seems tired or lethargic, or if its ears or tail droop, those are signs that it’s struggling to deal with the heat. Take a break from physical activity, give the dog some water, and let it rest.

If your dog pants or salivates excessively, vomits, has diarrhea or seizures, or seems disoriented or uncomfortable, it may be suffering from heatstroke. Take your pet to a cooler place and contact a veterinarian as soon as possible.

Keep Your Dog Safe While It Plays in the Yard

Exercising outdoors is good for your dog’s physical and mental health, but you need to be sure that it won’t run away and get injured by a car or another animal. A hidden fence from DogWatch of Massachusetts can keep your dog safe in the yard and give it the freedom to play. Contact us today to learn more.