Can Booties Help Protect my Dog’s Feet?

The winter season has been extreme across most of the U.S. this year. Here in New England, we’ve seen our share of snow accumulation and bitter cold temps. These weather events have created a challenge for travel, keeping our homes warm and especially for many dogs and their parents. Long exposure to cold snow can harm your pet in many ways but when they must go outside for bathroom breaks it’s hard to avoid having them walk through frozen, cold snow. Over time this can dry the skin out and cause painful cracking and bleeding.

One option for protecting their paws is to have your dog wear dog booties or dog shoes. If you’ve ever tried getting your dog to use this, perhaps you have seen how funny they walk or unsure they are about taking steps while using them.

In this post, we’re reviewing some important tips for teaching your dog how to wear shoes and feel confident while they do.

First, it’s important that you choose the correct shoe size and type for your dog. There are numerous options on the market, from soft bootie style shoes to rain-resistant material and shoes with rubber soles for better grip. Understanding which shoe you’ll need should take into consideration your dog’s age, activity level, and the surfaces where they’ll likely be walking.

Choosing a proper fit for your dog is also important. You don’t want anything too tight or even too loose that slides of their feet as they are walking. There are some online guides you can use for measuring the span of your dog’s paw and length but trying shoes on for comfort is best.

Once you are trying shoes on your dog, or the first time they actually wear them, be sure to be overly excited and happy with them and give them a treat so they know this new behavior and accessory is a positive thing.

If you’re slowly working on getting your dog used to the new shoes you can even try putting just the hind shoes on first so they still have their front footing and can ease into the feeling of wearing and walking with shoes on. After they show comfort and ease with the hind shoes on you can slowly start adding on the 1 front shoes and continue to provide positive reinforcement as they do.

The most important thing is to be consistent, and keep trying. Some dogs will jump right into using their shoes with no problem and some will need to slowly become comfortable with using them. Trust the process and most importantly have fun!

Tips for Doggy Dental Health

Taking good care of our pets is important for their livelihood, health and safety. There’s so much more to caring and raising an animal in your home than a few walks and vet visits. Today, pets are an additional member of the household that enjoys family outings, bonding time and provides companionship for all.

One important aspect of their health that isn’t always thought of is their teeth. Dental hygiene and health are just as important for dogs. Dental disease is a very common problem for dogs so understanding the best care you can provide is important. 

Since February is dental health month, we thought it was a great time to review some of the steps you can take to help protect your pet’s teeth and gums.

Brush Your Dog’s Teeth 

In case you never knew about it, there are dog toothbrushes and toothpastes available that can help with the task of keeping your dog’s teeth clean and healthy. If you’re unable to do the task on your own there are professionals that can assist with a tooth cleaning service. If your dog does allow it though, it’s good to brush up to every day before bedtime if possible – just like you do with your own teeth and for all the same reasons – prevent cavities, decay, etc.

Choose Tooth-healthy Treats 

While treats should not be given too frequently to dogs, it’s important to choose a quality option when you do. This should include treats that are created to assist with tooth and gum health. Often they will feature fresh minty scents to help with breath and even ridges and bumps that dogs will chew on and can help prevent tartar buildup between dental cleanings.

Schedule a Dental Exam

If your dog’s teeth are a concern, you should schedule a visit with your vet and arrange for a dental exam where they can look more closely at the teeth, any issues that may be occurring and even address any problem area before they become an issue for your dog.

4 Tips for Keeping Indoor Cats Comfortable

Cars, dogs, and wild animals can cause serious harm to cats, which is why it’s best to keep your pet feline indoors. Cats can be healthy and happy living inside a house, as long as they’re provided with opportunities to exercise and plenty of mental stimulation. 

Here are some tips to keep your indoor cat comfortable and content indoors.

Encourage Your Cat to Exercise

Being active is important for your cat’s physical and mental health. If they don’t exercise, cats can become overweight, anxious, and destructive. 

Purchase a variety of toys that will encourage your cat to run, jump, climb, and pounce. Those may include toys that your cat can bat around with its paws, a laser pointer with a light that your cat can chase, a piece of string that the cat can jump and reach for with its paws, and toys that will require your pet to solve a puzzle to access food inside. Switch the toys out regularly so your cat doesn’t get bored.

A cat tree is a structure that has several levels so a cat can jump and climb. It’s a great way to let your cat act on its natural impulses and get some exercise. Having your pet jump on a cat tree is also better for you than having it jump on your kitchen counters.

Let Your Cat See What’s Going on Outside

Cats are naturally curious, and they want to know what’s going on in the world around them. You don’t have to let your cat outside, but you can allow your pet to see what’s happening there. Let your cat sit or lie on a windowsill so it can watch people and cars pass down the street and see birds and other animals fly and run. Observing the scene outdoors can give your cat lots of mental stimulation.

Provide for Your Cat’s Physical Needs

Talk to your veterinarian about what type of food to feed your cat, how much, and how often. Make sure your pet has access to quality food and fresh water. Also be sure to clean the litter box regularly, especially if you have two or more felines who share a litter box. Not doing so may cause a cat to act out.

Use Indoor Pet Boundaries to Keep Your Cat out of Trouble

Cats like to explore, and they sometimes go places where they shouldn’t, such as in trash cans, on countertops, and on new furniture. It can be difficult to teach a curious and stubborn cat not to do what it wants to do. 

DogWatch sells indoor pet boundaries that you can use to keep your cat out of areas that you want to be off limits. You can block off small areas or entire rooms, depending on your needs. Contact us today to learn more.

Socializing Adult Dogs

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an uptick in pet adoptions as families spend more time at home and people find companionship to ease social distancing loneliness. The rise in adoptions has been seen in a positive light as so many animals enter shelters yearly who need homes and this year many of those shelters were emptied! 

Some of the things new pet owners may have had to work on as they brought an older dog into their home was training them. They say it is far easier to condition a dog to learn patterns from a young puppy age and that older dogs don’t easily adapt to changes in their routines, but there are ways you can train an adult dog. The same goes for socializing. Even while social distancing is in order there is still a need to help dogs feel comfortable out in public, while on walks and if you have visitors. Encounters with other dogs and humans should not create tension or an issue. 

With some extra patience and care, anything is possible!

Here are 3 things to do now to start training and socializing your adult dog. 

Find Root of Bad Behavior

Some of the most common problems with dogs that will not listen aren’t just a bad attitude, a lot of times this is a sign of another issue – like anxiety or distress. Simply taking your dog to a crowded park with other dogs doesn’t mean you can let him run around and play with his mates. Most dogs are territorial and some would rather keep their distance. Other training issues like bathroom accidents and chewing through shoes and furniture may also lead back to this issue of anxiety or boredom. To find a solution it’s best to get to the root reason why.  

Show Excitement 

Believe it or not, part of how your dog acts has to do with how you act. They usually will follow the lead of their owner so if you are quiet, withdrawn or angry and keep a distance, they will do the same. It’s important as you’re teaching them new things and taking them around other dogs that you show it’s okay that you’re overly excited when they do a good job and that this experience is new, but an okay one to reassure them. 

Take it Slow

As your pet adapts to a new home and living space and any other family members they first meet, it’s important to take it slow and allow them to sniff it out and get comfortable. The same is true for easing into training and socialization – it’s not an overnight thing. Try first taking your dog out with another pet owner you know and see how they do. There will be less action going on and it might be easier to warm up to the idea of sharing you and your space with another dog. If you’re trying to train them to sit, go, come and any other command and you feel like giving up, maybe it’s time to take a break. Give it some time and come back to a daily schedule of trying until they get it – sometimes they do! 

There are also professional dog obedience training options and things like wireless containment systems that can help tremendously. 

DogWatch of Western Mass proudly serves the Pioneer Valley and surrounding areas providing committed, trained professionals with years of experience in installation, training and customer service!

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Return to Work Tips for Adjusting Your Pet

Ever since the shutdowns that began due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, most families have been spending more time at home. From work to school and even weekend activities – the home has truly become a central hub for all activities. For some this slow down and time to connect has been a welcome change. For others, the timeline to get back to old routines and out of the office can’t happen soon enough.

One family member we may not be thinking of is our furry friends. They’ve also now over these 9+ months become comfortable with more snuggle time with their families, perhaps a change in feeding routines, bathroom breaks, and even playtime.

All of these things will drastically change back once going back to work and school begins.

One recent study even found that 78 percent of working pet owners are concerned about anxiety and/or confusion for their pets when they return to their normal work schedule and 75 percent are worried over their own personal anxiety when they return to work and will be without their pet.

To help ease your pet into this time in advance we are offering a few key tips for helping them to readjust to the old ways.

Begin with Old Rituals Early

Your pet is smart. They know when changes are occurring so it’s important to have a plan in place early on. If you will need to change feeding times to make it out onto the road start waking up early and getting that routine started now, in case there are any hiccups along the way and to help them get comfortable and readjust to the new patterns.

Keep an Eye out for Stress Indicators

Most pets – especially dogs, will show signs of stress in very predictable ways. Things like chewing up shoes and couch pillows or having sudden potty accidents can typically be traced back to stress, boredom and under activity. As your pet gets used to you not being in the home or taking mid-day walks and bathroom breaks, it’s important to be patient and perhaps spoil them with an extra chew toy or extra after dinner outdoor playtime to make up for the gap.

Increase Bonding and Togetherness at New Times

The great thing about pets is that they’ll take the extra love whenever you want to give it to them! So if you’re lacking in that department because you’re all busy at work and school again, be sure to leave some extra time to dedicate attention and snuggles with them when you are home. Plan weekend outings that involve your dog if you can or share movie time together.

How Often Should You Bathe Your Dog?

Depending on what size dog you have you might spend more time in between baths for the simple fact that getting a very large or long hair dog wet, cleaned and dried off is no easy task. You might also be worried if you’ve become immune to the odor of your pet and cannot tell if it’s actually offensive. If you’ve been wondering just how long in between bathing you can go – here’s your answer. 

Technique Over Frequency 

While there is no cut and dry number for how often to bathe your dog – it could range from once a week to once a month – the more important factor to consider is your technique. Since dogs have a natural self-hygiene routine to keep clean you can assume they already do some of the important stuff themselves. You should still clean their coat to detangle, remove dust and dirt and check for other things like fleas ticks or lumps. If you’re doing this frequently, then you want to use a very gentle wash that is mild and won’t cause over drying. Just like human hair, washing too much can strip natural oils and cause issues too. If you are bathing less frequently and know your dog has been rolling around the yard for quite a while between washes then you’ll want a good lather, scrub and rinse to break up and remove the particles. 

What Experts Recommend

If you’re still trying to come up with a standard bathing routine for your pup, most experts recommend a once a month bath schedule. This can change if your pet has other conditions or fur that requires more or less frequent washes. It’s important to understand your specific breed and the type of hair their coat is made of to make the best decision. 

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In need of perimeter training of a wireless dog fence? Call DogWatch today! Our products and services help you to effectively keep your pet off the couch, away from the trash and out of the dining room or kitchen.

Tips for Moving with Your Dog

Moving can be stressful for every member of the family, including your dog. Taking some simple steps before and during the move can help your canine friend settle in and feel comfortable in your new home.

Maintain Your Dog’s Routine

Dogs are creatures of habit. Knowing what to expect makes them feel safe. Moving will bring a lot of changes, but keeping the daily routine as consistent as possible, both before and after the move, will help your dog stay calm. 

Let Your Dog Explore the New Neighborhood

If you’re going to be moving to a house nearby, consider taking your dog on one or more walks around the new neighborhood before you move. That will help your dog get used to the sights, sounds, and smells so the area will feel familiar when you finally move there. 

Create a Safe Space

Your house will probably become chaotic while you’re in the process of packing things up. Set aside a space in a relatively quiet area where your dog can relax with some favorite toys while you prepare for the move.

Find Someone to Take Care of Your Dog on Moving Day

Don’t have your dog around while you’re moving from one house to another. The chaos and confusion would overwhelm and frighten your pet. See if a family member or friend can take care of your dog. If that’s not possible, find a pet sitter or doggie day care to look after your pet for the day.

Let Your Dog Explore the New House

Once you have transported your belongings to your new home and settled in a bit, allow your canine companion to do some exploring. Your dog may be eager to check out every inch of the new house, or he or she may be frightened and may want to hide. Be positive and upbeat and offer petting, praise, and treats, but don’t try to rush the process. If your new house has a yard, let your dog run around and play a game of fetch to blow off steam and begin to feel at home.

When you bring your dog to the new house, make sure that his or her bed and favorite toys are waiting. Seeing those objects, as well as food and water bowls and other things that are familiar, will help your dog feel at home and make a smooth transition.

Keep Your Dog Safe 

If your new house has a yard, you will want to make sure that your four-legged friend stays there if you aren’t outside at the same time. DogWatch sells hidden fences that can allow your pet to get plenty of exercise and keep him or her in a safe area. We also offer a variety of training tools that can correct undesirable behaviors. Place your order today.

3 Basic Commands Every Dog Should Know

Teaching your dog commands might seem like an impossible task. Whether you’ve never known your pup to sit still or listen or if you really don’t know where to begin, here are some great starting points and basic commands all dogs can learn with some practice. 

Sit

Getting your dog to sit still is an important first step in teaching obedience and any other commands you’d like them to learn. Luckily, it’s also one of the easiest to teach a dog. If your pet is a puppy it will be even easier. If they have never heard of the command before they may need some assistance with how to posture their body to respond to that command. Once they get the hang of sitting when you ask them to, be sure to reward them with positive reinforcement or a treat so they will continue to have good behavior. 

Come

Another basic, but important command for a dog to learn is the notion to come to you when they are called. This can be especially important when outdoors, in a public setting or even around the home. Come teach the dog that you are asking for them to walk over to you and come see what you have to say or ask of them. Again, once they learn to come on over to you, be sure to reinforce the good behavior with a reward. Over time they will naturally begin to do this as soon as they hear the word. 

Down

This last command is the trickier to the three and should be practiced regularly to help your dog understand what to do when it’s asked of him. It’s also a great option when you’re looking for a way to take your dog’s excitement down a notch or would like to hunker in place as guests arrive. Large dogs can especially benefit from learning this command. 

In need of some perimeter training to help your pet get used to your new dog fence? With DogWatch of Western MA’s training, your dog will learn boundaries through voice commands and visual flags. We teach all types of dogs and understand their unique personalities.

October is Adopt A Shelter Dog Month

According to the American Humane Society, there is an estimated 3-4 million animals in shelters each year looking for a loving home where they can feel comfortable and happy to share their time. To help bring awareness to this need, the society created an entire month for the cause. 

Each October since 1981, has been known as “Adopt-a-Dog-Month.” We are total advocates for helping precious animals make it to their forever homes. This month, we’re taking time to recognize all those shelters working, foster pet parents and adopters who take the time to care for these animals and welcome them as pets in their homes. 

Here are a few tips to help you with your pet adoption or rescue. 

Find a Companion That Fits Your Lifestyle

It’s important to remember that many of these pets have been abandoned from other homes or experienced abuse. THey’ll need some gentle care in the beginning, but they can be great friends and companions. Humane and canine interaction is known to help boost emotional health, increase socialization and can even add to your quality of life if you let them! 

Consider how active you are, will you be able to incorporate increased activity for dog walks. How much time you spend at home. How other pets and members of the household will interact with the dog. 

Prepare Your Home in Advance

If you know you will be bringing home a rescue of adopting a pet, it’s important that you have a pet-friendly home. That means ensuring they cannot get to garbage cans or other dangerous decorations as they explore the home and run around. You’ll also need to tuck out of reach of any toxic foods, like those with Xylitol in them, and any other chemicals, plants or other items that could lead to injury in your pet. Consider a wireless pet containment system installed both indoors and outside that will give you and your new pet ultimate freedom! 

Consider Donations

Even if you cannot adopt a pet to bring it into your home, you can also consider donations to your local rescue or shelter to assist the veterinarians, trainers and animals with their healing, food and care. There are typically also opportunities to volunteer your time if you’d like to help out! 

Research Reveals New Information on Dog Training Tactics

Did you know many dog breeds can pick up on training tactics pretty quickly?  It’s true. In the past we were conditioned to show our dog’s what to do by using treats. The idea was that they would learn with positive reinforcement like praise and a treat whenever a correct action is taken. 

Today, dogs are shifting to more companionship roles and becoming integral members of the family, so there is an argument that some of these older tactics could be becoming outdated. Instead using science backed ideas like non-treat based reinforcement and rewards to help your dog learn the correct actions. 

One recent report in the Science section of TIME looks at how new tactics like early socialization, enrichment tools and better understanding your dog are changing relationships and training methods. Knowing their needs can help correct negative actions. An example is a dog that is whining all the time. Instead of looking for a negative way to try and scold them into removing this trait, stopping to find out the source of their whining and what you can do to help stop the possible discomfort causing them to make this noise. 

New toys and other reward systems that get dogs to engage and test their abilities to complete a task are also gaining in popularity. Kibble in a bowl with a maze, or with flip boxes that reveal a treat after doing the work to get to it and locate it helps train dogs in new ways. 

Enjoy freedom for your dog and peace of mind for yourself with pet containment and training products from DogWatch of Western Mass. – a great choice to help keep your dog happy and safe.

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