Adding Another Pet to Your Family, Part 2 – Introducing Dogs

Adding Another Pet to Your Family, Part 2 – Introducing Dogs.

via Adding Another Pet to Your Family, Part 2 – Introducing Dogs.

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5 Tips for Meeting a Shy Dog

I wrote the following article shortly after I started working as a pet sitter. One of my assignments was a mid-day walk for a dog recently adopted from a shelter. While he was bonding quite well with his new “parents,” he was very mistrustful of a new person coming into his home and getting in his personal space, which was necessary to open his crate, put on his leash, etc.

So, without further ado,

5 Tips for Meeting a Shy Dog

How to Win Over Dogs and Influence Puppies!

Whether you’re a meeting a friend’s furry companion or working as a pet care provider, at some point you are going to encounter a dog that is not immediately enamored of you. Some dogs have past trauma that  has made them distrustful of new people, while others were simply born less outgoing than the average canine.

If you spend much time around dog owners, particularly those who are active in obedience and agility clubs, you’ll hear the terms alpha and omega get thrown about. An alpha dog is a natural leader, with a dominant personality. These dogs can be challenging for first-time dog owners, because they try to make their own rules, which may not agree with their human’s boundaries. Conversely, omega dogs are at the other end of the spectrum. They are easily cowed, submissive, and are sensitive to loud noises and other unexpected events. Dogs like this can be loyal companions, but require some extra care, especially at the beginning of the relationship.

As a lifetime pet owner who has accumulated over 9 years in professional, hands-on animal experience through employment, education, and volunteering, I have compiled 5 tips to help you put your new acquaintance at ease. There is nothing more rewarding than getting an exuberant greeting from a dog that was once withdrawn.

  1. Eye contact When dogs meet for the first time, they try to determine who is more dominant. They may do this by affecting an aggressive stance, barking, or other posturing, but one of the key behaviors is eye contact. Just as children hold staring contests to determine a winner, the dog who maintains eye contact longer is dominant. If you are encountering a shy or nervous dog, do not look directly at her for more than a couple of seconds. You don’t want to start a staring contest with Annie, which would make her more upset, and could, in extreme cases, cause her to react defensively, perhaps even trying to bite.
  2. Get down Particularly for small dogs, a person standing over him can be quite intimidating. Adult humans are not only taller, we outweigh most dogs by a significant amount. For domestic canines, humans make up part of their pack, or family group. Dominance in canine packs is determined by strength and leadership, so a larger, heavier individual has an advantage over a smaller one. Since you are not trying to assert dominance over Scruffy, get down on his level. Sit on the floor, and watch his reaction. In some cases this is all it takes to win over a shy dog.
  1. Bribery If you’ve been warned ahead of time that Shelby is shy about meeting new people, bring an extra-special treat! Salami, cheese, or hot dogs are something she likely doesn’t get on a regular basis, and if she associates you with yummy treats, she’ll soon be wagging at the door when you arrive. Be sure to clear any treats with her owner before-hand, you certainly don’t want to cause her a tummy ache, if she has a sensitive stomach. Our dogs have always enjoyed carrots, which are an inexpensive, healthy treat you may already have in your refrigerator, and our veterinarian agrees that vegetables are a great addition to their diets.
  1. Slow and steady Some dogs, like some people, have high startle reflexes. If Buddy is already nervous, he’s not going to react well to sudden movements or loud noises. This can be a hard lesson, especially for children, who are themselves bundles of energy, and move erratically. You’ll also want to keep your voice low and soothing. It’s okay to say things that would normally sound silly. Buddy can’t understand what you’re saying, but a soft “Gooood boy, Buddy,” can reassure him that you’re not someone to fear. Using his name reinforces that you are part of the pack (at least peripherally), because you know the name his family calls him. I tend to talk a lot to new dogs, whether they’re nervous or not, so they get used to the sound of my voice.
  1. Don’t force it You’ve tried everything you can think of, and still the dog is cowering behind her owner, or worse, in her crate, and wants nothing to do with you. That’s okay! The worst thing you can do in this situation is to force attention on Roxi. So ignore her for a few minutes. Talk to her owner, look out the window, and most importantly, put some distance between the two of you. This will let Roxi calm down, and after a few minutes, she may come out of her shell, especially if you still have that yummy-smelling treat (dog treats in the pocket work wonders).

It may take repeat visits before the dog accepts you, but with these tips in mind, you’ll have some ideas for approaching the dog positively. If you have other suggestions, please comment, I’d love to read your experiences and feedback.

(originally written for Associated Content, which has since been closed down by Yahoo!) Original link:

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Trick or Treat Among the Trees…

Another Associated Content article, this one was in response to a challenge, asking for articles about local community festivities. The state park where I worked several seasons had a long-running tradition of Hallowe’en festivities.

Trick-or-Treat Among the Trees

Campers Have Created Their Own Festivities at a Popular Indiana State Park

Kristin S. Moran

What a perfect atmosphere for a fall excursion, the first hint of frost gilding the bare branches of the forest, dry leaves crackling underfoot as visitors walk the park trails, seeing wildlife that remained scarce during peak visitation times, and the campfires providing needed warmth as well as fellowship!

Several years ago, as the story goes, a few families, looking for a safe and fun experience for their children, began camping at Lincoln State Park over the Halloween weekend. Their favorite Indiana summer camping spot was draped in the browns and golds of autumn, and now they had the place almost to themselves. The park employees brought home-made treats to share, and as the years went on, word spread, and more people chose to camp the final weekend in October.

The main road of the electric campground, which was barricaded for two hours to allow children plenty of time to trick-or-treat and view their neighbors festive site decorations, which became more elaborate each year. Eventually, the campground was filled to capacity, not one, but two weekends each October, and the event was added to the official calendar of events. For several years, half of the sites were reservable, while the other half were rented on a first-come first-served basis. With a 14 night stay limit, competition was fierce for prime campsites, some families paying 14 nights’ stay to ensure their children would be able to trick-or-treat at the park.

More recently, Indiana’s state parks have gone to a more user-friendly, online reservation system, which affects all of the campsites, so anyone hoping to come in Friday night would likely have to stay in a primitive campsite, without the amenities of electricity or a modern bathhouse.

Extra staff are assigned to work the weekends, to assist with the large number of campers, and employees spend days preparing goodies for the campers, then using the shelterhouse nearest the electric campground those Friday and Saturday evenings to dole out hundreds of fresh-baked cookies, cups of hot apple cider, and popcorn to the families. Some years, professional storytellers have been hired to share ghost stories with interested ghouls, superheroes, and other costumed youths (and the young of heart), but apparently that has been stopped due to state budget cuts.

In a time when most Halloween stories told about our communities are restrictive, discussing unsafe trick-or-treating areas or costumes, it’s wonderful to experience an ongoing tradition at Lincoln State Park, begun by members of the camping community, and embraced by the park management and staff.

Trick-or-Treat Among the Trees. (original link, now dead)

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Tips for Great Nutrition

One of the big questions we ask ourselves in relation to our pets is what food should I feed? Here are some things to consider when choosing a diet for your companion.

In this article we are focusing on dog and cat nutrition, but future issues will discuss birds, small mammals, reptiles, and the like. We’d love your input on which topics are of interest to you!

1) Choose a super premium, organic or holistic pet food. The ingredients in these foods will be fit for human consumption – conventional pet foods are not.

2) Look at the ingredients panel. The primary ingredients should be a named meat (such as beef, or chicken meal). The term “meal” refers to meat that was dried prior to the kibble being formed. While it is considered a lower quality product than fresh meat, it retains several health benefits, and generally results in a more economically-priced product. However, avoid at all costs any food containing by-products. These are the non-meat portion of an animal, and provide little nutritional value to a food.

3) The secondary ingredients should be fruits and vegetables. Many animals can tolerate some whole grains, though corn and wheat should be avoided in any form.

4) Avoid artificial preservatives. Vitamins C and E are natural preservatives and healthier for your pet. A vitamin E-derived preservative is often listed as “tocopherols” – although it’s not an easy word to say, it’s a natural antioxidant.

5) Pets love raw food! A raw food diet is natural and healthy, as well as a tasty treat for your friend. Remember, wolves and cougars don’t cook their rabbits and other game before eating it. If you’re not comfortable handling raw meat, there are freeze-dried options that still contain the benefits of a non-cooked meal.

6) Variety is the spice of life! Continuing to think in terms of their wild cousins, who may eat poultry one day and rodent or fish the next, we feel strongly that feeding your pet a varied diet provides a much more balanced nutritional base than a single diet form. Variety can be rotating chicken, beef, and lamb (or some of the more exotic meats like bison, venison & duck), or it can be switching between kibble, canned, and raw.

If you’re considering changing your pet’s diet, feel free to email us for suggestions – there are several independent pet stores in the area with very knowledgeable staff that we’d be happy to recommend.

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Natural Pest Control

While there are a lot of products out there to keep our cats and dogs from being bothered by pests, some of them are safer than others. I stopped using the monthly spot application flea control on my cats after one of them had an adverse reaction, and when I started working at a holistic pet supply store, learned about some of the safer alternatives. Even some of those that are labeled natural (such as pyrethrins, which are derived from the chrysanthemum plant) have unwanted side effects on non-target species. Here are a few of my favorites:

Neem Oil

Neem oil is derived from the seeds of the neem tree (Azadirachta indica), which grows in India, and is sometimes called “the village pharmacy,” due to its varied uses. Neem oil has been used as an insecticide and insect repellant, antifungal, antibacterial, antiseptic, to treat skin disorders and injuries, and as a moisturizer in soaps and shampoos. Extracts made from the bark are used in dental care. Some people ingest the leaves as well, to support the liver, assist the immune system, and cleanse the blood. Before taking neem internally, it is important to consult with a qualified herbalist.

As an insecticide, neem oil does not work directly, as one might use wasp spray or a similar product. Instead, it works by affecting the brains of sucking and chewing insects, because it is similar in composition to their own natural hormones. Once ingested, the neem blocks the real hormones, and the affected insects “forget” to eat, mate, and lay eggs. This interrupts the life cycle of the insects, and reduces the populations.

Neem is available in a prepared spray or shampoo form at many holistic pet supply stores, or the oil is available at some health food stores, to make your own topical products.

* Ark Naturals Neem Protect Spray
* Flying Bassett Organics No-Fleas Spray

Diatomaceous Earth

This white powder is the ground fossilized remains of diatoms, a form of hard-shelled algae containing silica. Deposits of these shells, known as diatomite, developed approximately 30 million years ago, and are mined and ground, similar to the process of making talcum powder. The powder is slightly abrasive, similar to pumice powder, and is very light, due to its porous nature.

This porous nature is precisely what makes it useful as an insecticide – the powder absorbs lipids (fats) from the waxy layer of the arthropod’s exoskeleton, and as a result the insect expires from dehydration.

Diatomaceous earth can be used externally against fleas and ticks, worked into the pet’s fur or sprinkled on carpet, furniture, or outside in the yard. Diatomaceous earth can also be taken internally, and is effective as a de-wormer. In either case, you should be sure to use only food-grade or medical-grade, rather than the coarser formulas used for filtration in pools.

* (contains a fascinating video on its health benefits)
* The Wholistic Pet Wholistic Diatomaceous Earth
* Azmira Para*Clear Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth

Garlic and Brewer’s Yeast

These are often available together, in either a pill or powder form. They work by changing the flavor of your pet’s blood, so that it’s unpalatable to fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes. However, raw garlic can be toxic, especially to cats, so it is important to use this as a supplementary method, and be careful to follow dosage guidelines. The active ingredient in brewer’s yeast is thiamine (vitamin B1).

* Earth Animal Internal Powder
* Flying Bassett Organics Parasite Relief

There are many more products out there, and it’s important to find which product(s) work best for you and your pet(s). It’s certainly a learning process, and we continue to do our own research. What are your favorite products?

General Resources:


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Heat Stroke: Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention

While many of us consider our pets part of the family, it is important to remember that in some ways, they are very different from us. One of the ways dogs are different from people is how they dispel excess heat. When people are overheated, their skin becomes flushed and they sweat. Dogs, with a few exceptions, wear a hair or fur coat year-round, which makes it more difficult to see if their skin is flushed, and only sweat through the pads of their feet, which are not covered in fur or hair. Instead, dogs regulate their heat by panting. This is actually an effective way of cooling, as it lowers the body temperature while conserving moisture.

However, as many dogs now live in our homes with us (and we enjoy keeping a relatively constant temperature), they don’t have the opportunity to gradually become accustomed to the seasonal weather changes, and so, particularly late spring and early summer, are susceptible to heatstroke, because they overexert themselves.

What is heat stroke?

At its simplest, heat stroke occurs when a dog’s internal temperature exceeds 106F (101-102 is normal) and it is no longer able to regulate its temperature. The rise in the dog’s temperature (heat gain) is greater than its ability to cool itself. While people often think of heat stroke in conjunction with dogs left in cars (which is a very real concern), heat stroke can happen anytime an animal (or person) is exposed to high temperatures, and especially when they become dehydrated.

When heat stroke occurs, the high temperatures cause chemical reactions in the dog’s body, breaking down cells, which leads to dehydration and blood thickening. This thicker blood creates stress on the heart as it pumps blood through the body, and as it continues, leads to blood clotting and tissue death. The first areas affected are the liver, brain, and intestines, and this can happen quite rapidly. Therefore, it is imperative to act quickly to cool your dog if you think it might be exhibiting any of the symptoms listed below.

Symptoms of heatstroke

Your dog may exhibit only a few of the following, so be alert when playing outside in hot weather.

* rapid panting
* hyperventilation (heavy breathing)
* wide eyes
* thick saliva
* dry gums
* weakness
* confusion
* vomiting
* staggering
* bright red tongue
* diarrhea
* bleeding
* pale gums
* coma


If you think your dog might be exhibiting signs of heat stroke, cool the dog, then take him to the veterinarian immediately! This is a life-threatening condition, and your quick response is imperative.

Use whatever means are available to bring down your dog’s temperature: bathe him in cool (not ice cold) water, fan him, return him to an air conditioned building, or sponge the groin, underarms, and tummy areas with cool water. While you’re doing this, wet his tongue, but do not allow him to drink large quantities of water, because it may induce vomiting.

Once the dog’s temperature reaches 103-104F, stop the cooling efforts, as cooling too fast or too much can cause other problems. At this point, you should transport your dog to the vet.


What can you do to prevent your dog from being affected by the heat:

* Never leave your dog unattended in a car. The windows act like a greenhouse, and temperatures can rise to as much as 40F higher than outside temperatures in just a few minutes. Cracking the windows only helps minimally – remember how hot your car is when you return from shopping, even if you leave the windows cracked.
* Always provide access to fresh, clean drinking water. Carry water with you on walks – there are great products available at your local pet store!
* On hot days, restrict activity to mornings and evenings, particularly active exertions such as playing fetch, jogging, and similar.
* Do not muzzle your dog. Muzzles impede dogs from panting, their natural cooling mechanism.
* Avoid areas such as the beach or large stretches of asphalt, which reflect the sun’s heat, and are lacking shaded areas for cooling off.
* Wetting your dog or allowing him to swim on hot days can help, though overexertion can lead to heat exhaustion or heat stroke, even in the water, so be sure to have him take breaks.


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Getting Paws-On with Environmental Practices — West Paw Design

(This was originally posted on 6/26/08 on Woof Tales, The Big Bad Woof’s blog, but it appears with the redesign not all the archives were kept. However, I found it reposted on TBBW’s Facebook account. Yay for keeping records of my articles, on Google Docs.)

One of the fundamentals of our mission here at The Big Bad Woof® is to provide ecologically friendly products to our customers. To this end, we work with a number of North American companies, and enjoy working with other small businesses to our mutual benefit. In the coming weeks, this blog will feature some of the products we offer in our store, and detail some of the reasons we have chosen to sell products from these companies.

The first company featured in our series is West Paw Design® . Based in Bozeman, Montana, this small company (employing fewer than 50 individuals) manufactures pet toys and bedding using recyclable materials.

The Eco Friendly line of beds are made of fabric and stuffing known as IntelliLoft™. IntelliLoft™ fibers are created from post-consumer soda bottles. The bed fabric is 85% postconsumer recycled product, and the stuffing is 100% post-consumer recycled and reengineered fiber fill. Up to 40 plastic bottles go into the production of each bed, adding up to over 25 tons of plastic bottles diverted from landfills every year. So far, 165 tons of plastic bottles have been diverted from landfills to create these products, and that number continues to rise. In addition, the use of this recycled material uses six times less energy than would using virgin materials to create fabric.

Recently, West Paw Design® has added a green ‘bottle count tag’ to their eco products, informing the consumer how many bottles were diverted in the production of each product. These tags are made of recycled paper, and assist customers in locating ‘green’ products.

West Paw Design® also has a line of organic beds, made with certified organic cotton covers, and filled with IntelliLoft™. These are available in a range of sizes to accommodate both cats and dogs, in multiple shapes and sizes.

Their environmental methods don’t stop there. The scraps from making beds are used to make toys, filled with the same IntelliLoft™ stuffing, and the cat toys are also filled with 100% US grown and USDA certified organic catnip. West Paw Design® also uses recycled packaging to ship their products to retail locations such as The Big Bad Woof®.

For tough chewers, West Paw Design® has introduced the Zogoflex® line of toys. These toys are tough, pliable, bounce able, nontoxic, recyclable, and buoyant. They are dishwasher safe, and create virtually no waste during production. With an injection molding press at their plant in Montana, West Paw Design® maintains the same high standards for these toys as they do for their other lines, and reduces the environmental impact that would have been created by shipping raw materials to another country to be produced, and then shipping the finished product back to the United States. The Zogoflex® toys are guaranteed against dog damage, with a one-time only replacement offer if the toy does not withstand your dog’s chewing. When the toy has been loved to death, it can be mailed back to West Paw Design® and recycled into a new toy! Talk about completing the recycle circle! Zogoflex® toys include: Hurley™, Huck, Zisc™, and the newest (fillable) toy, the Tux™.

In addition, West Paw Design® is an active and conscious member of their community, in the fifth largest (and fastest growing) city in the state of Montana. They have partnered with Reach, Inc. to employ special needs people for subassembly work, and all of their employees receive fair wages, benefits, and profit sharing. Building a sense of community within the company fosters personal investments, so that the people working there care more about the company and the products they design and create. Once a year the employees compete in teams of three to create new toys from raw materials; the winning team takes the “Golden Hairball,” and many of the toys created during those annual meetings have been introduced as new products.

The West Paw Design® website is extremely user-friendly, filled with customer testimonials and photographs, in-depth information on each of their products, and featured articles from magazines such as Modern Dog, The Bark, and City Dog.

For all these reasons, we at The Big Bad Woof® are proud to offer the high-quality products from West Paw Design®, and invite you to bring your pet to select a toy or bed to take home with you.

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