Tag Archives: Pet

Thinking Outside of The Box ;)

Last week a woman came into my store with a little dog that looked like a mix of terrier breeds. We began talking about how her dog came into her life. Her and her husband went to a local shelter with hopes of finding a new addition to their home. As they pulled into the parking lot, a stray dog actually bolted across the street and ran right up to them! It was definitely a circumstance where the dog chose them and that was that. As she was telling me every detail, she snuck in a comment about how she does not crate him. I could feel the judgement in her words. We all have different opinions on the way to raise our pets, and I feel like crate training has a lot of negative connotations associated with it. The thought of putting their pet in a cage freaks some people out. However, there are actually many benefits to it. By using positive reinforcement, crate training can have a beneficial impact on your pet’s life.

 

 

  • Safe haven.

 

 

A crate can become a dog’s own little sanctuary in the house by using positive reinforcement during training. It is where they can go to unwind and relax from the day. Unless your pup has their own bedroom, a crate would be the next best thing. Plus, dogs are naturally den animals, so a covered crate is the perfect place for them to go where they won’t be disturbed. Having the crate covered with a blanket or choosing a plastic flight kennel creates a comforting atmosphere, especially for puppies who are learning to sleep through the night. There’s a website called www.thisiswhyimbroke.com that I like to browse. It’s a compilation of some of the most obscure and random items found for sale on the internet. I’ve never actually bought anything I saw on there, but recently they posted an outdoor, underground dog den. It’s such a genius product! You dig a hole, and place this big plastic den into the ground. It slopes down with a small staircase; perfect for dogs to find solitude out in the yard. Since it’s half underground, the ground keeps the den at a comfortable temperature all year round. I think it would be a great idea for dogs and cats, alike.

 

 

  • Reduce anxiety.

 

 

Crate training could potentially prevent or help ease the symptoms that anxiety can cause. This applies to how the dog may feel while home alone during the day and even at daycare. No one wants to come home to destroyed furniture or the contents of your garbage can sprinkled around your home. If you have a dog walker who is providing exercise midday or while you’re at work, and your dog is still destructive, then a crate may be a comforting solution, with the help of positive reinforcement. The goal is to help your dog understand that the crate is not a punishment, but rather their own personal space to relax. Dogs can feel the stress of busy lifestyles that their humans have established. We’ve asked our pets to live in city settings and small spaces with us, and that alone can cause stress and anxiety for them, not to mention that they are sensitive to our anxiety as well. Dogs with a lot of energy don’t always know when to stop and take a break, which can lead to anxious behaviors, so that can be a great time for the crate to come into play. Giving them 10-15 minutes breaks while you’re cooking dinner or winding down at the end of the night can help calm their minds.

 

 

  • Help with potty training.

 

 

Depending on who you ask, some people will tell you that the primary use for crate training is to help with potty training. The theory is that dogs will not mess where he sleeps. This may be true, to an extent. Keep in mind, that this is merely a tool in the training process. Your pups should still be taken outside on a reasonable and regular schedule, or they will have accidents and be very confused about what is acceptable. Just because the dog is crated, doesn’t mean that they can hold it all day while you’re at work. They still need potty breaks, mental stimulation, and exercise throughout the day.

 

 

  • Make travelling or boarding easier.

 

 

All of these benefits are intertwined and this reason is a good combination of the first three. Whether you are travelling or your dog is travelling with you, different factors can cause anxiety. Having your pet trained to find comfort in their crate will be the best thing for you and them. My cat does not do well when we travel in the car, so when I moved down here from New York, I knew I had to be strategic about how to drive down alone with him. My solution was a dog crate covered with a blanket that he often slept on. It smelled like home, while comforting him during the move; plus it kept him contained to one area of the car. Otherwise, he gets so uncomfortable riding in the car that he can’t sit still and climbs everywhere. The last time I had to crate him was when he was a kitten. He’s the only cat I’ve adopted that did not naturally figure out how to use the litter box. Instead, I would find little kitten poops all over my apartment. So while I was at work, I kept him in a big dog crate with a litter box and he got rewarded every time he would use it. It took some time, but he got there. (A bonus crate benefit for those with cats!)

If you leave your dog at a boarding facility or have a pet sitter, crate training would still be beneficial. There are cage-free facilities where all of the overnight boarders are loose in the daycare space, but if that isn’t the case then it’s likely that your dog will be in a crate or a kennel while you’re gone. This allows the dogs to calm their minds and get a proper amount of rest during their stay. Not being at home and with their humans can cause stress, so having that ability to find comfort in their own personal den space is a great way to keep anxiety away.

 

 

  • Routine.

 

 

We all understand the significance or routine and ritual. Even if it’s having a morning or evening routine to prepare for the day or wind down from the day, having a routine can benefit us and our pets. Being a dog walker for about four years now, as well as working in daycare/boarding facilities, I can always tell which dogs have structure in their lives. I love when a dog brings me on their usual route during a walk or shows me where treats are before running into their crate. I can tell those dogs have the same rituals and routines every day, which makes everything run smoothly. Having a well behaved dog that enjoys their crate can also be a great quality if you are able to bring your dog to work with you!

 

These are steps that can lead to a happy life for your pet. Crate training is not just for puppies, though. If you adopt an adult dog from a shelter, they can absolutely benefit from basic training and crate training. They most likely did not have routine and structure in their lives before, which can bring them peace of mind when transitioning into their new life. It takes away the feelings of uncertainty and can really boost their confidence. As our pets get older, sometimes they can develop anxiety, especially if they lose their eyesight. Having their own personal space where they can feel safe at all times may be important for them in the long run.

#AdoptDon’tStop

I recently crashed a dog party filled (almost) solely of golden retrievers. In fact, it was a pretty casual 151st anniversary party of the breed held here in Atlanta, Georgia. I did not have a dog with me, but I did have my camera, so I was in! Last year, the Golden Retriever Club of Scotland hosted the 150th anniversary party. I just picture myself lying on my back amidst a sea of blonde, goofy, bodies trampling me with love and slobber. This is what I dreamt of leading up to the party in Piedmont Park. The turn out for the party was fairly impressive, but safe to say not nearly as many goldens as Scotland’s party. 

I’m telling this story because I found myself eavesdropping on quite a few conversations. Shut up, we all do it. I can’t not hear what’s going on around me. What I noticed the most was a lot of dialogue about dog breeders. It seemed like everyone knew the same handful of golden retriever breeders (by first name basis, might I add) and were very particular about their choices. Listening to people discuss which breeders they’ve decided to buy their dog from sounds more like collecting glass figurines and less like adopting a new baby. Any time someone has asked me if I can recommend a breeder for whatever type of dog they are looking for, I always give out information for local shelters. It’s not a popular response, but I genuinely believe that shelter animals make for the best companions. To extend that thought, I sat down and made a list of the benefits of adopting a shelter animal.

  1. Save & Change a Life (and probably way more than one)

So many shelters are overwhelmed by the amount of animals in their care. It can be stressful and confusing for the animals because they don’t know if their previous family will come back. Rescue groups and shelters do great work by providing food, shelter, and care to homeless animals, so we need to do our part in the community. By adopting a dog or cat from a shelter, you create a vacant space for another animal in need to have a place to stay until they can find there forever home. The ripple effect goes on and on from there. 


Companionship & Socialization

There are studies that show the importance to our physical, mental, and emotional health to have human connection and companionship (see last week’s post about International Day of Friendship). If you’ve ever had a bond with an animal, you understand that companionship of any kind is significant. Not only do you form a strong connection to another living being, but studies have shown that people walking with dogs are portrayed as trustworthy. People are more likely to approach you if you have a dog with you. As a dog walker, I would say this statement is true. I’ve met so many new people and even gotten dates just because someone wanted to pet the dogs I had with me.


Work-out Buddy

Dogs need exercise. When you adopt a dog, you now have to schedule daily walks with your pup. This doesn’t only provide exercise for your new fur baby, but it also provides you with added exercise and creates a stronger bond with your dog. Once you increase your activity levels, it can get addicting. Daily runs with your dog, or dropping them off at daycare while you’re at the gym only benefits the both of you. Take your dog for hikes and fun adventures! Your new pup now holds you accountable for exercising.


Safety

Growing up with an ex-cop as a father, we had a german shepherd and one of her main jobs was to protect the family. She was a great guard dog, who barked anytime someone came up our driveway or rang the doorbell. One night, someone climbed through our basement window, but as soon as our dog began barking, they ran out through the garage door and into the woods. She saved us from a potentially scary scenario. Whether you live alone or with others, a dog is a great way to keep your home safe. Dogs or any size or age can be known to bark anytime someone is at your door. The best alarm system for your home!


Help End Cycle of Mass Breeding

Puppy mills are a dangerous place for any dog. Female dogs are forcefully impregnated and used to birth multiple litters, before they are discarded and usually end up neglected, euthanized or dropped at shelters. Some breeders fall into this category for me. I’ve heard horror stories about breeders who care more about the money they make from the puppies than they do about the animals themselves. I have a friend who heard about a breeder that bred show dogs. This particular breeder had a puppy who did not meet height requirements for shows, and she her tail grew out in an unusual way. Because of these reasons, the poor pup was kept in a crate and not given much attention. My friend adopted her from the breeder, and it took this poor dog a long time to trust us humans. When dogs are bought from pet stores, it supports puppy mills and mass breeders. Please adopt, don’t shop!


Help End Overpopulation

We have all watched Wheel of Fortune at least once in our lives, right? Bob Barker (and now Drew Carey) have always ended each show by reminding us to get our pets spayed or neutered to help control animal overpopulation. There’s truth to this concern. TNR (trap, neuter, release) programs do their part to help stray cat communities from growing. By adopting an animal from a shelter, your new addition is most likely caught up on vaccines and already spayed or neutered.

Adult Dogs Are Already Potty Trained

I’ve often had people come to me, looking very tired, and telling me how they recently

adopted a new puppy. They see how cute puppies are, but forget how much work it takes to train and raise them. I, personally, prefer older dogs. I love the wisdom and clear experiences that old dogs have lived. Plus, they are already potty trained! If you adopt an older dog from a shelter, they have a general understanding of how to behave around the house. That’s a very general statement to make, however, and you may need to provide some training so the dog understands what you’re expectations are for them. Training a new puppy takes a lot of patience and repetition. If you still prefer puppies and young dogs, there are dogs of all ages and sizes in shelters and they can pair you with the appropriate match.


It Feels Good When You Can Provide a Good Life

This reason kind of goes with reason #1. If you’ve ever done something for another you know how good it feels inside. That gooey feeling inside when you’ve made someone else’s life better, even for a moment, releases endorphins in your body and can become addicting. It feels great to help others, and when our adopted additions open up to us we know they appreciate it. Animals who spend time in shelters can show gratitude for their new environment. Anything from the first time they wag their tail, or give you kisses, or even stand near you by choice will warm your insides!


It Gives You (both) a Sense of Purpose

When I adopted my cat, he was very sick and malnourished. The rest of his family did not survive and he was fortunate enough to be scooped up by my friend before I took him in. He had upper respiratory infections and lungworms in his body. Because of that, I couldn’t let him wander outside alone and I wanted to give him the best possible life that I could. On a personal note, I was going through a break up and feeling pretty down on myself at the time. Having this little ill kitten come into my life, I felt a new sense of purpose. Eight years later, I still hold myself responsible for giving him the best life ever. He’s traveled on trains, gone on road trips, played with dog friends, and loves learning new tasks. Likewise, he brought me out of my slump all those years ago and still gives me emotional support when I need him. He knows when I’m sick or feeling low, and comforts me like I’ve done for him in the past.


Save Your Money to Actually Spend on Your New Furbaby

Buying a pet from a breeder or pet store can be pretty costly. Purebred dogs can sell for thousands of dollars. To continue from reason #9, I would much rather support a shelter and spend the rest of that money on the best care possible for my furchild. Money spent adopting from a shelter often covers spay/neutering and vaccine costs. That money can also help shelters and rescue groups update their facilities to increase the value of life for those animals still in shelters. It also allows shelters to provide better quality food, treats, and toys to the remaining animals.


You Can Find Any Breed

All dog breeds can be found in shelters. Quite often, someone buys a puppy from a breeder or store, but if that dog has bad habits or a health concern, those same people give up ownership or abandon them. If you’re looking for a specific breed to adopt, some shelters provide pictures of available dogs for adoption on websites and social media. You could also call around or visit shelters to see your options. Who knows, if you visit in person you may fall in love with a dog you weren’t expecting. This can also be true of cats. It is harder to find a specific breed from an animal shelter, but some people are not prepared to own certain breeds of cats because of personality traits or health issues. You can also research rescue groups in your area for breed-specific rescue groups for dogs and cats.

Mixed Breeds Tend to Have Less Health Issues

As an extension to this reason, many purebred dogs have tendencies to be susceptible to genetic diseases. In my experience, mixed breed dogs can actually be healthier than purebred dogs.


Shelters Can Provide Reliable Resources For You

If you’re adopting a dog or cat for the first time, then a shelter is a great place for resources in the pet community. They will usually have local veterinarians, supplies stores, pet sitters and walkers, and even brands of food they recommend. You can usually continue a relationship with the shelter long after adoption for help if you have questions down the line. Remember, the goals and intentions of their work is solely for the advancement of care of animals in need. They care about the animals rather than about money.

I hope this list provides you with enough reasons to adopt from a shelter and not to buy from a store or breeder. Shelters will often want to do a home visit, and meet with you before you are approved to adopt. This provides them with the best information to place animals in appropriate homes. They also usually have someone whose job is specifically to match potential adopters with dogs that align with their lifestyles and activity levels. They have systems in place to ensure proper matches for adoption. If you find yourself wanting to help out, but you’re unsure of your readiness to adopt, then consider volunteering at a shelter or become a foster parent!

A concern that many people have when they adopt animals is the history of the dog or cat. Understandably, you may not ever know what your newly adopted fur baby has experienced in its life, but you have full control over future experiences. Similarly, you may realize that your pet has symptoms of a food or environmental sensitivity. Luckily, here at 5 Strands Affordable Testing have designed a hair analysis test to help you determine what would cause such symptoms. With this test, your pet never has to leave the comfort of home, and you would only have to provide us with 10-15 strands of hair to find out what food and environmental intolerances affect your fur baby. We make it easy to provide great care to your pets!

https://www.affordableallergytest.com/case-studies/

No Sleep Today-It's Pajama Day

No Sleep Today-It’s Pajama Day!

Many of us lead very busy lives so it is important for us to get a good amount of quality rest every night. Sleep allows our bodies to recuperate and recover from our day. When we deprive ourselves of quality sleep, it inhibits our bodies to be at maximum efficiency the next day. Many of us are unable to either get the proper amount of rest, find it hard to get to sleep or find it difficult to stay asleep. Getting quality sleep is vital to our well-being for various reasons but many of us do not take the time to make quality sleep a priority in our daily routines.

In the article, Sleep Deprivation and Deficiency (n.d.), it lists several reasons why getting good, quality sleep and getting enough sleep is vital to our health.

Benefits for getting enough quality sleep:

  • Promotes energy throughout the day
  • Helps elevate a healthy mind and memory
  • Reduces the number of times you get sick and the duration of time you are sick
  • Lowers the risk for serious health issues
  • Helps you maintain a healthy weight
  • Aids in physical and mental recovery

These are but a few benefits for why getting enough sleep and getting quality sleep are important, but sometimes we do not know the right amount of sleep we should be getting. From infancy to adulthood, our bodies undergo various changes and types of development, so we require different amounts of sleep at different ages. Typically, the younger we are, the more sleep we need for our growing bodies. Of course, you have to take other factors into consideration like one’s daily physical activity, health factors, etc., but the following list from Sleep Deprivation and Deficiency (n.d.), is a general guideline of the amount of sleep we need at different ages.

How much sleep is enough?

  • Infants aged 4-12 months 12-16 hours a day (including naps)
  • Children aged 1-2 years 11-14 hours a day (including naps)
  • Children aged 3-5 years 10-13 hours a day (including naps)
  • Children aged 6-12 years 9-12 hours a day
  • Teens aged 13-18 years 8-10 hours a day
  • Adults aged 18 years or older 7–8 hours a day

Unfortunately, many of us do not get this amount of sleep and if we do, it is not quality sleep. I know for me, I sometimes have trouble going to sleep, staying asleep or both and I wake up tired as if I didn’t just get any sleep. Fortunately, there are some tips and techniques we can use in order to wind down for bed so we get the right amount of quality sleep. Here are but a few tips that we should try to incorporate into our bedtime routine:

Tips for getting enough sleep:

  • Have a Sleep Schedule. Wake up and go to bed around the same time every day (weekdays AND weekends). Limit the time difference to no more than an hour.
  • For kids, have a set Bedtime and Routine. Do not use their bedroom for timeouts or punishments because they may not be able to mentally block that out at night and be fully comfortable in their room.
  • Avoid Eating, Reading, or using your Phone (talking or texting) in bed. This will train your brain that your bed is only for sleeping and intimacy, so it will not be wide awake when you are in bed.
  • During the day, spend time outside and try to be more physically active. When your body works hard and gets sunlight and fresh air, it will need to recover and will likely be more prepared to rest at night.
  • Keep your room cool, dark and quiet. When we get hot, we typically do not sleep well. Having your room dark and quiet invites peace and allows your mind to wind down. Getting light-reducing or blackout curtains will help your room stay dark.
  • Wind down an hour before bed. Avoid artificial light (phone, TV or computer) and strenuous activity as these things may wake your brain up.
  • Take a hot bath/shower and use relaxation techniques. Easing your body with a hot bath/shower will help your body and mind relax. Breathing techniques or meditation allows for our body and mind to relax as well by relieving tension and the weight of day’s activities.
  • Avoid heavy and/or large meals, drinking caffeine and alcohol, and having nicotine. When you are full, your body has to work to digest that food and therefore cannot fully rest. Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants, and alcohol will not allow your body to rest.

They say, “work hard, play hard”, but we should start focusing on “work hard, sleep hard” and create an effective sleep routine that we stick to every night. Because many of us are always on the go every day, we owe it to ourselves to get the right amount of good, quality sleep every night. Start off with a few adjustments from these tips and gradually incorporate more of these tips until you are getting the optimal amount of quality sleep. Remember that you work hard, so allow your body to recovery by getting the best rest it can have!

References

Sleep Deprivation and Deficiency. (n.d.). Retrieved April 3, 2019, from

https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/sleep-deprivation-and-deficiency

Written by Yvonne Sims