Category: Lessons

How My Seatbelt Saved My Life!

Right before Christmas I was minding my own business, sleeping in the back of my human’s car when all of a sudden I was abruptly awoken when I started spinning and bouncing all over the place!

My human said something about there being a problem with the vehicle but I just think he needs to get his eyes checked! After a ton of bouncing and crashing the car finally stopped at the bottom of this big cliff. All the windows shattered and shrapnel all over the rocky cliff face.

Pretty much everything in the car was thrown, his luggage, christmas gifts, and even my toy! But I was still stuck in the car attached to this annoying harness that my human insists that I wear while driving. The thing is uncomfortable and I always find myself tangled up in it but he always says that someday it may save my life.

As if MY life needs saving! I am a Malamute, nothing can defeat me! But even so I think it just might have protected me quite well! From the photo I am sure you can tell that it was a pretty big mess and somehow I was able to crawl out almost completely uninjured! The darn harness held me in place firmly and protected me while the car rolled down the mountain side so I guess it really did help me!

There were really only two things that didn’t ejected from the car during it’s tumble and both of them were seat belted in. It led to a pretty scary couple days but both my human and I are mostly unhurt and I even got to still spend Christmas with the ones I love!

So listen up! I was always pretty skeptical about these car harness things. They are so very annoying but without mine I probably wouldn’t be here giving you this lesson so get your fur-less human bottom out to the store and buy a one for your beloved pooch because you never know when something is going to go wrong!

The (Death) Back-Up Plan

Humans talk about a lot of things, sometimes rambling on for hours and hours about nonsense. One thing they don’t seem to talk about much is death. While this isn’t a fun topic to discuss, sometimes it’s necessary. When humans do talk about death it is usually because someone has died or they are putting a will together. Most are making sure that their house and bank account is properly taken care of when they die. You know what humans rarely (if ever) talk about, what will happen if they die before their dog(s)? What if you die in an accident or are permanently disabled? As awful as it is to think about, humans need to make plans for their dogs (or cat or lizard or any pet) in case something terrible like this happens. Your dog(s) won’t have a voice in this situation so you need to stand up for them now and make sure they are properly taken care of, regardless if a short-term or long-term situation arises. Dogs matter too!

Questions to ask yourself

Do family and friends know that you have dogs at home that need care? What if you end up in the hospital unconscious for a couple of days, will someone know to go care for your dog(s)?

Is there a family or friend available to adopt your dog(s) when you are gone? You don’t want your treasured family member to find its way into a shelter because there is no one willing and able to take them should you pass before they do.

If you have multiple dogs, can one person take them all? If not, what ones can be separated? Can they be separated at all? You want this transition to be the easiest for your dogs. No one will know their needs more than you do right now, so you need to have a specific plan in place for their care in case you aren’t around to decide it.

Do you have an informational card at home that explains the needs of your dogs? What food they eat, their medicines, special sleeping spots, potty break info, etc. These are all important things that a stranger won’t know about your dog. Every single detail of their daily life needs to be laid out for an emergency situation.

Is there money available to care for your dog(s) if you are gone? It’s possible for you to leave a certain portion of your money for the care of your dog. Care isn’t cheap and you are asking someone, who may or may not have their own animals, to now take on the care of your dog(s). Having money available for their care makes things a lot easier.

What should you do?

Create an Information Sheet

This is the very first thing to do because it can be used in any type of crisis situation.

Your info sheet should contain the following information:

• Name of vet, location, contact information
• Vaccination information (when they are due)
• Health issues (do they need regular vet care, are they currently getting care?)
• Type of food eaten (dry vs. canned) and include exact amounts (is there any food they CANNOT eat?)
• Feeding location (do all dogs eat together or separately?)
• Feeding times (some dogs eat once a day, some two. Some at 7am, some at 9am)
• Medications (type taken, how much and when. Also include what condition medicine is for. Include heartworm and flea preventatives)
• Water locations and use (where bowls are located and how frequently do they need to be refilled)
• Favorite toys
• Sleep locations (does your dog sleep in a crate, in the bed or on the floor?)
• Daily routine (do they eat, then go potty, then play, then sleep? Do they normally go to daycare? Give a timeline)
• Potty Breaks (does your dog potty as soon as they wake up, after eating? How often do they need to go out or take a poop break?)
• Where do dogs go when left alone (is your dog usually crated, do they wander the house, confined to a particular room?)
• Treats (include regularly fed ones, acceptable ones and ones that are off limits)
• Grooming (how does your dog get bathed? Do they need regular grooming? Who trims their nails?)
• Supply location (where do you buy food, treats, toys, medicines, etc.?)

Don’t forget to update this document anytime your dog changes food or medicine or has a new health issue! Have a copy on the computer for easy updating. Put the updated info sheet on the refrigerator, bulletin board or in clear view for easy reference.

PS: You should also have an emergency ID card in your wallet that states you have animals. This card should list an emergency contact that can be notified in case you are unable to care for your dog(s).

Put Together Action Plans

Come up with a plan for each situation that could arise. Does your dog need long-term or short-term care? What if you go into a care facility, do they accept dogs? Write up a detailed action plan for each situation you could be faced with.

Make sure that your friends and family know about these plans and where to find them in an emergency. You can even give copies out to people that would be assisting with your dogs’ care.

Talk with Friends and Family

Do you already have someone in mind that can take care of your dogs in an emergency situation? Will they care for your dogs at your home or theirs? You need to start asking around now to find a permanent caretaker in case of emergency. Someone you trust, who will love your dog(s) as much as you and take the best care of them possible.

The best situation for all involved is if your dog’s new parent(s) is already aware of their potential responsibilities. It isn’t a good idea to pass your dog onto to a person they have never met before. Your dog(s) will already be going through a traumatic experience by losing you; can you imagine also being forced to live with a stranger? While it might not always be possible for your dog(s) to be cared for by your closest friend or family member, at least try to find someone that your dog is a bit acquainted with.

Make sure the person you select is aware of what their responsibilities will be, financially and time wise. Let them know what your wishes are and that you have action plans available for different emergency situations. Discuss in detail how you want the transition to take place.

Have a will

Humans leave money and belongings to their biological children in a will, but they can also do the same for their 4-legged children! While it’s important to have conversations with the people who will be your dogs’ new parents, it’s also important to have all the finer details in a certified document, especially if you are leaving money for your dogs’ care.

If you are putting a will together for the first time, talk to you attorney about what information can be added to include your dog’s care. If you already have a will, think about getting information regarding your dog(s) added. I’m sure it can be done for a small fee… isn’t your dog(s) worth it?

Conclusion

It’s never too early to have a plan in place; it can only be too late. Sometimes humans are unable to predict their life path, but they can do the best by their dog(s) by having a plan in place for emergencies. Don’t wait, put a plan together today!

Swim Safety

Summer is here and what better way to cool off then jumping into a nice, relaxing body of water. Ahhhh, refreshing! Well….for some, but not all!

Just like humans many dogs enjoy a pool, lake or ocean during the summer, however not all dogs enjoy being in the water, nor do all dogs know how to swim! I sure don’t like swimming; in fact I can’t stand it! I don’t like baths either and I’m not too keen on drinking water. I pretty much like to steer clear of all water as much as possible!

 Swimming Pool Safety for dog

Even though I don’t understand the joys of swimming I do know that it’s very important to practice water safety with your dog. Here are a few things to always remember when it comes to dogs and swimming.

Does your dog like water?

Make sure your dog actually wants to swim. Are they afraid when you take them near water? (I am!) Do they get upset when you put them in water and immediately want to get out? (I do!) This probably means that your dog doesn’t want to swim or at least is unsure if they want to. Let your dog decide; don’t force them to become a swimmer.

Do you have a dog that gets in the water without being asked? Or one that loves to play fetch in the water? Sounds like you have a water loving dog on your hands!

Can your dog swim?

People assume that all dogs can swim. This isn’t true! Can all humans swim? No! It’s important to find out if your dog can swim before you just send them into the closest body of water.

The best way to test if your dog can swim is in a pool so you don’t have to deal with waves or critters that can be scary or distracting to a dog. Wade into the shallow end while holding your dog (for those with larger dogs, do the best you can). Hold your dog in the water to see what they do. Many dogs will start paddling their feet before they even reach the water, some might just tense up. Slowly lower your dog into the water and see if they start paddling. If so, let go of them slightly and help them swim around. If your dog starts to sink, or their head goes underwater it probably means they don’t know how to swim or they don’t understand what they are supposed to do.

It may take some time and a few lessons before your dog picks up on what they are supposed to do. Let them move at their own pace and don’t force them to swim if they don’t want to.

PS: If you find out that your dog can’t swim (or just doesn’t like it), it doesn’t mean there isn’t another way for them to cool off in the summer heat. Buy a kiddie pool, fill it with a small amount of water and see how your dog does with that. This will be a lot less scary for them and it won’t require any swimming.

Teach proper technique

Just because your dog goes in the water doesn’t mean they will be perfect swimmers (perfection takes time, even for a dog!). Dogs need to be taught the right and wrong way to swim. Does your dog understand that they are supposed to paddle with their front and back paws? Many dogs will only paddle with the front which will cause lots of splashing and not much progress. Your dog might need a little help learning how the front and back work together to keep them moving through the water.

Next, your new swimmer needs to know where their exit is. Obviously, a lake or ocean won’t be as big a problem. If your dog is swimming in a lake or ocean, make sure they know to swim back to you and not to keep going towards the horizon.

Exiting a pool can be a big problem. Your dog’s first instinct is to go to the closest location to exit. This means that most will go straight to the pools wall and try to climb over the edge. Most dogs are unable to lift themselves over the edge so they need to know where the steps are. Once your dog gets the hang of swimming on their own, start guiding them to the steps so they know the right and easy way to exit. Just like with other training, praising and rewarding a dog when they exit via the steps will help them learn what they are supposed to do (just another excuse for a yummy treat!).

If you have a dog that is a swimming pro that doesn’t mean your job is done. It’s important to make sure that your dog knows water manners. You don’t want a dog that jumps into any body of water they see. You also don’t want a dog that could hurt an adult or child who is swimming around them. As the owner, you need to make sure your dog uses proper manners while swimming and that he/she listens to your commands during this time.

Where can your dog swim?

There are many bodies of water available for your dog’s enjoyment but each comes with its own set of risks.

Pool: While you don’t have to worry about critters in a pool, you do have to worry about your dog’s skin. Chlorine can irritate skin and ears. It’s important to make sure that you give them a bath or rinse them with water after pool fun.

In addition, you have to watch your dog around the edges of pools. They could get very excited and slip and fall, causing injury or they could injure themselves on the hard, rough edges while playing in the pool.

Ocean: Critter alert! Even though your dog shouldn’t be going that far into the ocean there is still a risk of jellyfish and sometimes sharks if your dog swims in the ocean. Don’t forget about the risk of rip currents! Just like humans, a dog can easily get caught in the tide and get sucked under. Most beaches that allow dogs are calm, but it’s best to keep a very close eye or go in the water with your dog.

There is also a possibility that in all the excitement your dog could swallow large amounts of salt water. This could easily upset your dog’s stomach and cause them to throw up or have diarrhea. Make sure that lots of fresh water is available during ocean swim time so your dog isn’t tempted to consume more salt water than necessary.

Lake: You will find that many dog parks have lakes for dogs to play/cool off in. While this can be a very fun place, it also comes with risks. Many lakes contain alligators (at least in the South!) and snakes. Also, lakes can have many different forms of bacteria that can make your dog sick. Even though parks are required to post a warning about a bacteria outbreak, you never know how your dog will be affected. One dog might have no issues, while another could become very sick.

Sun!!

Heat from the sun is much more intense when around water. Be sure to use sunscreen, keep your dog hydrated and protect their paws from hot sand/concrete. You don’t want fun playtime to turn painful afterwards.

What should I do with my dog after a swim?

I could go on and on about all the things in a pool/lake/ocean that can make a dog itchy, stinky or just plain gross. Eww…don’t get me started! It’s best to bath or at least rinse off your dog after swimming to get all the yuckies off.

Life preserver?

Aren’t these only for boats? No! Life preservers have many uses when it comes to dogs. Swim time can be so fun for dogs that they don’t know when they have gotten too tired to properly swim. If you have a dog like this you might want to get them a life preserver so you don’t have to worry about a near drowning.

Also, life preservers come in really bright colors so they are really great for keeping track of your dog when swimming in lakes/oceans and around lots of other dogs.

Lastly, life preservers are great for worrisome parents. They are just an added safety measure to make sure your furry family member stays safe while in the water.

Supervision is a must!

Never let your dog swim without supervision. Some dogs won’t go swimming unless their owners do or unless they are told. However, there are many dogs that will jump in a body of water as soon as they see it. It’s very important that your dog have constant supervision when swimming. This will allow you to monitor how tired they are getting, watch out for any hazards and overall keep them safe.

Just because your dog is swimming doesn’t mean they can’t get over heated or overly tired. It’s important to make sure that they are getting proper water and rest when enjoying swim time. Dogs will play until they drop; it’s your job to make sure this doesn’t happen.

Conclusion

Now that you know all there is about swim safety why don’t you head on out and take a couple laps with your dog!