Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Four Helpful Tips For a Safe Howl-O-Ween

Halloween is a fun time of year for both adults and children…costumes, decorations, creepy music, and trick or treating! Unfortunately, this holiday can also spell trouble for your pets if you’re not careful to protect them. Here’s how:

1)      Making your own costume or decorating for a party? Place all those craft supplies in a safe spot so your pet doesn’t play with, ingest or choke on them. Also keep an eye on your pet’s reaction to any costumes. If he can’t handle it at home, he definitely won’t be able to enjoy a night of trick or treating.

2)      If you go trick or treating, stay with your pet at all times or leave him at home. We all know Halloween is a night of mischief, which unfortunately can mean that pets get teased or injured. Black cats are especially prone to poor treatment. If you bring your dog trick or treating, make sure he is well-fed, well-socialized, and on-leash at all times. Cats are best kept indoors.

3)      If you are handing out candy at your house, keep pets away from young children who come to the door. If your pet shows any signs of fear or aggression due to all the stimulation of costumes, strangers and unusual activity in his home, take him to a quiet, safe place for some alone time.

4)      After you’ve collected your goodies, keep it out of reach. Chocolate and artificial sweeteners found in many candies, as well as wrappers, can be poisonous to pets. Instead, offer your pet a store-bought dog or cat treat so he doesn’t feel left out!

     Whether your pet is gung-ho to enjoy all the Halloween festivities or drawn to solitude, you can make it a safe and enjoyable evening by following these simple suggestions.

      Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The (Canine) Social Network

Recent films like The Social Network prove that socialization is just as important for us as it is for our dogs. We believe that you can put your dog to work for you by incorporating him into your social life (and he's bound to love it)! Here's how:

How do you socialize?
First, ask yourself what your personality is. Are you high-energy and outgoing or more shy and relaxed? Do you need a goal or just like enjoying yourself? Think specifically about how you like to socialize with others...in large groups or one-on-one? In the evenings or on weekends? On a regular schedule or sporadically?

How does your dog socialize?
Next, think about your dog's personality. Is your dog well-trained and socialized? If not, you may want to address this first. What does your dog absolutely love to do?  Consider his age, temperament, and mobility. Does your dog socialize better at certain times of day? How long is he happy to be around other dogs and people? Does he like dogs of certain ages, sizes or breeds better than others?

Pick and Choose
Now it's time to make a list of activities that suit both you and your dog. Here are a few suggestions by type of dog and personality:

Young, high-energy dogs would do best with activities that really tire them out. A great option for puppies is a "puppy" party, which will allow your puppy to meet and socialize with other puppies/people in a fun, positive way. Or to keep it simple, search for a local dog group and play a regular game of fetch or Frisbee with other dog-owner pairs. 

Middle-aged, relaxed dogs are typically well-behaved in crowds, so consider taking yours with you to doggie meetups, group training classes, 'dogtail' parties, costume contests or outdoor pet-themed festivals. 

Agility is a great solution for dogs who are old enough to focus and young enough to be athletic. This sport is a great way to make both you and your dog feel accomplished while spending valuable time together. Another option is to find a running partner with an equally energetic dog.

Just because your dog is getting older doesn't necessarily mean he is tired! Many older dogs love a good romp in the yard. Find another owner with an older dog and arrange trips to local swimming spots, or set up play dates during which you and other dog owners can relax knowing their dog is being entertained. 

Dogs with lower energy or limited mobility can lead quite fulfilling lives in today's world. A trip to the park to see a friend (and your dog's canine friend) can be a stress-relieving social way to begin or end your day. You might also consider taking a less mobile dog to a family get-together for some unconditional love or to calmly pal around with a similar playmate. 

Talk to your friends and coworkers, search the Internet, and always keep an eye out for pet-themed events. (Morris K9 Campus is hosting a movie night and a holiday photo shoot  for dogs and their families in November!) Activities and events catering specifically to dogs are becoming increasingly common, so go forth and socialize with your dog!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Retrieving Your Roaming Rover

At Morris K9 Campus, we know how important your dog is to you…so the day you lose your dog is probably one of the worst days of your life. Rather than panic, we have some tips you can take to effectively find your dog. A quick response coupled with neighborhood networking will increase the odds of getting your furry friend back pronto. The goal is to distribute information about the situation to as many people and places as you can, so enlist the help of friends and family in the search effort.

IDs, Please!
It is essential for dogs to wear a collar and ID tag with your name and a current phone number on it. Although microchips can be very useful in locating a lost dog, they are only as good as the information provided to the chip’s company. Make sure to renew the microchip service and update your contact information regularly. 

Follow the Trail
As soon as you notice that your dog is missing, ask family members and neighbors when they last saw your dog. For smaller dogs, search under beds, in closets, dark places, small places, behind bulky furniture. You might also find it successful to shake a food dish, treat jar or favorite toy to lure your dog out of a hiding place.

If you’ve determined that your dog is not in or near your home, take a slow ride or walk around the neighborhood and bring along a recent photo to show neighbors. Check under porches and shrubs, and ask neighbors to check in sheds and garages just in case your dog was accidentally locked in.

Man the Phones
First call animal control agencies, shelters and rescue groups in your area. Then check in with shelters daily. If there aren’t any shelters nearby, contact the police.

One of the oldest tricks in the book is to create a “lost dog” flyer. Stick with one image or design, so that a consistent message will stick in people’s minds. Large, bold headlines work best. A photo of your dog is essential, and make sure the image copies well. Include your dog’s breed, sex, color, age, weight, distinguishing features, and where and when he was last seen. It’s important to describe your dog accurately. Finally, place your name and multiple phone numbers for both yourself and a friend or family member to be contacted if your dog is found.

                               Some of the best places to post a lost dog flyer are:
        • Dog parks
        • Pet supply stores and groomers
        • Vet offices
        • Grocery and convenience stores
        • Gas stations and  laundromats
        • Bars, cafes and restaurants
        • Lamp posts and trees
        • Around schools

Be sure to attach flyers securely in outdoor areas and reinforce paper with lamination or another material, and be sure to ask permission before posting your flyers on private property.

The internet is yet another great resource to get the word out. Send emails describing your lost dog to friends, colleagues and family members in the area, and ask them to pass on the info. You can also post messages to animal forums and message boards; lots of parks and dog runs have online communities.

Keep At It
Don’t give up on your dog if you don’t get any immediate leads. Your hard work will likely pay off, and many lost dogs have found their way back home. 

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

How To: Meet Your Match

Todd Cramer

Adopting a pet can be a complex thing for all types of households. This week, we chatted with Todd Cramer, Executive Director of Noah's Ark Animal Welfare Association, Inc. in Ledgewood, about what everyone should know about the pet adoption process and how to ensure that it is rewarding for you. 

MK9 Campus: What factors should people consider when choosing to adopt?

Cramer: Adopting a new pet is an exciting event in our lives. To ensure you select a pet that will fit your lifestyle for years to come, folks should ask themselves how they see a pet fitting into their home. Consider size of the pet, activity level of the family and the pet, time away from home each day, food and veterinary costs. Ask yourself what qualities you would like your pet to have. For example, do you want a dog who wants to play a lot or a dog that doesn't want to play much, if at all? Would you appreciate an independent cat that desires little attention or a social butterfly that will want to be where you are every second of the day?

MK9 Campus: How does the adoption process work?

Cramer: Folks looking to adopt from any organization should expect to be screened so that the organization can feel good about the adoption. It is our job to place the pets in our care in a responsible fashion. At Noah's Ark Animal Welfare Association, Inc. we screen conversationally and in a manner that asks the adopter to tell us how they see a pet fitting into their home; rather than us telling the adopter what is best for them. We then work to make the best match. Come in to Noah's, complete a quick survey and we will chat with you a bit and help you select the pet that is right for you.

MK9 Campus: What types of pets should people expect to find at animal shelters? Where do they come from?

Cramer: It is a myth that shelter animals are "broken" so folks should expect to find all sorts of healthy and happy pets in all shapes, ages and sizes. Although many are purrrfect just the way they are, you will find some pets that need extra special TLC or a commitment to training. Some pets still need to learn their manners and others, such as dogs raised in puppy mills, need time to learn how to be social and live outside a kennel. Pets come to live in a shelter from a few sources. Some are surrendered by guardians who are victims of varying life circumstances and just cannot care for the pet anymore, others are strays saved from the streets by caring animal control officers and others are transferred to our area from shelters in other areas of the country that have more animals than they can place in their communities.

MK9 Campus: Are there specific health or behavioral issues potential adopters should watch out for when adopting?

Cramer: Because we often don't know the pets' histories when they arrive, and we will only be aware of health issues that exhibit signs and symptoms, it is impossible to guarantee a completely healthy pet. Since living at an animal shelter is not the same as living in a home, behavior in a home cannot be guaranteed. However, all shelters and rescue groups should be providing regular veterinary care, including vaccinations and exams and should be performing a behavioral evaluation on every dog before placing it for adoption. Vaccinations will help prevent diseases that are common to dogs and cats, and the behavioral evaluation will generally tell us how a dog will respond to handling and other dogs, and if he or she is protective of toys and food (we call this resource guarding). Diseases which can be common but are not life threatening when treated (and not contagious to humans) are Bordatella (canine cough) in dogs and U.R.I (Upper Respiratory Infection). With good
cleaning and disinfection of the shelter, animals will be protected from these diseases.

MK9 Campus: How are adoption prices determined? Where does the money go?

Cramer: Cost of care per animal, including vaccinations, microchips and spay or neuter surgery are factors that are considered as well as what the public is willing to pay. The adoption fees and other fees for services rendered rarely cover the total cost of care - hence the need for fundraising. Folks should also consider that if they were to obtain a pet from another source and have the vaccines, surgery and microchip done at their local veterinarian, it would  cost them more than the fee they pay at a shelter. 

MK9 Campus: What resources or support do animal shelters provide after adoption has occurred?

Cramer: This will vary by organization. Most will be able to guide you if you have behavior or training issues, such as a cat that won't use the litter box. At Noah's, if we cannot assist directly we will connect the adopter with the appropriate support. Shelters often times offer support to folks who already have a pet and need assistance. At Noah's we can assist you with any needs related to your current pets as well.

MK9 Campus: What should a person do if he or she determines that the pet they have adopted is not a good match for them?

Cramer: When a person determines that a pet they have adopted is not a good match for them, they should follow the stipulations of the agreement they signed at the time of adoption. Many groups ask that adopters return the pet to their organization. At Noah's, we ask the adopter to call us with concerns so we can assist before the adopter determines the pet is not a good match. Once the decision is made to rehome the pet, it can be a good idea to try and rehome the pet on your own before returning the pet to the shelter system. Rehoming directly from the adopter's home to a new home is less stressful for the pet and leaves space available in the shelter to assist other animals. All potential adopters should be screened to be sure that their home will be a good match for the pet. We can provide coaching to anyone looking to rehome their pet.

MK9 Campus: In what ways can people help their local shelters?

Cramer: The local shelters and rescue groups need the community support. Donating needed items, volunteering time and spreading the word about the great work that is being done is always helpful. Of course, we still have to pay for the animal care and other expenses, such as heat and water costs, so a monetary donation is always appreciated. Most shelters and rescues are private organizations and receive no government assistance.

Thank you so much to Todd Cramer for this wonderful information! Please visit Noah's Ark at 1915 Route 46 West or its website to see the many wonderful cats and dogs available for adoption right now.