The Misunderstood Muzzle

The Misunderstood Muzzle

Muzzles are some of the most misunderstood, but most important, tools in dog training. It is a way to keep your dog and others around her safe while providing opportunities for training. A muzzled dog is not a bad dog, and may not even be a dog that bites.  However it is a dog whose people are being proactive and safe. Why Use a Muzzle? Muzzles are useful for many different reasons, including: Situations that you just want to be extra-safe. For example, someone who has a very friendly dog who has not been around many children, may choose to use a muzzle just to be safe when introducing the dog to a new child. That way, they can focus on maximizing their dog’s comfort without worrying about an accident Increasing safety during a training or social situation for a dog that has a history of  being aggressive or reactive. See below for more details on this. Preventing people from approaching a dog that needs space. Many of our clients with very cute but shy dogs are thrilled that they don’t need to keep telling people to give their dogs room to feel comfortable. The muzzle does that for them. Using in emergency situations, such as when the dog has had an accident or injury.   Many dogs will bite when in pain and scared, when they wouldn’t bite otherwise. As a recent personal example, I took my dog Jazz to a new veterinary clinic (yes, I am a veterinarian but like many other veterinarians I prefer to have another doctor also evaluate my pets for their wellness visits or...
Pet Prep – Part 2 – Prepping to Be Away

Pet Prep – Part 2 – Prepping to Be Away

After reading even more about the potential dangers of a major earthquake in the Pacific Northwest and Portland in particular, I have decided that I would like to find ways to teach people how to help their pets in a disaster. I want to share with you some of the things that I have learned from my own research and from the NET (Neighborhood Emergency Team) classes I took. In this article, I will be talking about how to plan for the possibility that you won’t be there to help your pet after a disaster. What will they do? How will they survive? Read on to see what my plans are for my pet. When the disaster strikes… Where will you be? If you are like me, you spend a good portion of your time in places other than your home. I worked it out and, on average, I am only in (or within a half-mile) of my home for about 58% of my life. This takes into account the time I spend at work, shopping, doing errands and having fun elsewhere. That means that there is a 42% chance that I won’t be anywhere near home when a disaster strikes. Here are things that I think about… I am frequently on the wrong side of the river from my home and most of the bridges in our area (Portland) are likely to fall down in the Cascadia Subduction earthquake. Most roads will also very likely be destroyed (either by the earthquake itself, ground liquefaction or possibly through destroyed water lines. Passage from one place to another in town...
Pet Prep – Part 1 – Shelter and Sustenance

Pet Prep – Part 1 – Shelter and Sustenance

Since hearing about the potential dangers of a major earthquake in the Pacific Northwest and Portland in particular, I have decided that I would like to find ways to teach people how to help their pets in a disaster. I want to share with you some of the things that I am learning from my own research and from the NET (Neighborhood Emergency Team) classes I am taking. This is the first of several articles I will be writing to help people learn more about disaster preparedness for their pets. It only touches the tip of the iceberg and should not be considered to be comprehensive. I invite you to also participate in helping others prepare their pets by sharing your own ideas and experiences by commenting below. Emergency shelters As many of you may be aware, hurricane Katrina illustrated the low position that pets held in the hierarchy of importance during a disaster to disaster recovery agencies. While there is now developing awareness in relief agencies such as FEMA of the deep bond that many of us have with our pets, there is still little consideration taken on a local level for their sheltering and care needs in a disaster. The PETS Act was passed to help change this, but implementation has been slow to develop on the local level. The current plan in Portland is for some animal shelters and veterinary hospitals to help with the care and sheltering of animals after a disaster in Portland. However, unless you happen to be lucky to be near enough to get to one of them, it may be very...

Happy Howl-o-Ween! Halloween Pet Safety

When I was young, Halloween was one of my favorite celebrations. Not so much because of the candy (although it was definitely a bonus) but because of the chance to be someone (or something) completely different from my usual everyday self.  It’s a great time to play with costume make-up, wear funky clothing, and put on things that rattle and clink. Try to imagine this from your dog or cat’s perspective though. All of a sudden their family members all look, sound, and smell different! So do all the visitors coming to the door!  You can imagine that Halloween, while fun for us humans, may be somewhat stressful for our pets. Some things that can make your dog or cat stressed out on Halloween: Lots of kids.  Kids can be stress-provoking for many pets because they may not have had a lot of experience with kids.  Also, children move fast and often in unpredictable ways, which can make dogs and cats scared of being around them. Lots of costumes. Even if your pets are comfortable with children, they may be very concerned about the different ghouls and goblins coming to the door.  If your pets are not highly socialized and comfortable with people in costumes, this will make them afraid. Lots of people coming to the door.  If your dog is like many others, the doorbell is a signal for great excitement. Now imagine that excitement repeated 20 or 30 (or more!) times in one night!  Other pets see the doorbell as a signal for great anxiety.  It’s important to remember that this much excitement or anxiety can lead...