By Linda Cole
For the past few months, I’ve been checking my dog pen before letting the dogs outside because an opossum has been visiting us nearly every night. I missed seeing it once, and my dog grabbed it and shook it. As soon as the marsupial sensed danger, it played dead. The tactic befuddled my dog and he promptly dropped it. My concern is for both my dogs and the opossum. I don’t want either one to get hurt, and it’s a bit uncomfortable pulling dogs away from a wild critter not knowing for sure how either one might react. Because encountering wildlife can present a problem for dogs, it’s always a good idea to know what to do in various situations.
Possums are docile animals that don’t normally pose a threat to dogs or cats. However, they can attack when provoked, sick or protecting their young. When attacked and there’s no way to escape, a possum “plays dead” and won’t move for any reason. You can’t prod him along no matter what you do. The best thing you can do is leave him alone. When he feels the danger has passed, he wiggles his ears to listen before raising his head to check around to make sure it’s safe to move along. This can take a couple of minutes, up to an hour or so.
By Laurie Darroch
Eventually most dogs adjust to being left home alone, but puppies and even grown dogs can feel insecure, disconnected from their human family pack members, or even be very nervous and agitated when left behind with no company. You can’t explain to a dog that you will be returning. They have to learn this over time and trust you enough to know it is true and part of the routine. You can, however, make the experience of being home alone more comfortable and less traumatizing for your dog.
A silent empty house can make humans feel alone and frightened. That can happen to dogs too. Home should feel warm, familiar and comforting to a dog. A frightened dog can be nervous and even destructive in their fear. To help your dog feel more at ease while home alone, try some of these tricks that make the house feel less empty and provide security and entertainment for him.
Boredom can make a dog look for something to do, and their choices may cause damage to your home and to them if they have no alternatives. Puppies in particular are prone to chewing whatever is appealing to them. Chew toys provide an outlet for the boredom and for the instinct to chew. Pick chew toys that are sturdy enough to withstand the chewing strength of your particular dog.
Leave the radio on to provide verbal or musical company for your dog. Pick a radio station that is soothing for the dog. Their ears are more sensitive than ours. Set the volume at a reasonable level to make your home feel less empty but not so loud that the dog can’t relax. A talk radio station may do the trick. An added bonus is the noise inside an empty house will help keep intruders away.
By Laurie Darroch
Like any baby, puppies are curious about the new world around them. They are very oral and want to test everything out that seems like it might be tasty. Chewing also feels good to a puppy and keeps them entertained. You can prevent some of the negative issues by starting off right and puppy proofing your home.
Puppies are drawn to everything that isn’t nailed down, and even to some things that are immovable, like edges of furniture for example. They learn what is edible (or not) by the process of elimination and by you training them. Not all dogs are as oral or prone to getting into trouble as others, but it is better to avoid the issues by removing or adjusting items that might tempt them. Puppies do outgrow the extreme oral stage eventually.
Besides the possible damage they can cause in your home, a puppy can also get hurt ingesting poisonous or dangerous things. They don’t know what is safe and what isn’t. They can chew everything apart with their razor sharp little teeth. The last thing you want is an emergency vet trip for illness, choking or injury caused by something that could have been prevented.
Look around each room to determine what needs to be moved, removed or protected. To really get an idea of what a dog sees, get down on your hands and knees in each room. From a human standing position, you may not see things that are in their visual field. It is sometimes surprising to view the world from the puppy point of view. Remember, they can also easily see under things and behind objects that we can’t. They get under and into everything.
Remove any plants that are poisonous for a dog. Even if a particular house plant is considered pet safe, a puppy might be tempted to go after it if it’s at floor level, because it moves with drafts, has dirt and looks enticing.
By Suzanne Alicie
We love hearing from our readers. Mary M. recently gave us a great topic to address to help you keep your dog safe when walking in low-light situations, such as evenings and early mornings. As you know by reading some of our other Responsible Pet Ownership posts, we’re all about finding ways to help you keep your pets safe, healthy and happy.
Do you walk your dog early in the morning as the sun is coming up or late in the evening when dusk makes dangerous shadows? Believe it or not, wearing reflective clothing yourself is not enough to protect your dog. Driving at this time of morning or evening is dangerous, and no matter how careful a driver may be there is always a chance of them not seeing your dog. Yes, I know that the side of the road is supposed to be a safe area for walking your dog, but accidents happen. People look away from the road and veer off the side, or shadows can make it difficult to discern where the edge of the road is, not to mention making it hard to see a person or dog in the gloom.
Besides having some sort of reflective clothing on yourself, you should also make sure your dog has a reflective safety vest, reflective leash and collar. Glow in the dark items are also helpful in the event that headlights don’t hit you. Making you and your dog visible even in very low light is important for keeping you both safe. There is no such thing as too much reflective safety gear when it comes to keeping your dog safe.