National Train Your Dog Month

The new year is just around the corner. It’s a time we all vow to break bad habits and get healthier. It can also be a time for your dog to break a few bad habits, himself! January is National Train Your Dog Month, a month to bring awareness to the importance of socialization and training, and most of all, to inform the public that training your dog can be easy and fun!

Too many dogs are turned into shelters each year because of behavioral issues. Most of these issues can be avoided with proper training and socialization. There are many options available to help with the process. Check with local pet stores for puppy classes and socialization groups. A properly socialized puppy is crucial to healthy psychological development as he grows into an adult. There are also many private training facilities that offer group classes as well as private classes to provide some one-on-one attention to deal with specific behavioral concerns.

Training your dog has limitless benefits for both you and your dog! Training is a great activity to do together and allows you to form a better bond with your pet. A well behaved dog is able to interact more in family activities and join in the fun when company comes over. The basics of training focus on simple behaviors. Once these dogs learn the basics you can move on to trick training.

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Winter Activities for Dogs

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Winter is upon us and so are the holidays. It’s the time of year we all put on a few extra pounds…even our dogs!

Allentown Animal Clinic has some winter activities you can do with your dog and keep the extra weight at bay for both you and your dog!

Let it Snow!

Most dogs will enjoy playing in the snow at least for short periods of time. A game of fetch with a bright colored toy or a snowball fight with the kids is a great way to get some exercise and beat the winter doldrums. If your pet has short hair put a jacket on him to protect his skin. Once playtime is over and it’s time to go in remember to check your pet’s feet for any snow and ice that can become wedged between their pads. The ASPCA warns that more pets are lost during the winter months than any other season so be sure your dog has on a collar and ID tags when he’s outside playing.

Baby, It’s Cold Outside!

If the weather outside is frightful…or if your dog just doesn’t care for the snow, play some games indoors. Hide some low cal treats and let your dog play a game of hide and seek with them. Your dog may even enjoy learning a new trick! Use the long, cold winter season to brush up on training or teach a new trick!

Jingle Bell Rock!

Many local groups offer dog dancing and agility classes! These are great ways to train and socialize a pup during the winter season. Look into shelters and dog groups that offer novice classes and turn your dog into an athlete over the winter.

Reindeer Games

Have friends with dogs too? Schedule a play date! Get your friends and their pooches together for a winter gathering. Make special puppy safe treats for the canine guests and some real cupcakes for yours. If you don’t have space for extra dogs, consider a spa day at a local grooming salon.

Spread some Christmas Cheer

Volunteering with your pet is a great way to spend the long, winter days. You and your pet will enjoy getting out of the house a bit, and senior at a local nursing home would benefit from some wet, puppy kisses! Contact local nursing homes or hospitals to find out about ways you and your pet can volunteer some holiday cheer!

Cold Weather Tips to Keep Pets Safe

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Brrrr! It’s getting cold out there! Allentown Animal Clinic has some tips to keep your pets safe and warm this winter!

ImageKeep the Cat In: Cats that are allowed to roam will often seek warmth and shelter under the hood of parked cars, causing injury and even death when the car is started. Also, by allowing the cat to stray puts him at risk of injury and illness from other animals, toxic chemicals, and freezing temperatures.

ImageKeep Fido on a Leash: The ice and snow can block a dogs scent making it difficult for him to find his way home if he were to stray away from home. According to the ASPCA more dogs are lost during winter than any other season!

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Give ’em a Paw: Always check your pets feet and belly when they come in from the sleet, snow and ice. Snow and ice that becomes encrusted on your pets feet can injure the foot and pads. Also, dangerously toxic chemicals can be ingested if your dog is licking at his feet or belly.

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Bundle Up!: If you have a long haired pet, keep it long in the winter. The extra fur helps to keep in warmth and protect your pets skin from winter’s harsh conditions. If you have a short haired pet, or a pet that is more sensitive to the cold, bundle him up! Consider a winter coat or sweater that protects him from the elements.

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Beware of sidewalks and spills: Sidewalk salts and chemicals such as antifreeze are lethal to your pets. Be sure to always check for spills and leaks and clean them up thoroughly. Consider using commercially available pet safe ice melts instead on your own property and encourage neighbors to do the same!

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A Warm Place to Sleep: Be sure to provide Fido and Fluffy a warm, cozy place free of drafts and off the floor during the cold, winter months. A fluffy blanket, oversized pillow, or a pet bed all make great options!

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Stay safe and warm this winter!

 

Pets as Presents Not a Good Idea

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Pets can bring untold amounts of joy and happiness…but a pet at Christmas time is a bad idea.

A puppy or kitten under the tree may be very exciting at first but the care and financial responsibility can be overwhelming during the hustle and bustle of the holidays. Just like any gift under the tree these cute and cuddly furballs get played with for a while and then get set aside when the novelty wears off. A pet given as a gift is hardly free for the recipient. They require food, veterinary care, training….it’s a 10-15 year committment of time, money, and energy that may exceed their abilities.

Things to Consider:

The Atmosphere on Christmas Morning

A puppy between the ages of 8-12 weeks is at a stage where it adjusts best to leaving it’s litter mates and bonding with its new family. However, during this time it is imperative to not cause undue stress. The hustle of a holiday can frighten a young puppy and prevent it from forming healthy bonds with it’s new family in the future.

Sending the Wrong Message

Giving a live animal as a gift can send children the message that this is just another “object” that can be hidden in the closet with the rest of the toys after they get bored with them. The most valuable lesson a pet can teach a child is respect for living beings and that pets are members of the family. This message can easily get lost when a child opens a box with a wriggling, cuddly pet as a gift.

Puppies Grow Up

That cute, fluffy puppy is going to become an adult dog that needs training. They don’t come knowing what to do. They need to be taught where to go potty, not to jump on people, not to chew furniture, etc. The Humane Society reports that most dogs that end up at the shelters are between 7-14 months because of “behavior problems”. They also state that most puppies and kittens born in the United States never reach their second birthday due to being hit by a car because they ran away from the owners, starvation, injury from another animal, or euthanasia. This is due to many owners not understanding the what it would take to properly train and care for a pet.

If you have already decided that you’d like to give a pet as a gift this holiday season, perhaps think about giving a certificate for a pet to be purchased later once the hustle and bustle calms down after the holidays. Package the certificate with books on pet selection, pet training, and healthcare. This is a great way to introduce the joy pet ownership can bring without the undue stress of a new pet during the holiday festivities.