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Home / Articles / Columnists / Dog World with Tina /  Dog–Savvy Suggestions
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Thursday, November 4,2021

Dog–Savvy Suggestions

By Tina Valant-Siebelts  
As the holidays approach, we may be traveling with our own canine companions, or perhaps visiting family/friends where a dog resides. There are certain things we can do (or avoid doing) to be a welcomed, dog-savvy guest. When you go to a home/business where there is a dog:

• I appreciate it when a visitor brings my dogs something. Ask in advance if their dog plays with toys or has any food allergies. Best to avoid anything with corn, wheat, soy or byproducts.

• Enter quickly. Do not pause or linger in the doorway. A dog (or cat) can use this as the opportunity to escape.

• Tempting as it may be, avoid feeding their dog from the table, they can have dietary restrictions or allergies. You’re creating a beggar. Avoid making high-pitched noises or baby talk to the dog. This is not something a leader or dogsavvy person would do.

• If the dog is jumping or standing on their back legs, do not reward that behavior with attention. Four on the floor. Wait until the pet is settled, quiet and calm, then acknowledge them. Tuck your thumb into your palm, and cover with your fingers. Present this, top of your hand under their nose to sniff you. Avoid petting OVER the head. Many dogs are hand-shy. It is better dog-body language to offer a gentle chin rub, or side scratch. These are behaviors taught in bite-prevention in schools, which most of us never learned as kids.

• Keep your handbag or item(s) you brought off the floor. Male dogs may want to mark this new item as theirs.

• This is a real pet peeve of mine. Whether someone is visiting me or at a friend’s with dogs, after you use the restroom, close the lid on the toilet. Chemicals used to clean toilets can be harmful or even fatal. Dogs are tempted to drink cool water from this porcelain punchbowl of human waste. Small dogs/ cats may jump and fall into the toilet. Bigger dogs can reach the water line, collect germs on their neck and chin, then grace us with “tidy bowl” kisses. NO THANK YOU. Lid down and wash your hands, please!

• Thinking of bringing your dog to a friend’s/family member’s? Ask permission. Do not assume everyone is a dog-lover (like us). If it is all right, introduce the dogs outside, on standard 4’-6’ leads (NOT retractable) on neutral territory.

Maybe go for a short walk. Unless your dog is 100% housetrained, keep them on lead or within eyesight at all times.

Make your dog’s daily life even more enjoyable:

• Stop doling out random treats. No work, no pay. Stimulate their minds and improve behaviors by asking for something, and then rewarding good behavior. Simply ask for them to come when called by their name (in a regular vocal tone), then sit, down or wait.

• Dogs (foxes, wolves and coyotes) forage in the wild. Before I leave my home, I hide small treats (jerky or dehydrated pellets) in a puzzle toy or around the house for them to hunt. This gives them something to do while I’m away and it is fun for them. Vary the hiding places. If your pooch is portly, subtract some kibble from their daily meal, to account for those additional calories.

• You know how you feel when there’s bad weather, and you’re stuck indoors for a couple days? Imprisoned, you want to get out, see new faces, talk to people and get some exercise. Unless elderly, unable to walk or ill, dogs need, deserve and crave daily walks. If you are physically unable, ask a friend, neighbor or hire a dog walker. A bare minimum of 20 measly minutes of your undivided attention, off your property, benefits your AND your dog’s physical, mental, emotional, and social well-being.

As we roll into the season of gratitude, may each of us find an abundance of blessings to be thankful for. You KNOW that dogs are always atop my list!


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