Tag Archives: safety

Hot Diggity Dog! Keep Fido Fire Safe

Just as you would protect children from dangers around the home, you have to be just as cautious with animals, especially new (and untrained) puppies. Fire sources present a real hazard to small, curious pups who want to explore new areas and are unaware of the risks associated with their nosiness.

So, in honor of Fire Safety Awareness Day, please take the following prevention measures to not only protect your home, but also protect your precious pooch.

1. Use Flameless Candles
The romantic mood of a lit candle can be achieved just the same with a battery-operated candle. And, that way, you don’t have to worry about open flames in the presence of unattended pets. The same goes for lanterns.

2. Beware The Stove
If your dog is tall enough to reach the stove top, you must either section the dog off in another room of the home, or remove the stove knobs before you leave the house. According to the National Fire Protection Association, stoves and cooktops are the leading cause of fires started by pets.

3. Ditch The Outdoor Glass Bowls
On a hot day, a fire can be started simply from the reflection of the sun’s rays igniting wood beneath a glass bowl. To avoid this happening, use stainless steel or ceramic dishes on a wooden deck, which focus light in a different way.

4. Secure Fireplace and BBQ
The fireplace and BBQ are two common, widely used fire sources especially during the winter and summer respectively, so make sure pets are far away from the open flames during use – either safely enclosed in another space, or constantly watched by a dedicated helper.

5. Double-Check Your Pet Proofing
Regardless of fire safety, loose electrical wires and appliances that pose a risk should always be secured and/or removed. Even piles of paper or other rubbish could pose a fire hazard if in the wrong environment.

6. Keep Collars On and Leashes Accessible
In the event of a fire or other emergency, you’ll want to be able to grab your dog in a hurry. A collar and easily reached leash are musts for transporting your dog to safety. And if your dog gets loose or a first responder has to bust into your home to retrieve your pet, these items are absolutely necessary.

7. Provide An Escape Route
If you keep your dog in a confined space, make sure to keep them in a room with an easily accessed entry door or train them to be stay in a crate with the door open, so firefighters can find them easily. Installing a doggy door is another safe exit with the added benefit of giving your dog independence to go in and out when he needs. Pets are most likely to perish or be seriously injured in a fire when they’re locked in a kennel or room.

8. Install Monitored Smoke Detectors
Especially if you live in a fire-prone area, you may want to consider installing smoke detectors that automatically alert the fire department if they go off. That way, even if you’re not home, firefighters will be notified to respond and go to your home.

9. Post Pet Stickers in Windows
An effective way to alert emergency responders that there are pets residing within the home are to post signs or stickers like these in visible windows, and make sure all of the information including how many pets are inside, is current. Free stickers should be available at local firehouses nationwide. This simple tip will save firefighters crucial time when searching your home and locating your pets.

Preparing for Hurricane Season with Your Dog

In the United States, June 1 is flagged as the official start of hurricane season. If you live on the Gulf or Atlantic coasts, you likely already know this, but knowing and preparing for the season are two very different things.

Unfortunately, many people wait for the first storm to hit before they begin to prepare their things, as well as their pets. Avoid scrambling at the last minute when supplies in your local stores could be low, or transportation might be difficult. By following these tips, you’ll be adequately prepared and ease some of your fears ahead of the storm.

1. Prepare a Pet Emergency Kit and store it in a safe place that can be easily accessed and carried with you. Your dog’s kit should include at a minimum:

  • Medications and medical records stored in a waterproof container
  • First Aid Kit
  • Leash/harness or carrier to transport your dog safely
  • Current photo of your dog in case he gets lost
  •  Non-perishable food and drinkable water (enough for 5-7 days)
  • Information on feeding schedule, medical conditions, behavioral problems in case you have to foster or board your dog
  •  Contact information for veterinarian
  • Toys or bed (if easily transportable)

2. Tag and microchip your dog, so he can be easily found if lost in an emergency situation. His collar with tag should include his name as well as your name, home address and contact information. With microchip placement, any local veterinarian or shelter should be able to scan your dog’s information, which will make him easier to recover.

3. Locate a Safe Place to Take Your Dog if you have to leave your home. For example, health and safety regulations do not permit Red Cross shelters to allow pets (with the exception of service dogs). Whether it’s a pet-friendly hotel, a relative or friend who is able to take your dog in, or a local boarding facility or animal rescue, plan to arrange a safe shelter option so you know where to bring your dog in a disaster situation.

4. Consider using a rescue sticker in order to alert emergency workers that there is a dog inside your home that needs attention. The sticker should be placed in a window or area that’s highly visible to rescue workers and that it includes the number and type of pets in your household, as well as your vet’s contact information. If you must evacuate your home with your dog, be sure to either remove the sticker or write EVACUATED on it before you leave.

5. Stick to your plan once you have one. Chaos erupts when panic ensues. And panic typically arises out of confusion. To avoid confusion, once there is a plan in place, follow it and stay focused on your course of action.

3 Ways to Tell You Picked the Right Pet Sitter

Choosing a pet sitter can be incredibly stressful. We all love our pets like family and want the very best for them! But how do you know if the sitter you’ve selected is the right one for your dog?

Our friends at DogVacay – the leading online service connecting pet owners with the best sitters across the U.S. and Canada – have given us some tips on how to find the perfect sitter for your pet.

Whether you’re a first-time boarder or just getting to know a new dog caretaker, here are three signs to look for that you’ve chosen the very best sitter for your dog.

1.Their reviews speak highly of their experience.

Thanks to sites like DogVacay, dog sitters can now be reviewed online like everything else! Dog lovers are a close-knit community, so knowing how other owners felt after their dog’s stay with a particular sitter can give you some serious peace of mind. Read the online reviews of your sitter carefully and look for things that make you feel reassured. Have past guests spoken highly of the host’s punctuality and attentiveness? Are there pictures of the host sitter with happy-looking pooches?

It’s also a great sign when the sitter you’ve chosen has a lot of return clients. It’s a huge sign of trust when a dog owner leaves their pet in someone’s care not once, but multiple times. Think of online reviews as referrals from friends and family…your dog friends and family!

2. They never make you feel like a burden.

A great dog sitter will understand your anxiety about leaving your dog with someone new. They’ll never push you to do anything you’re uncomfortable with and they’ll start your interactions by being polite and responsive, either online or over the phone. They won’t make you feel like a nuisance when you ask for a meet-and-greet (which is, by the way, always a good idea!) and they’ll be friendly and comfortable with your pet when you meet in person.

Once you leave your dog with a sitter, they should reassure you as much as necessary. A sitter who frequently sends pictures and updates is a thoughtful one! They understand that taking care of a dog parent’s anxiety is as important as taking care of the dog’s. Be sure to be very upfront with you dog sitter about how much communication you expect while your dog is in their care and if you want an update, don’t hesitate to ask!

3. Your dog doesn’t want to leave!

If you’ve left your dog with a new pet sitter, you’re probably excited to get home and pick him up! If your dog doesn’t immediately bound in your direction when you open the door, don’t be offended – that’s a great sign he’s comfortable where he is! Hopefully your dog will learn to feel calm, reassured, and at home in your dog sitter’s presence.

When you pick your dog up, a great pet sitter will show genuine signs of sadness that your pup’s stay is over! If they’ve formed a connection over the stay, you’ll probably be able to tell. The sitter shouldn’t hesitate to give you a report on how your dog did. If they bring up something troubling (your dog was anxious the whole first day or that he wouldn’t eat, for example), take that as a sign they’re willing to be open and honest with you in the dog’s best interest.

At the end of the day, knowing you’ve found a great pet sitter is more about gut feeling than anything else. If you feel comfortable with the person tasked with watching your dog, your dog will feel comfortable, too. They pick up on our emotions!

The easiest way to ensure you’re searching reputable, experienced pet sitters is to use a trusted online platform like DogVacay.com. With reviews from thousands of dog owners around the world, it’s impossible not to find a dog sitter you love!

Car Safety: The Right Way to Transport Your Puppy

Many puppy parents don’t think twice about shuttling their new furry baby around in a car. Most of the preparation for a new puppy surrounds training, purchasing the necessary “stuff” and puppy proofing your home. But, what most don’t realize is that there are strict laws around transporting your four-legged pal in a moving vehicle. Not to mention, dogs are in just as much danger (if not more due to their size and vulnerability) as humans when it comes to car safety. Here’s what you need to know:

1. Research your state laws
Read up on the legalities within your state immediately. For example, in Hawaii, you are not allowed to drive with a dog on your lap, no matter the dog’s size or breed. And at least 14 states have laws against leaving pets unattended in a vehicle. So, before you run into the grocery store for a quick shop while Fido waits in the car (even with the windows down), make sure you’re not breaking the law. If your pet causes an accident, it’s a violation under distracted driving laws.

2. Implement crash protection measures
Dogs should be secured during travel to prevent injury from not only impact, but also sharp turns or short stops. The Center for Pet Safety recommends the following products for securing your dog: Gunner Kennel G1 Intermediate with Strength Rated Anchor Straps, the Sleepypod Mobile Pet Bed with PPRS Handilock, the PetEgo Jet Set Forma Frame Carrier with ISOFIX-Latch Connection and the Sleepypod Clickit Utility.

Never allow your pet’s head to hang out of a car window. While the sight of a pup enjoying the breeze can be adorable, it’s not so cute if your dog suffers a traffic accident, road debris or worse. If your dog is on the smaller side and you use a pet carrier, it may seem counterintuitive, but do NOT buckle it to the seat unless the manufacturer manual clearly instructs you to do so. A carrier secured by a seat belt may actually crush the carrier in an accident. Instead, put the carrier on the floor of the vehicle behind the front passenger or driver seat.

3. Always leash upon entrance and exit
When putting your pup in the car or taking him out, always make sure he is leashed and you have a tight grip on that leash. Dogs will often take the opening of the door as an immediate cue to jump in or out. Whether you’re parked on the side of a street, or in a busy parking lot, the dog could risk getting hit by another car, running away or getting into a scuffle with another dog passing by.

4. When in doubt, be cautious
If it’s a hot day and you’re worried about leaving your dog in the car while you run an errand, don’t do it! Chances are, if it’s uncomfortably hot for you, it’s dangerous for them. On a cool day, when leaving your dog briefly unattended in the car, crack all of the windows a few inches open. And on long road trips, make sure to stop every couple of hours and take your dog out for a bathroom break and give him some water so he stays hydrated.

5. Keep a first aid kit in the car
You never know what may happen on the go with pets. To be safe, keep a box of basic medical supplies in the car. Some dogs, just like people, can get car sick. Some pets even experience stress and anxiety when riding in cars. Check with your veterinarian regarding remedies– depending on your dog’s condition, you may want to keep medications such as herbal curing pills, Dramamine and Benadryl in your kit. Other musts to include? Emergency contact numbers, tweezers and scissors for tick, insect or brush removal, cotton balls, gauze pads and bandages made specifically for dogs that won’t stick to fur, disinfectant, wound spray, saline solution to flush debris or sand out of eyes, antibacterial wipes, an old blanket or towel to dry off wet paws or mud, a second leash and extra food and treats!

Fido, the Petsetter: Air Travel Safety

Flying your dog on an airplane can seem worrisome, but rest assured that hundreds of thousands of pets fly every year, and the number of pet-related incidents is extremely low relative to the large amount of pets traveling in the great blue sky. Whether flying in-cabin as carry-on or flying in cargo (both safe and comfortable options), we’ve outlined the key steps you can take for safely and responsibly flying your dog. Follow these tips and feel good about bringing your pup on that next vacation.

Get Your Pup Accustomed To The Crate
Every pup that goes on an airplane (whether as carry-on or cargo) is required to be contained within an appropriately-sized kennel. For this reason, it’s important to acclimate your dog to the crate well in advance of her trip. To ease the stress associated with being confined to a small space for a period of time, purchase the kennel as far in advance of your trip as possible and follow the rules of crate training such as leaving the door open and encouraging entry with a chew toy or treat in order to get your pup as used to the crate as possible. Also, be sure to pay attention to your airline’s specific rules for kennels (each varies slightly). For example, United has a page dedicated to kennel guidelines. You don’t want any surprises at check-in!

Do Not Sedate Your Pup Under Any Circumstance
Even the pet owner with the best intentions may think giving their pup something to “take the edge off” is a good idea. Please stand corrected. Under no circumstance is it advised to sedate or tranquilize your pup for air travel. In fact, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) states that sedating pets for air travel can be fatal. Sedation is the most frequent cause of animal incidents during transport as many animals react negatively/abnormally to sedation and not much is known about the side effects of sedatives combined with high altitude and/or higher stress levels.

Make Sure Your Dog is Healthy Enough To Fly
A dog with known health issues or of senior age is more likely to respond negatively to the stress induced by flying and is at greater risk for injury. In fact, many airlines such as Delta require a health certificate within 10 days of departure before agreeing to ship a pet as cargo and have age limitations on flying pets. Not only is it often required, but it’s wise as a responsible pet owner to get your dog checked out by a licensed veterinarian and current on all vaccinations prior to travel. That’s why at PuppySpot, before any puppy ships home, we require our breeders to have a vet perform a comprehensive, nose-to-tail health exam.

Feed and Exercise Appropriately Prior To Travel
Experts advise to feed your dog approximately 4-6 hours prior to flight time, so he has enough time to digest properly and is full enough for the duration of the flight. Feeding too much and too close to the flight could cause an upset stomach while in-flight. That said, you should continue to keep your dog well-hydrated and provide water right up to the time of travel. Just be sure to empty the dish before checking the dog. A full water bowl will spill or cause unnecessary messes and excessive urination during flight. Before heading to the airport, be sure to exercise your dog with a long walk and allow her plenty of pees and poops before takeoff. Plenty of exercise will afford your dog the opportunity to burn off excess energy and therefore, rest easier during the flight.

Stay Calm and Give Your Pup The Comforts of Home
Remember, your dog feeds off of your energy. So, if you’re positive and carefree about the experience, those feelings will rub off on him and put him more at ease. To give him some extra comfort during the flight, as long as rules allow, include a familiar toy or blanket with the smells from home inside his carrier. Before he knows it, he’ll have arrived safely at his destination and be reunited with (or meet) his loving owner.

Avoid Travel in Summer and Winter Seasons
All major airlines have strict weather restrictions when it comes to flying pets, as animals can be extra sensitive to extreme heat or cold. So, to avoid any surprises, use your best judgement when booking and do not arrange travel in the dead of summer or winter to or from places that experience extreme weather conditions, as your dog will be unable to fly in very high or very low temperatures.

Be Aware of Breed Restrictions
If you own a snub-nosed breed such as a Pug, Bulldog or Boxer, you may not be able to fly your pooch on certain airlines. Due to the respiratory difficulties that some of these breeds experience due to the anatomy of their noses, some airlines such as Delta do not allow these breeds on their planes. Do your research ahead of time and make sure your chosen airline is the right fit for your dog.

The Early Pooch Gets The Worm
You know the old standard of arriving at the airport two hours ahead of your flight to leave enough time for security, checking baggage, etc.? Well the same, if not more of a conservative estimate applies to doggie travel. You don’t want to add to what can already be an anxiety-inducing experience by being late. Give you and your pup plenty of time to get situated and address any issues with TSA well ahead of departure.

With these guidelines, we hope you feel comfortable and confident in flying your pet. Plus, all major airlines offer additional measures to give you that extra peace of mind. For example, United’s PetSafe Program provides the ability to track your pets from origin to destination. And Delta‘s Variation Live Program offers temperature-controlled vans and holding areas as well as specially trained ground handlers for personalized care on the go.

And if you need someone to walk you through the pet travel process, PuppySpot prides itself on its best-in-class travel team, who will assist you with any questions or concerns you may have about your puppy flying home safe and sound.

A Stress-Free Guide to Pup Playdates

As a pup-parent, you’ve likely met other dog owners and have bonded over a shared love of your four-legged friends. Eventually, the idea for a playdate between your two dogs is likely to come up. The idea seems like a fun one at first, until you remember a few instances of your pup’s bad behavior. Even if your dog is generally well-mannered, you never know how he might act around a stranger, whether human or fur ball. Pup playdates are a good chance to socialize your dog to new experiences and individuals, but there is a right and wrong way to go about them. Avoid a meeting mishap between your dog and his pup-pal by reading this to-do list and ensuring your playdate is a success!

1. Pick a Playmate
Not every dog will be the right friend for your dog. Factors like age, size, sex and energy level should be taken into account to give this playdate the best chance at success. For example, it’s best to pair up dogs of opposite sexes, as dogs of the same sex may see each other as threatening and are more likely to get into fights. This is not to say that two female dogs or two male dogs can never get along, but it is not as encouraged as having a male and female dog play together for the first time. A playmate close in age to your pup is also ideal, as the energy levels of the pups will be more likely to match up, whereas a young, lively puppy might get on the nerves of an older, more tranquil dog. Likewise, it’s best not to have dogs of differing sizes playing together, as one may end up overpowering the other or injuring the other without intention. Finally, make sure your pup is up to date with his vaccinations, and aim to surround him with other vaccinated pups to reduce the chance of spreading illness.

2. Choose a Neutral, Secure Environment
Where the playdate takes place matters just as much as who your pup is spending it with. Like your pup’s playmate, the setting must also be a good match; not too cramped, but also not too spacious. Avoid having the first encounter at your or the other owner’s house, as the dog living there may feel like his territory is being infringed upon when an unfamiliar dog enters it.

3. Take it Slow
For your dog’s first introduction to his new playmate, you will want to maintain a cool, calm demeanor. Since our dogs can pick up on human feelings of stress, going into the meeting with bad feelings can set your dog up for a failed experience. Keep a lax grip on your dog’s leash and encourage him with a praising tone of voice. Most importantly, don’t force the interaction. Despite trying your best to pair your pup with what appears to be the right playmate for him, it still might not be a perfect match. Take it slow by allowing your dog sniff out his playmate and encourage the other owner to do the same. Pay attention to body language to see how both dogs feel about the experience. Tongue-out smiles and wagging tails are signs of a good time, while a stiff body, exposed teeth and growling might be signs to separate the two pooches. But if both pups look relaxed and eager to play with each other, then allow them to play off-leash under your supervision.

4. Break Time
Even if all is going well, your pup and his playmate are bound to get tired sooner or later, so interrupt the play about every five minutes to split up the dogs, allowing them both some time to take a breather. After refueling them with water and treats, you can send them on their way again while keeping a watchful eye.

5. In the Case of a Fight
You’ll know if the encounter turns into a fight if you hear a lot of angry noise or see the dogs tangled up or displaying signs of aggression. Although most dog fights are minor, a risky situation that involves two irritated dogs should be halted immediately to avoid injury or worse. To safely end the fight and avoid getting hurt yourself, spray the dogs with water from a hose or spray bottle to distract them away from the tussle. Alternatively, you can make a loud noise to startle the dogs into silence. Always keep your hands away from either dog’s face. Once the dogs are separated, document any injuries and keep both pups secured on leashes, where they can no longer interact. If you wish, you can give the playdate one last shot on another occasion, but depending on the severity of the fight, you may have to accept the fact that not all of “man’s best friends” are meant to be “best friends.”

Dog playdates can be a fun socialization activity as well as provide a healthy means of exercise. As long as the encounter is kept safe, a pup playdate should be a positive experience for all involved.

Winter Hazards and Keeping Puppy Safe

For many, it can be the most beautiful time of year full of holiday festivity, snowy landscapes and warm fires. But, winter can also be a dangerous time of year…especially for our four-legged, furry friends. It’s crucial to be aware of winter-specific hazards so the necessary steps are taken to ensure our pets’ health and safety.

Indoor Threats

Heat Sources – Fires, candles, space heaters and wood-burning stoves create the dangerous potential for burns and smoke inhalation. The crackle, flickering light and warmth of a fire can be interesting stimulation to dogs, so make sure your dog is never left alone in a room with open flames or hot electric elements. And of course when a fire is lit, monitor your dog closely so he doesn’t get near it and endanger himself or those around him.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning – Remember to check all furnaces, gas water heaters and gas/kerosene space heaters regularly for any leakages. Since dogs tend to be indoors for longer periods of time during the winter, they are more at risk to exposure if there are leaks, which can cause serious health issues and even be fatal. Checking your smoke detector (or purchasing one if you don’t already have one) will help protect your pet and your family. Keep in mind carbon monoxide poisoning can also happen if dogs are left in cars too long with the motor running or kept in a garage near a running car.

Outdoor Threats

Cold Weather – Just like human beings, dogs are susceptible to serious health conditions such as frostbite and hypothermia (low body temperature) if kept outside too long in frigid weather. Make sure you take the necessary precautions such as keeping your dog away from frozen water and thin ice to prevent drowning as well as making sure your dog has fresh, unfrozen water available to him and the ability to come inside if he needs to. If your dog has a dog house or igloo outside, make sure the interior is insulated. A good layer of straw or safely heated mats are options to keep your dog warm and comfortable. Older or ill dogs should be kept inside when possible to prevent their health conditions from worsening. If your dog is short-haired, consider dressing him in a sweater with high collar or turtleneck to cover him from the base of the tail to the belly. Also, avoid shaving your dog down in the colder months. A longer coat will provide him with more warmth.

Chemicals – Ice melts and salts as well as the chemicals ethylene glycol and methanol found in antifreeze and windshield wiper fluids are dangerously toxic and can cause serious, if not fatal health problems if your dog ingests them. Ice melts and salts can stick to the bottom of your dog’s paws, so make sure you wash their paws after all outdoor walks and remove any snow balls from between his foot pads where these chemicals could be present. If your dog is long-haired, trim him to minimize clinging ice balls, salt crystals or de-icing chemicals that can dry his skin.


1. Keep your home humidified and towel dry your dog as soon as he comes indoors. Repeatedly coming out of the cold and into dry heat can cause itchy, flaky skin.

2. Bathe your pets minimally during cold spells. Washing too often can also cause dryness and remove essential oils from their skin. When you do bathe your dog, use a moisturizing shampoo.

3. Pets burn extra energy during the wintertime in order to stay warm. By feeding your dog a bit more during the cold months, the extra calories will provide additional sustenance. Always providing plenty of water to keep your dog well-hydrated is also crucial.

4. At night, temperatures drop significantly. Make sure your pooch has a warm place to sleep, off a cold floor and away from any drafts. A cozy bed with warm blanket is a good option.

Introducing Your Dog to a New Baby

Bringing home a new member of the family is a special occasion filled with joy and new beginnings. But with the start of something new, it’s difficult to know just how some will react (particularly, your first furry baby). Of course, a newborn baby requires a great deal of attention, which inevitably means time taken away from the family dog. That said, there are ways to ensure the transition goes as smoothly as possible for all involved.

Preparation Pre-Due Date
Make your dog more comfortable with a new addition to the family by teaching your dog the proper obedience a few months ahead of time, before the stork arrives. Start introducing your dog to new sights, sounds, smells and experiences. Especially if your dog has never been around children, you should socialize him to behave comfortably around young ones who might have less awareness of personal space than their older human counterparts. Take your dog places like a dog park or to a family member’s house with children and allow him to observe kids from a distance before slowly making safe contact with them. Also allow him to sniff out the baby’s stroller, crib and related products which will soon become a daily part of the family’s new life. A month or two before the baby arrives, start implementing any changes in schedule that are anticipated for when the baby comes. If you know you won’t have as much time to play with your pup, make playtime short but meaningful, and eventually your dog will get into a new groove. By the time Baby comes home, your dog will already feel some sense of familiarity.

Coming Home
While Mama recovers in the hospital, have a loved one bring home one of the baby’s blankets for the dog to smell. It’s better that he gets used to the baby’s scent now than for him to have sensory overload when the baby arrives. When arriving home from the hospital, let someone else hold the baby as Mom receives a warm welcome and excited kisses from the pup who missed her. Your dog can sense any emotions you have, so whether you’re feeling stressed or excited, make sure you put on a calm face when it comes time to finally having your dog and baby meet face-to-snout. Keep your dog leashed, use cues such as “back up” (a command ideally taught before the baby’s due date), and reward your dog with treats and praise for his good behavior so that he only associates the baby with good feelings.

Daily Life as a New Family
thumbnail-introducing-new-babyThough it might seem like a good idea to switch your time between baby and puppy, it’s actually much more beneficial to shower your dog with attention, praise and treats while the baby is around. That way, your dog will learn to love the baby as much as you do—albeit for different reasons. While balancing your attention between two needy “children” requires a great deal of multitasking and patience, even small gestures like happily talking to your dog while the baby is in your lap can make a big difference in keeping your dog happy and content with having the baby around. As your child grows to be more hands-on, your dog may receive some unwanted pulling and tugging. To prepare your dog, give him small, friendly tugs or pinches, then reward him with a treat. He will gradually learn to tolerate unwarranted touching from your baby. One very important tip to keep in mind throughout your dog’s acclimation process is that you should not punish your dog for aggressive behavior such as growling or barking in front of the baby. The outcome will be a dislike of situations in which the baby is involved, and he may even strike without any warning signs next time. Instead, you should implement continuous training to reward situations which involve your dog and baby together. Seek professional guidance if your dog’s behavior appears to pose a threat to your child’s safety.

Welcoming a new child into the family is a big change on many levels, but it doesn’t have to be a scary one with your pooch involved. Through small preparations and repeated positive reinforcement, your dog will learn to cherish the new addition to your family.

What to Expect at 8-12 Weeks of Age

Congratulations! Between 8-12 weeks, your puppy has arrived home and the intense bonding process between puppy and family has already begun.

You’ve entered a crucial learning period which will provide the foundation for your puppy’s mental and physical development. Newly away from his biological mommy and litter siblings, your puppy is experiencing a high level of curiosity in his new environment. Anything within reach will be investigated, and likely chewed as a result of that curiosity. In fact, you’ll notice your puppy “mouthing” a lot which is how he grows familiar with the world around him. Basic personality characteristics will begin to emerge but a lot of your puppy’s traits will form based on how he is treated and cared for by the family.

Your puppy is starting to take an active interest in human beings and will look to you for direction on how to behave. So, imagine your puppy as a sponge, ready to absorb all of the information you can provide. This is your opportunity to not only teach him new things, but also to set the tone and dynamics of the relationship. It’s important to socialize your dog with other people outside of the family as well as other vaccinated dogs. Basically, however you’d like your puppy to interact with the world, start introducing it now. So, if you plan to transport him regularly, start taking him for car rides. If you want to make him comfortable with loud noises, don’t be afraid to vacuum the house or run the blender.

thumbnail-puppy-developmentAs far as physical growth, you may have noticed your puppy is a bit rambunctious and messy – clumsily running around and emptying his bladder and bowels often. At this stage, you should be taking puppy out every two hours – remember, frequent trips outside mean less accidents and clean up for you!  As far as appearance goes, puppies are heart melting for a reason – enjoy those big eyes, soft features and sleepiness; and snuggle/hold him often – if your puppy is meant to grow up to be a large dog, you won’t have that opportunity for much longer!

In this vulnerable age, keeping your puppy safe is key. The natural immunity passed on from his mother is starting to wear off, and will soon be taken over by rounds of vaccinations. To avoid the dangers of your puppy contracting illness, specifically Parvo, do not allow your puppy around other non-vaccinated dogs. This means: Stay away from dog parks, and even walking down the street if it’s a highly foot-trafficked area. About a week after the final vaccinations (around 17 weeks-old), you’ll be able to take your pup everywhere – so just be patient!

Just like with a new baby, you may be worried about your puppy’s health before the first vet visit. Here are the symptoms to keep an eye out for which may require a phone call to your vet:

  • Diarrhea – if it lasts more than a day, is extremely watery or discolored
  • Vomiting – if it persists more than a day, or is extreme
  • Unwillingness to Eat or Drink – if puppy is not interested in food or water

Remember, use your best instincts – if something seems off, don’t hesitate and reach out to a professional.

Finally, there is no better time to start training than now. The earlier your puppy begins basic training, the faster he will learn. There are many different methods and philosophies to training your pup, but a steadfast rule for all is to remain calm, be patient and reward good behavior. Good luck!

Puppy Proofing: A Checklist

As you prepare to welcome a new puppy to your family, you might think your first priority is purchasing the necessities such as a bed, crate, food, bowls and toys. But, beyond the “stuff,” it’s important to puppy proof your home before puppy arrives in order to create a safe and secure environment for your newest family member and protect your valuables from getting chewed up or destroyed.

We’ve created a simple step-by-step comprehensive checklist for securing and/or removing potentially harmful items or substances in and around your property.

Indoor Hazards

  • Secure or Remove Plants
    Check this handy guide to make sure none of the plants in your home are toxic to dogs. If it turns out you own any of the toxic plants, be sure to either move the plant to a height where your puppy cannot eat or get into it or remove it altogether.  Even if your plants are non-toxic to dogs, it’s wise to move them out of reach to avoid puppy digging or pulling them out of its pottery.
  • Cords
    Look for loose, low-hanging electronic cords and secure with a cable management sleeve .
  • Cleaning Supplies
    Make sure all kitchen and bathroom cleaning supplies are inaccessible to puppy. You can also invest in baby-safe magnetic locks to ensure your pup won’t get into low storage.
  • Loose Change
    Remember to check under furniture and in between cushions for loose coins and other small items that a puppy could swallow and potentially choke on.
  • Jewelry
    Move all small jewelry like earrings and rings to high-up surfaces or drawers to avoid any unfortunate accidents.
  • Water Basins
    Full sinks, bathtubs and yes, uncovered toilets present potential drowning dangers to puppy. In the first few months, make sure to drain any full sinks or bathtubs and keep toilet seats down. Puppies can drown in even small amounts of still water.
  • Medications
    Keep all medications in medicine cabinets or in an area out of reach of your pup’s curious nose.
  • Garbage
    Make sure your garbage is tucked away under a cabinet secured with baby-safe locks. At the very least, invest in a garbage bin that has a secure, locking lid to keep your puppy out of the trash.
  • Foods
    Dangerous and potentially fatal foods for dogs include chocolate, coffee, tea, certain nuts, grapes/raisins, onions and alcohol among others. To be safe, make sure all human food is out of your puppy’s reach. Child safety locks can be used to keep your puppy out of low cabinets and drawers. If your puppy somehow ingests a dangerous food or substance, call your vet immediately.
  • Hazardous Rooms
    Identify whether there are a rooms that are potentially unsafe for your puppy (think basement, office or a playroom full of small toys) and then put up baby gates to make them inaccessible.
  • Fireplaces
    Screen off all fireplaces, especially in the colder months when you’re likely to have a fire going or have leftover wood from a recent fire.

thumbnail-puppy-proofing-homeSince your puppy is likely going to spend a lot of time outside, it’s crucial to always supervise and keep a watchful eye while puppy is in your front or back yard and on all of your walks, especially if you live near a wooded area. Animals such as owls, hawks, and coyotes are all potential dangers to puppies and small breeds.


Outdoor Hazards

  • Paint & Other Toxic Products
    Don’t use fresh paint on accessible areas for puppy. Make sure to also dispose of old paint cans safely or put them safely out of reach, ensuring the lids are on tight. Other examples of toxic products that may be outside include antifreeze and gasoline.
  • Extermination Products
    Do not spray insecticides or use rat or rodent poison – these contain toxic chemicals for puppy.
  • Gardening Products
    Keep all fertilizers in secure containers, away from curious noses. And make sure any toxic plants are pulled or quarantined with a tall and sturdy fence. Examples of toxic plants include but are not limited to: potato, morning glory, foxglove, lily of the valley, oak, daffodils and cocoa bean mulch.
  • Pool
    Make sure all pool chemicals like chlorine are stored in locked shed or unit, away from puppy.
  • Nails, Glass, Sharp Objects
    Inspect your front and back yards for any potentially sharp, broken and hazardous objects and have them removed prior to your puppy’s homecoming.