Keep Your Pets Safe and Healthy During Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving roasted turkey

Thanksgiving is a time of gratitude, feasting and usually family or large crowds. Sometimes with all of the delicious smells from the kitchen, that can be a hard thing to resist from a prying nose or paw!

Here are a few tips to keep your beloved animal companion(s) happy and safe during this time:

Keep all of the food on the table. Begging can become problematic down the road and most foods can’t be processed well by your pets digestive system.

Let them have their own space if they are stressed. Most pets will run away to a different room if they are stressed or overwhelmed by too many people. Let them have their own space and give them something to chew, such as a stuffed frozen Kong or toy.

Keep all garbage away. If you want to keep your pet our of trouble and prevent a medical emergency (especially swallowing cooked bones or excessive sugars or fats) keep the garbage secured and away from prying noses!

For a more detailed list of what your pet should and shouldn’t have, here is an article from the AVMA on keeping your pet safe and happy during Thanksgiving.

Have a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving!

Do you have a favorite Thanksgiving tradition with your family that includes your pet(s)? I'd love to hear from you!

The Overwhelmed Pet Owner’s Survival Guide

stressed catIn today’s culture and high tech society, you hear a lot about people who are overwhelmed. What does that mean, exactly and how can we work through and survive the detrimental effects? According to Merriam-Webster online - “Overwhelm” is defined as “Upset or Overthrow, To cover over completely, to overcome by superior forces or numbers, to overpower in thought or feeling”. When people talk about feeling overwhelmed - they usually describe a feeling of helplessness, that there is too much of everything else and too little of them. As business people/entrepreneurs this feeling can add up and result in compounding our feelings of being stressed out (irritability, being tired, feeling helpless or there is no light at the end of the tunnel).

Lots of times we can be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of choices to be made around a task. Take the travel industry for example. If you were to travel to Disney world - there are a variety of ways to get there, where to stay, and what to do and for how much. In this situation, a person new to traveling would be concerned about making the right decision so that they don’t pay too much and they have a great time.  For the pet industry, there are more choices out there than ever before in terms of food, products, training, treats and equipment. Some of that information is conflicting - some isn’t.

After a particularly stressful day at work - you come home to another mountain of things to do and if you are a pet owner - your beloved animal companion greets you enthusiastically and wants all of your attention. Which adds to a person’s level of stress and feeling of overwhelm - especially if the pet is destructive in some manner.

So what is the stressed out, overwhelmed pet owner to do?

You don’t have to go far to see the first recommendation in combating overwhelm is self care. Self care can be a variety of things. This can be going for a walk, unplugging for a time, going for a massage, playing a game - anything that focuses on your relaxation. Our pets want us and they want to be with us - 100%. They want to play, walk, be active and experience the world with us. For some animals - cuddling and having a peaceful moment on the couch is enough for them (I call those “Nescafe” moments based off of the commercial for the product that shows two ladies reminiscing fondly about a fun time from their past).

Always remember to BREATHE! How many people take this basic but critical step for granted? Breathing! If you feel irritated or overly angry and stressed - remember to take a deep breath or three. That simple, yet effective act is critical in relaxing the body and in a way “resets” your emotional state to a degree. Don’t believe me? TRY IT!

Get an outside perspective. Talk to someone you know who isn’t in your industry - or someone who you trust. If you don’t have someone you can talk to - then start talking out loud or journal about it. The more you can off load the tension in some manner - the healthier and better you can be. When you are more relaxed and not as stressed out - then you can be 100% involved and attentive to your animal companions (which is what they want).

Through all of this - it is very important to take care of YOU. Because no one else will. We are the experts in ourselves - so we are the only ones who can truly take care of ourselves in a way that is meaningful and effective. What will work for one person, may not work for another. The key element is to get away from the stressors in our lives for a time. How many people do you know you turn their phones off or put them away during dinner? Or before bed? How many people do you know who take some time to read a book that is not industry specific?

There are a lot of resources available that can help guide you to a method that can work for you to decompress and not feel quite so overwhelmed and stressed out. This will lead to a happier you which your animals and everyone around you will appreciate.

Keep Your Cool

How many times have you been told “Calm down” or “Keep your cool” or something like that? In most cases, someone may be telling you that because you are in an emotional state and either the other person can’t handle it, or they want to help you through your stressful situation so you can make logical rather than emotional choices.

The same idea can be applied to our animal companions.

Remember.. our animals are thinking, feeling, sentient beings with a full range of emotions and their own opinions about the world around them. A key component when working with them (especially in training) is to always keep your cool: remain calm and level headed. When you stay calm,they will intuitively know that you can guide them, and be their “leader”.

Think about the difference between a supervisor who is respected and trusted by his/her employees and the one who is not: the defining factor is often that they are level-headed individuals who not only support and respect their team – but also do not become overly emotional during times of stress or chaos.

This is a hallmark of leadership when it comes to our animal companions. Animals and children are amazing at detecting the difference between when you are truly being calm and focused, and when you are not.

So how does one become calm, focused and the leader that our animals need us to be?

Step 1. Take A Deep Breath! This is a critical step in all things! Take a moment to let the emotional outburst (or knee jerk reaction) pass through and regain your composure. You can also count down from 20 before you react verbally or physically towards your pet.

Step 2. Be Genuine and Focused. What you are thinking and what you are feeling must match! If you are giving your animal a command (let’s say a dog in this case), and you want them to sit, your tone of voice needs to be direct and matter of fact. Your thought must also focus on your dog performing a successful sit. If you don’t think your dog can do it – or if you have no confidence in your dog to successfully sit – neither of you will get very far in the training.

Step 3. Be Consistent! How many of you have ever had that work supervisor who wasn’t consistent? They would essentially, not follow through with their promises or action steps. And you knew you could get away with not fully completing a task. In our example with the dog, – sit must always mean sit. They must always listen to you when you are out for a walk or anywhere else.

It’s important to also remember that your emotional state travels down the leash (or lead rope if you have a horse). If you are the calm presence your dog needs in any situation, then your dog will be more likely to listen and obey commands, and you both will be more happy with these clear boundaries!

But, What if I Want My Animal to Understand ME?

Why won’t my pet understand me? I WISH my pet would understand me!

How many times have you or someone you know asked these very questions?

What most people don’t realize is that intuitive animal communication is a two way street. For as much as people wish that they could understand their animals – they also wish that their animals could understand them. The key here is that they can and do understand us – more than we give them credit for. At the very basics – our animal companions understand what we are feeling as well as our intent. Words are simply icing on the cake.

Take for example the times when you are sick and your animal companions stick close to you. They understand and know that you are not feeling well. So they want to help you or be a source of comfort for you.

Always remember that animals are thinking, feeling, sentient beings who have their own opinions about the world around around them.

I’d love to hear from you about the times when you knew that your animals really understood you.

Eyes Up and Pay Attention!

This topic will usually get me a little riled up. One weekend I saw someone walking their dog (no big deal, right?). The person had their phone out and nose down whilst walking. The big reason why this bothers me is because the dog walker was not very aware of her surroundings! Any number of things could have happened! her dog could have picked something up and eaten it, pooped without her picking it up, another dog could have approached without it’s owner, a child could approach the dog without permission, the dog could take off running after something - or she could have been assaulted.

Awareness of your surroundings is not only beneficial for you and your pets, it’s also critical. Remember, you are the one who has the authority to grant permission for someone to say hello/get close to your pet and you are the authority that will and can keep them from harm.

In my experience (mostly with small dogs), the pet is shy when meeting people. This is usually brought on by other people picking this dog up when it didn’t want to be (and as a result, possibly being dropped). In these cases, it’s important for the pet owner to be the advocate for the pet and to physically get in-between the pet and the other person. Hopefully, the other person will respect you and your pet enough to ask if they can approach your pet. From there you can say yes, but please go slow or you can always say no.

Granted, if you have a pet that feels the purpose of the human race is to give them loads of pets and attention – then this isn’t as big of an issue. However, as the pet guardian – you still want to let the other person know about your pets more gregarious nature.
There are a lot more factors that go into being aware of your surroundings. It seems like nowadays everyone’s nose is down and their phones are out. Please folks – when you are out with your pet, keep your eyes up and the phones away. Your attention to and with your pet goes towards strengthening the bond between you.

Strengthening the bonds between you and your pet? That’s for a whole other blog post. But for now, please – pay attention.