After a long, cold winter, spring is finally in full swing in Kansas City! With the beautiful weather comes many opportunities for outdoor fun with our furry friends. A little preparation will go a long way to ensure we all have a safe and healthy spring and summer.
Along with the grass and flowers, pests like fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes are awakening from hibernation. If you haven’t done so already, now is the time to talk with your pet’s veterinarian regarding the proper pest-control medication. Our pets can also suffer from seasonal allergies, so report any unusual sniffles or itchiness to the vet so you can get your buddy the treatment needed to enjoy spending more time outside.
Whether enjoying a long walk in your neighborhood, exploring a new dog park, or escaping the city for a weekend of camping and hiking, don’t forget the essentials—plenty of water, waste bags, and treats (of course!) Just like us, our dogs can get overheated and need ample water breaks and time in the shade to avoid the ill-effects of warmer temperatures and sun exposure. Know the rules of the neighborhoods and parks you visit and be prepared to clean up after your pet. Have treats on hand to reward good behavior and as an incentive to “come when called,” especially in off-leash areas or where there are many distractions. Contact Jena if you need help teaching your dog this important skill and she will work with you to establish an effective, personalized training regimen.
Now…grab your best friend and go play outside!
Walker at Newman's Dog Training LLC
You know what I’m talking about: those little bugs that jump, bite, and use your dog or cat as a host for their breeding grounds. It’s truly disgusting. Unfortunately, flea and tick season is upon us, what with the warm weather and more hours spent outdoors. Fleas thrive in the heat, and are more likely to lay eggs and hatch in hotter temperatures (65°F+). Bleh.
Here’s what they look like: little watermelon seeds that are easily seen on the belly or croup (located on the back, near the tail) of your loved one. Another telltale sign of fleas is the incessant itching. If your pet is constantly itching itself, first check their belly and back for small black specks- ones that move, and even one’s that don't! You are looking for the actual bug or it’s poop, which is another indicator of the pest. Flea poop is incredibly aggravating, because it looks like tiny bits of dirt. If you see one or more of these signs, act immediately! These little critters are trying their best to multiply, and are more than likely hopping on everything you and your pet love- like your awesome carpet and couch!
This is a serious situation (code red), but luckily not the end of the world. Chances are if you tell your friends or family that you have fleas, they will be extremely sympathetic and tell you a story of how they, or someone they know, had fleas. You’ll want to strike while the iron is hot, so these guys don’t have a chance to aggressively reproduce, or worse nest in your home. :(
First things first: if you realize you have fleas (so sorry to hear that), you’ll want to pick up a one-time applicator of a topical flea treatment, something like Advantage II, Frontline, or K9 Advantix II. This should kill the fleas that are currently on your pooch in about two hours, and more importantly prevent future eggs from hatching. This works like a dream. In fact, this stuff is so awesome that I recommend using it once a month, because fleas can remain dormant in your home without you even knowing… hatching later in warm weather and causing you stress and expenses that you were not expecting. It’s pretty much the world’s worst surprise ever.
The next step to rid yourself of these evil creatures is to vacuum everything. EVERYTHING… The carpet, the couch, inside the couch (in extreme situations), the cushions, your bed, your pet’s bed, and anything that has little fibers where the fleas can burrow. If you can throw something in the wash, do it! Fleas hate water, and drown in one cycle. If you can’t throw it in the wash or vacuum it, that’s cool! Grab some handy dandy flea and tick spray for your home. It goes on the carpet and any other area that makes you feel good. Have a ball, spray away!
Your worst-case scenario: you still have fleas. Have you tried everything listed above? The topical applicator, vacuuming, and the spray? Looks like it’s time to throw down. Show these pests who runs your house- You. Grab some mascara. Use it as war paint. Things are about to get real. Go to the store and get a Flea Bomb. It’s actually called a “flea fogger”… but this is War. You need to bomb.
Flea bombing is so simple, and lasts for up to 7 months in your home. Make sure your pup is somewhere safe, out of the bomb’s reach (perhaps a long walk from Newman’s Training LLC…). Then, you simply follow the directions on the canister, and let that bad boy sit in your house for two hours. Come back home, open some windows and doors to air your house out, and wait another two hours. Easy as pie.
Hopefully, you’ll never have to encounter these tiny beasts… but at least now you’ll have some advice for the unfortunate souls you know who are trying to get rid of them.
Thanks for reading! We’d love to hear about your encounters with fleas… feel free to comment below with your advice, questions, or stories.
ALSO, Keep an eye out for next week’s post: Dine With Your Pooch: An Exploration of Dog-Friendly Restaurants in KC
for a good read and information used in this blog: http://pets.petsmart.com/guides/flea-and-ticks/advantage.shtml
I have always lived my life looking on the bright side of things. Even in the most horrible situations I have always been the one saying “this sucks but at least… xyz.” I can’t explain why I view the world in this way. Sometimes I feel like I am always contradicting people because when they think things are horrible I just don’t take my emotions there and immediately start thinking about how it could be beneficial. Maybe it has to do with my mom. It always goes back to the mom :) . She continuously under played negative things that happened, I really don’t remember her over reacting and dramatizing events. She had the attitude that whatever happens just happens and all we can do is go with it and fix it from that point on.
I have been told many times throughout my life that I am way too relaxed and no one understands how nothing gets to me. Well first off, things get to me. Boy do things get to me. But I chose not to let them dictate my emotions. If I am upset about something I will sit back and analyze why I am upset, what has happened and is it really worth being upset about. Most of the time it is petty and I make the decision to drop it and that’s that. If it is something major I will find a way to change it. If it is me that is an easy fix. Done and done. If it is others, it’s of course harder, you can’t change the way people act. But I can change the way I respond to it. I have never been one to sit around and constantly complain. I fix the situation.
Recently, I have been trying to come up with a slogan for my dog training business. There are so many out there and I love them all. I am going to be 100% honest here…I am not very creative. That being said it is difficult for me to come up with these kinds of things. I knew I wanted to convey positivity and love and me. So here is it “Keeping life PAWsitive.”
What do you think? It not only conveys how I train and view relationships with animals but also the way I live my life. Keeping life positive is how I go through life. Why would I have anything different for the way I run my business?
*Thank you Emily Boese for helping with this slogan. I love your brain!
Do you ever find yourself laughing so hard your abs hurt but you can’t stop? And you aren’t really making any noise you are just kind of bouncing? Those are some of my favorite times, not only am I getting an abs workout but something had been so wonderful to make me laugh that hard. Now I will admit there have been sometimes when it was the stupidest thing and no one understands why I am laughing that hard. But eh, it still feels good.
Recently I have had a lot of these moments. When I think of them I love it but they are not that funny retold. Trust me I came home telling my husband some of the stories as I am dyeing laughing and he kind of chuckles just to make me feel better (thanks honey.) So I am bringing them to you. Here are the things that make me so stinking happy as they happen. However small they are, they will always be great to me.
As I have mentioned on my Meet the trainer page, my dog (Dexter) and cat (Olim) crack me up. I have two favorites with these two characters. The first one is a wrestling one, when both the cat and dog are tired and it is about bed time I will hear the Dexter creep into the bedroom where Olim is, but that’s it. I don’t hear him jump on the bed or make any other noise. So I go and check on them, what do you know. He is lying on top of the Olim, mainly holding him in place, while Olim calmly but relentlessly is attacking the Dexter. The best part is, when they realize I’m watching, they both stop and just stare at me with that face “We aren’t doing anything.” Then they just get up and go their different directions.
My second great story with these two is one that people have witnessed that are not just me and Derek, but only the lucky few. While we are playing fetch with Dexter in the house, Olim stakes out and watches. This is when we know it is on! Every single time Dexter runs passed Olim, Olim jumps out and swats at him. Dexter loves playing fetch so much that he doesn’t pay any attention to any of it. But as the time passes on the swats turn in to multiple swats. Then it leads into full on running next to Dex while attacking. But the absolute best attack is when Olim will jump on his back and ride Dexter back all the while biting him. I am so happy that these two lovebirds get along J
So recently I have been tricked by an elephant. I know, I should be much smarter but not on this day. So there is this door in our barn that is elephant proof, therefore it is solid steel of some sort, with about 6 inches off the ground. There is enough room for an elephant’s trunk to fit under, but they can only stick it maybe 7 inches out. But in the middle of the door is a hole, maybe 3 inches in diameter. So this door played a big role in this game I was playing with Lea the elephant. She would stick her trunk under that door and I would have a treat for her. But I would hold it to the side there she would have to smell to get it. Then once she got it she had to eat it before we played again. She is rather greedy so I had to insist to her that you must eat it fist. So she would take her trunk out from under the door then put it back. Then we would play again. After about 5 times, Kristen a co-worker, can see through the hole to Lea’s face and she decides to tell me that she hasn’t eaten any of those treats she has just been sucking them up her trunk waiting for just the right moment to consume them all at once. For the record, the tip of Lea’s trunk is one of my favorite things to interact with. She is so gentle with it (when in a good mood.)
My next story has to do with Lois, the water throwing elephant mentioned in one of my first blogs. We wanted to blow paint with her. The way we do this is to pour non-toxic paint into the end of her trunk then tell her to blow on whatever we are painting. Well, we were painting a wine glass. I was the one holding the wine glass and Emily was working the paint with Lois. My back is slightly to Lois so that I don’t get a full frontal of paint on me. I can hear Emily tell Lois to “blow.” All Lois does is a tiny puff of air. Come on Lois you blow 5 gallons of water on us daily and that all the air you’re blowing. Knowing she can do better we ask for it again. Still a tiny puff. So we ask again, and we got it the biggest blow you could imagine, not so much on the wine glass, more like my face.
Lastly, a couple of weeks ago we had just finished training with our male Sea Lion Vince. We were filling up his drinker with fresh water and ready to go back to the elephant barn to finish out our day. Emily has the hose and I am just watching. Vince strolls over and starts putting his face in the hose like a dog. I have never seen him interact with a hose since I have met him. He was just standing in the stream with his face just letting it splash him, and then he would open his mouth and bite it. He reminded me of Dexter when we first introduced a water hose to him, he was in hyper dog heaven. Vince was having such a great time I was laughing so hard just telling Emily “Keep going, don’t stop.” It might have been one of the best things I had witnessed Vince doing.
Like I said, these aren’t that great retold. But I still love them and love the joy it brings me when I think of these silly things. Everyone has got to laugh once in a while. You just have to find the small things to smile about and not wait for the big things.
When we bring a pet in to our home whether it is a cat or dog this could be one of the best decision you have ever made. I know when my husband and I brought home “Dexter,” our chocolate Lab, I felt like a little kid at Christmas. I couldn’t wait to show Dex the world and experience so many things with him. We are taking him camping and canoeing this spring (it will be his first trip, we can’t wait.) He goes with us to the park, to play Frisbee, disc golf and so many other things that are better when you have your dog with you. Not to mention cuddles on the couch, waking me up in the morning and my favorite, his non-stop energy that continues to remind me that this was my choice to bring an active dog in my house so therefore is it my responsibility to give him the exercise needed to live a happy life. And really who am I kidding; my life is better with him when he gets his exercise, as they say “a tired dog is a good dog.”
With all this wonderful being said, the truth is we are going to outlive Dex. There will come a day when he will leave this world and we will have to say good-bye to our buddy. It brings a tear to my eye just thinking about it, but I believe it is healthy to think about it and decide “is it worth it?” To have this friendship knowing there is an unknown expiration date is something that most people refuse to acknowledge because of how sad it is.
Since working with animals at the zoo you try to prepare yourself for when the day comes to say goodbye. Right now I have 3 sea lions and 7 elephants. Before that, I worked with a large array of animals. With the number of animals being higher, the number of deaths naturally is more common than if I were to compare it to just my dog and cat at home. But whether it is the smallest forest antelope to the largest land mammal it still breaks my heart. I can try to prepare for it. it is easier when you know the end is very near rather than a surprise but no matter how many times you have to go through it, it never gets easier.
I remember when my family pet “Katie” passed away. I was in college at the time and my mom was telling me about how horrible the experience was when she had passed. And as we were talking I asked her “why do we put ourselves though this?” I will never forget her answer. “Because having them in our lives and enjoying all these experiences are worth it.” That statement has been with me ever since. No matter how horrible I am feeling about a death from an animal, thankfully I haven’t had to use it on a passing of a family member; I just remember “it is worth it.”
For me it is better to think about the celebration of life and all the good that an individual can bring to it. When Dex’s time is up, that will be ok. He has brought Derek and I so much joy and laughter that in his short 2 years he has done more than I could have ever asked for. That being said I hope he sticks around a whole lot longer.
***I know this is a little morbid, but there have been a lot of remembrances and future deaths nearing in. I hope that this blog, however insignificant it is, can remind people that “It is so worth it!”
The holiday is a time for your family and friends to get together and enjoy each other’s company. The last thing you want is to worry about your dog the whole time. Your guest will appreciate not having your dog beg and drool over their food the minute they sit down for dinner. Start now to teach your dog the "down/stay" command so he'll lie down quietly on the other side of the room. Practice at every meal! If your dog hasn't become reliable by holiday time, use your dog crate and confine him while your guests are eating.
While you are at it, teach your dog the command "Leave it!" This is most effective when you see the dog thinking about getting into something. The INSTANT he turns away from the unwanted item, praise lightly and offer a small treat as a reward. Since this command is only effective when you catch the dog in the act begin by setting small treats around the house and the instant he thinks about going for it correct him. Don’t forget you have to reward him for not getting it.
Here are some helpful tips on how to keep your dog safe throughout the holiday season…
• If you have a real Christmas tree, keep the water in the stand covered so your animals can’t drink it. The pine sap is dangerous if ingested.
• Secure the tree to a wall or the ceiling with fishing line and a hook to prevent pets from knocking it over.
• Tree lights should not be left on when you’re not around, since your pets may tangle themselves in the cords. Unplug the tree lights when you’re not using them.
• Once you’ve decorated your tree, pick up all tinsel, ribbon and ornament hooks on the floor. These glittery items may be attractive playthings to your pets, but they can get sick if they ingest them. If a gastrointestinal blockage occurs, surgery may be needed to save your pet.
• If your pets express interest in playing with the decorations on the tree, decorate the bottom third of the tree with wood or plastic ornaments that won’t break.
• Keep all gifts that contain human food off the floor so that pets are not tempted by the smells. Human treats can be dangerous for pets – especially food containing chocolate, alcohol, raisins and onions.
• Holiday plants such as poinsettias and mistletoe can be dangerous, too, if your pets chew on them. Keep holiday plants well out of reach of your pets, or buy artificial plants. (www.Bestfriends.org)
• Antifreeze tastes sweet and many dogs are attracted to it. Just a few drops can be fatal.
• Hypothermia can pose a danger during severe cold. Puppies, old dogs, and sick dogs are most vulnerable. Dress your dog in winter clothing or restrict outdoor time. Provide snug shelter. Warm your dog quickly if he starts to shiver.
• Ice-melting chemicals and salt can irritate paws or cause digestive upsets if swallowed.
• Booties help protect sensitive paws. (http://joybutler.suite101.com/)
• Make sure the cord to your outdoor lights is out of reach of the dog if he will be outside unsupervised. He could chew through the cords of get tangled in it.
Have you ever noticed when we talk to our pets we tend to use sentences and expect them to understand what we are saying? I am 100% guilty of this. For goodness sakes I have whole conversations with my pets. They look up at me like they are nodding along and know exactly what I just told them. But the truth is they have no clue!! When you are asking your dog to do a certain behavior whether it is to lie down or get off the bed you need to pay close attention to the words you use.
Just imagine you are trying to communicate with someone that speaks different language. You would normally talk slower and minimize the amount of words you would use. This is the same thing when you are talking to your dogs. Dogs primarily communicate through body language and secondary through vocalizations. Because of this you need to stay consistent on the words you use and keep them as simple as you can so your dog has a higher chance of being successful. The key is giving your dog the tools to succeed and if you are using sentences instead of single words you are setting them up to fail.
The other night Dexter, my dog, was on the bed and my husband asked him to get down. Well he knows the word “down” for “lie down.” So what does he do, he lies down as hard as he can on the bed and doesn’t move. He was doing exactly what he was asked to do and didn’t understand why this human was getting so frustrated.
While some animals are easy to read and are clear about what they want or why they are behaving a certain way, most of the time us humans just have to guess. It is an educated guess based on what has recently happened or if there is something that is clearly bothering them. But sometimes it just doesn’t make any sense. We can go back and forth with suggestions and possibilities of why they are behaving in a certain way. And we always come back to the same conclusion… “I really wish they could just tell us what they are thinking.”
There have been many times that an animal, whether it is my pet dog or the animals at work, is acting just a little off. It could be aggression, becoming lethargic, or even just becoming scared of something that previously they had no trouble with. A lot of the times we assume that these changes are simply a “personality” change. But the truth is there is always a reason that behavior has changed. It doesn’t have to be a negative reason but there is always something.
It is hard for us to sit back and look at the big picture of things. To think back to what has changed doesn’t sound like a hard task but when you have to do it from another species point of view it makes it a little challenging. You need to think about their health and environmental changes. What could have happened to make them respond this way?Don’t get frustrated, just take a deep breath and say…. “If only they could just say it.”
Most mornings when I get to work I am still in my waking up phase of the day. I'm drinking my coffee and just thinking about how the rest of my day is going to go when SPLASH!!! Lois throws water on me. Sometimes I can see it coming but most of the time my back is to her and I have no time to prepare. Lois is a 33 year old African Elephant. She knows exactly what she is doing. Elephants can suck up around 3 to 5 gallons of water into the trunk and typically blow it into their mouths. Well, Lois takes advantage of this and throws all that water onto the keepers.
When it comes to behaviors we would like an animal to stop, the best thing to do is ignore the unwanted behavior. It takes all the fun out of it if you receive no reaction. If we were to verbally correct her, she is receiving a reward for the bad behavior because then she has gotten a reaction from us. But when you are getting drenched head to toe (she doesn't discriminate on the temperature outside) how do you just ignore her? When you don't see it coming how do you not gasp when the frigid water runs down the back of your shirt? Sometimes we can just take it because it is more of a sprinkle, but most of the time we are not so lucky.
The best part is, after she has successfully drenched us, you know she is laughing inside. And sometimes life goes a lot smoother if you just laugh with them....without her knowing it of course.
I am so very excited to start blogging about my animal experiences. For almost 4 years now I have been a zookeeper and have so many things happen that have made me appreciate animals and how they can make life better. There have been frustrations, laughs, tears, and pretty much every emotion you can think of. They have taught me not only how to fully respect other living creatures, but a lot about myself and how I have grown since entering this role as a caregiver. I can't wait to start telling the world about it!