Education Is Prevention.


Education is the key to many things, including safety and wellbeing in our homes.   This week is National Dog Bite Prevention Week.  It’s the perfect time to reflect on how we can better understand our canine companions, educate and guide children of all ages, and share what we have learned over the years with everyone we know.  It’s also important to set aside judgement and focus on compassionate education.


  • There is an estimated population of 70 million dogs living in U.S. households right now.
  • Nearly 5 million (reported) dog bites occur in the United States each year.
  • Most of these bites involve children.
  • Children love to kiss and hug dogs, even though these expressions of affection do not translate well in the dog world.
  • Fast movements can stimulate a dog’s prey drive and/or chase instinct.
  • Higher pitched voices can sometimes startle a dog and make it fearful.
  • A dog can be frustrated through rough play or by teasing and a child can inadvertently inflict pain with the pull of a tail or a poke in the eye.
  • It is also hard for a child to read and understand a dog’s body language, therefore missing vital signals that can put them in harm’s way.
  • Children are most likely to be bitten in the face as they are closer to a dog’s eye level making it easier for a dog to feel threatened by eye to eye contact.
  • The majority of reported dog bites occur between the family dog and a family member.
  • It is unlikely that you will be injured by a dog you do not know.
  • Dog breed does not predict behavior.

Any resource that lists dogs who are “most likely to bite” by breed are a distraction from preventions that actually work.  Visual breed identification is notoriously unreliable, breed does not predict behavior, and there is no standard reporting system for reporting or recording dog bites (nor is there a need for a system).  Articles focused on breed are an easy way to get “clicks”. It’s fear mongering, not fact-based reporting. ~Animal Farm Foundation

 Check out this graphic from the National Canine Research Council.  This graphic puts (reported) national dog bites into perspective.  We need to focus on facts, not fear when educating. 11162194_10152898759502076_8619681291936299363_nIn rare occasions (0.01%) dog bites result in an incredible amount of physical damage.  However, this still means that we need to understand what happened, so we can prevent it!  You can read more about this here.

Here’s the GOOD News: We can change those statistics!  The majority of dog bites, if not all, are preventable. That’s where YOU come in.  

It’s our duty as dog guardians, parents, educators, and family members to teach children how to understand and respect our canine companions. Kids are great imitators; let’s show them what we want them to imitate!

If we want to become serious about preventing dog bites, and rehoming family dogs, we need to encourage and teach appropriate supervision habits at home.  This excellent video from Family Paws Parent Education explains the 5 Types of Supervision that we recommend:


Below are a few common questions we often hear from parents with ‪‎kids‬:

  • How do we know when a dog is the right fit for our family?
  • Does the breed of dog matter?
  • Are some dog breeds better for some kids?
  • What should we do to ensure we set everyone up for success?

Jennifer Shryock, founder of Family Paws Parent Educationanswers all of these questions and more, here.

Education IS Prevention.  Prevention Leads to Safety.

Learn how you can be a part of safety and prevention HERE!

Teach a child_save a dog_

 “You can’t prevent what you can’t predict.” ― K.M. Mac Aulay

Plan. Prepare. Be a Conscious Companion.

Traveling with your animals doesn’t have to be  stressful and crazy.  You can prepare to make it fun and stress-free for everyone.

There are many reasons to have a travel kit prepared for your animal companions: from evacuation during an emergency, to vet trips, to a day at the beach.  But, often we don’t think of all the items we need to include in that kit.  In the United States alone, 61% of animal guardians travel with their pets and 33% travel often with their animals.  Hotels are recognizing this and offering some really innovative packages for anyone on vacation or having to evacuate with their animal family members.

Did you know that September is National Disaster Preparedness Month?  As September comes to an end and we welcome October, I wanted to share some easy tips that you can do to prepare in the event that an emergency strikes your home.  This is the perfect time for animal guardians to take some simple – but critical – steps to keep their feathered, scaly and furry companions safe.  

More than 396 million pets reside in 68 percent of American households.  A poll, conducted after Hurricane Katrina, found that 61 percent of animal guardians will not evacuate if they cannot bring their animal family members with them. So, if you are one of those people then you need to read this.  It’s vital that you create a pet emergency kit that is available to quickly grab and go.

A basic pet disaster kit includes:

  • Food and water for at least five days for each pet, bowls, and a manual can opener if you are packing canned pet food. People need at least one gallon of water per person per day. While your pet may not need that much, keep an extra gallon on hand if your pet has been exposed to chemicals or flood waters and needs to be rinsed.
  • Medications and medical records stored in a waterproof container and a first aid kit. A pet first aid book is also a good idea.
  • Cat litter box, litter, litter scoop, and garbage bags to collect all pets’ waste.
  • Sturdy leashes, harnesses, and carriers to transport pets safely and to ensure that your pets can’t escape. Carriers should be large enough to allow your pet to stand comfortably, turn around, and lie down. (Your pet may have to stay in the carrier for hours at a time.) Be sure to have a secure cage with no loose objects inside it to accommodate smaller pets—who may also need blankets or towels for bedding and warmth as well as special items, depending on their species.
  • Current photos of you with your pets and descriptions of your pets to help others identify them in case you and your pets become separated—and to prove that they are yours once you’re reunited.
  • Written information about your pets’ feeding schedules, medical conditions, and behavior issues along with the name and number of your veterinarian in case you have to board your pets or place them in foster care.

Other useful items include:

  • Newspapers
  • Paper towels
  • Plastic trash bags
  • Grooming items
  • Household bleach

The HSUS recommends creating a list of hotels and boarding facilities that allow pets and discussing bringing pets with you to stay with family members. Here are a few pet-friendly hotel profiles.

Even if you are evacuating, it doesn’t have to be stressful. We used to jokingly refer to them as “Hurrications”.  This helpful infographic from PetSafe is an excellent reminder of the basic necessities, looks at some of the most pet-friendly places in the nation, and gives you some great guidelines on traveling with your feathered, scaly, or furry family members!

How to Vacation or Evacuate with your Pets

When disaster strikes, the same rules that apply to people apply to our animal companions – preparation makes all the difference.   Remember, if it’s not safe for you, then it’s not safe for your animals.  Be a conscious companion and be prepared!

For more detailed information on how to prepare for disasters, please visit here.


Fighting Dogs Being Trained to Love Instead of Kill

When this little puppy was found, he wore a heavy chain typical of dog fighting victims.
When this puppy was found, he wore a heavy chain typical of dog fighting victims.

The 8-week-old puppy above weighed less than five pounds and had been left in the scorching sun, wearing a chain around his neck that weighed four times as much as he did.   He is one of 371 dogs seized by federal and state authorities last month in Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and Texas in what authorities say was the second largest dog fighting ring in the United States. Normally, dogfighters wait until the canines are at least half a year old before they chain them and expose them to extreme heat or cold as part of a brutal program to transform the dogs into fighters, according to American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals CEO Matt Bershadker.

  • Authorities broke up the nation’s second largest dog fighting ring
  • 371 dogs were transferred to animal welfare groups
  • One of those groups, the ASPCA, is rehabilitating the dogs, both physically and mentally

We’re happy to report that these dogs are undergoing veterinary care and behavioral assessments, and for the first time, will begin to experience life without being forced to fight. -ASPCA

367 Pitbulls Rescued in Multi-State Dog Fighting Bust: hundreds of dogs rescued in Alabama and Georgia

At the request of the United States Attorney’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the HSUS and ASPCA assisted in a multi-state, federal dog fighting raid across the southern U.S. Hundreds of dogs were seized in the case along with suspected dog fighting paraphernalia

After a three-year investigation initiated by the Auburn Police, 13 search warrants were executed August 23, throughout AlabamaMississippiGeorgia and Texas.

This puppy was one of 372 dogs rescued in what authorities say was the second largest dog fighting ring in the United States. It was a multistate raid that took place in Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and Texas and led to the arrest of 12 people.
This puppy was one of 372 dogs rescued in what authorities say was the second largest dog fighting ring in the United States. It was a multistate raid that took place in Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and Texas and led to the arrest of 12 people.

Ten suspects were arrested and indicted on felony dog fighting charges.  Federal and local officials also seized firearms and drugs, as well as more than $500,000 in cash from dog fighting gambling activities that took place over the course of the investigation.

The dogs, ranging in age from just several days to 10-12 years had been left to suffer in extreme heat with no visible fresh water or food.  Many are emaciated with scars and wounds consistent with dog fighting, and some were tethered by chains and cables that were attached to cinder blocks and car tires.

ASPCA responders and responders from The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) helped manage the removal and transport of the dogs to temporary emergency shelters in undisclosed locations, where responders are providing veterinary care and behavior enrichment.  Responders also assisted authorities with collecting forensic evidence to be submitted for prosecution.

Images of the rescue: 

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The goal is to turn these fighting dogs into animals that can be pets or work as rescue and rehabilitation animals.

Hope endures for hundreds of brutalized dogs that have been rescued and cared for in a secret warehouse by ASPCA. Watch the video here: 

Not only are the dogs getting medical treatment for malnourishment and injuries sustained in fighting, but the canines also are getting “a personal behavior modification enrichment plan to maximize each dog’s opportunity to be placed in a home.”   “What we will do is go to each dog individually and assess their strengths and their weaknesses,” said Bershadker.  Read the full story here.

Before and After: One Puppy’s Escape from Dog Fighting

PicMonkey Collage
Five days later after being rescued, the same puppy plays with a ball and receives human affection for the first time.

“He who is cruel to animals becomes hard also in his dealings with men. We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals.”
        —Immanuel Kant





Are You Prepared? How to Evacuate with Your Animal Companion

JUNE 2013

The Atlantic hurricane season lasts from June 1 until the end of November.  This year’s season is expected to be a very busy season.

Prepare Now.

Tornados, floods, fires and hurricanes, oh my!  We don’t expect them, but they do happen. The Atlantic Hurricane Season runs from June 1 until November 30.  This week (May 24-30) is National Hurricane Preparedness Week.   Please take a moment to mark this on your calendar.   This week is a time of the year that we all need to make note of every year, especially if you have a family, and one that includes animal companions.

Planning and preparing will save your family a load of stress, and could even save lives.   Officials advise to not wait until a storm is already in the Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic Ocean to gather supplies and make a plan for your family – pets and people.  The start of the hurricane season is the best time to do this.


Our Hurrications

As Hurricane Season gets rolling, I’m reflecting on the countless “hurrications” and abrupt evacuations my animal companions and I have endured since 2000 from Louisiana to Washington, D.C. to North Carolina.  While I review the past, present, and future statistics I think of my loved ones that are in Louisiana, North Carolina, and all along the Gulf and East Coast, and I find myself remembering the anxiety and stress that I experienced 6 months out of the year while living in Louisiana for nearly 20 years.

Most of that anxiety was self-induced.  Procrastination is to blame.  It was, unfortunately, my nature to wait until the very last minute to do most things, especially if they were important.   The Clash’s famous song was my official theme song every time a storm barreled closer to the coast.  Not only did I mastered the art of procrastination, but I was never been the best at organizing or preparing for trips, not to mention sudden or imminent natural disasters.

Fires are sudden and unexpected reasons for evacuating

That has always been the case until I had to literally run for my life with my animal companions’ lives in tow many times from hurricanes and fires (more than once for each of these natural disasters).

I’ll admit it: It took more than a few natural disasters before I got my act together.  That is one of the many reasons why I created this blog.  My hope is to help others learn from my mistakes and to be prepared for anything.

Even if you don’t have an animal menagerie as large as ours, you’ll need to plan ahead and prepare for each of your companion animals.  Our animals are members of our families.  We have a responsibility to take care of them by preparing for them.  Until they are able to pack up their own stuff into little backpacks, we, as their guardians, have been given this responsibility and need to take it very seriously.

Evacuation Kits

Make a checklist of the items below.  Keep them in a water proof bin ready to go at a moment’s notice.  Keep everything accessible and stored in sturdy containers that can be carried easily.  [You can download this evacuation checklist HERE: Conscious Companion Evacuation Kit ]

  • Current photos of you with your animal companions – including descriptions of them to help others identify them in case you and your animals become separated—and to prove that they are yours once you’re reunited.
  •  Stay up to date with animal vaccinations.  Make copies of all recent vaccination records (for each animal) and bring a copy of these records with you.
  • Proper I.D. & Vaccination Tags – It is imperative that your companion wears his or her ID tags at all times so they can be properly identified, if you are separated.  Maintaining up-to-date identification information on tags is critical.  Put your cell phone number on the tag.  Include numbers of a friend or relative outside your immediate area.  Microchips are an excellent tool because if their collar falls off, your animal companion has a built-in identification system.
  •  Written information about your animals’ feeding schedules, medical conditions, and behavior issues along with the name and number of your veterinarian in case you have to board your pets or place them in foster care.
  • Collars
  • Sturdy leashes & harnesses
  • Transport carriers – Collapsible or sturdy options 
  • Water bowls
  • Bottled water (for you and the animals)
  • Food bowls
  • Treats
  • Food – dry (Keep in an airtight container.  Refresh every 6 months.)
  • Food – canned (Pack some of their favorites or special meals like tuna as a yummy surprise.  Giving them their yummy favorites will help relieve stress. )
  • If they are on a raw diet  you will want to make at least a week’s worth of meals and freeze them.
  • Poop bags
  • Garbage bags
  • Litter box + litter + scoop
  • Cooler for frozen or cold items
  • Prescription medications – Have an adequate supply if they are currently on any.
  • Supplements (glucosamine, salmon oil, calcium, etc.)
  • Toys – an important stress reliever
  • Bedding – comfy animals = relaxed animals
  • Scratching posts (so kitties don’t destroy other people’s furniture)
  • Cat nip – this can help some cats to relax
  • Holistic tools that can be calming to some animals: Feliway or DAP, aromatherapy (Rescue Remedy, HomeoPet, Spirit Essences™ Easy-Travelerthunder shirts
  • Brushes
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Seat belts or restraints for any animal not kenneled
  • Animal First Aid Kit
  • Disaster Preparedness Kits for animals
  • First Aid Pet App – Includes first aid videos and vaccine tracking
  • SAS Survival Guide App 
  • Silly putty or Play-Doh ~ This is a must-have human de-stressor for the driver or passenger.  It has saved many stressed out minds while sitting for hours in traffic on the highways.
  • iBooks – download them and have ready for the many hours that you could be sitting in the car for hours during a mass evacuation.



  • Does your vehicle have room for all of your animal companions?
  • Does it have room for all of their supplies and all of your supplies?
  • Is your vehicle safe?
  • Does your vehicle have air conditioning or heating?

If you cannot say yes to all of those questions, you need to make arrangements with a friend or family member who is also evacuating.

Back in the day, I would have answered NO to all five questions.  Fortunately, I have some of the best friends in the world.  They let me borrow their vehicle and evacuate with them and their animal menagerie. I am forever grateful to them for the many evacuations that we made safely together over the years.


  • Who is willing to take you and your animal companions in for several days to weeks?
  • If it is friends or family, do they understand exactly what they are signing up for if they agree to give you and your menagerie shelter?
  • How long can they let you stay there?

If you do not have family or friends that can take you all in safely, find a place of refuge that is pet-friendly.  There are websites that can help you locate animal friendly hotels  before you set out on the road.  Or you can  find hotels along the way.   If you enjoy having your animal companions with you when you’re out and about, there is a resource for locating pet friendly restaurants and bars.

If there are no pet-friendly hotels in the area that you are evacuating to, find out if there is a local animal facility there that can board your animals.  Red Cross disaster shelters cannot accept animals because of state health and safety regulations.  Service animals are the only animals allowed there.

Transport Carriers

Have a proper-sized pet carrier for each animal.  For example, do not attempt to cram two cats into one kennel because “they are buddies and will be fine together.”  This could go horribly wrong if one of them becomes stressed.  Trust me. As a rule, each animal should have their own kennel.

packing up the feathered family

Carriers should be large enough to allow your animal companion to stand comfortably, turn around, and lie down.  They may have to stay in the carrier for hours at a time.  Be sure to have a secure cage with no loose objects.  If you are using a metal or plastic kennel, know that as soon as you hit the road, the metal will most likely begin to rattle.  Partially cover the kennel with a sheet or blanket.  This will minimize the rattling sound and will also eliminate stress from riding in a car.

Keep your kennels in an easily accessible area of the house – not in the basement of a building.  Your condo could catch on fire on the floor above you and you could find yourself stuck on the 8th floor with 5 animals that need evacuating.  Having to run up and down 8 flights of stairs multiple times, for each animal, while your condo is on fire, is something that should never have to happen. (That’s a lesson that I learned  the hard way). Prepare and plan ahead.

Leave blankets, sheets or bedding in the kennels at all times.  This is one less step that you will have to take if you have to grab your animals at a moment’s notice.

Desensitize your animal companion to the transport crate or kennel ahead of time.  Turn the ‘scary kidnap box’ into a comfy sleeping den, or special treat place, or dinner time den. You can do this for any animal (cats, rabbits, chickens, rats, iguanas, birds, dogs, etc).

Small to medium-sized snakes, lizards, turtles, and amphibians can be transported in a small igloo cooler.  The cooler helps maintain a stable temperature for your reptile friend.  Place a damp towel in the cooler for comfort and humidity.  When transporting your snake, make sure it is securely wrapped in a (tear free) pillow case.  Then place into the igloo.

Providing safe “hide boxes” for small mammals can make traveling less stressful for them

If you are traveling with small mammals that overheat easily, you will need to provide a well ventilated transport cage – do not use anything plastic and avoid placing any mammal or reptile in direct sunlight inside the vehicle.  Even if the air is on, small mammals and reptiles can overheat and perish.  Be sure to provide safe chewing options for yours small mammals as well as some sort of hide boxes (cardboard or plastic) for your small mammal friends.  Animals (including reptiles) can overheat easily, so check on them frequently.

If your animal companion cannot go into a transport kennel calmly or willingly, or if she does not travel well in a vehicle, please discuss a safe medication option for that particular species with your veterinarian.
And … be sure to read the directions properly. Even if they drug appears to not be working, be patient and let it work.  Their stress levels can mask the drug’s effects.  You can easily overdose them.  Follow your vet’s instructions precisely!

Have A Backup Plan!

In the event that a natural disaster strikes and you are not able to get home, ask a reliable neighbor or friend to assist with evacuating your animal companions.  Make sure this person has a spare key and knows where your Evacuation Kit(s) are stored.  Be sure that they are comfortable and familiar with each animal.  Show them where your animals are most likely to be hanging about or hiding.  Ask them to meet you at a specific location where you can collect your animals.

If you use a pet-sitting service, she may also be able to help you, in case the disaster happens on her watch.   You will need to discuss the possibility of this well in advance.  Give these caretakers written permission to medicate (if qualified) or take your animals to the vet if it becomes necessary.


Many Animal Companions Were Left Behind During Katina

If it isn’t safe for you, it isn’t safe for your animals.  Even if you think you will only be gone for a few hours, take your animal companions with you.  You have no way of knowing how long you’ll be gone, and you may not be able (or allowed) to go back for them.  They are your family members.  You wouldn’t leave a child or grandparent behind.  Why even consider leaving your animal companion? Do not leave any pets behind!

Plan Ahead & Stay Calm

Proper planning before disaster strikes home can help you remain calm and panic free in an otherwise overwhelming and stressful situation. It will ensure your animal companions’ safety, and give you peace of mind.   Sometimes you cannot plan ahead because the disaster comes in fast and furious.  But if you can plan and evacuate early, do it.  Waiting until the last minute will ensure stress on not only you, but on your animal companions.  Remember that if you are stressed, they are most certainly going to stress.

Breathe.  You can do this.  Be calm.  Breath some more.  Things will not go according to plan.  It’s ok.   Breathe.  All is well.  Let your animal companions give you the comfort when you need it most.  One of the many gifts that they offer freely to their human is to calm and comfort us.  Let them do it, especially when you are running from one of life’s storms.  Remember to laugh and take another deep breath.  It will all be over soon.  As the song so eloquently says, “So, let go.  Jump in.  It’s alright ’cause there’s beauty in the breakdown.  So, let go.”

The View We Saw Of Hurricane Katrina Coming Onto Land As We Were Evacuating AT THE LAST MINUTE
The View We Saw Of Hurricane Katrina Coming Onto Land As We Were Evacuating AT THE LAST MINUTE

By creating a thorough evacuation plan, you will be prepared for any disaster, devastation, or calamity that comes your way.  Life can be chaotic.  Natural disasters can strike fast and furiously, but there are ways to avoid being hit head on.  You can respond safely, efficiently, and calmly.  It can be done without drama and stress.  You just have to put in some effort.  As we enter hurricane season, there is no better time than NOW.  Be prepared.  You will wish you had taken the time to prepare if nature comes directly at you this season.

If you believe you can accomplish everything by “cramming” at the eleventh hour, by all means, don’t lift a finger now. But you may think twice about beginning to build your ark once it has already started raining. ― Max Brooks, The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead

Have you heard?  The Trilogy we are creating tells of the many Hurrications we’ve had, including Katrina, and how our very own Mr. Beaux went M.I.A. on a number of occasions.  He barely survived!  Now we are telling his “tale.”
Details HERE

YOUR Role In Dog Bite Prevention

When you know better you do better. – Maya Angelou


National Dog Bite Prevention Week is here!  This entire week is dedicated to educating people of all ages about how to becomes more Dog Aware, and increase the safety of kids and dogs.  We are focusing on the facts, not on creating fear.

NOTE: There is a lot of information in this post. I recommend bookmarking this page, so you can read through it all when you have time, and so you can reference it when you need it later!

Dog Bite Prevention
(Graphic provided by Dr. Yin)

The Humane Society of the United States reports that 50% of children will be bitten by a dog before their 12th birthday.  Children under the age of five are most likely to be bitten and most of these bites come from a dog that the child knows; the family dog or that of a relative or friend.  Children are most likely to be bitten in the face as they are closer to a dog’s eye level making it easier for a dog to feel threatened by eye to eye contact.  Children love to kiss and hug dogs, even though these expressions of affection do not translate well in the dog world.  Fast movements can stimulate a dog’s prey drive and/or chase instinct.  Higher pitched voices can sometimes startle a dog and make it fearful.   A dog can be frustrated through rough play or by teasing and a child can inadvertently inflict pain with the pull of a tail or a poke in the eye.  It is also hard for a child to read and understand a dog’s body language, therefore missing vital signals that can put them in harm’s way.

Here’s the Good News:  We can change the statistics!  And, the majority of dog bites, if not all, are preventable.  That’s where YOU come in.  It’s our duty as dog guardians, parents, educators, and family members to learn how to read dogs better, and teach children how to learn dog “language” and to teach children to respect a dog’s space. The graphic below from Doggone Safe shows us a few signals that dog display when they are stressed.

Dog bite out of nowhere myth
Graphic provided by DoggoneSafe

 Researchers found that “Children from 4-7 years misinterpret dogs’ facial expressions.” They found that a full tooth display from a dog is not an effective way to teach a child to back away and leave them alone.  Their research suggests that young children might be interpreting an offensive tooth display on a dog’s face as an expression of friendliness rather than a threat.  Given that so many bites are to children, this is an important piece of information. ~ Dr. Patricia McConnell

Check out this video about Dog Body Language:

Pet. Pause. Respect.

A very handy technique that I’ve learned, and now share with my clients is the “Pet-Pause-Respect Test”.  This helps everyone in the family to know if the dog really wants attention or NOT.  I highly recommend that everyone use the Pet/Pause/Respect rule when interacting with all pets.


This is not cute. This is dangerous.
This is not cute.  This is dangerous.  The dog is being forced to interact with the child, and has limited options to get away.

Doggone Safe shares 5 Important Tips to Teach Kids:

1. Dogs don’t like hugs and kisses — Teach your kids not to hug or kiss a dog on the face.  Hugging the family dog or other face-to-face contacts are common causes of bites to the face.  Instead, teach kids to scratch the dog on the chest or the side of the neck.

2.  Be a Tree if a strange dog approaches — Teach kids to stand still, like a tree.  Trees are boring and the dog will eventually go away.  This works for strange dogs, and any time the family dog gets too frisky or becomes aggressive.

3.  Never tease a dog.

4.  Never disturb a dog that’s sleeping, eating, or protecting something.

5. Teach your kids to Speak Dog, and only interact only with happy dogs! Watch this short slideshow that shows you how to read dog body language, and other safety tips.


Familiar children were most commonly bitten in relation to food or resource guarding and “benign” interactions such as petting, hugging, bending over, or speaking to the dog. 

Dog bite prevention week

What Parents Can Do:

1. ACTIVELY Supervise — Passive supervision is something we are all guilty of, even if you don’t have kids.  But active supervision is a must when there are pets and children in the home!

Supervision means different things to different people. To some parents, supervision means just being home, to others it means watching out the window while the kids play with the dog outside while to others it means having hands on and being part of the interaction between the child and the dog. Many dog bites have happened to children while the parents were ‘supervising’.  – Jennifer Shryock, Family Paws Parent Education

2. Know signals that dogs display.  If you see these behaviors, intervene quickly (but calmly) and redirect the child or dog onto something positive.  These behavior signals include:

3.  Learn the Dog Behavior Continuum:  We hear it all the time, “Kids and dogs should never be left unsupervised”.  That’s great advice, but what else should we be doing??  Supervision only works when we know what to look for and when it’s time to intervene.  We have to know when a dog is going from “Enjoyment to Tolerance, to Enough Already“and back again.

4.  Don’t assume your dog is “good with kids”.  All dogs have their breaking point.  We all do.  Even if your dog is great with kids and has never bitten before, why take a chance? Toddlers, babies, and dogs don’t need to physically interact!

5.  Train your dog positively Never pin, shake, choke, hold the dog down, or roll the dog over to teach it a lesson.  Dogs treated this way are likely to turn their aggression on other family members.

6.  Involve older children with positively training your family dog (while supervising).

7. Don’t allow children to punish the dog, and don’t punish the dog yourself.

8. Condition the dog to enjoy the presence and actions of children using positive experiences.

9. Understand and learn to recognize Trigger Stacking.

10. Understand and recognize the Ladder of Aggression. 

What’s Your Style of Supervision?

Actively Supervise! Supervise your dog around children at all times.  If visiting children are bothering your dog (or other pets in the house), put the pets away safely, or send the children home.   Be your child and your dog’s advocate.    Parents and guardians must be responsible for their dog at all times, without exception, and especially around children.  A child should NEVER be left unsupervised with any dog at any time and dog and child should only be together when a responsible adult can actively supervise.  This keeps both children and dogs safe.  

A child should never be left unsupervised with any dog at any time
A child should never be left unsupervised with any dog at any time

To learn more about what you can do check out:

“My dog would never bite anyone!” Are you willing to bet your dog on that statement?
“My dog would never bite anyone!”
Are you willing to bet your dog  or your child on that statement?  Why take the risk?

There’s no better time than now to educate each other about how each of us has the power to keep everyone happy and safe. This week is the perfect time to reflect on how we can ensure our canine companions, children, and others steer clear of unwanted and preventable circumstances.  Education is the key to safety and well being for everyone in the home.  Please share this to help educate others so we can all work together to keep dogs, kids, and families happy and harmonious 365 days a year!

 Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world. ― Nelson Mandela

Baby It’s Cold Outside

Originally Posted Winter 2013 Cold Cat Winter

I grew up in the harsh winters of Kansas.  As a kid, winter was bliss.  I didn’t have to shovel snow, or scrape the icy windshield;  I got to play in it.   However, my dad believed that the dogs were fine out there in the dead of winter, unless there was a blizzard or “big storm-a-coming.”  Only then would we prepare the basement for our black Labrador and German Shepherd-Golden Retriever mix, Sampson and Sheba.  They were both allowed inside, but had to stay down in a carpet-free, secured area of the basement for the night.  To a 7 year old girl who adored her canine companions,  this was fine to me because I got to see my buddies inside for a night!

Things are different now.

It’s not recommended that you leave your animal companion outside in the freezing temperatures, with or without snow.  Most dogs and all cats are safer indoors.   No matter what the temperature, the freezing wind chill can threaten their lives.

Fur isn’t gortex.  A dog or cat’s fur doesn’t always protect them from extremely cold temperatures.  In fact, when most pet fur gets wet from walking through snow, they actually become more susceptible to hypothermia and frostbite because their fur chills them instead of keeping them warm.

Cold Weather Protection 

Cat ShelterIf you know of any cats that live outdoors consider building (or buying) a structure where they can go to get out of the inclement weather.  Provide insulation in their shelter.  Use blankets.  Straw (not hay) is also a good insulator.  Provide a heat source.  Some houses have the capability of connecting a light bulb as a heat source.   Other options may be warm water bottles.   Be careful with heating pads, as they can chew through them.  Anytime you are providing a heat source, be sure that the animal is able to move away from it if they get too warm.   Alley Cat Allies has an extensive list of shelters that you can build.   You can build a basic shelter, or an elaborate one.  Check out their Cat Shelter Options!

Click on the image / Link below to learn how to make an easy shelter.

cat shelter winter outdoor cats

Building Winter Shelters for Community Cats

Slap The Hood!  Keep ’em on Leash! And Wipe Those Feetz!

We have all heard the stories about outdoor cats and their terrible injuries or deaths because they sought warmth in a car engine compartment.  You can prevent this by simply slapping the hood a couple of times or honking the horn before starting the engine.   The noise will startle the cat and hopefully encourage him or her to make haste and leave!

When you are out and about with your canine or feline, keep them on a leash at all times during a snow storm.  In snow, they can lose their scent and easily become lost.  The ASPCA states that more pets are lost during the winter than during any other season.  Keep their ID tags on at all times!Lonely cat waiting by the road by Shutterstock

Be sure to wipe off their paws, legs and stomach when they come inside from the sleet, snow, or ice.   The salt and other chemicals used to melt snow and ice can make them sick and irritate the pads of their feet and their stomachs.  Check to make sure there is no ice stuck between their toe pads. These pieces can be very sharp and tear their skin.

Consider getting snow boots and a coat for  for animal companions!

RuffWear has amazing snow gear!

Keep those “Cold Blooded” Critters Warm!

While most exotic animals are housed indoors here in the northern part of the states, there are still some key things to keep in mind during winter.  When housing reptiles in the home, remember that your house temperature drops as the temperature outside drops, so you will need to adjust their enclosure heat sources accordingly.  The most important part of their heating set up is a good quality digital thermometer.  Place the thermometer where the reptile will be and measure the warm and cool ends of the cages as well as the night temperature.  If these temperatures fall outside of recommended ranges, then provide a supplemental radiant heat source.  Use a lamp -not a hot rock or heating pad — Burns can result from these.   Here are a few more tips for keeping your reptile friends safe and warm during cold weather.

NOTE:  Overheating (even from heat lamps) is much more dangerous than the cold is for reptiles.  Use caution!   Hibernation is not recommended for any reptile without a reptile veterinary consultation first.  Many pets die every year from incorrect hibernating techniques.

Little David in his pond

Even native turtles need a source of warmth in the winter. Here Little David is enjoying some rays of sun on a cooler day.

Feathered Friends Need Warmth and Shelter, too! 


Ideal Temperature Ranges For Parrots

The majority of birds should not be kept outside when the weather is below 40 degrees – unless adequate shelter is provided.  The ideal temperature for most birds is between 65 and 90 degrees F.  African greys, cockatoos, and amazon parrots prefer temperatures around 70 to 80 degrees.   Miniature parrots (parrotlet and fig parrot) cannot be kept in temperatures below 50 degrees.

How to Keep them warm

  • Get a heater!  Ceramic heaters produce a constant flow of heat without light that disturbs your bird’s sleep. Keep the heater away from the bird and enclosure; these heaters can get very hot.
  • Get a warming perch. Birds lose a ton of heat through their feet; heating perches are a great way to keep them warm.
  • Solo birds don’t have the option of huddling up with a mate to keep warm. Provide your loner bird with a warm soft fabric to snuggle with!
  •  More Temp Tips
  • More Winter Tips to keep your parrot healthy, including how to provide adequate UV Light!

Soothe the Seniors’ with Added Warmth!

These rapidly fluctuating temps dipping down well below normal can really affect aging pets with arthritis.   And since we always want to look at the BIG picture when it comes to our animal companions, we need to recognize that joint stiffness and pain can exacerbate (or create) behavioral issues and tension in the home, especially in multiple cat homes, or in homes with multiple species.  Chronic pain can lead to increased vocalization, irritability, aggression, fear, and a host of other behavioral issues.

One of the many ways that we maintain peace and harmony in our home is to make sure that each senior is content and comfy 24/7.   One way that we do that is by placing “warm spots” for them on each level of the house.  This allows him to retreat to a safe, warm, and soothing spot when they want to, they all have their own places, and it allows them to find a warm patch when a cold snap comes through. As you can see, this homemade heated bed is for our senior cats, who have a hard time navigating in and out of tall beds.

pet heating pads_senior cats_arthritis .png

We also LOVE these heated cat beds for the more agile cats in the home. You can view them here. thermo-kitty-bed heated cat bed

The image below is of our Beaux, who is twenty years of age. He, like most cats, gravitates toward warm spaces. Beaux is safely sleeping on a heated pet bed.  At a mere six pounds, he gets chilly easily, so Beaux loves to be covered up! 

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Although this sort of low heat source is not likely to penetrate deep into a cat or dog’s hip joints, many are soothed and comforted by having a warmed spot, and the warmth can encourage blood circulation through those stiff muscles.

Martin Conscious Companion_pet warming beds
Hocus Pocus is seen here sleeping on Mr. Beaux’s heating pad area. As you can see, the heating pad is directly on the couch, with a regular pet bed on top of it. When Beaux is ready to nap on this, we add a blanket over the pet bed (for extra safety and to prevent over-heating).

Safety First:  Always be sure your pet does not have access to the wires, or anything else that could be harmful.  And be sure the PET heating pad is set on the lowest setting, and it’s well insulated under blankets and other materials.  If you have a home with pets who can not be trusted around wires and such, here’s a non-electric option.  

Remember:  Heat rises, so the house may feel very warm to us, but at a cat and dog’s level, it’s considerably cooler.  If you have senior pets, talk to your veterinarian about what can help sooth those achy joints, especially during these cold weather months!


The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has some great tips on how you can help your furry family members in cold weather:

Did you know?

  • Animal neglect is considered a misdemeanor crime in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
  • All but nine states (Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Mexico, and North Carolina) specifically require pet owners to provide adequate shelter for a pet outside, the definition of which generally includes some variation of “protection from the elements or extreme weather.”
  • Felony penalties can be levied in Massachusetts and Oklahoma for any animal neglect case.
  • Felony charges can be applied in animal neglect resulting in death in California, Connecticut, Florida and Washington, D.C.

Be a Conscious Companion!

PLEASE, If you see any animal that has been left outside in extreme temperatures (a neighbors pet, a business’s pet, etc.) find the courage to say something.  If you are not comfortable going on your own, take someone with you.  Be the voice for the ones who need your help.   Ask if the person if they need help setting up a shelter, if they need blankets, or if they would like help in anyway.   Don’t be accusatory.   Be helpful.  It will come across more meaningful and they may accept your help.  If they don’t respond well to your offerings, the HSUS suggests that you contact local law enforcement agencies.  Pets left outside in extreme temperatures without food and shelter are at risk of hypothermia, frostbite, and even death, and this places their owners at risk of facing criminal charges.  The HSUS lists details of how you can help neglected animals during these winter months.

Remember that even though animals have their own instincts, as their guardians we have to be responsible and take precautions for them on their behalf.  

Winter Weather Recap:


  • Never leave your pet outside during a snowstorm for longer than you’d would want to be out there with them. If it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for your pet.
  • Consider caring for and/or building a safe shelter for outdoor cats.
  • Prepare indoor play activities for your pets who are used to more outside time.
  • Stock up on pet food and medicines your animals may need, as winter storms can take out power, close roads, and even trap you in your home.
  • Thoroughly wipe off your dog’s paws and belly with a moist washcloth after going outside. Snow-melting salt can be very painful to dogs’ feet and cause illness if ingested. Clumps of snow can accumulate between toes and cause pain as well. Dog boots and salves can be purchased to protect sensitive dog paws.
  • During the winter, outdoor cats sometimes sleep underneath cars for shelter. Bang loudly on the car hood before starting the engine to give any resting cats a chance to escape.
  • Consider giving short-haired or smaller dogs a coat and booties to wear outside to protect them from the elements and the chilly temperature.
  • If you lose power, be sure candles aren’t in locations where your pet can knock them over.
  • Be aware of snow-melting salt, which can be painful to animals’ paws and make them ill if it’s ingested.
  • Create an emergency plan.
  • Stay up to date on storm conditions and warnings in your by checking with your local Office of Emergency Management.
  • The ASPCA’s free mobile app provides pet owners with critical information on what to do before, during, and after a disaster, and gives personalized instructions on how to search for and recover a lost animal in a variety of circumstances.
  • You may also store your pets’ medical records and other important information — such as microchip numbers and veterinarians’ contact information — often needed when bringing your animal to an evacuation shelter. Visit to download on iTunes or Google Play.
  • The ASPCA’s shareable cold weather pet care infographic may be found here. For more information on cold weather pet safety tips from the ASPCA, visit

How do you keep your animal companions safe during the winter months?  

Please share with us and help others!

Some cat and dog breeds are well adapted to cold weather, but the majority of them are not.
Some breeds are well adapted to cold weather, but the majority of them are not.
The Norwegian Forest Cat is a breed adapted to a very cold climate.
The Norwegian Forest Cat is a breed adapted to a very cold climate.