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You may have many best friends but your dog only has one.

Pet Emergency Kit

When you are forced to evacuate your home due to a natural disaster, typically you will not have the opportunity to pack a bag. It’s important to have an emergency kit for both you and your pet already packed and stored by the door for a quick departure.

Consider the following items for your pet’s emergency kit:

Several days’ worth of your pet’s food will help bridge the gap before you are able to purchase more. Your pet will already be in a stressful state, so keeping his diet as consistent as possible will be important.

During a natural disaster, clean water may be at a premium, so stock up on bottled water.

Collar with ID Tag & Leash
During an emergency, your pet may have the instinct to want to flee. Having an extra collar and leash are important to make sure you are able to secure your pet, and ID tags should always be attached in case the pet gets free.

If your pet is on any medication for existing medical problems, it’s important to have at least a few days’ worth to a week’s worth in your emergency kit to cover you until you are able to get to a veterinarian. Make sure to consistently rotate these medications out of your emergency kit so the medication is never past its expiration date.

Medical Records & Other Important Documents
Keeping a copy of all medical records and other important documents (like purebred papers or city registration papers) in an emergency kit will ensure that any veterinarian you need to see will have a detailed history of your pet and you are able to clearly prove ownership in case there is a question.

Favorite Things
Pets can sense stress, so to keep them as comfortable as possible, include items that are familiar to them – such as toys, treats, or blankets and smell like home.


Pet Needs & Essentials

Daily Essentials

Essentials and Needs are different.

Daily Esentials are

    • water
    • food
    • shelter
    • urination/defecation opportunities.

If a dog’s needs are not met, they cannot survive. But, we want far more than basic survival for our comoanion animals! We want them to thrive.

Dog Needs

Needs are the elements that provide a natural, healthy structure for dogs to live in. All dogs need five basic, common needs to be fulfilled.  They are:

  1. Exercise (preferably in the morning)
    Start the day with walking, hiking, running or jogging. Anything that will allow the dog to travel and burn pent-up energy.  Exercise is an excellent way of releasing stress, anxiety and negative emotions. Remember a tired dog is a good dog.
  2. Training (throughout the day)
    Try to re-establish the rules by starting with the basics. Practice the basic commands like: sit, come, stay… and move on to any other familiar commands. This will allow you and the dog to bond; will establish you as the person in charge and will maintain the dog’s respect.
  3. Socialization (throughout the day)
    Now that you have exercised and trained the dog, allow the dog to socialize with other dogs and people.  Include environment and objects such as: trees, cars, umbrellas, bicycles, etc. Socialization is training that is done one part   by you and the other part, by other dogs with whom your new dog is socializing.
  4. Care (in the evenings)
    After steps 1 to 3, now is a good time to do a daily physical check to look for any cuts and bruises on the dog; brush his or her coat, clean his or her ears and check teeth.
  5. Affection (at the end of the day)
    Since you are performing the daily physical check, it is the perfect time to share affection and spoil them with love now, rather than throughout the day.

You need to be able to satisfy these needs in this order to start building a healthy path for your dog’s future. It does not matter how old, how small or how low or high energy they are, dogs all have these needs which need to be filled in moderate amounts.


Adapted from an article by Saro Boghozian, Jonah’s Ark Doggie Playcare & Training

Helping Kids Interact Safely with Dogs

Respect the dog

If y0u are approaching a dog who is not yours–even if you know the dog well–it is best to lask permission from the dog’s guardian. Even the most loved, friendly dogs have bad moments (maybe they’ve just had a poor interaction with someone else and need a a moment todecomress).

Let dogs eat in peace

Wait until a dog’s dish is empty, or they have walked away from their dish. Remove the dish. Then play!

Respect a dog’s toys

Don’t let a child try to take a toy, stick, or bone from a dog’s mouth. Even the most gentle dog may interpret that as “theft” and attempt to guard their plaything.

  • Work with your dog to teach them how to give up a toy/ball/stick so that play can continue safely!
  • Work with the child to help them understand how dogs do and don’t share.

 Respect a dog’s face-space

Putting your hand or face right up in a dog’s face may feel threatening to a dog. Instead, first ask permission from the dog’s guardian, then approach from the side.

 Respect a sleeping/resting dog

As the old saying goes “let sleeping dogs lie.” A sleeping or resting dog may may not appreciate being woken. Wait for them to wake on their own.

Respect the ears!

Never grab a dog by its ears.

Hugging is for people, not dogs

People usually love hugs.  Dogs usually don’t

Use your inside voice

Just as most people don’t like being shouted at, most dogs don’t like it either.


Adapted from “The Art and Science of Anima Behaviour” by Dr.Sophia Yin, DVM MS

Managing Barrier Frustration

What us barrier frustration?

When they’re off-leash, my dog is friendly with other dogs. But when we’re on a walk or when they’re behind the fence in my yard, they lunge and barks at other dogs. I’ve been told that this behavior is caused by barrier frustration. What is that, and what can I do about it?

As a trainer, I work with a lot of dogs who exhibit barrier frustration. Over time, this behavior can escalate to more intense reactions while on-leash and even off-leash. For this reason, as soon as your dog shows even the first signs of barrier frustration, it’s important to get professional help, starting with your veterinarian.

Barrier frustration is different from aggression.

Dogs with barrier frustration may be dog-friendly, but react when they are prevented from reaching potential playmates. Your dog may simply be excited about greeting another dog and may be acting out because they cannot reach that potential playmate. If they are punished for this behavior or they’re not taught an appropriate alternative response, this reaction may change from excitement and frustration to fear and aggression.

What Causes Barrier Frustration?

Certain triggers can escalate the intensity of barrier frustration.

  • Fences (both visible and invisible)
    Approaching another canine walking by is literally blocked. Your dog may become agitated and appear aggressive, even if they are not.
  • Walking on-leash
    Your dog may become agitated when they sees another dog but are unable to approach. Your dog’s agitation appear aggressive, even if they are not.
  • Direct approach
    Directly approaching another dog–as often happens on walks–is more likely to cause a reaction than if the dogs approach each other at an angle.
  • Meeting another reactive dog
    The increased energy level and forward-leaning posture of an excited dog may trigger a bigger reaction in your dog than meeting a dog who is calm and showing minimal interest.
  • Your reaction
    It’s not uncommon for guardians of dogs who have exhibited past barrier frustration to inadvertently trigger further barrier frustration by becoming anxious and/or nervous when another dog approaches. Your dog will be sensitive to your reactions. Your stress-related behavior, such as tightening up on or jerking the leash, is often subconscious and involuntary, but is still apparent to your dog. Be aware of your own response and actively work at being calm.

What can you do?

When the trigger barrier is removed, this behavior is much less likely to happen. When your dog has more freedom to approach or move away from other dogs at their own pace, they are less likely to be reactive. Your dog will also freer use body language to communicate intent to other dogs. This is why most dog parks permit dogs to be off-leash: it allows dogs to communicate and approach or withdraw at their own leisure.

Barrier frustration can occur at any age, but usually begins in early adulthood. Since barrier frustration rarely goes away on its own, and may intensify over time, it is essential to intervene early. Start by talking to your veterinarian or asking about a referral to a qualified trainer, ideally one who uses positive reinforcement training methods.


Adaoted from the article by By Mikkel Becker

Things Dogs Hate

Dogs try to be our best friends, but boy do we ever make it difficult sometimes. Here are some of the things we do that might make dogs question whether they want to remain best buds or cut ties completely.

Using words more than body language

We’re a vocal species. We love to chatter away, even at our pets, who can’t understand the vast majority of what we’re saying. Dogs might be able to deduce what a few keywords mean—walk, treat, toy, off—and maybe even learn hundreds of words as some border collies have done. But they can’t understand human language. What they rely on to figure out what we mean is our body language.

Dogs have evolved to be expert readers of the human body and can figure out what you’re thinking and feeling before you even realize you’re thinking and feeling it. But we can easily send mixed signals if we are only paying attention to what our mouths are saying and not what our bodies are saying.

If you go to any beginning dog training class, you’ll see plenty of people saying one thing while doing another, and a confused dog trying to figure out what in the world is wanted of them. For instance, telling a dog to “stay” while leaning forward toward the dog and holding out a hand like a traffic cop is, in body language, actually inviting the dog to come toward you. But when the dog does, they get reprimanded for breaking their stay command. It’s all so confusing!

A great experiment (and something that will probably have your dog sighing with relief) is to try to spend a whole day not saying a word to your dog, but communicating only with your body. You’ll realize just how much you “talk” with your body without realizing it, how to use your movements and body position to get the response you need from your dog during training, and how involved a conversation can be without emitting a single sound.

Hugging your dog

While you might love wrapping your arms around a furry canine friend, most dogs hate hugs. We as primates think hugs are awesome and express support, love, joy, and other emotions through hugs. It’s totally normal to us to wrap our arms around something and squeeze, and it only means good things. But dogs did not evolve this way.

Canids don’t have arms and they don’t hug. Rather than camaraderie, if a dog places a foreleg or paw on the back of another dog, this is considered an act of dominance. No matter your intentions with hugging, a dog is hardwired to view the act of hugging as you exerting your dominance.

Many dogs will tolerate it with grace—the smiling face of the family golden retriever with a child’s arms wrapped around it comes to mind. But some dogs will feel threatened, fearful, or just flat out loathe the feeling. In fact, a child grabbing a dog for a hug is why many dog bites occur. Also, the same dog that accepts one person’s hug might react entirely differently with another family member trying the same thing. You’d be hard-pressed to find a dog that actually enjoys or seeks out hugs.

If you’re wondering if your dog hates your hugs, pay attention to rheir body language when you go in for a cuddle. Do they:

  • Tense up?
  • Lean their head away from you?
  • Avoid even a hint of eye contact?
  • Lick their lips?
  • Keep their mouth closed?
  • Pull their ears back against their head?

All of these are signs that a dog is uncomfortable. Yes, even the dog licking their lips while someone snuggles them is not showing that they are overcome with love; it is showing submissive, even nervous behavior.

So, next time you want to go in for a hug, pay very close attention to whether or not the dog is okay with it. After all, you’re putting your face right next to a set of sharp teeth.

Petting a dog’s face or patting their head

Do you like to be patted on the head? My guess is no.

Having someone reach out and tap us on the head, no matter how lovingly, is not something most of us enjoy. It’s annoying at best and painful at worst. And we really don’t want the hands of strangers reaching toward our face. If someone were to reach their hand toward your face, I’m guessing your reaction would be to pull your head back and lean away, and get a little tense about the invasion of personal space. Yet most humans think that dogs like being patted on the head.

The reality is that, while many dogs will put up with this if it’s someone they know and trust, most dogs don’t enjoy it. You may notice that even the loving family dog will lean away slightly when you reach for their face to pet them. They’ll let you because you’re the boss, but they doesn’t like it. It’s a personal space issue for dogs just as much as it is for us. This is why responsible parents teach their children to gently pet a dog’s back or rear. Don’t pat, and definitely don’t go for the dog’s face. If you really want to reward your dog for being awesome, don’t bang on their head, but give them a rub on their rear end right by the tail. They’ll thank you for it!

Walking up to a strange dog while looking them in the eye

We all know how powerful eye contact is. While humans view steady eye contact as important, as a sign of trustworthiness or focus, we have to also be aware that eye contact can feel unnerving, uncomfortable and domineering. It’s creepy when a stranger looks us in the eye without breaking contact, especially as they’re approaching. It’s clear their attention is zeroed in, but what is their intention? We have to read the rest of their face for the cues.

Eye contact is part of establishing dominance for many species, and in humans, we can use the tiniest of details about the rest of the face—the softness or hardness of the muscles around the eyes and mouth—to determine if the stare is friendly or not. Even then, it’s still creepy to have a stranger stare at us!

It feels the same way for dogs. When you look a strange dog right in the eye, unblinking, you might be smiling and trying to warm up to them but the dog is probably reading it as an act of dominance or even aggression. They might display a submissive response—looking away, doing a little wiggle for pets, rolling over onto their backs—or they might start backing up and barking. Either way, for most dogs, a stranger looking it right in the eye while approaching is not a comfortable situation.

If you want to say hello to a new dog in a way that is comfortable for both of you, approach with your body angled slightly (not with your shoulders squared toward the dog), your eyes slightly averted, and speak quietly with a gentle voice. All these body language cues of friendship will help a dog understand you mean no harm. The dog might still want nothing to do with you, but at least you didn’t approach in a scary way that could cause a defensive or aggressive reaction.

Not providing structure and rules

Dogs want, need, and love having rules. You might think having strict rules makes life boring or unhappy for your dog. But dogs really want to know what’s what according to their leader. And really, it’s not so hard to relate as humans. Children thrive when they have a consistent set of rules to follow, and they do less well in environments that provide them a free-for-all. Think about polite, well-balanced kids you know, and the spoiled kids who lack social skills or throw temper tantrums when they don’t get what they want. Which set of kids are the ones with consistently enforced rules and boundaries? And which set tends to be most consistently happy? With dogs, it’s pretty much the same thing. Rules make life a lot more predictable, a lot less confusing and a lot less stressful.

And speaking of confusing, dogs don’t understand exceptions to rules. They don’t understand that they’re allowed to jump on you when you have leisure clothes on but not when you have work clothes on. They don’t understand that they’re allowed on the couch after a bath but not after coming in from a romp in the mud. Additionally, saying “No” for breaking a rule but not actually doing something to help the dog stop the behavior and learn the correct rule doesn’t count as enforcement.

Dogs thrive when they know where the boundaries are, and when you spend time enforcing consistent boundaries with positive rewards, you also are building up their trust in you as a leader. You’re setting up conditions for a very happy dog!

Forcing your dog to interact with dogs or people she clearly doesn’t like

Just like many other social species, dogs have their favourite friends and their enemies. It is easy to see what other dogs—and people, for that matter—a dog wants to hang out with and those with whom they’d rather not associate.

Yet, there are a lot of dog owners who go into denial about this or simply fail to read the cues their dog is giving them. It is common for overly enthusiastic owners to push their dog (sometimes literally) into social situations at dog parks when their dog would rather just go home. Or they allow strangers to pet their dog even when they are showing clear signs of wanting to be left alone. It is important to note that there is a difference between positive encouragement with shy, fearful, or reactive dogs and forcing a dog into an unwanted social interaction. Taking small steps to encourage them out of their comfort zone and giving them rewards for any amount of calm, happy social behavior is important to helping them live a balanced life. But knowing the difference between gentle, rewards-based boundary pushing and forcing an interaction is vital to your dog’s safety and sanity.

When dogs are pushed too far in social situations, they’re more likely to lash out with a bite or a fight. They’ve given cue after cue—ignoring, avoiding, maybe even growling—and finally they’ve had enough and give the clearest message of all with their teeth. What is possibly even worse, is that their trust in you as a protective leader is eroded, and they have an even more negative association with a park, a certain dog or person, or a general social setting.

So do your dog a favor: read their body language when they don’t want to be around certain other individuals and don’t force it.

Going for walks without opportunity to explore and smell

There are walks, and there are walks. It’s important to have a dog that knows how to walk obediently on a leash. However, it’s also important to allow a dog to have some time to explore their surroundings while walking obediently on a leash.

Dogs see with their noses, and they place as much importance on their sense of smell as we humans place on our sense of vision for interpreting the world around us. It’s probably safe to say that dogs appreciate the smell of a tree trunk the way we appreciate a beautiful sunset. Dogs loathe not being able to take in their world for at least a few minutes a day, and too often we humans are focused on going on walks for the sole purpose of exercise or potty breaks. We trudge along the same old route, often without any variety or sense of leisure, and in too much of a hurry to get back home. The sense of smell is how a dog takes in the world, and sometimes they’re simply desperate for a chance to take a good sniff.

Do your dog a favor and dedicate one of your daily walks to having a “smell walk”; go slow and let your dog take in the world with their nose. Go somewhere entirely new. Explore a different neighborhood or trail. Let your dog sniff at a spot until they get their fill, even if it’s for minutes at a time before moving forward.
For helping your dog know the difference between a walk where they should be obedient and stay beside you, and a walk where they are free to explore, you can have a special backpack or harness that you use only for smell walks. Just make sure it is something very different from your usual collar and leash set-up, so the different purpose for the walk is obvious to your dog. These walks are a wonderful opportunity for your dog to get some of the mental and sensory stimulation that keeps life interesting.

Keeping a tight leash, literally

Just as dogs are amazing at reading our body language, they’re amazing at reading our tension levels even through the leash. By keeping a tight leash on a dog, you’re raising the level of stress, frustration, and excitement for your dog, and conversely, for you. I know what you might be thinking: “I don’t want to hold a tight leash, but I have to. My dog is the one pulling, not me!” But this is why it is so important to teach a dog how to walk on a slack leash. An amazing amount of energy is transferred between you and your dog through that little strip of canvas or leather. By keeping a loose leash, you’re letting your dog know that everything is fine and dandy, that there’s no reason to be worried or tense. With a slack leash you’re saying to your dog that you are calm and have everything under control so your dog is free to be calm as well.

On the other hand, by keeping a tight leash you’re sending a message to your dog that you’re tense, nervous, on alert, ready to fight or fly, and your dog responds in kind. Just as you don’t like your dog pulling you around, it doesn’t feel good to your dog to constantly be pulled and thus cued to be on alert. They’re also well-aware that they can’t get away from you even if they think they need to. A dog that walks on a tight leash is more apt to bark or be reactive in even the most mild of social situations. But a dog that can walk on a slack leash is more likely to be calm. This is a difficult thing to master, and something the majority of dog owners can commiserate about, but it is so important to having pleasant walks with a relaxed dog.

Your tension

Tension on the leash isn’t the only way a dog can tell how you’re feeling. You can tell when a person you’re around is feeling tense, even if you don’t realize it. Dogs have the same ability. The more stressed and wound-up you are, the more stressed and wound-up your dog is. And dogs, just like us, don’t like that feeling. You might roll your eyes, but the next time your dog is acting frustrated and tense, check in with yourself: have you been feeling that way for the last few minutes, for the last few hours, or the last few days? Your dog might just be acting as your mirror. If you need a reason to meditate, helping your dog calm down is a great one.

Being boring

You know that feeling of being stuck hanging around someone who is totally boring? Think back: remember having to be with your parents while they ran grown-up errands? None of which revolved around a toy store or park. Remember that feeling of barely being able to contain yourself, of wanting to squirm and groan and complain. You couldn’t take part in the adult conversation, which was boring anyway, and you were told to sit still and hush. But oh boy did you ever want to just moooove! Just run around the block or something to break the monotony. That’s how your dog feels when you’re busy being that boring grown-up.

Dogs abhor it when we’re boring. And it’s hard not to be! We get home from work and we want to unwind, to get a few chores done, to make dinner and sack out on the couch and relax. But that’s about the most annoying thing we could do to our dogs who have been waiting around all day for us to finally play with them.

If your dog is making trouble—getting into boxes or closets, eating shoes or chewing on table legs—they’re basically showing you just how incredibly bored they are. Luckily, there is a quick and easy solution to this: training games. Teach your dog a new trick, work on old tricks, play a game of “find it” with a favorite toy, or go out and use a walk as a chance to work on urban agility. These are all ways to stimulate both your dog’s mind and body.

An hour of training is worth a couple hours playing a repetitive game of fetch in terms of wearing a dog out. While exercise and walks are important, adding in some brain work will make your dog happy-tired. Even just 15 – 30 minutes of trick training a day will make a big difference.


This should be obvious, so we won’t spend too much time on it. But it’s worth pointing out because too many people still think it’s funny. Don’t bark at a dog as you pass it on the street. Don’t wave or talk to a dog that is barking at you from behind a window or door. Don’t pull on a dog’s tail. The list can go on and on, but in short, don’t do something you know makes a dog mad just because you think it’s funny. It’s not funny to the dog and can lead to some serious behavioral problems. And perhaps deservedly, you getting to sport some new dog-shaped teeth marks.

When to leash

When to Leash

Dogs & hot cars