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Equipment for a New Dog

What do you need for your new buddy?

Going to the pet store to find the best walking equipment for your new fur-iend can be overwhelming. There are many different choices for collars, harnesses, and head halters and it can be hard to decide which will be best, especially as you are still getting to know your dog. Here is a list of the equipment you need, and our recommendations for which might work best for you. Keep in mind that every dog is different, so you may have some trial and error finding the equipment that works best for both of you.

Leashes: Simple 4’-6’ leashes provide the best control. We do not recommend leashes longer than 6’ or retractable leashes, as you have less ability to intervene if your dog is about to get itself into trouble or get hurt. If you walk your dog early in the morning or later in the evening, a reflective leash or one with a safety light on it are always great options to stay safe in the dark.

Most dog professionals, including veterinarians, strongly dislike retractable leashes. Here are a few reasons why you should reconsider using one:

  • The lack of control you have on your dog the farther they get from you. At any moment your dog could dart in any direction and run into oncoming traffic, inappropriately greet other people or dogs, run down someone on a bike, or eat harmful items.
  • Retractable leashes have caused a number of injuries to humans and dogs. The thin cord that retracts in and out can cause serious burns and lacerations (we are talking cuts to the bone or people losing fingers!). Many dog owners get hurt trying to grab the cord or as the cord runs against their leg as their dog is running off on the leash. This happens frequently when the locking mechanism breaks and owners are scrambling to get their dog under control. Injuries can also occur as larger dogs are running full speed to the end of the leash. This can cause owners to get pulled off their feet, dogs to get serious injuries to their necks as their collar tugs them back, or can cause the cord to break, setting your dog free to keep running.
  • Retractable leads actually teach dogs to pull! This is counterproductive to the peaceful walks we hope to have with our dogs. When you don’t have the leash locked the dog is expected to pull forward on it to extend the leash. When the leash is locked or if you switch to a non-retractable leash, the dog will continue to try to pull to get more leeway. Once this behavior has been learned, it is hard to teach a dog not to pull on leash.

Collars: Dogs should always have a collar they wear on a regular basis, especially when they are outside, that has its identification tags. If your dog ever gets loose, this will help them find their way home. Always make sure your identification tags are up to date, including the microchip information.

Types of collars and when they are recommended:

  • Traditional flat collars: Good for everyday use to keep ID tags on your dog. If your dog does not pull, these can be used for walking as well. If your dog does pull on leash, these are not recommended for walking as they can damage the neck and trachea. Make sure the collar is appropriate to the size of your dog. Collars should be tight enough where it cannot slip over the dog’s head. It is typically recommended that you should be able to fit 1-2 fingers under the collar, but it shouldn’t be any looser than that. We recommend taking the collar off if your dog is playing with other dogs because some dogs get their mouths, paws, ears, etc. stuck in collars when playing with each other. Some people also take their dog’s collar off when they are kept in a crate due to risk of the collar getting caught on the crate.
  • Martingale collars: These collars are good for dogs who can slip out of a regular collar. There are often used on dogs such as greyhounds that have thin heads. These collars tighten enough to prevent dogs from pulling out of the collar, but not so much that you are choking the dog. We do not recommend you use these collars for leash corrections to teach your dog not to pull. They should only be used for additional safety purposes.
  • Head collars: Head collars are a great option for dogs that are easily distracted on walks, are leash reactive, or dogs who are larger and stronger than their handlers. These collars work like halters on horses, where you are able to have greater control over the animal because you are leading them by their head. Dogs who wear head collars are typically unable to pull as easily, making it easier to redirect their attention back onto you so that you can train them to walk nicely on a leash. If you have a dog who is a strong puller or is leash reactive or has the potential to be aggressive or run away off leash, some head halters have an extra safety feature where you can have the leash connected to the head halter and to the dog’s regular collar. This way if the head halter becomes loose or if your dog is a Houdini and gets out of it somehow, you still have control over your dog.
  • Choke and prong/pinch collars: We do not recommend the use of these collars for any reason. They can lead to neck injury, trachea damage, increase eye pressure, and nerve damage. The use of punishment-based methods can also lead to stress in your dog, which can use leash reactivity, aggression, and anxiety. 
  • Shock collars: We do not recommend the use of these collars for any reason. They lead to stress in dogs, which can lead to leash reactivity, aggression, and anxiety.

Harnesses: Harnesses are one of the safest options for you and your dog when walking. If you have a small dog or medium sized dog, or a brachycephalic dog (short snouted dog), a harness is your preferred option. Smaller dogs and dogs with short muzzles are more prone to collapsed tracheas or increased eye pressure from the use of collars while walking. Even if your dog doesn’t pull, walking them on a harness is good for the rare occasions where you may need to pull them to prevent any harm or injury.

  • Back-clip harnesses: These are the safest form of harness for you and your dog IF AND ONLY IF your dog does not pull, or your dog cannot overpower you if it does pull. This is the best option for small to medium sized dogs. If your dog does pull, is not trained to walk well on leash, is leash reactive, or can easily overpower you back-clip harness offer you little control over your dog and make it difficult for you to redirect your dog’s attention back onto you.
  • Front-clip harnesses: If your dog pulls, front-clip harnesses are a good option to use during training. Front-clip harnesses work by restricting the dog’s ability to pull on leash. If the dog tries to pull while on a front-clip harness, the chest piece restricts, which causes the dog to have to turn towards the leash rather than pulling forward. This offers dog owners a little more control over their dog than back-clip harnesses. However, if your dog is a severe puller or is leash reactive, this won’t be the best option for you. Front-clip harnesses can also alter the dog’s natural walking gait, which can be uncomfortable for them and lead to injuries.

Other equipment you might need:

  • Poop bags (biodegradable for extra points)
  • Pooper scooper for the yard
  • Food and water bowls
  • Crate: crates should be big enough for the dog to stand up, turn around, and lie down, but no bigger than that. This helps prevent soiling in the crate.
  • Bed and blankets
  • Toys: get a variety of toys, including soft plush toys, interactive toys, harder chew toys, toys of different textures, etc.
  • Grooming supplies: brushes, nail clippers, shampoo, etc.
  • Training treats: get a variety of treats to start with so you learn what your new dog’s favorites are. Typically small, moist, stinky treats work the best for training.
  • Chewing treats: get a variety of bully sticks, antlers, and bones to learn what your dog likes the best.
  • Food: deciding on the right diet for your new pooch will depend on their age, size, breed, and activity level. Consult with the adoption counselors where you got your dog from and with your veterinarian.
  • Nature’s Miracle Pet Stain & Odor Remover (highly recommended): this product is great at getting out pet stains, especially dog urine and feces. Make sure any cleaner you get has enzymes designed for dog messes.


Choosing the right dog

You’ve decided to adopt a dog! That is wonderful.

Bringing home an adopted dog can be a very rewarding experience as you watch your dog become more comfortable in their new home and start to see you as their trusting pet parent. To make sure this process goes smoothly and that you and your new companion will have a long and happy life together, it’s important to make sure you have done your homework first. There are a lot of variables to consider before deciding on a dog such as:

  • What is your schedule like? Are you home during the day or working for 8+ hours? Your answers to these questions might help you determine if you want a younger dog who needs to be let out to potty more frequently, or an older dog who is happy napping on the couch all day. If you are home during the day, adopting a dog with separation anxiety might be good because they will learn you are always there for them and you can help them recover from it. If you are gone for long hours every day a more independent dog might be more appropriate.
  • How much time can you devote to exercising your dog? Are you a couch potato looking for a snuggle buddy or a runner looking for a running buddy? It’s important to adopt a dog who will fit into your current exercise routine. Some people buy high-energy dogs hoping it will motivate them to be more active, but this does not always work out to be the case so be honest with yourself and your new dog.
  • How much time do you want to spend training your dog? If you get a high-energy working breed, hopefully your answer is A LOT! But if you don’t have a ton of extra time to train your dog, there are plenty of dogs out there that are perfect for you!
  • How much hair do you want to deal with? Don’t mind finding fur everywhere? Great, get the floofiest dog there is! More of a neat freak who doesn’t want to find fur in their food on a regular basis? A shorthaired dog is probably a good idea.
  • Are you settled where you are or do you hope to move somewhere in the future? Are you committed to bringing your dog with you wherever you go?
  • What is your relationship status? Will you stick with your dog no matter who comes in and out of your life? Do you and your partner agree on what kind of dog you want, and are they equally invested in caring for the dog?
  • Do you have kids or plan on having kids in the future? Dogs are often a 10-15 year commitment so think far ahead. Are you willing to integrate your dog into your future family plans? Is the dog you are adopting good with kids?
  • Do you have people who can help you care for your dog when you are gone? Can you afford a dog walker, pet sitting, or to bring your dog to daycare and boarding?

Once you’ve answered these questions, do your research to find out what kind of dog might be best. What qualities do you think would fit best in your life? Write them down and use those as you search. There are many great places in Western Mass to find the perfect dog for you. Some of those places include Dakin Humane Society, T.J. O’Connor, and Rainbow Rescue. The people at these facilities are experts in what they do and dedicated to finding you a great companion. Go talk to them. Tell then what you are looking for in a dog, and they can steer you in the right direction. is also a great resource for finding adoptable dogs, especially if you are looking for something very specific.

Introducing your dog to their new home

You’ve found the dog you want to adopt and you’ve got all the supplies, now what?

  • Make sure all the supplies are set up where you want them so you can give your dog a smooth transition into their new life.
  • Dog-proof your house. You never know what to expect when you bring home a new dog even if they are in a foster home. Prepare for the worst by putting all valuable items out of reach of the dog and making sure any dangerous or hazardous items are locked away. The last thing you need while bonding with your new dog is to have them accidentally ruin your favorite pair of shoes or having to rush them to the E.R. for ingesting something hazardous.
  • Make sure everyone in the household is on the same page. Decide on rules before bringing the dog home. Decide on a schedule for the dog and who will be responsible for which chores.
  • When you get home, let them explore the outside area of the house while on leash. If you have a fenced in yard, let them explore off-leash once they seem comfortable. If you will be introducing your dog to other human family members, have this happen outside the house at first. Make sure everyone is calm and respectful of the dog’s space. Let the dog approach people at their own pace.
  • Once the dog is comfortable outside, bring the dog inside. Give your dog a tour of the house on leash and let them sniff and take their time. Once your dog seems more comfortable, let them off leash to explore. Be sure to show them where the bowls, bed, and toys are! Make note of any items they seem particularly interested in, and use that to inform how else you might need to dog-proof the house.
  • Watch your dog closely and bring them outside frequently. Even if they are potty trained, it’s important to establish a routine right away and to encourage them to go potty outside as if you are newly potty training them. This will help prevent any accidents. Bring treats outside with you and reward them for going outside. If they do have an accident inside, do not punish them. Clean up the mess with an enzymatic cleaner, and watch them more closely next time.
  • Moving to a new home is stressful. Let the dog acclimate at their own pace. Establish a routine quickly, but don’t bring your dog on any major excursions until they are comfortable. Do not invite a bunch of friends and family members over right away to meet your new dog. Keep the atmosphere calm for the first couple of days to let them settle in.
  • Keep walks short and positive so you can see how your new dog is reacting on leash. This will help you identify any problems early on, like if they have leash reactivity issues or are fearful of certain things. Then you can work on establishing a training plan or consult with a trainer to address issues right away.
  • Try not to make special rules or exceptions the first week that you don’t plan on keeping later on. For example, if you don’t want the dog to sleep on the bed, don’t give in the first week to make them feel more comfortable. Establish these rules right away to avoid confusion and frustration later.
  • Some people like to stay home with their new dog for the first couple days to help them acclimate. This is great but can also lead to separation anxiety if you suddenly are gone all day long without working on getting the dog used to this first. Start by going on short trips away from the house. Don’t make a big deal about leaving or coming home. Leave your dog with positive things to do while you are gone, like yummy chew toys or stuffed Kongs. Gradually make the trips longer. If you suspect your dog has separation anxiety issues, make a plan to address this right away. Consulting a dog trainer is your best bet, along with arranging a dog walker to come visit the dog during the day or seeing if your dog will enjoy daycare while you are gone.
  • Be patient with your dog. It can take several months for an adopted dog to fully feel comfortable in their new home. Be prepared for the dog’s behavior to continue to change as they feel more comfortable and be willing to adapt to meet their needs. Be proactive with things you see as potential issues and don’t punish the dog for making mistakes.
  • Many adoption centers and rescues offer a discount on your first veterinary visit and training classes. Take advantage of these! Get your new dog to a vet within a week of bringing them home to check out any medical issues. Sign up for training classes with your dog. Even if you have skills as a dog trainer, training classes are a great way to build a bond with your new dog while also providing them mental stimulation and setting them up for success!
  • Last but not least, enjoy your new dog! Enjoy watching them relax and begin to trust you. Take time to appreciate them and how far they are coming along.

Introducing your dog to existing pets

Introducing a new dog to resident dogs and cats can be tricky, so making sure the initial interactions are calm, controlled, and brief can set everyone up for success in the long run. A lot of people put new pets together right away to “work it out.” This can be detrimental in the long run. If the initial interactions are negative, this could lead to poor relationships for  the rest of their lives, so read our tips on how to do introductions between pets.

  • For dogs: If you are bringing a dog home to another dog, chances are you have already done dog-to-dog introductions and know the dogs get along well. However, bringing a new dog into the home is a very different experience for your current dog. It might have been all fun and games when they met before, but now this dog is on their territory, using their favorite items and getting attention from their owners. Make sure each dog has their own set of toys, bowls, and beds, and give your current dog plenty of attention while the new dog is settling in. When you first bring the new dog home, have the dogs greet each other outside. You can have them meet in the yard or you can bring both dogs on a walk (it is best to have one person walking each dog at this point so you can separate them if needed) right away to encourage a productive interaction. Keep the leashes loose during this first interaction and don’t correct or punish either dog. Keep interactions quick and then distract the dogs away from each other for a few seconds, then let them go back. Have treats to reward good behavior. Watch both dogs’ body language to know whether they are happy and comfortable, or if either dog is tense, fearful, or anxious with the interaction. Introduce the new dog to the home without the resident dog, letting a family member or familiar friend take the resident dog on a fun adventure so they don’t feel left out. Watch both dogs when they in the house together for any resource guarding or other aggressive interactions. Try to keep interactions productive and brief, and reward both dogs for good behavior.
  • For cats: Even if your new dog has been around cats before, you may not know how they will react to your cat(s). Keep the new dog on leash initially to see how they may react. Prevent the dog from chasing the cat by using the leash and treats to encourage them to pay attention to you and ignore the cat. Ensure the cat has a safe space away from the dog for at least the first couple of weeks until you know that the cat will be safe. Putting up gates is a great way to give the cat free access to the house but also giving them a safe space to get away from the dog if needed. If the dog is showing aggressive or predatory behavior towards the cat, you need to consult a trainer or behaviorist right away, or consider consulting the adoption agency or rescue about finding a more appropriate dog for your household.
  • For any other types of small pets: Follow similar protocols as for cats with any other type of small pet in your home such as birds, guinea pigs, gerbils, or hamsters. Have the dog on leash at first and only have supervised interactions until you know the dog is not a threat to the other animals. If the dog shows too much interest in these animals and you are worried the dog may be aggressive or predatory towards them, keep them out of reach or completely separated from the dog, especially when no one is home.
  • For any other types of large pets: Follow similar protocols as for other dogs with any large animals such as horse, goats, or pigs. Have initial interactions be on leash and use treats to distract the dog and encourage good behavior. If the dog is showing aggressive or predatory behavior towards these animals, consult a behaviorist or trainer, or consult the adoption agency or rescue about finding a dog more suitable to your situation.

Noise Anxiety in Dogs

Should I take my dog to Fourth Festivities? 

Did you know more pets go missing around the 4th of July than any other time of the year? Many dogs find fireworks inherently terrifying so they panic and try to escape from their homes or leashes and run away. This is related to the same type of anxiety many dogs have for thunderstorms, and it’s referred to as noise fear or phobia. Both events include not only loud, unpredictable noises, but also flashes of light, potentially strange smells and for thunderstorms there are also changes in air pressure. Some dog behaviorists think that dogs can feel electric shocks in the air during storms. This may explain why many dogs try to hide in bathrooms.

Symptoms of noise anxiety include hiding in enclosed places in the house, such as closets, under beds, or in the tub, barking, whining, pacing, drooling, sweaty paws, trembling, destructive behavior, trying to escape, and maybe even aggression. Depending on the severity of your dog’s noise anxiety, you might want to consider consulting a dog trainer or veterinarian to develop a plan to help your dog overcome their severe anxiety so that they can stay safe.

If your dog has mild to moderate noise anxiety, here are some tips on how to make them feel more comfortable:

  • Give them a safe space and let them hide in it. Let your dog stay home when you go to see fireworks. There is no good reason to bring a dog with you to the fireworks. Bringing them will not help them get over it and will likely make it worse. Plan on exercising your dog before the fireworks or thunderstorm start so that you can let them hide in their safe space during the event, and they will have less energy to spend on destructive behaviors.
  • Drown out the noise with TV, music, a fan, air conditioner, or other white noise. Classical music has been shown to reduce anxiety in dogs. There is also music designed specifically for dogs that could help.
  • Work on desensitizing or counterconditioning your dog to loud noise before they are occurring. You can buy CDs of firework and thunder sounds. Play the sounds softly while doing something highly rewarding with your dog, like feeding them dinner, doing a training session with yummy treats, or playing with them and their favorite toy. Gradually turn up the volume over the next couple training sessions and try to keep it going when the real event occurs.
  • Stay calm. If you are stressing because your dog is stressing, it will only make the situation worse. Don’t be afraid to comfort your dog if they are coming to you for it. You CANNOT reinforce fear. Pet your dog, cuddle them, give a TTouch massage, and tell them they are a good dog. It will help reassure them and make them feel supported.
  • Try out a Thundershirt or other close fitting wrap. Some dogs response really well to this but others may not.
  • Try calming sprays or diffusers.
  • If your dog really has a hard time during fireworks or thunderstorms you can also talk to your vet about calming medication to help them through it.

If your dog has noise anxiety, be sure their tags are up to date and they are microchipped to help increase the chances your are reunited with your furry friend in the event they run away during fireworks or a thunderstorm.



Pesky Fleas – help!!

Fleas are a type of insect that survives on the blood of other animals, mainly mammals and birds. The fleas typically seen in our area are known as cat fleas (Ctenocephalides felis), and can infect dogs and cats. Fleas are transmitted between animals. While fleas can bite humans, it is rare they will inhabit a human and lay eggs. The flea has four life cycles: egg, larva, pupal, and adult. Adult female fleas lay eggs on a host, which can shed into the bedding area of the animal. Once the eggs hatch into larva, the larvae feed on organic matter shed from the remaining adults on the animal. The larvae spin a cocoon for the pupal stage, which they will stay in until they detect a host. Once they find a new host, they emerge from the cocoon as adult fleas. Adult fleas are the stage that takes up residence on our pet. In order to produce eggs, adult fleas need to acquire a blood meal and once they do, adult fleas will lay one egg per hour. The eggs will continue to drop off the host during this time.

If your pet becomes infested with fleas, it is important to fully treat the pet and the environment. Some people overlook the environment and then their pet becomes re-infested. It’s best to keep up with regular preventative treatments for you pet, and to regularly wash animal bedding. Be mindful of the products you use, as some are specified for different life stages of the flea. Most are directed at adult fleas and designed to enter the bloodstream so that when the flea goes to take a blood meal, they die. Adult fleas can go 1-2 days without eating. Some products are designed to target eggs as well or to kill adult fleas on contact. Feel free to consult with your veterinarian, as fleas can go through different patterns of resistance to products. Veterinarians will be informed about these resistance phases and can recommend a product that is best for your area.

It’s important to note that fleas are not just a nuisance to our pets and us, but can also spread diseases. There has been a recent increase in the number of infections being contracted from fleas in humans and pets. Fleas can spread diseases through biting their hosts or from being ingested by other animals. The most common affliction from flea infestations is the rashes and itching caused by the fleabite but fleas can also spread plague, typhus, and cat-scratch disease. Fleas can also spread tapeworms to pets when infected fleas are ingested during grooming. If your pets have had a recent flea infestation and any member of your household, furry or human, are experiencing flu-like symptoms, it is recommended to visit your doctor.

To learn more about fleas visit here

Mosquitoes and Your Dog

Mosquitoes are a type of fly that live off nectar and juices from plants and the blood of other animals. They are typically crepuscular, which means they are active at dawn and dusk, but we all know that mosquitoes can be nuisances at any time during the day depending on what you are doing and where you are. The saliva of the mosquito when it bites its host is what causes the itchy rash we experience when in contact with them. If you’ve ever noticed that mosquitoes seem to target some people more than others, you are right. Past research has shown that mosquitoes prefer humans with Type O blood, heavy breathers, those with higher body heat, skin bacteria, or those who are pregnant or carrying a beer.  Some mosquitoes, particularly those carrying Zika seems to enjoy the smell of feet as well, so beware of open-toed shoes when in heavily mosquito-infected areas.

Because mosquitoes live off the blood of other animals, they can cause the spread of many serious diseases such as West Nile virus, malaria, Zika virus, and dengue fever just to name a few. The prevalence of diseases being spread by mosquitoes is getting worse every year which is a cause for concern and a huge reason to try to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes as best you can this summer. Utilizing repellents and wearing lose fitting pants, long-sleeved shirts, and shoes are the best ways to avoid being bitted. For information on which repellents work best and other information on avoiding mosquito bites, visit this article from NPR.

Mosquitoes are also responsible for spreading heartworm to our dogs. Heartworms are worms that live in the heart, lungs, and blood vessels of infected animals. They can live in dogs and cats, and in wild animals such as wolves, foxes, and coyotes. Once inside a new host, the heartworm can take 6 month to mature into an adult, and then can live in the host for years. The animal can continue acquiring heartworms, which means an animal can have several of these worms in their body at one time. The longer the worm is allowed to live inside a dog, the worse the symptoms get. Heart failure or other severe cardiovascular events can occur if not detected or treated. Symptoms of heartworm disease include a mild cough, fatigue, lethargy, and decreased appetite. To protect your dog from heartworm, the easiest thing to do is to be proactive. Give your dog a monthly heartworm preventative year round, and include heartworm testing in your annual visit with your veterinarian.

Ticks – important information

All New Englanders should be very familiar with ticks. Ticks are arachnids, meaning they are in the same class as spiders and scorpions, but are considered a type of mite. Ticks live off the blood of other animals and detect prey through vibrations in the environment and detecting the body heat of passing animals. When they are ready for their next meal, they “quest,” which means they hold on to vegetation, such as grasses, and outstretch their front legs waiting for an animal to pass so they can grab on.

The most common and problematic tick in the area is the deer tick, otherwise known as the black-legged tick. These are the ticks that spread Lyme disease, which is caused by bacteria that is spread when the tick attaches to a host for a blood meal. Lyme disease is often transmitted early in the warmer seasons because the ticks are smaller and harder to detect, but transmission can happen at any time. Luckily, your chance of catching Lyme disease is minimal if you remove the tick from the skin within 24 hours. If you are doing any traveling this summer, check out this website from the CDC. It provides the geographic ranges of ticks in the U.S. so you know which species to be on the look out for wherever you go.

There are a couple of ways to prevent tick bites in the first place. The easiest would be to avoid tall grasses and highly vegetative areas all together, but with such beautiful hiking areas in New England, who wants to do that! Another thing you can do is to wear light-colored pants, tall socks, and long-sleeve shirts while hiking. This will create a barrier between yourself and the tick (you can also try tucking your pants into your socks), and make it easier to see ticks crawling on you. Apply tick repellent to your clothes and any exposed skin. When you get home, completely remove all clothing and dry them on high heat to remove any lingering ticks. Completely check your body for ticks multiple times. Even if you don’t see one immediately after hiking, they could be lingering on you somewhere and attach eventually. Showering within 2 hours after hiking can help remove hidden ticks that haven’t attached yet. Young ticks can be small and look like specks of dirt or a freckle, so be thorough in your search. Use a thin comb through your hair before and after washing it to be sure no ticks are hiding out there.

For your pets, administering regular tick repellents is the best way to prevent tick bites. Tick repellents can be administered with spot-on topical medications or given orally in a chew, similar to heartworm medication. There is a Lyme disease vaccine for dogs available through your veterinarian to help further protect your dog. Even if your pet is on a regular preventative, it is still important to perform daily tick checks. Ticks like to migrate to warm, moist places, so especially check in the ears and any other areas of the bodies with creases that would be easy for ticks to hide in. If you have a pet with long fur, use a fine-toothed comb to check the fur and look along the skin line to find ticks.

Ticks are best known for spreading Lyme disease but ticks in the New England area can also spread a number of other diseases including some new ones that doctors are still learning about. In general, symptoms from tick bites that might indicate you should seek medical attention from a doctor include fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, fatigue, and other flu-like symptoms.  Visit this site from the CDC for the full list of diseases that can be spread by ticks and the associated symptoms.

Symptoms of Lyme Disease:

If you enjoy the outdoors, be mindful to monitor your health for symptoms of Lyme disease. It is entirely possible to have a tick feeding off of you and never find it. Symptoms can occur within 3-30 days after being bitten by a tick.

Symptoms include:

* Headache
* Fatigue
* Muscle and joint pain
* Fever
* Swollen lymph nodes
* Bull’s-eye rash (it’s common to have a rash after removing a tick, but one indicating Lyme disease will look like this picture)

Symptoms in dogs include:

* Fever
* Lethargy
* Lameness
* Loss of appetite
* Swelling of joints

To learn more about ticks, visits the Tick Encounter Resource Center through the University of Rhode Island.

Resource Guarding

Resource Guarding – important details you need to know

Why do dogs resource guard?

Resource guarding is a natural canine behavior that serves to let other members of their social group know, “This item is mine, so back off!” To dogs, this is a normal occurrence and they tend to respect the warnings from each other. For dogs living in a human world, it could be an unsafe behavior, especially if there are kids around. Children can’t read dog cues as well as adults can. Even some adult humans don’t fully understand all the subtle cues dogs use to try to communicate with us, which can be dangerous if you are living with a resource guarder.

How do I know if my dog is resource guarding?

Dogs tend to resource guard food, toys, bones, water, beds, or any other items they find valuable. The dog may freeze when approached, start eating faster, place themselves between you and their item, lay on the item, pick it up and move further away from you with it, and in more severe cases will show the whites of their eyes, growl, snarl, and possibly even lunge to bite or actually bite.

What do I do if my dog is a resource guarder?

Some people take different approached to having a dog who resource guards. Some people understand this is a natural dog behavior and just let the dog be, and won’t bother it when it has something of value or while it is eating. This approach is fine if there are just adults in the house, but if there are young kids, you always run the risk of an unsupervised child accidentally approaching the guarding dog and getting bit. If you have young children and a guarding dog, you should only provide the dog the high-value item when they are safely blocked off from the children and then pick up and remove the item when you cannot safely supervise the interactions. You should also consult a trainer or behaviorist just to be on the safe side.

Another way to address this behavior is to teach your dog there is no reason to guard resources. Here are some tips on how to do that:

  • Never take an important resource away from your dog unless there is an immediate safety concern. Some people think that to prevent resource guarding you should occasionally go and take items from your dog, but this actually makes resource guarding worse because you are teaching them they do need to guard the item in order to not have it taken away.
  • If you have an established resource guarder, you can try to switch up the environment by providing new bowls, beds, and toys and switch up where these things are in the house. Then start positively interacting with your dog near these items so they know you are not a threat and not trying to take resources away from them.
  • NEVER punish a dog for guarding. This just solidifies that you are a threat and will make them want to guard more severely. Punishing a growling dog is “taking the tick out of the time bomb.” You will teach your dog not to warn you, and instead they will be quicker to bite.
  • For mild resource guarders, teach your dog that resources come from you rather than get taken away from you. Drop a handful of kibble into their bowl at mealtime, and then wait for them to look at you for more. Repeat this for the whole meal. While they are eating or chewing on a favorite toy, whenever you walk by you can throw some yummy treats by them. If you need to take an item, or want to teach them it is OK to relinquish an item to you, offer them a trade. Offer the yummiest treat you have by throwing it slightly away from the high-value item. When the dog goes to get the treat, pick up the item then offer it right back. You can also train “drop it” and “leave it” so that you can safely take high-value items away if you need to.
  • For moderate to severe resource guarders, consult a behaviorist or dog trainer.

Handling Your Puppy

The Importance of Puppy Handling Preparation

A crucial part of puppy socialization is making sure your puppy can be handled on a regular basis. Think about when you take them to the vet or groomers. Their paws, ears, mouths and bellies get poked, prodded, pulled and pushed. Some dogs can become anxious and defensive in this situation if they have not been handled in this manner before. 

As soon as you bring your puppy home, start handling. Frequently touching your puppy all over will desensitize him to being handled. Lift up paws and pretend to clip nails (or actual clip them if he needs it). Look into his ears and mouth. Make all these things very positive.  Reward your puppy for calm behavior. Young puppies may not put up much of a fight, but as they start entering new stages of development, they might begin to resist more. Continue with the handling. Make sure that you and your family members are able to clip nails, give a bath, and do routine body checks with minimal struggling. Ask visitors to do this as well so your puppy is used to being handled by different people.

Your puppy will likely have multiple vet visits during the critical periods of development, so bring your clicker and delicious treats along with you! Reward your puppy for calm behavior all throughout the visit, from the lobby to standing on the table. This will help build a positive association with seeing the vet. Many vets will appreciate your effort and won’t mind giving some treats themselves to help with this process. 

If you plan on bringing your dog to get groomed on a regular basis, it’s a good idea to bring them to a groomer during the critical periods, even if just for a bath or to do some training in the lobby. Do some research into the groomer, and make sure they are willing to work with your puppy a little to give them a positive, fun experience at the groomer.

Puppy Development Stages

Critical Periods of Puppy Development

Human Socialization Period

7 to 12 Weeks of Age

The pup has the brainwave of an adult dog. This is the best time for a puppy to go to a new home. We recommend letting your pup stay with mom and his littermates until at least 8-10 weeks of age. Mom and littermates are useful tools in teaching proper manners to your pup, especially with nipping. At this stage puppies can begin to learn sit, stay, come and housebreaking. Puppies at this age learn best by association so it is a great time to introduce clicker training. Permanent human bonding begins to be formed in this stage, so be confident and gentle with your puppy, especially with disciplining. 

Fear Impact Period

8 to 11 Weeks of Age

Fearful situations can be extremely traumatic during this period, and can cause fear that lasts a lifetime. It is important to socialize your puppy with other dogs and other people during this phase (some trainers say 100 people and 100 dogs by the age of 12 weeks). It is not enough to just introduce your puppy to new people and dogs during this stage, you have to make sure those experiences are POSITIVE. Closely supervise all interactions to make sure your dog isn’t being stressed or hurt inadvertently. Be especially mindful of interactions with children during this time and ensure children are being gentle and careful with the puppy. This is a great time to start puppy training and/or socialization classes. 

Be sure to provide your puppy comfort and positive reinforcement when they are being brave in new situations, especially vet visits or during thunderstorms. Un-addressed fear during this phase can lead to phobias and anxiety later on. 

Seniority Classification Period 

13 to 16 Weeks of Age

At this age, your puppy will begin to test you. Make sure you establish your role as leader confidently long before you reach this phase, and especially during. Start implementing ‘nothing comes for free’ and continue doing positive training on a regular basis to keep your puppy on the right track. Praise for good behaviors is especially crucial during this period. Make sure you are not inadvertently rewarding bad behaviors, such as barking for attention. Continue to ‘handle’ your puppy, like you are clipping nails or cleaning ears. Touch your dog everywhere and do not tolerate any biting. You want to make sure your dog is able to be handled safely by veterinarians and groomers (and yourself). 

Flight Instinct Period

4 to 8 Months Old

This is the stage where you feel like all your puppy training was a waste of time, but have faith! If you laid down a solid foundation you’ll be able to get your sweet puppy back quickly and smoothly. They begin to feel more independent and will think everything else is way more fun than you are. Prevent your puppy from practicing bad behaviors and always keep in mind what is rewarding them in every situation. Do not let your dog off-leash since they will likely not come when called, which is not a habit you want to encourage. Continue praising good behaviors heavily and conducting regular training sessions. If your dog has no interest in training sessions, start using their kibble mixed with yummy hot dogs as their meals (instead of feeding in a bowl). This might help refocus your puppy’s attention on you, at least for a few minutes! Teething and puppy biting might become especially bad during this period, so provide plenty of appropriate chew toys and keep any inappropriate items well out of your puppy’s reach to prevent bad habits from forming. 

Second Fear Impact Period

6 to 14 Months Old

Similar to the first fear impact period, any fearful situations can be eternally scarring to your pup. This fear period seems to be more related to situations, whereas the first fear period is more related to humans and other dogs. Even situations your dog has experienced before might suddenly become frightening. Be extremely patient and gentle with your dog during this stage. Try to make EVERY experience fun and exciting, no matter how many times your dog has been in that situation before. Reactive behaviors can become set during this period, so it is especially important to use positive reinforcement and to continue socializing your pup in situations that set him up for success. Punishing your dog in those situations where you think your dog should know better (like if they are barking or growling at someone on a walk) can make the behavior worse. This is a good period to always have your clicker and very delicious treats on you. Try to catch your dog before fear sets in. If you notice they seem slightly nervous, don’t just brush it off, start clicking and treating for any calm behavior and keep commands easy (like sit).  


1 to 4 Years Old

Most dogs can be considered fully mature by 2 years of age, sometimes earlier or later depending on the breed. This is the period where you will begin to notice any ingrained bad habits that weren’t addressed earlier on, like reactive or anxious behaviors. Continue to train and build positive associations with people, dogs, and situations throughout your dog’s life. Continue to enrich your dog with daycare, training classes, and plenty of exercise to have a well-balanced, happy dog.