Tag Archives: dog safety

Go with your dog

Lately it seems like every day we see a news article about a small dog being stolen. And every day we see something about dogs going missing. Please, people – go with your dog!

Growing up without a fenced yard, we got in the habit of going out with our dogs every single time they needed to. Even after the fence, with a multiple-dog household, we went outside with them all the time. And it’s proven useful on more than one occasion.

Like the time the workmen left the garage door open and we caught our dog before he ran into the alley. Or the time the skunk took up residence on the porch and, luckily, the treats in our pouch were more interesting. And especially the time our dog found a chunk of rat poison in the yard and was chewing away on it. We knew which dog had the runs because we were there. Not glamorous, but useful.

Scary news

Picture of a Boston Terrier behind a fence to illustrate go with your dog

Just in the last couple of weeks we’ve seen stories about dog being stolen from yards – even though the area was covered by a door camera. We can’t even imagine how the people felt when they saw their own footage of someone opening their gate and just picking up and carrying their dog away.

The thief’s motivation could be any number of things. Some kind of ransom or reward, selling the animal, keeping it, or nightmare scenario, getting bait dogs for a fighting ring. The last was the one we used to hear about all the time. Not as much lately, although we doubt dog fighting has decreased. There are lots of sick people in the world.

Just go

We know it’s not the most convenient thing in the world to go out with your dog every single time. First thing in the morning, last thing at night. It’s much easier to let your dog out. We get it. Especially since it’s January in the Chicago area. 

Even if your dog is wonderfully well-trained to come to you, you can’t predict the squirrel in the yard. Which reminds us of a story from years ago. A relative’s neighbor let her dog out by itself every morning. One day, the dog took off, rather than efficiently doing her business and coming back inside the house. And our cousin’s neighbor was left roaming the neighborhood in her pajamas, yelling for her dog: “Whoopee! Whoopee!” A reminder to also be careful what you name your dog.

Think of the possibilities

How would you feel if something happened to your dog? Because we were there and grabbed the poison out of her mouth, the vet knew what kind it was and what to do about it. Our dog didn’t run out and get hit by a car because we were there. Because we were there, we knew which dog was sick.

We know the odds are minimal of anything bad actually happening. But, like the old saying; “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Go with your dog.

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Is Ice Safe For Dogs?

With record summer heat, we’re all looking for ways to cool off, including our dogs. But is ice safe for dogs? Recently we’ve seen lots of posts on social media claiming that giving dogs ice is a bad idea, and can even prove fatal. We just had to find out more. Especially since dogs playing “hockey” with ice cubes is a favorite game around here!

Like always, it depends

Photo of a furry brown dog licking on an ice cube to illustrate Is Ice Safe For Dogs

It turns out that the answer as to whether it’s dangerous to give dogs ice is a tiny bit ambiguous. 

It’s absolutely fine if your dog is a little warm and you give them some ice chips to cool off a bit. Or let them chase a cube around the floor. Or munch on a frozen carrot or doggy ice pop. It’s even absolutely okay to stuff their treat-dispensing toys (yogurt with mix-ins is a local favorite) and freeze them for the dogs to enjoy.

When ice is a no-no

The problem with ice happens when dogs are possibly suffering from heat stroke.

It doesn’t take long for heat stroke to become a danger. In as little as half an hour, dogs can succumb. And it’s more likely in humid weather. If you see your dog breathing rapidly and/or panting heavily, it’s time to start thinking about getting him/her someplace cooler. 

Symptoms of heat stroke in dogs can progress to drooling, dry mucous membranes, skin hot to the touch, bright red gums and tongue. And it gets worse from there, including signs of shock; white or blue gums, rapid heart rate, hyperventilating, tremors, incontinence, and collapse. No one wants their dog suffering from heat stroke. 

What to do

An episode of heat stroke is when ice can be dangerous. Getting the dog cooler is vital, but it turns out that an ice bath is the worst way to do it. The sudden change can send the dog’s system into shock. 

If you suspect that your dog is suffering from heat stroke, get the dog to a cooler spot, sponge him or her down with room temperature or tepid water, and use a fan for evaporative cooling. 

Just really hot

To avoid heat stroke entirely, limit time in the heat for your dogs. Remember that dogs don’t sweat, except for the minimal amount through the pads of their feet. Instead, they rely on panting to cool themselves, but it can only do so much.

When you must go out, consider a cooling coat for your dog. Our favorite, least-fuss option is the K9 Kool Coat. In this weather, our dogs don’t leave home without it.

Long-coated dogs, short-faced dogs (like French Bulldogs, Pugs, Shih Tzus, and Boston Terriers), and obese dogs are most prone to get in trouble on steamy days. Try to limit outside trips to short potty walks. Exercise your dog with toys and training games inside. This heat wave could be just the excuse you need to start our 2-Minute Training Games with your dog. Keep in mind that a short training session is just as tiring for dogs as 20 minutes or more of fetch or walking! Using your brain can be exhausting – remember test days at school?

Ice is fine

Or you can always join your dog in a game of ice-cube hockey. Around here, the people always lose this game. The other side tends to run off and munch on the “puck.”

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Safety first and last. Other stuff in-between

Safety has been on our minds a lot lately. We suspect we’re no different than most people “in these uncertain times.” It’s become a phrase that’s already cliche.

Safety on several levels. Historically, the Fourth of July holiday sees the most dogs go missing – frightened by fireworks and too panicked to do anything but run. And while the illegal fireworks have been horrendous this year, not as many dogs have been lost.

We think there’s one big reason for that – people are staying home. And not hosting big parties, with doors and gates opening and closing often and randomly. If it’s just your immediate family, and everybody loves the dog, chances are everybody’s making sure the dog doesn’t run out when they open the door. 

Unfortunately, two families we know of did suffer dog-related tragedies because of the fireworks. We talked about panic and dogs in this week’s 2-Minute-Tip

Safest products

packages of safe treats for dogs

Here in the shop we’ve finally found a safe, new treat product line. One of the reasons we carry so few treat items is because we’re obsessed with safety so you don’t have to be. The Wild Meadow Farms Jerky Treats are made in the U.S., with limited ingredients, and are semi-soft treats that won’t crumble all over. They’re also small and break up even smaller without mess. 

Small is essential! Our little dogs deserve to be rewarded for all the wonderful things they do – even if it’s just being cute and keeping us company. With tiny treats, we can give them lots and not worry about overfeeding. 

Responsibility and love

As dog owners, we are responsible for every aspect of our dogs’ lives. We control where they live, what they do, where they go – everything is on us. As a resource for dog owners, our staff at Golly Gear has the responsibility for finding the best products, offering the best advice, and standing by all of our offerings. The shop has never been closed, but we are limiting the number allowed inside. Everybody (except the dogs) is wearing a mask.

Our own dog club has suspended classes through the summer. We do have some dog sports reopening in the area. The first local agility trial in months is this weekend. We’re not entered, but we look forward to hearing how it goes. All kinds of new protocols are in place to keep people, and their dogs, safe.

Walking safety

A debate over collars vs. harnesses has raged forever among dog trainers. Some swear that harnesses just encourage dogs to pull on leash. We understand the argument – if the dog is comfortable while it’s pulling, it will continue to pull. If, however, the dog isn’t comfortable (i.e. in pain), it will stop the behavior. 

We’ve never met anyone whose dog stopped pulling because it was choking. We have seen studies that say that all collars can cause neck injury if the dog pulls. It doesn’t matter what style: choke, prong, flat, martingale.

Dog safety being paramount – use a harness and train your dog not to pull. Changing any habit isn’t easy, but it is possible. We don’t think it’s ever okay to inflict pain on a dog. 

Crate training is always a good thing

Crate training is just about the best thing you can teach your dog.

We know many people resist the idea. And if you truly hate the concept for daily use – you should still train your dog to be comfortable and not stressed while confined to a crate or cage.

Crate training for safety

Today, as I (Hope) write, I’m sitting in my kitchen at home, waiting while our new hot water heater is installed. After 25 years, the old water heater gave up the ghost on Saturday. Today, Tuesday, it’s taking a few hours to get the new one installed with the new gas and water piping. The installer is in and out of the house – getting his soldering iron, more pipes, the right tools – all the stuff that normally happens during a repair.

And our dogs? Safe and comfy in their crates in another room. Where they always are when we have workers in the house. 

French Bulldog crate training

Are our dogs friendly? Yes, they are! Do they want to see the workers? Yes, they’d love to “help” with the installation. Would they be of help? Absolutely not! 

They’re safely out of the way while the door opens and closes, people are in and out, up and down. I don’t have to worry about them escaping, getting in the way, going into parts of the basement where they don’t belong.

Having your dogs safely out of the work zone is just one of the many reasons we’re fans of crate training. 

Comfy wherever

What if you’re having guests at your home? What if someone is afraid of dogs? Most of your friends probably love dogs as much as you do, but you can’t choose your relatives. What if you’re hosting a family gathering where dogs aren’t welcome? It could happen. 

Eventually all dogs will probably have to be crated – either at the animal hospital, boarding facility, or even a grooming salon. Minimizing stress for our dogs in any of these stressful situations is our goal. If they’re accustomed to being in a crate, if they know they’re in a safe place, their stress should be lessened.

What if you’re visiting out-of-town family? And your dog doesn’t get along with theirs? Or they’re not crazy about letting your dog have full access to their house? Even if you’re staying at a hotel. Many allow dogs these days – but only if they’re confined to crates when you’re not in the room. Even if you just go out to grab some take-out, your dog must be crated.

We’re also big fans of crating our dogs in our vehicles. A friend of ours was t-boned on a major Chicago expressway, going 55 mph. Her vehicle was totaled. She and her dogs, safely crated in the back, were fine. 

Learning to love the crate

What if your dog hates the crate? You can turn that around. It won’t happen overnight, but you can gradually change your dog’s attitude toward the crate.

As a first step, especially if your dog’s a chow hound, feed your dog in the crate. Regular meals, at regular meal time. Don’t make a big deal about it, just place the bowl in the crate and say whatever you normally do when you give your dog his/her meal. Don’t close the crate door – your dog should be free to come and go as normal. 

Give your dog a special treat that he only gets in the crate. When our dogs see their “stuffing toys” come out (we load them with treats and a bit of peanut butter), they all dash for their crates.

Leave the crate out where it’s part of everyday life. If you have a comfy cushion in there, and leave the door open, you may find your dog using it as a great spot to relax, be with the family, but out of the way. Many dogs choose their crates as resting spots. It becomes your dog’s “room.” Dogs even will gather their favorite toys and bones and “hoard” them in their crates.

Don’t shut the door on crate training. Keep your dog accustomed to the crate throughout his/her life. You may not need it for any of these situations, but if you do, it’s peace of mind knowing your dog’s okay in his crate.

Frequently asked questions

My dog’s housebroken – why should I crate him?

You don’t necessarily have to crate your dog regularly, but he should be comfortable in a crate. If he ever needs to be hospitalized, or visit a groomer, he will spend time in a crate or cage. If he’s familiar with being crated, it will minimize anxiety in a stressful situation.

Isn’t it mean to cage your dog?

Not at all! The cage or crate can have a comfy bed inside, and your dog can certainly have a chew toy in it. Many, if not most dogs, enjoy being snuggled in a secure place. There is a theory that, since dogs are descended from wolves, who are den animals, that they actually feel safer in their own “dens.”

Why is a crate better than confining my dog to the kitchen?

Think of all the ways your dog can get in trouble in the kitchen. We personally know someone whose dog jumped up on the stove, accidentally turned it on, and the house burned down. (Firefighters did save the dog.) Think of all the cords your dog can chew on. The cabinets he could figure out how to open. And all the poisons stored under the sink. The kitchen floor may be easy to clean, but the room isn’t a safe place for your dog.