From The "Dog Gurus"
As the popularity of dog parks and dog daycares continues to rise, more and more dog owners take advantage of off-leash playtimes for their dogs. But how can you tell if your dog really enjoys this type of activity and how do you know when it’s time to take your dog home? Here are a few things to consider when your dog is in an off-leash play environment:
1) How old is your dog? Young puppies and older dogs should be given special consideration in this area. It’s extremely important for a puppy under 5 months of age to have only positive interactions with other dogs. If you aren’t sure that the dogs in the off-leash environment are patient and gentle with puppies, then it may be best to arrange smaller, private groups for your dog. Generally speaking, dogs over 5-6 years of age will have a shorter tolerance level for offleash play with other dogs. This is true even if your dog grew up playing in dog parks and attending daycare. This doesn’t mean that older dogs shouldn’t play off leash with other dogs, but it does mean that shorter periods of play may be more fun for your older dog. If your dog (of any age) attends a dog daycare, make sure he gets some down time where other dogs allow him to rest or he is separated so he can sleep.
2) Would your dog rather be with people or with other dogs? Sometimes the fun of the offleash dog park is that your dog can play with you or other human visitors. If your dog tends to follow you around, bring you the ball, or stay close to your side the whole time, he may be saying he prefers you to other dogs. If that’s the case, then take your dog to the park when there aren’t many other dogs around or spend time playing with your dog one-on-one rather than taking him to the dog park. Do what is more fun for your dog.
3) Is your dog’s body loose and relaxed? As your dog plays with other dogs, his body should remain loose, curvy and relaxed. If you see frequent stiffening, straightened legs, frozen postures, tail tucking, or lowering the body to the ground, this means your dog is nervous or overwhelmed.
4) Does your dog try to hide? If your dog seems to cower, tries to hide behind you, or attempts to crawl under a chair, bench, or table, then he is probably not enjoying the interactions. This might mean he doesn’t like off-leash play or perhaps it just means there is a bully in the group that he wants to avoid. Either way, your dog isn’t having fun and would probably like to leave.
5) Does your dog jump on you, other people, or the gate? When dogs are asking for help, they will often panic and leap at their owners or other people to get attention. (I’m not just talking about dogs who have poor greeting behaviors and jump when they meet someone new.) This behavior in an off-leash setting often presents itself outside a greeting ritual. If you are watching your dog and he repeatedly jumps up at you, it might be his way of saying, “HELP!” If you ignore pleas for help, some dogs will run to the gate and jump on the door to get out. If you see these signs, listen to your dog and take him home.
6) Does your dog take turns during play? Good play behavior consists of give and take. Sometimes your dog will chase and sometimes he will be chased. Sometimes your dog will roll on the ground under another dog and other times your dog will be on the top. If your dog isn’t taking turns, particularly if he is consistently pinned on the ground by another dog, he probably isn’t having fun. Watch for breaks in the action from time to time. It is time to leave if a dog is constantly chased, rolled over, or pinned to the ground with no breaks in the action.
7) Is your dog pacing or spinning? When your dog plays, does he interact with other dogs and enjoy romping around with them? Or does he choose to walk in the same pattern over and over? Give your dog a break if he is engaging in any repetitive sequence of behavior (such as pacing or spinning). Don’t be fooled into thinking your dog loves every other dog he meets. Some dogs love offleash play, but others prefer a more quiet outdoor adventure. Take a close look at your dog and honestly answer some of these questions to determine if off-leash play is the best activity for your pet. ©
Five things you can do to protect your dog. By Nancy Kerns
I was pretty traumatized recently by a phenomenon I had heard about many times but had never before seen: the intense, chaotic, life-or-death struggle that ensues when one dog gets his jaw stuck in another dog’s collar.
It happened to some dogs that live a few houses down from my home office. I was working at my computer when I heard a dog screaming. I leaped up from my desk and ran down the sidewalk toward the screaming.
These dogs are just playing and are not entangled. But if they were, the leather collar would have to be cut to save them; its buckle can’t be released under tension.
It was two young Lab-mixes in the front yard of a house down the street. One had grabbed his friend’s collar and then mostly likely rolled over, twisting his lower jaw in the collar. His tongue, trapped under the thick nylon, was being lacerated by his own lower teeth; he was the one making all the noise.
His buddy was not screaming; he was fighting for his life, and being choked to death by his own collar. Both dogs were thrashing in pain and fear. The owner of one dog was trying to get close enough to them to free them, and I tried to help.
I grabbed one dog by the scruff; she grabbed the other. I frantically ran my hands through the mass of writhing fur, trying to find a buckle on the collar. I felt a quick-release buckle and released it – but it was the wrong one, not the collar that was threatening their lives.
Then I saw the other buckle; it was in the mouth of the dog whose jaw was trapped. And it was a standard metal buckle – the kind that you have to tighten slightly to free the metal prong from a hole punched in the nylon fabric. It was already so tight, there would be no way to tighten it enough to release it, if I even could get my hand in the dog’s mouth.
Just then, the owner of the other dog ran out of the house with a pair of scissors. I was doubtful that they could cut through the thick nylon, but they did. And in the nick of time! Even as the young woman worked, feverishly, the dog who was choking released his bowels. He was seconds from death.
Imagine what would have happened if that young woman hadn’t had the scissors handy. Or if the same thing happened at a dog park; maybe someone would have had a sharp-enough knife. What if the dog had been wearing a choke chain or pinch collar? I’ve seen dogs wearing these while playing at dog parks – but I’ve never seen a person there with bolt cutters.
These dogs survived the experience. But since I’ve been telling my friends about my experience (with all the fervor of the recently converted), I’ve heard about a number of dogs whose jaws were broken in similar situations – and other dogs who didn’t survive an experience like this. Don’t let it happen to your dog!
Here are five things you can do to keep your dog safe when he’s playing with other dogs.
1. Play Naked! Remove your dog’s collar or harness. A harness may not present the same choking hazard as a collar if another dog got tangled in it, but on the other hand, a harness has many more straps to get caught in.
2. Use a Collar With a Quick-Release Buckle. If you’re nervous about having your dog naked (and without ID), use a collar with a buckle that can be released even under tension. Another option is a safety breakaway collar, such as Premier Pet Product’s KeepSafe Break-Away Collar (see premierpet.com or call 800-933-5595).
3. Don’t Allow Your Dog to Play With Dogs Who Are Wearing Gear. At times, this may mean your dog won’t be able to play at a dog park, because it’s nearly impossible to get everyone to comply with sensible rules at a dog park. If I had a young dog who really liked wrestling and mouthing other dogs, I just wouldn’t take him to a dog park that was crowded with collar- and harness-wearing dogs. Not after what I saw.
4. Spread The Word. I’m now telling every dog owner I know about the way, the truth, and the light. Many people have never considered this potential hazard and may be open to hearing about how they can prevent a tragedy happening to their dogs.
5. Keep Something Sharp Handy. This is quite a long shot – and yet, I now know a young woman who saved two dogs’ lives with sharp scissors. I now have a box cutter in my car, and another one on a shelf near my office door. I hope to never witness this again, but I feel a little better knowing that there would be more I could do to help.
We will be trying to use music here at Camp K-9 to help relax the dogs during nap time, sleepovers, and wind down times. We have researched many different avenues and have decided to use "Though a Dogs Ear" music CDs. Here is a little more about them.
Musical Tips for Behavioral Issues: The Music of Through a Dog’s Ear has been clinically tested on more than 150 dogs — those with and without anxiety issues. If you have an anxious canine, we suggest you first play the appropriate CD when your dog is not exhibiting anxiety. This will allow your dog to associate the calming music with a positive state of being. When you have done this at least four times, you can proceed to using it when your dog is exhibiting anxiety. If the music doesn’t keep your dog calm at first, stop and use it several more times while not exhibiting anxmiety. You may also want to discuss additional therapies with your veterinarian, behaviorist, or trainer.
This music is psychoacoustically designed to calm your canine and can be used at any time to achieve this purpose. Specific applications include:
Separation Anxiety: Music can be extremely useful in cases of separation anxiety. We recommend putting on Music to Calm Your Canine Companion, Vol. 1 twenty minutes before you leave, so that your dog has plenty of time for the entraining rhythms to take effect. Set the volume at a fairly low level, but loud enough that it masks disturbing external sounds. Once your dog is relaxed, leave for a very short time — two or three minutes at first. Don’t make a fuss over leaving — you want your dog to remain peaceful and quiet. The music should keep your canine calm for that period of time. Gradually increase the time you are gone. Your behaviorist may have other exercises for you, so ask if the music can be added to the protocol. If possible, put the CD player on repeat; you do not have to be concerned with overdosing your animal on beautiful and peaceful music.
Thunderstorm Anxiety: Anxiety caused by storms can be one of the trickiest forms of anxiety to treat. Animals have an instinctive ability to sense changes in the weather. Prior to the tsunami of 2004, animals and birds were seen heading for higher ground long before the disaster struck. If the weather forecast calls for storms, have the CD ready in the player. Your dog may have a preferred location for storms, a place where he or she feels safer. It’s important to allow your dog that safety, so a portable audio player may be necessary. If the music is not enough to keep your dog completely calm, working with a behaviorist may be necessary.
Fireworks: Many dogs are very fearful of fireworks. Music to Calm Your Canine Companion, Vol. 1 can be a perfect solution, because we usually know when fireworks will occur. If possible, take your dog to the basement or a room far away from outside sounds. You may need a portable audio device. Put the music on for at least twenty minutes before the fireworks start, then play the CD during the fireworks display. It will help calm your dog and mask the unwanted explosive noise.
Excitement with Visitors: A behavioral professional will have many excellent training techniques regarding visitors coming into the home. The good news about this excitement dilemma is that it’s easy to work on before grandma comes over. You may want to have practice runs with your friends. The key to successful visits is to maintain control over your dog, and one of the best ways to achieve this is to keep him or her calm. Calming music can be put on twenty minutes before your guest arrives, and should help you with the obedience behaviors you will want to initiate. Sitting and staying are so much easier for your dog when he or she is relaxed.
Tip: After your dog has learned to be calm when people arrive, an additional Through a Dog’s Ear music series, Music for the Canine Household, may be perfect for the duration of the visit. The music is upbeat and lovely for background music, and will help keep your animal calm without putting your company to sleep.
Stressful Times for People: Life is not without challenges. Severe or chronic illness, employment issues, household moves, financial burdens, or the death of a friend or family member (or another pet) can create enormous stress. Animals in the household are affected as well. We suggest playing Music to Calm Your Canine Companion, Vol. 1 as often as you can during these difficult times. If you are going at a hectic pace, even ten minutes of music therapy can support your animal companion’s well-being.
Boarding: Many modern boarding facilities offer some of the familiarity of home — comfy furniture, natural lighting, and play time with other dogs. Even kennels that have been in existence for many years may have a sound system, or an area in which a portable audio device can be played safely. Ask your boarding professionals to play Music to Calm Your Canine Companion, Vol. 1 for your dog while she is in their care. By association alone, this will help your dog feel a sense of comfort with the sonic environment, at the very least.
Thank You to everyone that attended Camp K-9's Paint Night. We are very thankful for the continued support we are receiving from the community.
End of Summer Luau Party at Camp K-9 Day Camp ! August 26th, 2015 ! Stay Tuned for Details ! Book Day Camp for the Luau, spaces are limited to 25 !
WESTFIELD Written by Brian Steele, August 4th, 2015 – Why stuff your dog into a crate while you're at work when you could set him free in a safe environment and let him have fun with his friends?
Camp K-9, a new doggie day camp at 202 Union St., offers parents a low-cost way to ensure their dogs are given top-notch care, and the chance to have tons of fun.
Ali and Nicholas Connor opened up shop about two months ago and claim a 100 percent customer retention rate. They credit Camp K-9's success to outstanding customer service, competitive prices, highly trained staff and the joy the dogs experience.
"Customers who are working, customers who have to run errands, maybe the single mom at home who just wants some time to herself, maybe the people that work overnight shifts, police officers, firemen, people who work rotations" are just some of those who could benefit from a day care program for their four-legged friend, said Ali Connor.
And the dogs don't lay around all day and wait to get picked up. The off-leash, indoor camp offers a "Fungility Park" that allows them to get plenty of exercise, horse around with their friends and practice what their owners are teaching them.
Connor said Camp K-9 does not train dogs, but they can help to reinforce commands taught by pet parents or trainers.
There's also a safe outdoor space, and dogs stay in spacious, comfortable "cabins" as part of Camp K-9's social sleepovers.
"It's a version of boarding (but) it's not your traditional boarding experience," said Connor. "It's really no different than a human sleepover. The dogs play all day with their friends and then they go back in a comfy room in the back and they sleep."
Little dogs can stay in little spaces and big dogs can stay in big spaces. There's even a luxury "penthouse" with a larger bed and more room to roam. The pet parents can keep an eye on things with a free webcam service.
The day care program can accommodate 25 dogs and 16 can sleep over.
Use of the Fungility Park is open to anyone, even those not in the day care program. As long as your dog is vaccinated and spayed or neutered, you can bring him or her to play for as long as you want.
The Connors opened Camp K-9 after spending a year researching, preparing and getting certified in pet CPR and first aid. The idea evolved over time.
Working in the corporate world, managing teams of 250 employees, the Connors were logging 16-hour days. Their dog, a 4-year-old yellow Lab named Riley, had to stay with Ali's parents, which got to be too much.
The couple were walking along a beach a few years ago when they struck up a conversation about dogs with a stranger, who suggested doggie day camp. They tried it out and Riley loved it.
Nicholas Connor said a lot of new business owners may take shortcuts so they can get up and running quickly, but "that's not what we wanted to do. We wanted to do it right."
He praised Holyoke-based Common Capital for providing the startup money after numerous other institutions shut the door in their faces.
One of the many perks of the day care program is that the dogs spend so much time playing, they're tired by the time the owners come to pick them up. After a long day at work, it can be a relief to spend a quiet evening at home with a relaxed dog.
Because there's so much going on, like the occasional pool party, an upcoming end-of-summer luau, and new and exciting games led by the staff, a lot of dogs can't handle spending every day at Camp K-9. Ali Connor recommends a maximum of three days a week.
Camp K-9 offers a free evaluation to find out if a dog likes camp and gets along with the other dogs. Older dogs and those with physical discomforts or disabilities are welcome, too.
"We are not prejudiced against breed," said Ali Connor. "However, we are very aware that there are just some breeds that are naturally dominant. We take the precautions necessary to make sure that the environment is a safe place. ... We make sure that they're playing with the right friends at camp."
Safe and spotless. The Connors said they hired only staff members that love animals, know how to care for them properly and don't mind getting dirty. Camp K-9 can administer some medications, but nothing that requires an injection.
Basically, "If you can administer it, we can administer it," said Ali Connor.
The Connors said they strive to ensure each customers gets his or her money's worth, partly because they know what it's like to be constantly on-the-go and considered about the well-being and happiness of the family dog.
"They get something more than just the day care," said Ali Connor.
For more information about prices, hours and other services like bathing and "Birthday Pawties," visit www.campk-9doggiedaycamp.com.