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Sunday, March 13, 2011

Part three - training, by Bruce

So now you are considering moving yourself and your pet to Southern Colorado so what do you do to make sure your pet is as well prepared as you are?
Training: What commands does your dog need to know? Training applies mostly to dogs because cats rule and dogs need to know how to fit into your new environment and lifestyle. Training will keep your pet more safe and give you peace of mind that you can control a different situation. Prior to moving to S. Colorado we lived in a large city in Central Pennsylvania. While there we taught our dog to stop on the sidewalk and sit when we came to an intersection, and we would tell him when he could proceed once we saw traffic was clear. We also walked where there were alleys and blind intersections. We taught our dog to look left and right when we came to those areas. None of which was beneficial when we moved to S. Colorado.

So which areas of training are essential in our area? Come when called is essential. Whether you are in your yard or where ever you may be, that is a vital command. Technique is up to the individual and there are abundant resources available for training. For example two years ago I was in the back yard when a bear suddenly poked its head up not 40 yards away and was looking directly at us. "Come" command was issued and our dog came immediately and we were safely inside the house in seconds. The bear then wandered off. We have also taught our dogs to sit and stay. Down can be valuable also. As stated earlier we walk our dogs at our side so having control is essential. We have also taught or dogs not to bark unless we allow them to. Dogs that bark can work themselves into an excited state and that is not helpful if you encounter danger. It also comes in handy when you have a neighbor who claims they heard your dog bark. When I asked what time that was, I could state that the dogs were with us on a walk at least two miles from his house. Some people are simply trouble makers and have no problem making false accusations. The first accusation is free, try it again and I will seek a restraining order. Coyotes can and do bark like a dog and people are quick to jump to conclusions and reluctant to admit their mistake. Not everyone likes dogs and some like to target them.

If your pet has those commands down correctly your worries about sudden and unexpected situations should be significantly reduced. I would encourage you to obtain a First Aid Book for your pet. Most give you information on how to treat trauma and illness. It is also good to have a first aid kit for your pet. We have on hand adhesive tape, antibacterial salve, insect bite anti itch spray, dog insect spray (neem oil) to keep them off your pet in the first place, tube socks that are used for bandages for legs to keep the dog from licking the wound. Eye drops and Visine works well for irritated eyes. Regardless of how careful you may be there will be cuts and scrapes. You need materials on hand to treat these injuries. It is also wise to have dog boots, coats for those really cold days. Dogs can get frostbite too. We bought a set of Doggles which are goggles for dogs. The wind blows a lot in the mountains and can blow road dust and ice crystals into dogs eyes and they get irritated. You are also roughly one hour from veterinary care so having a first aid kit is important.

Some of the hazards to pets other than natural enemies are types of fence, and chemicals. Some fences will cut or tear dogs pads. Others will grab or injure a toe nail. Avoid chicken wire fence, or small mesh fencing. Prong collars should only be used when the human is at the other end of the leash. If left on they can get tangled in the fence. Chemicals like insecticides and herbicides are particularly hazardous to your pet. They get these sprays on their fur and feet and lick it off and ingest it. It can kill a pet or damage their liver and kidneys. Some paint and exterior water proofing is harmful to pets. The best bet is to read directions and use anything that could harm your pet as directed.

Hopefully these observations have been helpful. If you have found techniques or treatments that work for you, please share them

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