Using Kennels and Crates

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File:Greyhound in dog crate.jpg

A lot of people have commented over the years that kennels are mean.  They have even said, “Why would you confine a dog like that?  They need room to run and play.”    In reality kennels are quite the opposite.   As the Humane Society says, “Dogs are den animals.  They need their own sanctuary that is just large enough for them to fit inside and feel secure.  They need a home away from home where they can go when they are stressed.  If you don’t provide a den of their own, they may make do with whatever is around – a chair, the narrow space behind the couch, or the wedge of space between the bed and wall. “

Kennels and crates are also a great way to potty train your dog.  Animals do not like to potty where they sleep, and if the kennel is used properly it will keep your pet from going to the bathroom in their space, and they will learn where the designated potty spot is.

Here are some tips for using a kennel or crate at home:

SIZE – Make sure it is only big enough for them to walk inside, turn around, and lay down.  Any bigger (especially at first) and you run the risk of them going potty on one side and laying on the other.

LOCATION – Make sure you position kennel in a comfortable place.  Try to keep from placing in direct sunlight.  You might even try placing near a fan (the noise will drown out other noises and can also be soothing), and away from doors and windows.

CONTENTS – You don’t ever want to leave a dog alone in the kennel with something they can choke on.  Stuffed animals, Nyla bones, or Kongs are a great trick.  They can keep them busy for hours!  Some even put a towel over the top of the kennel to create a more “den-like” atmosphere.  For puppies, some even suggest a warm water bottle wrapped in a sock or shirt of yours to create a warmer place and have the smell of you there with them.

BENEFITS – Training your dog in a kennel when you are not home will help reduce stress, and make them more comfortable.  Plus if you have a dog that chews a lot, it will help save your furniture!

POTTY ISSUES? – If your dog has potty issues in the kennel, we would suggest creating a smaller space.  You can also try leaving some kibble in a bowl for them.  Again, most pets will not go potty where they eat.

WIRE vs. PLASTIC – This choice is really a personal preference.  However, if you have a dog that likes to dig, a plastic crate will be better.  Diggers can end up with bloody paws trying to dig under the wires.  Placing a small bed in the wire kennel will also be more comfortable for your dog.


Mara – Blog the Change


Mara stole my heart about 6 years ago.  I was doing some volunteer work with the German Shepherd Rescue and came across her picture.  She was in need of a foster home and I thought fostering would be a great idea.  We already had 3 dogs in the house and figured we could foster her and help her find a new home.  She had been living in the woods near an elementary school and word on the street is that the kids were feeding her from the vending machines!

The moment she arrived I knew I could never give her up.  She had these gigantic ears and she was so expressive!  From the moment I laid eyes on her I was hooked.  She had such personality and gave new meaning to the word fun.  Even though she was heartworm positive and awaiting treatment, she was still energetic.  That should have been a clue for us, because once she fully recovered from treatment the games began!  We really got to see her personality and energy level then!

She quickly latched onto Max, the old man in the house.  She wanted to be anywhere he was.  She slept with him, played with him and generally just hung around close to him.  Eventually her “herding” instinct would pay off because as he slowly lost his vision, she would direct where he needed to go.  I cannot even count how many times we would send her outside after him and say, “Mara, go get Max!”  And she would go get him.  Of course, some of her direction was slamming into him, pushing him, bumping him and railroading him.  But he did not seem to mind and it actually got him where he needed to be.   Sometimes she would be so excited to be around him, it was like she could not contain it any longer and she would get squirrelly around him.  She would dodge, run in circles, and spin all around him until she realized he was not going for it.

She quickly earned the nickname “snapdragon” because of her snapping jaws trying to catch flies.  That is only part of the reason.  She also had this funny way of baiting us to play with her by snapping her jaws at one of us to get our attention.  This was usually followed by more of her squirrelly running and jumping.  Her favorite thing to do was go get coffee with Stacey.  Stacey would ask her, “you want to go see Mike?”  and Mara would go get her leash and bring it in while circling Stacey’s legs and talking.  She would be so excited it would be almost impossible to get the leash on her.

We lost Mara 3 weeks ago.  She went into massive kidney failure, which later we learned was a chronic condition she was born with.  The decision to let her go was the hardest one to make, yet also the easiest.  For her, it was the most loving thing we could do.  For me personally, it was so hard to let her go.  I have never had a pet bring so much joy and happiness into my life.  She literally made me laugh, out loud, every single day.  The 6 years I had with her were some of the happiest of my life.  I would not trade one day I had with her and would do it all over again in a heartbeat.

She started out as a foster dog, then an adopted pet, but quickly became family and left a lasting impression on the hearts and lives of everyone she met.

If you suspect animal abuse

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Step One:  Evaluate the situation

Animal Neglect

Maybe it only looks like neglect. Look more closely at different times of day.

Maybe the food and water bowls are kept inside, away from bugs and freezing temperatures. Maybe your neighbor goes to work at 3 a.m. and feeds the dog then. Maybe there’s a dog door you can’t see.

Here are some sure signs of animal neglect:

Collar too tight

Not increasing the size of a collar as an animal grows causes injury, strangulation and death.

Lack of grooming

Without regular grooming, a pet, especially a long-haired one, can get massive matting and sores.


Mange, caused by tiny parasites, leads to itching, loss of hair and sores from scratching and biting to relieve the irritation. Mange is easily treated with medicated baths.


Starvation is caused not only by lack of food, but also by improper food, untreated disease and parasites (like worms).

Animal Abuse

It’s easier to recognize physical abuse when you see choking, setting tails on fire, dunking heads under water, kicking and hitting.

If you see such a thing, you’ll probably be outraged and want to confront the abuser. Avoid that impulse, unless you’re positive that a friendly, informal chat will make that person more caring toward his pet.

If you can safely take photos or video of the incident, do so. This firm evidence is invaluable to investigators.

In the case of a child abusing an animal, the parent may be unaware of the behavior. But because animal abuse has been linked with other types of abuse in the home — namely child abuse — it’s better to let the authorities investigate.

If you’re reasonably sure an animal is being abused or neglected, go to Step 2:

Step 2:  Report Animal Abuse

If you witness animal abuse or neglect, report it to your local animal control department, police department or humane society. If these authorities agree that there’s the possibility of neglect or abuse, they will investigate and decide how to help the animal.

Owners often neglect their pets because they don’t understand their pets’ needs. Humane officers help by explaining how to correctly care for pets. But some owners neglect their animals because they just don’t care. When confronted by a humane officer, these owners may decide to give up the animal instead of being bothered with properly caring it.

If the pet is seriously unhealthy or obviously abused, the humane officer may take it into protective care during the investigation. If charges are brought against the owner, you can offer to testify or sign a complaint. In the case of violent abuse, witnesses are rare, so you may be the only person who can testify about the incident.

Humane officers try to respond quickly to complaints, but get a lot of calls every day and can’t always respond the moment you call. If you’re concerned for the animal’s immediate safety, tell the officer.

Don’t try to rescue a pet from a potentially abusive or neglectful environment yourself. Not only is this illegal, but you haven’t stopped the owner from getting another pet to abuse, or helped turn him into a caring, responsible owner.

Know what to expect after you have reported animal abuse in Step 3:  Understanding the Law

Step 3:

Anti-cruelty laws vary from state to state, and sometimes from city to city or county to county. The legal definitions of abuse, neglect or appropriate conditions may differ. The penalties for animal abuse may also differ.

Fortunately, society has begun to recognize animal abuse as part of the cycle of violence and is calling for stronger penalties against abusers and more powerful enforcement capabilities. As a result, many states have added felony penalties to their anti-cruelty laws.

If you have questions about how the case will progress through your legal system, talk to the investigating officer or read the laws yourself.

Understand that once you have reported potential animal abuse or neglect, the investigating officer may not be able to discuss the specifics of the case with you. But that does not mean he’s not working on it.

You’ve done the right thing and have saved an animal from cruelty and abuse.

Step 4:  Preventing Animal Abuse

The key to preventing neglect is education. Many owners just aren’t aware of how important affection is to a pet or even that a puppy can outgrow her collar.

The key to preventing abuse is stronger anti-cruelty laws — laws that empower effective enforcement and include harsh penalties. Serious penalties can inhibit cruelty and, with the addition of counseling as a penalty, can stop the incidents from being repeated by offenders.

You can help prevent these cruel acts by informing others about what to do if they see such an act or by helping them to better understand how to train and care for their pets.

To do this you can:

  • Schedule a speaker from your local humane agency to talk at your church or any clubs you belong to. Do the same for any children’s groups, like scout groups, day-care centers, and schools.
  • Set up a brown-bag lecture series at your office, conducted by a humane agency, on pet care, basic behavior solutions, and animal welfare issues.
  • Get pet care and behavior pamphlets from your humane agency to distribute to any of your coworkers or friends with new pets.
  • Put together packets of treats and a pet-care book or video to give to friends who’ve just gotten a new pet. Include spay/neuter information, tags, and a vaccination record book. Obedience lessons make a great gift for a new puppy.
  • Support any initiatives to strengthen your state’s anti-cruelty laws.
  • Write to your paper and TV station whenever animal cruelty stories appear. Tell them you support strong penalties for these abusers.
  • Contribute to or volunteer at your local shelter, where they must deal with these appalling situations regularly.

Now when you see a neglected or abused animal, you can take action. Don’t hesitate. Your call could save a life

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Why it’s great to be a dog

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  • If it itches, you can reach it. And no matter where it itches, no one will be offended if you scratch it in public.
  • No one notices if you have hair growing in weird places as you get older.
  • Personal hygiene is a blast: No one expects you to take a bath every day, and you don’t even have to comb your own hair.
  • Having a wet nose is considered a sign of good health.
  • No one thinks less of you for passing gas. Some people might actually think you’re cute.
  • Who needs a big home entertainment system? A bone or an old shoe can entertain you for hours.
  • You can spend hours just smelling stuff.
  • No one ever expects you to pay for lunch or dinner. You never have to worry about table manners, and if you gain weight, it’s someone else’s fault.
  • It doesn’t take much to make you happy. You’re always excited to see the same old people. All they have to do is leave the room for five minutes and come back.
  • Every garbage can looks like a cold buffet to you.

Caring for a sick pet

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When a beloved pet seems a bit “off,” it might be more than just a bad day; it could be a sign of mild sickness or a more serious illness. Here are some tips for recognizing the symptoms of sickness in pets and getting your pet the care he needs to recover.

Keep in mind that animals will generally attempt to mask signs of illness. This behavior is a natural instinct that is used for protection in the wild, where any animal showing signs of weakness is likely to be shunned by its own kind or attacked by predators.

Be aware that any subtle change in your pet’s appearance or behavior could indicate illness. Some signs to watch for include:

  • Decrease in or loss of appetite
  • Decrease in energy or activity level
  • Hiding
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Blood in the urine or stool
  • Bloating of the abdomen
  • Straining or inability to urinate or defecate
  • Increased shedding or bald patches
  • Excessive scratching or licking of the body
  • Foul odor coming from the mouth, ears or skin
  • Lumps or tumors
  • Discharge from the eyes or nose
  • Limping
  • Seizures
  • Reluctance or difficulty in getting up or going up and down stairs
  • Abnormal vocalization (whining or crying)

Know which signs indicate an emergency that requires immediate veterinary care and which require veterinary care if they continue for more than a day or two. Symptoms that indicate an emergency include the inability to urinate, a bloated hard abdomen, excessive vomiting or diarrhea, seizures, and the inability to stand up. Other less severe signs of illness should be checked by a veterinarian within 24 to 48 hours.

Once you have taken a sick pet to your veterinarian, you may need to continue medical care at home in the form of medication, special foods or supportive physical care. Here are some tips on handling the daily care of a sick pet:

  • Make sure you know the correct dose and understand how to give medications prescribed by your veterinarian. Your veterinarian knows that medicating a pet can be challenging and will be glad to give you a demonstration and some extra coaching if you need it.
  • Keep in mind that a sick pet should be kept in a quiet environment and may prefer to be left alone. Make sure that young children and other pets do not bother him. You may need to keep your sick pet in a separate room or area of the house.
  • If your veterinarian has prescribed a special food for your sick pet, make sure that you feed him separately from other pets. Also be sure that all members of your household are aware of your pet’s special dietary needs and understand that even small amounts of treats or other types of food could be harmful.
  • Be aware of any special physical needs that your sick pet may have. Some medications may cause your pet to drink and urinate more, so you may need to walk him or clean his litter box more frequently. If your pet is having difficulty walking or going up and down stairs, you may need to help him. Ask your veterinarian to show you the correct way to assist your pet so that you will not hurt him.

Report any worsening symptoms or new symptoms to your veterinarian immediately, as these could indicate that your pet’s illness has become more serious. New symptoms could also be side effects of your pet’s medication. Your veterinarian may want to re-examine your pet, or he may simply change your pet’s medication.

Be sure to finish all medications as prescribed by your veterinarian and take your pet back to your veterinarian for any recommended re-check exams or diagnostic tests. Even if your pet seems completely better to you, it is very important that you adhere to your veterinarian’s instructions. Even if your pet does not look or act sick anymore, there could still be an underlying illness that could recur if you don’t follow through on all of your veterinarian’s recommendations.

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