Wintertime woes

Voracious appetites, malicious mischief can mark winter days with pets


The days are getting shorter, the nights are cooler, and preparations for winter have begun. Mom has taken sweaters and jackets from storage, dogs have grown thicker coats, and the heat has come on once or twice already. Halloween is just around the corner, to be followed in short order by Thanksgiving and Christmas. Kids stay after school for soccer practice and spend evenings doing homework.

Life has shifted gears, and Rover may need some help to adjust.

The decline of daylight after the summer solstice triggers growth of lush undercoats in northern breeds and other double-coated dogs. Many dogs develop a voracious appetite, handy for wild animals that need a layer of fat to get them through the winter but less than useless in a family pet. Cool temperatures are a tonic to most dogs, and they'll romp and play long past time to go to school or work in the morning or get to the teacher's meeting in the afternoon if they're allowed.

Most living takes place inside from October through April, and close quarters enhance the possibilities for trouble between family members, including the dog. If Steve comes home late because he had volleyball practice and spends the evening doing homework, Bear will feel snubbed. A neglected Bear can be a dangerous Bear possessions may be stolen or chewed, housetraining may be forgotten, and training may slip down the drain.

Family members can ease the transition from summertime to school-year schedules by keeping in mind that Sassy is still part of the family and that the humans must make time for her. She still needs a daily walk, grooming once or twice a week, food twice a day, and periodic training sessions.

The family dog can be included in family activities. He can accompany Mom and Dad on a walk to the neighborhood school yard or the park to watch football or soccer practice or ride in the car on short trips. Mary can groom him a bit while she watches television and Mom can talk to him while she fixes dinner. Of course, in order to join the family in these projects, he must be well-behaved.

A well-mannered dog knows how to sit, lie down, and stay on command; walks quietly on a leash; and comes when he's called. He drops things in his mouth when told to do so, stays quietly in his crate when necessary, and rides calmly in the car. He can learn these things at home if owners are persistent, consistent, and patient; he can learn them at training class if the owner appreciates a group training atmosphere.

If Taffy knows "sit," she won't jump on guests and knock bags of groceries or trays of hors d'oeuvres out of Mom's hands. If she knows "down," she can't beg at the table, run around the back seat of the car, or pace in front of the television screen. If she knows "stay," she can remain with Mary anywhere in the house. If she walks nicely on a leash, she can go to park or playground on a family outing. And if she comes when called, she's safe just about everywhere.

Old dogs can learn to behave if owners have an extra dose of patience and a good imagination in case the first few techniques to teach an exercise don't work. Remember how difficult it is for an adult human to learn new procedures or jobs and give the pooch a break! Make training fun, keep sessions short, and use plenty of praise.

Group classes are available at training clubs and private trainers throughout the area. Training books are available at local bookstores and libraries. Start now!

Holiday dangers

The holiday season is full of dangers for Phydeaux. House plants, chemical salts used on icy walks, antifreeze, and chocolate candy all pose hazards to man's best friend.

Holiday treats

Many dogs have a sweet tooth, but candy can be deadly, so make sure those Halloween candy bars and holiday boxes of chocolate are put out of Fido's reach.

Chocolate contains theobromine, an alkaloid similar to caffeine, that can cause nerve damage and even death in dogs. Different types of chocolate can have varying amounts of theobromine, so if Macho eats a bag of M & Ms or a chocolate cupcake, he may not be affected, but a dish of dark chocolate candies may do him in.

Iams Company veterinarian Dan Carey makes the following recommendations to safeguard pets from theobromine poisoning.

Norma Bennett Woolf

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