Danielle Sullivan, a mom of three, has worked as a writer and editor in the parenting world for over 10 years. Danielle also writes about pets and parenting for Disney’s Babble.com. Find her on her blog, Some Puppy To Love, Twitter, or Facebook.
As many families plan barbecues and Independence Day celebrations, pet parents should also include their furry friends in holiday plans. Between navigating a house filled with guests and booming fireworks going off outside, it is common for dogs to run away and for a pup’s escape to go unnoticed.
Here are some tips to safeguard your beloved pooch and enjoy a festive Fourth of July party:
Getting Lost: Loud fireworks scare many dogs, and festivities including visits from friends and family often create extra distractions for pet parents. It’s best to make plans for your dog before guests arrive. Try to keep him in a gated area where he can see people but cannot get out. If your dog is anxious, consider keeping him in a quiet but cool bedroom and make it a point to check on him regularly.
IDs, Please: For added insurance, ensure your pet is wearing proper identification tags that list their name, your name, your home address and phone number.
Avoiding Alcohol: Keep alcohol out of your dog’s reach. Ingesting alcohol can cause vomiting, diarrhea, decreased coordination, difficulty breathing coma and even death in pets.
Prevent Burns: It’s not a good idea to give your dog (or your kids for that matter) free roam of the yard when the grill is on. Burns can happen in an instant.
Steer Clear of Fireworks: If your dog is afraid of fireworks, place them in a cool, closed room until the explosives are over. It may be helpful to play soothing music for your pet during the fireworks display. If you’re traveling to view fireworks elsewhere, it’s best to leave your pets at home.
Poisonous Products: Keep matches, citronella candles, bug sprays, sunscreens and lighter fluid out of your dog’s reach. These products can all cause serious health problems for your pup.
Even if Laura Wright weren’t an award-winning actress for her role as Carly Corinthos Jacks on General Hospital, we’d be huge fans of her lifelong dedication to animals. She and her husband, John, daughter Lauren, 15, and son John, 13, have four dogs at their home in California’s Santa Ynez Valley. The newest member of the family, Fire, is a Border Collie/German Shepherd-mix puppy whom they adopted from their local rescue, Old Yeller Rescue Ranch. Laura recently joined We-Care.com, the online shopping portal that raises funds for nonprofits, to help support the ASPCA and the animals we serve. You can Visit We-Care.com and enter to win a day on the set of General Hospital.
Can you introduce us to your dogs?
In addition to Fire, we have Dusty, a Border Collie/Golden Retriever mix, who’s 11; Lily, a miniature Dachshund, who’s about nine; and Rider, who looks like part white Shepherd mix, part Lab, who’s 16 months. I want to get a DNA test on him.
What’s your favorite part about being a pet parent?
There’s never a dull moment! Of course, it’s like having babies again, but we have the best time watching the dogs run and play. They keep you in the present moment, by watching how present they are. And they’re always happy to see you. No matter what kind of day you’ve had, they’re like, “Oh my gosh, hi!”
Have you always had pets in your life?
I had a German Shepherd as a kid. We had horses and barn cats who had kittens all the time—you never thought about it. As an adult, my first dog was not a rescue; she was purchased from a woman whose own Dalmatian had puppies. Her name was Rain, because James Taylor’s “I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain” was playing on the radio when my husband and I got her. So when we got our new puppy this year, my husband said, “We should name her Fire.”
What have you taught your children about animals?
We’ve always been animal lovers, and we already had two Dalmatians when we had kids, so we’ve always been on top of the kids about being responsible with dogs. We’re nature people—that’s why we live where we live. When my daughter first went to school she wouldn’t let her friends step on ants!
Why are you an advocate for animal rescue?
After I got Fire, I started looking at shelters. I’d become more educated by that time, and I realized what puppy mills do, especially to female dogs, who may never live outside of a cage. I was blown away by it.
When you go to a rescue, in every dog cage you walk by, there’s a soul in there. They want to be loved, they want to be happy and they want to please you. I wanted to support that. I want to be part of an organization that educates people about having your pets spayed or neutered, and helps them find them forever homes.
You can visit We-Care.com/LauraWright to support the ASPCA’s efforts on behalf of animals nationwide and for a chance to win a day on the set of General Hospital!
Keri Matthews, a mom of two, has worked in the ASPCA’s licensing department for more than five years.She lives on Long Island with her husband, Tom, her children, Gabriella and Tommy and their greyhound, Clyde.
For pet parents, welcoming a baby into the family is exciting and stressful! You want your pet to still feel your unconditional love after the baby is home.
We have planned twice for a baby arriving—the first time was more than two years ago when our daughter, Gabriella, was born. Then, about eight months ago, we welcomed Tommy. Clyde, our 12-year-old greyhound, has done really well with both babies—pretty commendable for a senior dog!
We were anxious about how we would incorporate Clyde into our new day-to-day activities and make events like crying, crawling and walking less stressful on him—and us!
Here’s a list of tips that we used when our little ones were on the way:
Before your baby arrives:
Gradually make changes to your house. We put up the bassinet, pack and play and swing about a month before my due date so Clyde could get used to the new layout.
The night before I came home from the hospital, Tom brought a blanket that the baby had used and put it on Clyde’s bed.
Plan out the timing of your pet’s walks and decide who will walk with him. These things tend to slip through the cracks during the first few weeks after your baby’s arrival!
Designate an area where your baby can play and rest that is off-limits to your pet.
When your baby is home:
When we walked in from the hospital, we put the carrier down and greeted Clyde first. We then let him decide when to come to the baby .
Allow your pet to sniff the baby often.
“Teach” the baby how to properly pet the cat or dog—it’s best to start early on this one!
Stick to your pet’s routine as much as possible, including his walks, favorite treats and outings. Clyde and I still do “trick time” every night. He gets exercise (and his Kong!) These minutes together are so important.
Visit the ASPCA Pet Care section to learn more about preparing dogs and cats for the arrival of a new baby. As a mom of two human kids and one canine kid, I’ll always feel guilty that one of the three is not getting enough attention no matter how hard I try. But, I am going to continue to have fun while trying!
Guest blog by Mary Dell Harrington, co-founder of the parenting blog Grown and Flown.
As the school year draws to a close, children become giddy with the anticipation of summer vacation. Once they toss their backpacks aside, consider using the next three months as a perfect time to ramp up the training for the four-legged members of your family. Guiding your kids as you work together to train your dog or cat can be a fun and instructive summer activity for them, as well as a way to enhance your family’s relationship with a better-behaved pet.
An excellent place to design a summer curriculum is the ASPCA Virtual Pet Behaviorist, where a library of training tools is available sorted by dog and cat care. The site includes dozens of easy-to-read and informative articles on every aspect of the care and training of pets of all ages.
Our family includes two chocolate Labradors, Moose and Gus, who are eight and four. Though they understand the basic commands of Sit, Stay, Down and Come, they have a terrible habit of jumping on anyone who walks into the house. In the Virtual Pet Behaviorist, I learned that dogs like to sniff the faces (and other body parts) of dogs they greet. Naturally, since humans stand considerably taller, dogs follow their instinct for a face-to-face “hello” by jumping up on us. Through the years, we have been inconsistent in our response to Moose and Gus and their exuberant greetings, so it is no wonder that this problem persists. This summer, once our dog-loving teenage daughter is out of school, I plan for the two of us to train the dogs to NOT jump on our friends and neighbors. I printed a guide about this very topic from the Virtual Behaviorist for some great training tips.
As in all pet care, it is we pet parents who need to be trained to help our pets learn positive behavior. Once we welcome an animal into our homes and hearts, the next step it is to teach them how to behave. While your kids take a break from their lessons, think about using their down time to start summer school for your pet.
Guest Blogger Emily Cappo is a writer and blogger at Oh Boy Mom. She is a mom to three boys and one girl dog named Matilda, a sweet and cuddly Labradoodle. Matilda and Emily are also a certified pet therapy team.
Matilda is the 6-year-old furry member of our family who makes us laugh constantly. She is the goofiest one in our household, even though she probably isn’t aware she is being funny.
Every time we take her for a walk, she only wants to walk a certain route. If I try to take a left turn when she wants to go right, she will stubbornly hold her ground and look at me as if I’m crazy to want to go a different way.
Matilda can also sing. Whenever one of my kids plays the piano, Matilda starts with some quick barks, slowly transforming into a prolonged howl. We all crack up. I’m not sure if Matilda’s singing is unique—I’ve seen a video of a dog who sings and plays the piano with his clumsy paws. However, our family considers her to be a gifted pup.
Another one of Matilda’s talents is that she can jump high. She never jumps on people, but if she’s running through our yard, she’ll jump over bushes like she’s running hurdles on a track. We laugh out loud and say she’s got “good vertical,” something my basketball-playing boys strive to achieve on the court.
Matilda seems to bring out the goofiness in all of us. My husband and I pretend to compete to find out who Matilda likes better. I say it’s me, because Matilda follows me everywhere. My husband claims she loves him more, because Matilda literally hugs him. She wraps her long legs around my husband’s waist (or neck, if he’s sitting) and stays that way while he scratches her ears. My brother and I had a similar contest with our Bichon Frise, Barley, when we were kids. We’d put Barley in between us and then we’d tell him to stay, while backing away from him. When we were equidistant apart, we’d both call Barley at the same time and whomever he ran to was the one we claimed he liked best. Although we haven’t subjected Matilda to the same contest, we joke about who she loves more.
Of course, we know that Matilda loves us all equally and we are fortunate to have such a fun and loving pet in our family.