Pros and Cons of Dog Leashes

I live on acreage in the country and see dogs roaming free off-leash all of the time.

They chase my car as I drive by. Some just sit lethargically under a tree while others lie in the road and act like I’m in their way.

The owners of these dogs don’t seem to worry that they might get hit by a car, attacked by a coyote, or kidnapped by someone who wants to do them harm. They obviously trust that their dog is safe and can handle whatever bad things may come their way. They simply don’t worry.

I kind of envy these folks because I am the exact opposite type of dog owner.

It’s not that I don’t believe dogs should be allowed to run free, because I do. They deserve it. Even though we have the land, I still have him on a leash 95% of the time because I’m an overly protective dog owner.

The times I have let my dog off leash to run to his heart’s delight have not resulted in anything too bad happening minus the time he ate a dead rabbit and threw it up on the kitchen floor. Or the time my dog chased a deer into the woods and didn’t emerge from the forest for what seemed like hours. Or the time my dog got a tapeworm from eating who-knows-what.

Nevermind the coyotes that howl at night and sometimes during the day. They live close by and would love to have my dog for an evening snack. No thanks, I’ll keep him on a leash during our walks. I did, however, let him off-leash one time to see how he would do and he managed to get out of our front gate and run off down the road.

No amount of hollering his name and pleading for him to come back did any good. I went to get the car to track him down and he was sitting by the gate waiting for me. The little stinker nearly gave me a heart attack. Thank goodness my small dog wasn’t hit by a car or eaten by a coyote.

To be clear, I am not judging the people who let their dogs roam.

That is their business. I believe each dog owner has their own lifestyle and beliefs on how to train and raise a dog.  Some dog parents are more lenient and others, like me, are more strict.

I do occasionally let my dog off his leash if I am outside with him and there are no guests coming to the house. He will chase the car as they leave and who knows where he’ll go. We go on long walks (with a leash of course) every day and he gets his exercise and can sniff whatever he wants under my close supervision. It works for both of us and he’s a happy dog.

Contributed by R. Cristine

Pets? Work? Coronavirus?

The pandemic has created a lot of headaches since it arrived in full force back in March. Yet one of the major unintended benefits of us all spending more time at home is more quality time with our pets — music to our ears!

A recent survey conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Zoetis Petcare found that 70% of polled pet parents feel they know their animals better since the pandemic. On top of that, over 81% of respondents said the quarantine period made them feel closer to their pet than ever before.

The survey aimed to learn more about how new and seasoned pet owners are feeling and what their experiences have been like at home with their pets.

A little extra playtime

This doesn’t come as a major surprise given the current work/home climate. Humans and their pets will inevitably collide in some form or fashion during pandemic times. It’s good news it appears to be a mostly positive collision!

Pets are certainly loving their extra human time as this provides an extra opportunity to beg for a walk outside, game of tug of war, or snuggle on the couch. Can you blame them?

The cutest pesky friends

As someone who relies heavily on Zoom meetings these days, I can say it has added a bit of flare being able to meet my coworkers’ pets during our video calls.

It has also lead to more casual banter and allowed me to learn more about a person’s personality by how they interact with their pets. It’s interesting how soft a person can become swooning over their precious pet!

A recent example of how a pet can take over a Zoom meeting occurred in the UK between members of Parliament. The meeting inadvertently showcased one of the member’s cats as it waved its tail around in the video’s foreground. This brought about smiles and a few laughs to the rest of the members on the call.

Pets make our lives that much better

It is no secret that pets help us cope during stressful times. They bring a therapeutic sense to our homes and offer a great companionship to our lives. It’s one reason why pet adoptions are up dramatically and some pet shelters across the U.S. are even experiencing empty occupancy.

Working from home allows the ability for you and your new pet to gain rapport more quickly than if you are out of the home working in a more traditional manner. As studies have shown, the more time you spend with your pet the more he or she will trust you.

So, if nothing else, COVID-19 has allowed us the great opportunity to better understand our furry friends and to provide each other with comfort and love (and plenty of cuddles!) while we maneuver through these unprecedented times.

Contributed by Michael Thomssen


Do Dogs Really Love Their Owners?

Dogs: our best friends, companions, confidants, and everything in between.

There’s good reason for our unspoken connection to our furry friends, although many naysayers claim it’s mostly rooted in emotion and classical conditioning.

“Well of course your dog loves you. You’re the one who gives him food,” they say.

The problem with that logic is that it fails to acknowledge all the not-so-lovable characteristics dog owners (and humans in general) often have. Our beloved canines tend to turn a blind eye to our blatant and numerous shortcomings.

Who else would forgive you for being the slob you are when you drop your dinner crumbs on the floor for them to pick up? Who else could you trust to completely refrain from judgment when you spend an entire Saturday in bed binge watching the latest Netflix series instead of making good on your public Facebook commitment to attend a weekly yoga class?

Dogs. Anyone who has spent even a small amount of time with dogs knows that their love seems unconditional, but is there any hard data to back up that claim?

I mean, we already know our dogs love us regardless of what any literature might say, but for those of you that want some cold hard facts to legitimize your claim, this article is for you.

 Their behavior says it all

They say sometimes the truth is often right in front of your eyes. That couldn’t be any more correct as it pertains to dogs loving their owners.

Studies have shown that dogs do indeed respond to voices and expressions unique to their favorite human. Simply put,  your dog can interpret and empathize with the look on your face and the tone of your voice. You might observe true guilt when Fido notices the disappointed look on your face when you discover the destruction he inflicted on your favorite slippers.

And, as it turns out, that cute baby-talk voice we do with our pups can evoke certain positive canine behaviors and strengthen our bond. So next time your friends make fun of you for your enthusiastic and higher-pitched praise of your “goodest little puppy!”, tell them it’s scientifically backed, thank-you-very-much.

It’s all in the chemicals

It’s well known in the scientific community that human and animal brains work in a similar fashion when interpreting our environments.

Whether we are running from a potential predator or expressing love, our brains respond by producing certain chemicals. The chemical most associated with love and affection is called oxytocin. Oxytocin plays a huge role in social bonding in a variety of contexts — between parents and children, romantic partners, or, yes, dogs and their owners.

When examined under an MRI, dogs’ brains show increased levels of oxytocin  as they gaze into their owners’ eyes. Not only do dogs get a rush of this love-infused chemical when they admire us, but we do as well when we look back at them. But you already knew that.

Love Stinks

Dogs rely on their sophisticated sense of smell to do more than find your freshly worn socks or a weak spot in the pantry’s armor. They also use it to relish in their love for you!

When a dog gets a whiff of his owner, the part of the brain associated with reward and pleasure lights up. Researchers have observed differences in canines’ caudate nuclei when sniffing their own favorite humans versus a stranger or another dog. Turns out a dog’s brain lights up the most when presented with his or her owner’s scent.

So… does my dog love me?

We will keep this simple. Yes! You probably didn’t have to scour the internet to know that, but sometimes it’s nice to reinforce the simple truths.

Humans and dogs have had a long history of bonding, and even though the research shows our furry friends love us back, there is probably a lot more to the story than an MRI can show. Let’s just assume your dog will love you just as much as you love him or her. We all know that amount is endless!

The First 3 Things To Do When Your Pet Goes Missing

It is an unfortunate reality that from time to time our beloved pets go missing. One of the worst things about owning a pet is that, despite our unwavering loyalty to our fur babies, from time to time they go missing. Whether your dog likes to roam, or your cat in heat wanders too far, the tips for bringing them home are mostly the same. Fret not; here are 3 important tips that will help you find your lost pet.

Tip 1: Ask your neighbors to check areas you don’t have access to.

More often than not, a pet is simply hanging out in an area not too far from home. Ask your neighbors if they have seen your pet in their yard or anywhere else nearby. If they have not, ask them if they will check other off-limit areas for you. This could include their garage, tool shed, under their porch or any other area on their property you do not have access to. This is especially important during cooler winter months as your pet may be seeking warmth. Imagine that; your pet hanging out in a nice cozy spot while you run around like a lost puppy trying to find them!  Be sure to contact local vets and animal shelters to see if anyone has turned your fur baby in. Leave your pet’s information and your contact information while you are there.

Tip 2:  Coax your pet back home with treats, food, or toys.

Many people underestimate the effectiveness of simply squeaking your pet’s favorite toy or treat pouch.  Dogs and cats can hear much better than humans and often follow sounds that are of interest to them. While tempting a dog or cat with the scent of their favorite food is a great way to get them back home, it is usually a longer process. If they do not respond to hearing familiar noises, place some food and treats in an easy to see spot. Be sure to keep an eye out so they don’t just eat the food and take off again!

Tip 3:  Make a digital flyer and start spreading it on social media. 

If one thing spreads like wildfire on social media it is posts involving pets.  No seriously, the engagement rate is through the roof.  Getting the news of your lost pet out on Facebook will help local neighbors become aware of the situation and increase the odds of bringing them home. Make a lost pet flyer and start posting to local lost and found pages in your area and sharing with friends and family. A little digital word of mouth goes a really long way in the 21st century.

Losing your pet may be a frightening experience but with a little patience and clear thinking, it is very likely you will get them home safe and sound. Hopefully these 3 tips will steer you towards your furry reunion!