’Tis the season for decking our halls with holiday decor, hosting festive gatherings, and in much of the United States, it also means cold temperatures and sometimes, snowy and icy conditions. All of these scenarios can also present hazardous situations for your canine companion as well.
Here are some tips to help you keep your favorite furry friend safe over the holidays and throughout the upcoming winter months:
Tree Trimmings & Decorations
If you put up a tree, use caution in ensuring it is secured from toppling over, as well as when choosing how to decorate it…
Most of us want to include our favorite furry companions in our festivities, but it is also important to protect them from potential hazards…
After weeks of indulging in holiday treats and spirits, there is nothing better then getting outside with our four-legged friends for a crisp winter hike; however, sometimes the weather outside is frightening, and we need to take added steps to keep them protected from the harmful elements…
We wish you and your families a very wonderful and safe holiday season. We are so very grateful for your support and cherish the friendships that have developed over the year with all of our families and friends, both new and old.
While the early weeks of a puppy’s life are considered “critical” growth stages, by the time they reach 12 weeks old, they are entering into a crucial socialization period. This is the time when all of their experiences, both positive and negative, will influence their behavior as they grow into adult dogs. It is often referred to as the “foundational period” that informs who he becomes for the rest of his life.
So how can you help your puppy during this crucial period? The best way to do this is to expose him to as much as possible, ensuring that all of his experiences are positive. Now that his immunity has matured, it is safe to go to public places such as pet stores and parks. It is also a great time to enroll him in puppy kindergarten, such as the AKC STAR Puppy class, where he will have the opportunity to play and interact with a variety of other dogs, and people, while learning important social and behavioral skills.
Now is also the perfect time to start introducing your puppy to a variety of sights, sounds, and smells. If you ensure that your puppy has positive experiences with different people, things, voices, and more, then he is less likely to be surprised, scared, or even worse, aggressive when he encounters something new.
The following is a checklist of suggested situations to expose your puppy to as he grows up:
Child on a bike
Man wearing a hat
Person walking a puppy/dog
Person in a wheel chair
Man with a beard
Child dancing and jumping
Person using a broom
A festival or party
Ride on an elevator
Person pushing a baby stroller
Person in a trench coat
Women in a dress
Man in a suit
Person with a ball
Child playing with a toy
People of different races
Person with sunglasses
Children at a playground
Person at a drive-through window
Trucks and Cars
Person in uniform
Outdoor sporting games (basketball, baseball, tennis, etc.)
Of course, these are only a few suggestions, as there are a number of other opportunities you may be aware of based upon your own neighborhood situations. The greater the variety of experiences, the more comfortable your dog will be when she comes into contact with these situations. A knowledgeable dog is a confident dog!
Most importantly, make sure you take the time to share as many positive moments with your puppy as possible. Nurturing that relationship now will lay the foundation for a lifelong, loving bond between you and your dog.
Now that all the puppies are living happily with their new families, we are focusing our efforts on helping Hadley adjust to life here on the farm. In order for everyone to have a happy life here, we all must demonstrate good manners and respect one another. In the dogs’ world, this means demonstrating understanding of commands like sit, down, stay, come, leave-it, off, etc. And, of course, most importantly, knowing that they go “potty” outside.
We begin working on the concept of “housebreaking” when they are as young as 5 weeks; however, once they move onto their new families, or stay here with us at the farm, this training becomes more extensive. We believe that having a consistent schedule that includes playtime, nap time, and meal time is the most effective and quickest way to housebreak a puppy.
Here is an example of the schedule that we follow here at the farm:
- Take your puppy out of her crate, put her on her leash and take her to her potty spot. When she goes, be sure to praise her and use your “potty prompt” such as “go potty” or “go in the grass” or something that helps her learn to associate her actions with words. When she is done, praise again and then give a treat. If she doesn’t go, put her back in her crate for a few minutes, then take her back out to her spot to try again.
- After your puppy has gone potty, this is a good time to work with her on a little training. Work on commands such as “Leave-it” “Take-it” “Sit” “Stay” etc. Make sessions short…no more than 5 minutes at a time as her attention span is short and you always want to finish training session on a positive note. This stimulation will also tire her out.
- Feed your puppy her breakfast. After about 20 minutes, take her outside and follow the 6am routine. Afterward, put her in her crate until it’s time for the next potty break.
Mid-morning (for pups younger than 10 weeks old)
- Take your pup to the potty spot and follow the routine. Then, come inside and play with your puppy for a little while, do a short training session, take her out again to potty, and then put her in the crate until the next break.
- Take your puppy out and follow the routine. If the puppy is less than 6 months old, feed her some lunch, spend some time playing and do another training session. Take her out to potty again and then put her back in her crate. Once she is older than 6 months, skip her lunch.
Mid-afternoon (for puppies younger than 10 weeks):
- Same as mid-morning routine.
- Take puppy outside for potty routine. Then feed her some dinner and then take her back outside for another potty break. This is a good time then to leave puppy out of her crate as long as someone is keeping a close eye on her.
- Great time to play with puppy, do short training sessions, etc. Because the puppy will be more active, she will likely need to go potty more often than she does during the day when it is quieter so watch for circling, sniffing, pacing or other signs that she needs to go outside. We use a bell on the door that puppies quickly learn to jingle to let us know they need to go out. Only put the puppy in her crate if no one can keep a close eye on her.
10 to 11:00pm
- Take your puppy outside for potty routine. Then put the pup in her crate for the night. If she is older than 12 weeks, she should be able to sleep through the night without needing to potty. Younger pups normally need to get out at least once in the middle of the night.
We have had tremendous success with this schedule. Furthermore, going in and out of the same door whenever taking the puppy out, it does not take long for them to grasp the concept that potty time is outside. Here we are at 10 weeks of age, and Hadley is not only completely house-trained, but understands that her crate means it is time to rest, which makes for a peaceful night for the other residents on the farm!
We are well into our sixth week of raising a beautiful litter of chocolate puppies. What never ceases to amaze me is how quickly they mature. It seems like it was only yesterday that they were snuggled up closely (and quietly) next to their mother. Now they are like miniature dogs with their own unique personalities and funny antics. No doubt, we are in full puppy mode!
In the first four weeks we really focused on a variety of socialization exercises, which will continue until they go home with their new families in a couple weeks. In these final weeks we have expanded our work with them to include potty training, name recognition, crate familiarization, and teaching commands like “sit” and “down”. The puppies’ brains are like sponges, so starting to work with them on these exercises now will help to ensure that they have a positive foundation to build upon when they go to their new “fur-ever” homes.
Here are the steps we use to begin teaching them the “sit” command:
It does not take more than a few of these early training sessions before the puppies begin to grasp the “sit” command. We work on this in a variety of settings to not only introduce them to this fundamental command, but also to discourage jumping and to help encourage overall good manners. As always, it is our goal to help build a foundation that helps our puppies to be adaptable in all the situations they will encounter in life.
We have been exceptionally busy here at the farm helping Riley raise her six puppies over the last few weeks. It is amazing how much the puppies have changes in just three weeks. Not only are they growing like weeds, but their bodies are continually maturing. For instance, did you know that puppies are born with their eyes and ears sealed shut? So imagine their surprise and excitement last week when they began to see the world around them and hear each other grunt and squeak! Another big development this week is the emergence of puppy teeth - it just all happens too fast.
While the puppies are growing before our eyes, we have been focused on socializing them. Traditionally, socializing puppies has long been considered the responsibility of the new parents; however, we believe it truly starts before they are born. As breeders, it is our responsibility to promote a positive environment for our puppies, which will help them to acclimate to any situation they may experience in their life.
So, what happens in the early weeks of the puppy’s life? Here are some of the things we do to stimulate and socialize our puppies:
In the first three weeks, Riley is doing much of the work and we spend most of our time ensuring the puppies are kept warm and their space kept clean. The best way for us to begin socialization during these first weeks is through simple touch. We handle and cuddle the puppies several times throughout the day in order to create a pleasurable connection to the human touch. Furthermore, we use this time to handle their paws and clip their nails.
The first three weeks are considered to be a critical time to begin stimulation exercises. In addition to the daily cuddling time, on the third day through the 16th day, we incorporate early neurological stimulation exercises into our daily routine. These are a series of five exercises that were developed by the US Military to help improve the performance of military dogs and has since become known as the “Super Dog” program. The five exercises completed once daily are:
1. Tactical stimulation (between toes)
2. Head held erect
3. Head pointed down
4. Supine position
5. Thermal stimulation
Extensive research has shown that doing these exercises during this critical time in the puppies’ lives can lead to the following benefits:
1. Improved cardio vascular performance (heart rate)
2. Stronger heart beats
3. Stronger adrenal glands
4. More tolerance to stress
5. Greater resistance to disease
To learn more about the “Super Dog” program, you can access the full article by visiting the Breeding Better Dogs website.
Now that we are in the third week, the puppies are really beginning to understand that they are “dogs” and are starting to learn how to behave like dogs (ie. how to play appropriately and bite inhibition,) both from their mother and from their siblings. While we keep the puppies together with their mother majority of the time, it is just as important for us to begin spending more one on one time with them.
Socializing puppies also means exposing them to a variety of stimuli in their environment. We do this by adding new and interesting toys to their space, as well as, giving them time to explore and walk upon different surfaces, including carpet, tile, and towels. Additionally, this is the right time to start introducing different, and even startling, sounds into their environment, such as running the vacuum, slamming doors, dropping food bowls, etc. Furthermore, we are exposing the puppies to a variety of different people, so as to encourage a positive experience with all humans. Finally, we have created a potty area for the puppies. While they are primarily still nursing with mom, she is beginning to lighten up on some of her duties. Adding the potty area will not only help in keeping their living space clean, but will also help in the housebreaking training!
The next few weeks will bring even more developments: we are starting to slowly wean the puppies as we introduce solid food, expanding their area to include play, potty, and eating areas, and we will continue to expose them to a variety of experiences to help prepare them for their new lives as happy companions.
We have had an exciting few days here at the farm! We helped Riley welcome into the world 6 beautiful chocolate Labrador puppies on Saturday, June 24. Riley and her puppies are all healthy and doing well. It is a miracle to watch Riley's maternal instincts kick in as she tends to and nurtures these most precious babies.
We have had a number of inquiries into the availability of puppies. All 4 of the females have been spoken for, as well as 1 male. We still are accepting applications for the adoption of 1 male. If interested in learning more about the adoption process, please email you inquiry to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Be sure to follow our Facebook and Instagram pages for your daily dose of puppy sweetness!
Many of you who follow our Facebook page already have heard the news; however, for those you who are not on Facebook, we are excited to share with you that we have officially confirmed that Ms. Riley is expecting!
With the help of our friends at Green Gables Farm, Riley (aka Shallow Creek’s “Ask Me Why”) was paired with Clay (aka Green Gables “In the Potter’s Hand”) in late April. When are they due to arrive? Well, the average gestation period for dogs is about 63 days, which makes our approximate due date June 27.
So far Riley is doing exceptional! Right now we are focused on keeping her in good health. In addition to maintaining her healthy diet, each day we go on a long walk around the farm, which helps her to maintain her strength. The first few weeks all she wanted to do was sleep; however, recently it seems she has returned back to her normal happy and energetic self. We are also starting to notice that her waistline is steadily disappearing!
We are receiving multiple inquiries, on a daily basis, about adopting a puppy from this litter. While we will not begin accepting formal reservations until after the litter is born, we are accepting adoption applications. If you are interested in adding an Ashling Place Labradors puppy to your family, please send your inquiries to us at ashlingplacelabradors.com in order to begin the adoption process.
May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month, therefore, it is the perfect opportunity to discuss preventative measures that you can take in order to protect your furry companion from this potentially dangerous disease.
What is Lyme Disease?
Lyme disease is an infection caused by the Borrellia burgdorferi bacterium, which travels through the bloodstream and eventually causes a number of health issues, some of which can be severe. According to the American Lyme Disease Foundation, "LD manifests itself as a multisystem inflammatory disease that affects the skin in its early, localized stage, and spreads to the joints, nervous system and, to a lesser extent, other organ systems in its later, disseminated stages."
How does my dog contract Lyme Disease?
While there are different types of ticks, it is the deer ticks that are responsible for transmitting Lyme Disease. As carriers of Lyme Disease, ticks transmit the disease from one host to another by imbedding their mouthparts into the host's skin and sucking on its blood. In order for the disease to be transmitted, the infected tick must be attached to your dog for at least 48 hours. Therefore, having a prevention plan that includes daily inspections for ticks on your dog can be an effective means towards preventing the disease from spreading.
How do I know if my dog has been infected?
As a human, one of the early signs of Lyme Disease is the characteristic “bull’s eye” rash that forms around the site of the bite. Unfortunately, this is not a symptom found in dogs. Furthermore, many canine symptoms may not be recognizable until a few months after becoming infected, making early diagnosis difficult. Furthermore, many of the ailments are often confused for symptoms of other health issues. The most common symptom seen in dogs is recurrent lameness, most especially in the leg joints, as a result of inflammation. Other symptoms may include loss of appetite, depression, swollen lymph nodes, high fever, and in more severe cases, the disease can lead to kidney disorder (this has been seen in cases involving Labrador Retrievers).
How can I protect my dog from getting Lyme Disease?
Prevention is key to protecting your canine friend from becoming infected with Lyme Disease. First and foremost, if you spend anytime outside in high risk areas, it is imperative that you thoroughly scan your dog’s body for ticks. If you find a tick attached to your dog and properly remove it, we highly suggest taking the tick to your veterinarian to have them test it for Lyme Disease. In addition to daily inspections of your dog, there are a number of options available that can be effective at repelling and preventing ticks. Some tick control methods to consider include:
Topical Medication: Usually these are applied on a monthly basis directly onto your pets skin and coat and, depending on the product, are highly effective at repelling ticks, fleas, and a number of other parasites. As with all medications, read the label carefully and always discuss options with your veterinarian.
Oral Medication: There are a number of new products available that can be given in pill form to your canine friend. Many of these are highly effective at protecting your dog from ticks and fleas for at least 4 weeks, and some for as long as 12 weeks. Since most oral medications require a prescription from your veterinarian, it is good idea to discuss the best tick prevention plan for protecting your dog.
Shampoos, Sprays, and Collars: Though these options may not be as effective as the topical and oral medications, they can still be useful. Shampoos generally kill ticks on contact; however, they need to be repeated more frequently since the ingredients simply don't last as long as those found in oral and topical medications. Sprays can be used in-between shampoo treatments in order to help provide additional protection, especially if you plan on spending extended time in the woods with your dog. The use of a flea and tick control collar can be effective; however, it’s protection is generally limited to the dog's head and neck area. As with any product, be sure to read the labels carefully before use and discuss treatment options with your veterinarian.
I would be remiss if I did not discuss the Lyme Disease Vaccine. While the vaccination remains an ongoing debate in the veterinary medical field, this is a viable option available for canines. Those in the field who are opposed to the vaccination have questions about it's efficacy, as well as its possible side effects. However, there is general consensus that use of the vaccination should not be the only preventative method used, but rather part of a larger prevention program, especially in high-risk areas. If you and your dog reside in or spend considerable time in a location where Lyme disease is prevalent, I encourage you to discuss a tick prevention plan with your veterinarian.
Most of us have a first aid kit in our homes stocked for situations where we may need quick access to bandaids, antiseptic, thermometer, or cold-compress as not every injury requires a visit to the emergency room or doctor’s office. However, do you have a first aid kit specifically for your furry friends? Making sure you have a pet-specific first aid kit is an additional safety measure to ensure you are able to tend to your companion during an emergency situation.
When stocking your kit, you should consider including these items:
Bandages (large & small)
Bandage Scissors & Tape
First Aid Pamphlet for Pets
Mineral Oil or Activated Charcoal
Scissors (with blunt ends)
Sterile Saline Solution
Thermometer (rectal – made for animals)
Antibiotic Ointment (without benzocaine or
Thermal Foil Emergency Blanket
While you can easily stock your own kit with items found at your local pharmacy and purchased through your veterinarian, you can also find pre-assembled kits at most neighborhood pet stores, as well as online. Be sure to go through your kit annually to ensure it is fully stocked with the necessary items and also check to make sure that you discard and replace any items that are past their expiration dates.
On a final note, exciting things are happening here at the farm! Be sure to stay tuned in the next few weeks to keep up to date on the status of Riley and future puppies!
In our last article, we talked about keeping our furry friends safe outdoors; however, we would be doing you a disservice if we didn’t also cover the list of common household products that are potentially lethal to animals. So, as you continue to work on your spring cleaning chores, both inside and outside the home, be sure to keep these harmful products out of your pets’ reach:
Common Household Cleaners & Disinfectants:
Health & Beauty Products: