Do you love to take road trips? Here is what I do to take my dogs and make it fun and enjoyable for all of us. Betty has been on many multi-day road trips with me and she is a great traveling companion. Here are some things that I did with Betty from the beginning that helped ensure that she loved car rides.
I will also post the gear that I use on my resources page.
Make car rides fun and safe. I started by taking Betty on shorter trips. I took her hiking, Home Depot, dog friendly restaurants, and to visit family and friends whenever possible. This helped get her accustomed to riding in the car and she looked forward to going places with me. Most dogs love to go wherever you go so this is pretty easy. I have a special seat belt for her to keep her safe and she always rode in the backseat where she was safest away from airbags. I also have a waterproof pet cover for my rear seat to keep my car nice. I also recommend rubber washable floor mats and a silicone detail brush to clean hair. The one I keep in my car has a pointed edge and reaches in all kinds of places. It comes in really handy to swipe up dog hair.
We started with shorter rides to make sure she wouldn’t get car sick as some dogs get car sick just like some people do. I keep a water bowl and a large jug of water in the car so if its hot or we have been out for a while, I can offer water. I also keep poo bags on hand for potty breaks and I even have a poo vault for when I have full bags and no trash can handy. It seals in the stickiness so your car won’t smell like poo. I’m a pro though so I take poo very seriously.
Obedience training and socializing your dog ahead of time help make them much more enjoyable around other people and other dogs too. Before traveling with a dog, having them understand basic commands like sit, down, stay, leave it, and good walking leash manners will make the trip a lot more successful.
Check with your vet if your dog is due to get their regular check up or vaccinations are due. If you have a dog that gets car sick, check with your vet for recommendations. Bring a copy of their vaccination records with you. If your pet is a service dog or emotional support animal, bring the documentation for this as well.
Practice with longer trips once you know your dog is comfortable with shorter trips. There are a few things that I take on longer or overnight trips. I will bring dog bowls and their current food. I never switch food unnecessarily as this is a recipe for stomach upset. I bring their dog bed. Whenever I need a potty break, I stop somewhere that I can take the dog out for a potty break as well. Plan your trip so that you never leave the dog in the car alone.
I live in an area that has many urban coyotes. Am I afraid? Not really. I am cautious and stay alert. In fact, after researching more about coyotes for this post, I have come to realize that coyotes are very successful predators in most of North America.
In Los Angeles, where I live, coyotes do not stay in the hills and wooded areas. They are also in the suburban and urban neighborhoods. Coyotes are very good at adapting to living among and around humans. We have made the habitat very attractive. They are shy by nature and are extremely good at hiding in plain sight. With the increased use of outdoor cameras and camera doorbells, we are getting more photos and videos capturing these elusive wild animals. This scares a lot of people. These animals should be respected but we can live among them safely. I think it helps to understand them a little.
The scariest element about coyotes is probably their hunting habits. Coyotes adjust their hunting habits to the food available. Coyotes prefer freshly killed meat but will eat carion when fresh meat is not available. In the fall and winter, they will eat fruit and berries as well. When hunting small animals like mice, they will hide and pounce individually. They are great at jumping fences so the average backyard fence in suburban Los Angeles is not high enough to deter a coyote. This means you do not want to leave cats out roaming freely or small dogs unattended in a backyard. They rarely attack humans but a small child in a yard alone could be a target. So, you want to keep an eye on small children. When coyotes are hunting larger prey like deer, they tend to hunt in packs. So, often when you see one, there will be others. When I see them and I am walking a small dog, I pick the dog up and hold it close. Keeping your dogs on leash is important because the last thing you want is your fearless chihuahua to run up to a coyote. If they are on leash, they are much easier to scoop up. I see them most often early in the morning on walks or at sunset.
When coyotes live around populated areas, they tend to be more nocturnal because human activity is naturally terrifying to coyotes. In less populated areas, they will hunt during the daytime. They sleep in quiet rocky areas away from people and household pets.
At night, I can often sometimes hear them howling. It is often at dusk and later. This is how coyotes communicate with each other and defend their territory. It often sounds like there are more coyotes than are actually there. The sound can scare some people because they mistakenly think it is a sign that the coyotes have killed something. This is very unlikely. Hungry coyotes don’t brag about killing something by howling. This would call attention to the competition and coyotes are more discreet. They are usually just communicating with each other. The sound is nothing to cause alarm.
They usually run away as soon as they see you. This is a good thing. You do not want to train them to be complacent around humans. Many experts recommend making yourself appear large and to be loud and intimidating when you cross their path. Carrying a can of pepper spray or bear spray gives me a little extra self defense. Just make sure it is legal in your area. Laws vary regarding pepper sprays. An airhorn or whistle can come in handy too. I keep a whistle on my carabiner that holds my poo bags so it is always handy. A flashlight at night is a good deterrent too. There are also coyote vests that you can put on smaller dogs that work well. The spikes on these help defend against attack.
Therapy dogs, Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) Service Dogs, or family pets... Life is better with dogs. I think everyone should be allowed to have a dog live with them. If it was up to me, they would be allowed in all housing without an additional pet fee or pet rent. I don't think you should have to have a mental health diagnosis to have an emotional support animal. I think we all benefit with dogs in our lives. I know some people have pet allergies or fears. This article is not about people that do not want a dog. I am talking about people that do want dogs. This is for people that love dogs and love living with them while respecting the rights of the people around them. While, I am making my wish list, I would love to see affordable dog obedience classes offered at community centers and senior centers. For those that are confused about the different classifications, clickhere for definitions. It is important to know the legal difference between the classifications covered by the ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act) so we don't affect the lives of people that are relying on dogs to perform tasks and live life as fully as possible.. For this reason, please never pretend that your dog is a service dog. It really puts a sour taste in most people's mouth. Don't be "that" person.
You're not fooling anyone. You're just being rude and taking advantage of laws designed to protect people that need to have their dogs with them.
As a pet sitter, I meet all kinds of people. I know a stroke patient that can no longer walk her dogs. People with PTSD benefit greatly from the companionship of dogs. I have helped all sorts of people that travel frequently for work. I know firsthand how much dogs
Why should I spay or neuter my dog?
Shouldn't I let nature do its thing and maybe have a litter or two first? Everybody loves puppies. Right?
Why do shelters and rescue organizations require that dogs are spayed and neutered before allowing adoption?
Overpopulation and pet homelessness are the main reasons. For every human child born each day, 7 puppies and kittens are born each day according to the American Humane Society. So, at these current rates, there will never be enough homes for all the dogs and cats born each day. According the the American Society for the Prevention of cruelty, 6.5 million dogs enter shelters each year. Of those animals, only 3.2 million find their way out of shelters and into homes. Because the overpopulation is so excessive, many of these animals will, sadly, be euthanized. The shelters and rescue organizations cannot handle the daily influx at the current birth rates. There simply isn't enough resources or space to care for all of them. One or two litters per dog WILL worsen the problem. But, this isn't the only reason.
The quick answer is to use whatever keeps your dog the safest. And, that will depend on your pet and your circumstances. Here are my favorites for different situations and conditions.
First let's talk about my favorite collar for the average size dog that doesn't pull, doesn't chew on a leash, and has a healthy neck and back. I love a martingale collar for the average easy going pet. A martingale collar is like a combination between a common flat collar with a safety extra. It has an extra loop that cinches in on the neck if the animal is pulling. This is critical because, unlike a regular common flat collar, if a dog pulls backwards while on a walk, there is no slack created. This is a classic move made by escape artist type dogs. If they pull back and do a quick snap of their heads, the collar won't slip over their heads like it will with a regular flat collar. I am not a fan of a regular flat collar for any dog for this reason. I have had way too many dogs try this move. My dog Betty can free herself from a flat collar in about 2 seconds flat.
I help people take care of their pets every day. Most people know that they have to do estate planning "someday". Most people also put it off because it is daunting to face your own mortality. So, instead, most people hope for the best and don't plan at all. But, what happens to your pets when you aren't here anymore? We hope that a family member or friend will step in and care for our pets. But hope is not a plan. For most pets, they will end up in a shelter and either be adopted by strangers or euthanized due to overcrowding. Animals don't grieve the same as humans but I have seen them grieve. When my mother was sick, her dog knew. He stayed by her side every day until she was admitted to the hospital for the last time. Her doctors allowed him to visit her on her last day. You never saw such a sad face as the face on her dog that day. He was the last reason she smiled though. She loved him dearly and he loved her. The night after she passed, he slept with me practically burying himself under me. It was as though he couldn't get close enough. My mother asked me to take care of him and I have. She also spelled it out in her will. I am happy to honor my mother and care for him. He is a great little dog.
I had a dog that got "bloat" which is a stomach that twists internally. It can be fatal if not treated by a veterinarian immediately. This is what happened that day. It was a day like any other in the summer of 2007. I got home early (around 7;30p.m.) and was greeted by my dog with her same happy attitude that she always had. She was a happy, healthy Labrador retriever of about 3 years old at the time. I loved coming home to her. I poured her dinner from the kibble bag and went to check the mailbox. She always ate her food like it was a race so she was gobbling up her food when I went to check the mail. Something odd caught my attention when I came back and looked at my dog. She seemed uncomfortable and really BIG. All of a sudden she had bloated in size to that of a fully pregnant dog. I was shocked.
I have a Border Collie named Betty that I rescued from the Border Collie Rescue Group of the Ozarks (when I lived in Arkansas in 2015). There are rescue groups for the breed in most states. These beautiful smart dogs are adorably cute puppies. Many people do not fully comprehend their need for exercise and training when they gather them up as adorable puppies. This means that many end up at shelters and rescue groups. As smart as they are, they are not the lowest maintenance dogs that you can bring home.
These dogs are not going to be happy lying on the couch all day. They are bred to work. They need regular daily exercise. When I first got Betty and was researching the breed, I kept reading that they are dogs that need a job. What does that even mean? It means they are happiest when they are working. The breed was bred for herding livestock. They love to run in circles around other animals that are running. When sheep are not available, squirrels, bunnies, birds and small children will be herded. They also like things to be fairly calm. My dog loves a dog park. But, I have to watch her closely because if a fight breaks out , she will run over to the fighting dogs to break up the fight. This can be very bad for Betty so we don’t go to dog parks often. When other dogs are playing ball, she likes to chase them and herd them away from the ball. Its her version of keep away. This can be very frustrating for ball obsessed dogs like labradors and spaniels. She plays best with other herding dogs that are happy to chase each other in circles. Dog parks can be very dangerous places for small children as they can be easily knocked over by rambunctious running dogs.
I would caution against over exercising border collies unless you are prepared to be consistent. If you create an athlete out of them, you will need to train them as an athlete or they will become very stir-crazy. When they become stir-crazy, they will get into things and run around the house. Betty gets the zoomies and will run as fast as she can from one end of the house to the other. My family knows Betty’s crazy look. Her eyes bug out a little and her pupils dilate and she starts running around sometimes tossing toys in the air and catching them all by herself. Betty gets regular exercise. She is also fairly mellow as far as Border Collies come. We started in a house with a yard and went hiking regularly. Now we live in a condo and her exercise is primarily on leash. Times change and she has adapted very well. She is best on leash when we are running.
Border Collies can be wonderful dogs around children with proper training of your kids AND your dog. This is also true for all family dogs. Border Collies are known to be among the smartest of dogs. This makes them easy to train. Betty was completely untrained when I brought her home and she learned all the basic obedience training commands in about 15 minutes. No joke. She is smart. They are also very loyal and generally pretty sweet tempered. They enjoy a lot of attention. They have a ton of energy and can run around with kids all day long.
So, you love animals and you want to be responsible because you love the environment? Maybe you have children or grandchildren and you want them to be able to enjoy the things you have enjoyed? You have studied the science and realize that pollution and climate change are both real crises that we are facing. That is me. I am a grandmother and I love hiking and camping. I love pristine beaches and watching seals and sea lions basking in the sun at the local beaches. I want my grandchildren to be able to enjoy these things too. I want to do my part to clean up the mess we have made as a society. This article is not for people that think climate change is not real. It is real and we are running out of time to limit the damage. This is a scientific fact.
You would think that loving animals and having them in your home would not conflict with being environmentally responsible. But, the pet industry creates a lot of waste. A LOT - pet food containers, plastic single-use poo bags, flea and tick plastic pill containers, dog toys, collars, leashes, brushes, shampoos. Much of it made cheaply out of non-biodegradable or non-recyclable plastics or packaged in even more plastic.
For anybody that has tried to go zero waste, you know it is nearly impossible in most locations. So, the goal here is less waste. Let’s start with doing what we can and striving to do more and more after we have changed some basic habits. Where to start? Wherever you can! By being mindful before you make a purchase, you can make a huge difference. The first step to lessen your waste is to think before you buy. There are four basic principles of reducing waste. These principles apply to everything you use in your daily life. Let’s look at how they can apply to pet care and I’ll even add a couple bonus tips that apply just for dogs.
Photo by Ian Williams on Unsplash
Here in Los Angeles, mountain lions also known as California cougars or pumas can be spotted frequently in urban neighborhoods thanks to the prevalence of surveillance cameras. The estimated cougar population in California is 4000 - 6000 as of 2018. It is just an estimate though as the animals are very elusive and hard to locate and count. Adult males weigh up to 200 pounds and 8 feet long. The females average around 120 pounds. They are usually shy around humans and will avoid you. Attacks on humans are rare. They will eat your dogs or cats without hesitation though. Mountain lions are filmed often in local backyards. More than half of California is considered to be mountain lion territory. Although, they can be found anywhere in California. They are considered an apex predator at the top of the food chain. An adult female will have 1-2 kittens that will stay with her for 1-2 years before breeding again. The mother will teach them all of their survival skills. Fewer than half of all kittens survive to adulthood. Predation and forest fires are major risks to kittens. They generally live anywhere there are deer but they will eat other animals and pets. Deer are also very adaptable and can survive in most parts of California. Many animals scavenge the leftovers of mountain lions. Mountain lions keep the deer population in check. Their biggest threats are car accidents and depredation permits which allow them to be killed if they have killed a pet or livestock by law in California. Trophy hunting is illegal in California. They play an important role in our ecosystem. They are also a sentinel of contamination. Many mountain lions have rodenticide present in their system during autopsies.