What Are Your Top 3 Tips to Keep Your Pets Safe?

October 23, 2018

What Are Your Top 3 Tips to Keep Your Pets Safe?

By: Jeff Aldaine

Taking care of a pet is hard work. You have to constantly check on him, feed him when he gets hungry, clean up his mess every time he makes one, and teach him to behave when there are other people around.

It’s like having your own child. But no matter how much stress looking out for a pet can give you, having one can be a source of joy, love, and fulfillment.

More than friends, pets become a part of your family. They grieve with you in moments of loss and celebrate with you for every little goal you’ve achieved. It’s no wonder that a lot of people have pets and go out of their way to ensure that they feel loved and are properly taken care of. Apart from the companionship they provide to us humans, they represent the kind of genuine affection that’s rare to find.

If you’re a first-time owner of a puppy, kitten, parrot, goldfish, or any kind of pet, you must be feeling anxious and overwhelmed because you haven’t quite figured it out yet. What may be applicable for a cat may not necessarily be okay for a bird. You can’t play with your guinea pig the way you would with your dog.

Lucky for you, there are many ways to protect your pets, especially your dogs and cats. With all the information out there, it’s hard to figure out what works for you and your pet.

We took the task to narrow this down. We have reached out and asked veterinarians, longtime pet owners, and other experts in the field to share how they keep their fluffy little companions safe from harm. If you’re looking for ideas on how you can guarantee the safety of your pets, here’s what they have to say.

Cynthia Lopez

Pet Life Today

  1. Start Training Your Dog

    One of the most effective ways to keep your dog safe is to train them well. Training will help teach your dog the type of behavior you want them to follow—making it far easier to keep them out of sticky situations. Training will also help your dog start to learn to monitor their own behavior, even when you’re not around.

  2. Set Up a Dog Gate

    One practical purchase that makes the responsibility of keeping your dog safe much easier is a dog gate. The curiosity of the unknown is enticing, and it can lead your dog to explore, so a dog gate is an essential addition to your home. There are all kinds of dog gates to suit your needs as an owner! See for yourself with this list of the best dog gates available on the market. There are truly so many intuitive and inexpensive designs to choose from, so you’ll have no trouble finding the right one.

  3. Plan Ahead When Taking Your Dog into Less Frequented Environments

    It’s just as important to take into account safety considerations in other environments that you don’t frequently take your dog into. For example, when your dog is riding with you in your car, there are many safety considerations you should think of before letting your dog ride with you such as keeping your dog restrained to prevent accidents and distractions. The same goes for any adventures outside your usual environment, like a hike or camping trip. Plan ahead to identify any possible safety concerns, and make sure you have all of the necessary items to keep your dog’s safety a top priority.

Gail Rellox, President and Director of Intake Coordination

Golden Retriever Rescue of Michigan

  1. MICROCHIP them, it is so important if your pet ever gets lost.

  2. Yearly vet visits, vaccinations, and heartworm testing and have on heartworm preventative and flea and tick preventative.

    One practical purchase that makes the responsibility of keeping your dog safe much easier is a dog gate. The curiosity of the unknown is enticing, and it can lead your dog to explore, so a dog gate is an essential addition to your home. There are all kinds of dog gates to suit your needs as an owner! See for yourself with this list of the best dog gates available on the market. There are truly so many intuitive and inexpensive designs to choose from, so you’ll have no trouble finding the right one.

  3. Conduct a weekly, thorough massage all over of your dog, to check for lumps. It increases the odds of early detection and the dogs love it as well. Be sure to advise your vet of any lump findings.

  4. Feed a good nutritious food approved by your vet.

  5. Never leave a pet alone in a car.

Grannie Annie

New England Old English Sheepdog Rescue

Three Essentials:

  1. 6-foot leash;

  2. Good relationship with a vet;

  3. Training classes and then more training classes.

Cairn

Col. Potter Cairn Rescue Network

  1. ALWAYS keep pets leashed (preferably with a harness AND a collar) when not in an enclosed/secure place.

  2. Make sure all hazards (food and other things) are kept out of reach of your pet if you do not crate them when not at home.

  3. When having guests in your home, make sure THEY know the rules to keep your dog safe (door/gate opening etc.).

Rue Chagoll, GRRCNY Volunteer and Trainer, Freelance Writer

Golden Retriever Rescue of Central New York

Keep Your Dog Safe: At Home, Outdoors, In the Car

As dog “parents” we need to be aware of and prepared to avoid potential hazards to our beloved canine “kids.” Three activity zones to consider when preparing for your dog’s safety: Home, Outdoors, and Car. If you think of any dog as you would a two-year-old toddler, you're in the proper mindset to prevent trouble before it occurs. And be advised that “my dog's never done that” is no guarantee it won't happen today or tomorrow.

  1. In the home prevention can occur two ways: Keep hazards away from the dog or, keep the dog away from hazards. For example, prescription and over the counter medications and household chemicals can and should be stored securely. Houseplants are another story, and can pose serious danger. Many dog owners are not aware that a good number of the decorative plants sold at big box stores and neighborhood nurseries can be fatally toxic to dogs if ingested. Restricting dogs from “plant rooms” by the use of baby gates is a good preventive measure.

  2. A fenced yard for exercise and necessary business is the best way to protect your best friend. Yes, electronic fences are in common use, but there is no escaping the fact they are a compromise to satisfy aesthetic desires at the expense of dog safety. When walking, dogs should always be on a leash unless in some containment such as the dog park. At dusk or after dark, walkers on the road should carry a flashlight and wear reflective gear. In the country where I live, we and our dogs wear highly visible orange vests when walking in daylight during hunting season.

  3. My dogs are safely crated in our vehicles when traveling. An alternative might be to use the harness restraints now available. Your best friend is not safe loose in the car, any more than would be that two-year-old toddler. And dogs should never be in the front seat, hanging out of windows, or loose in the bed of a pickup truck.

Careful forethought, vigilance and prevention will help you never be the person who begins the telling of a tragic ending with, “my dog never did that before.”

Tara Murphy, Vice President

Pug Rescue of Sacramento

Safety Tips for Pugs:

  1. Microchipping

    Pugs are quick to go looking for human contact and so when they are left alone and able to get out of their yards, they need that extra “insurance” along with a name tag with owner info.

  2. Harnesses

    Pugs are termed as brachiocephalic, pushed in face! If just a collar is used the constant pulling and tugging around their necks can cause trouble breathing along with damage to their tracheas.

  3. Diet

    Pugs are very prone to obesity. The breed should never be overly exercised because of respiratory issues they are prone to. Keeping the diet very healthy and grain free, due to allergies, can do wonders for their lifespan. Supplementing with high-grade fish oils can also help with preventing dry eye along with glucosamine for joint health of this stocky breed. 🐾

Marie Martinez, Secretary

Goldheart Golden Retriever Rescue

  1. Microchip your pets.

  2. Routine vet visits and use preventatives recommended in your geographical area (e.g., heartworm, flea/tick).

  3. Scan their environment, ensuring it’s not too hot/cold, enough water, never leave them in a car or walk on hot pavement.

Elizabeth Riddle, Founder and President

Central Illinois German Shepherd Dog Rescue (GSD Haven)

  1. Obey leash laws

    People like to think they have a special relationship with their pet or that their training is flawless. However, I have known obedience titled canines that lost their lives due to a squirrel or bunny sighting. No amount of training can definitively undo 40,000 years of instinct. Play in a secured yard or dog park off leash, otherwise, keep them leashed.

  2. Keep your dogs up to date on their vaccines and get vaccines related to your activities or hobbies and areas you may go visit

    For example: If you love to hike in wilderness areas, a Lyme vaccine may be good coverage. Basic vaccines should be up to date as recommended by your veterinarian. It is VERY frustrating to treat an animal for a completely avoidable illness. Same goes for heartworm prevention and annual testing and screenings. $11 a month doesn’t compare to $1200 of treatment.

  3. Don’t make stupid mistakes with human interactions

    A bite may be painful or inconvenient for a human, but it is often a death sentence to your pet. Dogs are animals, no matter how loved, how spoiled, however well trained, they remain dogs. If they are scared, feel threatened, dislike something someone is inflicting on them, the dog go-to for saying, “I hate this!” is a growl, then a nip or bite. While this is completely normal for a dog, it is taboo in the human world, which means they are impounded, often dumped by their owners (often with a fake story), and too often—death. Being cautious, establishing rules around the dog, having an introduction process, properly securing your dog, are all important and loving ways to help protect your dogs (and humans) from this tragedy.

Sally Allen

USA Defenders of Greyhounds

  1. Always keep a collar with your name or phone number on them . . . even in the house.

  2. Avoid planting flowers and shrubs that are toxic to them.

  3. Keep water available at all times. It relieves stress as well as thirst.

  4. Put your hands on them all the time to find bumps, warts or knots.

Lynn Crowell

Wisconsin Border Collie Rescue

The answers could range from seeing the vet and vetting vaccinations/preventative to learning to read dog language so you really know what’s going on at the dog park.

Keeping the dog on-leash (especially during storms and fireworks) and microchipped is good.

For a puppy, don’t let them do too much hard exercise until after the growth plates are developed.

Picking up poop daily is important, especially since younger and older dogs are more susceptible to things like Coccidia and Giardia.

Personally, I just avoid dog parks. I don’t trust the other owners enough to have dogs in good health, pick up their dogs’ poop, and they always misread dog behavior. I have my friends come to my fenced-in yard for play dates instead. :)

Diane Leclerc

Sled Dog Adventures

  1. I make sure all of my dogs have their annual shots which are: DHLPP and rabies every 2 years and also deworming twice a year.

  2. I cook all their food since I give them moose, beaver, and chicken; I don’t give nothing raw. When the meat is cooked, there are no worries for infecting the dogs with salmonella or any other bacteria or parasite.

  3. I train my dogs every day. In summer I go to the lake, in winter they run in a front my sled. We do about 2000 km every year. Since they are at top shape, well-fed, have love from me and have a wonderful social life, it increases their lifespan. My oldest dog just passed away. He was 18 years of age.

Doron Wolffberg, Editor in Chief of Feline Culture

Pup Junkies

  1. Don’t let them outside unsupervised

    Pets love to explore the outdoors, but if they do it alone, they face serious hazards like traffic, aggressive animals, and predatory people. Instead of letting your pet wander alone, plan regular outdoor adventures and share quality time in nature.

  2. Don’t just get a collar and ID tag. Pets should have up-to-date microchips

    Like an ID tag that never comes off, the chip carries your contact information and tells others that your pet has a home. If your pet wanders away from home and into the care of animal shelter employees, they will scan the chip and obtain your contact information. Pets from animal shelters and breeders usually come with microchips, but it’s important to remember to register your pet’s chip and keep the contact details up to date.

  3. Neutering doesn’t just mean fewer kittens and puppies. It gives you a safer pet

    Pets who haven’t been spayed or neutered live at the mercy of their reproductive drives. They’re more likely to get into fights with other animals or run away from home, and they have more behavioral problems than their sterilized friends. To lessen dangerous behavior, spay and neuter your pets.

Ashley Davidson, Manager

K9 Turbo Training

  1. Always ensure your dog is wearing proper identification including a collar and tag with your contact information on it.

  2. Keep your pet on-leash at public parks and always ask if another dog is social with other dogs. Even if your dog is good with other dogs, you never know about other people’s dogs and your dog, even well-intentioned, running up to them could be dangerous for all involved.

  3. Create a bond, confidence, and trust using positive reinforcement training only. With what we know about all the benefits of practicing training that supports learning that is fun and humane, there really is no other way. :)

Mary Thompson

Happy Hound University Dog Training & Consulting

There are many ways to keep our pets safe, but if I had to choose only three these would be it:

  1. Keep your dog’s information up to date and always keep ID on them when traveling. Both of my own dogs are micro-chipped and I’ve made sure to keep their information in the microchip’s database up to date. Additionally, always have your dog wearing their collar and tags while out traveling. There are TONS of options for collars now, so you can choose to use the traditional tags, having their name and your phone number embroidered on the collar itself, or a number of other options.

  2. Keep your dog on-leash unless you have worked a LOT on come-when-called or you know that your dog is in a safe place. I believe one of the most beautiful sights in the world is watching your dog run off-leash without a care in the world. However, you should always take risk factor into account when deciding whether to let your dog roam off leash. There’s a LOT that goes into training a dog to come reliably off leash (particularly if you have certain breeds such as scent or sight hounds!) and you want to put in that work before risking your dog’s safety. If you wouldn’t bet a thousand dollars that your dog will come when you call him, you’re not ready to let them off leash yet. In the meantime, buy a nice, lightweight long line, and continue to practice your dog’s recall while letting him drag the line, reinforcing him VERY heavily with great treats every time they come and every time they choose to check in with you on their own.

  3. Very carefully screen whoever you leave your pets with. Alright, maybe I’m a little biased as a trainer, but I’ve seen and heard a LOT of stories about improper handling and straight up cruelty with people’s pets. Most industries related to our pets (training, grooming, daycares, etc.) are largely unregulated and unlicensed, so it’s up to you to make sure your pet is left in trustworthy hands. Look for reviews, ask for references, ask to observe the dog training class or playgroups at daycares. If you feel in your gut that something is wrong, or if there are any red flags at all (i.e. rough handling of dogs, refusal to be totally transparent about something) then get out of dodge. There are plenty of caring, skilled pet professionals out there that can help you out, and you need to be totally at peace with whoever you’re leaving your dog with.

Regina Skelly, CTC, OA Dip. (Advanced Animal Psychology)

North Dublin Dog Training

  1. Recall--whether or not it is your intention to let your dog off leash, I believe that teaching your dog a good, strong Recall (coming back when called) is very important. Accidents happen, doors get left open, leads can break or get pulled from your hand if your dog sees something worth chasing. Knowing that you can get your dog to come back to you when called will give you peace of mind and will keep your pet safe.

  2. Preventing your dog from being lost or stolen. I have found quite a few lost dogs in my time, I seem to be a sort of beacon for them! Some were not microchipped (since 2015 all dogs much be microchipped by law), some were microchipped but the owners’ details were not registered on any database so they could not be contacted (if you don’t know if your dog’s chip is registered to you—the receptionist in your local Vet office will be able to scan the chip and check. They will not charge for the check). Only one dog had the owner’s mobile phone number on the collar and that is the only dog I reunited with their owner within 10 minutes of finding him. All the others took days and some even ended up being rehomed because their owner was never found. I would encourage everyone to put their phone number on their dog’s collar.

    Unfortunately, it seems that the number of dogs being stolen is on the rise so I would urge people not to leave dogs in front gardens unattended and not to tie dogs up outside of shops—it can happen very, very quickly.

  3. Keep off leash and on leash dogs apart—-I am often told by clients that their dogs are great with other dogs while off-leash but when on-leash they become very reactive. Here’s the reason why: when a dog feels threatened or even just slightly wary, she has two options, fight or flight. When a dog is on leash one of those options is removed for her. Therefore, if she feels at all uncomfortable she may make a big, loud and vicious looking display in an effort to ask the approaching dog to back off. Sometimes this can escalate and that’s is why I don’t recommend allowing your off-leash dog to approach dogs who are leashed.

Martinique Eimer

California Dog Training

3 Tips to Keep Your Pet Safe:

  1. Dog training! Having a dog that responds reliably when you need it to is the best way to keep your pet safe. Ideally, training should begin in puppyhood, but it’s never too late.

  2. Ensuring your yard is safely enclosed and free of hazardous things plants and things that could harm them.

  3. Microchipping or using a tile or GPS locator so you can locate a missing pet.

Alternative tips:

Keeping your pet safe during the holidays

  1. Pet proofing Christmas decorations

  2. Crating when then are a large number of guests;

  3. Or, asking guests to leave their fur family members at home

Remember: Dog fight injuries are highest during the holidays.

Shannon, Director of Social Media and Online Content

My Dog Can—McCan Dogs

I would say 3 of my top safety tips for dogs are:

  1. Take the time to teach them a rock solid recall. Until you do, never allow them off-leash unless the area is safely fenced. It’s simply not worth the risk that they may find harm or runoff.

  2. When you can’t supervise a young dog, be sure to use a crate or another safe means of containing them so they can’t get into anything dangerous in your absence.

  3. Find a safe means for them to travel in the car. Impacted tested crates are the number one choice, but if that won’t work for you be sure to use a safety harness that’s been successfully crash-tested

Note: Do your research—these are few and far between.

Joan Hunter Mayer, MBA, CTC, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA, Certified Professional Dog Trainer

Inquisitive Canine

Here are my top three tips for keeping dogs safe:

  1. Make sure your dog has received proper medical care to address the needs of the individual dog.

  2. When not training, manage your dog’s environment, to ensure they’re set up for success. You want to make sure they’re not practicing behaviors you don’t want.

  3. Train behaviors you want your dog performing, especially those “emergency” type behaviors, such as leaving things alone when asked and coming to you when called.

Krystal and Eric Nierman, Owners, Dog Psychology and Training Center

Greenville Dog Psychology and Training Center

  1. Make sure their collar is fitted properly

    Nearly 75% of the dogs we get in for training are wearing a collar that is fitted far too loose. You should be able to comfortably get 2–3 fingers underneath the collar while your dog is wearing it. If you can fit more than that, tighten it.

    WHY: Even if your dog has never slipped out of their collar before, it only takes one instance when you're on a walk for them to get spooked by something or decide they want to chase after something. They do the reverse pull(this is when they move backwards and pull their head right out of the collar) and then they're gone.

  2. If your dog gets loose . . . RUN AWAY, NOT TOWARD

    It’s natural for us to think when our dog is loose and we are trying to gain control of them to get closer to them any way we can. 9 times out of 10 this WILL NOT get you the outcome are looking for in a timely manner. Dogs instinctively love the chase. They will naturally, without thinking about it, either become the chaser, or the chased. Especially when your dog knows they are free. The moment you start moving toward your dog, they will move away. The moment you start moving away from your dog, they will move toward you. Again, I know this is counterintuitive but trust me. As soon as your dog gets loose at the park or out the front door, whatever. Get their attention, be very excited and playful (remember this is a game to your dog, if you want to win you have to play) and move away from them, RUN. Once your dog gets within 10 feet or so, if they won’t come right up to you yet, now is the time to try your luck with treats or toys. But even now, don't move toward your dog. Try sitting on the ground in a very playful, inviting manner. Keep the voice in a high pitch and sound fun. Invite your dog, don’t demand them. They’re not dumb, they know they can outrun you if that's the game your playing.

  3. Listen to your dog

    By this, I mean their body language. Dogs are always communicating with us with their body language as this is their primary form of communication.

    Understanding some simple concepts about canine body language will allow you to:

    1. Anticipate their behaviors before they happen
    2. Avoid situations that make your dog uncomfortable, and lead to unwanted behaviors
    3. Advocate for your dog when necessary, “He’s tired, he’d rather not play right now, thanks.”

Example:

You are on a walk in your neighborhood and your dog sees a cat in an upcoming yard. Your dog pauses their walk for a second, leans backward slightly, their ears go up, their eyes get big and then they turn their head and motion in the other direction quickly to realize you are continuing on and they have to follow. Your dog is saying “I’m unsure about getting any closer to this thing. Are you sure this is a good idea? I’m getting ready to panic.”

WHAT TO DO: move your dog to the other side of your body(either left or right whichever is furthest from the cat) take another read of your dog while you continue walking. If they are still acting unsure, widen your path to the curb or even the other side of the road until you pass the cat to prevent your dog from feeling like they need to speak louder to you so that you understand(barking, pulling away, jumping etc). This is an avoidance protocol anyone can employ in this type of situation. Your dog can be trained NOT to act this way around other animals if you are committed to the process.

Nicola, RVN for 12 years

FUNNY GOINGS ON OF A VETERINARY NURSE

I'd say my top 3 basic tips for pet safety from the UK are:

  1. Consider keeping your cats in at night time, especially when living near busy roads etc.

  2. Make yourself as visible as possible when walking your pets in the dark or first light, even in built-up areas with street lights. It's still easy not to be seen.

  3. Be sure to microchip your pet, you'd be surprised the number of pets that go missing daily in the UK and with this simple chip we can help to reunite owners.

Lisa Kime, President, GRIN

GRIN Rescue

I'd say my top 3 basic tips for pet safety from the UK are:

  1. Taking measures to keep your dog from becoming lost or stolen. Not allowing your pet off leash in an uncontained area. We hear so many stories of dogs left unattended in an open area who wander away perhaps in pursuit of another dog or wildlife, never to be found again. This is a significant risk for folks who practice boundary training. Dogs are at risk of being hit by a car, poisoned by eating things they shouldn’t, getting attacked by another dog or other wildlife and theft which is becoming more prevalent in recent years. Containment, microchipping and tags with identifying information are all important to keep your dog safe.

  2. Appropriate medical care and prevention. Regular trips to the vet, ensuring dogs are current on vaccinations and have appropriate heartworm testing and prevention. We take in a number of Heartworm positive dogs each year. This disease is completely preventable, costly to treat and potentially fatal for infected dogs.

  3. Injury/Poison. There are a significant number of household products that can put your dog at risk for exposure to toxins should they ingest them. Chocolate, sugar-free gum and some plants to name a few.

It’s important for pet owners to dog-proof their home to keep Fido safe.

Conclusion

There you go, first-time pet owner, some of the advice on keeping your pet safe from the best people in the field. Indeed, taking care of a pet isn’t a walk in the park. It entails a lot of commitment and sacrifice from your end.

You simply can’t abandon your pet just because you’re not in the mood. Having feelings of anxiety and apprehension are completely normal especially if it’s your first time. The most important thing that you should remember, on top of everything that has been stated above, is that there is no blanket formula for raising and protecting your pet. All you can do, as an owner, is love them unconditionally and make choices for their benefit.

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