Such tools are often sold as harmless devices, and they’re proliferating. Don’t play along.
I’m amazed how many tools you can buy that cause dogs pain and fear. There’s the SimpleLeash, a leash and shock collar combo that automatically shocks your dog every time the leash goes tight — that is, every time she wants to smell something, investigate a new person, or lift a leg on a tree out of leash range. Which is to say, every time she wants to be a dog.
There are now collars that shock your dog when he barks, collars that shock your dog at the press of a button for any reason you like, and mats that shock your dog when they place their paws on them. You can even get a handy-dandy Stay! Mat Wireless Crate, which shocks your dog if he gets up from the mat until he returns to it and lies down. Yeesh! If I am reincarnated as a dog, please don’t let it be to a home where I have to use one of those.
These tools are often sold to well-intentioned pet owners swayed by a variety of euphemisms — a shock is referred to as a “sensation,” a “tickle,” a “tap,” a “stimulation.” They would probably be a pretty hard sell if “shock” were used, or if you were told this tool would hurt your dog. If a dog is “man’s best friend,” we sure have a funny way of showing it.
For some dogs, these tools seem to create few unwanted side effects. Like with people, tolerance for pain varies widely among dogs, and for dogs that have a higher pain tolerance and a strong prey drive, a shock of a few seconds is easily trumped by the joy of chasing a deer — in other words, it’s worth the trouble.
For others, the side effects may be more subtle and only readily apparent to someone well-versed in reading dog body language: a succession of lip licks, yawns, and head turns, which are saying, “Please make it stop.”
Shock collars can create anxiety, stress, fear and unwanted aggression in dogs. They can make a dog skittish, nervous and create an array of new problems.
Pet owners purchase shock tools in desperation, not knowing how to improve their dogs’ quality of life. Some are hoping for a quick fix to long-standing behavior problems. Instead, they end up having to address the original problem and also repair the damage done by inappropriate training tools and techniques. Dog owners, don’t be fooled. There are other training techniques that will be far more effective with far less damaging results on your dogs.
Would you want to walk around with a shock collar on all day not knowing when that moment will come and you’ll be zapped by an electrical jolt!
Prepare Well In Advance:
For small dogs that will travel in-cabin, buy an airline-approved airplane pet carrier. The best carriers for airplane travel are durably-sewn with lots of air vents, a zippered top and side exit door, a soft, removable bottom pad and several flat, internal and external pockets. The best carrier is discreet and light. Resist the temptation to buy a “designer” carrier: the flash draws undesirable attention to the valuable contents and comfort yields to style in most fashion models.
For larger dogs that will travel in cargo, buy a sturdy, airline-approved cargo crate with a good latch on the door. It should have detachable food and water receptacles. Both carriers should have an attachment for paperwork and name tags.
Use the airplane pet carrier to transport your dog to fun destinations prior to flight. Gradually increase the duration of the time in the carrier, taking longer journeys to the fun destination. Include a toy in the carrier, but avoid food since dogs generally should not eat on airplane rides. (Water may be advisable for dogs traveling in cargo on longer flights.)
Keep the bag open in the house and put enticing toys in it to make your dog happy to enter the bag. Never use this carrier as a day crate.
When Booking Flights:
Make sure to choose an airline that permits pets; clarify if your pet will travel in cabin or cargo. Cargo is restricted during some times of the year for some airlines. Most importantly, when booking, obtain a locator number for your dog that is associated with your seat number.
If an itinerant lifestyle is part of your plan for your dog, take a short flight of one hour to a nearby destination as a starter flight. Your dog will learn that the long wait ends in a happy walk outside the airport and will be better prepared for an upcoming long flight.
Food And Meds In Flight:
Feed at least 5 hours in advance of travel and avoid water for your dog within 1 hour of flight. (Water may be advisable for dogs traveling in cargo on long flights.) For dogs traveling in cabin, you may offer ice cubes or a sip of water toward the end of the flight as needed. Avoid giving a rawhide chew stick as it could get stuck in your dog’s throat and assistance would be difficult.
If your pet regularly takes meds, schedule the doses according to the travel schedule. Remember that you will have to show up at least an hour before the flight and from the point of entering the airport, your dog will be in the carrier.
Unless your vet says otherwise, tranquilizers are not advisable for high altitudes. Train, don’t drug, your pet into being a good traveler.
In The Airport:
Flying with dogs is less worrisome to airline personnel than security. For dogs traveling in cargo, the check-in counter will advise you where to deliver your dog for transport. For dogs flying in cabin, you will carry him through gate security and you must remove him from his carrier and personally carry him through the metal detectors, allowing his bag to go through the x-ray machine. NEVER allow your dog to pass through the x-ray machine when going to the gates. It is not permitted and is highly dangerous.
When traveling, make sure your dog’s rabies inoculations are up to date and keep a vet’s health record in your travel paperwork. You may not be asked to show it, but you should have it.
On The Plane:
Slide your carrier under the seat in front, check on your dog now and then but avoid exciting him to make him feel he will be let out. For dogs traveling in cargo, you will be advised where to pick him up when you check him in.
Stress of Air Travel: Flying can be stressful for pets just like humans. Try to take your pets only when it’s necessary. Best case scenario is to find a great pet sitter in your area and leave your pets at home while you travel.
1. Interview a number of possible sitters and companies.
If you are like me, you might hate the whole process of interviewing a possible anything. It’s so worth it in the end. Soon enough through the process a certain company and pet sitter will start to shine. That’s when you know it’s right!
2. Ask what training the pet sitter has received.
All sorts of pet lovers are good at taking care of pets, of course. Yet you probably want a pet sitter who has had more actual training than you have had. This may include a Veterinary Technician who is licensed to give shots, help with exams and assist in surgery would be quite a catch. In lieu of that, you’ll really want to make sure the sitter can spot health problems and react accordingly. Maybe, they even have a certificate in pet safety.
3. Ask about previous experience.
What did the sitter like and dislike about these experiences?
4. Ask what services the pet sitting company provides.
Depends on what you want. Do you want your pet to be groomed while you are gone? Do you think it’s important that he spend at lease an hour a day catching frisbees. Do you want a diary of your pet’s ever-changing moods? A pet sitter can do all these things. But you need to find out if your pet sitter will do them.
5. Speaking of contracts, does your pet sitter provide one?
A contract that lists services and fees is good for your peace of mind.
6. Can your pet sitting company provide references?
You really want a pet sitting company who can prove that their sitters have satisfied customers before they got to you.
7. Does your pet even like your pet sitter?
All the training in the world would not forestall a bad match here. You don’t want to set your pet up on a blind date.
8. Is your pet sitter’s company licensed, bonded and insured?
This would cover many dire contingencies.
9. How many other pets is your pet-sitter currently sitting for?
A full dance card, so to speak, means less special attention for your pet.
10. Is your pet sitter asking you as many questions as you are asking them?
If the pet sitter doesn’t seem especially curious about your pets, that’s a red flag!