REUNION STORY OF THE DAY: Mindy from Port Stephens, Hunter NSW Thursday 05 April 2018 @ 13:00
REUNION STORY OF THE DAY: Mindy
"Mindy is one of 3 siblings and along with mother cat they were once owned but when their owners moved out of house they left Mum and 3 babies behind to fend for themselves. After some time a Rescue group found and trapped them and I become their foster carer and later signed over to me after having them all for 9 months.
A lovely couple decided they would adopt Mindy and her brother.
They were on adoption trial when the couple needed to travel to their holiday home as it was flooding and bundled the pair into their large soft crate for the 4 hour journey.
At the half way point the lady decided to offer them a drink of water in their carrier in the car and when a little opening was unzipped Mindy jumped through and ran off into scrub.
I travelled from Sydney to Raymond Terrace the day I found out (day after her jumping out). Before I left I put her on Lost Pet Alert and also paid for the advert to go to the local vets, rangers, pounds etc. I also printed up flyers to put up in the local area.
I was certain I was going to bring her back that day with me…..but was extremely disappointed when I couldn’t see her after 2 hours drive and 6 hours searching I had to leave and make the drive home again through blurry eyes!
The best part is from the Alert going to local vets one of the local Rescue ladies (Kylie from Port Stephens Rescue) called me and met me up on site and she told me that she would continue to stay on the case until Mindy was found! She had such determination, patience of a saint, and would put feed stations out in various areas.
Go looking after midnight. See which food station was eaten etc and concentrate on the area. We had a number of people with sightings but it wasn’t Mindy.
Luckily one day (after 2 weeks being missing) Kylie (from Rescue) was on her rounds and actually sighted Mindy laying in the sunshine in long grass near a timber yard.
Sadly there was flooding and heavy rain from that night for 3 days.
Kylie knew Mindy had shelter and would be safe and kept the feeding up which was taken each night and then knew to concentrate on that area. The food stations were moved closer to an area where she could be trapped.
After 3 weeks and 1 day of being missing she was finally trapped. Kylie took her to the vet straight away who apart from some cuts, dirt and a little gash was in good health.
It was a great team effort as we were constantly on Messenger with updates and keeping Kylie uplifted as she was doing a fabulous job for us. I printed more flyers and letterbox drop flyers that Kylie had distributed.
We emailed the vets, pounds etc even though Lost Pet Alert did this we sent more photos. I had a council person call me and go over the microchip details etc
It was determination and not losing faith that kept us all going. The first light was Kylie sighting her. From then we kept up the hope she would stay in the area.
Mindy was approx 700 metres from where she first went into the scrub and had found a quite, safe place and stayed there.
Had she not had the feed stations she may have wondered further looking for food. We thank god that she didn’t cross the 4 lanes of pacific highway at the scrub where she ran into. We are elated to have Mindy safe and sound back with her brother Mork." - Helen
Scaredy Pups: Helping Your Dog Make Friends Monday 26 March 2018 @ 08:38
Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve been talking about how you might go about helping your dog deal with some of their fears. Our last post talked about one of the stranger fears you might encounter when you live with a dog: The Fear of Stairs. This issue can really get in the way of living a normal home life with your dog, but thankfully in most cases, it can be dealt with through some training. Other examples of common doggy fears include:
We hope to discuss all of these fears in time, but this week we’re going to focus on The Fear of Other Dogs.
It’s not unusual for a dog to feel nervous around other dogs every now and then. There are probably some humans out there that make you feel nervous yourself. This only becomes a real problem if it becomes an everyday occurrence for your dog, in which case you’ll need to become proactive in helping with your pup’s fear. Understanding the source of your dog’s fear will help you deal with it, and can be vital in allowing your dog to be happy and healthy.
Your dog’s fear of other dogs will affect both of you. It can turn a simple activity like walking the dog into a stressful event. Some owners find themselves timing their walks or altering their routes to avoid other walkers, but there will always be a sense of dread just in case someone else has had the same idea. These actions can also prevent your dog from having any opportunity to socialize, which can make their fear even worse.
Fear as a Result of Trauma
If your dog is easily spooked, a series of these negative and scary experiences can easily cause the development of a phobia. For example, this could happen to a small-breed dog or young pup if they encounter larger dogs who want to play in a manner that could be harmful to a dog of smaller stature. Over time, your dog could come to associate larger dogs with danger and may bark, snarl or behave aggressively towards any they come across.
It should be noted that while small dogs are used as an example above, it’s very much possible for similar things to happen to larger dogs. Similarly, while the other dogs in the example are just playing rough, trauma can also occur as a result of genuine, aggressive attacks from other dogs.
For some dogs, this fear might be because they’ve experienced something traumatic in their past which is having an impact on their behaviour. In some cases, it might occur because of insufficient socialization, making meeting unfamiliar dogs a new and terrifying experience. In certain situations, it might be simply that your dog is submissive by nature, and this display of fear is their way of accepting the other dog’s dominance.
Small Dogs: Know Your Safe Breeds
While there are loads of great ways to improve your dog’s ability to interact with other dogs safely, dogs of smaller breeds may always have a fear of some breeds. There’s nothing wrong with accepting that your dog has certain limitations, and understanding that their fear, at least to them, is fully justifiable. For example, a small or toy breed dog may begin to feel comfortable around other small and toy breeds, and even medium breeds, but large breeds may simply be too large.
Similarly, your dog may learn how to read signals and become comfortable interacting with dogs who are being openly friendly but may not develop the confidence to approach dogs who aren’t sending these signals. This is fine, and may just prevent further traumatic experiences.
How Do I Tell if My Dog is Experiencing Anxiety?
In almost every case, anxiety is rooted in fear. As with humans, anxiety in dogs can exist anywhere between mild fear and utter panic. Generally, this will result in your dog taking on either a defensive or offensive position.
Signs that your dog is panicking include:
- Excessive barking;
- Active effort to escape;
Ongoing anxiety can also lead to nervous symptoms such as biting and licking themselves or diarrhoea. Dogs who are only experiencing mild fear may show some of the following signs:
- Cowering or shrinking away;
- Vague attempts at escaping;
- Lower activity;
In all cases, your chances of success will be highest if you get to start young. If you have a new puppy, ensure that they’re fully vaccinated and then start socializing with as many dogs as you can (making sure this is in a controlled, secure environment). If you’re still in the planning stages of getting a puppy, be sure to talk to the shelter, store or breeder about how the pup has been socialized with littermates and other dogs.
If your dog is older and has missed this key socialization stage, you’re going to need to begin rehabilitation in gradual, gentle steps. Whatever you do, don’t force them to face their fear before they’re ready. This can be a traumatic experience and will only make your dog’s fear even worse. One of the strongest items in your toolbox is a technique known as desensitization. This involves introducing your dog to their trigger - in this case, other dogs - in a slow, systematic way. The idea is to allow them to learn over time that other dogs aren’t actually that scary.
Dogs are a common and much-loved pet, and as a result, they’re pretty much everywhere. This means there’s a very high chance you and your dog will bump into a strange dog without having time to prepare first. Try to ready yourself by training your dog to respond to a “let’s go” command or something similar, so you can both remove yourselves from the situation with minimal anxiety.
For many dogs, picking them up will only stress them out further, so it’s best for your dog to be able to follow you on foot. One way is to start with your dog on a leash somewhere you won’t bump into strange dogs, such as your own house. Begin walking, but suddenly change direction and encourage them to follow you using a happy voice and/or gestures.
Each time your dog follows you successfully, reward them enthusiastically with toys, food or whatever else they love the most. Once this is going smoothly at home, you can start doing it when you’re out and about.
Scaredy Pups: Helping Your Dog Get Up The Stairs Monday 12 March 2018 @ 08:26
Last month, we helped to reunite border collie Maiden with her family. Maiden had a fear of thunder, so we decided to give you all some tips on helping your pup’s fear of thunder to celebrate the reunion. Astraphobia, the fear of thunder, is one of the most common fears experienced by dogs, along with fear of other loud noises such as fireworks. Other examples of common doggy fears include:
We’ll discuss all of these fears in the future, but first we’re going to explore one of the strangest and most inconvenient of the common dog fears: The Fear of Stairs.
Many of us have encountered a dog who is afraid of staircases and other steps, or at least seen videos of them online. Watching your pup cry, give up, tuck their tail between their legs or tremble hopelessly at the sight of stairs can be understandably stressful or upsetting for any caring owner.
A common way of dealing with this fear is to force the dog up and down the steps in an attempt to show them there’s nothing to be afraid of. Unfortunately, this method doesn’t always help an animal to overcome the fear. To truly help your dog’s fear, you really need an understanding of the underlying causes.
There are any number of different reasons that this fear has developed. In some cases, the dog might have experienced something in the past that has caused them to associate stairs with things that are scary, hurtful or otherwise unpleasant. Maybe the dog was once scolded for ascending, descending or going near a set of steps, or was pushed down them.
Perhaps the dog fell down steps as a puppy and was frightened by the experience, or has simply never come across stairs before.
Maybe the dog was abused by previous owners, and was led up steps to the place where the abuse occurred. Older dogs may develop a fear of stairs if they’re used to living in single-storey homes and are suddenly moved into a house with more than one floor. If your dog never had to climb stairs in their formative years and received no training, it’s likely you’ll see a certain amount of fear at first.
In these cases, it’s very possible that even the most well-behaved and gentle dog will bite or nip their owner in a bid to communicate their fear. Rather than forcing your dog to live through their biggest fear with no effect, it’s often a better idea to help them through use of counter-conditioning and positive reinforcement (positive motivators like treats and praise).
However, before you attempt to train them out of this fear, you should consult with your vet first to make sure this step-phobia isn’t the result of an injury or other physical condition.
Overcoming the Fear
The good news is that it’s generally fairly simple to help your dog recover from their fear of the stairs. These are just a few tips to help you on your way:
- Make Way! Before trying to get your dog up the stairs, make sure the steps are clear and safe. Remove anything that your dog could knock over or stumble on. Getting spooked right at the start of training will only make matters worse!
- Counter-Condition! As the Animal Humane Society explain, “Counter conditioning means training an animal to display a behaviour that is different than his current reaction to a stimulus.” In other words, you want to replace your dog’s reaction of fear with one of excitement or joy. You may begin by standing near the staircase and encouraging your dog to approach. Tools that may come in handy here include a high value treat or a cherished toy.
- When your dog comes to you by the stairs, shower them with praise and reward them appropriately. Try to remove their negative association to the stairs by replacing it with the feeling that they are the best dog on the planet.
- Start at the Beginning! Don’t try to force your dog to run before they’ve learned to walk. If the stairs in your house are very steep, make things simpler by taking Rover somewhere with low, wide steps. Get your dog to practice climbing here with all of the encouragement, treats and rewards they need. If possible, someone should stay behind them on the stairs to provide extra support. Each time they reach the top or bottom of the steps, give them an extra special reward.
- Ups and Downs! Keep in mind that going up and down the stairs can be two completely different experiences for dogs, and require different skill sets. Once your dog has mastered going up the stairs, be prepared to start the entire process again from the top!
- Choose Your Timing Wisely. Dogs are more receptive to training when they are happy and alert. If your dog is overly tired, needs to eat or is eagerly waiting for a walk, it’s best to save your training for later. It’s also a good idea to keep Rover’s interest by splitting training sessions into numerous shorter (around 10 minutes) sessions rather than one long lesson.
- It can be a good idea to plan your training sessions for directly before playtime or a walk outside. This will mean your dog is happier about training as they’ll know that something fun will happen afterwards.
If you believe your dog’s fear of stairs may be as a result of abuse in the past, there may be some other things you can do to help them. Start by reading some of our other posts on the subject!
- Rehabilitating Your Previously Abused Dog
- Rehabilitating Your Previously Abused Dog: A Few More Tips
- How can I tell if my rescue dog was abused?
- What is the RSPCA?
Scaredy Pups: Helping Your Dog with their Fear of Thunder Monday 26 February 2018 @ 09:39
Everyone's a little bit scared of something. Some of us are scared of spiders, others of clowns, so it makes sense that our canine companions should have similar issues! Thunder! Vacuum cleaners! Other dogs! All of these can be absolutely terrifying to some dogs.
This month, we helped to reunite Maiden the black and white border collie with her family. According to Maiden’s family, she “[h]as a limp. Friendly but very scared of thunder.” This isn’t uncommon. In fact, astraphobia (fear of thunder) is one of the most common fears for a dog to experience. Other members of the list of common dog fears include…
We’ll cover some of these other fears in time but for now, how can you help your dog’s fear of thunder?
Show your dog that you appreciate their calm behaviour.
Make sure your dog gets plenty of attention and approval when they’re behaving in a calm, happy way. For this to work, it can be a good idea to train your dog to settle down on command. You can do this by keeping a separate leash that’s only used when inside the house and getting your dog to lie down at your feet with the leash on as you praise and reward their behaviour. Don’t wait for the stormy season to begin this training!
If your dog only gets cuddles and attention when they’re clambering all over you and whimpering in fear, this will encourage them to continue their panicky behaviour. It can be a better idea to offer distractions in the form of toys and games. Give them all of the support they need when they’re in distress, yes, but don’t make it seem like a surefire way to get treats and pets!
Practice calm behaviour while there’s no storm to get worked up over, so your dog gets a sense of the new routine. Once the storm arrives, putting the leash on will signal to your dog that it’s time to be calm. This will also give them something else to focus on, distracting them from the thunder. Your goal is to give them something more interesting and positive to think about.
Predict the Future!
Compared to the other fears and phobias your dog might be dealing with, thunder is a whole lot easier to predict:
- Weather forecasts often over-predict thunderstorms, which makes it easier to prepare than if they were to under-predict.
- In most cases, thunderstorms will occur in the afternoons, or to a lesser extent in the evenings and nighttime.
Once you can predict a storm, you’re able to take action before the storm takes place. All you really need to do is pay attention to the weather forecast. The main sources of fear that come with thunderstorms are the loud noises, unusual darkness, specific smell and cold/rain if your dog is made to stand outside in the storm. The best thing you can do is take your dog inside and keep them somewhere safe (even better if it’s sound-proofed).
Get plenty of exercise in before the storm starts.
When a thunderstorm weather warning is released, it can be a good idea to take your dog out for a few extra walks in advance. Things will be a whole lot worse if the storm means your dog doesn’t get an opportunity to exercise properly, and the extra bit of exertion before the storm hits can tire your dog out both physically and mentally, which is good in this scenario.
As with humans, exercise could also boost your dog’s serotonin levels, which will allow them to feel calmer in the long run.
Create calmer noises.
If the thunderstorm begins and you’re unable to calm your dog down, it can be helpful to mask the noise as much as possible. Less “threatening” noises such as those produced by the radio or TV can dilute the sound of thunder. Another idea is to close all the windows and crank up a white noise machine or air conditioner. Don’t turn the volume up too high, though, as a large part of your dog’s fear probably comes from a fear of loud noises. There are a few white noise apps you can find on your smartphone which can come in handy here.
Consider investing in a compression vest
Products such as the ThunderShirt are designed to help anxious animals deal with the things that stress them out, such as thunder and other loud noises. The idea is that these garments will calm your pet by applying pressure in specific areas, causing calming endorphins to be produced. Think of it as being sort of like an artificial hug you can strap onto your dog.
Research appearing in the Journal of Veterinary Behaviour (King, C., Buffington, L., Smith, T.J., Grandin, T., The effect of a pressure wrap (ThunderShirt®) on heart rate and behavior in canines diagnosed with anxiety disorder, Journal of Veterinary Behavior (2014), doi: 10.1016/j.jveb.2014.06.007.) concluded that:
Results from this study showed dogs who wore the ThunderShirt® to manufacturer’s specifications had lowered heart rate, decreased visual orientation towards the door (looking for their owner), as well as trending toward reduced yawning and tongue-flicking stress behaviors.
Stop the Static!
This is an idea that may be a little surprising: some studies have suggested that rather than the sound of thunder, it’s actually the sensation of static electricity in your dog’s fur that will make them miserable during a storm. If you manage to block out the noise and your dog is still in panic mode, this may be the problem. Is Rover suddenly cowering in the bathtub or the basement?
Some pet owners have suggested that what your dog is really doing is searching for somewhere grounded where these electric shocks won’t bother them anymore. It seems the best place for your dog to hide in this case is the bathtub, where they can comfortably hide until the storm is over.
For more information about how pets experience storms, try checking out some of our other articles!
- Why is my pet behaving oddly after storms?
- How do I keep my pet safe during an evacuation?
- How do I make sure my pets are safe during storms?
Adopt, Don’t Shop! Monday 29 January 2018 @ 00:00
At Lost Pet Finders, we believe that every pet deserves to find the home where they feel secure and happy, and this holds true whether that pet has simply lost its owners temporarily or is in need of a whole new family. This is why, when possible, we really recommend checking out your local pounds and shelters before heading to a pet store. For those based in Australia and New Zealand, here are some of the best sanctuaries to check out:
- 9 Lives Cat Rescue (WA)
- Alaskan Malamute Rehoming Aid (active in ACT, NSW and SA)
- Alice Springs Animal Shelter (NT)
- Best Friend Fur Ever Rescue (active in ACT, NSW, QLD, TAS and VIC)
- Best Friends Pet Rescue Assn Inc (active in ACT and NSW)
- Bowen Collinsville Pet Rescue Inc (active throughout Australia)
- Happy Paws Haven (active throughout Australia)
… and of course we can’t forget our friends at Hunter Animal Rescue!
- Animal Rescue Network New Zealand Charitable Trust
- Dogwatch Sanctuary Trust
- The Humane Society of NZ
- Pet Rescue (Paw Justice Charity)
- SPCA New Zealand
Now that you know where to look, here’s a quick rundown of some of the main reasons you should consider adopting your new best friend, rather than buying them.
1. What practices do you want your money to support?
If you opt for a local breeder or pet store, your money will most likely end up going straight to something like a puppy mill, an unethical business where baby animals are stored in unhygienic, cramped and clumsy setups without sufficient access to healthcare and socialization. It doesn’t matter that you plan on giving your new pet all the love in the world: Once you’ve contributed to this practice through your purchase, you won’t be able to undo that damage.
2. Are you interested in being a superhero?
If you adopt an animal rather than buying one from a store, you’re saving a life. In and around 3.7 million animals are euthanized annually in animal pounds and rescues because nobody has adopted them in time. The best way to save one of these lives? Give a shelter animal a home before it can be euthanized. As far as your new rescue pet will be concerned, you’ll always be a superhero.
3. You’ll get an amazing animal.
Rescue pets aren’t “broken”. Animal sanctuaries are generally filled to the brim with healthy, playful pets just waiting for their new playmate to come and find them. Most of the pets in a pound are there because of human issues like divorce or job redundancies, not because of any failing on the animal’s part. In fact, many are even better pets than the animals you’ll find in a store as they’ll already be housetrained!
4. It’s a whole lot cheaper.
Penny-pinching may not be the most “romantic” reason to choose adoption over shopping, but who’s going to turn down a little financial bonus when they’re already saving an animal’s life? Buying a new dog, for example, can cost anywhere between $500 and $1,000 (USD), with prices varying depending on breed. Meanwhile, opting for a rescue pet brings that price right down to between $20 and $200 (depending on the rescue you go to).
5. #RescuePet #AdoptDontShop #Cute
This is more a tiny bonus than an actual reason to adopt, but it’s still something fun to think about: Bragging rights. The only thing better than a cute selfie is a cute selfie with a dog. And the only thing better than a cute picture with a dog is a cute picture with a rescue dog. Posting the perfect picture to your Instagram account isn’t a valid reason to adopt an animal, no, but it’s definitely something you can look forward to doing once you’ve made sure you’re in a position to give a rescue pet its perfect forever home.
6. Experienced animals are no less worthy of love.
Often, it’s the older pets you adopt who are the most loving animals because they know you’ve saved them from a bad situation. They also tend to be a little easier to deal with and a lot chiller than they would have been when they were younger. When it comes to finding the perfect pet, age is just a number. Just because the rescue animals you meet in your local pound aren’t kittens and puppies anymore, it doesn’t mean they aren’t ready to give you all the love in the world. If you give a rescue animal the happy home they’ve been looking forward to, they can finally begin to live their life.
7. Taking home an adopted pet can be easier.
If you bring a rescue pet home instead of a brand-new puppy, your household will thank you. As many of the pets in sanctuaries and shelters have had previous owners, there’s a high chance your new rescue animal will already be housetrained, allowing you to skip the potty-training phase. It also means introductions will be simpler, as they’ll already be used to meeting new people on a regular basis.
8. You won’t just be saving one animal.
If you adopt your new pet from a pound or shelter, you’ll be allowing that organisation to rescue another animal who they man not necessarily have been able to house before. When you adopt a pet rather than buying, you’ll be saving not only your pet, but also one you’ve never even met.
As amazing as rescues and sanctuaries are, they aren’t magical and their buildings do have to follow the laws of physics. They cannot take in an unlimited number of animals. As much as the charities behind pet rescues hate to turn away an animal in need, sometimes they have no choice if there’s nowhere to keep them. This means that once a shelter reaches capacity, the pets in their care either need to be adopted or euthanized before any more animals can be taken in.