Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Dog walking equipment can fail, but one inexpensive item can be a safeguard to keep your pet tethered to you

The act of walking a dog is as unpredictable as most anything that I can think of.

I have charges in my care that are effortless on leash no matter what we encounter on an adventure, while others can be reactive if they even see another dog. That said, there are plenty of dogs that fall somewhere in between when it comes to being able to handle themselves when out and about.

Then of course, there are other dogs that are allowed to make an unwelcome approach.

Try as I might, I realize that there are things that are out of my control. Nonetheless, I have the responsibility to ensure that not only my clients, but everyone else, stay safe.

I employ a considerable amount of mindfulness when it has comes to choosing the gear that I use when walking a dog, no matter the breed or age. What I find works best for me and my canine pals is their flat or martingale collar that includes their identification tag, an Easy Walker harness, a long lead (more on that is available by clicking here) or a 6 foot leash, depending — and a carabiner.

I find that the latter piece of gear provides me a little extra peace of mind when it comes to my staying physically connected to my charge when I use it to connect a dog's collar to the harness.

I always use and recommend those two pieces when walking a dog, and despite the fact that they are both great at staying secure, the reality is that dogs can wriggle out of their harnesses, and collars can slip off in the blink of an eye and then you've got a pooch on the loose. If your dog is like a couple of those that I care for, they'll capitalize on any opportunity to not be tethered while outdoors and away they go!

The solution: I simply clip one of my carabiners to the ring on my charge's flat or martingale collar to the ring on the harness, and then of course I connect the leash to the ring on the harness as usual.

Regardless of the equipment that you prefer to use, this is a simple trick that you can employ with your own pet for an added measure of safety — simply clip the two (whether it be a martingale, flat or head collar/halter or harness, specifically) using the rings on each with a carabiner.

Should any one of tools have a failure, the carabiner acts as a backup. Typically available at sporting goods or outdoor specialty stores, (better pet stores usually carry a leash made by RuffWear that has one built-in), a carabiner is an inexpensive and easy way to ensure that your pet stays tethered to you.

For more of my tips on making the most of your time out with your furry pal, click here.

Lorrie Shaw is a freelance writer and owner of Professional Pet Sitting. Shoot her an email, contact her at 734-904-7279 or follow her adventures on Twitter.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Do dogs see what's on a computer or television screen the same way that humans do? An expert clarifies

A few months ago I was chatting with a client about one of their dogs, and they noted that their furry friend seemed to be fascinated by what was on the computer screen.

"I wonder what Woody is thinking when he watches the screen?" he noted.

"Rusty doesn't seem nearly as interested."

We all know dogs seem to show great interest in TV shows, and react to what they see. Others most definitely respond when they see or hear another animal on the screen. Some dogs are completely nonplussed by the TV.

One of the really interesting things that piqued my interest in the conversation was the notion of the "refresh rate" of TV and computer screens, it got me wondering about how that aspect of viewing them differs between a human, a dog — or even other animals.

It seems that I found a few answers after finding an article on the topic.

Let's first back up with a little background on canine vision: we know that a dog's eyes contrast from humans with regard to the colors that they perceive. Dogs have two kinds of cones whereas we have three. Not only do colors differ between the species, but so does the level of detail that is perceived — something else that cones facilitate.

Given that difference, does that mean that the eyes of a human and the dog respond to different refresh rates favorably?

According to Ernst Otto Ropstad, associate professor at the Norwegian School of Veterinary Science, the answer is yes.

The images that we see on our TV are created by a set of images being captured rapidly to create the illusion of a moving picture (this typically occurs at 24 times per second).

Ropstad, who was interviewed for an article on ScienceNordic.com notes that dogs fare better with the new technology that's available.

The televisions of old only produce around 50 frames per second; if you've seen one operate, the screen flickers a lot. These days the refresh rates of newer TVs are much higher, which translates into less flickering (which reduces eyestrain as well).

This isn't just a boon for us — dogs benefit as well from higher refresh rates. Canines need about 70 images per second to perceive what they visualize as continuous film, while we need only 16 - 29 images per second. (Birds need roughly 100 images per second.)

Those following the trend toward gearing television channels towards dogs may benefit from that knowledge, but with regard to whether or not what is on the screen truly holds a pet's interest, it seems that it really a matter of personal preference for our furry friends. Ropstad indicates that after observing a handful of dogs, there doesn't appear to be any pattern to a canine's attention while watching a television.

As for Woody, whatever holds his attention when looking at a television or computer screen is only known to him.

Does your pet like to watch television? How do they respond?

Lorrie Shaw is a freelance writer and owner of Professional Pet Sitting. Shoot her an email, contact her at 734-904-7279 or follow her adventures on Twitter.