Canine Resources

Tips and more for your canine companion.

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Training & Behavior Tips

Finding your new best friend

We highly encourage prospective owners to adopt, not shop!

  • Pets for adoption are regularly up to date on vaccinations, preventative health care and spayed or neutered.
  • Rescues in foster homes allow you to get to know what the adoptable pet is like in a home setting.
  • Adult pets (2+ years) let you know who they are without having to go through all the work of puppy raising.
  • Senior pets (7+ years) are a great option for low-key lifestyles.
  • Whether rescued or born to a rescued pregnant mother, rescues and shelters often have puppies, too.
  • Yes, you can find purebred at shelters and through breed specific rescues!
  • We recommend that instead of searching for a particular breed, think about the personality, energy level and temperament of what best suites your family's lifestyle. Factors such as kids, other dogs or cats, activity level, social habits, home environment, and work schedule can all impact a succesful adoption.
  • Search for a rescue who gets to know their adoptable animals and have a thorough adoption process that shows they have the best interest in mind for not only you, but the animals in their care. If you stumble across an adoption event, don't just look at the dogs on location—ask about other dogs in their care. Research the rescue to see if it's a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit, and be wary of on-site adoptions without application checks.
  • If you find a dog you're interested in, research the breed and take time to get to know the individual personality of the dog. Several meet and greets, trial adoption periods, or foster-to-adopt situations can be a great way for potential families and pets to get to know one another more intimately.
  • Petfinder.com
  • Adoptapet.com
  • ASPCA national shelter database

If you are looking for a specific breed of puppy, here's some general guidleines:

  • Reputable breeders are concerned with the health and temperament they are breeding. Their personal dogs and puppies are well cared for physically, medically, and emotionally. A good place to start is by looking up local breed clubs, whose members exemplify the highest quality of breeding practices.
  • When you find a breeder and litter, be sure you get to meet both parents and the litter in their home environment. A good breeder has nothing to hide, and you'll want to see the personalities of each litter mate to pick the best fit for your family. Many breeders will offer papers, but be sure to check on that breeder's affiliation–falsified documents and phony organizations are sometimes used in the 'good breeder' illusion. Also ask for full vet records—but a good breeder will go out of their way to ensure you know what the puppy has had, and will need after you take them home.
  • Stay away from pet stores and 'backyard breeders'. Most pet stores that sell puppies buy stock from puppy mills (and often try to convince you otherwise). While technically legal and regulated under the USDA because they sell commercially, these mills are essentially 'factory farms' for dogs where breeding dogs are kept in small cages their entire lives with very little care, and puppies often display health and temperament issues later in life. (Learn more here.) Backyard breeders are often seen selling through newspaper classifieds, on trade/sell sites such as craigslist and even Facebook, or other places like flea markets or out of their vehicles. They are completely unregulated because they sell private party and not commercially. Dogs could be kept in small cages in or outside of a home, very poorly cared for, full of disease or unvaccinated, and puppies are often taken from the litter far too young which leads to behaviorial issues later in life (minimum age is 8 weeks). These 'backyard breeders' are only in it for profit. There are also 'hobby breeders', the occasional 'oops' litter, or breeders posing as rescues — we urge you to research and consider all aspects before buying or taking a puppy.

Visit dogbreedinfo.com to learn more about specific breeds.

Growing up

In the first year of life, puppies rapidly change physically, mentally and emotionally as they mature, and so will their needs. We recommend setting up a schedule based on their current needs, and have the entire family involved in the daily (and hourly) puppy duties. Though varying by breed and size, here's a general time line of milestones:

  • Birth-2 months, first socialization period. It is very important your puppy remain with their mother and littermates during this early phase for both health and behavioral reasons. They learn invaluable social lessons from each other during this phase such as bite inhibition and appropriate interactions.
  • 2-4 months, second socialization period. Whenever possible, this is the time to positively and safely expose your puppy to different people, animals, environments, handling and more. Pick them up and touch them all over, and go for fun visits to the vet and groomer. They will need to eat, sleep, and play in several intervals through the day. Attention spans are short, and reminders are frequent.
  • 4-6 months, young juvenile. This is typically when puppies are teething and at their 'mouthiest'. Their daily schedule needs should be becoming less frequent and longer in duration, and they should be sleeping through the night. They are able to focus and work in short intervals in non-distracting settings. Continued socialization and constructive energy outlets are important.
  • 6-10 months, maturing juvenile. While still full of young energy, they can physically and mentally do more, and usually begin to 'test the boundaries' as hormones begin to come into play. They will need more mental and physical challenges (obedience training is a perfect outlet at this age). Your dog should be spayed or neutered between 6 months and 1 year depending on breed and health.
  • 10 months-2 years, adolescence to young adulthood. Just like us as teenages, your puppy is maturing into an adult. Their instincts sharpen and they challenge social norms as they look for their place in your pack (family). Other dogs know they are no longer a puppy and are less tolerant of behavior. Many owners are surprised to see new behaviors develop during this phase. Your leadership and consistency are key to guiding them through. They should be on an adult schedule with many constructive energy outlets.
  • Adulthood. You made it! 2-4 years is young adulthood; 5-7 years is middle-aged; 8+ years is senior. As they age, your dog's physical needs and social tolerances will also change.
New dog introductions

Whenever you bring a new dog into your home, it’s best to take the time up front to properly introduce the dog to their new environment, including the people and dogs they will be living with. Keep in the mind there is usually a “honeymoon period” with your new dog — this usually lasts a few weeks depending on the age and temperament of the dog. During this decompression phase, your new dog will be acclimating themselves to their new surroundings and you will be discovering who they are. It’s important to build the relationship you want with them right away and earn the dog’s trust and respect by setting and sticking to their new rules and routines. This will help your new dog get comfortable and can even help you prevent potential behavior problems once they begin to settle in. Don’t be surprised if your new dog behaves differently in your home than they did in their previous situation. Many behaviors are context dependent and you may see behaviors develop or fade away after the first few weeks. Here's a few quick tips to help set your new dog up for greater success:

The First Day
  • Keep a leash and martingale collar on the dog everywhere you go. They probably won’t trust you enough yet to come when called and the leash will help you calmly and easily gain control.
  • Introduce the dog to all human family members first, one at a time, before entering the yard or house. Don’t force the dog to “like you”. Take it slow, be calm, and let them be curious and come to you on their own. You can offer them treats, scratch them under the chin or on the chest when they do come to you. Never chase, grab after or force an interaction.
  • Introduce the new dog to the other dogs of the house SLOWLY. It’s important to be calm and relaxed through this. Start on neutral territory, on leash, and with non-confrontational activities like walking next to one another or passing by at distances until they greet politely. Do this with each dog in the house, starting with the most dog-social dog. Watch for signs that the dogs are not comfortable and immediately remove them and redirect their attention before it escalates. Once they have gotten to know one another, you can then graduate to the yard and house, always on leash.
  • Take the dog out to their potty area before entering the home so they have a chance to go where they should. Lead them around the yard on leash and let them explore. Once comfortable outdoors, take them in the house on leash and let them explore the same as you did outside. Return outside soon for another potty break.
  • Once the dog is acquainted, let them settle down for awhile, preferably in their crate with a good chew toy. Don't overwhelm them with too much stimulus such as trips to the pet store or multiple visitors.
  • Feed the new dog in their crate or in an area where they won’t be disturbed by anyone. The change may be stressful at first, which commonly causes them to not want to eat, or sometimes protect the resource.
The First Few Weeks
  • Take it one step and moment at a time, and have fun getting to know all the characteristics of your new dog!
  • Begin encouraging good behavior immediately through positive reinforcement and having them earn much of their affection. This doesn’t mean overwhelming them with full obedience training. But you can start working on simple things like manners, patience and rules, such as sitting and waiting for their food or to go through doorways.
  • Always leave a leash on the new dog while you’re getting to know them and closely monitor them when out of their crate to eliminate as many opportunities for misbehavior as possible while building your relationship. Use their crate in a positive way when you can't monitor situations, or if you're unsure of behavior. (See 'Crate Training' below)
  • Spend as much time with your new dog as possible in the beginning, and have everyone in the house share in the responsibilities. Practice leaving for short periods before you leave your new dog home alone for long work day.
Managing Multiple Pets
  • There will be a period of adjustment as your pets form their relationships. It's to be expected, however it’s our jobs as owners to ensure each pack member is safe and living together in harmony. It’s always better to prevent a fight than to break one up. If things aren’t going as well as you’d hoped, have patience and use the crate-and-rotate system. This will help the dogs get used to one another at an even slower pace and can be used for days, weeks or months until they can be trusted together.
  • Keep it fair. You can eliminate many potential problems by assuring each dog gets the same amount of resources and by keeping the rules the same for all. Avoid creating jealousies by favoring one dog over another.
  • Remove opportunities for challenges. Dogs may compete for items or situations they deem as “high value” including your affection, food, toys, bones, space, height (furniture), who goes first, and more. Managing and eliminating these opportunities will be key, especially in the beginning until you know they can be trusted. Also control high stimulation situations, which can lead to issues between pack members.
  • If you have cats in the house, give them their own space safe away from the new dog with their food and litter boxes. Cats often need more time to adjust to newcomers and should be allowed to at their own pace without feeling threatened.
Crate training

Dogs have a natural desire to create a den area. The first thing to address when your new puppy or dog arrives is the introduction of a new den area with a crate. If used properly, the crate can be a wonderful training tool. A dog may not like their new home at first—they may howl, bark or whine through the night. Many owners’ typical reaction is to offer human comfort by walking up to their dog in the crate and telling them it will be okay. This may quiet your dog for a moment—however, you are teaching your dog that crying and howling are effective ways of getting attention or being released from the crate, and doing so will prolong the period of time it takes to get your dog comfortable with being in the crate. After a short time, the crate becomes a very positive, safe and comfortable den area.

  • We recommend using a wire crate large enough for your dog to be comfortable, but not so big that it encourages housebreaking accidents (see 'Housebreaking tips' below). If you have a puppy, buy a crate with a divider that will fit them as an adult, and slowly increase the size as they mature. Each dog should have their own crate.
  • Place the crate in your family’s living area so your dog can view their territory and be near your family, making it less stressful on them. You may choose to have another crate in the bedroom for night time.
  • Place your dog’s food and water bowl in the crate. This will help the housebreaking process because dogs don’t like to soil where they sleep and eat. Don’t leave the water bowl in with a puppy because they don’t have the physical capacity to hold it.
  • Never leave equipment or other foreign objects in the crate (leash, blankets, newspapers, etc). These are chewing and choking hazards.
  • Place acceptable chew toys in the crate (solid hard bones or hard rubber toys). This is very important — your dog needs something to do while in their crate, especially puppies who are teething or dogs with separation anxiety. If crate training is especially difficult, we recommend playing calming music and placing a Kong toy filled with a high-value treat every time to create a more positive association and keep them preoccupied at first.
  • When first acclimating or addressing behavioral problems, confine your dog unless you have the time and patience to spend with them. Frequent uses of the crate accelerate the crate training process.
  • Make going into the crate a positive thing! Use a command for the crate, encourage your dog to go in on their own and praise them for doing so.
  • Never use the crate as a form of punishment. This will cause your dog to view the crate in a negative way and they will start to dislike going in. Even if you need a break, still make it a positive thing for your dog!
Housebreaking

Housebreaking can be one of the most frustrating problems to solve, but it doesn’t have to be if all the pieces to the puzzle are in place. With a proper and consistent training process, most puppies and dogs can be housebroken in a very short period of time. You’ll be surprised at how much of a difference just one of these tips may make. Keep in mind that a puppy under six months of age usually doesn’t have the full muscle control to hold it for long periods of time, and you’ll need to take them out frequently and after every time they eat, sleep or play.

  • Rule out any physiological problems such as a bladder infection or parasites.
  • Monitor both food and water. This will help you to know when your dog has to go out. Typically, a puppy will need to go out 10-20 minutes after eating or drinking.
  • Don’t leave water out and available all the time since you won’t be in a position to monitor your dog’s consumption. Schedule watering times and cut off water at a regular time each night or before leaving.
  • Confine your dog to a crate when you’re not monitoring them. Dogs don’t like to relieve themselves where they eat or sleep. Do not leave water in the crate (see 'Crate training' above).
  • Don’t wait for your dog to tell you when they have to go out—it really doesn’t matter to them whether they go in the house or not. Watch for signs that they have to go, and put your dog on a schedule to go out so they begin to set themselves to it. For puppies and new dogs, begin with once an hour and slowly increase. You can even set an alarm for a potty break halfway through the night until your puppy gains better bladder control.
  • Feed your dog only dry dog food and treats. Dogs have a different digestive system than humans do—table scraps and wet food can cause digestive problems.
  • Take your dog outside to the same area of the yard. Use a POTTY command and be consistent with telling them the same thing every time you take them outside. Praise while your dog is in the act of relieving themself—this will make it clear to them that going outside is a good thing.
  • Keep a close watch and interupt your dog if they begin relieving themselves in the house. Only do this if you catch them in the act of doing it, otherwise it won’t be clear to them not to do it. Take them directly outside to their potty spot to finish. Do not punish your dog or correct in the aftermath—this will only cause stress, confusion and fear.
  • Remove the scent of any previously soiled areas (white vinegar works well). This way your dog won’t associate the scent. (This is also an advantage of taking them to one spot in the yard!)
  • During the winter months, puppies, seniors, small breeds and short coat breeds may have a difficult time tolerating cold temperatures or navigating on snow and ice. Make access as easy as possible by shoveling a path and potty spot on the grass close to the door. Use only pet-friendly deicers, and be sure to wipe their paws after.
  • Do not use potty pads, litter boxes or newspaper indoors. This will only encourage your dog to go inside the house. If access to a potty spot is especially difficult, try a patch of sod or synthetic grass on a patio or just outside your door as a temporary measure.
Children & dogs

We all dream of having the perfect family dog, but the reality is every dog has its limits and even the best trained dog can be pushed to react when their warnings aren’t heard. Dogs and children have different communcation systems. Children (especially very young) can be threatening to dogs—they’re at eye level, are unpredictable and full of energy. Dogs won’t understand a child’s intent, and a child may not recognize a dog’s signals that they’re not comfortable. All interactions between children and dogs should be actively supervised by an adult to ensure the dog respects and trusts the child, and vice versa. It’s best to properly socialize a young puppy with as many children as possible early on. With an adult dog, you may not know if the dog will be accepting and tolerant of children at first, so take it slow. It’s also just as important to teach children how to interact with dogs in order to avoid problems and build a strong and happy bond between them. (See 'Behavior Infographics' below.)

  • Children should not torment a dog in any way: teasing, hitting, pulling on body parts, cornering, approaching while the dog is eating, sleeping or chewing, agitating while in their crate or behind another barrier, etc.
  • Keep energy levels low. Running around, screaming, and playing rough can trigger a dog to react or play too rough. Let the children and dogs get their energy out separately.
  • Being with the dog should be a privilege. Teach children how to properly interact, greet and give affection. Reaching at, patting on top the head, hugging around the neck and holding the dog down may be viewed as a threat by the dog.
  • All play should be supervised. Let them play games that help build the child-dog bond, like fetch or hide-and-go-seek. Challenging games like wrestling, chasing or tug-of-war should not be allowed. The dog should also not be allowed to practice dominant behaviors such as jumping on or crawling all over the child. Keep children above ground and eye level.
  • Watch your dog's body language for calming signals and signs of stress: ears pinned, tail tucked, lip licks, stress yawns, whale eye, lifted front paw, avoidance/retreat, and more. These are the first signs your dog has had enough. DO NOT correct your dog for growling or showing appropriate non-contact warnings that they are uncomfortable with a situation. Doing so may teach the dog to not give warnings before a bite attempt.
  • NEVER allow a child to approach a strange dog. Teach children to always ask for permission from the owner to pet the dog. Show them how to let a dog curiously approach them, sniff them, and then allow the child to scratch the dog under the chin and on the chest if the dog is trusting. Also teach them to calmly avoid any loose dogs.
Behavior infographics
Click to see full image:

Recommended supplies

Pet stores are filled with an overwhelming amount of options for all the supplies and equipment you'll need for your new dog—some of which can be unsafe, ineffective or encourage inappropriate behavior. We hope to save you some time, money and frustration with these basic recommendations.

Training & Environment Management
Chews & Toys
  • Hard, plain femur bones (flavored can sometimes be too 'high value')
  • Deer or elk antlers (whole, not sliced)
  • Dense, solid Nylabones (such as the Dura Chew or Galileo styles)
  • Hard rubber toys (Kong black Extreme line for heavy chewers)
  • Rubber balls for fetch such as ChuckIt or Kong (tennis balls are easily destroyed)
  • Hard toys with 'nubs' for teething puppies
  • Unbreakoball (hard plastic ball for heavy chewers)
  • Food puzzles for monitored fun and learning (avoid wood toys)
  • All toys and chews should be size-appropriate to avoid choking hazards. Avoid: fabrics and stuffed toys, soft plastic or rubber toys, toys with a single hole (suction hazard), squeakers or toys with multiple pieces, laser pointers, tug toys and ropes, rawhide and other natural chews that can splinter, old clothing items, stuffed animals, pop bottles, card board or any other household item that encourages destructive chewing.
Stress Management / Other

Health & Wellness

Diet tips

Every dog's nutritional needs are a little different—always speak with your veterinarian about diet and nutrition, first! Here are some basic guidelines:

  • Choose a dry food and treats made without fillers—wheat, corn or soy. They aren't very digestible, contribute to weight gain, and many dogs develop gluten allergies. Visit dogfoodadvisor.com for third party reviews of food brands.
  • Stick with one brand of food, and remember that one-size-does-not-fit-all when it comes to serving recommendations. Find an amount that works best for your dog.
  • When switching food brands, do so at a slow rate—at least a 50/50 mix for one week. Some dogs have a more sensitive system and may require a slower, more gradual transition.
  • Do not give your dogs table scraps for both health and behaviorial reasons. Stay away from wet foods or too many digestible chews.
  • Keep your dog on a regular feeding schedule and give them a limited amount of time to eat. This can help not only with behavior, but allows you to better track potential future health issues.
  • If your dog is having trouble adjusting to a feeding schedule, try adding a little water and heating slightly. This will soften and bring out aroma in the kibble, making it more enticing without adding things to their diet. As they adjust to their feeding, slowly back off the water amount until dry again.
  • Large and barrel-chested breeds are prone to a dangerous condition called bloat. Keep them calm and inactive for a few hours after meals by doing walks, play and training before meals.
  • Puppies, small breeds, and some dogs with medical issues often need more frequent, small meals through the day.
  • Use small treats for training, or even your dog's kibble. They don't care 'how much', they're just happy to get it!
Toxic foods, plants & more

If you think your pet may have ingested a potentially poisonous substance, call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435, available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. (A $65 consultation fee may be applied.)

Please view these extensive lists from the ASPCA:

Preventative healthcare

Always consult your veterinarian about your dog's needs. Here's a list of basics:

  • Wellness checks are important when you first acquire your puppy or adult dog, and should be performed annually or if you notice any changes in your dog's health. Puppies will have several checks in their first year of life. Bloodwork can also help keep an eye on your dog's health. Remember, it's natural for dogs to hide their pain and discomfort, and many medical issues can cause or contribute to behaviorial issues.
  • Heartworm is contracted through mosquito bites and preventative medication is essential, even year round in Michigan. The financial cost of treating this life threatening disease is far greater than the cost of prevention. It will require an annual test at your vet, and a prescription for medication (often a monthly oral dose).
  • Fleas and ticks can be found in any environment. Flea infestations can be daunting to erradicate, and ticks carry and transfer many serious diseases. Flea & Tick preventative is most common in a topical form that's applied monthly (i.e. Frontline Plus). Most are available over the counter, but first check with your vet before chosing a brand to ensure it won't have any complications for your pets.
  • Intestinal parasites are fairly common, especially in young puppies. If you notice any diarrhea, vomiting, bloating, weight loss, or visually see any sign of worms, take your dog and a fresh stool sample to your vet right away. Deworming typically involves a course of oral medication. Keep your yard clear of feces, and do not allow your dog to eat other feces. The most common worms are roundworm, tapeworm, hookworm and whipworm. Coccidia and giardia are other fairly common intestinal diseases.
  • Parvo is worth mentioning all on its own. It is one of the deadliest viruses that attacks the digestive system, and progresses very quickly almost always resulting in death when it reaches the septic stage. Puppies are the most susceptibile, and the virus can remain contagious in the ground for a year after the area has come into contact with infected stool. For this reason, you should not take your puppy in public or outside of the yard until they have been vaccinated for the virus. If you see any signs of lethargy, loss of appetite or dehydration, rapid weight loss, vomiting or bloody stool, take you dog to the vet or emergency vet immediately.
  • Microchip your dog early on—this the best way to ensure your dog finds their way home should the unthinkable happen. Be sure to keep your information updated if you move or change phone numbers.
Vaccinations

Vacccinations are your dog's best defense against most infectious disease. Some are considered 'core' and some optional based on your dog's lifestyle and regional factors. Puppies go through many rounds early in life. After the first year, boosters are typically recommended annually or every three years. There is some concern about potential complications of vaccinations—annual titre tests are sometimes used to identify the strength of previous vaccinations.

  • Parvovirus (core)
  • Rabies (required by law) (core)
  • Canine distemper (core)
  • Canine hepatitis (core)
  • Bordatella (kennel cough)
  • Leptospirosis
  • Parainfluenza
  • Coronavirus
  • Lyme
Seasonal safety

Here are some general safety tips and considerations through the year. Remember, very young, very old and dogs with health issues are more susceptible to weather conditions. You may also notice allergies develop as the seasons change.

Winter
  • If it's too cold for you, it's probably too cold for them. Short-coated and small breeds are less tolerant of extreme cold. Keep their time outside short, especially in temperatures under 20°. Avoid hypothermia by using a dog coat, and don't shave your long-coated dog.
  • Use dog booties, a paw balm, or small human socks to protect their paws from frostbite and ice melters. Use only pet-friendly deicers, and be sure to wash their paws off when they come in.
  • Always ensure they are fully dry after a bath before going outside.
  • Small breeds and dogs with mobility issues may have a difficult time navigating in deep snow or on ice. Clear a potty spot close to your door with a path to it.
  • Always keep a close eye on your dog outside, and don't let them off leash. Immediately bring them indoors if they begin to shiver or lift their paws.
Summer
  • Small breeds, brachycephalic (short-nosed) breeds, and long-coated and dark color breeds are especially susceptible to heat and/or humidty. Exercise in the morning or evening when it's cooler, and ensure your dog has plenty of shade, water and breaks. Stay close to home on walks just in case your dog shows signs of distress.
  • Heat stroke is deadly. Cool them at the first sign of heat exhaustion, which leads to heat stroke: excessive panting, lethargy, reddening gums/tongue, or dehydration. Immediately remove them from the sun and heat, slowly cool them with room temperature water on their abdomen and paws, and offer drinks (NOT cold water which can send them into shock). Take your dog to the vet immediately if their condition worsens, shows no improvement, or if you see any other symptoms such as drooling, vomiting, whitening gums/tongue, unable to urinate, wobbling gate, irregular or increased heartrate.
  • Dogs do not sweat like us—they cool themselves through their paws and mouths. Pavement can become excessively hot in the sun and burn your dog's paws. Test it by placing your hand on it for five seconds—if it's too hot for you, it's too hot for them.
  • Dogs can get sunburn, and dogs with short or dark coats are especially prone.
  • Fireworks can cause unnecessary fear and anxiety. Keep you pets indoors and don't bring them to displays.
  • NEVER leave your dog in the car! In just 10 minutes, the inside of your car can reach 102° on an 85° day, and 120° in 30 minutes! Even on a 70° day, the interior can reach 20° hotter. For your pet, this means that heat stroke can onset in a very short amount of time. Never leave your pet in the car, and please alert someone if you see someone else who has.
Spring & Fall
  • As the snow melts and the world comes alive, dogs are driven by their superior sense of smell and will be investingating the new world around them. Puppies are especially drawn to digging and finding new things to put in their mouths.
  • The fall is also a time of high outdoor stimulation. The crisp air brings new bounds of energy, and puppies are easily distracted by blowing leaves and harvesting wildlife.

Local Resources

Emergency vet clinics
Ann Arbor
  • Ann Arbor Animal Hospital (recommended)
    2150 W Liberty St | (734) 662-4474 | website
  • Emergency Veterinary Hospital
    5245 Jackson Rd E | (734) 369-6446 | website
  • BluePearl Veterinary Partners
    4126 Packard Rd | (734) 971-8774 | website
Southern/Western metro Detroit
  • Allen Park | Affliated Veterinary Emergency Service (recommended)
    15220 Southfield Road | (313) 389-1700 | website
  • Plymouth | Veterinary Emergency Service West
    40850 Ann Arbor Rd | (734) 207-8500 | website
  • Southfield | BluePearl Veterinary Partners (recommended)
    29080 Inkster Road | (248) 354-6640 | website
  • Toledo, OH | Animal Emergency & Critical Care Center
    2785 W. Central Avenue | (419) 473-0328 | website
Northern/Western metro Detroit
  • Auburn Hills | BluePearl Veterinary Partners
    3412 East Walton Blvd | (248) 371-3713 | website
  • Bloomfield Hills | Oakland Veterinary Referral Services
    1400 S. Telegraph Rd | (248) 334-6877 | website
  • Brighton | Towne & Country Animal Hospital
    4343 S Old US Hwy 23 | (810) 220-1079 | website
  • Commerce | Animal ER Center
    1120 Welch Rd | (248) 960-7200 | website
  • Novi | Animal Emergency Center (recommended)
    24360 Novi Rd | (248) 348-1788 | website
Northern/Eastern metro Detroit
  • Clinton Twp | Advanced Animal Emergency
    43731 N Gratiot Ave | (586) 466-6133 | website
  • Macomb | BluePearl Veterinary Partners
    45245 Romeo Plank Rd | (586) 307-3730 | website
  • Madison Heights | Veterinary Emergency Service
    28223 John R | (248) 547-4677 | website
  • Rochester | Animal Emergency Center
    265 East Second Street | (248) 651-1788 | website
  • Washington Twp | Wilson Veterinary Hospital (recommended)
    12000 Durham St | (586) 752-6217 | website
Lost or found dogs

Prevention is key. Be sure to microchip your dog (and keep the information updated!) Proper identification is also important with tags and licensing with your city. We also recommend a large bright-colored collar with your phone number written in large black numbers to see from a distance. Martingale collars are best to avoid slipping out while on leash. It is also very important to monitor your dog and properly secure for all outdoor activites. Even the best trained dogs can be at risk when left outside unmonitored—digging and fence jumping, unsecured fencing and opened gates, door and gate latches that easily open, and even backyard dog thefts are all too common.

If your dog is lost:
  • Immediately contact your local police or animal control with details. Call local animal shelters daily in case your dog was found. Also be in touch with local pet businesses such as veterinarians, pet supply stores, daycare/boarding facilities, and groomers.
  • Print flyers with large photos that clearly depict your dog's characteristics, along with a thorough description and your contact info. Post at as many intersections and local businesses as possible.
  • Post on social media, especially Facebook. Network and share often with instructions on how to best get in touch with you if your dog is spotted or found. There are also many groups and pages dedicated to locating missing pets such as For The Love of Louie or Lost & Found Dogs MI.
  • Keep searching! Initially, most dogs won't go far from home or where they were lost. The first few hours are important. After that, they will often seek refuge in a familiar area or safe spot nearby, especially with a food source. Use high-scented foods and items from home with familiar scents to attract them back home or to a secure location such as a crate or live trap. If they are scared, DO NOT CHASE them. Building trust and familiarity is best.
If you find a dog:
  • Check for ID and take the dog to your local vet or shelter to scan for a microchip. If no owner is found, immediately contact your local police or animal control to make a report—Michigan law requires you to report the animal you are holding within 48 hours. Call your local Humane Society and shelters in case an owner has been looking for this dog. This also varifies the 'stray hold period', which can be anywhere from four days to two weeks, depending on your city's laws. It is unlawful to take ownership or rehome a stray dog without taking the appropriate steps to locate its owners.
  • Network and share the found dog on Facebook including the pages For The Love of Louie or Lost & Found Dogs MI. Make sure your posts include a photo, how to get in touch with you, and clearly states that the owner MUST provide proof of ownership such as multiple clear photos, vet records, licensing, etc. Do not post on craigslist or other trade/sell/swap sites. There are many people looking for 'free dogs' or opportunities to take unwanted pets, and for varying bad reasons.
  • Take flyers with the same information to local and pet businesses, post at intersections.
  • If no owner is found and you are unable to keep the dog, consider contacting some local rescues for assistance in rehoming, and offer to foster the dog until another foster home or adopting home can be found. Many rescues will provide you with resources but are very limited on crucial foster homes.
Low-cost health care
Visit their web sites for details and other services:
  • All About Animals | Low-cost Spay/Neuter & Wellness | Warren | website
  • Tail Waggers | Low-cost Spay/Neuter & Wellness | Livonia | website
  • Dr. Hermann | Mobile & Low-cost Vet Clinics | (313) 686-5701 | website
  • The Paws Clinic | Low-cost Spay/Neuter | Taylor | website
  • Michigan Human Society | Pit Bull Spay-Neuter Program | website
Legal & outreach
  • Tracy Thoms, PLC | Attorney specializing in animal law | (734) 455-2700
  • Michigan Pit Bull Education Project | Resources & legal advocacy | website
  • Tail Waggers | Food pantry | Livonia | website
  • Dog Aide | Owner aide & education | website
  • C.H.A.I.N.E.D. Inc | Resources & education | website
Pet services & businesses
  • Shampooch | Dog wash & grooming | Warren | website
  • K-9 Krunchables | Healthy homemade treats | website
  • Doggie Dealz | Deer antlers | website
  • Chap's Feed | Livonia | website
  • Premier Pet Supply | Livonia, Novi, Beverly Hills & Rochester Hills | website
  • Jessica Murphy | Pet photography | website
  • Dee Maggio | Pet photography | website
  • Pawsitive Chi | Canine mssage & accupressure | website
  • Arbor Pointe Animal Pain Center | Canton | website
  • Animal Rehabilitation Facility | Dexter | website
  • Water Gait Veterinary Rehabilitation | Allen Park | website
Boarding, daycare & pet sitters
Therapy dog organizations
  • Therapaws of Michigan | Dexter | website
  • Dr. Paws | Farmington Hills | website
  • USA Therapy Dogs | Davison | website
  • West Michigan Therapy Dogs | Grand Rapids | website
  • Therapy Dogs International | website

Newsletter Articles

Allergens in Our Pets

Has your pet been scratching? Already checked for fleas? Maybe that's not the problem. Many of us have, or know someone who has allergies. We exhibit symptoms such as sneezing, itching, and watery eyes. Our pets can suffer from similar seasonal or environmental allergies. However, their symptoms present differently than ours. If our pets inhale the allergen, or it contacts their skin, it can cause them to break out into a scratching fit. The allergens are typically airborne, which can make it incredibly difficult to avoid exposure. This is why veterinarians try and focus on treatment.

There are naturally occurring bacteria and yeast on your pet's skin. These organisms can enter into your pet's body when the skin is broken from scratching at irritated areas. This can then cause secondary skin infections that require treatment in addition to treating the inflammation and irritation caused by allergies.

Areas where dogs will frequently be affected by allergies are around their eyes, mouth, legs and paws, abdomen and anus. This may be scratching, licking, or chewing at these areas. Cats may over-groom themselves, scratch at their face and ears, or have small seed-like scabs over their body.

So next time your pet seems itchy and scratching, it may not be fleas, it may be allergies just like yours. Your veterinarian can help to alleviate these symptoms by developing the proper treatment plan for your pet.

Howl-oween Tips

The spooky fun of Halloween is fast approaching. But not all of our family members may see the festivities as we do. For our pets, Halloween can be truly scary night if they're not accustom to the unusual sights and sounds. Kids in costumes making strange noises as they traverse the neighborhood, continuous knocks and doorbell rings, or even costume parties full of strangers in odd attire could send a dog's anxiety into overdrive. As always, be sure your dog has plenty of exercise leading up to the events—extra energy will only complicate things. Some scenarios may become great training opportunities, and some things may be better avoided altogether. Below are some tips for keeping your canine companions safe and happy this season. With a little thinking ahead, Halloween will be a safe and fun event for all in your family.

  • Our for Trick-Or-Treating—Obedience Practice
    If your dog isn't used to the high energy of young kids, Halloween isn't the night to test it. It might be fun to bring your dog along with you and the kids, but only if you feel confident they can enjoy the experience while other kids run up and down the dark sidewalks, most certainly wanting to pet them while wearing their costumes and holding candy. However, if your dog is ready for this, it could be a great training experience! Heel and Sit-Stay from house to house—sounds a lot like our training sessions! Spend some time practicing this prior to the actual events, and your dog will do even better.
  • Trick-Or-Treaters at Your House—The Ultimate Door Greeting Test
    Only you know how well your dog is currently doing with their door greeting exercises. If they are in a good spot with their training and calmly greeting strangers by October 31, then all that practice should really pay off as trick-or-treater after trick-or-treater ring the doorbell, knock and shout for their candy. Talk about repetition! If however, your dog's door greeting still needs some work, it would be best to have your dog in their crate in the living room, with their own treats (peanut butter Kongs) as the night carries on. Further, if the knocks and rings themselves still send your dog into a tailspin, you'll want to avoid the stimulation altogether as you continue your own desensitization process with them. Avoid passing out candy, or keep the bucket of candy on the porch or further away from the house. Leave your dog in their crate inside, keep the doors and windows closed, and turn on some calming music to drown out the outside noises.
  • Costume Parties—Stranger Danger
    Much like the stimulation of trick-or-treaters, strange people showing up at your house in masks and costumes could potentially be too much for your dog. If you know your dog does well with crowds, then take the time to slowly and calmly introduce them to this new crowd of monsters and ghouls. Use their obedience on-leash to see how they feel about the new stimulation, first. You can test this prior to your shindig by dressing up yourself, or even bringing out old masks and props to get them comfortable before the party.
  • Pet Costumes—Playing Dress-Up or a Real Drag?
    Us humans may think it's fun and humorous to dress our pets in store bought costumes to help us celebrate. Your dog may not see it the same way. Like anything, make sure your dog is comfortable wearing this new gear, not frozen in fear. Stress is never amusing and will only cause your dog to distrust you. Also be careful of the many small parts on costumes that could become dangerous if ingested, or get caught on something. If your dog has no problem with a costume, still keep a very close watch to ensure they don't endanger themselves.
  • The Candy—Not-So-Good Goodies
    Obviously one of the big benefits of Halloween is the candy and other goodies! But as many dog owners know, chocolate is toxic for dogs and most human food is not good for their digestive track. When the kids unload their pillow cases on the carpet to count their stash, be sure your dog is kept safe and away from the temptation with a Sit-Stay, Down-Stay or in their crate.
  • Boo-tiful Decorations
    Many entertaining seasonal decorations can become a fright or danger, as well. The ingenuity of decorations seems to grow and grow as the years go on. But robotic goblins, noise making doormats, and anything meant to get a startle reaction might unintentionally scare your dog more than you. Standard decorations like fake spider webs, glow sticks, candles in a jack-o-lantern and more could be dangerous if your dog gets a little too curious. Keep the placement of these mood-setting items in mind and monitor your dog's initial reactions to them.
A Bad Tick Season

This year's overabundant tick population has already affected many of us. Ticks, commonly thought to reside in the woods, have invaded our suburban backyards. Warmer months encourage increased outdoor activities for pets and owners. This will, and for many of us already has, result in the terrifying discovery of ticks on our pets or ourselves.

Ticks can transmit diseases to our pets such as Erlichiosis, Anaplasmosis, Lyme disease, Babesiosis, and Rocky mountain spotted fever. Many of these diseases can infect humans as well. For your pet, these diseases can result in serious illness, and if left untreated, can lead to death. Your veterinarian can vaccinate your dog against Lyme disease.

You can't completely avoid ticks, but you can protect against them. For your pets you can purchase products from your veterinarian such as Frontline Plus to kill the ticks. Unlike other products, it is not designed to repel ticks because this leaves the tick alive and able to feed on you or other animals. Frontline Plus will kill the tick within 24-48 hours. This time frame is crucial because most disease transmission from tick to host occurs between 48-72 hours from attachment. Yards can be treated with a variety of products to help control insect populations, just make sure they are safe for your pets. Ticks thrive in tall grass and damp areas, so maintain your yard and avoid taking your pet in other overgrown areas.

If your pet was not on prevention and you find a tick on him/her, contact your veterinarian and they can properly remove the tick and start your dog on a course of antibiotics commonly used to combat the many tick-borne diseases. They can also provide you with the proper preventive for your pet.

The Fourth of July & Fireworks

The Fourth of July is just around the corner—a time for family fun and celebration. While we love to include our dogs in the summer festivities, it's important to remember that many things throughout the season can be unsafe or overwhelming for them:

  • Alcoholic drinks and many people foods
  • Matches and lighter fluid
  • Glow jewelry
  • Citronella candles, insect coils and other pesticides

But of course, the big concern is fireworks. Never use fireworks around your dogs. While us humans enjoy the vibrant displays, the bright flashes and explosive sounds often trigger a natural fear and flight response in our dogs. (Remember, fireworks are meant to represent "bombs bursting in air"). They can also cause sever burns, and the remnants of backyard fireworks can be toxic. Avoid causing your dog to develop unnecessary anxiety by keeping them safe and away from the displays. Since the legalization of larger fireworks in Michigan, this has become more difficult for pet owners and it's not always easy to predict when the neighbors will be celebrating. If your dog already has anxiety about fireworks and other loud noises, be sure to desensitize them as often as possible. Here are some important tips for keeping your dogs safe through the fireworks season:

  • Be sure your dog plenty of exercise through the day. Draining their excess energy will help keep them calm when necessary. Keep your dog indoors during fireworks, and in their crate if indoors isn't quite safe enough for them. It's important to avoid triggering a fear response unless you are able to guide your dog through a desensitization process.
  • During fireworks (or storms), block the sights and sounds by closing windows and curtains and playing soft, soothing music loud enough to drown out most of the outside noise. This is also important whenever you leave your pet at home, since you can't predict when the stimulus will happen. If you need to take your dog out for bathroom break, do so on leash. It will help you maintain control should an unexpected "boom" happen. This season is one of the worst for dogs becoming lost for that very reason.
  • Some dogs' anxiety is severe enough that the above steps aren't enough at first. If you feel your dog may benefit from pharmaceutical help, discuss a temporary treatment plan with your vet.
  • It's also important to desensitize your dog to these fear triggers whenever possible. Desensitizing means keeping your dog's mind occupied and off the stimulus, while creating a positive and calm association about it. Start with the lowest level of stimulus and work your way up. You can use pre-recorded sounds, starting at a low volume level and gradually increase it. Or, work your dog at very safe distance from real-life triggers, even in the house with everything closed up. Use on-leash obedience training to keep your dog working and active through the stimulus, and only reward and share affection when your dog is calm and ignoring the triggers. If they do "spook", calmly stop them from running with the leash and quickly move on to something else. Do not "coddle" them when they are nervous, doing so will only nurture their fear. Work with your dog on that level of the fear stimulus until they are consistently calm with it before increasing.
  • Timing, your own energy and your leadership are important. Remember, your job is to guide and lead your dog, helping them face their fears. If you're calm and communicating to them that this is "no big deal", they will eventually pick up on that!
  • Working on your dog's fear is a process. It may take months or even years depending on the severity. The key, as always, is consistency! Take it a step at a time and slowly build on your progress. Either keep your dog safe, or work on the fear. Do not allow your dog to live in fear and anxiety in between.
Curbing Canine Cabin Fever

When the winter conditions prevent your dog from getting their outdoor exercise, it's time to get creative indoors with mind-stimulating activities!

  • The Fundamentals--Brush up on obedience with practice sessions or by incorporating it into daily life. By keeping your dog sharp on their skills, it will keep their mind active and give them something productive to do around the house during cold winter days.
  • Obstacle course--Use household items to create an agility-style obstacle course and have fun guiding your dog through! Weave around chairs, crawl under blankets, zoom through a cardboard box tunnel, or jump over broomsticks and through hula hoops. You can also build inexpensive obstacles such as jumps with PVC piping, weaves with soccer cones, or ramps with wood and carpet scraps.
  • Snow maze--With the next snow fall, shovel a path to make a maze around your backyard. Your dog will naturally want to follow it, and navigating a maze will make the short amount of time spent outside more challenging and fun.
  • Temporary yard--Larger basements can become an indoor play space to play fetch and other games. You can use carpet remnants, old play mats, or inexpensive rugs from the dollar store to provide more traction on concrete floors.
  • New tricks--Teach your dog a new trick every week. Make a list of tricks and tackle a new one each week by practicing 15-20 mins every day. A quick search online or instructional books can give you plenty of ideas--here's a book we like.
  • Treadmill sessions--With a little time put into training, a treadmill can become another piece of the puzzle in helping your dog expend more physical energy. It doesn't have to be a fancy new model, it just needs to work!
  • Social outings--Short trips to the pet store or visits with friends and family can help breakup the monotony of being stuck indoors while keeping your dog socialized. 
  • Food puzzles--A simple home solution is a muffin tin with cups or balls hiding a treat underneath. There are many mind-challenging puzzles available--here's one we like.