Resources & Information for Pet Owners

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The LaGrange – Troup County Humane Society strives to educate and encourage safe and humane handling of animals. The links & articles below are intended to provide you with information and reliable, reputable resources on a variety of topics regarding family pets. This is just a starting point in becoming knowledgeable on how to give your pet and family the best life possible!

Bringing Home a New Dog:

Safety:

Health & Wellness:

Difficult Decisions & End of Life Care:

 

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Surrendering Your Pet

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We understand that sometimes situations arise in which you are no longer able to care for your companion animal.  As a last resort, you may surrender your pet to the City of LaGrange Animal Shelter, which is an open admission shelter.  The LaGrange – Troup County Humane Society cannot guarantee that a pet will be transferred to our care and does not oversee intakes.

  • First and foremost, you should reach out to friends and family to find a temporary or permanent home for your pet.  Ideally, place the pet with someone you know.
  • Use social media to get the word out. Be sure to ask for references before allowing someone to adopt your pet.  Ask all sorts of questions about the care that your pet will receive.
  • Search for breed specific rescues

If you are to find a stray animal, please contact the City of LaGrange Animal Shelter at (706) 298-3606 or take found animal to 1390 Orchard Hill Road in LaGrange, Georgia. The LaGrange – Troup County Humane Society can not take in ANY stray animals; therefore, ALL stray animals must be taken directly to City of LaGrange Animal Shelter.

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Dog Body Language

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Because each dog is an individual and will express fear, aggression, stress or joy slightly differently, there are no hard and fast rules for interpreting dog body language. Tail wagging, for instance, can indicate several emotions. The important thing is to look at the entire body of the dog. With that said, here are some examples of dog body language and an explanation of what they might mean.

Play bow

The rear end of the dog is up, while the front end is down. The play bow generally means: “I want to play.”

Tail wagging

Contrary to popular belief, tail wagging can mean many things:

  • A low-hung wagging tail could mean: “I am scared or unsure.”
  • A high, stiff wag can mean: “I am agitated, unsure or scared, but not submissive. I might bite you or your dog.” If the dog’s body is stiff, he is staring, and his ears are up, use caution. Keep the dog out of trouble because he may be about to make a bad decision.
  • A loose wag – not really high or really low – normally means: “I am comfortable and friendly.” But you should keep watching the dog’s entire body. Some dogs need a lot of personal space. They will tell you if you get too close.

Freeze

A dog freezes if she is scared or guarding something, such as food or a toy, or feels cornered. She may bite, so please slow down and pay attention to what she’s trying to convey.

Rolling over

Rolling over generally means the dog is being submissive, but look at the whole dog. If the tail and mouth are loose, the dog is probably comfortable and asking for a belly rub. If the tail is tucked and the lips are stiff, the dog may be scared. Some dogs will solicit attention and then become fearful and bite, so observe the whole dog, looking for comfortable, loose body language.

Ears perked up

When a dog’s ears are forward, he is alert, interested in something.

Tail between the legs

If the dog’s tail is tucked between her legs and her ears are back against her head, she is afraid and uncomfortable about something.

Signs of stress

When a dog is stressed, he often shows displacement behavior, any of a variety of activities that seem inappropriate in the situation. These behaviors occur most often during times of emotional conflict. For example, a dog may start grooming himself when he’s afraid and is faced with the decision to fight or run away. Self-grooming, an odd response to a “flight or fight” situation, is displacement behavior that the dog uses in an attempt to calm himself.

Some typical displacement behaviors:

  • Yawning in new or emotional situations
  • Panting when it’s not hot
  • Lifting a front paw as someone walks toward the dog
  • Licking his lips, even though the dog hasn’t been eating or drinking
  • Scratching himself when he’s not itchy
  • Looking away as a person or another animal walks toward him
  • Shaking off after someone handles him or another dog plays too roughly
  • Stretching out as though doing a play bow, but not asking for play
  • Making a puff (exhale) of breath, sometimes whining at the same time, and looking away or turning away
  • Lying down and trying to make whatever is happening stop by not taking part in it

Signs of fear

Be aware that your dog is likely feeling stress along with fear when he/she:

  • Starts to drool when she normally doesn’t
  • Paces or circles
  • Tucks his tail and moves away from something
  • Starts to whine
  • Sweats through her feet
  • Puts his hackles up, his tail is low or high, and his body is still
  • Starts to growl, and may start to move away
  • Starts to curl her lips or show her teeth (which may be the only warning she gives before biting)

Diffusing the stressful situation

Many people chastise dogs for growling, but that just discourages the dog from attempting to communicate that he’s stressed or fearful. If your dog is growling or is indicating in some other way that he’s stressed, stop whatever you are doing and try to determine what the dog is reacting to. You want to help the dog become more comfortable in the situation or manage the behavior in the future so that a bite to a person or animal doesn’t happen. Often, if we slow down whatever situation caused the fear and start exposing the dog in small amounts at a distance, we can help him to completely overcome his fear. We can also help dogs become more comfortable in general, in order to keep them, and us, safe.

Want to learn more?

If you want to learn more about your dog’s body language, Best Friends animal behavior consultant Sherry Woodard has this to say: “Turid Rugaas has a lot of information on dog body language in her book On Talking Terms with Dogs: Calming Signals. And in her DVD, Calming Signals: What Your Dog Tells You, viewers can see her pointing out various signals dog use to communicate with each other. Other valuable books are Canine Body Language: A Photographic Guide to Interpreting the Native Language of the Domestic Dog by Brenda Aloff, Canine Behavior: A Photo Illustrated Handbook by Barbara Handelman, and Dog Language: An Encyclopedia of Canine Behavior by Roger Abrantes.

This article originally appeared on the bestfriends.org website and may be accessed here.

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New Pet: Bringing Home a New Family Member

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What are some of the things you should keep in mind when bringing home a new pet?

Adopting a new pet

Before bringing home a new pet (whether a puppy, kitten, dog or cat), do your best to make sure they are as healthy as possible. You can start by acquiring the animal’s complete medical history. If possible, see if you can find out the following:

  • Whether your pet is up-to-date on vaccines.
  • Whether your pet has been tested for heartworm disease and has been on a consistent preventative. Ask which heartworm prevention medication the animal has been taking, and whether the medication has been well tolerated.
  • Whether your new pet has been on flea and tick prevention. Again, ask for the specifics of which preventative has been given and whether any side effects were noticed.
  • What food your new pet has been eating. If you’ll be feeding the animal something different, you’ll want to make a gradual transition to the new diet to avoid gastrointestinal upset.

You should ask for copies of all medical records and give them to your veterinarian in advance. If your new pet hasn’t been examined recently, make an appointment with your vet for a physical exam. At the appointment, your vet can administer any necessary vaccines and test for fecal parasites.

Keep in mind that any change, even a positive thing like moving to a home, is stressful for animals. Stress, travel and transport can aggravate underlying disease and may even cause disease. So, do what you can to minimize stress during this time of transition.

Cat-proof or dog-proof your home

Once the basic medical needs have been assessed, take some time to inspect your surroundings. Are your home and yard appropriately dog- and cat-proof? Some common safety concerns: toilet seats, electrical cords and outlets, house plants (some are toxic to pets), garbage cans and inadequate kitchen food storage. You may want to move valuable or fragile items. It’s a good idea to have a crate or a safe room where you can confine new animals when unsupervised, or for gradual introductions to existing pets.

Bringing home a puppy or kitten?

For young animals, keep in mind that they are still babies. Puppies and kittens do best with consistent feeding and eating schedules; this also helps facilitate potty training and litter box training. Some other things to consider:

  • Use age- and size-specific pet toys. Also, be watchful of objects or toys that might look interesting and tasty from your pet’s perspective, and that could be ingested and cause potential stomach and bowel problems.
  • Use caution when exposing puppies and kittens to older animals and don’t take them to high-traffic locations such as dog parks or pet events until they are fully vaccinated.
  • Make sure your puppy or kitten gets enough quality time with you and the rest of your family. Discuss in advance which behaviors you want to reward and which behaviors you want to ignore, and make sure everyone in the family is prepared to be consistent with training. Avoid rough play patterns, as they teach bad habits that are hard to reverse later.
  • Supervise puppies and kittens closely, especially in the first few weeks in a new home; consider placing a bell on your pet’s collar so he or she is easier to monitor when not in sight.

Bringing home an adult pet?

For older animals, see if you can learn about any training or health problems they have, and be proactive: Make a plan to deal with any issues. Don’t try to do everything at once, though; gradually introduce new experiences under controlled circumstances. Remember, lots of quality time is very important during the first weeks that a pet is in a new home, and consistency and routines make things easier for everyone. Adult animals should also be confined to a safe room or crate when unsupervised, particularly during the first few weeks.

Introducing a new pet into your home

If you have other pets in your home, keep in mind that you need to plan introductions carefully. If possible, implement a quarantine period of 7-10 days in case your new pet comes down with any illness secondary to the stress of travel. For cats, a safe room or transition room should be set up to house the new cat as you gradually introduce him or her to your other pets. Be sure the door can be securely closed. Two weeks before bringing the new cat home, consider using a pheromone diffuser. Cat-appeasing pheromones — such as Feliway — help ease the stress of new cat introductions.

Once the quarantine period is over, try placing a toy near the bottom of the door separating the new cat from the other cats. This may facilitate play under the door. To help with scent transfer, use a towel or glove to pet all the cats daily, focusing on the cheeks and base of the tail. Once the new cat seems settled and relaxed, start to rotate locations. If this goes well, progress to short (five minutes or less) visual introductions. Do this several times a day until all the cats are relaxed, and then try supervised contact. To be prepared for breaking up an altercation, have a squirt gun or spray water-bottle handy. If everyone is getting along, the length of time the cats spend together can gradually be increased and human supervision can slowly decrease.

For dogs, it’s best to let them meet on leash in neutral territory. If possible, have one person for each dog, and if you have more than one dog, introduce the new dog to only one dog at a time. If you can, bring the dogs together multiple times before they live together. Try to do introductions when everyone is calm. After you bring the new dog home, don’t leave the dogs together unsupervised; use a crate or a transition room to keep dogs separate. You’ll want to separate new dogs during feeding time and remove highly desirable toys, treats and beds during the transition period.

Follow these simple but important guidelines, and before you know it, your pets will be well-integrated members of your household.

This article was originally located at bestfriends.org.  The original may be found at: http://bestfriends.org/resources/dogs/new-pet-bringing-home-new-family-member

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City of LaGrange Tether Ordinance

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As of December 2015, there are ordinances in place that forbid permanent tethering of a dog within the LaGrange, GA city limits.  Some of the main points and guidelines of the ordinance include:

Proper enclosures must have an adequate space for exercise based on a dimension of:

  • at least one hundred (100) square feet per each dog that weighs fewer than twenty (20) pounds and
  • two hundred (200) square feet per each dog that weighs more than twenty (20) pounds
  • Proper enclosures shall also contain appropriate shelter of sufficient size to allow each dog to stand up, turn around, and lie down.

Any dog that is housed outside of its owner’s house shall be housed in a proper enclosure

Direct point chaining or tethering of a dog is prohibited.

As a secondary means of restraint to a proper enclosure, a dog may be attached to a running cable line or trolley system providing that:

  • Only one dog may be attached to each running cable line or trolley system
  • Tethers and cables attaching the dog to the running cable line or trolley system shall not weigh more than 25% percent of the body weight of the dog
  • A running cable line or trolley system must have a swivel installed at each end and be attached to a stationary object that cannot be moved by the dog
  • The running cable line or trolley system must be at least 10 feet long and positioned far enough away from any other objects to prohibit the tangling of the cable/lead line
  • The running cable line or trolley system must not extend over an object or an edge that could result strangulation of the dog
  • The running cable line or trolley system must be of sufficient distance from any fence so as to prohibit the dog from access to the fence
  • The length of the lead line from the running cable line or trolley system to the dog’s harness should allow access to the maximum available exercise area and allow the animal free access to food, water, and shelter.
  • The lead line must be attached to a properly fitted harness not used for the display of a current rabies tag and other identification. Collars are prohibited for the purpose of securing a dog to a running cable line or trolley system.

If an electronic animal confinement system is used to confine a dog, it shall provide a properly fitted and working signal device that will be worn by the dog to be enclosed.

For the full tethering ordinance, please click here or stop by the LaGrange – Troup County Humane Society for a copy.

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Bringing a New Dog Home: Preventing Problems from Day One

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Before you bring your new dog home, there are a number of ways that you can prepare for the new addition to your family. First, get the dog an ID tag with your information on it (name, phone number, address).

Before leaving the adoption site, check that your new dog’s collar is not too loose. Many dogs in new situations pull out of their collars and run. If your dog pulls out of her collar, she will be loose in a strange area with no contact information. To be extra safe, you might want to purchase a martingale collar (a no-slip collar available at pet supply stores) or a harness to use, in addition to the regular collar, until she has demonstrated that she can handle all the new and startling experiences of a new environment, such as other dogs, city noise, and traffic.

Keep your new dog on lead except in a fenced-in yard or an approved, fenced off-lead area. Always use a leash or lead near traffic, since your dog can be distracted or fearful for just a second and run into the street.

What does my new dog need?

To be happy and healthy, your dog will need the following:

  • Constant access to a bowl of fresh, clean drinking water
  • A nutritionally balanced diet
  • A safe place to eliminate outside (if she’s not being litter-trained)
  • Some daily exercise

If he or she hasn’t had any yet, your new dog will also need some training. Investigate the dog trainers in your area and pick out one who uses humane methods. Humane trainers do not use chain or prong collars, nor do they advocate yanking on or lifting the dog by the collar. For more info, read “How to Find a Good Trainer.” Your dog needs you to be the leader (albeit a gentle one), so you will also benefit from the training classes. If you don’t function as the leader, your dog will start making decisions on her own, some of which may be inappropriate or dangerous.

Your dog also needs daily, loving interaction with you and a social life. Socialize your dog by bringing him on car rides, letting him be around children and other dogs, taking him to the groomer, shopping with him at pet food stores (some of them let you bring your dog in), and walking him in public places.

Strive for structure and consistency in your dog’s daily routine to give him a healthy feeling of stability as a member of the family. The relationship between your family and your new family member can be great if you are patient and positive.

You should also select a veterinarian with whom you are comfortable, since you’ll need to bring your dog in for regular checkups. Finally, find out what the local dog laws are (such as leash laws) and what the licensing requirements are for dogs in your area.

Do I need to dog-proof my house?

Before your new dog arrives, you should dog-proof your home in much the same way that you would child-proof your home for a toddler. Look at your home from a dog’s eye level. What can he reach? If you don’t want him drinking out of the toilet, tell everyone in the household to make sure they put the cover down. If anyone in the house smokes, put ashtrays out of reach, since cigarette butts, if eaten, can lead to nicotine poisoning.

Will his wagging tail inadvertently wreak havoc on your prize possessions? Dog tails have been known to sweep the contents off the top of a coffee table. If you like to keep lit candles around, make sure they are above the dog’s reach. Is there anything he can trip on or become tangled in (such as electrical cords)?

How can I prevent my new dog from chewing up my stuff?

If your new dog has her own toys, she may not be as interested in chewing up human things (though leather shoes are hard to resist). Buy durable rubber or nylon toys that satisfy the dog’s urge to chew. Toys that you can stuff treats into (like Kongs and Buster Cubes) should keep her occupied for a good long while. If she starts chewing one of your personal items, immediately get her interested in a dog toy instead.

What should I know about making my yard safe?

Do a walkabout of your yard. Is your yard completely fenced in? Are there any spaces or gaps that your new dog or puppy can squeeze through? Is there anything that he can climb on that would allow him to escape over the fence (e.g., a wood pile, a fountain, latticework)? Some dogs know how to flip open gate latches, so latches should be clipped or locked if your dog can reach them.

What sort of plants do you have in your yard? Snail bait and some plants (such as oleander, azaleas and rhododendrons) are poisonous to dogs. Antifreeze is another hazard for dogs – it is toxic and can be fatal. Dogs are attracted to its sweet taste, so don’t allow your dog to drink from standing water near where cars have been parked.

Do you have an uncovered pond or pool in your yard? Dogs have been known to drown in backyard pools when they jumped or fell in and couldn’t get out. You should also make sure your trashcans have tight lids to avoid “dumpster diving” by your dog. Besides the smelly mess that an overturned trash can creates, some of the items in your trash (like chicken bones) may be dangerous for your dog to ingest.

Ideally, you should check your yard for safety before your new dog comes home. If you haven’t done this prior to the dog’s arrival, supervise the time that your pet spends outside. Even a child’s toy can be trouble if it is chewed up and swallowed.

This article originally appeared on the bestfriends.org website and may be accessed here.

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