Please Fence Me In: Creating Good Neighbors & Keeping Dogs Safe

Do you have a dog fence for your pets? Lately I’ve noticed more “lost dog” notices in the local paper, and that hurts my heart. I don’t know what I’d do if Magic disappeared. He’s microchipped, but folks would need to catch him first. While he’s quite good off-leash during most morning rambles with my husband, “most” is the operative word. Although we have 13 acres for him to play, chase Frisbee (endlessly!), and baptize every tree and grass tussock, in his younger days, Magic really really (really!) wanted to get “productive” right next to the neighbor’s fence. Arg! That does not make for appreciative neighbors.

dog fence

A Pet Dog Poking His Nose Through A Hole In A Fence

Dog Fence, Leashes & Keeping Canines Confined

I’ve harped and harped on “keep him on leash!” until I’m blue in the face. Unless you have a Frisbee or other irresistible toy or intermittent treat reward to keep Magic’s attention, he will do what comes naturally and go where the sniffing is good.

Several years ago, the American Bulldog next door decided to get out of his fence and teach Magic a lesson. Both dogs were fine, but Magic did end up with a red, swollen eye for several days.

Don’t Blame the Dog

Dogs do what comes naturally so you really can’t blame the dog. If I were the neighbor I’d be aggravated that another dog pooped on my fence-line, effectively taunting my own pets. At the time, my husband had the best intentions but every time Magic “went AWOL” to visit when he was off leash, he was self-rewarded by getting fun sniffs, a game of chase with my husband, AND a car ride. Yep, honking the car horn brought him running back home whereupon Magic was given a car ride for being a “good dog” and coming home.

Do you see where this is going? *s* Magic got to practice the behavior, knew what to do to get everything he wanted. SMART doggy! Did I ever mention it’s easier to train dogs than humans? (ahem)

These days, I’m the one who gets up early to take the dog-meister for his morning rambles (ON LEASH) and we’ve had no more incidents. Part of that is Magic’s age, of course–he’s nearly eleven now, and not moving as quickly as he used to. Magic gets car rides other times, of course, but they’re no longer associated with illegal pooping expeditions.

Of course we also have a fenced area in the back yard amidst the roses. And afternoon runs with fetching toys keeps Magic happy. Here are more tips for keeping your pets safe.

PLEASE FENCE ME IN!

Good dog fences make good neighbors and safe pets. You may think you’re indulging your new puppy by allowing her to roam. But not only can ?roaming pets turn into pests or worse (coyote bait comes to mind), they can become lost, contract disease or spread illness to other beloved pets.

You wouldn’t let your four-year-old human toddler roam outside unsupervised, and let him “learn the hard way” if something goes wrong. The cost of safe fencing is offset by saved emergency room bills and lost sleep.

Curious chained dog on a pile of wood.

WHY CHAINING DOGS IS BAD

Avoid tethering or chaining your dog. Some localities have laws against this, unless it’s for very short periods of time while under your supervision.

When I was a kid, our dog was typically chained outside to his dog house. He ended up towing the house all over the yard, and frequently broke the chain. What was done in the “good old days” today is known to cause additional problems, though, so we need to be smart like our dogs and learn from experience.

Today, behaviorists warn AGAINST tethering dogs. That’s because a tether prevents dogs from escaping perceived threats, so a chain or tether can make dogs more defensive and more likely to bite and attack those within reach. Physical barriers are the safest and most reliable options.

Match Fences To Adult Dog Needs

You’ll need to figure out if your dog is a jumper or a digger before investing and planning the fencing. What contains a Border Collie puppy may not do the job once he’s an adult. The tiny paws of a Miniature Dachshund or other terrier digging terrors probably won’t manage tunneling until he reaches adult size, but plan now for excavations.

Privacy fences made of wood may work for the vaulting maniacs, as they won’t be as easy to climb out. They’ll need to be six to nine feet high to stop the leaps. Chainlink fencing works well for most dogs. Some athletic dogs also can climb out, in which case a top may be needed.

For the diggers, the fence should either be sunk into the ground—frankly, that doesn’t work so well—or install a “lip” of fencing flat against the ground all around the perimeter. It can be installed at the bottoms of privacy or other barrier fences, too, to keep the dog from digging out. Landscape (vine roses, for example) help camouflage any unsightly fences. The thorns also help persuade dogs from either side of the fence to keep their distance. Grass grows up through the lip of fencing and can be mowed with ease.

Electronic Fences & SHOCK Collars

Sometimes housing developments won’t allow physical fences. “Electronic fences” may be popular but I cannot recommend them. According to experts including the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior, shock training devices can cause “ . . . potential adverse effects which include but are not limited to: inhibition of learning, increased fear-related and aggressive behaviors, and injury to animals and people interacting with animals.” Read more about the AVSAB position statement on “punishment” in dog training.

Electronic fences are only as good as the training, and they are not magical or foolproof. Some companies are better than others in offering training advice. But there are other “do it yourself” products and unless you have good training skills, your dog could be hurt by the training—or training failure when he escapes the fence despite the shock. Chasing a stray cat or squirrel can tempt dogs to run through the electronic barrier, and then the shock can keep them from returning home. Besides, there are more humane and equally effective alternatives to electronic containment.

I like the “Virtual Fence” type products that use the same sort of technology with a buried cable around the perimeter of the property. But instead of an electric shock, the collar first emits a warning beep and only later emits a burst of citronella spray. Cornell University studies showed that citronella (an aversive scent) collars were much more effective than electric shock collars to train. They’re also more humane.

Keeping Other Pests Out

A major downside to these non-physical fences is they won’t prevent other animals or people from coming into the pet’s yard. A goofy puppy intent on the exciting chase could follow a squirrel and cross the boundary—and then the collar’s shock or scent prevents him from coming home. People may not recognize your dog is “confined” and this could invite strangers to pet the puppy or even steal him.

Fences do more than keep pets safely inside. They keep temptations and dangers out, and reduce our liability as pet owners. When you have a clueless puppy that attracts trouble like a magnet, it’s even more important to supervise, even when you have a fence. And that’s peace of mind for us, and our beloved animal friends.

Do YOU have a safe area for your doggy wonders and “wanderers”? I’m preaching to the choir but feel free to share the link to this blog with those who need the help.


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I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Scared Cats? Here’s How to Solve Feline Stranger Danger!

Does your new kitten hide under the bed? Do your adult cats disappear when visitors ring the doorbell? Does the new puppy send kitty into hiss-terics? Learning why scared cats act that way helps you know how to avoid “fright night” triggers.

scared cats

Scared cats crouch and may hide under the bed.

Scaredy cats react with fear to unfamiliar people, places or situations, because if they haven’t had a good experience—so they assume the worst. Many kittens are clueless but as the cat matures, this “stranger danger” behavior protects kitties so they don’t walk up to hungry critters, dogs or people.

Cats identify friends by smell. But if they haven’t cheek-rubbed, groomed or slept together, strangers “smell funny” and therefore are suspect. Kitties only used to women may fear men with lower voices or with beards. Kids move and sound differently than adults and can be scary to cats. New dogs or cats often intimidate them, especially when the kitten has never seen a dog before!

A strange environment turns up kitty nerves because the boogyman might lurk in some unknown spot. Your cat won’t know the escape routes or safety zones, so fear becomes the default emotion.

scared catsFearful cats that can’t run away may use aggression to protect themselves from perceived danger. A panic attack shuts down the brain so that the cat literally can’t think and instinctive fight-or-flight takes over. Use these tips to transform shivers to purrs.

I am delighted to learn that not only this blog (WOW!) but also my weekly P’ETiQuette newspaper column and my latest Quick Tips guide have all been nominated for Cat Writers’ Association awards! Mee-wow. I’ll find out next month if any of these nominations merited a Muse Medallion award. This is one of those contests where being nominated IS being a winner…so I’m already celebrating.

AMY IS FEAR FREE CERTIFIED!

My other news–I have completed the Fear Free Certification course and am proud to say I am a certified member of this important initiative. I discuss more about the program in the Quick Tips booklet above, but you can also learn more about the program at this link.

There are many reasons (not just vet visits) that prompt kitty hisses and angst. With kitten season looming and new adoptions on the horizon, please prepare in advance to help scared cats be brave. It’s much easier to prevent fear and encourage courage than to deal with the angst once it’s learned. You’ll get lots more details in the booklet MY CAT HATES MY VET but here’s how to start.

FOILING FELINE FEAR: HELP SCARED CATS BE BRAVE

Socialize Kittens. The prime socialization period for kittens is two-to-seven weeks of age. When you first adopt your kitten, expose youngsters to happy, positive experiences with a variety of strangers and other pets. That helps them learn that other people, places, and critters can be fun and not scary.

Offer Safe Retreats. Let the cat or kitten hide. Forcing interactions just makes the fear worse. Give time for the pet to cheek rub and become familiar with the new place. Cats prefer to hide in dark places where they can’t easily be seen, and inaccessible places they can’t be reached and/or can most easily defend so offer some neat options.

Use Play. When cats engage in fun games their brains can’t be happy and scared at the same time. A long distance interactive toy like fishing-pole lures teach cats you are fun to be around, but without having to get too close. You can even sit on top of the bed, and “tease” the cat that hides underneath without scaring the kitty by reaching under to grab him.

Offer Treats. If your cat loves food, offer smelly treats to diffuse the angst. Have visitors drop or toss treats when they arrive at the door, so the doorbell means “food” instead of “stranger danger.”

Get On Kitty’s Level. To a little cat, humans look imposing especially when we stare, follow the cat, and try to pet them. Just think of that giant-size hand coming down toward your head! Instead, sit on the floor, and ignore the cat—no eye contact which can be intimidating—and lure the kitten or cat with treats or a toy. Let the cat approach and control the interaction.

Diffuse Cat Fights. Fearful cats act like they’re wearing a “kick me” sign so other felines pick on the victim. Offer lots of cat trees and hiding spots for escapes, multiple litter boxes and feeding stations so they don’t have to argue or interact too closely. Try putting a bell on the aggressor-cat’s collar to give the fearful cat warning to get out of the way.

“Doctor” The Angst. Feliway, a synthetic feline facial pheromone, comes as a plug-in or spray that helps ease tensions related to territorial and environmental stress. Rescue Remedy is a natural remedy that helps some anxious cats when added to the water. You can find Feliway and Rescue Remedy at pet product stores. In severe cases, your veterinarian may prescribe anti-anxiety medications for the scared cat.

Some cats are simply less touchy-feely than others and never will be lap snugglers. These tips won’t turn all cats into social butterflies, but they can help dial down the fear. Patience and giving your cat time to learn she has nothing to fear goes a long way toward turning up the purrs.


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I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

 

Thriller Thursday: Sherry Knowlton Releases DEAD OF SPRING #ITWBLOG

Chills, thrills and spills with Thriller Thursday by Amy Shojai

Chills, thrills and spills with Thriller Thursday by Amy Shojai

THRILLER THURSDAY is a new occasional feature of Bling, Bitches & Blood. As a member of International Thriller Writers and alumni of the ITW Debut Author Program, it is my honor to showcase select ITW authors and books participating in the ITW Bloggers Program. If you love reading great books as much as I do, check out my Spotlight Guest SHERRY KNOWLTON!

Hey there Sweet Peeps! Yes, I know it’s SATURDAY but I got behind on “schtuff” and didn’t want to wait any longer. Let me introduce you to Sherry Knowlton and her new thriller DEAD OF SPRING.

Sherry Knowlton Author PictureAUTHOR BIO

Sherry Knowlton (nee Rothenberger), author of the Alexa Williams suspense novels, Dead of Autumn and Dead of Summer and Dead of Spring (release April 22, 2017) was born and raised in Chambersburg, PA, where she developed a lifelong passion for books. She was that kid who would sneak a flashlight to bed at night so she could read beneath the covers. All the local librarians knew her by name.

She launched her writing career with a mimeographed elementary school newsletter and went on to write and edit for her high school and college newspapers. Since then, Sherry’s creative and technical writing has run the gamut from poetry, essays, and short stories to environmental newsletters, policy papers, regulations, and grant proposals.

Sherry spent much of her early career in state government, working primarily with social and human services programs, including services for abused children, rape crisis, domestic violence, and family planning. In the 1990s, she served as the Deputy Secretary for Medical Assistance in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The latter part of Sherry’s career has focused on the field of Medicaid managed care. Now retired from executive positions in the health insurance industry, Sherry runs her own health care consulting business. She is also “rewriting retirement” by turning her passion for writing into a new career.  She draws on her professional background and travel experiences as inspiration for her novels.  She also uses her writing as a platform to shed light on social issues affecting our world today.

Sherry and her husband, Mike, began their journey together in the days of peace and music when they traversed the country in a hippie van. Running out of money several months into the trip, Sherry waitressed the night shift at a cowboy hangout in Jackson Hole, Wyoming and Mike washed dishes in a bakery. Undeterred, they embraced the travel experience and continue to explore far-flung places around the globe.

Sherry lives in the mountains of South Central Pennsylvania, where her novels are set. She is a member of International Thriller Writers, Sisters in Crime and Pennwriters.

Connect with Sherry

www.sherryknowlton.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KnowltonSBooks

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sherry.knowltonbooks

Email: sherryknowltonbooks@gmail.com

Publicist contact information: Kim A. Lehman, klehman2525@gmail.com, 717-599-0891

Dead Of Spring thrillerDEAD OF SPRING . . . THE STORY

When a beloved state senator plunges to his death at Alexa Williams’ feet in the Capitol Rotunda, the authorities suspect suicide. Although the powerful chair of the Environmental Resources and Energy Committee was at the center of a controversial new bill to expand hydraulic fracturing, he was also rumored to be ill. Shaken, Alexa tries to move past the disturbing incident by concentrating on work. She’s leading a senate commission on sex trafficking. Plus, she’s helping an old college roommate sue a natural gas company for their role in causing her daughter’s rare cancer.

​In researching the lawsuit, Alexa becomes embroiled in the high-stakes politics of fracking. As the relationship with her state trooper boyfriend drifts onto the rocks, Alexa is drawn to a charismatic state legislator who’s leading an anti-fracking crusade. Then, the police shock Alexa with the news that she could be in danger; she’s a witness to the senator’s murder, not his suicide.

​When Alexa narrowly escapes a sniper’s bullet, she must discover why she’s a target ― and who she can trust—before the next shot hits its mark.

​With Sherry Knowlton’s trademark mix of feminism, history, romance, and fast-paced thrills, Dead of Spring skyrockets from the fracking fields of the Marcellus Shale to the Three Mile Island nuclear disaster of 1979 to the rolling hills of Tuscany to the halls of Pennsylvania state government. In this suspenseful tale of corruption and runaway greed, Alexa Williams proves, once again, that she’s a formidable heroine. The twists and turns keep will keep you on the edge of your seat.

GET THE BOOK

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

IndieBound

BOOK DETAILS

Publisher: Sunbury Press, Inc.

Book Genre: Mystery/Suspense

Release Date: April 22, 2017

ISBN-10: 1620068435, ISBN-13: 978-1620068434

Trade Paperback: 268 pages

Trade Paperback Price: $19.95, Kindle Price: $6.99

READ MORE ABOUT THE BOOK

Michael Niemann Blog Feature and an Interview with Sherry, too!

John Stamp Blog Spotlight


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I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Thriller Thursday-on Saturday! Michael Niemann Releases ILLICIT TRADE #ITWBLOG

Chills, thrills and spills with Thriller Thursday by Amy Shojai

Chills, thrills and spills with Thriller Thursday by Amy Shojai

THRILLER THURSDAY is a new occasional feature of Bling, Bitches & Blood. As a member of International Thriller Writers and alumni of the ITW Debut Author Program, it is my honor to showcase select ITW authors and books participating in the ITW Bloggers Program. If you love reading great books as much as I do, check out my Spotlight Guest Michael Niemann!

Hey there Sweet Peeps! Yes, I know it’s SATURDAY but I got behind on “schtuff” and didn’t want to wait any longer. Let me introduce you to Michael Niemann and his new thriller ILLICIT TRADE–for fans of John Le Carre and Len Deighton.

PRAISE FOR THE BOOK

“The unexpected resourcefulness that Vermeulen and Jackson each display in dealing with dangerous foes in their respective quests is highly entertaining.” Publishers Weekly

“Niemann is an excitingly original voice in the genre.” Michael Stanley, award winning author of the Detective Kubu mysteries

“A good read!” Clive Rosengren, two-time Shamus Award finalist

Michael NiemannAUTHOR BIO

Michael Niemann grew up in a small town in Germany, ten kilometers from the Dutch border. Crossing that border often at a young age sparked in him a curiosity about the larger world. He studied political science at the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms Universität in Bonn and international studies at the University of Denver. During his academic career he focused his work on southern Africa and frequently spent time in the region. After taking a fiction writing course from his friend, the late Fred Pfeil, he switched to mysteries as a different way to write about the world.

Connect with Michael

http://michael-niemann.com
Twitter: @m_e_niemann
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MichaelNiemannAuthor/

Niemann Illicit TradeILLICIT TRADE . . . THE STORY

Two poor Kenyan men visiting the U.S. are found dead, one in jail, one on the street. Both used forged United Nations documents to enter the country. Valentin Vermeulen’s superiors have no interest in the plight of undocumented immigrants, but they want him to stop the fraud. The clues take Vermeulen from New York City to Newark, where he riles a woman known as “The Broker,” then to Vienna.

Earle Jackson, a small-time hustler and the last person to speak with one of the dead Kenyans, has taken the man’s passport and money. He also finds a note listing an address in Newark, where his efforts to cash in on the situation go awry. Fleeing for his life, Jackson flies to Nairobi using the dead man’s passport.
Vermeulen and Jackson have chanced upon a criminal network more extensive and vicious than either could have imagined. To survive, Vermeulen must do more than sever a few links. He must find the mastermind at the top.

GET THE BOOK

READ MORE ABOUT ILLICIT TRADE

MICHAEL SAYS, “There is a little foul language and people are killed. No sexual situations.”

 


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I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Spay-Neuter Pets & Feline Fix By Five Months

Spay neuter pets? Kittens and puppies and litters, oh my! Yes, it’s that time of year when a feline fix by five months (puppies, too!) will save you and your pets a LOT of headaches. It’s all about spay and neuter, and the benefits gained for everyone.

feline fix by fiveSPAY NEUTER SAVES PETS LIVES

Animal advocates have been preaching to the choir for years. And while there is no one-size-fits-all situation, it’s clear that the benefits far outweigh the consequences. A new initiative targets cat owners, called FELINE FIX BY FIVE MONTHS, has the endorsement of major cat advocacy and health organizations.

When I first worked as a vet tech *mumble-mumble* years ago, six months of age was the standard “fix pets” date. In the years since, a number of studies have supported performing the spay-neuter on much younger animals. Some shelters recommend and perform sterilization on 8-week-old babies once they reach a certain weight. These surgical techniques are safe, pets recover more quickly, and the benefits of relieving cats and dogs of reproductive angst are immeasurable.

complete kitten care

Marion’s Dream FELINE FIX BY FIVE program suggests simply dropping the 6-month age to 5 months also makes a huge impact for good. Why should you (and your vet practice) embrace this simple solution? Find out the details here.

WHAT ABOUT DOGS SPAY-NEUTER?

Yes, dogs are different. Sure, “fixing Fido” before a litter-ary mistake is ideal. There are some canine-specific issues, though, that don’t apply to cats. For one thing, dogs don’t get pregnant as early as kitties can, nor do they go in and out of heat as frequently. I cover some of these issues in the Ask Amy video, below, and you can read more about dog neutering pros and cons here.

If you have a furry baby in your future–c’mon, you KNOW you WANT to adopt!–please prepare yourself for a lifetime of love and fun. One of my care manuals like COMPLETE KITTEN CARE or the puppy book offers all the guidance you need to start off on the right “paw.”

ASK AMY: SPAY & NEUTER INFO

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!