Tips On How To Disinfect Dog Toys

Pets bring energy, joy, and companionship to our lives, but one of the things we don’t want them to bring is germs. Disinfecting your dog toy can be an easy and effective way to keep germs and bacteria at bay and protect your canine companion from illnesses. When not well sanitized, a pet’s toys can serve as a breeding ground for bacteria.

In this post, we’ll explain why disinfecting your dog’s items is important and give you some helpful tips on how to maintain the cleanliness of dog toys to keep your beloved pet happy and healthy.

Why Is Dirty Dog Toys Dangerous?
Dirty dog toys can be dangerous because it can be a good host for germs and bacteria since they are often used many times in a day. Pets often use their mouths to play with their toys and this is a common way for germs to easily spread from the toys to pets.

According to some vets, your dog’s toy could even make them sick. That’s why they encourage dog owners to wash their pet’s toys at least once a month. Apart from bacteria, a filthy dog toy could be hosting harmful fecal coliforms, like E. coli, which could also affect humans. However, the good news is that pets are capable of dealing with a lot more germs than humans are, so the health risks are not as great.

Contrary to popular belief, canine acne is rarely caused by hormonal imbalances or changes during their early growth years. In fact, it mainly affects pups that chew on filthy toys and generally eat in bacteria-infested areas. Grime and bacteria can accumulate in the hair and pores on their face, leading to irritation – which manifests as red bumps or even pustules.

Disinfecting your pup’s toys and their other items is a suitable solution for puppy acne. Provided the dog’s bowls and toys are properly cleaned and maintained in a sanitary condition, this issue is unlikely to reappear. The actual danger of dirty dog toys is to humans. You might not realize how often you come into contact with your dog’s items; let alone the bacteria and germs that have accumulated on them.

Dirty dog toys also tend to get damaged faster as well. Depending on its material, a dog’s toy will start to weaken and break easily, posing a choking hazard. Therefore, be a responsible owner and do a proper and regular cleaning. This will allow you to examine your pet’s toy to ensure they are in great condition.

But how do you disinfect your dog toy? Let’s find out below:

How to Disinfect Dog Toys?

Hard and Plastic Toys
In order to clean hard and plastic pet toys, start by putting a little white vinegar in a container with water. Soak the toy in the mixture, clean them thoroughly and then let them dry naturally.

Soft and Plush Toys
The main purpose of disinfecting your dog’s soft toys is to eradicate dust mites. These tiny bugs are responsible for the allergic reactions that make pets and humans sick. Wash soft and plush toys by putting them through a mixture of baking soda and hot water in your washing machine on a gentle cycle. Use low-level heat to dry them.

Rope Toys
Plush animals and rope toys should be washed more regularly than other types of pet toys. Rope toys have soft, absorbent fibers that can absorb drool moisture and make them a breeding ground for bacteria and germs.
Start by removing any metallic parts, soak the toys and put them in the microwave for at least a minute. Once they are dry, they will be germ-free and ready for your dog to play with them.

Rubber Toys
When it comes to disinfecting rubber toys, we recommend using vinegar. This natural disinfectant is gentle enough not to destroy the toys. You can soak rubber, nylon and silicone toys in warm water and 5% vinegar solution for around 10 minutes, and then scrub them gently with a clean brush or sponge to get rid of any accumulated dirt. Be sure to air dry the toys properly before giving them back to your canine companion.

Homemade Disinfectant Tips for Dog Toys
Disinfectants kill germs but they don’t get rid of dirt. Before you use any disinfectant, a thorough cleaning is necessary.

Start by removing all toys. Carefully wash and disinfect one toy at a time. Use a scrub brush and gentle detergent to scrub the surfaces to eradicate dirt and waste. Rinse properly to remove detergent before disinfecting.

Although bleach is effective as a disinfectant, it can cause any metal parts to corrode and damage clothing. Moreover, it can irritate your pet’s airways and sinuses.

Vinegar contains 5% acetic acid that acts as a disinfectant to kill germs. To produce your disinfecting mixture, add vinegar to an equal amount of water. Add a little baking soda to eradicate odors. Apply vinegar and water solution to the toy to disinfect and leave it on for around 10 minutes and then rinse them thoroughly.

Ways to Maintain Cleanliness of Dog Toys
So, here are a few tips to maintain the cleanliness of your dog toys so they can enjoy them for longer.

Check labels: Check labels before buying new products for your dog. Choose products that are easier to clean. If they are fabric or cloth, this is even more important.

Wash frequently: Although you don’t have to clean your canine’s toys on a daily basis, it’s advisable to regularly wash the ones they use often.

Sanitize: Keep germs and bacteria at bay with pet-safe disinfectants.

Control the chaos: Create a dedicated play area to help maintain an orderly home.

Toss out damaged or broken toys: This will also help prevent them from becoming a choking hazard.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it safe to bleach dog toys?
No, it is not safe to bleach dog toys. It’s best to avoid using them or any other harsh cleaning products since it can cause skin irritation – thus, you should try and avoid it. Instead, try using apple vinegar and baking soda solution.

Will vinegar hurt dogs?
It depends. Vinegar might not be completely safe for dogs, but most pet parents add diluted white vinegar or apple cider vinegar to their pup’s regimens due to its supposed ability to clean, heal and reduce orders. Nonetheless, administering vinegar to your pooch is not an ideal solution as compared to any cleaning requirements your pet may have.

What Laundry Detergent Is Safe For Dogs?
A gentle detergent with no fragrance or dyes is safe for dogs. Make sure to toss them in the dishwasher or washing machine when they start to smell.

How often should I wash my dog’s toys?
You should wash your dog’s toys at least once a month to keep germs at bay. More, depending on how active your dog is. Without proper care of their toy, these products would become be hazardous in a long run. And washing your pet’s toys regularly can also prolong the life of these products – thus, allowing the pooch to enjoy them for an extended period of time.

When Should You Throw Away Dog Toys?
You should toss dog toys into the garbage bin if they are torn, broken or damaged. It’s sad, but sometimes the time comes to part ways with your dog’s favourite toys. Once they are damaged, they can break or crack. This means that your pooch would end up eating small parts of the toy when they are chewing on it.

Conclusion
Keeping your dog toys clean and sanitized isn’t always easy- and at times it feels impossible. However, considering how much your pooch loves his toys, putting in the effort to clean and disinfect them can be a great way to keep your furry friend healthy and happy. It is also important to get the right type of toys for your dogs. Some dogs may be sensitive or dislike certain materials. Fortunately, Well Pet Coach covers this in-depth about the best dog toys to have and how these toys can help to keep them both physically and emotionally healthy. As pet parents, we want the best for them and knowing what suits them is important. Do check out this Facebook page to read more of such relevant insights.

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5 Tips for Planning a Road Trip With Your Dog

Travelling with a dog can be fun, but it requires extra planning compared to “human-only” road trips. Aside from keeping your pet safe, you also need to ensure he doesn’t get anxious, stressed or bored.

With that in mind, here are five tips for a safe and enjoyable road trip with your dog.

Remember to Pack the Essentials
Dogs travel lighter than most humans, but there are still many items you need to pack.

The most important are a harness, leash (plus a spare), water bowl, food bowl, and enough food for the journey. While you can always buy more kibble or wet food, switching to a new brand can cause an upset stomach – which is the last thing you need on a trip.

If your dog takes any medication, remember to bring enough for the whole journey. You should also take medical records and vaccination certificates, along with any grooming equipment you might need.

Other essential items include:
Plenty of dog bags
A dog first aid kit, with items such as cotton wool, gauze, sterile pads, and bandages
Your dog’s bed and blankets
A crash-tested harness or crate (see below)
A chew toy or bone to entertain your pet in the car
Other favorite toys, such as tug toys or a ball, to play with during stops
A recent photo of your dog

You should also make sure your dog is microchipped and his tag’s contact information is up-to-date.

Plan a Dog-Friendly Route With Plenty of Stops
Setting off on a road trip without a fixed destination can be a liberating experience, but it’s probably not a good idea if you have a dog. It’s important to check that your route is dog-friendly before you leave.

If you’re staying overnight in a hotel or B&B, you’ll need to find one that allows dogs. This limits your route, as many hotels won’t allow dogs in rooms.
Dogs also need regular breaks on a car journey. These stops aren’t just for going to the toilet, but also for allowing your pet to stretch his legs and relieve boredom.

Most motorway service stations in the UK have at least a small patch of grass. These are perfect for giving your dog time outside the car, although you’ll need to keep him leashed. If you’re travelling on smaller roads, you might need to plan rest stops more carefully.

Keep in mind that some dogs get car sick. It’s best to feed your pet several hours before you leave each day, as this minimizes the chance of sickness.
You should also research veterinary surgeries along your route – including those providing an out-of-hours service. If something were to happen to your dog, getting him to a vet quickly could be vital.

Decide Whether It’s Fair to Take Your Dog
Some dogs love spending time in the car and will happily go on a road trip. Unfortunately, other dogs find cars scary or stressful, which would make a road trip a horrible experience.

It’s important to be honest about whether your dog would enjoy a road trip. If your pet is terrified to go near a car, it isn’t fair to take him on a long journey.

The good news is that positive reinforcement training can often teach a dog to find journeys less stressful.

Start by taking your dog near the car, while giving lots of praise and a few treats. Gradually progress to getting into the car, giving a few treats, then getting straight back out. Once your pet is happy to do this, you can start turning the engine on without moving, pulling in and out of the drive, and eventually taking short trips.

This process can take weeks or even months, so start long before your road trip. Always watch for signs of stress, as these indicate that you’re moving too fast for your dog.

The above process works best for dogs with mild anxiety about car rides. If your dog is petrified of the car, put any plans for a road trip on hold and contact a qualified canine behaviorist.

Safely Restrain Your Dog
It’s frightening how little protection a regular dog harness or crate provides. During crash tests, most disintegrate on impact, either allowing the dog to fly through the car or be crushed by their own crate.

For this reason, you should only ever use a harness or crate that’s been thoroughly crash-tested. Crash-tested harnesses are great for smaller dogs, but larger dogs need a tough crate to protect them during an accident.

You should also never allow your dog to put his head out of the window. Aside from the risk of being hit by a road-side object, the strong winds can damage a dog’s ears and eyes.

Make Overnight Stops as Comfortable as Possible
Dogs are creatures of habit, so many feel uncomfortable sleeping in a different environment.

An easy way to help your dog settle is to bring his normal bed and blankets. It’s best if these haven’t been washed for a few days, so they still smell comforting.

You may also want to use white noise to cover up sounds that might disturb your pet. A dog in a new environment is often more alert to new noises, which can make it difficult to sleep.

Summary
A road trip with your dog can be a wonderful experience. Many dogs love coming on family trips and exploring new places.

It’s your responsibility to keep your pet safe and happy though. So, when you’re planning your route and the attractions you want to see, remember to plan for your dog’s needs too.

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“Virtual” Dog Training

Dog Training

As several countries, including the United Kingdom, gradually relax their “lockdown” restrictions (albeit with distinct differences across our constituent nations…), it is worth reflecting that although many businesses have sadly had to suspend or severely curtail their physical operations as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, a fair number [including us, here at The Dog House Rules www.thedoghouserules.co.uk ] have been able to continue in the “virtual” space.

Education and training is a key area of course, where there is already a vast range of material available online and providers focused on physical delivery have moved quickly to add to this. This includes “live” conferences in our own canine world for instance, offering wider access and additional features in the process.

Dog (and other animal…) training itself may not be an obvious candidate for “virtual” delivery, given the traditional view of how it has operated in-person, through classes or private sessions.

However, taking dog training online is not merely feasible, it actually has a number of benefits for the client, the dog and the trainer. Of course, there are various aspects to be considered, but we are likely to see an ongoing and sustained shift towards this mode of delivery.

“Virtually” the Same…

There are elements of dog training and behaviour services that clearly cannot be done online, such as training your dog for you through options like Day Training and/or “Walk & Train” (see note below) or that may be inappropriate for safety reasons, such as bite aggression directed towards the handler. Most of the time, however, we are in “coaching” mode, teaching the owner and potentially other family members how to train their dog and design their own training sessions, whether it is foundation behaviours, new “tricks” or even advanced skills. This is a great opportunity for those who are still furloughed, on reduced hours, looking after family or self-isolating and likely to be seeking new activities. Those newly working from home will have some extra time without their daily commute. Children can get actively involved and the dogs will love it too!

Although animals (it does not just apply to dogs…) do introduce a whole new set of variables, there is actually very little difference between the physical coaching process and the online version. When the trainer is not in the same space, the potential impact of this for the dog and the owner is removed. Another major advantage in the current context is that it is of course totally risk-free from the COVID-19 perspective. Despite those 5G stories, the virus cannot be transmitted electronically!

Having said that, along with the general considerations, there are a number of elements to be addressed for the client and the trainer:

  • Technology
  • Approach
  • Communication/Interaction
  • Preparations
  • Environment

[Note: It is possible within Government guidelines to do coaching in person outdoors and also training or walking your dog for you, with a proper risk assessment and all necessary precautions in place. We have COVID-19 Risk Awareness Certification. However, many people will understandably choose the absolutely safe “virtual” option.]

Dog Training

General Considerations

People may focus on the challenges or barriers in working online, such as the technology or thinking that the trainer actually needs to be there to observe the dog in action. However, similar considerations exist in other sectors and there are a number of distinct advantages. It drives best practice on the part of the trainer in various ways – the overall approach, profiling, observation and communication, as well as planning and logistics. A more normal, less stressful environment is maintained for the dog, avoiding “strangers” and other distractions (like someone else with treats!) and there are no additional safety concerns. The client may also be more comfortable without new people in the house. Of course, appropriate safeguards and precautions still need to be in place for an online presence. There is more flexible scheduling and the opportunity to help a much wider (potentially global…) population through a particular niche or specialism that may not be readily available to the client physically in the local area.

Technology

There is already a very high level of “engagement” with internet technology, in particular through smart phones with social media and communication applications. Another outcome of the COVID-19 pandemic is that with the severe restrictions on gatherings, people have turned to these online tools, including those who have never used them before. Services such as Facetime, Skype, Google Duo, WhatsApp and Zoom have seen a dramatic increase in usage as physical meetings become virtual ones. The business and professional world has been doing this for some considerable time of course, but even those who would normally shy away from such things are embracing video calling and sharing activities remotely with family and friends such as quizzes, games, singing, dancing and so on – the list is endless and limited only by imagination and creativity. So, the technology itself is much less of a barrier here and instruction in its use can be given directly and/or through widely available videos produced by the software organisations and by users themselves. If necessary, a regular phone call can be used initially to guide people. Quite often there will be youngsters around who are already experts!

We use Zoom (www.zoom.us ) for consultations and coaching, due to its reliability and simplicity for the client – it is free for them, they do not need an account and simply have to click on a link sent to their device. For the trainer, Zoom has additional features and flexibility as well as being scalable, to run classes and webinars for example. We add WhatsApp for follow-ups between sessions. With the recent Zoom upgrade, both are now fully encrypted and secure.

The other key elements are video and sound at both ends and the connectivity between client and trainer. For the client, a smart phone is usually fine and typically has a very high quality camera. It is often helpful to have more than one angle and a family will typically have other smart phones, a tablet or laptop that can be used for this. They simply log on to the session as another “participant” with the same link, just making sure that only one device is enabled for audio to avoid echo problems. It is also possible to connect a second camera to a laptop and switch between the two.

Zoom is very tolerant of internet connections and generally works well even at low speeds. A strong and consistent WiFi signal within the local environments is important though.

Everything can be recorded and a recap at the end can be “trimmed” and provided as an instant summary for the client.

The trainer may want to invest in a more professional set up for “live” and recorded demonstrations. Video is a very effective training mechanism and now an essential part of the “toolkit”. The sessions themselves would be recorded.

Approach

We employ only science-based principles with a positive approach and never condone any form of coercion or correction. Unfortunately, we do hear stories of trainers grabbing dogs from their owners and forcing them to do something or punishing them for not complying – an option that is removed online. If the owner themselves is asked to do this, there is no “pressure of presence” and they can simply and literally switch off!

Dog Training

Communication & Interaction

There may be a tendency to get “carried away” in an online session in particular and the welfare of the dog must always be paramount, along with the attention span of the owner!

Carefully structuring the sessions will help with this, incorporating frequent breaks and alternative activities for humans and animals alike.

The best approach is to break everything down into small steps, with clear and concise instructions. We use TAGteach (clicker training philosophy applied to humans: https://www.tagteach.com/). We explain the skill, why it is important, including extended practical uses in “real life” and then use the “WOOF” principle:

  • What you want
  • One thing at a time
  • Observable or Measurable
  • Five words or fewer

The initial session is likely to be an extended consultation, gathering information and exploration of options, including management. Coaching will probably then start without the dog, introducing the owner to the core principles and practice, demonstrated by the trainer using video, a toy dog, their own dog or even a “dog hand”, which they always have with them! In subsequent sessions, the first part would review progress, ideally supported with video taken by the owner. The actual training is kept very short, typically just a few minutes at a time, with reviews and adjustments in between. The owner can practice (with video) before the next online meeting. The second part can then be focused on a “show & tell”, followed by the next stage or something new, broken down into those small steps.

Again, the advantages are that the trainer cannot be tempted to “take over”, they have to explain and demonstrate everything very clearly and carefully and also there are no additional distractions for the dog!

Preparations

Being fully prepared is of course another essential aspect for both trainer and client, whatever form the interactions take. When working online, it is even more important to ensure that the client has everything they need readily to hand and the trainer has planned out the session carefully and in detail, including actions to be taken under particular circumstances – people and dogs are not necessarily predictable!

Connections are also not 100% reliable, so there needs to be a clear plan for this situation.

Items required by the client will depend on the exact method being used (for instance a clicker), but will typically include a treat bag/pouch and tasty treats, already cut into small pieces. Also appropriate are food puzzles, kong, toys, chews etc to keep the dog occupied whilst they are not actually engaged in training and a mat or bed for them to rest on (or in a crate if this has been appropriately trained), plus of course a plentiful supply of fresh water. For the trainer, as well as the plan for the session, a timer is essential – in “silent” mode to avoid disturbing the dog, who may be wondering where the noise has come from! It may be helpful for the client to use wireless earphones so that they can still hear the trainer clearly and have full movement without encumbrance.

Environment

A quiet, well-lit environment is important and distractions would be introduced gradually, so any other pets and children would ideally be in another area, unless they are to be directly involved in the session. It is also important that the dog has an “escape route” and safe place whenever they need it.

Having an appropriate space is also vital, so that both dog and owner can be in full view. This is both to observe the actions of owner and dog, but also to check the body language of the dog. The camera angle will affect this and as mentioned above, it is possible to have another device as an additional “participant” and a second camera connected to a laptop for instance can be used. This will only be needed for the “live” training in the second part of the session.

Summary

Whilst some training can only be carried out in the physical space and that may be the owner’s choice and preference, online training is here to stay.

There are a number of advantages for the dog in terms of lower stress, familiarity and fewer distractions. It is safer and encourages best practice on the part of the trainer.

Potential unfamiliarity with the online environment can be readily addressed and it is well worth considering for any owner.

Ask your trainer about their approach and ideally, to go through a checklist with you. This will ensure you are comfortable that they are fully prepared and have covered all of the key requirements.

Please feel to free to contact us if we can help of if you have any questions.

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Article supplied by: Stephen K Bell – The Dog House Rules