Welcome to A Pet’s Tale! Every other month I will answer your pet questions right here in the pages of Capital Area Women’s LifeStyle Magazine. As an avid pet lover (I currently have three pets and they are my babies) and long-time team member at Soldan’s Pet Supplies, I am excited to share my expertise with other pet lovers. Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Q. I’ve adopted a shelter pet who’s been abused. He’s coming around, but do you have some suggestions for building trust with him? A. Doing training with your dog is a great way to build trust with him. Work on exercises like sit, stay, etc. and make sure to really praise him. Taking an obedience class that focuses on positive reinforcement or that is specifically geared toward aggressive or fearful dogs would be a good way to bond as well. Socialize the dog slowly to new people, places and animals. Give him lots of “good dog,” pats on the head, and treats — showing him that what used to be bad and scary now equals praise and good things. To avoid making the dog nervous, avoid loud noises and sudden movements. It is also important to not coddle the dog when he is showing fear and in his frightful state of mind. That will reinforce the behavior that you don’t want. You want to reinforce only the good habits! If he becomes fearful, take a moment, and ask for a simple command, such as sit. Once the dog is sitting calmly, reinforce that behavior. Q. How can I protect my dog’s paws from drying up and cracking due to the salt on sidewalks and roads? A. There are a few different things you can do to help the dog’s paws. To avoid contact all together, you could consider booties. These will keep your dog’s paws dry and off of the harsh surface. They come in various sizes/colors/styles. However, some dogs will not like them and may have a hard time keeping them on. For those dogs, you could use pad guard — basically it’s a wax/ointment that protects the paws or the foot of dogs whose paws will not be exposed to the elements for extended periods of time. This is a product that you put on the dog’s paws before going outside. If your dog’s feet do crack, there are also some items you can put on them to help heal them. Veterycin would be a good product to help clean and heal the crack. You could also use pad creams, bag balm, etc. on cracked paws (as well as other cracked areas — elbows, etc.) to help moisturize them. Make sure to wipe your dog’s feet off when you come inside before putting any products on them!
Meg (Margaret) Bashore is a store manager at Soldan's Pet Supplies. Born and raised in Lansing, she has worked at Soldan's for 10 years and loves it. She is a new mom to a beautiful baby boy, as well as a mom to some four-legged kids - two dogs - Toby, a Jack Russell mix who is about 6 years old and Bruiser, an American Pit Bull Terrier who is 3 and one cat, Steve, who is 4 years old.