Wednesday, 12 May 2021

The Pros and Cons for Dogs Living Primarily Outdoors

The Pros and Cons for Dogs Living Primarily Outdoors

As a dog trainer and pet care provider living in a rural community, I have met some incredible farmers and farm dogs. I have had the pleasure of meeting fantastic people and their animals, some of which are dogs who mostly live outdoors. Some animal lovers may have concerns about family dogs living primarily outdoors, especially people who are from the city and are not used to seeing dogs kept outside, especially in the winter time. Some of their concerns are absolutely valid.  For example, only certain dog breeds (and breed mixes) can be outside all year round, they must have the proper coat to be comfortable in extremely cold temperatures. 

Even so, it is extremely important that they are outdoors a lot in the Fall when the weather gradually begins to get colder, as this signals their body to produce thicker, coarser fur. A dog who is used to being inside most of the time cannot suddenly live outdoors in the middle of winter and be comfortable. Even dogs who have thick winter coats should still always have access to some form of shelter from the elements so that they can get out of the wind, snow, rain, sun, and other weather conditions. They should also have some kind of bedding to give them isolation from the cold ground. The body is less able to regulate temperature when we are sleeping. Dogs who live outdoors also need to eat more in the winter time because the body expends more energy working to keep warm.

They also need to have access to water that won't freeze, whether that be in a heated barn, a heated dog house, or in an electric bowl that keeps the water from freezing. 

With that said, the life of a farm dog, or a dog who mostly lives outdoors, can bet incredibly full and enriching! We have put together a list of pros and cons to consider. 


The Pros and Cons for Dogs Living Primarily Outdoors




Living outdoors can be very enriching for dogs

Dogs are more exposed to the elements and extreme weather

Ensure the dog has adequate shelter from wind, rain, snow, and sun

Outdoor dogs usually get more exercise, fresh air, and stimulation 

Outdoor dogs can run the risk of becoming lonely and under-socialized

Ensure the dog has daily positive interactions with people and other dogs, make time to play with and walk your dog 

Outdoor dogs have freedom and are usually not home alone for a significant portion of the day 

Outdoor dogs are at greater risk for getting lost or getting hit by a vehicle

Ensure your dog has a solid recall, practice it regularly, and create boundaries for your dog 

Dogs with jobs can live very fulfilling and enriched lives

Dogs left to their own devices will not develop desirable behaviours as family pets and/or may develop bad habits

Make positive training with your dog a priority, including leash training

Outdoor dogs may be in better health from the amount of exercise and fresh air they get every day

Outdoor dogs may be at greater risk for health issues, or for their health issues to take longer to notice 

Regardless, please ensure your dog receives regular veterinary care and check your dog daily to ensure they are in good health (i.e. eating, playing, moving normally, with no obvious signs of illness or injury).  

This is, of course, not an exhaustive list, but these are important points to consider when evaluating whether the outdoor lifestyle is suitable for a particular dog and for a family. 

It is also important to consider the dog's history, especially if they've had a previous home before yours. Did the dog grow up on a farm?  Is the dog used to being outside a lot, and do they enjoy being outdoors?  Does the dog seem restless inside, and/or become destructive or anxious when indoors?  Is the family active, does the family spend a lot of time outside, and will the dog have frequent company and socialization with people and other dogs? 

Some dogs in the city are alone for 9 hours a day while their family is at work and/or school, some are alone even longer if the family members work long hours, or have other extra-curricular activities.  Granted, most pet owners make a signifiant effort to ensure their dogs get a lot of exercise, play time, socialization, and go for regular walks.

Each lifestyle has its pros and cons, and what is best for the dog will depend on the family and the dog's personality, temperament, breed, history, energy levels, age, health, among other factors.

If your dog does live outdoors (well, even if they don't!), please ensure they continue to receive regular veterinary care. Outdoor dogs may be at higher risk for certain illnesses or injuries, so it is important they are up to date on appropriate vaccinations according to their vet's expertise.

And, of course, always ensure they have access to adequate food, water, shelter, and company.  Please never leave your dog on a tie-out unsupervised. Not only can this increase undesirable behaviours, this is unsafe, and is not the way to provide an enriching and fulfilling outdoor experience for your beloved furry family member.  

Please do not hesitate to contact us should you have any questions.  


About The Author

Jillian is a fear-free certified and CPDT-KA certified animal behaviour specialist and has been working in the animal care and behaviour field since 2009.

Wednesday, 28 April 2021

My Tale of Two Career Streams

Jillian's Tale of Two Career Streams

Have you noticed a change in my posts over the past year? OK, with everything going on, it not surprising that pretty much everyone’s posts have changed, so you may not have noticed.

If you’re seeing posts from me both from Pawsitive Pet Care and from ADHD 2e MB and are wondering which am I doing? The answer is both. I’m doing both. Of course I am. Because I love both and right now I can do both.

If you’re interested in the background story, here it is. If you’re not… well, perhaps one of our other blogs will be of interest, depending on which page you follow:


Long story…. a little less long:

In 2006 I graduated (with Honours) from Humber College in Toronto, after completing a 3-year full-time intensive Child and Youth Work program and received my CYW diploma. I worked in a group home in Ontario for one year until we moved to Winnipeg in 2007, where I started my second degree, Psychology, with majors in both Child Psychology and Animal Learning (this will not surprise anyone who knows me).

While I was graduating in 2009 I had some health problems (all good now though!). Instead of heading into a full-time career in social services, I had to slow down and focus on taking care of my health at that time. I took a part-time job in a retail pet store because I love animals and because the store was close to home.

Retail Reality

I had forgotten what it was like to work in retail. For one thing, managers expect you to put your personal life on hold for a minimum-wage job. I love soccer and at that time was on a highly competitive soccer team that practiced three times per week, plus had one or two games on the weekends. When I had interviewed the manager said she was willing to work around my soccer schedule, yet when I asked them to do so they gave me a hard time about it.

The other difficulty I encountered was colleagues (even some managers) giving bad pet-care and health-related advice. ProTip: If you are working in a pet food and supplies store, you are not qualified to give dietary and health advice to pet owners. You can recommend products, share what you know about the different brands, and help customers find what they are looking for. You should not be practicing outside of your scope. Giving the wrong advice can be unsafe for pets, so please leave that to the professionals.

There’s got to be a better way!

With those challenges in mind, in May 2010 I started to offer dog-walking and pet-sitting services to families in my neighbourhood. It was small and simple at first, a free ad on Kijiji and a couple of flyers posted at the local park, but within three months it turned into a full-time gig. I loved it (and still do)! In 2012 I was ecstatic when I became pregnant with our son. As I neared closer to my due date I hired someone to cover for my maternity leave. Walking large dogs while very pregnant is challenging, to say the least! With that began the expansion of Pawsitive Pet Care into a bonafide company. We registered with the province, purchased insurance, and I officially became a sole proprietor.

When I returned to work in Fall 2013 things continued growing and it was very satisfying to see our hard work pay off. We hired more staff and our client base grew. In 2017 we moved out of Winnipeg to just West of the city, in the R.M. of Cartier on a beautiful rural property. For about three years our growth continued.

In 2019 my son had a terrible experience at his former school. Like me, he is intellectually gifted and also has ADHD. Being gifted plus having a disability is called “Twice Exceptional” or 2e, hence the “ADHD 2e” in the name.

Not only were his needs not being met, but he was being treated badly. It was heart-breaking, stressful, and just plain awful. So, I dusted off my old child psychology textbooks and became his biggest advocate. We moved him to a much better school where he is so much happier and is flourishing, thankfully.

Then 2020 came along. 

And we all know how that story goes.

In March 2020 the cancellations started pouring in, and like so many small businesses in Manitoba (and around the world), we were seriously impacted by Covid-19. Our clients couldn’t go to work or on vacation, so there was little need for dog-walking and pet-sitting services.

What there was a huge need for, though, were child advocates. Families of students with disabilities and exceptionalities often have to advocate and fight for resources for their children, to have their needs met, and for fair and appropriate access to their education. Add to that the stress and chaos of a pandemic, and these disparities grew worse. It is very hard to follow a student’s education plan when doing remote learning. Families were limited in their ability to access certain supports their children normally received at school, such as Resource, Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy, Guidance Counselling, and much more. This is all unprecedented. Teachers, school staff, families, and students are all trying to figure this out as we go.

Most school staff are working in highly stressful and potentially unsafe conditions (improper PPE, unable to socially distance, not being made a priority for vaccines, being expected to teach both in person and online, the list goes on).

This is where people with my experience and expertise come in. I spent the past several years advocating for my exceptional child, in particular during the very challenging years while he was at his former school. I learned the Manitoba education system inside and out, gained and strengthened my advocacy skills, and updated my academic knowledge and credentials.

Why Am I Telling You All This?

As I mentioned in the beginning: If you’re seeing me post from both Pawsitive Pet Care and ADHD 2e MB and you’re wondering which am I doing… The answer is both. I’m doing both. Of course I am. Because ADHD. Because I love both and right now I can do both. Because I love my son and he has inspired me and re-ignited my passion for advocacy work. I have a fantastic staff team at Pawsitive Pet Care who help me keep things running smoothly (thank you!). I am also lucky to have a supportive and loving husband and son who support me in all my endeavours, no matter how ambitious (I love a challenge and never like to be bored… ADHD y’all, it can be a gift).

I promise I won’t spam my separate business pages with cross-posts, but I will on very rare occasions share posts that apply to both. I hope you’ll support me by liking and sharing ALL OF THE THINGS, and by referring anyone who you feel would benefit from our services (THANK YOU!).

We’ve been so lucky to have such wonderful and supportive friends, family, and clients these past 11 years (11! Pawsitive Pet Care turns 12 years old this summer!).

Thank you all for your support. Please stay safe and healthy. Stay home when you can, wash your hands, wear a mask, and get vaccinated as soon as you’re eligible. I cannot wait until things can start to return to some semblance of normal. I’ll settle for half-normal. Maybe even a quarter. 

Stay well,

Jillian Enright, CYW, BA Psych., CPDT-KA
Pawsitive Pet Care and ADHD 2e MB 

Originally posted on Medium.

Saturday, 23 January 2021

Why We Do Not Recommend Board-and-Train

Pawsitive Pet Care recommends all members of your pet's household be involved in the training process

This is a blog topic we've been wanting to cover for quite some time, but there seem to be so many important and interesting topics, and not enough time to cover them all!  

Why Pawsitive Pet Care Does Not Recommend Board-and-Train 

There are exceptions to every rule, however typically speaking, it is ideal for your trainer to work with you and the members of your household, as well as your pet, and below are the two primary reasons why.  

Dogs do not generalize well

Generally speaking, dogs do not take information learned in one context or environment and apply it to new situations in other contexts or environments.  So, for example, if your dog learns some fantastic new behaviours in a board-and-train situation, that's great.  However, once they get home, you and your family would essentially have to start from scratch and re-train the behaviours in the dog's home environment with the dog's familiar surroundings and people.  

For more on generalization and how to help your dog apply what they learn to new and various situations, Emily Larlham wrote a fantastic blog post on the topic.   

The humans in the pets' lives are the most important part of the training process

Positive training strengthens the bond and the relationships between humans and animals.  When you have fun working, training, and playing with your pet, you bond with each other.  This trust and kinship will also improve how well your pet responds to you, and how well you understand your pet & why they do the things they do.  Training is about 75% teaching the humans and 25% teaching the pets.  This applies to everyone from brand new pet-owners to experienced pet trainers, because we all need to adapt our environment and our approach to fit the needs of the pet we are working with in the moment.  Pet owners also need to learn the fundamentals of animal behaviour and training, as well as learn to read and understand their pet's communication, particularly their body language in order to effectively and humanely train and work with their pets.

Some of the best help your trainer can give you is to explain what you need to do with your pet in a way that you can understand, demonstrate it for you, and then watch you do it and give you constructive and specific feedback.  This last piece is the most important part because sometimes a subtle change in positioning, body language, or cueing can help solve a training challenge and help reduce frustration for both animal and human.

Have you ever had someone set something up for you, maybe a new computer program, or a new entertainment system of some kind, and then later you run into trouble?  Because they did it for you and didn't walk you through the steps, now you have no idea how to troubleshoot or how to go about fixing the problem.  It may seem convenient that the outset, but sending your dog off to be "fixed" and then returned to you is not empowering you and the members of your household to be able to build upon your pet's training and have the skills to deal with any new issues that may arise.  

As we noted in our blog post, Finding A Trainer

"Your trainer needs to be able to explain to you what they are doing, why they are doing it, and how you will be able to do it once they leave.  They are not a magician, they are a teacher, and their job is to educate and empower you to understand how your dog learns and how to get desired behaviours from your dog.  This should be done in a way that works for you and your family and in a way that helps strengthen your relationship with your dog."

Think of a trainer as a teacher for you, any members of your household, and for your pet.  Their job is to give you the tools and information you need so that you can feel good about moving forward in a positive direction.  

In addition, training isn't just about solving behavioural problems after they have begun.  In fact, good training is proactive and intends to prevent these problems from coming up in the first place.  And the best training (in our opinion), is training that is done just for fun!  

For More Information

Please visit our website or contact us for more information.  

About Pawsitive Pet Care

Pawsitive Pet Care is a Professional Pet Care business that has been serving Manitoba since 2010.