Archive | Tips

Preparing Our Pets for the Return to Work Full-Time Away from Home

I think we can all agree that our lives have been turned upside down with shelter in place orders during this pandemic. However, the upside is that pet adoptions have increased significantly. Additionally, we have been spending lots of time with our dogs and cats. While it’s great more cats and dogs have joined our families, as pet owners we do have a responsibility to ensure that our furry critters are prepared for us to return to work as normal life slowly resumes. As we return to work, our pets will be left alone for longer hours than they have become accustomed to. This may result in something known as separation anxiety – which will inevitably create a bit of stress and cause our pets to act up in ways they normally wouldn’t. Signs to look for to see if your pet is suffering from this type of anxiety include barking, howling, whining, scratching at doors and windows, chewing on the door, drooling and panting. This can impact a pet’s mood, appetite, and bring out more destructive behaviors while the owner is away. A pet camera is a useful tool that will help you know if your pet is exhibiting these types of negative behaviors. Plus, cameras give us a lot of insight into the types of activities our pets are engaging in while we are away from home.

Luckily there are things we can start doing now to ease the transition for our pets. The most important is training! Dog trainers and experts around the nation have weighed in on this subject. Here is what they have to say:

  • Set a schedule for your pet. If you are going to be returning to work, you should try to get up at your regular time, feed the dog, exercise the dog, and provide the dog a time to rest independently. Starting this schedule right way will ensure your dog will be accustomed to it when you return to work.
  • Train your dog to deal with being separated from you. Most dogs easily identify the part of your routine that signals to them you will be leaving the house. For most of us, this includes grabbing our keys, purse or wallet, and putting on our shoes. Experts suggest pet owners should walk around the house and keep moving their keys from one spot to the other. Experts suggest we DO NOT create a routine of saying goodbye to our dog. Instead, they recommend we make sure our dog is in a dog safe location, such as a gated off room or a dog crate, walk out the door, stand outside for a few minutes and if the dog is quiet, walk back in. AGAIN ignore the dog. You do not want to create a big routine around you coming back home, as this only leads to more anxiety when you leave. When leaving or coming back home, stay calm to help our pets feel relaxed. If they seem agitated when you put on your shoes because it means you will walk out the door soon, practice putting on shoes when you aren’t actually going to leave.
  • Exercise your dog. Exercising your dog such as taking them on long walks before heading off to work is very important. This needs to be done well in advance of you leaving for the day this way the dog has plenty of time to relax before being left alone for a long period of time.
  • Play comforting music while you are away. While you are off at work consider playing soothing music or for pets that prefer the sound of human voices – an audiobook will work great. There have been studies that have shown dogs really enjoy listening to reggae, classical music, easy listening, and jazz.
  • Take the time now to train the dog for vet and groomer visits. Use some treats or some of your dog’s meal as a reward. Lift up their paw and look at their nails, give them a treat. Open their mouth and look at their teeth, lift up their ears, basically get them used to being handled so that when you take them to the groomer or vet, it will be less stressful.
  • Set a consistent feeding schedule. If you started feeding your dog or cat four times a day instead of three times a day, stop doing that and go back to a schedule that you can maintain once you go back to work.
  • Leave your dogs or cats with independent activities, like engaging toys that hold a treat inside that the pet needs to work to get to or a cookie scavenger hunt. Experts suggest using the cardboard rolls from toilet paper stuffed with paper towels and treats. Most dogs enjoy using their noses to sniff out treats and love to shred the paper in the process
  • Practice leaving for short periods of time, so your pet gets used to being along. It’s important to start with short periods and slowly increase the time you leave your dog alone. Things you can do are go for a walk, drive around the neighborhood, or go grocery shopping. And, don’t take your dog with you on every errand.

We highly recommend this video if you’d like additional information on separation anxiety
We also recommend this book for people who actually have dogs with separation anxiety

Dogs and COVID-19

What Dog Owners Should Do During the COVID-19 Pandemic

1. Support your local animal shelter financially

Animal shelters need our help. Consider making a financial donation or call to ask what the most urgent needs are for supplies (such as cleaning supplies).

For good reason, shelters are likely limiting volunteers and staff right now and the existing workers will be feeling extra pressure to care for the growing number of dogs and cats. The animals are certainly feeling this stress as well. 

Many shelters will still be open to adoptions. Some will be closed. Best to call in advance. Only visit the shelter if you intend to adopt. Call ahead, then wait in your car until the staff is ready to process the adoption.

Consider volunteering to foster a dog or cat if you’re able and if there is the need. Again, best to call and ask in advance.

2. Continue to support pet-related businesses

If you normally use a dog walker, pet sitter or dog daycare, we recommend you cancel all appointments (for now) to decrease the spread of the virus. 

However, you can continue to support dog walkers and dog daycares by:
pre-paying for future appointments
paying for regular service even if you cancel temporarily
buying their gift cards
leaving a tiptext or email to show appreciation
leave positive reviews

You can support dog trainers by:
signing up for their online training classes and seminars
buying their books
sharing their blog articlespre-paying for future classes
asking about training sessions through Skype or Zoom

To support non-profit dog training clubs:

Consider making a donation to keep these organizations running while classes and trials are temporarily canceled. They still have bills to pay for things like rent, heating and supplies. 

3. Should you cancel vet appointments?

We suggest going to the vet only for true emergencies at this time or to pick up urgent supplies. This precaution is to protect the veterinary staff members and others.

If you have to go to the vet, call ahead and wait in your car until the staff is ready to see your pet vs. sitting in the waiting room area.

4. Stock up on pet food and medications

We recommend you have a month’s worth of food on hand for your pets as well as medications.

If you have to go to the pet store for food or litter or to your dog’s vet for supplies, call to ask if they will meet you curbside or if they will deliver.

At Mighty Paw, we are still delivering through our website and Amazon as normal.

5. Continue walking and training your dog

In the U.S., health experts are saying it’s safe to go for a walk, run or hike. Thank goodness! Get out and walk your pup!

Obviously, our pets will be thrilled many of us are spending more time at home! 

Also, remember that dogs are sensitive to our routines and they can get worried or stressed when we’re acting differently. Try to stick to your typical walking routine, feeding schedule and so on.

If your dog is bored from being cooped up, work on some obedience training, trick training or indoor games like “find it” where you hide treats.

Potential tricks to teach your dog:
Roll over
Play dead
Take a bow
Pick up your toys!
Simple agility exercises like jumping over things
“Leave it” / “Take it”

Most of all, we hope you are all staying safe and that you are doing OK. We know times are stressful right now, so make sure to hug your dog! They’re ready to do their most important work – provide stress relief, comfort and a few laughs! 

Summer Is Coming! Keep Your Dogs Safe in the Heat

The hot summer months are approaching, especially here at Born Free Pet Shelter in Miami.  While Summer can be a lot of fun in the sun playing and swimming with your pup, the heat can also be dangerous.  We can help you keep your pets safe and cool this summer.

Dog Belly Rub

Never leave your dog in the car.

Not even for a second.  Not while you run inside to grab something real quick.  Not ever.  Even on a cool day, it can get hot really fast in a car, windows up or down.

When it’s 72 degrees Fahrenheit outside, the temperature inside your car can heat up to 116 within an hour.  When it’s 80 degrees Fahrenheit outside, the temperature inside your car can heat up to 100 in 10 minutes.  Rolling down the windows has been shown to have little to no effect on the temperature in the car.

Your pet can quickly suffer brain or organ damage within a couple of minutes in a hot car.

If you want to take your dog with you, make sure you go places where you can bring it inside.  If you come across a pet in a car that appears to be in distress, take action.  In Florida, it is legal to rescue a person or domestic animal that is in danger in a locked vehicle.  According to the bill,  it provides immunity from civil liability for damage to a motor vehicle related to the rescue of a person or domestic animal under circumstances.  Call 911 immediately after rescuing the child or animal and make sure to wait for first-responders to arrive.

Watch your dog during exercise for signs of distress

On hot summer days, try to keep outdoor exercise to the mornings and late afternoons.  Try not to be out during the hottest time of day.  If you are outside, ensure you have plenty of fresh water available and take moderate breaks.  Heavy panting, glazed eyes, a rapid pulse, unsteadiness, a staggering gait, vomiting, or a deep red or purple tongue are all signs of heat stress.

If your dog shows any of these signs, be sure to gradually lower his body temperature with cool (not cold) water.  Try soaking him in a bath or pool.  At Born Free Pet Shelter, we have a kiddie pool for all of our dogs that they love to sit in on hot days.  Check out Mickey below relaxing in his pool!  If you do not have a pool or bath available, take a wet washcloth or paper towel and wet the ear flaps and paws.

Make sure to offer your dog fresh water but do not force them to drink.  If your dog shows these signs of heat stress, you should take them to the vet after you can cool them down.

 mickey in pool

Don’t let your pooch get burnt

When walking, watch out for hot surfaces.  Try to stay off hot surfaces in the middle of the day.  Test it first with your hand, if it’s too hot for your hand, then it’s too hot for your dog’s paws.  Hot surfaces like asphalt can burn your dog’s paws, try walking on the grass.  You can also look into booties for your dog in the summer but be careful that they aren’t wearing those for too long on hot days.

Dogs can burn in the sun just like you and me.  Watch out for the sun, especially for white, light-colored and thin coat dogs.  Sunburn will cause pain, itchiness and other problems for your dog.   Use waterproof baby sunscreen on days in the sun on your dog’s ears and nose.

Dog at beach

Hopefully these summer tips will help you and your dog have a great summer!  While these are good general tips, just make sure to use common sense with your dog.  No one knows your dog better than you.  Don’t be afraid to let your dog enjoy summer and run in the sun, just use precaution and everything in moderation.

Let us know what your favorite thing to do in the summer is with your dog!



Amazing Facts About American Bulldogs

American Bulldogs need more publicity as it has so many wonderful qualities that are not known.  American Bullies are very lovable dogs that despite their tough appearance are very sweet, smart, and happy dogs. We have collected interesting facts about this breed that we’d love for you to share.

American Bulldogs love people

dog and volunteers

Even though some American Bulldogs appear muscular and big, don’t let this fool you, they are in fact very sweet and good natured dogs. They are very good with kids and very loyal. American Bulldogs are confident dogs who are good with people! They ranked really well in the American Temperament Test Society, their behavior is so good that they even rank higher than breeds like Golden Retrievers, Pomeranians, Beagles and Cocker Spaniels.

American Bulldogs are great for Miami weather

They are very easy to maintain as they have short hair and moderate shedding. Which is great for Miami or Florida summer weather!

You will get plenty of exercise

american bulldog running

American Bulldogs are vigorous and have lots of energy; they need to be taken on long walks. If you like biking or jogging, these dogs are for you! They will happily run along with you and require a lot of exercise.  Make sure to be a strong leader as they can be a stubborn and need the right leadership to guide them.  If you have an active lifestyle or are seriously thinking about starting one, bully breeds will be a great match for you!

Born Free Pet Shelter Advice: Try going on daily walks on your own before you get a new active dog to make sure you can commit to giving your new pup the exercise he needs.

Bully Breeds are easy to train

Dog training is wonderful for American Bulldogs and recommended as it can help them to prevent boredom. It will also help them understand that they need to follow you. Just simple easy tasks like “sit”, “stay”, “down” and “come” will be great for them. Here is an easy guide on how to teach tricks to your dog. Bully breeds are easy to train as they are very intelligent and love pleasing their owners. They can be a strong breed and need a pack leader who gives them boundaries and limitations. Bullies need to know they are not the “Alpha Dog” and are happy to receive guidance and direction.

Our American Bulldogs

Here at the shelter, we have amazing American Bulldogs up for adoption. Some of them are:


american bulldog for adoption

This is Dagz! She is a 6-year-old American Bulldog who is very sweet and easy going. Compared to other American Bulldogs, she is very gentle and calm.  She arrived at the shelter when her owner moved out of State and was unable to take her with them. However, they provided her excellent training that she still remembers. She knows voice commands like sit, down, paw, high five and roll over. (Possibly even more that we haven’t discovered yet!)


american bulldog

Mickey is our spoiled dog. He is a very handsome young dog who arrived at the shelter as a puppy and a typical American Bulldog. Mickey loves meeting new people, love belly rubs and is very energetic. He needs enough exercise and proper leadership from his new owner. Mickey will be great for an active family or person. We called him Mickey because he has markings that resemble the shape of Mickey Mouse! He is a happy dog that will always make your smile.


bully breed

Meet Bones! Bones is truly a gentle giant. He might look very muscular but he is a real sweetheart. His dream is to be a lap dog! He is one of the favorites of many volunteers due to his very sweet behavior.  He is calm and enjoys lounging in the sun, exploring the yard, and greeting the volunteers with a smile.

These and more wonderful dogs are up for adoption at Born Free Pet Shelter. Please email us at or call Maria at 786-205-6865 to meet them!