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Archive for September, 2010

Saluting Our Four-Legged Friends with National Dog Week

Sep 29, 2010

photoNational Dog Week is celebrated from the 22nd to 28th of every September, with the tradition dating back to 1928. Captain Will Judy, a distinguished dog judge and former publisher of Dog World Magazine, founded the event to educate dog owners and organizations about their role and responsibilities as such.

National Dog Week also acknowledges our canine friends all across the country and recognizes the important roles they play in our daily lives. Aside from providing humans with comfort, delight, and safety, dogs have generously assisted the disabled, participated in search and rescue operations, sniffed out bombs and drugs, and helped law enforcement officials, among others.

This year, the theme of National Dog Week is “Man’s Best Friend,” which is exactly what we consider our canine companions to be. The term is believed to have been coined by Senator George Graham Vest of Missouri. Vest, who was also a lawyer, once represented a man who was suing his neighbor for shooting and killing his dog. Vest won the case after delivering his famous speech Tribute to the American Dog, which can now be seen inscribed on a monument in Warrensburg, Missouri.

The success of National Dog Week mostly depends on the time and efforts of selfless volunteers. If you would like to participate, you can contribute to and/or volunteer in your local animal shelter. You can also invite dog groomers and veterinarians to give talks to your community on topics such as neutering and spaying, obedience training tips, and general dog care and grooming.

Other activities that you can organize are dog shows at your local park, and donation drives to benefit an animal shelter or dog rescue group of your choice. If you have a canine companion, you can throw a party for your pet and other dogs in the neighborhood – it’ll be a great chance for them to socialize! You can also give a pooch a home by adopting one.

Whatever you do during National Dog Week, get your friends and family members involved. Volunteer together, and plan events as a group. Above all, don’t forget to have fun while you’re making a difference for your furry friends.

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How To Deal With Separation Anxiety in Dogs

Sep 27, 2010

photoYour dog’s barks may not always say the same thing. You might think that your furry friend is asking for treats when he comes up to you, but it is also possible that he feels afraid and is experiencing canine separation anxiety. Studies have shown that just like humans, dogs can also be overwhelmed with fear when they are left behind.

Separation anxiety in dogs typically occurs when a pooch is greatly attached to his owner. It is triggered when he senses that his owner is about to leave. Normal activities such as getting your car keys or opening doors may be harmless and routine, but these can make your canine companion uneasy.

So how do you know if your dog has separation anxiety?

* He howls, whines, and barks.
* He urinates and defecates even if he is housetrained.
* He chews and scratches furniture, shoes, and other items.
* He follows you around the house.
* He digs and scratches at doors to reunite with you.
* He is excited, anxious, or depressed whenever you prepare to leave.
* He greets you frantically.
* The behavior occurs mostly when he’s alone and usually begins after you leave.

If most or all of the above are true about your dog, then he may have separation anxiety. The good news is, it can be treated. Here are some tips for dealing with minor cases:

* Leave a piece of clothing that smells like you, such as a shirt that you’ve worn recently.
* Don’t make a big fuss over arrivals and departures. Ignore your dog first for a few minutes when you get home, then pet him calmly.
* Use a certain word or action every time you leave that lets your dog know you will return.
* You can also ask your vet about drug therapy.

When treating dog separation anxiety, remember to never use punishment as this can aggravate the situation. Don’t place your pet in a crate as he might injure himself trying to escape. Getting another dog doesn’t help either because his anxiety is not just about being alone, it’s the result of being separated from you.

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A Dog’s Purpose – From a Six-Year-Old

Sep 24, 2010

Enjoy this heartwarming story…photo

Being a veterinarian, I had been called to examine a ten-year-old Irish Wolfhound named Belker. The dog’s owners, Ron, his wife, Lisa, and their little boy, Shane, were all very attached to Belker, and they were hoping for a miracle. I examined Belker and found he was dying of cancer. I told the family we couldn’t do anything for Belker, and offered to perform the euthanasia procedure for the old dog in their home.

As we made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told me they thought it would be good for six-year-old Shane to observe the procedure. They felt as though Shane might learn something from the experience. The next day, I felt the familiar catch in my throat as Belker’s family surrounded him. Shane seemed so calm, petting the old dog for the last time, that I wondered if he understood what was going on.

Within a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away.

The little boy seemed to accept Belker’s transition without any difficulty or confusion. We sat together for a while after Belker’s death, wondering aloud about the sad fact that animal lives are shorter than human lives. Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up, ‘I know why.’ Startled, we all turned to him. What came out of his mouth next stunned me. I’d never heard a more comforting explanation.

He said, ‘People are born so that they can learn how to live a good life – like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?’ The six-year-old continued, ‘Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don’t have to stay as long.’

Live simply.
Love generously.
Care deeply.
Speak kindly.

Remember, if a dog was the teacher you would learn things like:

*When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.
*Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.
*Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure ecstasy.
*Take naps.
*Stretch before rising.
*Run, romp, and play daily.
*Thrive on attention and let people touch you.
*Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.
*On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass.
*On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree.
*When you’re happy, dance around and wag your entire body.
*Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.
*Eat with gusto and enthusiasm. Stop when you have had enough.
*Be loyal.
*Never pretend to be something you’re not.
*If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.
*When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by and nuzzle them gently.
*Being always grateful for each new day and for the blessing you have.
*ENJOY EVERY MOMENT OF EVERY DAY!

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How to Be a Responsible Dog Owner

Sep 22, 2010

photoMany dog owners, despite having good intentions, sometimes fall short of their responsibilities. And it’s not just new owners; some people who have had their pets for years also have the same problem.

To be a good pet owner, one needs to be well-informed. Once you know what you have to do and what works, though, things will become a lot easier.

If you’re just planning to get a dog, make sure that you’re ready to take responsibility for one before you do so. If you are set on adding a new member to your family or are already a dog owner, here are some basic do’s that will keep both you and your furry friend happy:

1. Set aside some time to play with your pooch every day. This is a great chance for you to bond. Playtime also promotes brain development. In addition, your dog will appreciate the attention and have a happier disposition.

2. Make sure your dog gets all of his shots. This is not only to keep him healthy, but also because some vaccines are required by law.

3. Take your dog for a walk at least once a day. Dogs have an inherent migratory instinct which can be satisfied by a daily walk. Walk side by side and keep the leash loose – this helps your pet recognize you as the pack leader, which in turn keeps him well behaved. Furthermore, walking is great exercise for both dog and owner.

4. Give your canine companion toys to play with. This promotes physical and mental stimulation, just like in children. You can use a tennis ball or a Frisbee, or you can buy toys that are especially designed for dogs. Toys keep your pet occupied while you do other things.

5. Let your dog socialize with other people and animals. Interaction is just as important for dogs as it is for humans. It makes them calmer, happier, and better adjusted. It’s also easier to find a dog sitter if your pet is used to being around people.

Remember, being a pet owner is a lifelong commitment. Don’t just bond with your dog during playtime, but every chance you get. There are many more things that you can do to be a responsible owner, but the above list is a good start.

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Six Tips for Toilet Training Your Dog

Sep 20, 2010

Housebreaking a puppy is one of the challenges pet owners face after the newest member of the family arrives. Many people think that toilet training a dog is a difficult undertaking, but this doesn’t have to be the case. Arming yourself with the proper information is the first step towards getting your pooch to go where you want him to go.
photo
Start Early

While dogs can be toilet trained at any age, the ideal time is between eight and twelve weeks old. Establish a housebreaking routine as soon as your pup comes home.

Use a Dog Crate

A dog crate is a useful toilet training tool as it keeps your puppy from wandering around when you’re not there to supervise him. A lot of dogs quickly learn that if they make a mess in their crate, then they will have to sit in it. Most canines are quite hygienic and will not like sitting in their own poop or urine.

Make sure that there is enough room for your puppy to move around, but not so much space that he is able to do his business in one corner then stay in another corner far away from the mess. While many dog owners consider crates as prison cells, your pet will enjoy having his own space when he wants to escape from the hustle and bustle of the house every now and then.

See to it that your pet’s crate is a happy place, and don’t use it for punishment. Add cozy blankets and some toys to make your pup comfortable. A dog crate is not only useful for housebreaking your pooch, it’s also good for keeping him out of trouble.

Keep an Eye on Your Pup

Observing your pet is essential to his toilet training. Whenever you see him circling, sniffing, or about to squat, take him to his “bathroom” right away. If he urinates or defecates, lavish him with praise. It is recommended that you have a word or phrase, e.g. “hurry up,” that you use as a cue to let him know what you want him to do. While he’s doing his business, say the cue a few times, then praise him when he’s done.

Set Up a Schedule

Following a regular schedule for feeding and walking your dog will make housetraining easier. Puppies, like children, do well with routines. Try to take your pet out at the same time every day so that his body will adjust.

During mornings, take your puppy out of his crate, but don’t let his feet touch the floor. Bring him to his “bathroom,” say the cue, and praise him when he’s finished. Take him out at least every two hours, after eating or drinking, and particularly after playtime.

Don’t Let Your Pup Wander

If you let him roam, he will leave you “surprises” around the house. Whether or not you use a dog crate, limiting your pet’s access to some areas of the house will make toilet training simpler. It’s not easy to watch a puppy if you let him run around, but if you keep him in the kitchen, for example, then he will still be able to interact with everyone, and accidents can be spotted quickly at the same time.

Try and Try Again

When you first start housebreaking your pup, there will be times when you feel that he’s not learning anything. He may have accidents occasionally, but don’t get discouraged. Simply keep a watchful eye on your pet, stick to your routine, and accompany him to his “bathroom” frequently.

In addition, don’t use different doors when taking your pooch out of the house. Pick just one, and once he’s toilet trained, he will scratch on that door whenever he wants to go out. When this happens, you can give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done.

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How to Choose the Right Dog Trainer

Sep 17, 2010

photoWith so many professional trainers out there, it can be difficult to decide who will be the best match for your dog or puppy. Getting a good trainer is important because if your pooch is well-behaved, then you and your pet can enjoy a happy, balanced relationship together.

Here are some tips to help you find the right dog training professional for your canine companion:

* Reputation. Ask around and get recommendations from your vet, family members, friends, neighbors, humane societies, and kennel clubs.

* Research. After you have compiled a list of potential trainers, see if they have websites, which can help you learn more about them and narrow down your list.

* Experience. Interview candidates about their background. Some questions that you can ask are:

– How long have you been training dogs?

– What techniques do you use?

– What education or training have you had in this field?

– May I observe one of your classes before I sign up?

* Observe. Watch how the trainer interacts with the dogs and their owners. Good trainers are concerned about the dogs’ welfare and do not use any rough handling techniques. Also note how the trainer’s dogs behave. Are they well-mannered, or are they out of control?

* Communication skills. A trainer who communicates well with both the dogs and their owners makes the whole process easier and more fun.

* Knowledge. Committed dog trainers regularly attend training and behavior courses, workshops, and seminars to stay up-to-date.

* Methods. Different dogs will respond to different methods in different ways. If your pet does not respond well to a certain technique, the trainer should be willing to try another one.

* Structure. Note the size of the class, and if dogs get some individual attention.

* Dedication. Finding a trainer who genuinely loves dogs and working with them is very important. He/she should also have a sense of humor. The trainer, dogs, and owners should all be enjoying the class.

* Affiliation. While it is not necessary, a trainer who belongs to reputable training clubs and organizations is certainly a bonus.

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Arthritis in Dogs

Sep 15, 2010

photoCanine arthritis can hamper the quality of a dog’s life; joint problems can limit his mobility and prevent him from doing physical activities such as walking. This ailment, which can result from physical trauma, is more common in large breeds and can set in with age, especially if your pet is overweight.

Dog arthritis is similar to human arthritis. When your pet experiences pain, it is due to the breakdown of the cartilage around his joint, causing great discomfort during movement. If you notice that your canine companion has difficulty climbing, jumping, or getting up, or if he is hesitant to walk or play, then he may have dog arthritis.

Treatment for canine arthritis is available but it can be expensive. In addition, some medications can have side effects, so you need to talk to your vet about this. However, aside from drugs, there are other factors that can help alleviate your dog’s condition.

Diet

Feed your dog a natural diet rich in vitamins and minerals to ensure proper formation of bones and tissue, which is the foundation of a long, healthy life. See to it that your dog does not become overweight. Choose dog food that is low in fat and carbohydrates. Or you can prepare your pet’s meals yourself.

Herbs

Various herbs can be used to treat canine arthritis. Devil’s Claw, which is used in traditional African medicine, is said to be effective due to its anti-inflammatory properties. Another example is alfalfa, which promotes joint health.

Exercise

If possible, take your dog out for several 10- to 15-minute walks throughout the day instead of a single long walk. Swimming is a great activity as it does not put any pressure on the joints. For small dogs, you can give them a bath rub. Exercise plays a very important role in your dog’s recovery, so make sure he moves around regularly.

Weight

Excess weight can put stress on your dog’s joints and cause more pain and swelling, so if your pooch is overweight, cut back on treats and put him on a low fat diet.

Moist Heat

Place a hot water bottle or a warm damp towel on your dog’s joints. Moist heat penetrates deeply and provides much needed relief to dogs with arthritis. Do not use a heating pad as it can get too hot and burn your pet, especially if he has limited movement and might have difficulty getting away from it.

Massages

Everyone loves to have their aching muscles rubbed, even dogs. Softly rub the sore joint and massage the surrounding area. Your dog will appreciate this gentle movement combined with the comforting warmth from your hands.

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Responsible Dog Ownership Day

Sep 13, 2010

Responsible Dog Ownership Day is Saturday, September 18! The American Kennel Club and 400 organizations across the United States come together to celebrate the joys of dog ownership, help educate the community, and have some fun!

Visit The American Kennel Club to find an event in your area!

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Other Suggestions to Mark National Pet Memorial Day

Sep 10, 2010

This Sunday, September 12th is National Pet Memorial Day.  Some great suggestions were shared on how to remember your “best friend” and companion who have passed away:

1.  Write a letter to your pet expressing feelings you may be struggling with, tell them how much you miss them, or thank them for the wonderful memories you have.

2. Share photographs and stories with family or friends.

3. Create an online memorial, in can be on a pet memorial website, a blog, or even a Facebook page.

A Time to Remember  – By John Quealy

photoThey come into our lives for such a short time

A time we wouldn’t trade not even for a dime

Then before you know it the years have flown by

And then all of the sudden we’re saying good-bye

It wasn’t that long ago we said our good-byes

We held on to you tight as you closed your eyes

Your spirit has flown home on the wings of a dove

Into God’s loving arm’s; in heaven above

Over the days we’ve shed many tears

But the memories we have will live on for years

We feel your presence and we know that your near

You’re keeping us safe and calming our fear

We think about memories from years past

When you were young and strong and ran so fast

We remember all the great times that we all had

How you always made us happy never made us mad

They were the best and happiest years we had

We’ll always look back on them and never be sad

We look forward to the time we’ll be together again

And we thank the Lord for such a great friend

Now you run and play up in Heaven above

Cradled in God’s arms covered with his love

Playing by the Bridge waiting for the day

We come down thru the meadow to the bridge to stay

The love that you showed us we’ll never forget

Because to us you’re one very special pet

You’re like a star in the dark of night

Always watching over us with the Lord’s light

So now we take time to remember our best friend

Who will always be with us even to the end

We’ll always remember you the way you were

One big lovable huggable pile of fur

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Ways to Remember Your Pet

Sep 8, 2010

This Sunday is National Pet Memorial Day –a day set aside so we can remember and celebrate the pets that we’ve lost in our life.

photoWhile many of us on the Porch Potty team currently have a four-legged family member, many of us have experienced losing a furry loved one that meant the world to us.

Some things you can do this Sunday, September 12th to celebrate and honor your pet’s memory:

1.  Focus on the good times.

I know there are many.  Remember the joy, the antics, the fun times, and those times that just made you giggle.  If you focus on that even for the moment, it will make you giggle again!  Spend a few moments reflecting on these pleasant memories – and as much as your pet was there for you, you were there for them, too.  There’s magic in remembering those moments!

2.  Contribute to an animal protection, rescue, or support group in their honor.

We can make a contribution in the honor of a pet and keep their memory and name as giving as they were to you!  There’s great joy in knowing that you and your pet did “one more thing” together.

3.  Create a flower garden in their memory.

You don’t have to have a huge yard or a backyard at all to create a memory garden.  It can be a large terracotta pot in your apartment, or a small one on your window sill. It can even be one that you help take care of for your local Keep America Beautiful Days or Make a Difference Day.

It can be a tree you plant in their honor or a shrub planted at a local nonprofit’s location.  The where doesn’t matter.  It’s all the awesome memories that you’ll nurture as you nurture and care for this plant.

If space is really tight, it can be a memory garden in a terrarium.  The size or breadth of the garden doesn’t matter – it’s the size and breadth of the memory that does.

What other ideas do you have to reflect and enjoy the memory of your pet?

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