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Archive for December, 2010

New Year’s Resolutions for Canine Lovers

Dec 31, 2010

photoAs dog lovers, there are many things we can do in our own households and communities to help canines everywhere, not just in 2011, but throughout our lives. Adopting even just some of these suggested New Year’s resolutions can bring more peace to your home as well as help common pet problems in your neighborhood.

What you can do at home:

* Before you bring home a dog, ask yourself if you are prepared to commit ten to twenty years of your life to this animal. Think of the bewilderment and heartbreak he will experience when he is surrendered to a shelter after having been part of a loving home.

* Never get a dog “for the children.” Even kids with good intentions will lose interest in daily pet care tasks or become involved with other activities as they grow. The decision should involve the entire family, especially the parents.

* See to it that your dog has current identification, including tags, a collar, and a microchip. A lot of dogs end up in shelters because they get lost and don’t have any identification on them.

* Take your dog for a walk every day. Physical activity will keep him better behaved and calmer. Plus, the exercise will help you both stay fit!

* Give your dog good quality food and clean water to maintain his overall health.

* Make sure your dog’s vaccinations are up-to-date and take him to the vet should any health problems come up.

* Spay and neuter your pets; this helps curb the pet overpopulation problem across the country. The instinct to wander in search of a female is very strong in intact male dogs, and a lot of stray dogs are unneutered boys.

* Don’t keep your dog outside alone or confined for long periods of time. Canines are pack animals and do best when they are with people and other pets.

* Don’t lose faith in your dog if he has behavior problems. Enlist the help of professional trainers if necessary to resolve such issues.

* Spend time with your dog every day. This is essential to his mental and emotional development.

What you can do within your community:

* Say no to puppy mills. Never purchase online or from a backyard breeder or pet store, as most of the dogs from these places are bred and born in appalling conditions. They tend to have health problems and are subjected to unbelievable neglect and cruelty. Their parents suffer even more as they are forced to breed repeatedly and spend their whole lives in horrible living conditions.

* Adopt from a rescue group or shelter. About 25 percent of shelter pets are purebred, and many offer “pet match” programs to help you find the right dog. Three to four million adoptable animals are euthanized at shelters every year. Adopt a shelter or rescued dog and help save a life!

* If you come across a stray, take him to your local shelter. Always carry a spare leash and treats.

* Support your local shelter by volunteering your time or donating toys, food, or money. You can also organize fundraisers or donation drives.

* Report any suspected cases of abuse or dog fighting to local authorities. Chaining dogs outside is illegal in some states. The more we all speak up about these problems, the more attention they will receive.

Remember that every little bit counts! We wish dog lovers everywhere a “Yappy” New Year!

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Dog vs. Balloons

Dec 29, 2010

Just a little dog fun as we get ready to ring in the New Year!  Watch Simon pop these balloons in under a minute!

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Traveling with Your Dog: Finding Lodging and Other Useful Tips

Dec 27, 2010

photoPlanning on traveling with your canine companion? Here are some tips to make sure you both have a great time.

Finding and Booking a Dog-Friendly Hotel

* Look for pet-friendly hotels online. You can also find other types of accommodations, including cabins, motels, and house rentals, at different prices for different budgets. Some helpful websites that you might want to check out are DogFriendly.com, PetsWelcome.com, and BringFido.com.

* Create an itinerary of the places you would like to visit and the activities you would like to do. This will help you determine where the best areas for you to stay in are. Cross-reference your itinerary with the pet-friendly hotels you have found.

* Call the hotels that you are interested in to inquire about their pet policies and requirements. Hotels do change their policies occasionally and websites may not always be up-to-date, so verify first if they accept pets. Also ask if they have a weight limit and if they charge any extra fees. Hotel pet fees can range from $10 to $150.

* Base your decision on location, price, availability, pet policy, and other factors that may be important to you.

* Book your rooms ahead of time. Most hotels require or recommend pet owners to inform them beforehand if a companion animal is coming along. In some cases, this is so they can prepare special treats for the pet.

Other Travel Tips

* A few weeks before you leave, make sure that your dog gets all the required vaccinations.

* Do not make guesses when it comes to packing your dog’s food. Instead, measure out the total number of meals he will be eating and add a couple of days’ worth. Pack his food in a resealable plastic container so it will stay fresh and keep your dog from getting to it.

* Bring along some toys and chewable items to keep your pet occupied during the trip, especially if it is a long one.

* If you will be traveling by plane, you will need a portable dog crate for your pooch. Check with your airline to find out what type they accept.

* Once you are at your destination, keep your dog on his leash at all times. You always want to have full control of your pet, especially when you are in an unfamiliar place.

* Make sure your dog always has current identification information on him.

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How to Ease Your Dog’s Holiday Anxiety

Dec 24, 2010

photoWhenever the holiday season comes along, most of our thoughts begin to revolve around family, friends, and good food. While this time of the year has special meaning to us, we often forget that our dogs do not understand it.

All of a sudden, you’re not around as much as you used to be and your pet is spending more time alone. You may be doing some last minute shopping or running some errands, but all your dog knows is that he is being left behind. For an animal that’s used to following a certain routine, this can be a very stressful period. By being aware of your dog’s feelings, you can make the holiday season a more pleasant time for him as well.

You can ease your canine companion’s stress and anxiety during the holidays by doing some simple things:

* Leave a light and the TV on when you are away. These sights and sounds can help reduce your pet’s anxiety since he is familiar with them, unlike a dark and empty house.

* Have something special for your dog when you come home, such as a treat or a piece of beef jerky. After a couple of times of doing this, he will look forward to your return whenever you leave the house. You don’t have to do this throughout the year, just during the holidays when his routine becomes irregular.

* Having plenty of guests over can be very stressful for your dog. Even if your family and friends have visited before a few times, they are still strangers to your pet. Let your guests know that your dog will want to sniff their pant legs as this is his way of communicating and meeting new people.

* Encourage your guests to let your dog sniff them for a moment when they first arrive and ask them to pat him on the head before they come in. These gestures will tell your dog that these people are also his friends.

* Canines are very social creatures so include him in the festivities as much as possible. You don’t have to fix him a special platter – just feed him like you would on a normal day, but let him eat at the same time as you and your guests. You can include a couple pieces of ham or turkey on top of his regular meal. Make sure you don’t give him any leftover bones as these can injure him.

Your dog is an important part of your family, so take the time to make the holidays a fun occasion for him as well, not just for this year but also for the years to follow.

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Why a Puppy Makes a Bad Christmas Gift

Dec 22, 2010

photoAlthough it’s the type of thing that makes us tear up and feel warm inside when we see it on TV and in films, giving a puppy as a Christmas present is actually a bad idea. Despite your best intentions, adding a new, four-legged member to your family requires more than that.

The holiday season is a hectic time for most people. Every day, there is more hustle and bustle than usual at home. There are mountains of presents to wrap and send out and tons of food to cook. There may be family and friends arriving and staying over, or you may need to travel to them. Now throw an 8-week old pup into the mix and the chaos meter will most likely go through the roof!

Taking care of a puppy is not cheap. Aside from the expenses of acquiring the puppy, there are the costs of veterinary care, dog proofing the house, and replacing anything that gets chewed on and destroyed. Needless to say, Christmas is not the best time of the year to add to your growing list of expenses.

Most reputable breeders actually refuse to sell puppies during the holidays for fear that they won’t be accepted or taken care of properly. There’s also the possibility that someone in the family could be allergic to dogs, which will only break everyone’s heart.

Unfortunately, puppy mills take advantage of the season and breed their dogs at this time of the year to make more money. Pet stores seem to do better during Christmas, too, mostly off of puppies that were bred only for profit. Worst of all is the fact that many of these pups are inbred and arrive at their new homes with genetic defects and illnesses. Sadly, a lot of them end up at shelters.

So before you buy a puppy for Christmas, read the following suggestions first:

* Ask your local animal shelter if they offer gift certificates, then go AFTER the holidays are over.

* Be a pet sitter first. Borrow a friend’s or neighbor’s dog for the day. This will give the children a chance to enjoy the company of a dog without having to do any hard work. Just make sure the dog is kid-friendly.

* Purchase some fun and interesting books about dogs for the kids to read. This way, they can learn about taking care of a puppy and get ready for the big day.

* Pay your local vet a visit and get to know him. See if you’re comfortable with him. Let the kids ask questions.

* Make plans. Set a date on when you’ll go look at puppies. Discuss breeders versus shelters with the family. Decide where your new pup will sleep, what he will eat, etc. Get the whole family involved!

Keep in mind that bringing home a puppy is not very different from bringing home a baby. With children, we have about nine months to get ready. For your new puppy, take at least a month or two. By not rushing, your holidays will be less stressful and you’ll get a new family member who will be loved for many Christmases to come.

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Puppy Potty Training

Dec 20, 2010

Here’s some helpful information on potty training your new family member…

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How to Keep Your Dog Safe While You’re Away

Dec 17, 2010

photoLike any good dog owner, you most likely treat your canine companion as a member of the family. There are times, however, when you can’t bring your beloved pet along with you. Overnight stays aren’t too big of a problem; you can ask a good friend or relative to feed your dog and take him for walks while you’re gone.

Longer periods of time away from home are a different story, though. Not all hotels and resorts allow animals. And even if you’re staying at a pet-friendly establishment, you might still have to leave your dog behind occasionally, in a place that’s unfamiliar to him.

When you have to go someplace else for a while without your canine friend, your best option is to have a trusted family member or friend stay over at your house. This way, your dog doesn’t just receive basic care, he also has company. Interaction is essential to dogs as they are very sociable creatures.

If this isn’t a possible solution, the next best thing is to have a reliable family member or friend drop by your place a few times a day to walk your dog, feed him, give him fresh water, and clean his living area. This means that your pet will still be able to stay in a familiar environment and receive some human attention.

You can also hire someone to do the above tasks, but of course there are more risks in letting a stranger into your home. You will be trusting this person with not just your pet but with your belongings as well. Should you go with this option, it is best to hire a registered pet sitter, someone from a professional agency, or someone who’s recommended by people whom you know and trust.

Finally, you can check your dog into a pet hotel. Do your homework ahead of time as the quality of these places vary. It is highly recommended that you personally visit the pet hotel first, if possible, so you can get a firsthand look at the establishment and have a good idea of how your dog will be treated. Don’t forget to ask questions while you’re there.

Whatever you decide to do, make sure that you’re comfortable with your choice. Knowing that your dog is safe and happy will keep you from worrying and let you enjoy your time away from home.

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How to Verbally Correct One Dog When You Have Two

Dec 15, 2010

photoQ:

I have two dogs –  one is a Pit Bull while the other is a Boston Terrier. I have read somewhere that you should not use the dog’s name and the word “no” together so that he does not associate any negative feelings with his name. But what if I’d like to correct one of my dogs? How do I tell him “no” without both animals feeling that they are in trouble?

For example, my Pit Bull is happily playing with her chew toy, but my Boston Terrier is gnawing on the couch. How do I let my Bostie know that he is in the wrong without making my Pit Bull think that she is being reprimanded as well? My Boston Terrier knows better – I have corrected him before using a prong collar and merely telling him “no” will get him to stop. What should I do in this situation?

A:

You’re right about not using the dog’s name along with the word “no”; I don’t advise pet owners to do this.

The solution to correcting one dog when you have two (or more) canine companions is eye contact!

Don’t worry about the “innocent” dog’s feelings. Just make eye contact with the one you want to correct. However, if your dog is chewing on your couch, you should NOT be giving verbal corrections. What you actually need to be giving are leash corrections.

You should treat chomping on the couch as a major “violation”. You do not give your dog $2 tickets for chewing on the couch. You give him $200 tickets, or else your corrections will be useless. Keep the training collar as well as an eye on your dog.

You should not be giving only verbal corrections for this behavior, period. Two to three leash corrections for chewing on the couch should keep your dog from doing it ever again. If he continues to do it, though, then it means that your corrections are not firm enough. You may also want to try removing one link from the prong collar so that it fits snugly.

I hope this helps!

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How to Help Your Dog Deal with Noise Phobia

Dec 13, 2010

photoWhile noise phobia can affect all dogs, there are certain breeds that seem to be more prone to this fear. Canine noise phobia can be a serious problem if it reaches the point wherein it causes harm to your pet or your property. Some dogs will squeeze themselves into tight spaces or jump fences just to escape the noise that is scaring them. In extreme cases, dogs have been reported to run through glass windows in a frantic effort to flee.

The causes of dog noise phobia are unidentified, and there are no known cures for this condition. However, you can still help your dog cope with his fear of noise through behavior modification.

One of the first things you should do is to give your pet a secure “hideout” that he can retreat to when there are loud noises, such as during a thunderstorm, a Fourth of July or New Year’s Eve celebration, and the like. This hideout, which can be a dog crate or an open closet, can help him feel safer and thereby curb some of his fear-driven responses to noisy sounds.

Changing your dog’s environment by closing windows or doors to tone down some of the noise may also work. Try turning on a fan or playing some music. Ordinary and soothing ambient sounds can help your pet calm down.

It is crucial that you do not encourage or reward your dog’s behavior during one of these episodes by paying too much attention to him. Act normally to let him know that everything is just fine, even with the noise. You may be tempted to comfort your pet, but doing so will only reinforce his belief that the noise is something to be afraid of. You should never punish your dog either, as this will only make him more anxious and aggravate the problem.

If your dog has severe reactions that are potentially dangerous, i.e. they can lead him to injure himself or damage your property, then you might want to ask your veterinarian about treatment options. Your vet can suggest some changes you can make in your home or prescribe some medication. You can also consult a pet behaviorist; these professionals make use of special techniques to help dogs with noise phobia.

Keep in mind that your dog especially needs your patience and understanding during this time. Don’t give up on him no matter how hopeless the situation appears to be!

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Drinks for Your Dog: What You Should and Shouldn’t Give Him

Dec 10, 2010

photoA steady supply of fresh water is essential to keeping your dog comfortable and healthy. We all know the importance of water to human bodies, and this element is just as vital to our canine friends. Water makes up about 70 percent of your dog’s weight. Like us, dogs can survive without food for some time, but not sans H2O, especially in a hot and dry environment.

Your pet’s consumption of water changes depending on the weather, his activity, and his meals. Heat and exercise can dehydrate him quickly, and he can get thirsty in vehicles or any closed areas. Watch out for excessive thirst for no apparent reason; this can be an early symptom of a kidney problem or diabetes, so be sure to let your vet know if this is the case.

Your canine companion should have one full, clean water bowl beside his food dish; one in his play area; and possibly one more for nighttime. Being outside makes the situation a bit trickier. A thirsty dog will be drawn to water in gutters, rain puddles, and stagnant pools. Clean rainwater is fine but hard to come across.

Most stagnant water on lawns and golf courses is polluted by weed killers and insecticides, while melted snow on streets and sidewalks is contaminated by caustic chemicals; hence, these should be avoided at all costs.

Try to train your dog to drink only from his water bowl or what you give him. Bring a plastic container or water bottle filled with H2O when you plan to do a lot of walking or running in hot weather with your pet. Keep one in your car as well.

Dogs are rarely tempted by other types of drinks and have an aversion to carbonated beverages. Besides water, milk is the only other liquid that appeals to and agrees with canines, though it might cause loose stools sometimes. While it is a good source of protein, milk should not be used as a replacement for meat. Do not give your dog any flavored drinks, as these might irritate the kidneys, resulting in frequent dehydration and urination.

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