New Year’s Resolutions for Canine Lovers

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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Traveling with Your Dog: Finding Lodging and Other Useful Tips

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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