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Archive for February, 2011

Cabin Fever! Make Time For Play

Feb 28, 2011

photoAll pooches need to exercise, even when the weather isn’t agreeable or you don’t feel like heading outside. Indoor games, such as the ones listed below, will keep your dog healthy and happy. And just like training, playing with him strengthens your bond and helps him keep his focus on you.

You can modify these games depending on how your pet is best motivated – favorite toys, treats, items to fetch, praise, or belly rubs. If you opt to use treats, you can keep your dog from gaining weight by using some of his mealtime kibble to play the games. Remember to keep each session brief and fun. It’s better to end the activity before your dog becomes uninterested or too excited.

Name the Toy

Have a bunch of toys that are clearly different, e.g. a stuffed chicken, sheep, and snake. Hold one up for your pooch to smell and see, then toss it, saying, “Where’s your chicken?” Give him plenty of praise when he fetches it. Repeat the process with the sheep and snake toys. Do this several times, and be consistent with your naming. Once your dog has mastered the names, set out multiple toys and tell him which one to get.

Find It

Tell your pet to sit and stay. Show him a toy or treat and place it on the floor so he can see it. Now say, “Find it!” After your dog has found the first toy or treat, increase the difficulty level by placing the next item in a more challenging location, such as behind a chair. Vary the position of the prizes. You can also set up a roomful of hidden rewards beforehand for a real challenge.

Brain Workouts

Your dog uses approximately the same amount of energy when he’s challenged mentally as when he’s challenged physically. Puzzle toys such as Canine Genius, Buster Food Cube, and Kong Wobbler make your dog work for his treats in a really enjoyable way!

Where’s the Treat?

You will need three to four buckets (or old margarine tubs or cups). Show your dog that you have a treat or favorite toy. Tell him to sit and stay about ten feet away, then place the prize under one of the buckets (make sure he sees you doing this). Next, say, “Where’s the treat?” and encourage him to sniff the buckets. Praise him when he paws, sits beside, or barks at the correct bucket, then lift it up so he can get his reward. You can make the game more difficult by changing the position of the buckets or pretending to place treats under more than one bucket.

Clean Up

Teach your pooch to clean up after playing by picking up his toys and returning them to the toy box. Then have him pick up a toy as you hold the box up to him. Say, “Drop it,” and give him lots of praise when he does. Repeat until your dog gets the idea, at which point you can just put the toy box on the floor and guide him over to it.

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First Tricks To Teach Your Pooch

Feb 25, 2011

photoReady to teach your pooch some cool new tricks? You will need a quiet place to train in and some treats for rewards. Praise your dog and give him a treat whenever he gets something right, but don’t get him too excited or he will lose his concentration. Also, remember to keep each training session just 10-15 minutes short to prevent him from getting bored.

Paw Trick

Teach your pet to give you his paw. First, get him to sit. Say the word “paw” and take his paw in your hand. Give your dog a treat. Repeat. After a few times, don’t take his paw right away. Mention the command, but count to one before you take it. Your dog should be bringing his paw up as you say “paw”. If he doesn’t, go back to taking his paw as you utter the word. Do this a few more times, then slow your response again. Most dogs learn this trick after two or three sessions.

High Five

The high five is a progression of the paw trick. Hold a treat in your hand and raise it slightly higher than you would for the paw trick. Your pet will think that you want him to do the paw trick and will try to reach for the treat with his paw. As he raises his paw up, say “high five” and give him the treat. If your dog already knows how to do the paw trick, he shouldn’t have a problem learning the high five. After a few sessions, he’ll be able to high five based on hand signal instead of verbal command.

Hoop Jump

When trying to get your pooch to jump through a hoop, don’t hold it too high as you wouldn’t want your dog to hurt himself while doing this trick. If you have a small dog, start with the hoop touching the ground so he just walks through it. Raise it gradually as he gets used to doing the trick. If you have a larger dog, you can begin with the hoop six inches above the ground and slowly elevate it to waist height.

Have your dog sit on one side of the hoop. On the other side, hold a treat in your hand and try to get your dog’s attention with it. Initially, he might try to go around or under the hoop. If this happens, start over. Your dog will eventually learn that he won’t get the treat by going around or under the hoop. When he does jump through the hoop, say “hoopla” and give him the treat. Soon, your dog will be doing the trick on command.

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Dog Care Tips : Cures for Dog Shedding

Feb 23, 2011

A few tips to help with dog shedding!

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Why Dog Chaining is Cruel

Feb 21, 2011

photoThe following is a dog chaining Q&A adapted from a fact sheet compiled by the Humane Society of the United States.

1. What does “chaining”  or “tethering” mean?

Both terms refer to the practice of tying a dog to a stake or stationary object, often in the owner’s backyard, as a way of keeping the animal under control. These terms do not refer to the times when a dog is being walked on a leash.

2. Does continuous chaining or tethering present any problems?

Yes. Aside from being inhumane, the practice is also a threat to the safety of the chained dog, other animals, and humans.

3. How is tethering inhumane?

Dogs are naturally social creatures that love to interact with humans and other animals. In the wild, dogs and wolves live with other canines. They’re genetically wired to live in a group, so a dog that’s isolated in one area for hours, days, months, or even years suffers massive psychological damage.

If kept continuously chained, a normally friendly dog will become unhappy, anxious, neurotic, and oftentimes aggressive. In many cases, the necks of chained dogs become raw and covered with sores as a result of attempts to escape confinement, as well as improperly fitted collars. Some chained dogs have collars embedded in their necks. They also frequently get tangled in their chains and become unable to access food, water, and shelter.

4. Who says tethering is inhumane?

The Humane Society of the United States, the American Veterinary Medical Association, and several animal experts. The US Department of Agriculture also issued a statement against tethering in the July 2, 1996 Federal Register. In addition, according to the Centers for Disease Control, the dogs most likely to attack are male, unneutered, and chained.

5. How is the practice dangerous to humans?

Dogs tethered for a long time can become very aggressive. Canines are inherently protective of their territory, and when they feel threatened, they respond according to their fight-or-flight instinct. Since chained dogs are unable to flee, they often feel forced to fight and attack any unfamiliar person or animal that unknowingly wanders into their territory. Furthermore, a tethered dog that has broken free from his chains may remain aggressive and is likely to chase and attack passersby and pets.

6. Are chained dogs good guard dogs?

No. Chaining promotes aggression, not protectiveness. A protective dog learns to defend his human family by spending plenty of time with people. A chained dog that is confined and ignored becomes aggressive. Because they’re not used to people, aggressive dogs are unable to differentiate between a threat and a family friend and will therefore attack anyone. According to statistics, one of the best deterrents to intruders is a dog inside the home.

7. Why is tethering unsafe for dogs?

Aside from psychological damage, chained dogs are easy targets for humans, biting insects, and other animals. They may suffer harassment from passersby, bites from insects, and attacks by other animals.

Moreover, tethers can become intertwined with other objects, which can lead to choking or strangling the dog to death. Chained dogs are also easy targets for people looking to steal animals to be used as training fodder for organized animal fights or for sale to research institutions.

8. Are chained dogs dangerous to other animals?

Yes, sometimes. Smaller dogs, cats, rabbits, and others may enter the area of confinement when the tethered dog is asleep and then get attacked when he wakes up.

9. Are tethered dogs treated well otherwise?

Chained dogs rarely receive adequate care. They suffer from irregular feedings, overturned water bowls, insufficient veterinary care, and extreme temperatures. They often have no access to shelter that will protect them from the sun or snow storms, and rarely do they get enough water. And because their often neurotic behavior makes them unapproachable, they are seldom given even minimal affection and can be easily ignored by their owners.

10. Are the areas in which tethered dogs stay comfortable?

No, because they have to eat, sleep, urinate, and defecate all in one place. Owners who chain their dogs are also less likely to clean the area. While there may have once been grass in an area of confinement, it is usually very beaten down due to the dog’s pacing. As a result, there is nothing on the ground except mud or dirt.

11. But how else can people confine their dogs?

Dogs prefer to live inside with their human family, with frequent walks and exercise time outside. Apartment-dwelling canines are fine living indoors with regular walks. If a dog needs to be housed outside at certain times, he should be placed in a fenced area with enough room and shelter from the elements.

12. Should tethering or chaining ever be allowed?

Just as it is an owner’s responsibility to provide adequate socialization and attention, it is also their responsibility to restrain their dog properly. Placing an animal on a restraint to get some fresh air can be acceptable if done for a short period. Keeping a dog tethered for extended periods, however, is never acceptable.

13. If a dog had to be tethered or chained for a while, can it be done humanely?

Animals that must be kept on a tether should be secured in such a way that the tether will not get tangled with other objects. Collars must be comfortable and fitted properly. Never use choke chains. Restraints should allow the dog to move about and lie down comfortably. Dogs should never be tethered during natural disasters.

14. What about securing a dog’s leash to a “pulley run”?

Attaching a leash to a long line, e.g. a clothesline or a manufactured device called a pulley run, gives the dog a larger area to roam and is more preferable than tethering the animal to a stationary object. However, most of the issues associated with tethering are still present, including lack of socialization and attacks on or by other animals.

15. What can be done to correct the chaining problem?

An increasing number of communities are passing laws to regulate the tethering of animals. Tucson, AZ; New Orleans, LA; Carthage, MO; Okaloosa, FL; and Lawton, OK are among the cities that ban chaining, while Denver, CO; Wichita, KS; Austin, TX; West Palm Beach, FL; Norfolk, VA; and the state of Connecticut only allow dogs to be chained for a limited number of hours each day. Little Rock, AR permits pulley runs but bans fixed-point chaining.

16. Why should continuous chaining or tethering be outlawed?

Every day, animal control and humane agencies receive calls from people who are concerned about dogs in these cruel situations. Animal control officers, who are funded by taxpayers, spend several hours trying to educate pet owners on the cruelty and dangers of this practice. Regulations against chaining also give officers a means to crack down on illegal dog fighting as many fighting dogs are kept on chains.

A chained dog is trapped in a vicious cycle. Long periods of boredom and social isolation turn him into a neurotic shell of his former self, which further dissuades human contact. An inherently social creature, the helpless animal can only suffer from the frustration of watching the world go by. Any community that prohibits the chaining or tethering of dogs is a safer, more humane one.

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Show Your Pet Some Extra Love on Love Your Pet Day

Feb 18, 2011

photoDid you know that February 20th is Love Your Pet Day? It reminds us of Valentine’s Day –  is it a coincidence that it’s about a week from February 14th? Now do we really need a special day on the calendar to point out the love we have for our animal companions all year round? I think the answer is yes!

Why? Well, even with my energetic Jack Russell Terrier, there are some days when it’s easy for me to not really notice all of the wonderful things he does to brighten my day. While I do love my dog, I plan to pamper him more than usual on Love Your Pet Day. I’m thinking of buying him some new toys, getting him a box of treats from our local dog bakery, and taking him to his favorite off leash area, even if we have to drive an hour from our place to get there.

I’ve browsed around online and found more great ways we can go the extra mile for our furry, finned, and feathered friends on Love Your Pet Day. I’ll most likely do some of these suggestions, too.

* Instead of opening a can or bag of pet food, prepare your pet’s meals from scratch. Look for recipes on the Internet!

* Make your pet some new toys. Toilet paper rolls are great for mice. Cats will love bells on a string.

* Give your pet a bath and groom them. Show your pet you love them by keeping them clean and comfortable!

* Let your pet do something they love to do. If you have a dog, for example, take them to the park and let them run around until they’re pooped.

* Play with your pet! Turn off the TV or computer and really give them your undivided attention, even if just for an hour or two.

* If you have a pet that lives in a cage, e.g. a mouse or a hamster, let them outside for a longer time.

* Clean your pet’s home, whether it’s a crate, fishbowl, or cage.

* If you really want to spoil your pet, take them to a day spa or salon that caters to your particular animal.

* You can also do something for pets that are still waiting for homes. Donate to your local animal shelter.

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Useful Dog Tricks performed by Jesse

Feb 16, 2011

What an amazing dog!  Go Jesse!

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Random Acts of Kindness Week Begins February 14

Feb 14, 2011

photoThis year, February 14 to 20 is Random Acts of Kindness Week. To inspire you, here is a true story about a series of random acts of kindness.

Seth, who lives in the Pittsburgh neighborhood of Oakland, had just pulled into his driveway one evening when he noticed an unfamiliar vehicle parked near his house. As he got out of his car, the driver came running up to him. He told Seth that he had seen a black Labrador Retriever running across the street and he was worried that the dog might get hit by a car. He asked Seth to help him catch the Lab, and the two men set off.

At one point the driver said he could no longer stay around, so Seth followed the dog by himself. Meanwhile, Seth’s wife told their next door neighbors what was going on, and their teenage granddaughter joined in the pursuit. In the end, the Lab came into Seth’s yard and they closed the gate. The dog was awfully frightened at first, but calmed down after a while and became very friendly.

Later, the driver came back to Seth’s house to see if they had found the Lab. He gave Seth his name and phone number in case they wanted to contact him for more help. He also provided a list of places they could call to locate the owner from the number on the dog tags.

Seth’s next door neighbors decided to take the Lab in for the night. The next morning, they called around to see if the dog could be traced by his tags. One of the animal shelters provided the name of the possible owner. The owner, who had been in contact with the shelters as well, arrived to pick up his dog that afternoon. Needless to say, the Lab was extremely excited to see his owner.

Fortunately, the lost Labrador was taken care of by good people who made an effort to locate his owner. Thanks to the random acts of kindness by the worried driver, Seth, and Seth’s neighbors, dog and owner were reunited.

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Give Chained Dogs Some Love This Valentine’s Day

Feb 11, 2011

photoDogs are pack animals that depend on their humans for food, shelter, companionship, and affection. Why then, do some people have a pet dog only to keep the animal chained outside all the time? Sadly, chained dogs can be found in every neighborhood, be it in a city, suburb, or rural area. Just look around your own hometown.

This year, Dogs Deserve Better (DDB) is preparing for their Valentine’s Day outreach project that aims to send 17,000 Valentines to chained dogs everywhere during February 7-14, which the organization has declared Have a Heart for Chained Dogs Week.

DDB is 501(c)3 non-profit animal advocacy organization based in Pennsylvania with a single goal – to free all chained dogs from living in harsh outdoor conditions by bringing them into a warm, loving home, which is what they deserve.

For the past eight years, DDB has sent Valentines to owners of chained dogs in an effort to educate them about why chaining is so detrimental for their canine companions. Included with each Valentine is a coupon for dog food or treats, as well as anti-tethering literature.

DDB founder Tamira Ci Thayne’s commitment to raising awareness about the plight of chained dogs is nothing short of amazing. Last year, she chained herself to a doghouse outside the Pennsylvania State Capitol in Harrisburg for 52 days in order to get the attention of lawmakers. Despite her efforts, however, the bill did not even make it to the floor for a vote.

According to Thayne, “Winter is the best time to reach out to those who chain and pen their dogs, and what better excuse than Valentine’s Day to send these forgotten animals a little love.  Every winter our rescuers see dogs that have frozen in the snow, suffered frostbite, or otherwise endured horrific living conditions because of the longstanding misperception that it is OK to chain a dog outside in any kind of weather.”

A video filmed by Thayne shows just how long a chained dog that has been deprived of water (as well as food, shelter, and attention) will drink when given the chance. The short video was recorded over the course of two days. On day one, the chained German Shepherd drank non-stop for at least four minutes. On day two, it was about six minutes. Situations like these really explain Thayne’s determination.

The German Shepherd in the video and her three yard mates were eventually rescued by the PSPCA, but many other dogs are still waiting to come into loving homes. If you’d like to take part in DDB’s Have a Heart for Chained Dogs Week, visit their website at DogsDeserveBetter.com.

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A Brief History of the Westminster Dog Show

Feb 9, 2011

photoThe Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show is an annual two-day conformation show held on the second Monday and Tuesday of February in New York City. Also referred to as the Super Bowl of dog shows, it is the second longest continuously held sporting event in the United States after the Kentucky Derby.

The Westminster Kennel Club was formed by a group of men who raised sporting dogs and every so often met at New York’s Westminster Hotel. The logo of the Westminster Kennel Club is based on a photograph of a Pointer named Sensation. Sensation was owned by the club and was said to have the most perfect head of any Pointer during his time.

The First Annual New York Bench Show of Dogs took place on May 8-10, 1877 and featured over 1,200 dogs. Because of the event’s huge success, a fourth day was added. The number of days was later reduced to three, then two. With a few exceptions, the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show has been held at Madison Square Garden since 1883. Although the show itself may last only a couple of days, the preparation for it begins at least a year in advance.

The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show attracts approximately 35,000 attendees, 4.6 million television viewers, and more than 400 journalists from over 20 countries. In 2002, 159 different breeds were represented, with the top five breeds entered being the Australian Shepherd, Dachshund, Rottweiler, Chinese Shar-pei, and Irish Setter.

The Best in Show award, which has been given out since 1907, is presented to the dog that receives top honors from three different judges. Dogs are judged on their general appearance, carriage, and condition. Judges also look at the color and texture of the coat; the forequarters, hindquarters, feet, and tail; and the dog’s temperament.

The breed that has won Best in Show the most number of times is the Wire Fox Terrier, with the terrier group having the most winners in general. The only dog to be awarded Best in Show three times was a Smooth Fox Terrier named Warren Remedy. Still, many other breeds have also won Best in Show, ranging from the small Pomeranian to the gentle Newfoundland.

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Does Your Dog Have Cabin Fever?

Feb 7, 2011

photoIt’s inevitable – there will be days when you won’t be able to take your dog outside for a walk to exercise, for one reason or another. If you don’t have the convenience of a fenced yard or garden, you can’t let your pet out by himself because it’s not safe to do so. He could run off, get dognapped, get hit by a vehicle or it could be just too cold to go out. On these days, your dog is stuck inside, except for some brief bathroom breaks.

A dog that’s cooped up is also one that’s bored. And a bored pooch is very likely to wreak some havoc. He might decide to take down your home decorations or chew up your Jimmy Choos. Or, he might help himself to the contents of your garbage can. You’ll have quite a surprise when you get home.

Have you ever heard of the old adage, “A tired dog is a good dog”? It’s very true. Therefore, you need to find ways to exercise your dog indoors to keep him entertained as well as wear him out. You’re also keeping him healthy and preventing obesity in the process, even without heading outside on extended trips.

One simple indoor exercise that I like to do with my always energetic and raring to go Labrador is swat at him. Yes, swat at him. I do it with my hands or socked feet. He thinks it’s a game and certainly enjoys it. My Lab swats back and grabs my hands and feet with his mouth, but he knows better than to sink his chompers in. See to it that your pooch knows the rules before you start the swatting game.

When my Lab and I play, we swat back and forth at each other. He growls and does dog things; I make noises. Within 15 minutes, he’s pooped and lies down on the couch. Before you can count to ten, he’s already in dreamland. It’s a very simple technique that works every single time. It might not be for everyone, though, particularly senior citizens. But I suggest you try it out for yourself if you can.

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