Should Dogs Matter More Than People

I’m VERY frustrated by a situation happening right now in my dog-friendly neighborhood. I hope you will chime in with your thoughts.

Let me lay the back story first.

Living in a Dog-Loving Community

Just about all my neighbors have dogs. It’s a great place to be a dog owner because we all know one another by what kind of dog owns us. We walk our dogs, buy overpriced specialty food for them, and commiserate over vet bills.

But there is always a bad apple or two in any bushel.

dogfight
Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jganderson/

Multiple Dog Attacks

A few streets away, on my usual walking route with Bitsy, is a home with two aggressive boxers. Keep in mind, I have no problems with a well-mannered boxer.

At least one of the boxers has escaped its house and/or back deck to charge and attack two different dogs in our neighborhood, a Westie on one occasion and a mid-sized mix on three different instances. I do not believe either family of the attacked dogs ever reported the attacks. (Big mistake if you ask me.)

Last week both boxers escaped and attacked my elderly neighbor’s golden retriever during the gentleman’s daily walk. His retriever immediately laid down and curled up in submission. While the boxers bit the golden, two dogs from the adjacent property broke through their electric fence and piled onto the attack.

The wife who owns the boxers ran out during the attack and tugged her dogs away while the retriever’s owner hollered for help to get the other neighbor’s two dogs off of his.

golden-ret
Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/gpoo/

Attacked Dog Is OK, But Her Owner Is Not

The golden retriever was taken to the emergency veterinarian and found to have several puncture wounds. They placed her on antibiotics and she appears to be ok.

My friend, the golden’s elderly owner, did not fare as well. He is emotionally traumatized. His trauma was made worse when he called animal control and was told that unless he hires a lawyer and presses charges, there is nothing they can do.

The boxers that have attacked at least three different dogs in our neighborhood are still living in the home. I now carry a baseball bat when I walk Bitsy to ensure she is safe.

Should The Family Keep Their Aggressive Dogs?

No one adores their dog more than I do, but I am perplexed as to why these neighbors have not re-homed their dogs. What if my elderly neighbor had suffered a heart attack that day? What if a small child is bitten while walking a dog? How can anyone put fondness of their pets over the welfare of neighbors? It boggles my mind.

What do you think? Should that family take their boxers to a no-kill shelter? I find it impossible to believe the boxers will never again escape to injure, or even kill, another dog.

DIY Dog Treats

DIY Dog Treats

You all know how much I love home baked dog treats for Bitsy. Not only are they healthier because you can control every ingredient, but I feel like Bitsy likes them more because they are made with love. I’v shared my own recipe before, but here are a few more of my favorites:

Homemade Frosty Paws
Healthy Flaky Carrot Biscuits
Chicken and Rice Treats
Soft and Chewy PB Bones
Salmon and Sweet Potato Squares

The chicken and salmon varieties are for special occasions only in our house. I don’t want Bitsy to get too spoiled! I do make the other ones quite often so we always have a supply. Making dog treats is a regular occurrence in my house. Bitsy loves when I bake, she can’t stay out of the kitchen. I’m sure your dog will love it too. Enjoy!

10 Vital Things to Check Before You Back Out of the Driveway with Your Dog

If you’re a new dog owner, you may not be sure what the protocol is for riding in the car with your pet. Things have changed since you were a kid and it was normal for people to throw Fido in the back seat or even ride with your beloved pooch on your lap. Take a look at this simple checklist to minimize risk for your dog and maximize comfort, too!

Image Credit: FreeImages.com/Danijel Juricev

catching-air-1377187-1280x960

  1. Buy and use a good, safety-rated harness. The Center for Pet Safety tested several harnesses and the Sleepypod Clickit Sport was approved with very high ratings, so I would start there. I’ve included the repot so you can check it out.
  2. Make sure your dog is wearing a collar with identification tags. If for some crazy reason your dog breaks away from you during a rest stop, tags will be vital. This brings me to number three, which should actually be number 1 for new pet owners…
  3. Microchip your pet, dog or cat, and register the microchip with a reputable monitoring company. There are many. Pet*ID and PetLink are just two. That way if your dog runs off and someone finds him/her, then they can contact the company and it will reconnect you with your missing pet.
  4. Bring water and a dish or dispenser. Car rides, especially in summer, dehydrate people and pets. Take breaks during long car trips and make sure Fido drinks plenty of water.
  5. Keep a leash in the car. One time I forgot Bitsy’s leash since she usually hops right into the car from the garage. I ended up having to carry her around rather than walk her until I could get back home for the leash. I was grateful she was a lap dog. Had she been a medium or large dog it would have meant either buying a new leash on the road or heading back home.
  6. Close the car windows or put riding goggles on your dog. If you prefer to drive with windows rolled down or you own a convertible, it is important to protect your pet’s eyes from flying dust and debris.
  7. Carry some extra food and snacks. This is a no-brainer for long trips, but what happens if you are out running errands or on a short excursion and your car breaks down? Snacks and food will prove an invaluable supply to help keep your pet happy while waiting for a tow truck.
  8. First aid kit for dogs. Again, you never know, so be prepared! This website Pet Education provides an extensive list. While I personally do not travel with all the items they include, I agree you will want to keep a few of these items in the car in the event of an emergency.
  9. Grab a few chew toys or favorite items. I do not recommend giving anything to your pet that could potentially pose a choking hazard or a distraction for the driver, but it never hurts to have a few tricks up your sleeve to keep your pet happy once you are at your new destination. That means if you do decide to give her something to gnaw on during the road trip it had better not squeak. And, if it falls to the floor, you had better be prepared to make a few stops to retrieve it or deal with the whining or yipping!
  10. Music. I love to sing with and to Bitsy when we are on the road. She seems to enjoy it so I always grab a few CDs to play. I had a friend whose dog would howl whenever it heard the friend sing opera. It was pretty funny. My dog can’t sing, but I wish she could!

Five Tactics to Teach Your Dog Manners

As a slightly obsessed dog lover, I want everyone else to at least like my dog. That’s why I spent so much time training Bitsy to behave like a proper lady. Jumping up on guests, stealing shoes, barking excessively, and begging at the table are pet peeves I cannot tolerate in someone else’s dog. I would certainly not tolerate that behavior in my own sweet Cavalier.

Don’t get me wrong. Raising a well-behaved canine is no easy feat. But if you don’t have the time and patience for proper training, perhaps a dog is not the best pet choice. Maybe you should consider a hermit crab instead.

FullSizeRender-2

Tactic 1: Find what motivates your pooch.

For many dogs, food is the most effective motivator. Luckily for me, Bitsy falls into this category. Treats should be small and healthy. Examples of good training foods include raw vegetables, bits of home baked biscuits, or dry food kibbles. Ice cubes can also be a no calorie special treat!

There are many reputable websites that include more comprehensive lists of foods you should not feed your dog, but here are a few to avoid:

  • Grapes
  • Avocado
  • Chocolate
  • Dairy products
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Raw meat
  • Raw eggs
  • Onions, Garlic
  • Mushrooms
  • Caffeine
  • Fat trimmings
  • Chicken bones

Praise is an excellent motivator, both verbal and physical. A calm, positive word of encouragement or a scratch behind the ears can get some dogs to do anything you ask! You can also reinforce good behavior by using a much-loved toy or activity. If your pup goes crazy over a favorite ball, kong, or ride in the car, use those things as training tools.

Tactic 2: Nip jumping in the bud.

It doesn’t matter whether Fido weighs 5 pounds or 85 pounds. When a dog jumps up on you, it scratches your legs, covers you in dog hair, frightens, and annoys even the most reasonable people. I’ve seen many tactics to combat this unpleasant behavior. I would start with these simple tips first.

IMG_4459

Train your dog from the very beginning to sit and stay when someone enters your home. Use the motivator that works for your dog. Start with short periods of time and increase that span in increments.

If your dog already acquired the “jump on visitors” trait, ask people who enter your home to fold their arms and turn their backs on your dog. When the dog finally figures out that jumping up will not elicit any affection, he will usually give up. When your dog returns all feet to the floor, try getting him to sit and stay. Once accomplished, hand over a treat or praise.

If the folded arms system does not take hold over time, you can try lightly stepping on the dogs back feet while his front paws are resting on the human legs (or chest). This will immediately prompt your dog to return to his own four paws. In time, he will associate jumping up with the discomfort of his back paws and cease the bad behavior.

If this last straw tactic fails, then contact a dog trainer.

I want to add here that I am not a professional dog trainer. I love dogs and have taken the time to train my own. Dog training takes time, patience, practice, and a calm spirit. Don’t expect miracles overnight. And never lose your cool.

Tactic 3: Stealing the Three S’s – Shoes, Slippers, Socks

Have you ever wondered why some dogs take your house guest’s shoe the moment they leave it at your front door? Or why she runs through the house with your bedroom slipper hanging from her mouth? Does your pooch confiscate more single socks than your dryer?

Could it be she gets your attention every time she takes something you’ve forbidden? In my opinion, dogs just want to love and be loved. If you make a big deal out of chasing her down when she steals something, it becomes a game and a source of attention. Use treats to reward her for not taking shoes, slippers, or socks when you put them within easy reach to tempt her. You should also ensure your dog has her own toys for entertainment.

Confession: Bitsy loves it when she finds one of my dirty socks. She does not chew it, but relishes in running away when I see it dangling from her mouth. Funny, but she never takes the clean ones!

If your dog is taking your shoes and chewing them, that is a more serious behavior issue than poor manners. I recommend reading Cesar Millan’s website for shoe chewing and other problematic behaviors.

Tactic 4: Halt Excessive Barking

It is difficult to speak with a house guest or talk to your neighbor through the back fence when your dog is overtaking the conversation with loud, obnoxious barking.

DSC_0517

As with jumping up or stealing slippers, never reward your dog with attention for unacceptable behavior. Remain calm and ignore an overly excited dog. Affection and attention should only be paid to an equally calm dog. This is much more difficult to achieve if you’ve rescued a dog that already developed the barking habit. Don’t get frustrated. Remember what I wrote at the end of Tactic 2!

I am not a fan of those barking collars. I’m not passing judgement on anyone who successfully uses them to train their dog. It’s just not my personal preference.

Tactic 5: Do Not Teach Begging!

Here is where I am going to pass judgement. If your dog begs at the table, you are one hundred percent to blame. It is an owner-created bad habit. (On my soapbox now.) If you only feed your dog dog food and healthy snacks as training aids, your dog will not beg for people food from the table. I’m not sure how I could explain that more simply or explicitly! This is a hard habit to break, so don’t go down that road in the first place. If you inherited a dog that begs at the table, then work with her to overcome the habit by ignoring it and not feeding her from the table.

Dogs are much easier to train than children, or so I’m told! Be patient. It takes time to break bad habits. Be positive. Your dog only wants to make you happy. Most importantly, start your dog out with firm boundaries and good manners from the start. That way, your family, friends, and guests will love your prized pet as much as you do. Well, almost!

12 Ways You Know You Are a True Dog Lover

12 Ways You Know You Are a True Dog Lover

My dog is my family. A few of my friends would probably say I go a little overboard. But honestly, Bitsy gives me so much love in return, that a little overboard is warranted, don’t you think? There is a fine line between being a dog lover and being doggone crazy! I am positive I am the former. But which one are you?

1. You’ve provided for your dog’s lifelong care in your will.

will

Actually, shame on you if you have not established plans for your pet in the event you go first. In many cases, surviving family members choose to euthanize their loved one’s dog or cat. What a horrible way to honor the memory of your dearly departed!

Seriously, ask friends or family members if they would take your pet into their home in the event of your untimely demise and then get it in writing! Create a folder with all the pertinent details about your furry friend like name of caregiver and contact info, diet, vet, shot records, license, etc. Contact your lawyer and update your Will to name the caregiver and set aside the money needed to undertake that duty. (Just make sure you include that the money is to be used for your pet and not their vacation to Hawaii.)

2. You can name every hotel chain that accepts pets.

kimpton

There are countless websites that list pet-friendly hotels. One of my very favorite ways to search for pet-friendly travel  is the TripAdvisor website. I have the app on my phone. Simply type “pet friendly” into your search and you’ll see restaurants, hotels, and attractions where my little Bitsy is welcomed at any destination. It’s a great app!

Many hotels take up to two pets. A few of the chains that are most accommodating to our four-legged companions are LaQuinta, Wyndham, and most Hilton properties (you’ll need to check each location for their policy). But there are tons more out there. A few of the pricier options where pets are really pampered include Kimpton Hotels, Loews, W Hotels Worldwide, and The Ritz-Carlton.

3. You took your dog on your honeymoon.

dog-wedding

Okay, this is bordering obsession! But I know there are people out there who do. If you are one of them, please post a photo! After all, while I’m not married, I know many friends who wouldn’t be happy without their furry friend in tow.

4. You refuse invitations that do not include your dog.

rsvp

I do this sometimes. If someone invites me away for a weekend, I’m either taking Bitsy or staying home. I’m at work five days a week. I’m not leaving my dog in a kennel over the weekend. Period.

5. You host a neighborhood pet party each year for your dog’s birthday.

https:::www.flickr.com:photos:gizzypooh:539662773:in:photostream:

Credit

Bitsy and I have been to a few birthday parties so I feel qualified to offer some advice here. First, don’t have it at a dog park unless you bring enough treats for any uninvited guests that happen to be at the park that day. Really, it’s just rude!

Second, make sure those treats are actually dog-friendly. You can make your own using wholesome ingredients. (I’ll include a recipe or two of my own below.)

Third, bring extra water bowls and clean water.

Fourth, paper birthday hats are fun for your memory book, but some dogs find them humiliating. If you see a party guest’s tail go between her legs as soon as the hat is plopped on, don’t force the issue!

Fifth, know your guests. Though your dog might be on friendly terms with your neighbor’s pooch, make sure all invited canines are dog friendly with all others. There’s nothing worse than a playground bully at a dog party.

6. The only dog biscuits in your pantry are home baked.

dog-biscuits

Credit

I like to make Bitsy her biscuits because that way I know they are not loaded with fillers, plus it is way cheaper. Her faves are the peanut butter ones, though she likes the sweet potato too. One word of caution when making your own doggy treats…keep them wholesome. Bacon is loaded with sodium, so skip it. When is brown sugar ever recommended for a doggy diet? Skip it. Actually, the ASPCA has a great list on their website of people foods you should not feed you pet. If you see something on the list, keep it out of your dog cookies!

Bitsy’s Peanut Butter Biscuits
2 cups whole wheat flour (or other if Fido has an allergy to wheat)
1 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup natural peanut butter
1 1/4 cups hot water
1 Tablespoon flaxseed
Mix dough. Roll out to ¼” thickness. Use cookie cutter.

(Here’s a link in case you don’t already own a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel cookie cutter.)

Lay out on cookie sheet using parchment paper. Base at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes or until golden around the edges. Cool completely. Store in airtight container for up to a week.

Tip:  You can turn this basic recipe into pumpkin or sweet potato treats by switching out the peanut butter, cutting back on the water to about a cup, and adding an egg. Make sure you use pure organic pumpkin or bake your own sweet potato.

7. You have more posts featuring your dog on your social media accounts than any other member of your family.

pinterest-dogs

8. Your dog is included in all your professional family portraits.

pet-portrait

Credit

9. Dog toys have their own line on your annual household budget.

PlayDate-05

Credit

I can’t help myself. Every time I walk through a pet supply store like PetSmart, or even a regular store that happens to carry dog paraphernalia like Target, I pick up another toy for Bitsy to try out. I’ve ordered my share of “stuff” from Amazon too! I am eyeing this new pet camera in a ball as we speak! Please, could someone talk me out of this one! 

10. You bought a bigger bed to accommodate your dog.

sleeping-dog

Credit

I am wondering if there is anyone out there who hasn’t done this? I finally succumbed to a king sized bed so that my tiny (but expansive while sleeping) Cavalier King Charles Spaniel has room to kick her paws while dreaming. Full disclosure: This is not Bitsy. I do NOT sleep on polka dot sheets!

And two bonus clues I nearly forgot:

11. Your veterinarian is on your Christmas card list.
12. All the clerks at PetSmart and PetCo know you by name (first and last).

Yes, and yes. Guilty as charged!

So, are you a dog lover or dog obsessed? Maybe I am somewhere in between! What qualities would you add to my dog lover list? Leave a comment below. Pictures welcome!

Tips to Maintain Those Poochy Pearly Whites

Tips to Maintain Those Poochy Pearly Whites

Bitsy is a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. If you know anything about Cavaliers, then you can deduce pretty quickly that brushing teeth in that small mouth is no easy feat!

Bitsy-toothy-grin

But I also know the importance of dental health in both people and pets. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, 80 percent of dogs have at least some dental disease by age 3. Dental disease can lead to all kinds of other health problems including heart disease. No one wants that, am I right?!?

Fortunately, you have a few choices when it comes to maintaining your dog’s dental health.

Brushing Your Dog’s Teeth

Frankly, I think brushing her teeth is the best option. You can use a human toothbrush, or there are plenty of companies out there that make a toothbrush and toothpaste specifically for a dog. The trick is to start when they are puppies and get them used to it over time.

Dental Treats Help Remove Tartar

greenie
Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/homard/2613876622/in/photostream/

If you lack the time and patience to institute a brushing regimen, there are some dental chew toys for dogs which help prevent tartar buildup and support fresher breath. I will not personally recommend any one product over another, but will highlight a few so you can see the variety of choices.

Before you buy anything, take a look at this list of approved dental chews for dogs by the Veterinary Oral Health Council. The products on this list were vetted by the council and meet their standards for recommendation. Of course, no recommendation should override what you know is best for your dog. For example, if your dog is allergic to chicken, read any list of ingredients carefully to make sure the product won’t make your pup sick. There are one or two rawhide products listed which I would never give my dog in a million years because I know rawhides have made Bitsy choke in the past. And of course, another golden rule of thumb is to always be present when your dog eats or chews on a treat or toy just in case there is a problem.

The VOHC has probably not tested every dental chew out there. My list includes a few not listed, but that got pretty good online reviews from dog owners.

Here are three you could check out:

  1. Greenies
  2. Whimzees
  3. Hills Dental Chews

On a side note, feeding your dog crunchy kibbles as opposed to a soft-textured food like canned will also help keep plaque and tartar from building up on those canine canines!

Other Dental Cleaning Products

Water additives have been around for awhile and I am still learning about them and how safe they are long term on dog internal systems. They help prevent the accumulation of bacteria in the mouth, thereby reducing plaque and keeping the mouth cleaner.

Tooth and gum wipes work much the same way as an additive by killing bacteria in the mouth which leads to plaque.

A Trip to the Vet

Your veterinarian will keep tabs on your doggie’s teeth during each annual check up and alert you to dental problems. It may be necessary to take her in for a professional teeth cleaning. You can look for signs of tooth decay or tartar build-up between visits. If you happen to notice your dog’s breath getting a lot worse, that could be a sign of tooth decay too.

Remember, you wouldn’t go days, weeks, months, or years without brushing your own teeth, so don’t neglect your dog’s dental hygiene. Feel free to leave a comment below and share what products or methods you prefer for doggie dentures!

 

Making my passion more…

Making my passion more…

So recently my sister was reading some of my writing. And despite her being a sister… she was actually really non-critical and gave me some honest feedback. And it turns out – she actually likes the way I write.

I have decided to make my passion something more. What is my passion? Writing – but more specifically, writing about dogs. So, despite the fact that I’m not an expert with some sort of credentials, I do have quite a bit of knowledge about dogs, especially rescues and Cavaliers and I want to write about what I know and learn what I don’t!

So – I’m taking my blog in a new direction – I’m going to try to make it a little more polished and professional.

Thank you friends who have followed me so far and I hope you continue to do so as I look to share more meaningful and helpful content. My sister told me that one of her girl friends got paid to be a blogger – and since I hate my job – I’m thinking that this might be something good for me to get into and hopefully, God willing, I will get paid for it one day.

Please stay tuned! Bitsy and I have lots to talk about!

Your truly,

Brad