Friday, August 8, 2008

Teaching Your Dog to Perform “Fun Tricks”

Teaching your dog “fun” tricks is a great way to get your dog involved in family functions and simply a great way to interact with your dog. It gives your dog a way to be involved in the family life and it tends to make the family be more involved with the dog.

It takes some patience and practice, but you and your dog will learn tricks that will last a lifetime. Tricks are like riding a bike. Once they have fully learned the trick, they will recall the trick years down the road, even if they have not practiced for a long time.

Before you begin teaching your dog new tricks, it is important to know the limits of your dog. Be realistic. Consider the size and breed of your dog before trying to teach a new trick. Also, it is important that you and your dog are having fun. If your dog is not “into” the trick thing, you must respect his wishes. Unless it is something that you are teaching for safety purposes, you will not want to force the “fun” tricks. This could cause tension in you and your dog.

When training your dog, it is absolutely essential that you use positive reinforcement. This is the most effective technique when trying to teach your dog tricks. Fun tricks are supposed to be just that, fun. Punishing a dog for not performing a “fun” trick is simply mean and unacceptable.

In positive reinforcement, you ignore the bad and reward the good. Once your dog has performed the trick, you reward him with something he likes, especially a lot of praise. They know when you are pleased with them and they will want to try for that response again.
Another important tip is to break down the trick into smaller steps.

Here are some tricks you can teach your pooch.

Paw trick – Have your dog sit. Ask for the paw. Shake it gently and praise and reinforce with a treat.

High Five – Start with giving the paw. Hold your hand at the same height in which your dog gives his paw. With each command, hold your hand higher until your dog gives his paw at a higher level. Do this until your dog actually gives a high five. After he has learned the small steps, he will realize he is supposed to give the paw no matter where you have your hand.

Give Ten – This is a variation of High Five. This is where your dog will give both paws and rest his weight on his hind legs. Only teach this trick, if he has mastered the above two tricks.

Are you Happy? – When you ask this question, your dog should wag his tail. This is a simple but cute trick that makes your dog feel part of the family. This trick is taught by the tone of your voice. Be sure to use an excited tone. If he wags his tail praise and reinforce with a treat or toy.
Give me a Kiss – Dab butter or cream cheese on your hand and say “give me a kiss” while extending your buttered hand to your dog and raising it up towards your face. You can even have him kiss your face, if you like. Once this has been done with butter a couple of times, they will learn this hand signal.

Going through a hoop – Buy a hula hoop. Hold the hula hoop in front of you. If your dog is frightened, positive reinforcement is great here. Give him a treat if he sniffs it. Then hold it out to your side and have treats on the other side of the hoop. He will walk through for that treat.

Chase your tail – Hold the treat at level with the dog’s nose and say “chase your tail”. Start slowly by giving treats at half spins, etc.

Once you have trained your dog some “fun” tricks, you can venture out to the park. Take along his pet stroller for after his performance in the park. Make it more exciting by getting your dog a pet costume. This will add to his performance! He will likely be tired after a day of fun and be ready for a long nap in his pet bed.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Pet Money Saving Tips

If you own pets or considering adding a new member to your family, you either know or are going to discover that pets can get expensive. Most people who have made the decision to add a pet to your family will do whatever it takes to keep your pet happy and healthy. Even though you will likely do whatever you can .for your pet, you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to make your pet happy.

Here are some tips to help you save money while keeping your loyal companion happy and healthy.

Money saving tips when choosing your pet
If you are in the process of deciding what pet to bring into your home, consider your budget seriously. You will want to be able to take care of that pet the best way you can, especially if something serious were to happen.

Seriously consider visiting a shelter. Not only will you be saving money, but you will be saving an animal’s life.

Choose a mixed breed as opposed to a pure bred. Pure bred tend to be more expensive.

Money saving tips after bringing home your pet
Shop around for a veterinarian. Make sure to ask questions on the prices of shots and other normal procedures. One veterinarian may cost up to 40% more than another for the exact same shot simply because they have a nicer facility. The most important thing is the facility is clean and that the vet has a great “pet side manner”.

Get the immunizations on time. This will help prevent your pet from getting sick, costing you even more money.

Pet proof your home to help prevent ingestion of foreign objects, preventing a trip to the emergency pet office.

Sign up for free promotions offered at the pet stores. They will usually send you money-saving coupons for products you will need for your pet, such as pet food, pet clothes, pet stroller, or even on pet beds. You can even purchase these items at garage sales which can be almost 60% cheaper or more.

Purchase pet food in bulk to save money. The highest priced food does not always mean it is the best food. Ask your vet or pet store owners for advice. Compare ingredients from brand and generic dog foods.

When giving your pet a bath, purchase a hair strainer to prevent more costs from clogged drains.
Consider installing a pet door. This will help to reduce your heating and cooling costs from not having to open the door so many times throughout the day.

Pet insurance may not be the answer. It can be very expensive and may not cover the vet expenses you actually need. Instead, start a savings account set aside specifically for your pet and other household emergencies. Your money may be better spent in your own savings account.

Your pet is a loyal companion that you want to be able to protect. Makes sure you have what you need to take care of your pet by making wise financial decisions. Your pet deserves only the very best – even if it means its pet bed comes from a garage sale so that you have the money to get his/her shots!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Perfect Backyard Dog

Those of you that have decided to grow a garden this summer or are planning to add some landscaping to your yard and own a dog will know that it can be quite interesting trying to keep your dog from having a blast in the garden or in the bushes.

As a responsible dog owner, you will want to take precautions, not only to prevent destruction of the garden, but for the safety of your loyal and trusting companion. You need to take steps to protect your dog from any toxic fertilizers or plants.

Here are some tips to help you create a backyard fit for a dog.
Leave spaces between shrubs so dogs can run between them to reduce damage.

Install a fence. Even the best behaved dogs will have trouble holding back the desire to chase that squirrel!

Check your yard for potentially toxic plants, such as a nightshade, which is a poisonous weed. Remove these immediately. They pose not only a danger to your pet, but to your children.
Know that even though some parts of a plant are safe for humans, it could be toxic for your dog, such as tomatoes.

Do not use rocks or mulch that smells good. Dogs can choke or will want to eat the mulch.
Use organic products instead of toxic pesticides to manage bugs.

Train your dog to stay away from the garden.

Avoid planting poisonous plants where you know your dog will be. Find a place where the dog is not able to get to for these plants.

Avoid mulch made from cocoa bean hulls because dogs will eat it because it has a strong chocolate fragrance. It can also contain caffeine and theobromine stimulants that will make a dog sick or could be fatal if eaten in huge quantities. This is according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

You can actually help reduce the lawn from being destroyed by dog urine by encouraging your dog to drink plenty of fresh water. This will help to dilute the urine so it is not so strong.
Train your dog and praise him with lot of treats and love.

Show him the boundaries. You should grab that pet stroller and pet jacket and leave your house the same way when going for a walk outside of the yard. Either get into the car or always leave the yard by the drive way. This will help to confuse your dog and will help in training the boundaries of the yard and areas where he is not allowed.

Play, play, play. If you take the time to play with your dog out in the yard, this will give you lots of chances to train him to stay away from specific areas, but will also give him the sense of belonging in the areas you allow him to be in. After a long hard day of play, he will be ready to sleep in his beloved pet bed.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Furry Friends Tidbits

Enjoy our monthly little tidbits on your furry friends. Here you will find interesting fun facts on dogs and cats or any other little tidbits of information from delicious pet recipes to different types of pet beds to fun games to play with your pet. You never know what you will find, so join us each month for some fun and exciting tidbits!

Five Fun Facts
Adult dogs have forty-two teeth.

Did you know a dog can carry HALF it own weight comfortably in a backpack? Your dog would be a great companion on a hike or camping trip!

When a dog chews on grass, it does not always mean it has a tummy ache, grass adds fiber to his diet. It is a dog’s salad!

Kittens are born with blue eyes, just like a baby. If their eyes will change, it will occur at four to five weeks of age.

Cats will meow at people, but will rarely meow at other cats. Plus, they could put in a growl or two with the dog they share a house with!

Popular and Unique Names for your Pets
Dog Names:

Cat Names
Sabrina Lily

A Game to Play with your Pet

Treasure Hunt:
Have your dog sit and stay. Put a treat or special toy within sight. Give you dog the release command to run to her treat or toy. Let her eat it or play with it. After you do this a couple of times, have her sit and stay again, but this time change the place you put the treat or toy, still within sight. After a couple of times doing this, you can “hide” the treat or toy. The first time you hide it, you will want her to see you putting it there, but you don’t want her seeing the item. Each time you hide it, put it further away. You can even start hiding more than one item. This game is a lot of fun for both of you!

Pet Products
Pet strollers are a great way to take your dog or cat out for a walk or to give them a break on the way back from a long playtime in the park.

Pet beds are wonderful to have for your pets to have a special place to sleep after that long walk or playtime in the park!

Pet costumes or clothes are great for cold weather or simply for fun. Check out all of the cute costumes and coats available these days!

Dog Recipes – Warning these can be too tempting for humans!

This section is dedicated to all of those who like to make your own natural dog food or treats.

Whole Wheat Cheese Snaps:
1 cup uncooked oatmeal1-½ cup hot water or meat juice/broth1 cup grated cheese1 egg, beaten1 cup wheat germ¼ cup margarine½ cup powdered milk4 cups whole wheat flour

Preheat oven to 300 F (150° C).
In large bowl, pour hot water over oatmeal and margarine: let stand for 5 minutes. Stir in powdered milk, grated cheese, salt and egg. Add wheat germ. Mix well. Add flour, 1/3 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition. Knead 3 or 4 minutes, adding more flour if necessary to make very stiff dough. Pat or roll dough to 1/2 inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes and place on a baking sheet sprayed with nonstick spray.

Bake for 1 hour. Turn off heat and leave in oven for 1-½ hours or longer.

Makes approximately 2-¼ pounds.

Your furry little friend will love these delicious and homemade treats made from the heart!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Tips for Introducing Cats and Dogs - July

When I brought our new puppy home, I was afraid that the cat would turn into a very mean cat. She was already “evil” according to our kids, but she was just a loner. She was actually starting to come around where you could actually pet her. She basically tolerates us to make us happy so that we will continue feeding her! So, she allows us to pet her for about three strokes and then she dashes.

So, bringing in a new puppy into the mix was going to be interesting. I was concerned that she would just become mean. The strangest thing happened. She actually became even more tolerant of us. She has turned into a pretty sweet kitty.

She bats and growls at my puppy, but luckily she does not have those front claws! However, it seems as though she actually tries to get the puppy to chase after her. It is pretty amazing the change I have seen in our cat. Now, the puppy will sit there and take the batting at her face because she thinks it is all in play. Little does she know!

Here are some tips to help you introduce your new dog or cat to your pets.

Be prepared to look for the perfect addition to your family. You will need to be sure you are aware of the needs of the dog or cat, as they are different.

Make sure you are able to provide time and resources for both pets.

Prepare your home before bringing in a new pet. Be sure to clearly mark their territory for their pet beds, food, and litter areas. Try to make it so that neither pet can intrude on the other pets resting area.

It is important to clip both animals’ claws before their first meeting.

Each pet should be allowed to smell the other pets blanket to begin the introduction. This helps to avoid surprise.

Give each pet extra attention and praise and be sure to spend quality time individually with each pet. Consider taking them both out for a walk individually. Grab the pet stroller and the pet coat and venture out with your new kitty or puppy.

Monitor them closely for the first thirty days for any aggression. Do not leave them alone until you are positive there is a bonding. If you have to leave, you will need to separate them by putting them in different rooms.

Refrain from punishing either one if they do not get along on their first meeting. This will cause negative feelings. They will resent the other pet because they were punished.

Love, love and love some more-give each pet an abundance of love and praise, especially in the beginning.

Hopefully with time your pets will learn to get along or will love each other at first sight. Usually, it takes a little bit of time for them to come around. Good luck on your new venture and your new little addition.

Friday, July 4, 2008

How to Give your Dog CPR - July

We are all aware of how important it is to know how to give CPR to a person, but have you really ever thought of what you would do if your dog was choking? How much of a tragedy would it be if you could have saved your dog’s life, if only you would have taken the time to learn how to give your dog CPR?

This month’s “how to” is designed to help give you the steps you need to save your dog’s life in the tragic event that your dog chokes. This can happen all too easily with all of the toys that are available for dogs these days. This article does not take the place of a professional training course. It is recommended that you enroll in a professional training course for more specific detailed training.

CPR for dogs under 30 pounds and puppies

Put the dog on the right side.

Locate the dog’s heart in the chest just behind the points on the front elbows. Put a cupped hand over the heart on either side of the chest. One hand should be resting between the dog’s body and the floor, while compressing one to one-and-a-half inches. Count to one, then release for one count. Do this at a rate of 100 compressions per minute.

If you have someone who can help you perform the CPR, you can give one breath using mouth to nose breathing every two to three compressions. If you are alone, you should do one breath every five compressions.

Puppies are a little different. Use your thumb on one side of the puppy’s chest, with your fingers on the other side. You will not need as much force, but you must be sure the compressions are strong enough to compress the chest.

CPR for dogs over 30 pounds

You will follow the steps above, except you should use both hands on the same side of the chest. Do NOT place your hand directly over the heart. Instead you will need to kneel on your dog’s back and place the heel of your hand at the widest part of the rib cage and put your other hand on top of it.

Keep your elbows straight and push straight down while compressing the chest two to three inches at a rate of one and a half to two times per second.

If you have someone that can assist you, you can give one nose-to-mouth breath every two to three compressions. If you are alone, give one breath every five compressions.
It is important to continue to give your dog CPR until your dog has a steady pulse and is breathing on his own.

Grab your dog’s pet bed and rush your dog to the veterinarian or nearest emergency facility. It is likely that your dog’s ribs have been fractured during CPR.

You could be faced with this tragic situation. Don’t take for granted the time you have with your dog. Take some time each day to spend quality time with your dog. Take out the pet stroller and go for a long walk. Make the most of every minute you have with your loyal furry friend.


Friday, June 27, 2008

Pet Advice for June

How much is too much chocolate for your dog?

Any of you who owns a dog has heard the saying “don give your dog chocolate or it can kill him”. I have grown up hearing that constantly from my parents. I remember being absolutely scared to death when my childhood dog got a piece of my candy bar. I hid the fact that she got a hold of the candy bar, but I was extremely worried that I was going to kill my dog.

Now, as an adult, my dog snuck one of those big Hershey candy bars right off of the table. My daughter was so upset, because it was the first time she was able to get one of those 7 oz. candy bars. However, my dog, which was an 80 pound German shepherd, started to feel sick. It scared me to death once I realized she ate the entire candy bar. This was not one of those King size bars, but much bigger. I knew something was wrong when I went to offer a treat and she refused it. Then a few hours later she seemed like she was in a drug like state. It terrified me. I called the vet and they said that a dog that size eating that much chocolate is not toxic. It would have had to be 40 ounces that she ate. He told me that she would likely feel sick, but that these levels would be okay.

Chocolate contains theobromine that is toxic to dogs in huge quantities. It is like caffeine and is in the same family as Xanthines.

The toxic levels are measured by the dog’s individual sensitivity, animal size and chocolate concentration. These are general levels:

Milk chocolate that has 44 mg of theobromine per oz. Semisweet chocolate that has 150mg/oz. Baker's chocolate 390mg/oz.Using a dose of 100 mg/kg as the toxic dose it comes out roughly as: 1 ounce per 1 pound of body weight for Milk chocolate1 ounce per 3 pounds of body weight for Semisweet chocolate1 ounce per 9 pounds of body weight for Baker's chocolate.

How does chocolate affect the dog?
It affects the nervous system, cardiovascular system and peripheral nerves. It also acts as a diuretic.

What are the symptoms of toxic chocolate?

Hyper excitability Hyper irritability Increased heart rate Restlessness Increased urination Muscle tremors Vomiting DiarrheaHow is a dog treated who has toxic levels of chocolate?
This type of poisoning does not have an antidote. Usually the toxin will remain in the dog for 17.5 hours. You should have your dog induced vomiting for the first 1 to 2 hours. Activated charcoal could inhibit the absorption of the toxin. An anticonvulsant could be needed if neurological signs are indicated. Oxygen therapy, intravenous medications and fluids could be needed. They will help to protect the heart of the dog.

I was lucky that my dog did not need any of the above treatments. I just watched her and she was up and back to her sweet self the very next day. Ready to go for our daily walk. I was grateful to be able to grab that pet stroller, since she usually runs herself ragged. Then she comes home to her favorite place in the entire house, her pet bed.

If you suspect your dog has eaten chocolate, don’t hesitate to call your vet. They will have the necessary information for you.