Sunday, March 28, 2010

Why to never buy a puppy or kitten from a pet store!

Have you ever heard of a puppy mill? Puppy mills are breeding facilities that produce purebred puppies and kittens in hefty numbers. Often these puppies and kittens are sold across the country to pet stores. Puppy mills have been around for decades, and the reason these dog and cat breeding operations can continue to flourish, is because people always want to buy the cute puppy looking at them at the pet store, or the beautiful Persian kittens bouncing around the cage. These canine and feline breeding facilities keep dogs and cats in shockingly pitiful conditions. Dogs live their entire lives in cages, without any walks, human contact, proper grooming, no veterinary care, barley any food or water, and no socialization what so ever. Dogs are usually housed in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions, and all they do is breed, and have puppies. Female dogs are bred at every opportunity possible, and given no recovery time between litters. When the males and females are unable to perform their task, they are killed. Hundreds of thousands of dogs suffer in puppy mills every day. They are over bred and in most cases are the subjects on inbreeding. These dogs are used to make pure profit from the puppy sales, with no regard to the dog’s health or well being. They are bred over and over again, until they die. Breeding is their only purpose. Several hundreds of thousands of puppies are shipped cross country to be sold in pet stores. The results of these facilities are adorable puppies that have generations of hereditary defects. Puppies that arrive at the pet stores usually carry a lot of diseases including:
• Chronic Diarrhea
• Parvovirus
• Heart worms
• Mange
• Upper respiratory infections
• Distemper
• Kennel cough
• Giardia
• Pneumonia
• Fleas and ticks
• Intestinal parasites
These are only some of the problems that the puppies may face in their lifetime.
We can take a stand and help prevent these places from staying in business. One way to do this is by eliminating the demand for these puppies. Support the ASPCA or Humane Society in getting legislation passed, that will ensure the proper care for these pets, and that they are raised in healthy conditions.

Here are some ways we can help stop these Puppy mills.
• Do not buy a puppy from a pet store unless it is associated with the ASPCA.
• Boycott pet stores who sell puppies
• Never buy a puppy from someone who will not allow you to see where it lives, and won’t let you meet both of its parents
• Don’t ever buy a puppy from a website online. If you can’t meet the dog, chances are it’s a puppy mill. Truly responsible breeders will want to meet the family to which their puppy is going.
• Buy a puppy or kitten from a shelter
• Always spay and neuter your pets to eliminate any chances of breeding
• Do research on the place you want to get your pets from. Contact them more than once, and be sure to look closely at the parent’s health.
If you follow those steps you can help shut down these horrid puppy mills. Below is a link to a very touching video on you tube. It gives some more information on puppy mills, and the horrifying conditions these poor animals have to live in. I hope this will make you think twice before purchasing that cute puppy in the pet store window. You may feel you need to save him, but in the long run, you are only funding the puppy mills to make more puppies.

Sheena Diane, Freelance Writer

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The dangers of "humanizing" your dog.

I hear it all the time. "Fluffy is like my sister!!" "Scooter is like my other son." "Muffin is my baby!!"
These are cute. However, they are not in the dog's best interest.
Let me flip the script for a second to see if this makes sense.
A lady has a baby. A beautiful little girl named Piper. She holds her lovingly, snuggles her, strokes her tiny little head. She then gets home from the hospital, lays a little mat on the floor, and puts the baby on it. In the morning she puts a leash around the baby's neck, and pulls it out for a walk into the yard. When she brings the baby in, she puts some water and kernels of food in a bowl and sits the baby in front of it so it can eat. When the baby accidentally pees on the floor, the mom takes it by the neck, sticks it's nose in the pee, and smacks it on the butt.
Sound like a negligent parent?
Because a baby is not a dog, and shouldn't be treated like one. Humans have different needs then dogs that need be met.
So, why is it ok to do the above with a puppy?
Dogs have a certain set of needs that we don't. They crave exercise, they crave leadership, they crave something to do. They have an ingrained need to migrate. When these aren't met, we wind up with a dog with psychological issues.
Putting a chihuahua in a bag and toting it around town is cute and all, but, where is the dog's need to walk being met? It's not. This is for the benefit of the dog owner, not the dog. A dog who is allowed to sleep in bed with you, or to lay around on your furniture is also being done an injustice. Dogs in the wild follow rules. They have limitations. They are allowed to do certain things by their pack leaders and not allowed to do other things. They live with structure, and crave structure on a deep psychological level. We let our dogs go wherever they want, yet smack them or punish them when they do something wrong.
Wait, what? How could they do something wrong when they could do whatever they want?
Dogs need rules and structure. Actually, we do too. We just like to think we don't.
I am not saying don't love your dogs, or don't carry them, or pet them or whatever. What I am saying is, don't treat them like they are humans because then you are taking away the basic needs, and this is not only unfair, but can cause problems. Remember they are a dog first, THEN they are Fido. Treat them appropriately.
The Doggy Guru
Helping you, help your dog.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Exercise and your dog's behavior issues.

The majority of my clients come to me because their dogs are nuts. They chew up furniture, chew up shoes/socks/blankets/clothes. They bark incessantly, they jump on everyone. They chase their tails or just don't listen. They drive their owners nuts as well. issues like aggression is usually a lot easier for me to deal with, as well as the owners, since it is a specific problem. It is almost tangible. However, a neurotic dog leaves the owners feeling totally clueless and helpless. Obedience training doesn't seem to work, nor does positive/negative training. So, what is a helpless dog owner to do?
Go for a walk to clear your head. Take Fido with you.
That's it. Usually.
As with children, a dog has TONS of energy. Leaving them at home all the time keeps that energy from being spent. Your four legged friend is left with all this pent up energy, and it has to manifest itself somehow. So, what do they do? They decide to chew something up. They decide to run around like a maniac. They decide to bark and howl and make life miserable for you. Taking them out and walking them, or running with them, helps them use up this energy, and keeps them balanced.
It's no different then it is for us.
We sleep better when we exercise.
We think better when we exercise.
We look better, and work better, and are more productive and creative when we exercise.
It is the same with our canine companions.
Exercise is nature's way. Out in the wild, a pack of wolves don't lay around all day. They walk up to 10 hours a day, looking for food, migrating, etc. Their metabolism is up and running. It's how they were built.
WE keep our pets in sad shape, physically, as well as psychologically, by keeping them locked up within the four walls of our homes. And the backyard is no better. It is simply a bigger, four walled kennel with no top. They still don't feel like they are going anywhere.
Walking is a very important part of a dog's life. It's what they do.
Fish swim.
Birds fly.
Dogs walk.
So, if you have a dog who is a good dog most of the time, but is acting all weird and neurotic, take him/her out for a nice, long walk. Not a walk where it sniffs every tree, stops at every bush, and marks every patch of ground it sees (imagine how long it would take a pack of 40 wolves to get ANYWHERE if they stopped at every tree to mark!!) A walk where you go for a long time (30-45 minutes) focused on moving forward. You "migrate". This feeds an ancient and programmed need within your dog, and helps keep them balanced and fulfilled. Also, by the time you get home, they are usually spent. They lay around and rest, which is much better then tearing up your newest shoes.
Now, this is not the end all/be all of dog training. This is not going to cure all your dog's issues. However, it certainly doesn't hurt!!
Walk your dogs.
Run with your dogs.
Get in shape with your dogs.
Think of them as furry, four legged fitness machines.
Not only will you feel better about yourself, but your dog will act better as well.

The Doggy Guru
Helping you, Help your dog.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Winter pet safety tips.

Winter time is here, and now is the time to take all the extra precautions to keep your pets safe in the cold weather. If your pets stay indoors, there are less things to worry about then if you have outdoor pets. Indoor animals can keep warm and dry, but if your pets are outdoors, they run the risk of serious illness or even death caused by the cold. Even if you have a dog house, that may not be enough protection against harsh winds and cold. Make sure the doorway is covered or closed, and be sure to have a lot of warm blankets. Older pets should never be left outside in cold climates, and if your pet does not have a thick coat, then it will not do well in extreme cold. Here are some things to watch out for in the winter months.

Metal bowls - Anything metal that you keep food or water in can become a great hazard to pets outside in the cold. Pets tongues can get stuck to the cold metal and injure themselves by trying to pull away or run. As a solution, switch to plastic or ceramic bowls until the temperature gets warmer again.

Ice salt - Chemicals and salt that are used to melt the winter snow can be toxic to your dogs or cats. They can pick it up on their paws and lick off the salt, causing upset stomach, or other sickness. Be sure to wash your pet’s paws in warm water after walks or extended periods outside.

Car engines - Before you start up your car, always check under the car to be sure no animals have crawled up into the engine. Cats and raccoons are drawn to the heat of your car, and you may find one cuddled up beneath the car engine to keep out of the harsh weather. If you start the car before checking, it could cause the animal serious injury or death. To avoid damage to them and your car, bang on the hood or honk your horn to scare any animals away.

Dehydration - If your cat or dog spends a lot of time outside you’ll need to increase the amount of food and water you give them, because keeping warm requires a large amount of energy. Try a heated bowl to prevent the water from freezing. Provide them with extra food because of the calories they burn generating heat.

Lost pets - More pets are reported lost in the winter months than in any other season. This is due to the fact that they lose track of the scent of home, because of snow and sleet. This causes them to become disoriented and run away. Be sure to keep your dogs on a leash at all times during walks. This is also a good practice if you live near water. An animal may run over to a pond, and fall through the ice. During these cold months, keep a close eye on your pets.

Frostbite - No matter how long your pet is exposed to temperatures below zero, they can still get frostbite. Most cases are seen in the feet, nose or ears. Check to see if skin looks grey or white and may be peeling. The best way to prevent it is to remove any snow or ice from their fur and paws right away.

The winter months can be harsh not only on us, but also on our pets, so take some extra time to ensure the best environment for them in the cold weather. If you do, you and your pets can enjoy the season a little better.

Sheena Diane - Freelance Writer

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Remember it's an animal first.

Today, a horrible incident happened at SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida. A whale trainer was grabbed and killed by a Killer Whale, during a show. Having been an alligator wrestler in the past, this is a situation I can relate to, as we always worked with the knowledge that at any moment, we could also be grabbed and hurt. Some of us were.
Why do I bring this up here on a dog training and pet care blog?
As unfortunate as the incident above was, it serves as a reminder that they were working with animals.
Whales are among the smartest and most adaptable animals in the world, but they are still animals.
Whale trainers take a huge risk getting into that water and working with these enormous, powerful creatures.
Dog trainers do as well.
I have been bit during training sessions.
Dog owners take on this risk too. This is something that is sometimes over looked, but it's true. Dogs, no matter how much we try to humanize them, are animals. They are NOT our children, brothers, sisters, etc. They are animals, and potentially dangerous ones at that.
Different scenerios to think about:
Dogs around infants.
There is definitely a jealous streak in the canine world. They get used to the attention we lavish upon them, and suddenly, when another "creature" comes along and becomes the object of everyone's attention (the infant), there can arise a confrontation. Dogs have been known to go after babies. It is very important to properly introduce the dogs to the babies when bringing them home from the hospital. I will be posting a blog on this in the near future, as it is a very important ritual that should be performed for both the dog's and baby's well being.
Dogs on our beds.
Many people have been bit by their dogs as they slept. Why? Because they made the mistake of allowing their pooches to sleep on their beds with them.
This is a no no from a canine's perspective. We do not let them sleep on the bed for their sake, we do it for our own reasons. WE want to hold them, WE want them next to us, WE want to feel safe.
However, the dog sees things differently. They suddenly see themselves as the pack leader, and this becomes THEIR bed. Many clients in the past have told me their dogs growl at them anytime they try to get them off the bed.
Of course they do.
It's now the dog's bed. Why would it want to get off?
The danger comes when the owner is sleeping, and maybe rolls over on the dog, drapes a leg or arm on the dog, or kicks the dog. He/she doesn't realize you are asleep, and a bite occurs.
This could be bad.
Same goes for the couch or living room chairs.
Be very careful allowing the dogs to take over the house, because it can cause an unbalanced and potentially aggressive situation.
In conclusion, let this Seaworld situation remind us that we are dealing with animals. Potentially dangerous animals. Love them. Hug them. Play with them. But never, ever forget to respect them.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Walking with a leash.

Many dog owners have very well behaved dogs, and "reward" them by walking them off the leash.
This is not the best of practices for the dog's health and safety.
Even the best trained dogs can have moments of urgency. Depending on the dog, a squirrel, cat, or bird could make Lassie take off after them. The danger is of the dogs running into the street, and possibly getting run over, or of them running away from you, the owner, and possibly getting lost. Also, there are a multitude if chemicals out on the street, from engine oil to Anti freeze, that your pup may lick up. A dog's tongue gives it a lot of information about other dogs, or the world around them, so it is natuiral for a them to want to lick things, just to check them out. A tongue full of anti freeze can cause serious injury, or even death. A dog not on a leash can go to a foreign puddle and lap it up before you get to it.
If this is a smaller dog, there is always the danger that a larger dog will see it and try to attack it, chasing it away, and leaving you helpless to do anything to protect your beloved canine.
Another thing we usually don't think about when it comes to the leash is the connection it gives us to our dogs. They, after all, look to us for guidance and leadership. Your energy dictates to your dog how it should behave more then your words ever could, and during the walk, that leash acts like a conduit, allowing your energy to flow down to your pup and let it know what you are thinking.
A bit metaphysical, I know, but you get my point. It is your link to you pooch.
So, when going out for a walk, remember, it is in your dog's best interest to keep that leash on. Lead it, guide it, and most of all, keep it safe from harm.

9 Tips For Potty Training A New Puppy

You just got a puppy and you are so excited, but now what? If you start training your puppy from the moment it comes home, then you can bypass a lot of bad behaviors. I feel the main problem dog owners face is when the puppy gets in the habit of going in the house. Once the habit is started, it makes house breaking more difficult. It is important to not let your puppy get into that habit. Below are nine ways that you can potty train your puppy.

1) Consistency – It’s essential to take your puppy out routinely. Keep it on a schedule so it can learn to hold it until the next potty break. If you can stay consistent with your routine then that is the first step. Puppies younger than four months may need at least twelve or fourteen potty breaks a day. Make a schedule and stick to it. Best times are first thing in the morning, after you puppy gets up from a nap, about five minutes after eating or drinking, and anytime you see the puppy sniffing the floor.

2) Words – Once the puppy is outside doing its business, repeat the same words each time. For example you can say “Go Potty” or “Potty time”. Saying this every time will teach them what those words mean, so later you can say “Go Potty” and they will know it’s time to go. You must remember to use the same words each time so the puppy will not get confused.

3) Play time – Remember that potty time is not play time, so once the puppy goes potty; you must bring it back inside right away. There is a time to play, and during bathroom breaks is not it. The puppy needs to learn the purpose of going outside, and that is to use the bathroom only.

4) Crate training – Everyone has a different opinion on crate training. However I have found that crate training has worked the best. Crates create a safe haven for dogs, and it taps into the natural instincts of keeping its den clean. Dogs do not like using the bathroom in there crate, so this is why crate training has proved to work. A crate is also seen as a safe, comforting place for your dog to come and relax. Once you take your dog outside, and it does not do its business, put it in the crate for thirty minutes, and try it again. Repeat until the puppy has gone potty outside.

5) Scents – Dogs rely on their scents of smell, so the best way to continue to have your dog go potty outside is by taking it to the same spot each time. Once it smells it’s urine from the last potty break, it will most likely go there again and again. This is why it’s so important to clean the accident areas in your house very good, or this could cause an issue with the puppy wanting to use the potty in the house instead of outside.

6) Make a schedule – First potty break should always be in the morning when the puppy wakes up. Having a new puppy is a round the clock reasonability and the puppy will need to learn your schedule. It is not reasonable to expect a puppy to hold its urine or feces until you get home from work, so you will have to work out a schedule that will work for you and your puppy both. Once you get a schedule that works, stick to it. Remember consistency is the key!

7) Signs – Learning what signs to look for, will help you know when your puppy needs to go out. Keep an eye on it at all times, and look for cues. Sniffing the carpet, circling, wiggling, or squatting are all sure signs that your puppy needs to be taken outside NOW!

8) Have patience – Every dog is different, just because your best friend potty trained her dog in a month, does not mean it will be the same for you. It could take you longer, or less time to house break your puppy. You cannot housebreak any dog over night, and you must be prepared to clean up some accidents. If you just stay persistent, then you can try to eliminate those accidents all together. Once your puppy does not have an accident in the house for one month, you can proudly say your pup is now potty trained.

9) Potty time – Once your puppy is potty trained, and learns to associate outside with potty, they will begin to show you when it’s time to go. Some dogs may stand by the door, waiting to be taken out. Others may bark at the door or leash. Some may even beg or whine. It’s your job to learn the signs that your dog needs to go out. Once you do, accidents should be few and far between.

Sheena Diane, Freelance Writer