SOCIAL GRACE

Just as the relationship between parent and child has changed over the years, from disciplinarian to a more relaxed friendship, so has the relationship between human and canine. With this change has come a born-again kind of love for dogs and the quality of their lives has become as important as any other family member. This is good thing; a very good thing. However, the dog, just like the child, must be taught to have social grace and to fit into our household routine and society as a whole because of the outside activities and excursions that our furry family members are included in. There have to be rules and regulations, schedule and boundaries and basically things that are OK and not OK for your dog to do.

Here are some tips straight from the trainer’s mouth! One commonality I see in every household is “avoidance.” In other words, if you avoid the situation you won’t have to deal with it. So, instead of teaching your dog not to beg at the table during meals, you put him in his crate or another room where he is out of sight, out of mind. Another example would be guests coming into your home, your dog barks and jumps on them and is generally disruptive. What do you do? Again, he goes in his crate or another room to avoid the hassle and embarrassment.

What would I do? Glad you asked. I would have a “dress rehearsal.” Don’t wait for Thanksgiving to teach Harley not to beg at the table. Don’t teach him how to greet people when your boss is at the door. These may be exaggerations but I know you get the point. Even during Wednesday night dinner everyone is tired from school and work and they’re hungry and not in the mood to deal with Harley’s antics. Never work with your dog when you’re agitated. He will pick up on it immediately and become agitated as well. The lesson will be worthless.

Try to reenact the situations you want to correct. Put a collar and leash on Harley and bring him to a mat or dog bed somewhere in the kitchen, have him sit, lie down, and stay, and give him one of his chew toys. Then sit down at the table with a cookie…yours, not his. If he gets up to come to you, firmly tell him “NO,” and nicely tell him to “go to place,” take him there and redo the down/stay. Start with a few minutes and increase the length of time he stays, as you practice. Within a few weeks, he should understand going to his mat on command and staying there. “Go to place” is a great alternative to “go to your kennel.” Use this exercise during other household activities like cooking or washing the floor.

OK, now for the front door scenario. Again, set up a dress rehearsal. Ask a neighbor or friend to stop by and ring the door bell and knock on the door. Tell your guest to “wait a minute.” With Harley on collar and leash, door unlocked, have Harley sit/stay at least 15 feet away from the front door. Tell your guest to come in and stand just inside the door. When Harley proceeds to bark or jump, tell him “NO” and take him away from the door and into another room. Have him sit/stay there and let him calm down. Bring him toward your guest again but not all the way. The goal is to have Harley sit/stay calmly a few feet away from the guest. Then if desired, the guest can pet your dog UNDER his chin; not over his head, and continue into the house

Always remember to praise your dog for a good job. Affection goes further than biscuits and is always available.

It just takes patience and practice in order to condition your dog to respond in a desired way. Only 10 to 15 minutes each time is best; for both of you. What you are doing is teaching him to sit on the sideline. Not all family members participate in all family activities. The family dog should abide by the same rule.

REAL FOOD FOR REAL DOGS COOKED FRESH AT HOME

“Couldn’t be fresher if you cooked it yourself.”  Ever hear that phrase used to describe what you feed your dog?  Well, I DO cook it myself and a lot of people, have a lot of questions. The most frequently asked questions are:

1. What do you cook?

2.How do you cook it?

3. Will the dogs eat until they are sick?

4. Do they have diarrhea from it?

5. Do they fight over it?

6. Does it make them beg at the table?

7. Isn’t it expensive?

8. Can dogs really eat that?

PLEASE BE AWARE that there are foods, like raisins, grapes, onions, for example,  that can and will make your dog ill.  Particular foods are toxic to dogs and should never be fed to them. As with any food or dog food, change of diet takes time to adjust to and should be done slowly. I will follow up with a list of foods that are harmful.

So, just to give you a brief look without getting too specific;

WHAT:  chicken, beef, fish, vegetables, fruit, cheese, eggs, sometimes oatmeal, sometimes brown rice.

( I do not feed them corn- the yellow you see in the photo is egg)

( The red in the above photo is fresh pepper) ( I do not give them green pepper)

HOW: boiled, oven roasted/baked, steamed

No, the dogs do not eat until they are sick. They are given a measured portion and they eat it slowly and enjoy it.

Any change of diet must be done slowly to avoid causing diarrhea. My dogs, who have been on REAL food for a very long time, go to the “bathroom” less often than they did when they ate DOG food.  Water consumption is much less than that of dogs eating dry food.

They do not fight over the food and they do not beg at the table. They are not fed from the table to start with and that would be encouraging, validating and condoning negative behavior. In addition, they are very satisfied after they have their own meal.

Expensive?  I have weighed, measured and calculated this preparation of food for my canine family for a long time. It amounts to slightly less than a high priced dog food that I would choose if I was buying one.

Consider their health and it’s a bargain as far as I’m concerned.

By the way, I can and do eat the same food I feed to my canine family.

Look for more posts….

DOGGY DAY CARE

Doggie Daycare. Just say the words and my head conjures up images of Eddie Murphy running after some kid in a superhero cape, wreaking havoc in Eddie’s house like Hurricane Hanna. But unlike most of Eddie’s movies, there’s a lesson to be learned here, and that is, that Doggie Daycare is the answer to “Dear Jenna…I work all day and my dog is alone from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. I can’t leave him loose in the house because he’s so destructive. Do you think it’s okay to keep him in a kennel all those hours? The answer is NO, it’s not okay, so if you don’t use a Doggie Daycare, at least find a responsible dog walker.

If your dog ever had any formal training, you might recall that he or she was really tired after an hour, even though the exercises were mentally and not physically challenging. Dogs need stimulation. They do get bored and they do get lonely. Doggie daycare offers all the things to your dog that kindergarten would offer to a toddler. Safety and well being plus fun and learning are the perfect combination.

Ask for a tour of the facility. Find out if they hired some teenagers for playtime and walking or if the staff is experienced in handling dogs. How long are they in business and are they licensed? How safe is the facility? Is it clean? Are medical records required and must the dogs be up to date on vaccines? You don’t want your dog coming home with kennel cough. Are the dogs separated into groups depending on temperament and size? Is there a menu of ala carte activities? Can they handle emergency situations? Are there indoor as well as outdoor provisions? Can you bring your dog for an hour and observe?

Think about going swimming at your favorite vacation hotel. How fun is that? Well, your dog will think so too, especially if your cherished canine is a lab or golden. Pet Hotels are sprouting up like 7/11s, so visit a few before you decide what to do. The questions are basically the same and I know you know what to look for. I was amazed at some of the facilities I’ve seen lately.

The hotel I was most impressed with included things that even I would not have imagined possible. I will share some of the wonderful features she has incorporated in her magnificent pet hotel, but by all means, not all of these things are necessary for everyone’s dogs to be comfortable, happy, safe and well cared for. Imagine this – each private room has a child’s bed and mattress for your dog to sleep on, a T.V., and computerized nanny-cam so you can go onto the Internet from any computer or cell phone while on vacation, and watch your dog live! I love that. The outdoor play area is covered with Astro-turf type ground cover with a built-in filtration system so the dogs never get dirty. Of course if they do, there is a grooming salon on premises. There is also an indoor pool that was more than inviting, a massage and therapy room, indoor playrooms, training rooms, and rooms I can’t even remember.

The bottom line is, no matter what the “extras” are, your dog is better off in a safe and happy environment, whether it’s for a few hours or a few days, and it’s your job to check it out before you check him in!

EXPECTING A BABY? HOW WILL THE DOG FEEL ABOUT THAT?

Are expecting a new baby and do you have a dog? If you are, I know you must have given thought to how to handle the dog when that joyous event takes place. Here’s some help to alleviate or head off some of the issues that might arise.

1. Gradually reduce the time spent with your dog before the baby comes so that he will not feel neglected or rejected. If you know that your dog will need to be separated from you when you are attending to the baby in a particular room, start using that room for reading or relaxing, and do not allow your dog to be with you at that time.

2. Discourage your dog from jumping on furniture used for the baby before the baby comes.

3. Get your dogs accustomed to the smells of a new baby by applying baby lotions and powders to your arms prior to the baby coming home.

4. Slowly introduce baby related noises into the household to help keep your dog calm and relaxed when it’s the real thing.

5. If your dog is your number one fan, try to have another household member take over some of the “dog” responsibilities and playtime bonding, a few months in advance of the baby’s arrival.

6. Hire a responsible, overly-friendly, dog-loving dog walker before the baby comes.

7. Use the babies name when talking to the dog so he is familiar with it.

8. Even though I believe your dog will definitely know the difference between a real live human baby and a doll, try putting the baby lotion and powder on a blanketed or diapered doll. It will help to get your dog used to some of the routines of holding the baby in a blanket or walking your dog next to a baby stroller or carriage. You can put the baby scented doll in a car seat or feeding seat and teach your dog to “sit quietly next to it but without “TOUCHING”.

When the new baby arrives, gradually increase together time with your dog.

TEACHING YOUR KIDS PETIQUETTE

Who can upstage the combination of kids and dogs? They just go together. Remember Timmy and Lassie, Spanky and Petey, the list goes on. But unfortunately, there aren’t too many Lassies, and fortunately, there was only one Spanky.

Statistics show that most serious injuries caused by dog bites involve medium to large breed dogs and children under the age of 5. The reality here is the dog is usually the family’s pet, or a dog that the child knows well and has had contact with before.

Generally speaking, both the child and the dog need to be taught the dos and don’ts of proper behavior, as well as learning to respect each other for what they are. By this, I mean a child will play with a dog as though it is another child and the dog will play with a child as though it is another dog. But let’s start with the scenario of a child meeting a non-family-pet.

1. A child should know to ALWAYS ask permission to pet a dog no matter how friendly the dog looks or acts.

2. A dog must be approached slowly. The child should extend their hand in front of the dog’s face so the dog can smell the child.

3. Never pet the dog by reaching over its head. That is a huge mistake and one that I see all the time. It will often make the dog lift its head up and back and open its mouth. Sometimes “going over the top,” as it is called, will be interpreted as a threatening gesture. Pet the dog under his chin.

4. Caution is advised when approaching a sick, injured, nursing or elderly dog.

5. Children should never run towards a dog or throw their arm around it.

6. Never tease a dog or throw things at it, it causes the dog to become agitated.

7. As a rule do not let your child take a toy or food away from a dog or bother it when it’s sleeping.

8. Children must know without exception to never reach their hand out to touch a dog that is kenneled, in a car, in the back of a truck or behind a fence.

Ever wonder why your new puppy or dog is nipping your child and not you? Observe the interaction between the two and take note of how they play with each other. Does your child play tug-of-war with your dog? Did your child see you do that? Tell the truth! Well that is something dogs do with each other.

Does your child love to have your dog chase them? Again, something dogs do with each other. See the pattern. If the puppy thinks your child is another puppy, she/he will nip, jump on, scratch and bark at your child. Of course the puppy must be taught to have “social grace,” but additionally your child must learn to handle the puppy/dog properly, by never teasing, hitting, pulling its tail or ears, startling, cornering, chasing, or inappropriately taking food or toys away. NEVER let your child reach under the kitchen or dining room table to grab your dog. No one should ever do that. Here’s a quick tip; if your child is sitting on the floor and the puppy is out of control, teach your child to stand up and turn away from the dog.

One more thing, dogs will always pick on the weakest of the pack, in this case…the pack being your family. Never mistreat your dog; he may in turn harm you child.

ALWAYS BE PREPARED

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Chance favors those who are prepared. My sister always told me to have a plan B and always be prepared. The latter may have emanated from the Boy Scouts but it was very good advice.

My advice to you is if you have a dog or cat, you need to have emergency  supplies on hand. Equally important to having the proper supplies is knowing when and how to use them. You may be surprised to find out that many of the items needed for your pet emergency kit are ordinary household items you may already have. Recognizing the signs your dog or cat may show when ill or injured is half the problem and administrating care is the other half. So BEFORE an emergency occurs, make a list and make an appointment to talk to you vet.

The Pet Emergency Pocket Guide™  was written and edited by a team of veterinarians, experts in animal safety, and pet owners and offers advice on planning ahead and locating care for your pets in the event of an injury, illness or emergency.  Color-coded, and illustrated sections show and tell you what to do for your pets, before, during, and after an emergency. Some of the categories are, but not limited to:   “How-to” first aid, including CPR and Heimlich  ● Contact information for important emergency references ● General care, including handling, grooming, muzzling, and  transporting ● Glossary of signs and conditions in dogs and cats ● List of the most common poisonous and toxic foods ● Taking care of a sick dog or cat, and more serious condition ● How to create pet emergency and shelter/evacuation kits ● Traveling with your pet, including preparing a travel kit ● Pet preparedness, including planning for natural disasters ● Current information on sheltering, since many shelters do not  accept pets ● Pet record pages to help document information such as allergies, vaccinations, and surgeries.

Detailed information will guide you through injury and medical emergency situations such as car accidents, collapsing or fainting, diarrhea that goes on for more than a day…especially in small animals, distended abdomen, electrical shock, eye injury or swelling, fever, frequent vomiting, frostbite, labor or birthing difficulty, loss of consciousness, neck injury, pale gums, paralysis or lack of coordination poisoning, seizures, straining to urinate and unproductive retching.

I know all of my fellow rescuers have their own brand of provisions put away in a Rubbermaid container in the event that a puppy is hypoglycemic, vomiting to point of dehydration or simply has a tick embedded in their neck. I ‘m going to list a few of the things I keep in my stash and would love it if some of you would e-mail me with a list of yours. OK…Some  of the things I have are: a  rectal thermometer and Vaseline, tweezers, scissors, bandages, cardboard, Neosporin and triple antibiotic cream and ointment, a bottle of Dawn antibacterial soap, Nolvasan solution, Preparation H, alcohol, Witch Hazel, peroxide, Pepto Bismol, antibiotic eye ointment, eye drops- non steroidal, Benadryl liquid, Benadryl topical, q-tips, cotton pads, self-adherent bandage wrap, Pedialyte, chicken broth no sodium added, jarred baby chicken puree, frozen chicken cutlets, minute Rice, baby rice cereal, Karo syrup, Esbilac puppy formula, rubber coated baby spoon, insulin syringes without the needles, and an eye dropper bottle.

DISCLAIMER: If your pet experiences a medical emergency, PLEASE CALL YOUR VETERINARIAN OR CLOSEST PET EMERGENCY FACILITY.   It is NOT intended or recommended that you treat your pet yourself in lieu of seeking the care of a veterinarian. It is recommended that you meet with your veterinarian and discuss what you may be able to do for your particular pet in the event that a medical problem arises and immediate veterinary care is not available,  or until you reach an emergency clinic.

an injury, illness or emergency.  Color-coded, and illustrated sections show and tell you what to do for your pets, before, during, and after an emergency. Some of the categories are, but not limited to:   “How-to” first aid, including CPR and Heimlich  ● Contact information for important emergency references ● General care, including handling, grooming, muzzling, and  transporting ● Glossary of signs and conditions in dogs and cats ● List of the most common poisonous and toxic foods ● Taking care of a sick dog or cat, and more serious condition ● How to create pet emergency and shelter/evacuation kits ● Traveling with your pet, including preparing a travel kit ● Pet preparedness, including planning for natural disasters ● Current information on sheltering, since many shelters do not  accept pets ● Pet record pages to help document information such as allergies, vaccinations, and surgeries.

Detailed information will guide you through injury and medical emergency situations such as car accidents, collapsing or fainting, diarrhea that goes on for more than a day…especially in small animals, distended abdomen, electrical shock, eye injury or swelling, fever, frequent vomiting, frostbite, labor or birthing difficulty, loss of consciousness, neck injury, pale gums, paralysis or lack of coordination poisoning, seizures, straining to urinate and unproductive retching.

I know all of my fellow rescuers have their own brand of provisions put away in a Rubbermaid container in the event that a puppy is hypoglycemic, vomiting to point of dehydration or simply has a tick imbedded in their neck. I ‘m going to list a few of the things I keep in my stash and would love it if some of you would e-mail me with a list of yours. OK…Some  of the things I have are: a  rectal thermometer and Vaseline, tweezers, scissors, bandages, cardboard, Neosporin and triple antibiotic cream (not ointment), a bottle of Dawn antibacterial soap, Preparation H, alcohol, witch hazel, peroxide, Pepto Bismol, antibiotic eye ointment, eye drops, Benadryl liquid, q-tips, cotton pads, Pedialyte, chicken broth, jarred baby chicken puree, frozen chicken cutlets, minute Rice, baby rice cereal, Karo syrup, Esbilac puppy formula, rubber coated baby spoon, insulin syringes without the needles, and an eye dropper bottle.

DISCLAIMER: It is NOT intended or recommended that you treat your pet yourself in lieu of seeking the care of a veterinarian. It is recommended that you meet with your veterinarian and discuss what you may be able to do for your particular pet in the event that a medical problem arises and veterinary care is not available, your pet needs immediate medical attention or until you reach an emergency clinic.

safety, and pet owners and offers advice on planning ahead and locating care for your pets in the event of an injury, illness or emergency.  Color-coded, and illustrated sections show and tell you what to do for your pets, before, during, and after an emergency. Some of the categories are, but not limited to:   “How-to” first aid, including CPR and Heimlich  ● Contact information for important emergency references ● General care, including handling, grooming, muzzling, and  transporting ● Glossary of signs and conditions in dogs and cats ● List of the most common poisonous and toxic foods ● Taking care of a sick dog or cat, and more serious condition ● How to create pet emergency and shelter/evacuation kits ● Traveling with your pet, including preparing a travel kit ● Pet preparedness, including planning for natural disasters ● Current information on sheltering, since many shelters do not  accept pets ● Pet record pages to help document information such as allergies, vaccinations, and surgeries.

Detailed information will guide you through injury and medical emergency situations such as car accidents, collapsing or fainting, diarrhea that goes on for more than a day…especially in small animals, distended abdomen, electrical shock, eye injury or swelling, fever, frequent vomiting, frostbite, labor or birthing difficulty, loss of consciousness, neck injury, pale gums, paralysis or lack of coordination poisoning, seizures, straining to urinate and unproductive retching.

I know all of my fellow rescuers have their own brand of provisions put away in a Rubbermaid container in the event that a puppy is hypoglycemic, vomiting to point of dehydration or simply has a tick imbedded in their neck. I ‘m going to list a few of the things I keep in my stash and would love it if some of you would e-mail me with a list of yours. OK…Some  of the things I have are: a  rectal thermometer and Vaseline, tweezers, scissors, bandages, cardboard, Neosporin and triple antibiotic cream (not ointment), a bottle of Dawn antibacterial soap, Preparation H, alcohol, witch hazel, peroxide, Pepto Bismol, antibiotic eye ointment, eye drops, Benadryl liquid, q-tips, cotton pads, Pedialyte, chicken broth, jarred baby chicken puree, frozen chicken cutlets, minute Rice, baby rice cereal, Karo syrup, Esbilac puppy formula, rubber coated baby spoon, insulin syringes without the needles, and an eye dropper bottle.

DISCLAIMER: It is NOT intended or recommended that you treat your pet yourself in lieu of seeking the care of a veterinarian. It is recommended that you meet with your veterinarian and discuss what you may be able to do for your particular pet in the event that a medical problem arises and veterinary care is not available, your pet needs immediate medical attention or until you reach an emergency clinic.

 

PLANNED PUPPY-HOOD

Just as most couples prefer to “plan ahead,” for their anticipated parenthood; it is best to plan ahead before your take on the responsibility of a Puppy/Older Dog/Rescued Dog.   No matter what age, origin, breed, sex, size, color, training or history, he or she wants and needs love, companionship, protection, food, shelter, toys, grooming, training, playtime, veterinary care, and socialization.  This is a relationship that should be entered into with not only the best intentions but with the expectation of a lifetime commitment.  If you think of your perspective dog as a family member and not a disposable commodity, and take the time to find the right match, your life with your dog will be enriched.  So go get a highlighter because I’m going to tell you lowdown.

The first thing to do before you even begin your search is have a family meeting and ask the following questions. Does everyone agree that this is a good idea? Is this the right time to get a dog?  Will someone be home to care for him or will he be alone all day. Are you sure you’re not getting the dog for the wrong reason like a  present for a child? Can you afford the additional expense? Do you know how to care for, housebreak and train this dog or are you willing to seek professional help? Does anyone have allergy concerns? Do you travel often? Will this dog be a part of your household or are you planning to keep him isolated in a basement, garage or yard??? And the million dollar question is…and give this one considerable thought, WHY DO YOU WANT A DOG? Yes, I’m serious. So, if your heart is beating a little faster at the thought of finding a new best friend; let’s start with, where to go and what to look for. The where will be obvious but the WHAT to look for and WHAT to ask, is WHAT you really need to know.

BREEDERS  A breeder that is recommended by someone you know and trust is better than one listed on the internet that you know nothing about.  The breeder can be someone in a private home, or a six acre facility. Preferably the breeder you choose raises only one or two specific breeds and not a canine grab bag.  So whether you go to a pet store, large kennel facility, or find that special puppy on the internet, it came from a breeder and you need to find out whatever you can about them.

Don’t be put off by a breeder who questions you about your intentions and your home life, as well as your dog expertise.  It shows care and concern. That’s a good thing!

WHAT to ask

What breeds does this breeder specialize in? How many dogs are on premises? Where are the dogs kept? How many litters do the females have in their lifetime? How long do the puppies nurse for and how old are the puppies when they’re taken from their mother? Are the dogs let outside to exercise, play and bathroom? Are the breeding dogs as well as the puppies cared for by a vet and what is his name?  (Yes, you are going to check him out too.) Do the puppies have any interaction with humans or are they isolated? How old are the puppies before they are allowed to go to their new home? If the dogs are pedigree, what is the breeder’s standing with the AKC? (Don’t ask the breeder, ask the AKC.) If you go to a large facility, find out where the puppies come from because they probably do not breed all of them.

WHAT to look for

Look around the premises. Is it clean and ventilated or DOES IT SMELL FOUL?  Is it too crowded for the amount of dogs? If it’s a private home are there cages or kennels, referred to as APARTMENTS, everywhere including the kitchen? Is there molded dog kibble in the corners of the floor? Are the food and water dishes clean? Are there drip bottles in cages which might indicate long periods of confinement? Do you see birds, or wildlife? This may mean that the breeder is a“COLLECTOR” who has too many animals to care for properly?

PET SHOPS   . Bigger is not always better. Chain store pets do not necessarily live in better conditions or come from better breeders than privately owned small stores.   Just like any other business, the conditions of the shop will depend on the proprietor or management. HOWEVER,  FOREWARNED IS FOREARMED.

It is not a good sign if you walk into a pet shop and you can’t catch your breath. I agree that is doesn’t mean you won’t find a fabulous puppy, but I do want you to keep it in mind when you look around at other questionable conditions.

WHAT to ask

Do the puppies come from a local or out of state breeder? How long has a particular puppy been at the shop? How old is the puppy? Do they have “papers” you can review? Are the dogs ever taken out of the cages for bathrooming, grooming, playing, or socializing?  Are they veterinary checked and do they have records?  WHAT IS THE VET’S NAME? Can you take a puppy into a private room or special play area and spend time together? What is the store’s policy in reference to veterinary care? What will they be responsible for prior to and after your puppy purchase? What are the store hours and who is there to care for the puppies when the store is closed? How long has the shop been in business?

WHAT to look for

How many puppies are there in the store? How many puppies in each confinement? How many employees? Are the puppies eating, drinking, playing, sleeping, urinating, and defecating in their small cages? Are there any play areas to indicate that the puppies are not always locked in cages? Do you notice anyone cleaning kennels or changing water and food as a routine?  Do the puppies have identification tags? When asking about a puppy, notice if the tag is checked and the records or “papers” pulled to match that tag. Don’t be so sure that the “papers” belong to the “puppy”!

INTERNET, NEWSPAPERS, &  DOG MAGAZINES      OK… I know…The pictures on the internet are too cute for words. I also know that these dogs deserve a loving wonderful home. Been there.  Done that. I just want you be aware and know what to expect.

WHAT to ask

If you only see an e-mail address, ask for a phone number. Get as much personal information as you can. Name, address, phone, cell phone, veterinarian name, address and phone number and use them to ask questions. If they are out of state, have them send additional photos of the puppy and premises. Ask them how the dog will be delivered to you. If by plane, call the airline and the airport where the dog is coming from and ask what their regulations are. Notice if the seller shows concern and says something like “it’s too hot for the puppy to be at the airport in the middle of the afternoon, so we need to do an early flight.”   Ask if the puppy will be given tranquilizers or motion sickness medication before the flight?  Question the age of the puppy before it leaves home.  If you’re looking for a toy breed, will the breeder tell you that the puppy must be old enough, big enough and strong enough to travel? Asking for pictures of the parents is always something that makes me roll my eyes. Someone please tell me how you know that those dogs are the parents.

WHAT to look for

How many listings for puppies does this breeder have? How many breeds does this breeder advertise?  Do they offer personal information and welcome e-mail inquiries? Can you call to talk to someone? Do you always get a recording or have to leave a message? Notice if the photos are professional from dog shows. Sometimes the photos will have a winner’s plaque next to the dog, with usable info on it.  Ads that say no photo available at this time should make you think twice about the site, even though the photo might not be of the dog you receive!  Does the advertiser or seller offer only a P.O. Box? I’m also weary of e-mail addresses that are free to the user because it doesn’t show as much permanence for a reliable business as someone with a cable service address. Requests for too much of your personal info on the internet would make me uncomfortable too.  DO A BACKGROUND CHECK VIA THE INTERNET.  It’s worth the nominal fee. Also check out any pet abuse websites. You might find more than you’re looking for.

 

LOCAL FLYERS

Local being the operative word, I would check this out. If the flyer is in a vet’s office, they SHOULD know who the breeder is. If the flyer is in a pet or feed store, it might be anyone who walked in and posted it. If the breeder is local, they have to be using a local veterinarian.

Jenna’s  jenna-ralities

Take a long hard look at the dogs, adults as well as puppies. Check their hair (fur) and skin. If the dogs are not well cared for, the adults will be in worse condition than the puppies. Look for matted hair, especially behind the ears, under arms, groin, and tail and under the tail. Look closely at the skin and check for flaking, rashes, discoloration, feces and urine stains. Is the hair thin or balding in patches? Look at their paws and nails. Do they look well manicured or is the hair in between the pads, (under the paws) matted and dirty? Are the nails long and dirty as well? Are the tips of the paws discolored which can mean anything from neglect to ear problems to allergies? Look in the dog’s ears and take notice if they are dirty or have a bad odor. Are the tips of the ears hard and crusty? (This may be a sign of mange.) Check the dog’s teeth.  Look for overshot or undershot jaw. Teeth and breath should be clean and fresh. Adult dogs with missing, broken or tartar encrusted teeth are dogs that are not well cared for. Inspect belly and groin areas for discoloration, (black or red) rashes, bumps, or sores. Puppies that sleep on urine soaked blankets will have skin infections (staph) and need medical treatment.  Umbilical hernias need to be surgically corrected. Visually examine of the rectum for any donut-like protrusions referred to as prolapsed rectum, which has multiple causes and needs medical attention. One of the causes can be neglect by failure to keep the puppy/dog clean.

Pay close attention to how the puppy interacts with you and with the other puppies. Is the puppy too quiet or lethargic, or frightened and submissive to its litter-mates? Is the puppy you’re eyeing for your small children, the one that seems to be biting and jumping on all the other puppies? Your toddler will be the replacement subject. Is the puppy too thin or does it have an extremely large protruding belly?

Don’t be fooled by a HOME breeder, who shows you 2 or 3 puppies in the kitchen or living room. Is she going down to the basement or out to a garage or trailer to bring you another puppy? Does she have 100 more dogs some where in the house?

Don’t be fooled by looking at the mother and father. Unless you see a dog nursing or in the whelping box with the puppies, you really can’t be certain that the female you’re shown, is mom. If you are looking for a Maltese puppy, Maltese mom should not have long luxurious snow white hair that is perfectly groomed like a show dog. And what about that perfectly groomed male? Is he really the proud dad?

I never met a dog I didn’t like. I never saw an ugly puppy. People like me are the first to take the puppies that are the neediest. So I’m right there with all of you who can’t resist that wonderful feeling of picking up a puppy and holding it for the first time. I know your heart is open but keep your eyes open too.

* Look for Jenna’s follow up on breeds, male vs. female, and puppy vs. older or rescued dog.

DOGGIE HYGIENE

Grooming is a practice that should begin as soon as a puppy/dog is brought into your home. It is very important to get your dog used to being touched around his/her face, mouth, paws, tail, ears and belly. Remember that your dog will be handled by a veterinarian for routine examinations and will routinely have to submit to nail cutting, ear cleaning and other hands-on vet related services. Grooming also reduces allergens and helps to lower the risk of infections and diseases.  

Over time your dog will perceive daily combing and brushing as another form of attention and affection, and even the most resistant canines will come around and begin to enjoy the personal one-on- one session. Here’s a trick I like to use: once a dog is housebroken, I brush them for a few minutes before we go out to play. As a professional trainer, I’m often asked how to groom a dog that freaks out every time they see the brush. I always recommend taking “puppy steps”. Start by simply using your hands instead of a brush. Always work with your dog when you’re calm and relaxed and IN THE MOOD. If you are stressed and irritated, your dog will definitely pick up on it and also become agitated. Try holding a chew toy in one hand to distract your dog while you start by stroking with your other hand. Then start using the back of a brush by covering the bristles with your hand, again while distracting your dog with your other hand. I am very against the use of what is referred to as a “slicker brush.” For those unfamiliar with this term, it is a brush with bent, pointy, pin-like wires that should be used by professionals. It may work great on a poodle with a full coat but can be extremely irritating and even painful to a short-haired dog or young puppy. If you hurt your dog while trying to teach him to appreciate being groomed, well …you get the picture.

Get your dog used to dental cleanings by using your finger first if necessary. There are tooth brushes for dogs that are actually made to cover your index finger much like a plastic finger cot and brushes for small to large breed dogs.  Tarter that builds around the gums and causes gum disease can also lead to major medical issues like heart disease. Talk to your veterinarian about professional cleanings fro your dogs teeth and how to do home care. Only use toothpaste made for dogs. No one likes “doggy breath”.

If you have a hair coated rather than fur coated breed of dog, like a Maltese, Poodle, or Shih Tzu, you are probably all too familiar with the tearing stains that pool around their eyes. Please do not pull at it when it’s hard, dry and crusty. A little warm water on a cotton pad will easily and quickly soften and remove the debris in the corner of their eyes.

 Ears and nails are two things that you should discuss with your vet. Dogs’ nails have what is called a “quick” and if you cut the nail too short it will bleed; and not just a little! It is also painful for your dog. Make sure you have “styptic powder” on hand. It is available at all dog supply stores and will stop any bleeding from nails. Of course, it’s much easier to see the quick on pink nail than on black ones. If you would rather not cut your dogs’ nails yourself, you can have a vet tech or professional groomer do it for a nominal fee and probably without an appointment.  There is a tool known as a Dremel specifically made for filing your dogs nails. It is not expensive and is rather easy to use. I prefer to cut a small amount of nail and then finish with the Dremel. This method reduces the chance of cutting your dog’s nails too short and smooths the nails to reduce scratching your wooden floors. 

Cleaning your dog’s ears is not the same method used to clean human ears. Please have your veterinarian show you the proper way to do it, to insure safety and health. Breeds like Poodles, Spaniels, Maltese, Beagles or any breed with long floppy ear, especially long coated dogs, require more ear cleaning and care.

It should be noted that some years back it wasn’t uncommon for people to bathe their dogs only once a year. Personally, I like to bathe my dogs, which have hair and not fur, at least every other week and use a super gentle, lavender no tear shampoo and conditioner; making sure I comb the conditioner through the hair. I prefer bathing my dogs in a bathtub and using a hand held, Waterpik-like hose,  where I feel that they are safe and it’s easier and less messy. Filling the tub with water is not recommended.  Want a good tip from a professional groomer? Do not bathe a dog with matted hair.The mats will get worse. Here’s another tip; add warm water to make a mixture of half water, half shampoo. It will be easier to put on and to wash off.

However, even if you’re doing all of the above, nothing replaces a good professional grooming. Your dog will look good, feel better, and smell great!

OBSESSING OVER TOYS; NOT THE REASON YOU MAY THINK

Three weeks ago, a friend bought a toy that is pictured below, for Rory, who is a toy breed dog.

He placed it on the kitchen counter, still in the bag supplied by the store he purchased it from, as he continued to carry in the rest of his packages. Eying it for a moment thinking that it looked pretty solid and well made, because of it’s similarity to a very popular brand toy known for its tough construction, I pushed it toward the back of the counter waiting for my friend to give it to Rory himself.

Rory’s enthusiasm was boundless. She would not give the toy up even to eat her dinner. The attachment to this new toy was not a normal reaction by any means.

On the second day, she began to tear small pieces off of the toy; which I recovered before she had swallowed them. Rory is a tiny dog! I took the toy away from her and placed it back on the counter in the original packaging and then back into the store’s plastic shopping bag, but realized that there is something more and mildly disturbing about Rory’s attachment to this toy that needed to be shared with my readers.

Here’s what is so disturbing. This toy, which I will no longer allow Rory to play with, has been immediately replaced with four other toys that are what I consider to be “safety toys” or at least as safe as I can find. In addition, Rory was allowed to pick them out in the store so that I know she really wanted them. However, Rory continues to jump up and down in front of the counter where I placed the yellow toy shown above. It is now going on four weeks and she still senses that it was on the counter. How? Let me tell you what is “not” the reason. It is not the way the toy looks. It is not the way the toy feels. It is not the way the toy sounds. It is not the way the toy rolls or bounces. It is not anything except “how the toy SMELLS”, and possibly how it tastes; but I couldn’t tell you that.

So, what is embedded into the material of that toy to make the smell so powerful and attractive to a dog that they literally cannot let go of it? How safe could the chemical producing the intense and enticing odor  possibly be? BTW, further investigation of the package revealed that this toy was not manufactured in the USA.

Please monitor all toys and chewable items your dog plays with. If their behavior toward the toy seems unusual, follow your instincts about its possible hazardous material content and replace the toy; because you’re probably right.

DOGS WITH TOO MUCH TIME ON THEIR PAWS

If you have any experience with baby-proofing your home, it’s not a far reach to puppy-proof it. If there are rooms where you absolutely DO NOT want your dog to enter, gates are the answer. They’re available in every height and width; can be free standing, pressure mounted or wall mounted; and made of wood, metal or plastic. They range from inexpensive to high-end designer types. Once upon a time, when I was a kid, my father used two shutters placed about an inch off the floor. They swung back and forth like saloon doors and hooked in the middle to keep them closed. Actually, it wasn’t a half bad idea. Just think how creative you could be with a little help from a home improvement center.

But as a dog trainer and dog lover, I must tell you that puppy-proofing starts with training. A dog, like any member of a household; and I throw that in for those of you who feel guilty restricting your dog’s activities; must follow rules and adhere to boundaries from the beginning. If your dog is allowed to jump on the furniture, scratch the doors, run in and out of the house tracking dirt everywhere, that is what he will continue to do. Why? Because he can and you are the enabler. Instead, by investing time in good old-fashioned training, you’ll keep your home décor investments solid.

Get your dog used to the fact that you will clean his paws when he comes in the house. I really like the new Dremel devices that file your dog’s nails. It helps to keep the wood floors from being scratched, the carpeting from pulling and the couch from ripping.

 If a puppy is destructive when you leave him alone, then confine him until you return. Do I think it’s cruel to confine a dog? I will say that I do not condone kenneling all day – I think that is cruel. But using short periods of confinement while you teach your dog to have freedom without destructive behavior, is acceptable. Think about the alternative. You come home to find your house in shambles, angry and frustrated, you start to resent your dog, confine him anyway, or think about taking him to a shelter when you think the situation is no longer doable.
In addition to the perils of puppy-hood, the major causes of destructive behavior in dogs are boredom and loneliness. Think of your dog as a restless kid with too much time on his hands. Play dates with friends (and their dogs) work wonders. The dogs get the added attention they crave while learning social skills. Exercise is a great way for releasing pent up energy, which would otherwise be aimed at your favorite chair or pair of shoes. This does not mean the dog plays in the yard by himself. This means “together time” – long walks or playing ball so that Kahuna is neither bored nor lonely.

With commitment comes sacrifice, but the sacrifice doesn’t have to be your furniture, just your time and love, and love will come back to you a thousandfold.