Archive for August, 2012

Paw Preference In Dogs

Have you ever wondered if your dog is right-pawed or left-pawed (i.e., a “southpaw”)? In fact, dogs, like humans, do tend to have a preference for using one side more than the other.

 

What the studies say

According to the people who research such things, dogs are similar to humans. The majority of dogs are righthanders. A much smaller percentage are lefthanders. And quite a few dogs are ambidextrous or they can use both paws equally.

 

In one study of 28 dogs, 57.1 percent preferred to use their right paw; 17.9 percent preferred to use their left paw; and 25 percent were ambidextrous.

 

There appears to be some suggestion that male dogs are a little more likely to be left-pawed than female dogs.

 

Paw preference and behavior

Some researchers have speculated that there is a connection between paw preference and behavior. Findings from at least one study suggest that dogs which are ambidextrous are more likely to be reactive to noise from fireworks and thunderstorms. This theory has been suggested as a way to screen  dogs before training  them for bomb sniffing, guide dog work, and other programs which have a high rate of failure. Dogs that react to this kind of stimuli would not be good candidates for these programs,  if the theory is correct.

 

Testing your own dog

You can test your own dog and discover his paw preference in several ways:

 

  • Put a treat under your sofa and see which paw your dog uses to try to reach it;
  • Give your dog a bone and see which paw he uses to hold it when he chews on it;
  • Put a piece of tape on  your dog’s muzzle for a moment and see which paw he uses to try to remove it;
  • See which paw your dog normally uses when he steps forward;
  • Put a Kong filled with treats in front of your dog and see which paw he uses to try to get the treats out.

These are all good ways to determine which paw your dog prefers to use. Have fun and see what you learn about your dog.

 

Right brain and left brain

Other studies suggest that dogs have the same right brain-left brain reactions that humans do. Their left brain controls the right side of their body, while the right brain controls the left side of the body. Studies have shown that dogs react by wagging their tails to the right when they are happy and they wag their tails to the left when they are apprehensive. (You can try this at home. Your dog should wag his tail to the right when he sees you but if he sees a big scary dog, he should wag his tail to the left.) This is because with dogs (and humans) the left brain is associated with love, safety, and bonding. The right brain handles things like fear.

 

Does this explain why dogs or people are left or right-handed? Who knows? But it’s something else to ponder when you watch your dog.

 

Article by Nancy Cope, owner of the online dog boutique Pampered-Dog-Gifts.com where you can find an assortment of wonderful gifts for your pampered pooch.  Items include gourmet dog treats, gift baskets, fancy rhinestone collars, unique toys and much more.

Does your dog secretly long to be a superhero? Maybe your little princess puppy would like to look like a princess? Or maybe you just love the idea of dressing your dog up for Halloween and having some fun with your family and friends? Whatever the case, Halloween is a great time of year for dressing up pets in costumes. There’s a booming business in pet costumes and you’re sure to find one that appeals to you or your dog.

 

Where to find costumes

In your local pet store and online you can find lots of great ideas for costumes. You can dress your best friend as a cowboy, a pirate, a swashbuckler, or a dinosaur! There are feminine costumes for princesses, ballerinas, butterflies, and brides. Dress your boy dog as a little devil, put him in a tuxedo, or dress him as Elvis! You can find every kind of costume you can imagine.

 

Choosing a costume

When you choose your dog’s costume be sure to get the right size. Costume sizing should be accurate but if you are in doubt, it’s better to get a costume that is a little larger than one that is too small. Take your dog’s measurements before you go shopping so you will know for sure what sizes your dog needs.

 

A few tips

  • Some dogs enjoy getting dressed up more than others. If your dog doesn’t enjoy wearing a costume, keep it simple and don’t make him wear it for a long time.

 

  • Avoid complicated costumes with lots of pieces and parts. They can break and your dog might possibly eat a  piece of the costume.

 

  • Avoid costumes that have pieces that stick out or wave around. Many dogs find costumes like this frightening.

 

  • Some dogs don’t like hats or things on their faces so if the costume has something like this, be sure to supervise your dog closely when he is wearing it and remove it when you can’t watch your dog.

 

  • Don’t keep the costume on your dog for long periods of time. Most dogs will get tired of wearing them. They will often remove the costume themselves if you don’t remove it.

 

  • If you are taking your dog trick or treating, remember that dogs can’t eat chocolate. It can be toxic to them.  Only give your dog treats that are safe for dogs to eat.

 

  • If you are taking your dog out for Halloween, try to make sure there won’t be things that will frighten him such as fireworks or loud music. If you are having a Halloween party at home, it’s often a good idea to limit the amount of time your dog spends with guests. Many dogs feel more comfortable if they can relax in another part of the home during a party, away from the noise.

 

Dogs can have a fun time at Halloween and they look adorable in their costumes. If you plan ahead you should be able to find the perfect costume for your dog.

Dogs love treats and chances are that your dog will be happy to eat any treats you give him, whether they are homemade or bought in a store.  However, some treats can be better than others from a nutritional viewpoint.

 

Homemade treats

Homemade treats have lots of advantages for your dog.  You can use any ingredients you and your dog like.  If he has some preferences like, for example, blueberries, you can make him blueberry treats or doggy muffins with blueberries.  If he is crazy about tuna, there are lots of great treat recipes for tuna cookies and tuna treats for dogs.  You can give him exactly what he likes best.

 

With homemade treats you control the quality of the ingredients, too.  You can use the same ingredients that you  would use for your own family.  You know the ingredients are healthy and safe for your dog.  You can also use organic ingredients if you prefer or buy from local farmers.

 

You can also produce just as many or as few of the treats as you want to make.  You can quadruple a recipe and make lots of treats so you can freeze them.  Or you can make a small batch to see how your dog likes them.  In most cases when you make treats yourself you will end up saving money because you can buy ingredients in bulk or when they are on sale.

 

If your dog has allergies, you can make sure that you only use ingredients that are safe for your dog to eat and avoid using any items that might trigger a reaction in your dog.

 

And, homemade treats are usually delicious.  Dogs will love them.  You can give him treats right out of the oven.  Nothing says, “I love you” quite like baking for your dog.

 

Store bought treats

There are some great store bought treats, too.  Of course, some commercial treats have questionable ingredients and you will probably want to avoid them, just as there are some lower quality dog foods.  You should avoid treats that use animal digest or bi-products, for example.  But there are some very good treats made by reputable companies that use human grade ingredients, organic ingredients, and which have good reputations.  These would certainly be good treats to give your dog.

 

Three Dog Bakery makes good treats using natural ingredients for dogs with many creative flavors.  Old Mother Hubbard is a company that’s been around for a long time and which is known for making healthy treats using human grade ingredients for dogs, and there are others.  If you feed your dog a good quality dog food, the company that makes the food probably makes dog treats, too, so check the store to see if they carry them.

 

Conclusion

If you have the time to make homemade dog treats for your dog, your dog will love them.  They are always wonderful.  But if you don’t have time or if you hate to bake, don’t feel bad.  There are still some very good store bought dog treats that your dog will love.

Types of Harnesses for Your Dog

Some owners and trainers prefer to use a dog harnesses for walking dogs.  Small dogs may need harnesses for health reasons since pulling on a collar can cause throat problems for some dogs.  And, harnesses can be a good idea for some dogs with behavioral issues, especially if a large dog pulls on the leash when  you walk him or otherwise tries to misbehave.  A harness can give you more control over your dog than a simple collar and leash.

 

As you might imagine, there are different types of harnesses for these different purposes.  Here’s a look at the different types of harnesses and how to choose which one is best for your dog.

 

Walking your dog

If you are looking for a basic harness to walk your dog, these harnesses are usually comfortable for most dogs.  They go around a dog’s chest and the front legs.  Your leash snaps into a ring on a strap along the dog’s back, between the shoulder blades.

 

Harnesses of this basic type give you more control over your dog.  They distribute force when you pull on the leash more evenly over your dog’s body than a collar does, which focuses on your dog’s neck.  It is usually easy to control a dog when he wears a basic harness.

 

Gentle Leaders and Haltis are also harnesses that people use for walking their dog.  These harnesses are actually head collars that fit over the dog’s head.  They are not collars and not body harnesses but they do give the owner added control when walking the dog.  They look something like a horse halter for a dog.  Instead of exerting pressure on the dog’s throat, they control the dog’s head.

 

Small dogs

Small dogs can be subject to a condition called tracheal collapse. This occurs when the muscles and tendons inside the throat give way from constant pulling and pressure.  The dog may give a hacking cough when he wears a regular dog collar and leash and pulls on it.  You can help avoid tracheal collapse by using a harness on your small dog.  The harness will exert pressure on your dog’s body instead of hurting your small dog’s throat.

 

Brachycephalic dogs

Harnesses can also be a good idea for brachycephalic dogs.  These are dogs such as Bulldogs,  Boxers, French Bulldogs, Pugs, and other breeds with shortened noses and short air passages.  Wearing a harness puts less stress on their breathing and can be better for their health.  Dogs who have spinal neck problems can also benefit from wearing a harness.

 

Behavior problems

Many large dogs, and other dogs, are bad about pulling on the leash when you walk them.  This is especially true if you are a small person with a large dog.  Using a harness is a good way to stop your dog from pulling you down the street.  There are “no-pull” harnesses that can help with this problem.  They come in two types:  one type of no-pull harness has an attachment for the leash in the front of the harness in the center of the chest area.  You have more control of your dog’s front movement with this method.  The other kind of no-pull harness tightens gently around your dog’s chest and legs, and restrains your dog when he pulls.  This kind of no-pull harness is recommended for dogs who won’t stop pulling no matter what you have tried.

 

Sizes

You can find the right size harness for your dog by measuring his chest or girth.  Use a fabric or cloth tape measure and measure around your dog’s rib cage.  Add a couple of inches to find the correct size for your dog.

 

Conclusion

There are many good reasons for a dog to wear a harness.  Start by knowing why you want your dog to wear a harness and then choose one that is appropriate for your dog.

Dog bowls may seem all the same to you but they are not created equal.  Some bowls are better than others for your dog.  The same is true of dog feeders.  Here’s some information to help you choose the best dog bowl and feeder for your dog.

 

Dog bowl facts

Plastic dog bowls are easy to find and they are inexpensive which makes them popular.  If you drop a plastic dog bowl it won’t break and you can wash them in the dishwasher.  But these bowls are often not the best bowls for your dog.  They scratch easily and can harbor bacteria.  In addition, many dogs develop allergies to the soft plastic that is used to make these bowls which leads to irritated skin around the nose and muzzle.  In some cases dogs who eat out of plastic bowls even develop “winter nose” or a pale, flesh-colored nose where the pigment fades.  If you are trying to find the best dog bowl for your dog, you  should probably skip the plastic dog bowls.

 

Ceramic bowls can make great dog food bowls.  They are heavy so they won’t tip over when a hungry dog attacks his food.  They are often beautiful and decorated with creative designs.  They are glazed so they are easy to wash and keep clean.  Many of them are also dishwasher-safe.  There are no problems with allergies when you use ceramic bowls.  However, ceramic bowls are breakable and they can crack.  If the bowl develops tiny cracks, it can harbor bacteria.  If you use ceramic bowls, be sure to check them regularly to make sure there are no tiny cracks.

 

The most practical dog food bowls are stainless steel bowls.  They are durable and inexpensive.  They are dishwasher safe.  They do not crack.  They don’t come in pretty colors or designs but they will last a long time and they are healthy to use.  Some bowls have a non-skid rubber base so they won’t move around when your dog eats from them.  They also come in slightly different shapes so if you have a dog with long ears you can get a cone-shaped bowl to keep his ears out of the food, for example.

 

Feeders and other options

Feeders or automated dog bowls work by attaching a reservoir to a dog’s bowl.  The bowl can be plastic, stainless steel, or ceramic.  The reservoir or container can hold dog food or water.  Feeders or automatic waterers will continue to fill your dog’s bowl as long as the container has food or water in it.  Automatic dog bowls are a good idea with regards to water bowls but they are not usually recommended for dog food.  Dogs tend to eat as long as there is food, whether they are hungry or not.  Dogs that eat food from an automatic feeder often become overweight or obese because they continue to eat all day.  It’s much better to measure your dog’s portions when you feed him and control how much he eats at each separate meal.  There are some automated feeders that allow you to pre-set feeding times for your dog and measure how much food is poured out but there is always the risk that your dog can break into the container and gorge himself.

 

Elevated food bowls are often a good idea if you have a larger breed, especially a breed that is prone to gastrointestinal problems.  Some studies have suggested that feeding dogs prone to bloat from elevated feed bowls can help reduce the chances that the dog will experience this health problem.  Elevated food bowls are two normal bowls (plastic, ceramic, or stainless steel) which sit in a small stand usually made of wood, plastic, or metal.  The dog stands while eating and simply lowers his head to the bowls.  Some dogs prefer to eat while standing anyway.  Elevated food bowls and stands can be expensive but owners often say they are worth the cost if they can help prevent health problems.

 

Conclusion

Every dog is different so choosing the best dog bowl or feeding option for your dog often depends on your own dog’s special needs.  Choose a bowl that won’t cause allergies and which you consider safe and easy to clean.  Ceramic bowls are pretty and they can be a good option as long as you check them for cracks regularly.  Stainless steel bowls are durable and won’t cause allergies.  They are also easy to clean.  Use your best judgment about feeding stands and other options.