Archive for November, 2012

Dogs can chase things for many reasons but at the heart of most chasing behavior is the prey drive. Whether your dog is chasing a rabbit, a jogger, a car, or a tennis ball, it’s usually because the object has triggered your dog’s prey drive. All dogs and wolves have this drive, which is instinctive and helps dogs hunt and find food, but some dogs have a stronger prey drive than others due to millennia of selective breeding. Many hunting dogs, for example, have a strong prey drive so they can find rabbits or other prey for the hunter. Dogs who have a strong prey drive have a great sense of pleasure and fulfillment when they can exercise this drive. Herding dogs also have a strong impulse to chase things that move.

 

If your dog is chasing things then he’s probably seizing the opportunity to try to satisfy this drive any way he can. It can be hard to break this habit in some dogs, especially if they have a strong prey drive, because they are getting a physical rush when they chase things.

 

Ordinary training does not usually work for teaching a dog not to chase things. If you offer your dog a cookie, he will ignore you because it is so much more fun to chase something. If you command your dog to Come, he will likely ignore you because he is caught up in the excitement and  pleasure of doing something that gives him a rush.

 

The first thing you have to do is try to eliminate the dog’s exposure to the things that he chases, whether it is joggers, cats, rabbits, or cars. If he continues to have opportunities to chase these things, the habit will only become more ingrained as he continues to be internally rewarded when he chases. So, take temptation out of his path.

 

The second thing you can do is set up a training session indoors in your home. You need to use a confined space for the training. With your dog on leash, use a hallway or other small area so you can roll a tennis ball for your dog. Your dog will probably start to chase after the ball. When he does, you should tug on the leash and say, “OFF!” Do not release your dog. You are trying to teach him not to chase after moving objects. Repeat this exercise several times per day. Remember to praise and reward your dog for relaxing and not chasing the ball.

 

When your dog understands this lesson, start practicing it in other places in your home, and then in a fenced yard. You can gradually start trying it with your dog wearing his leash but with you not holding onto it. Be ready to step on the leash to stop your dog from chasing. Keep using the “OFF!” command to tell your dog not to chase the ball you are rolling.

 

Keep practicing the Off command every day with your dog. You can eventually work up to having someone pose as a jogger, or a cyclist, or whatever your dog has been chasing. Start by having your dog on leash and giving the Off command. Later you can try it with your dog off leash. Remember that these are practice sessions so have your friend go very slowly and try to control all aspects of the situation so you can keep your dog and your friend safe. Keep practicing with your dog so you can go back and correct anything that needs to be changed in your dog’s training.

 

If you continue to work on the Off command, you can get your dog’s chasing under control but remember that this is a very hard behavior to curb. It will take a lot of practice, praise, and reward. Be patient with your dog and work on this problem before your dog is excited by chasing.

 

Article by Nancy Cope, owner of the online pet boutique Pampered Dog Gifts, where dogs rule.

Leash Training Basics

It’s not much fun to walk your dog when he is pulling or running circles around you. Yet most of us have to use the leash to walk our dogs all the time. You may have to walk your dog so he can potty. We have to use the leash when we take dogs to the vet or the pet groomer, or anywhere else. It’s important for dogs to have good leash manners, both for their own safety and for ours. Here’s how to teach your dog leash training basics. It’s easiest to teach a puppy these basics but you can teach your dog to walk politely on a leash at any age.

Choosing a collar and leash
Leash training basics begin with choosing a collar and leash for walking your dog. A flat buckle collar is a good choice for your dog. Choose a collar that is comfortable for your dog. You should be able to fit two fingers between the collar and your dog’s neck once you put it on your dog. A nice nylon collar is suitable for most dogs or you can use a leather collar. Do not buy an expensive leather collar for a puppy as he will quickly outgrow it. You can buy a leash to match the collar if you like. Small dogs usually take a four-foot leash while medium and large dogs will take a six-foot leash.

Walking politely on leash
To teach your dog to walk politely on leash you should choose an enclosed area to practice at first such as a fenced yard. It’s best to go to a place where there are fewer distractions so your dog can focus on you. With the leash attached to the collar, set out with your dog for a short walk with the dog on your left side. Hold the leash in your right hand. Many dogs will soon start pulling or running ahead of you at this point. When your dog starts to pull, you should come to a complete stop. Freeze. Become a statue. Do not take another step. Your dog will not be able to go very far if you make yourself dead weight and he will quickly turn to look at you. When he comes back to you, to see what’s wrong, then you can start walking forward again, with your dog by your side.

No doubt your dog will pull and run ahead again, so when he does, you should once again freeze and come to a complete stop. And your dog will stop and come back to you again to see what’s wrong. Then you can start moving forward. If you repeat these actions every time your dog starts pulling on the leash or getting ahead of you, your dog will soon figure out that if he wants the walk to continue, he has to stay by your side and walk politely.

Eventually you can take your dog out in public to test him and try his leash training with more distractions, but once he learns that he has to walk politely by your side if he wants to go anywhere, dogs are usually much better behaved anytime they are on leash.

Walking politely on a loose leash and knowing the basics of leash training are not the same as heeliing which requires more precision and asks for the dog to sit by your side when you come to a halt. That lesson requires a little more training. But if your dog knows leash training basics, he is well on his way to being a pleasant dog to take for a walk.

Chewing is a normal activity for dogs and puppies. It’s only a problem when dogs chew on things they shouldn’t. Unfortunately, dogs can do a lot of damage in the home when they start to chew on inappropriate things. There are several ways you can stop your dog chewing on things he shouldn’t.

Stopping inappropriate chewing
If your dog is chewing on woodwork or upholstered furniture, one of the best ways to stop the chewing is by using a deterrent. Bitter apple cream and spray can be purchased in pet stores and online. You can apply it to your woodwork and furniture and the taste is so bad that it will make most dogs stop chewing on these objects. You will need to reapply as necessary. It can also be used on electrical cords and other things in the house that dogs like to chew.

Some people use tabasco sauce or other hot sauce for the same purpose. It will deter your dog from chewing on things. Just be careful not to use anything that could harm your dog as a deterrent.

Chewing substitutes
Another way to stop your dog from chewing on things he shouldn’t is by providing him with plenty of his own things to chew on. For example, rawhides can be good chews for dogs. Look for rawhides that come from USDA beef and which have preferably been sterilized as these are safer for your dog. When you give your dog rawhides to chew you should supervise and remove small pieces that come off so your dog can’t choke on them. There are also many good chew toys for dogs that will satisfy your dog’s urge to chew. Rope toys, hard rubber toys such as Kongs, Nylabones, and many others are all good for dogs that like to chew.

If you have a puppy, be sure to provide him with lots of toys for chewing. Puppies teethe from the time they are about four months to 17 months of age and they have a strong urge to chew on things during this time.

Spending a few dollars on chews and chew toys for your dog is a good way to save expensive home furnishings.

Exercise
Another good way to deter chewing is to make sure your dog is getting plenty of exercise. Dogs who get lots of exercise are less likely to be destructive in the home. They are more likely to spend their time sleeping when you are not home with them. Tired dogs are happy dogs.

Crating
If your dog is destructive and chews things when you are not home, consider crating him when you are away from home for a few hours. All dogs should learn to be crated. Medium and large dogs who fly with their owners have to be crated. Crating is a safe way to travel with your dog in your vehicle. And crating at home can keep your dog safe and out of trouble when you are not home. Most dogs regarde their crate as a den and are happy to sleep until you return. Naturally, you should not leave a dog unattended in a crate for more than a few hours.

If you follow the suggestions here, you should be able to stop your dog from chewing on things he shouldn’t. Try different suggestions, or try all of them. Bitter apple and providing good chew toys are often enough to stop most chewing problems.

Pet Boots and Shoes

Why dogs need pet boots and shoes
In the winter time, especially in snowy areas, cities often put down chemical de-icers as well as salt on pavement. If you walk your dog on this pavement, his paws will become covered with this salt and chemicals. This causes problems for many dogs. Their paws can chafe and crack. You can use emollients on their paws to help them heal. You can also use paw wax to help toughen the paws. And you need to wash your dog’s paws when he walks on pavements where these chemicals are found. Do not let your dog lick his paws after he has been walking on pavement in the winter until they have been washed. These chemicals can be dangerous for your dog.

You can also put pet boots or shoes on your dog when you walk him so you can keep his paws free of these chemicals. Boots and shoes will keep the salt and chemicals off your dog’s paws so they won’t crack and they will prevent your dog from ingesting the chemicals.

In the summer, dogs who walk on hot pavement can appreciate wearing boots or shoes to keep their paws from getting too hot. Rain boots can also be a good idea if you want to keep your dog’s paws dry.

Senior dogs with arthritis or other mobility problems can often have trouble walking because they can’t get enough traction on the floor. This is especially true if you have hardwood floors. If you put pet boots or shoes on your dog’s paws, especially on his rear paws, it will often provide the traction he needs so he can walk again.

Some hunting dogs wear boots or shoes if they will be hunting in tough terrain that could injure their paws.

Of course, there are many boots and shoes that are made for fashion reasons. You can always buy them for your dog just because they look good.

Choosing boots and shoes
Pet boots and shoes usually come in small, medium, and large sizes. You should choose the size that’s appropriate for your dog. Some boots and shoes have Gore-tex or other gripping soles. These boots and shoes would be especially good for dogs that need good traction.

There are several good brands of dog boots and shoes. You can find them online or in pet stores. Brands include Guardian Gear, UltraPaws, and Muttluks. Some dog boots and shoes come in four-packs and some come in two-packs. Boots and shoes tend to be rather expensive but they do last a while.

Your dog may have trouble walking in the boots or shoes at first or try to remove them but most dogs quickly adjust to them. Elderly dogs should adapt and become more mobile as soon as they realize they can get their footing again.

Article by Nancy Cope – Owner of Pampered-Dog-Gifts.com an online boutique for spoiled pups and their owners.

In many ways potty training an older dog you’ve adopted is much like potty training a puppy but there can be some important differences. Puppies are mostly a blank slate. Their mother cleans up after them for the first three weeks or so, while they are nursing. Once they start eating solid foods, the breeder cleans up. They may potty on newspapers or other material provided, but they haven’t been trained.

By contrast, a dog that you adopt might have some potty training problems. He might or might not have been potty trained at one time. You might not know his history at the time you bring him home. He might have even been turned in to the shelter because he soiled in the house. This is one of the most common reasons why dogs are taken to shelters by their owners.

If you adopt an older dog from a shelter, it’s best to assume that the dog has not been potty trained. You might be pleasantly surprised and discover that he has already been potty trained and can tell you when he needs to go outside, but it’s best to start at the beginning with his potty training, just in case.

To house train an older dog you should start by putting him on a good schedule. Take him outside to potty first thing when you wake up in the morning and after every meal. Take him outside again before bedtime. Adult dogs should not have to potty as often as puppies but when you are first starting the house training, you can take your dog outside more often to help him avoid accidents in the house.

It will help your older dog if you will stick to a regular schedule. Get up at the same time each day, take him out as soon as you get up, then feed him. Take him outside again after he eats. Take him outside as soon as you get home from work. Feed him. Then take him outside after his dinner and again before bed. If you do these things at the same time each day and evening, your dog will learn how long he needs to expect to wait.

In the beginning you might need to let your adult dog out at lunch time so he can potty. If you can make it home for lunch, ask a family member or neighbor to let your dog out to potty at this time. If you will be late coming home for dinner, have someone take your dog out to potty. He might not be able to wait to relieve himself.

Keep in mind that your adult dog could have some accidents while he’s learning this routine. This isn’t anything to worry about or get upset over. This is normal. If your dog has not been potty trained before, he will have to learn how to let you know he needs to go outside. Try to learn to read his body language so you’ll recognize when he needs to go out. Signs can include sniffing at the floor, going to the door, looking at you, going to a private place such as behind the furniture, or going back to a place where he’s had an accident before. If you see your dog doing one of these things, grab the leash and take him outside right away.

One important thing to remember is to praise and reward your dog when he potties outside. Let him know that he’s doing what you want him to do. Dogs will learn faster when you give them praise and rewards.

If you follow a good schedule for your dog, take him outside when you notice his signals, and praise and reward him, you shouldn’t have any trouble potty training most older dogs.

 

Article by Nancy Cope, owner of the online dog boutique Pampered-Dog-Gifts.com where you will find a wide assortment of gifts for your spoiled pooch.

Pet Feeders and Bowls

Whether you have a finicky kitty or a dog who eats everything, a pet feeder can be the answer to your problems when you can’t be home to feed your pets on time. Pet feeders make it easy to feed your pets and even control how much they eat. You don’t have to let your dog or cat gorge themselves when you’re not home, or go hungry.

 

Automatic feeders

Automatic feeders which operate on batteries allow you to measure how much food you leave for your cat or dog. You can place each portion in a compartment of the feeder and the compartment, which operates on a timer, will open at the pre-set time for your pet to eat. Depending on the feeder, you can prepare multiple meals in advance for your pet. Some automatic feeders contain two meals and some hold up to five meals. Some hold enough food for dogs or cats and some will only hold small meals for cats or small dogs. Because the automatic feeders are battery-operated, they will continue to work even if the power goes out. This is a great way to feed your pet if you can’t be home for a short time. Some of these feeders will work with either dry or canned food. These feeders don’t usually need a bowl since they use compartments.

 

Continual feeders

Another type of feeder allows you to fill it full of dry food. When the feeder is turned over, gravity allows the food to constantly refill the pet’s bowl as he eats. These feeders have pros and cons. On the good side, your pet will never be hungry when  you are away. On the bad side, your pet is free to eat himself sick. You have no control over how much food your cat or dog eats. These feeders usually have a bowl already attached.

 

This system is also available as a waterer so your pet has a constant supply of water available.

 

Waterers

There are a number of good pet drinking fountains available. The fountains come in all shapes and styles and feature pumps to keep the water circulating for your pet. You add water to the fountain which goes into circulation. The fountain even filters the water as it circulates and removes impurities. Drinking fountains are a good choice for both cats and dogs.

 

Raised feeders

Raised feeders are often recommended for some breeds of dogs who are particularly prone to bloat or gastric dilatation-volvulus. In this condition the dog’s stomach can fill up with air and ultimately twist and flip over. It seems to occur more often in large breeds with a deep chest such as German Shepherds, Great Danes, and Irish Setters. Some people suggest that feeding these dogs with raised feeders can help prevent bloat.

 

Raised feeders usually have metal or wrought iron stands, though they can also  be wooden. Feed bowls fit into the stands and the dog stands to eat his meal and drink his water. The bowls are often stainless steel or ceramic, though they can be any kind of bowl. There is a wide selection of raised feeders to choose from online and you should be able to find some in your local pet store, too.

 

If you will be away from home and need to feed your cat or dog, you shouldn’t have any trouble finding a good feeder to feed your pet. Likewise, there are many good fountains for pets and good raised feeders. Check around and you should find exactly what you need.

If you browse online or in your local pet store, you will quickly discover that there are literally hundreds of dog shampoos and bathing products. Beyond simple shampoos, there are conditioners, detanglers, colognes for dogs, medicated shampoos, shampoos and conditioners for every skin condition, flea and tick shampoos, whitening shampoos, and color enhancing shampoos, and the list goes on and on.

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How are you to know which products to buy for your dog? It can be hard to know what to buy. Here is an overview of the products available which should help you narrow down your choices and make a decision.

Shampoos for luxurious coat
Most dogs with normal skin can use this kind of shampoo. These shampoos may contain ingredients such as jojoba oil or have coconut oil in them. They usually have a nice fragrance. They will make your dog’s coat look and feel good. There may be some slight differences between brands but most of these shampoos will be good for your dog’s coat as long as he has no skin problems.

Shampoos for skin problems
Shampoos for dogs with skin problems are usually made for dogs with sensitive skin, dry skin, allergies, or irritated skin. They can have ingredients like oatmeal and other things to soothe the skin in them. These shampoos may also be moisturizing.

Medicated shampoo
Medicated shampoos are usually obtained from your vet or by prescription. They can contain ingredients such as chlorhexidine. These shampoos are usually effective but you have to follow your veterinarian’s instructions.

Flea and tick shampoo
Flea and tick shampoos can range from products with natural ingredients to products with harsher chemicals. If you have a preference for natural ingredients you should be sure to read the label or the web site to make sure what the shampoo contains. If your dog has a heavy flea infestation you may need to use a shampoo with some of the stronger chemicals or talk to your vet about other flea control methods.

Whitening shampoo
There are many coat whitening shampoos today. Some of them use enzymatic cleaners and some of them bleach the coat. Read the label or web site to find out what each shampoo does. Whitening shampoos are primarily made for white or light-colored dogs but some of them will brighten other colors, too. Some whitening shampoos can be a little harsh on the coat so they are not recommended if your dog has sensitive or irritated skin.

Color enhancing shampoo
Color enhancing shampoos intensify colors other than white. There are shampoos for black coats, brown coats, red coats, and so on. They are generally safe but they should probably be avoided if your dog has sensitive or irritated skin.

Shampoo for stinky dogs
If your dog frequently smells bad from rolling in trash or getting into things he shouldn’t, then a shampoo for smelly dogs would be a good choice. These shampoos don’t quite get rid of skunk odor but they will make your dog smell better as a result of just about everything else. On the other hand, if your dog smells bad because of a skin condition, he should see a vet. A medicated shampoo is probably needed.

Texturizing shampoo
Many terrier breeds are supposed to have crisp hair instead of soft or fluffy hair. Their coats are “plucked” instead of clippered, traditionally, and they do not shed much. In order to help the coat stay rough and crisp (which protected them from the weather originally), you can use a texturizing shampoo on their coat. Many terrier owners don’t bother to do these things today, but there are texturizing shampoos available. When terrier breeds are shown at dog shows, they are prepared this way so they look correct.

Conditioners
There are almost as many conditioners as there are shampoos and probably one to match each coat type. In most cases it is fine to use a conditioner that is made to work with a particular shampoo (i.e., if you buy Peachy Keen Shampoo for Pretty Dogs, Peachy Keen Conditioner for Pretty Dogs is probably a good choice). However, it is not always necessary to use conditioner on your dog. If you have a shorthaired breed with a hard, smooth coat, for example, your dog might not need a conditioner. Wirehaired dogs don’t use conditioner. But dogs with medium and long coats usually need some conditioner.

Detanglers
Detanglers are often used on dogs with medium and long coats who are prone to getting tangles and mats. The detangler is usually sprayed on the dog when he is still wet from the bath. Then you comb through the coat and let it dry. The coat will usually resist tangling and knotting afterwards.

Colognes
You can also buy cologne for your dog to make him smell nice. If you have taken your dog to a professional groomer then you know that your dog smells very nice when you pick him up. Groomers usually spritz dogs with some cologne when they finish grooming them. Some dogs don’t like the cologne so it’s up to you whether you try it or not.

These are the kinds of shampoos and bathing products available today. This list should give you some idea of which products will be most helpful for your dog.