Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Puppies Need Care

          Puppies, puppies, puppies, everyone loves puppies.  Soft, cuddly, adorable puppies.  They melt your heart with a look, they make even the grumpiest smile, who can resist a puppy.  All of that is true, but love is easy when it comes to puppies, it’s the care part that can be difficult.  Some of you may be thinking of getting a puppy, or have found yourself on the receiving end of a gift puppy.  After all the ooos and ahs, are over, and the play time draws to a close, the questions start to set in.  What does a puppy need?  What kind of food?  What kind of vaccinations?  What do I do with the puppy when I go to sleep?  And many more questions I am sure.  The goal of this article is to help you with some of those questions.  If you don't find the answer you are looking for here, feel free to e-mail me and I will do my best to get your question answered.

          First you should know what to feed your puppy, and how often.  Puppies love to eat, and that is good.  You should feed your puppy as often as it wants to eat.  Puppies grow fast, and they need all the food they can get to ensure a healthy start to their life.  You can feed them like this until they are about 16 weeks old, at that point you need to be sure not to over feed them. As far as what you should feed your new puppy, you can feed them dry food formulated for puppies, you can feed them wet food for puppies, or a combination of the two, and if you are truly adventurous you can try your hand at making your own dog food.  Dogs vary from breed to breed when it comes to chow time.  You should check with your vet to ensure you have a good feel for how much your dog should be eating.  When you first bring a puppy home it may have some digestion problems that will cause it to vomit or have diarrhea (I know, who said puppies were cute all the time).  This is usually caused by a change in diet.  If this occurs, you may want to stop feeding your new bundle of fur for a few hours.  When you do feed your puppy again, feed it boiled chicken and rice.  This has always worked for me.  Even in older dogs, rice and chicken will help stop the vomiting and ease the diarrhea.  That being said, if the problem continues, or your puppy does not seem to want to eat, you should get it to the vet as soon as possible.

          Vaccines are a very important step in your puppy’s life.  There is one vaccination that is required by law here in Pennsylvania, you should check your local laws for your area, and that is a rabies vaccination.  I can not stress how important this is.  Rabies is a horrible disease, and having your dog vaccinated and keeping up with the booster shots is a must.  Not just because it’s the law, but because it protects your dog and everyone else from possibly contracting rabies.  Your puppy’s first rabies vaccination should be given at 13 weeks, and then again one year after that, then every 3 years.  Distemper is also a very important vaccine, and is required by law in some areas, distemper (Duramune, DHPP) can be given at 6 weeks, with 4 boosters, the last booster should be good for 1 year, and then every three years after that.  These next vaccinations are not usually required by law, but I would suggest you get them anyway.  They will ensure your puppy stays healthy for many years to come.  Lime, especially in areas where deer ticks are prevalent, should be given at 9 weeks, with 2 boosters, then once a year.  Lepto can also be given at 9 weeks with 2 boosters to follow then yearly.  Those are the vaccines that I think are most important.  It is a good idea to consult with your vet for any other vaccines that may be given.  Different areas of the country may call for different types of vaccines.   I am sure the dangers we have here in Pennsylvania differ greatly from the dangers one may face in Arizona.

          I am sure you have heard this, but I am going to say it anyway, make sure you get your puppy spayed/neutered.  I know some of you out there may think it cruel, but it will do more to help your puppy than to harm it.  Did you know that if you have your female puppy spayed before her first heat, it will all but eliminate the chance of any reproductive cancers.  It helps to calm them, a dog that is not spayed or neutered has a drive to breed, and it is cruel, in my opinion, to keep a dog that way if you are not intending to breed it.  When your puppy reaches six months you should get him or her spayed or neutered.  If you are planning to breed your puppy that is a different story.  You should check with your vet to make sure you are well informed before you breed your dog.

          House training is never a fun task, but it can be made simple.  To house train your new puppy you must have a routine, I can’t stress this enough, and dogs live by routines.  You must keep your new puppy confined to a small area, a bathroom, or laundry room, whatever room is small and convenient for you.  You can also use a kennel for house training.  Keep your new puppy confined, and every 4 hours or so take your puppy outside.  If your puppy goes in the room or kennel, do not yell or get mad, once your puppy realizes he or she will be sleeping there the messes will stop.  When you take your puppy outside and it does its business outside you should praise it.  Once these two things have been established, 1) keep the puppy where it will be sleeping, and 2) it goes to the bathroom outside it will be all downhill.  Once a puppy goes outside it will want to continue to go outside, it is just the nature of the dog.  If you use it to your advantage you will see that house training is really quite simple.

          Lastly you may want to consider micro chipping your new puppy, you will be surprised at how effective this simple little thing is if you should ever lose track of your new furry family member.  There are also GPS units you can look into, though they are still kind of bulky, but still worth looking into, you can find tracking units that range in price from $25 - $300.  I hope this article helped with some of the questions you may have had.  If you have any questions please feel free to e-mail me and I will see if I can find an answer for you.  Anything I can do to help keep all of our furry family members healthy and happy, I will try my best to do. 

Nick C

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Puppies For Christmas

          It would seem that the Holiday season has once again snuck up on us. I was doing some research on how a dogs behavior is affected by this time of year, I also looked into harmful plants such as mistletoe, and I was sure that is what this article was going to be about, until a few days ago when I overheard someone say he was going to give his girlfriend a puppy for Christmas. This has been bouncing around in my head for a few days. I have been wondering how many puppies are given as gifts and then subsequently given up a few months later because the responsibility was too much, or the person who got the puppy found they did not have the time to care for a puppy. How many of these dogs end up at places like the SPCA? So I thought it only fitting that I put in my two cents and write this article.

          I must admit, I did give my daughter a puppy for Christmas once, and that dog was one of the most wonderful dogs I ever owned. He was a golden retriever and my daughter named him Louie. Before I gave her Louie, I knew what I was in for, I knew that I would be the one that was going to shoulder the bulk of the responsibility that comes with a new dog. There is nothing wrong with bringing a new dog into the family if you know and are ready for all the things that come with dog ownership. If, however, you are planning on getting a puppy for someone who you do not live with, you may want to think twice. You should be sure they are ready for all the trials and tribulations that will most certainly lie ahead. If you are unsure you need to make sure. Sure it will ruin the surprise, but better to ruin the surprise than giving up a dog a few months later.

          If you are going to give a dog as a gift, it should not be to someone who is unsuspecting. Rather, if someone has been talking about getting a dog, or has been flat out asking for a puppy, you may want to ask yourself a few questions before going ahead and purchasing a new puppy. 1) Does the person I am getting the puppy for, in fact want a new puppy now? Or are they still trying to make up their mind. If they are still trying to make up their mind or are unsure in any way, it would be better to err on the side of caution and wait, there will be plenty of opportunities in the future. Christmas is not the only time of gift giving. 2) What kind of puppy will suit the person? Does the person have a lot of room for a dog to run? Or are they in an apartment with very limited space? If the person does not have the space for a dog that needs a lot of exercise, and that is most dogs. Do the research and find out what dog would be best suited for the living situation of whoever you are buying the dog for. 3) Does the person for whom you are buying the puppy have enough time to devote to the training and the well being of the puppy? If someone wants a puppy but works 80 hours a week, it may not be a very good idea for them to have a puppy, as they will just not have the time to spend with the dog. Dogs need our time, attention, caring, and many other things. In short, dogs depend on their owners a great deal. The person who wants to have a dog should know what they are getting into.

          If you really want to get someone a puppy for Christmas, the best way to do it, in my opinion of course, would be to find a way to have the person come along and pick out their own dog. Getting a dog is a very personal thing, and not all dogs are suited to all people. If you give someone a card that reads, ONE PUPPY, and then you can take them where they would like to go and get the dog they would like to get. If the person does not really want a dog, no harm done, they just need to say so. Might I suggest being prepared with a back up gift just in case the puppy idea does not work out.

          Getting someone a puppy might seem like a great idea, and when the gift is first received it may look like you did a great thing. After all who can not love a new puppy, they are designed for us to fall in love with them. In the end, however, it may be more of a tragedy. Giving up a puppy is a very hard thing to do, but it happens every year. So think twice before getting someone a puppy. Instead take them on a trip to your local dog shelter or SPCA and rescue a dog that might not otherwise have a home, or someone to look after them and keep them healthy and happy.

Nick C

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Review - PetCo Slow Feed Bowl

          This month I decided to do a review on a slow feed bowl. The Petco Slow Feed Bowl to be more precise. As you probably know I have a black lab, Jasmine. What you may not know is Jasmine is more pig than dog when it comes to food. She would eat so fast, and I do me fast, a cup and a half of food in less than 5 seconds fast, she would make herself sick. She was constantly vomiting after she ate. I know that's gross, but you are not the one that had to clean it up everyday, now that's gross! So I thought, what a great opportunity to do a review on something that may actually help Jasmine out.

          I purchased the PetCo Slow feed bowl at our local PetCo for $12.99, the ad for the bowl said it would help to slow rapid eating, discourage overeating, promote good digestion and help prevent over eating, it also boasts a non-skid bottom. as you can see from the picture below it looks like a normal dog bowl except for the dividers inside. I was concerned she would chew up these dividers in the bowl. I have fed Jasmine out of this bowl for about a month now, and the results are in!

          This slow feeder bowl is wonderful, it did everything it said it would do. It has slowed Jasmines eating from 5 seconds to about 5 min for the same cup and a half of food, She has stopped becoming sick all over my floors after eating, and she actually lost weight, though I am not sure if it is because of the bowl or because we are making her dog food here at home now. We started using the bowl right around the same time we began feeding her the home made dog food. The only thing that did not work to well was the non skid bottom. I don't think I can blame the makers of the slow feed bowl for that though. Anything containing food gets pushed along the floor until it comes in contact with a solid object, like a wall or a refrigerator, no matter what its made of or how non-skid the bottom is. As I have said I sometimes wonder if Jasmine was raised by pigs. Below you can see a before and after shot of the bowl. The picture on the left is the bowl new and unused the picture on the right is that same bowl almost a month later. As you can see there is not much difference. Jasmine did not chew up the dividers like I thought she might. This bowl has worked surprisingly well. I am glad I got it and I am very happy to give this bowl 4 tail wags out of 5.

          If your dog is a fast eater, I can not recommend this bowl enough. It works, it really will help your dog slow down and eat more naturally. I have included a link the video I took comparing the slow feed bowl with her old bowl so you can see the difference for yourself, We fed her one cup of food in her old bowl and one cup of food in the new slow feed bowl. It does seem like she is attacking the slow feed bowl, but what is really happening is she is trying to eat around the dividers and that is slowing her down. You can judge for yourself. In my opinion however, this bowl is a great for the speedy eaters, it will help to keep those fast eating furry friends healthy and happy.

 Slow feed bowl vs. old feeding bowl.

Thank you for reading, and watching.
Nick C

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Help Stop Abuse, Rescue a Dog

          Those of you who are regular readers know I am trying to spotlight an animal, or more specifically a canine charity once a month. The last one we did focused on service dogs. That page got a huge response, and I left it up for more than a month due to that response. This time, I decided to do something for a local charity. I decided to take a trip down to the Delaware County SPCA (Society for the Protection against Cruelty to Animals). I had been there quite a few years ago. I was amazed how dedicated the staff was at that time. That is one of the reasons they were the first local charity that came to mind. I was looking forward to visiting again and actually getting to see how things were run. If I thought the staff was dedicated the last time I was there, all I can say is they are more so now.
          Upon my arrival I was amazed at how crowded they were, there were a lot of people there looking to adopt an animal. The place had a new look from the last time I had been there. The kennel area was well lit and extremely clean. The staff busied themselves helping people, answering questions, caring for the dogs and setting up a Christmas tree near the front entrance, they were a busy bunch. I asked for Justina Calgiano who I had contacted earlier in the week, in order to let them know I was planning on spotlighting them in my blog. She came out and gave me the grand tour, she showed me the dog kennels and the cat room. She answered all my questions, she could not have been more helpful.

          The SPCA was started in 1911 for the purpose of providing watering troughs for working horses, it has changed with the times and needs of the community. They truly do wonderful work in helping abused animals, and providing a shelter for unwanted animals. They have been on their current property since the 1930's and have been helping animals throughout their existence. I was shocked at the number of animals that they find homes for. In an average month they will place about 180 animals, one third of them dogs, with people who will provide a loving home. Justina was nice enough to show me all the dogs, and sadly there is a section for dogs that are involved in abuse cases, they are well cared for now, but to look at them and see that they have been through some horrible abuse was heart breaking. It brought home the reality of what the SPCA really does.

          While I was there I got to meet a very special dog, her name is Bree Bree. She has been there for around 160 days, and she is in need of a home. I felt so bad, I would have taken her home if I didn't already have two dogs to care for. She is a young pit bull terrier. I think that a lot of people are immediately put off when they hear pit bull, which is a shame because Bree Bree is so friendly and energetic. I got to play with her and I took some photos (shown below). Taking these photos was no easy task, this dog loves to move a lot and is wonderfully playful! I am told 160 days is a long time for a dog to be there, and I would love to help find her a home. It is my hope that people will realize that pit bulls are not bad dogs, they are in fact extremely loyal and loving. I don't think you could do much better than Bree Bree here. If you already have a dog, it is important to bring your current dog along and let them have a few meetings with any dog you may be thinking of adopting, to ensure there will be no conflicts later. If you want to adopt Bree Bree you can head down to the Delaware county SPCA or drop them a line, they are located at 555 Sandy Bank Rd, in Media PA. Their number is 610-566-1370. They also have a great website where you can see all the animals up for adoption at If you want to adopt Bree Bree you can ask for her by name or give her ID number 35706. I am thinking of starting a separate page on my blog to feature dogs from the SPCA that may be having a hard time finding a good home.
                  I was surprised to learn that the SPCA does much more than provide shelter and homes for all kinds of animals. They also work with local food banks to provide pet food for low income families, so they will not have to give up their pets during hard times. This truly touched me because it is the hard times when we need our pets the most. They go into the schools to help educate the children about animals and strays, as well as how to spot abuse. Education is key, if people are educated, hopefully there will be less strays and abuse will be detected and stopped much sooner. They do everything, keeping a staff, running the facility, educating the public, helping animals of all kinds and in all situations, with only private donations, they are a non profit organization. Anything you can do, adoptions, foster care, volunteer, or monetary donations will do more to help than you may even realize. Again, they are located at 555 Sandy Bank Rd, Media, PA. Their number is 610-566-1370, and their website is You can make a donation by walking in, calling or using the pay pal button on their website, though I would recommend you give them a visit, you never know, you may go home with a brand new furry friend. I have some more pics here showing some other dogs that are in need of a loving home.

                 Thanks for reading, and remember, there are all kinds of furry friends in this world that need a home, and a loving person to keep them healthy and happy.
Nick C

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Salty Paws

          Winter is just about here, and for those of us in the northern half of the U.S. that means snow and sometimes a lot of it. I love the snow, my dogs, especially Frankie, love the snow. It is a great time for all. we go out back and play. I toss snow balls and the lab tries to retrieve them, and the husky usually busies herself by trying to burrow into the snow. If its deep she will often times disappear in one area and pop up in another, it is an amazing thing to watch. When the snow falls it is not all fun however.

          Usually people will shovel their walks and then throw down a layer of salt to keep ice from forming. I can't say I blame them, salt is cheap and very effective, but salt can do very bad things to your dogs paws. It is very corrosive and can lead to infections, also if there is salt on their paws, dogs will often lick their paws till it is clean. That may seem like a good thing but it is not. After a few days of walking on salty side walks and liking their paws clean salt can start to build up in a dogs system, it can lead to low blood pressure, muscle weakness, cramping, and all kinds of stuff that is just down right nasty.

          Thankfully it is not to hard to keep all the bad things salty paws can cause from happening. It can be as simple as a damp cloth. If you walk your dog and it has been snowing, simply wipe your dogs paws thoroughly with a damp cloth. Some people will invest in little booties for their dogs. I tend to stick to the back yard or other snowy areas for my dogs. If there is snow, there is usually no salt. I will still wipe my dogs paws if I am coming from an area I am not sure of. Better safe than sorry.

          If you do come across an infection on the paws of your dog, don't hesitate to get them to the vet. Most likely they will need antibiotics to help fight off whatever infection there may be. Your vet will be able to provide the proper treatment for this. If you notice your dog having trouble sanding or sitting, or moving around, this may be a sign that they have ingested to much salt and you should get them to the vet immediately.

          Thanks for reading, I know this one was short, but I thought it important to write. A few minutes with a damp cloth wiping your dogs paws, after a good walk, can save a lot of pain for your dog. It will definitely keep your furry family members healthy and happy.

Nick C

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Dog Food Is Not Always Good Food

          Let me first say I have never been one to spoil my dogs. In my opinion dogs that are spoiled are dogs that are in control, and it should be the other way around. You should be in control at all times. That said I, learned some valuable lessons about not only what dogs eat, but how they eat over the past week. Nicole, that would be my ever lovely and vivacious wife, and I decided to try to make our own dog food a few weeks ago. We did this primarily as research for an upcoming article on the topic of, you guessed it... how to make your own dog food. We did all the research and learned all the Do's and don'ts about what should go into home made dog food. Once we felt like we knew enough, we made the food. As to how we made the food... Keep checking in with us and you will get to read all about it soon.

          Once we completed the home made dog food, we tried it out on our dogs. Needless to say, Jasmine was a total pig about it, she scarfed down that food in a few seconds. Frankie loved the food and they both started doing the happy dance whenever meal time was near. We made enough food for about a week and near the end we started to transition them back to their regular dog food. We mixed in a little more of the old dog food with each meal and before long they were back on their old food. Frankie was fine with the change back, but then again Frankie is a scrapper. We rescued her off the streets of North Philly, she had been abused and was terribly malnourished when we got her. She survived by eating whatever she could find as a pup, until we got her at about 8 months old. So needless to say she has an iron clad gut. Jasmine on the other hand did not do so well, she began to have diarrhea badly, and she became noticeably sluggish. It got so bad that Nicole had to take a day from work to look after the poor thing.

          During her day off she decided to put them back on the home made dog food. She made up a big batch and fed Jasmine that day around noon. No transition time, no careful measurements, just BOOM here ya go... the home made stuff. She fed her another helping that evening, and to my complete surprise Jasmin had recovered, she was dancing around, no more diarrhea, no more whining in the middle of the night to go out. In 6 short hours she was seemingly cured. Now I can not say that it was the change of food that did it for sure, but I have a strong suspicion that it was. I was going to come home that day and we were going to get her to the vet, however, by the time I got home all was well.

          The more I look into this home made food the guiltier I feel for having fed her dry dog food all these years. Sure the nutrition is there in dry dog food, but only what is required. If you make the food yourself, I am sure you will find your dogs will become more active, and will be even more excited about meal time... If that is even possible. You will also endure that your dog will be getting a truly nutritious meal. It will be fresher and tastier, and you will have control over what is going into your dogs body, not some nameless company. I don't find anything wrong with big dog food companies, I just find I feel better when I make the food myself. I will never again have to worry about a dog food recall. Yes it is one more weekly chore I have to add to the long list of chores I already have to do, but it's one I don't mind doing.

          So a big thank you to Nicole for having the foresight to know that switching back to the home made dog food would make Jasmine all better. And as always remember to keep you furry family members healthy and happy. I know my lovely wife will be sure to keep our furry family members healthy and happy.
Nick C

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

My Obsessed Dog

          I debated whether or not to talk about this. I was unsure if the problem affected a lot of people. I looked into it and found I was not the only one with an obsessed dog. I know, I know, you are probably sitting there wondering how a dog can be obsessed. Let me first say that I am not one of those people who believe in doggie psycho therapy. Dogs live in the moment, and I have found that this trait makes it easy to help a dog with an obsession.

          So what exactly is a dog obsession. I never heard the term before I found my dog staring at a spot of light drooling and licking at the floor where the light was. I thought it was odd at first, so I called her and nothing seemed to break her concentration on this spot of light. I had to go over and physically remove her from the room where the light was, she spent the next 20 minutes whining and pacing. At this point I decided to do a little research. As it turns out, dogs can become fixated on certain things. Usually this is not a problem, however when the dog exhibits this behavior over and over and a habit forms it can be nerve wracking for the poor dog, and stress related conditions can start to occur.

          I was not sure how to treat my dog for this light fixation. I tried to keep her away from all the spots of light in the house, obviously this did not work, and it was exhausting. You would be surprised how quickly the sun moves across the sky! Every 15 minutes I was hiding a new spot of light, it was not only exhausting, but futile. I was not treating the problem. Whenever she saw light she got hyper anxious, it was sad to see. Dogs can fixate on just about anything, from spots of light to door knobs to tires, it can be anything really. After a lot of experimentation I found only one thing worked. It took a lot of time but ultimately she has stopped trying to kill little spots of light all over the house.

          If your dog is showing signs of obsession, you will need a lot of time and patience. I took my dog to a room that had plenty of light, the sun shining through the blinds provided plenty of light spots on the floor for her to kill. As we entered the room she ran right to a spot of light and began to bite at it. I let her do this for a few min, and I ignored her. I took a tennis ball and started to bounce it on the floor. She loves to chase this ball. It had no affect on her. So I started to bounce the ball off the wall, all the while ignoring her behavior around the light. After about 10 minutes of bouncing the ball around the room she took notice. She became confused... Chase the ball or kill the light. Eventually she chose the ball and I rewarded her with lots of hugs and rubs when she played with the ball and ignored her when she went to the light. I did this for about an hour a day for about a week with different stimulation, a tennis ball one day, doggie treats the next, a tug of war rope the next. After about a week she was more interested in playing and began ignoring the light. I did this all over the house and today, I am happy to say she can lay in the sun with out trying to kill the little spots of light on the floor.

          It is important to pay attention to your dogs behavior. If your dog is behaving out of the ordinary it could be a clue that something is wrong, and the sooner you know the sooner you can help. Thank you for reading, and remember to keep your furry family members healthy and happy.

Nick C

Friday, October 22, 2010

Why is a Dogs Nose Wet?

          I was having some trouble coming up with something to write about this week. I looked over all my usual notes, I checked out the websites, I even spoke with a couple of dog owners to see if I could get a feel for something. I asked my ever lovely and beautiful wife, and even she was drawing a blank. So I asked her; isn't there anything you have always wondered about dogs? Is there anything you don't know about them but would like to know? She came back with a question I didn't see coming. She asked me; why is a dogs nose cold and wet? I sat and thought for a moment... nothing came to me, I asked a few other people and all I got were the blank stares. I was stumped. So I did some research, looked in books, looked online, asked an expert or two and this is the answer I got.... No one really knows. I mean what a let down. How can no one really know, in today's world, with all the technology, I can't get the simple question like, why is a dogs nose cold and wet, answered. So I dug deep, and I found a few things the I thought could be the answer, and somethings that I just thought were ridiculous. I shall relay what I found to you.

          A dogs nose is cold and wet because it is a way for the dog to stay cool. Dogs do not have sweat glands so they pant to cool off, their paws are one of the few places on a dog that is porous enough to help them keep cool as well. Some think that a wet cold nose is another way for dogs to stay cool. The nose is wet, the moisture is wicked away into the air thus keeping the nose cool and the dog it belongs to cool and happy enough to use that slimy cold nose on you.

          A dogs nose is cold and wet because it is a way to enhance the olfactory senses. As we all know dogs have great sniffers, if the dogs nose is wet scents stick to the surface of the dogs nose and are enhanced due to the moisture.

          A dogs nose is wet because they are constantly licking it because they have long tongues. I can't believe this is a serious theory, but it is out there, its all over the web... and we all know if it came from the web it must be true.

          A dogs nose is cold and wet because it is a good indicator of whether your dog is sick or healthy, cold and wet = healthy, warm and dry = sick. I don't know about this one. My dogs sleep... a lot... and when they wake up their noses are usually warm and dry, but before to long they are cold and wet, I am not sure if this is a good indicator of a dogs health. I myself will stick with the tried and true method. If your dog is lethargic and not playful, something is wrong and its time for a visit to the vet.

          Oh I love this one. A dogs nose is wet because they put their nose in the water to drink.... What?!?!?! Ok. it gave me a chuckle, but the person I got this from is convinced this is the reason. I tried to explain the nose doesn't actually go into the water when a dog drinks, but she would have none of that silly talk. Nose in water when drinking is why the nose is cold and wet. Who am I to argue, seriously, no one else seems to know.

          This one is my favorite, a dogs nose is cold and wet because it helps the dog know when it's butt is clean, so they know when to stop licking it. I read this and thought, it cant be serious, its a joke right. Wrong. Apparently if a dogs nose is not cold and wet they will never know when to stop licking their butt. I am still laughing about this one, even as I type.

          So we have covered a lot in this article, everything from a dogs body temp regulation to butt licking. Thank you for reading, and if you know why a dogs nose is cold and wet... Please comment and let us know! As always, remember to keep your furry family members healthy and happy.

Nick C

Monday, October 18, 2010

More Than Just Walking the Dog

          I was out and about the neighborhood yesterday, and I noticed a lot of people walking their dogs. That was great to see. However I did notice most of those people out walking their dogs were not really walking their dogs, more to the point, their dogs were walking them. I saw three people with in one block of each other being dragged along by their dogs. This is not a good thing. There is a right way and a wrong way to walk your dog, and letting your dog take YOU out for a walk is definitely the wrong way. When your dog is out in front, pulling you along, that is the same as saying to the dog, you are in charge I will follow your lead. It can upset the whole chain of command. Yes dogs follow a chain of command. Whether you realize it or not doesn't matter to the dog, the dog knows there is a chain of command and it will follow it. When you allow your dog to lead during a walk you are putting the dog in a leadership role. This is something that should never happen. You are the one that is in charge, and if you are not there will be many problems down the line.

          When you are walking your dog you should be in the lead, and your dog should be following you. If your dog tries to pull out in front of you, stop them and make sure they know your the one leading. I usually accomplish this by stepping in front of the dog with one leg and I do not let the dog pass, I do not stop walking either, I simply make sure the dog is just behind me or by my side. If the dog is persistent in trying to pull ahead of me, I stop walking and turn my back to the dog. When the dog settles down, I will begin to walk again, and if the dog again tries to pass me I block the dog with my leg again, and say a command such as heal, or back, until the dog understands that this is where its place is, and eventually I can stop stepping in front of the dog and just say "back" and the dog will slow down and get behind me. Depending on the dog this could take anywhere from three days to a week walking your dog two to three times a day. There are some other things you can do to help the process along, such as keeping the leash short so you can better control where your dog is able to go, and that makes stepping in front of the dog an easier task. Once the dog is walking at your pace, you should give the lead some slack, this is not to say you can allow your dog to walk in front of you, but the leash should be slack and the dog should stay by your side. Once you accomplish this, walking your dog will be so much more enjoyable. Your dog will walk at your pace, the lead will be so loose it will feel like your dog is walking without the lead at all, and that is the goal. You should be walking your dog not the other way around.

          I have know people who let their dogs lead while walking and almost always it leads to other issues. Once a dog is in control it will try to keep control the only way a dog knows how. This can cause your dog to nip at people or even at you, your dog will not do the things you want it to and instead it will do what it wants to do when it wants to do it, after all that is what the top dog does. Once a dog starts to growl and nip, it is a short road to a full fledged bite. Can all this come from letting your dog walk you? I say yes it can. Once you give up control in one area, the dog will begin to seek control in other areas. Feeding time may become dangerous for example. All of this does not happen over night, but a little at a time, and before to long it becomes a serious problem. If you are starting to see signs that your dog is doing what it wants and not what you want it to, it may be time to take your dog for a walk, and let it know who is in charge. Once you have control in this area, you will be surprised at how quickly your dog will start to comply in other areas.

          A lot of people think they can get a dog and it will be a simple task to keep it, as if it were a stuffed animal. Dogs need time and attention, if you can not give both you may want to think about another pet choice. If you have the time and you are willing to guide and teach your dog as it grows, you will be rewarded with a calm, loyal, friend who will do anything for you. So remember, walk your dog, do not let it walk you. If you do this, it will go a long way to keeping your furry family members healthy and happy.

Thanks for reading.

Nick C

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Product Review - Crazy Critters Dog Toy

          I have been thinking about doing product reviews for a while now. I finally decided to jump into it with both feet. I will be reviewing one doggie product a month, the reviews should be out right around the 15th of every month. I will buy the product, use it for three days or rather let my dogs use it for three days and see if its worth while. The rating will be from one to five tail wags, five being the best of course. For my first review I decided to go with a dog toy called Crazy Critters. I have heard so much about it the past few months I figured it would be a great jumping off point for the product reviews.

          This product prides its self on the ingenious idea of having a furry dog toy with no stuffing, this way there is nothing your dog to pull out of the toy and potentially hurt its self by swallowing stuffing. It also promotes 2 squeakers. One in the head and one in the tail, and the toy itself is 22" long. Since there is no stuffing it can work for any sized dog. It is a toy that got its start with as seen on TV. The price is quite reasonable at 9.99 + tax. There is a photo below showing what the product looks like right after purchase. Now to let my dogs have a go at it, and hopefully I can let you know how it goes.

          Day 1: As soon as we squeaked the squeaker the dogs went nuts, they had to have it. So I tossed them the critter and Frankie the husky jumped on it and immediately tried to kill it. She shook the critter around, tossed it and pounced on it. She absolutely LOVED it. Jasmine our black lab spent most of her time trying to steal the toy away from Frankie, without very much success. After about 20 minutes I noticed the squeaking had stopped. Upon investigation, I saw that Frankie had ripped open the toy and chewed the squeaker until it had broken. The squeaker in the head did not last very long, I was able to get the squeaker Frankie had so diligently removed, and put it somewhere safely away from the dogs. The squeaker in the tail was exposed over the next 20 min, I removed that from the toy just to be safe, I didn't want my dogs potentially swallowing the plastic squeaker. Jasmine finally had her turn with it, and she was more or less just laying with it, giving it a chew every now and then. I took some pics of them playing with the toy (shown below) so you could see how much they love this thing.


           Day 2: As you can tell by the photos below, the crazy critter looks more like a furry rag, I was going to toss it but Frankie still loves to play with it, as does Jasmine, even with the squeakers gone, the still seam to love chewing on it. I am thinking I could have gotten a dollar store tea towel and they would have loved that as well. So for now I am happy to let them play with it, there is no more danger because the squeakers have been removed. One more day to go, lets see how the crazy critter holds up over the next 24 hours.

          Day 3: Ok so I am not sure what this toy is anymore. The dogs still love it, it looks like a rag that has seen better days. I took a final photograph, (seen below) so you can judge for yourself. Frankie seems to be the one that loves this toy the most. This is not surprising to me at all, because if it moves and is small and furry the hunt is on. She doesn't play with it much while I am here but I can tell she chews on it all day long however because when I get home it is wet and even more mangled then when I left it in the morning.

          Ok I have had three days to observe this product with my dogs, The fact that they got the plastic squeakers out so easily is a concern for me, however this toy has gotten more attention than any of the other toys they have since we got it. So I am in a rough spot here. The dogs love it but it can be potentially dangerous if you have a dog that will eat just about anything, including chewed up plastic squeakers. If not for the squeakers I would have given this toy a very high rating, but because of the danger factor, I am going to have to give it 2 1/2 Wags, I would say this Crazy Critters is a great toy with lots of supervision, or you could just cut them out to ensure your dog can play safely.

          Thanks for reading, I hope this review helps. As always, remember to keep your furry family members healthy and happy.

Nick C

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Stray Dog Found, What to Do?

          I started to do some research for this article, and I found that the the suggestions range all over the place when it comes to this topic. So I found myself not really knowing which advice was worthy enough to be passed along to you. One suggestion was to keep rope in your car and if you find a stray, rope off the area. Are you kidding me, like the dog is going to magically stay in the area where you put some rope up. So I guess, according to this person, you need to keep stakes and rope in your trunk. That sounds more like a vampire killing kit than a dog rescue kit to me. So I decided to junk all the stuff I found and just go with good ol' fashioned experience and common sense. So here goes nothing.

          First and foremost, when you find a stray dog, be sure to stay safe. Approaching a dog you are not familiar with can be dangerous, especially if it is wounded. If you have any hesitation about approaching the stray at all, don't. Call animal control and let them take care of the situation. Contrary to popular belief animal control will not euthanize the dog immediately, they will most likely try to adopt the dog out first. The time they will keep a dog varies from county to county. If you have concerns, ask them when they arrive what their policy is. If however the dog is approachable and friendly, you should get it to a safe location first. The owner of the dog is more than likely frantically looking for their dog, so have a look around and you may just luck out and find the owner quickly.

          Check the dog for identification, any kind of tag can be a good lead. My husky got away from me once and took off... those of you who own huskies know how they are, once they start running there is no catching them. A friendly older couple found her, saw the rabies tag and called the vet where she got her shots, and they in turn called me. I was so relieved when my lovely wife called me on the cell to tell me Frankie (the husky) was found and I could stop looking. If there is a contact number for the owner, all the better. So any kind of info is good info.

          If there is no information the dog may be chipped, and if you can get it to a vet that has a reader, all the info will be there, address, phone number, owners name. If you have done all this and still no leads, you may want to consider bringing the pooch home and giving it some food and water, there is no telling how long a lost dog has been wandering. If you bring the dog home, think about putting up a few signs in the area, lost dog found, with your cell number. Place an ad in the paper as well. If you get a call, don't just give the dog to anyone who claims to be the owner. I know it is sad to think about it, but there are some nasty people out there who will take strays and have them fight. So be sure you are giving the dog back to the correct owner, ask for a description, ask for the dogs name see if it responds, ask if there are any distinguishing features. Once you are sure you have the right owner, you can return the dog.

          Now I know what your all thinking, what if I don't find the owner???? If you don't find the owner you still have options. You can call it fate and keep your new found friend. If you just can't care for the dog long term, think about no kill shelters. You may even know someone who is in need of a furry friend. There are so many avenues open to you if you have found a lost dog, there really is no reason not to help out. If your a dog owner and you have ever had your dog get away from you, you know how heart wrenching it is, it is not a fun experience.

          So if you see a stray, don't just drive on past, or cross the street. See if there is anything you can do to help, you just may make someone very happy, and there is no better feeling than that.
Thank you for reading, I hope this article gives you a few tips or ideas for the next time you see a stray. And as always, remember to keep your furry family members healthy and happy.

Nick C

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Two Most Important Commands

          There are all kinds of things you can teach your dog, the array of commands is only limited by your imagination. As we learned in the last article " Service Dogs, A Worthy Charity", dogs can be trained to do just about anything. The trick is knowing how to train properly.

          If I had to pick the most important command that you could teach your dog I would be hard pressed. As I think of all the commands that are important in a dogs life, there are two that I keep coming back to. I can not seem to decided which is more important, so I won't. I truly believe there are two commands that every dog must know, and those would be the come command and the stay command. Most people who know a thing or two about dogs would say the come command is the most important. They would argue, if your dog is running into a dangerous situation and you give the come command you could possibly save your dogs life. I would not disagree with that. However the stay command, in my opinion, is just as important. If you give your dog the stay command, he or she wouldn't be running into a dangerous situation in the first place. So I think that every dog should know come and stay. Those are the commands that could very well save your furry loved ones life.

          There are two traditional methods of training a dog, positive reinforcement and negative reinforcement. I happen to think a mix of the two is the best way to communicate with your dog. I prefer positive reinforcement as it makes learning fun for you and your dog. Positive reinforcement is simple to implement. When your dog does what you want, coming to you when called for example, you give them lots of praise and a treat. If you do this every time your dog does something correctly, soon your dog will understand that it is his action that is pleasing you and he or she will begin to learn. Once the learning begins you can give a treat every other time then every third time and eventually stop giving the treat and just give praise and soon your dog will know the command and you will not have to give the treats or the praise... although I do love giving praise, and so do my dogs. If your dog makes a mistake while you are implementing this type of training, you should totally ignore the mistake, give no treat, give no praise, reset and try the command again. Most dogs do not have a very long attention span so I try to limit training sessions to about 15 minutes two or three times during the day. I have found that short, fun, happy training sessions tend to get the best results.

          Negative reinforcement is a little trickier to master, though there are a few commands in which negative reinforcement seems to work better. A lot of people hear negative reinforcement and they conjure up pictures of abused dogs. This could not be further from the truth. The object is to teach the dog, not to scare, or harm the dog in any way a scared dog does not learn well. It is a fairly simple principle, when your dog does not do what you want them to, for example if you tell your dog to stay and the dog moves or "breaks" the stay position, you place your hand firmly on the dogs chest and in a stern voice, not a shouting voice you say no. Another example of negative reinforcement training is putting your dog down, I know it sounds horrible, but actually its quite tame. If, for example, you are trying to walk your dog, and your dog gets ahead of you and starts to pull (we have all been there) simple take your dog by the collar and with one hand on the dogs mid section you make him or her lay down while in a stern voice you say no. Do not be rough, simply putting the dog on the ground will get the message across that you do not want him or her pulling you. Just remember, there should be NO anger what so ever while you are employing negative reinforcement. You are teaching, not frightening.

          I have found that a healthy mix of the two will get you the best results. So be sure to teach your dogs the two most important commands, it could prevent a tragedy, and that is the best thing you can do for your furry loved ones. I will be adding video to this blog in the near future so I hope to have a few training videos out by the end of next month so keep an eye out for them. I am sure they will be funny as well as informative.
Thanks for reading and welcome to all the new comers, feel free to comment and give suggestions for articles if you like. I would love to know what dog related topics you would like to be reading about. And remember, keep your furry family members healthy and happy.
Nick C

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Service Dogs, A Worthy Charity

          It is my intention to do what I call a charity "spotlight" once a month. I hope to shine a light on some very worthy dog related charities. For October I chose to shine the spotlight one Canine Companions for Independence, or CCI.

          The People at CCI do amazing work with some very special dogs. They raise, train and place service dogs for the disabled. CCI was founded in 1975 and they placed their first dog in 1976. To say the folks at CCI are an experienced bunch would be an understatement. There are three types of dogs CCI utilizes for their programs. Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, or a mix of the two. These dogs are bred by CCI and great care is taken in the raising and training of these dogs, which produces some of the finest assistance dogs in the world. The dogs are trained to respond to over 40 commands and they are trained for one of four specific categories.

          1) Service Dog: Helping adults who are physically disabled.

          2) Facility Dog: Helping teach children about how these dogs help the disabled, as well as helping people who are working one on one with the disabled.

          3) Skilled Companions: These Dogs work under the care of a facilitator (parent or guardian) to help with the needs of a disabled child or adult.

          4) Hearing Dogs: these dogs help with those who are hearing impaired.

          As I have mentioned before, these dogs learn over 40 commands and can do everything form pulling a manual wheel chair to picking up dropped items, to opening doors and turning lights off and on, and so much more. You can learn more about this wonderful program by visiting their web sight WWW.CCI.Org. I learned a lot from their site, it was a great resource for this article. If you have the means, and this charity speaks to you, think about sending them a few dollars. Every little bit helps and they can use all the support they can get. Their web site makes giving easy and painless.

          There is some more info under the Canine Charity Spotlight, located on the left side. There you will find a story and a photo. It helps to show how amazing these dogs really are and how they affect and touch the lives of those around them.

          Thanks for reading, and remember, keep your furry family members healthy and happy.

Nick C

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Canine Human Connection

          I have written a few articles now, which I hope you have found informative as well as entertaining, and it has occurred to me that I have yet to write an article about the connection we humans seem to have with dogs. Where does the love and trust between humans and dogs come from? Did you know that a dogs jaws can deliver anywhere from 200 - 320 lbs. per square inch, depending on the breed, when they bite down? Yet how many times have you put your face and neck within striking distance of those fearsome canine jaws? I would wager, if your a dog owner, you do it all the time. Now that is trust if I ever saw it. So why do we trust them so much? I have a theory about this, and it goes like this. Dogs have been been with us ever since we humans have roamed the earth. Back then it would have most likely been wolves. Which, as we all know, is where all the dogs you see today originated.

          Dogs have helped us do so many things through the ages. Everything from herding to rescue, dogs have been there with us. I think it only fitting that our most loyal companions be given the credit they are due. Could we have gotten along with out dogs? Sure, but the road would have been much harder to travel without them. Even in today's technological world, dogs have their place. They were there with us on 9/11, helping to track down survivors, they are here with us now helping the disabled, they are still working our fields, on our farms and in our homes. They watch over us when we sleep and protect us from harm, whether it is your dog at home, a police dog, or even a dog patroling with a soldier on the front lines of a war zone, dogs have always been there, willing to sacrifice themselves for us. So the next time you pat your dog on the head, think of all the dogs that are helping us now and how many dogs have helped us humans over the ages, and ask yourself... Where would we be now without their help over centuries? So you see, when we put our faces and necks near a set of jaws that could do so much damage to us, I believe the trust is there with good reason, even if it has never crossed your mind, deep down, we all know our dog will be there for us.

          Thanks for reading, and remember, keep your furry family members healthy and happy... they deserve it.

Nick C

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Dogs Teeth Need Care!!!

          One thing that often gets overlooked when it comes to a dogs health are his or her teeth. A dogs teeth and gums need care, just like yours or mine do. Some dogs need more care than others. I happen to believe genetics play a large role in whether or not they will have bad teeth. That is no reason to ignore the issue. Dogs will very seldom get cavities, plaque and tartar build up are the main culprits when it comes to dental problems for dogs. Plaque and tartar build up can leave your dog susceptible to gum disease. If you allow plaque and tartar to build up on your dogs teeth it will begin to build up around the gum line causing your dog pain and discomfort. If this has already happened, you will need to get your dog to the vet as soon as possible. Your vet should have the tools and skill it requires to remove all that build up and get your dog some relief. If your vet does not have a dental program, they will be able to point you in the right direction. However, most vets can take care of plaque and tartar build up right in their exam rooms. I can not stress this enough, if you find your dog has red gums, discharge, or tartar build up, you must get them to the vet. If you wait to long there are a litany of problems that can occur, and none of them are good.

          Once all the tartar and plaque has been removed, you can then begin to provide your dog with a home dental routine. This is a simple thing. You will need to brush your dogs teeth once a day. There are all kinds of products to help you with this, there is even beef flavored doggie toothpaste. I know, I know.... ewwwww.... But the dogs love it. Before you brush your dogs teeth it is a good opportunity to check your dogs teeth out and make sure they look healthy. Once you have given the once over to your dogs teeth, you can begin to brush. Be sure to brush along the gum line to remove any plaque build up. That is it, really, a simple brushing to avoid all the horrors that come with gum disease.

          Thank you for reading, and remember, if you take good care of your dogs teeth it will go a long way in ensuring you have a healthy, happy furry family member.
Nick C.


Monday, September 20, 2010

Stop the Obsessive Licking

A dog grooming his or her self occasionally is quite normal. However if you see your dog licking at one spot constantly there is probably something going on and it can quickly become a serious problem. A sore could develop and become infected or there could be a wound that you are unaware of. In my experience there are three main reasons a dog will lick obsessively.

1: Allergies. Yes dogs have allergies and a lot of the time this will manifest itself through dry and itchy skin. The discomfort will cause the dog to lick in an effort to sooth the skin, in actuality they will end up hurting themselves. Thankfully allergies are easy enough to deal with, a simple trip to the vet and some medication often does the trick.

2: Injury. If a dog gets stung, bitten, or just plain hurts its self through a bump or fall, it will lick at the affected area. This may require a trip to the vet, and you may end up having to "cone" your dog to stop them from licking at the wound. Your dog will look silly, yes, and may even become a klutz while wearing the cone, but a silly klutzy dog is a small price to pay in order to avoid an infection.

3: Lack of exercise or mental stimulation. If a dog becomes bored and does not get the proper amount of physical and mental exercise, it may become an obsessive licker. There are a few ways to deal with this. First and foremost you MUST walk your dog, if you find he or she is still obsessively licking, it may be because it has developed into a habit. There are a few ways to break this habit. A cone is one way. With out being able to lick for a few days the habit will end right there. I have also seen some products that you spray on the area you do not want your dog licking. These products will have different flavors that will not appeal to your dog to put it mildly. Bitter apple or citrus are some of these flavors. The trick is to get your dog to stop licking for about a week. At the end of that time your dog, if you have started exercising it properly, will forget it was even licking to begin with.

          So keep an eye out and make sure your dog is not licking obsessively and you will be sure to have a healthy, happy furry family member. Thank you for reading and look out for future posts!

Nick C.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Exercise - A Must for All Dogs

There are three ways or categories I have found for exercising your dog, and those are: Play, Physical, and Mental. All three of these categories are very important to the well being of your dog. The benefits of exercising your dog properly are just to numerous not to do it. A well exercised dog will be calmer, more fit, and will have less emotional problems, just to name a few of the benefits. If your dog is anxious, jittery or hyper then exercise can go a long way to helping your dog become happy and healthy, and that is what we all want for our lovable fur balls. A tired dog is a happy dog!
Play: There are many ways to play with your dog, we all know dogs are playful so why not take advantage and help your dog get in a little physical and mental exercise while playing. Lets take the game of fetch for example, most dogs love this game. However if you are a husky owner, like myself, you may want to find another game... Huskies do not fetch. Whether you know it or not there is a lot going on during a simple game of fetch, there is the physical exercise your dog gets from running after the ball or stick, and there is mental stimulation as well... having to find the ball, bringing it back to you and hopefully following your command to drop or release the ball. Most of all play time allows your dog a little freedom. A game of fetch in an open, secure area allows your dog to run off leash. It allows your dog to decide how he or she is going to go after the ball, how fast or slow to run, which path to the ball it takes. These are all things your dog will be free to do on his/her own terms. The best thing about play time is your dog will be interacting with you. An hour of fetch can do wonders for your dog. There are many fun things you can do with your dog that will incorporate exercise. Be creative and do the things your dog likes to do and there will be a lot of fun for you and your dog during play time.
Physical: Physical exercise plays a very important role in keeping your dog healthy and happy. Physical exercise includes everything from long walks to play time. If your are not able to take your dog for at least an hour walk each day, there may be some things you can do to shorten that time span, but you will have to exercise your dog everyday. Depending on the breed of dog you have there are ways of incorporating chores and work for your dog that will make the walk a little more challenging. For example if you have a breed like a husky, hitching your dog to a wagon and have them do some pulling will greatly increase the amount of exercise your dog gets in a set period of time. Pulling is what huskies love to do, but this trick works well with most mid sized to larger dogs. If you have a big dog like a mastiff you may want to add some weight to that wagon. This kind of thing will give the dog a sense of purpose and will help stimulate them mentally as well. If pulling a wagon is not good for you, you could buy doggie saddle bags. Put this on your dog when you go for a walk, you can put your water bottle, clean up bags, and maybe a snack in the saddle bags and this will give your dog a chore that will increase the amount of physical exercise. Depending on the size of your dog, you can add a little weight to the saddle bags, however you should check with your vet before doing this to ensure you have a safe weight limit for your dog. I do think it is important to note, while you walk your dog you should not let your dog walk in front of you or pull you, you need to make sure your dog knows you are leading. If you do not do this and you let your dog lead while on walks, it could lead to behavioral problems later. As a last resort, for physical exercise, you can train your dog to use the treadmill, this will at the very least help to burn off any excess energy your dog may have stored up.
Mental: This is a type of exercise that far to often gets over looked by most dog owners. It is vital to have your dog think, it will keep them focused and happy. It is another important cog in the wheel for your dogs health and happiness. The best way to give your dog mental stimulation is through teaching your dog commands and giving them chores to do. Simple commands such as sit, stay, and come are good ways to start your dog on the road to good mental stimulation. I will be covering how to teach your dog some of these things in later articles and videos, so keep an eye out for them. You should start with simple commands and build on them, be creative and take them as far as you can. I have found that my Lab, Jasmine, loves to play seek and find with her toys. I will hide her toy and have her find it. She loves it and I can see the amount of decision making that goes into finding her toys. It is a great mental exercise for her. You should try to do some sort of mental exercise with your dog every day. It does not take long and the rewards are great. If you put in a little time and effort, you will be amazed at how much your dog can accomplish
If you ensure your dog is getting enough play time, physical exercise, and mental stimulation you will find you have a very happy content dog.
Thank you for reading, and remember, keep your furry family members healthy and happy.
Nick C.

Sunday, September 12, 2010


Hey all you dog lovers, my name is Nick, and I live just outside of Philadelphia with my loveley wife and two lovable dogs. I am the proud owner of a black lab and a siberian husky. We rescued both dogs. The husky had been severly abused and the lab was on her way to the SPCA. The two have become the best of friends and are inseperable. I can't imagine my life without them. I hope you enjoy this blog. My hope is to promote service dog charities and no kill shelters. I would take them all if I could but since I can't this is the next best thing. I also want to have a little fun so we will have videos of my goofey dogs at play as well as photos of not only my dogs, but my friends and families dogs as well. I hope you will participate and send me pics and videos of your furry family members. I will be sure to put them up on this blog for all to see.