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