Archive for February 2011

About Neutering Your Dog

One of the most frequent reasons given for not neutering a dog is that the dog owners project their own feelings on the animal. This has a tendency to make the owners believe that neutering is extremely cruel and inhumane. Of course, there are other people that decide not to neuter their male dogs because they have heard one or more of the many myths and misconceptions about the procedure and what it does to the animal.

The facts are this – as much as we love our dogs there are differences in how they view things and how we do. Sex is one of those things. Dogs do have a strong drive for sex, but their drive for sex is based on instinct, not on love. Intimacy and romance are rarely part of the package for them. And neither partner complains. Although a dog may be very loving toward his partner, they do not have the same type of relationship that humans do. If they are not having sex they are not feeling depressed or lonely because of it.

There have been many myths and stories about how neutering a dog will change him from being a trusted yard dog that will bark to alert his owners of intruders to a mild mannered wimp that will cower down in fear when threatened. The truth is that neutering does not affect a dog’s physical abilities or strength.  Neutering removes the sexual instinct that has some dogs attempting to track and chase females that are in heat. This can actually work to help correct many behavioral problems caused by the sex instinct in some dogs.

Neutered dogs will continue to protect their territory. In other words, if the dog was used as a guard dog to some degree before the procedure, even after the procedure they will continue to guard and protect you and your property. Neutered dogs are just as strong and masculine as ever.

Neutering a dog does not cause him to gain weight or to be less active. However, in some cases dogs do gain weight after the surgery, but this is not related to the surgery itself. Instead, it is often due to the owner’s misconceptions and expectations that his dog will be slowing down. The owner expects this and so he neglects to give the dog the same exercise as before. And some owners feel that during the recovery process the dog deserves extra treats, which can be full of calories. Obviously, these things can contribute to the dog slowing down and even gaining weight.

Perhaps one of the best reasons for neutering your pet is because it can eliminate and or minimize certain health risks.

How Can You Tell If Your Dog Is Pregnant?

Determining if your dog is pregnant is not always easy. It can be especially difficult to determine in dogs that are hairy and with some extra body fats here and there. Close observation will be required.

One of the first signs may be a change in your dog’s eating habits.  Dogs are normally eager to eat, especially when given their favorite food.  A pregnant dog may not eat as much or may show disinterest as food is being prepared and offered to her. When she does eat she may not eat as much as normal.

In fact, there may be times when your dog will absolutely refuse to eat. You might even find that she vomits on occasion. If you suspect that your dog may be pregnant you should seek veterinary care for her as soon as possible. Your vet can confirm the pregnancy and determine if things are going along as they should be. Do not give your dog any supplements or medications without first checking with your vet. Some supplements and medications will cause some developmental deformities for the first month is all about organ and limb formation.

Because your dog is not eating as normal she will likely slow down in some of her normal activities. She might spend more time sleeping and resting. She may not jump up to great you as she has done in the past. Your little dog will appreciate your understanding and she will love it when you give her gentle massages – especially around her abdomen.

You can expect some vaginal discharge several days after the demonstration of lack of appetite. This can be quite messy and you may need to bath your dog every 3 to 4 days to keep her clean and smelling fresh. About this same time you will also notice that her nipples will also start to increase in size.  Breast engorgement will also be seen as your dog’s breasts prepare for milk production.

About 20 to 30 days (2 to 4 weeks) after conception, your dog’s abdomen will start to distend due to uterine enlargement as the puppies increase in size. The veterinarian will be able to feel for little lumps that can either be the placenta or the puppies themselves. Past the 30 days the vet will not be able to feel for the puppies in the same way. He will have difficulty distinguishing between your dog’s intestines and her developing puppies.

At this time you can expect some behavioral changes in your dog. She is likely to be a bit touchy and sensitive. You will need to keep that in mind and remember not to startle her. Approach her slowly and with soothing voices. Small children should be kept away from the dog unless they are being closely watched over by an adult.

Your dog is likely to find it difficult to get comfortable. You will probably notice her re-positioning herself. She may show labored breathing and she might even begin scratching at the floor. This is a nesting behavior.

Provide a crate for her that is extremely comfortable. Allow her to use the crate for birthing. Depending on the breed, your dog should give birth between 54-72 days.


Signs of Ageing in Your Dog

All living things grow older and eventually show signs of aging. Your dog is not any different than you. He will eventually show his age and you will need to accommodate any special needs that he may have. Here are some signs you may notice as your dog reaches his senior years.

  1. Signs of slowing down: rather than running you may notice that your little dog begins to trot instead. When you go for walks he may not want to take the lead – he may seem to lag behind. He may not always come when you call – instead, he may simply lift his head to see if there is a real reason to venture your way. Those overly excited greetings you once loved may become a thing of the past.
  2. Another sign is showing signs of graying hair: your dog will start to grow gray hairs around the muzzle and face particularly below the chin and around the eye brows.  On some dogs, graying hair will also appear around the feet and tail.
  3. Difficulty of hearing: hearing loss is quite common in older dogs. You may first think that your dog is simply being stubborn and refusing to follow your commands, but eventually you will realize that typical sounds – like the sound of his food being prepared, no longer alerts him. If you will observe your dog closely, he will respond more to low pitched sounds compared to high pitched tones.
  4. Cloudy eyes: as your dog ages his eyes may become cloudy and bluish in appearance. You may notice a white ring forming around the cornea. These are deposits caused by aging but will not affect your dog’s vision. What will affect your dog’s eye sight will be the formation of cataract in the crystalline lens inside the eye. Signs of a cataract would be your dog bumping into furniture and people without showing signs of dizziness and or lack of balance.
  5. Muscle atrophy: sagging muscles can be a problem for older dogs. This is due to muscle atrophy that is related to aging. This can result in a weakness of your dog that makes exercising for him rather difficult. He may have trouble climbing the stairs or jumping on the sofa.
  6. “Accidents” due to incontinence: the muscles that control your dog’s bowel and bladder will weaken with age and your dog may eventually lose control of his elimination habits.  “Accidents” can happen at almost any time at all.


Preparing For A New Puppy

Preparing for a new puppy is a lot like preparing for the arrival of a baby. Planning ahead will help make the process as smooth as seamless as possible. That will make things easier on your new pet and on you as well.

To prepare your home you will need to insure that all things that could harm your new puppy are moved out of his access. Electrical cords can be extremely dangerous for puppies – keep in mind that puppies are curious and they like to chew on things. It is best to unplug items that are not in use and keep the cords up out of his reach. To save yourself lots of frustration it is a good idea to make it a habit to keep shoes, belts, and other ‘items of interest’ put away.

Gather all the puppy supplies you will be using before you bring your puppy home. There may be a few things that you will decide to add later. But make a list and have those things ready for your new baby. One of the priorities for most dog owners is a dog crate or kennel. This will be your dog’s home within your home. It is the safe place your puppy will come to love and it will be a place that keeps him out of trouble while giving you a little relief from your new parenting duties.

Be sure you get a cage, crate or kennel that is large enough for your puppy. He needs lots of soft bedding and enough room to move around comfortably. Add a toy or two and a treat. The idea is to make this space a place he will love because the more he likes his space the less work you will have in training him properly.

You will also need to have other basic supplies on hand. This includes food and water bowls of the appropriate size and shape. Dogs with long snouts can eat comfortably from deeper dishes but dogs with short snouts need shallow bowls. You also need to keep in mind that puppies like to chew on everything. This means a plastic bowl may not last throughout the puppy months. You also need to consider the fact that some bowls tend to scoot or slide across the floor as the dogs eat. You will need to either provide a rubber placemat to keep the dishes on, or purchase bowls with rubber skids on the bottom.

Toys are essential for every puppy. Be sure that you have the right sized and age appropriate toys for your new furry baby. Only add a few toys at a time – that will give you an opportunity to know your puppy prefers.

A collar or harness and a leash are also basic necessities of puppies. Be sure that the fit is correct and the item is comfortable for the puppy to wear.


How to discipline your dog

It happens time and time again, someone gets a new pet and soon finds out the pet is not perfect. It has some personality traits or habits that are simply not fun to deal with. The problem then becomes – what can you do to remedy the situation? After all, it is not fun to arrive home only to find that garbage is strewn everywhere, shoes, bags, toys and furniture are chewed to pieces; or that your dog constantly jumps on the dinner table, either begging for scraps or taking the food from your plate. You have to find a way to discipline your dog.

Ideally you will actually catch your dog in the act. For instance, if you see your dog is about to grab a sandwich off a plate on the table you need to stop him right there and then. Clearly and sternly say “NO.”

Use a firm, louder and slightly harder than normal tone. The idea is to treat your dog almost in the same way that you would treat your child that has misbehaved. After getting your dog’s attention explain to him why he should have not done so.  A dog is just like a kid who does not know his boundaries – it is up to you to teach him what his boundaries are.

In general, dogs rummage through garbage either because they are hungry or because they are bored. As a responsible dog owner you should ensure that your dog is never hungry. You can buy a food dispenser if necessary. Your dog can be trained to access food whenever he wants. Another option is to always feed your dog before you leave home.

To address the concept of boredom you will need to give him toys and things that he can gnaw on to occupy his time while you are away. It’s also a wise idea to get in the habit of emptying your trash before you leave home or to purchase a container that is dog proof.

If your dog has a habit of jumping on the table for food you can start training him by telling all your family members (and yes, that includes you) not to encourage the behavior.  Avoid giving him table scraps whenever he’s near the table.  If it’s time for dinner, give him his plate outside or another area of the home.  Close the kitchen door when you’re preparing dinner. Say clearly to your pet that he’s not allowed inside the kitchen and he should behave.

One way to discourage a dog from jumping on the table is to place something he loves to eat in the center of the table. But line the edge of your table with a lightweight paper or fabric that is covered in things that are safe but that will make noise when disturbed. The idea is that if the dog causes these things to fall to the floor the noise will startle him and he will avoid that scenario in the future.

Whatever you do, do not correct your dog’s behavior through the use of physical abuse. Hitting a dog can turn your loving, trusting, and loyal companion into a dog that is mistrustful, frightened, and at worse, aggressive. The dog is likely to become one that does not interact, has low self-esteem, and avoids any human contact in any way it can. That often leads to behaviors like biting and attacking the very person that he used to love and adore.


How To Make Homemade Dog Food

Making your dog’s life long and happy is your responsibility. And many dog lovers take this to heart. In fact, they have taken upon themselves to go that extra step of preparing homemade dog food.

You may ask, why bother when there are so many options available on any pet store or grocery store shelves. But if you take the time to read those labels you will quickly realize that what you typically feed your pet may not be as good and nutritious as you thought.

A real advantage of making your own dog food is that you will know exactly what your dog is eating. You control the quality of his or her diet completely.

And the truth is, making your own dog food is easy. You can make it as easy or as complicated as you want it to be. Begin by ruling out any ingredients that your pet may be allergic to. Surprisingly enough, for many smaller breeds this is likely to include beef. Some are also allergic to chicken and or pork.

A common recipe is a mixture of oats, rice and peanut butter and canned beef stew. You can substitute the beef stew with whatever meat your dog prefers.

To prepare you simple cook the oats and rice and then mix in the peanut butter and other ingredients. Start with 1 cup of oats, ½ cup of rice, and about 1 cup of peanut butter. A regular sized can of beef stew can be mixed in with this. The mixture can be kept in the refrigerator in a tightly sealed container for up to 5 days.

Each day at feeding time simply take out the amount needed; warm it slightly in the micro-wave, and viola! Your dog will have a delicious meal that he will love and you will know exactly what you have fed him.

This is quick and easy and it is healthy. The meal provides plenty of protein, along with lots of grains and vegetables. But there is one thing you should do before you switch your dog to this homemade dish. First check with your veterinarian. Some dogs have food allergies or they may be taking certain medications that would not interact well with this food preparation. You may have to modify the recipe a bit to make it work for you and your dog.

You should also know that you should make the diet change over a period of time. Rather than simply making the switch from commercial food to this concoction you should begin by mixing this mixture in with the food your dog is used to eating. Slowly increase the ratio until he is eating only the homemade food. This allows the dog time to adjust to the change and you will be able to see if the diet change presents any unexpected results.


Easy Steps To Housetraining Your Dog

Getting a dog housetrained is almost always the number one thing on a dog owner’s mind. After all, who enjoys cleaning up after our pets? And the older the dog gets the bigger he will be and the bigger they are the bigger their messes! That being said, it’s easy to understand why this chore should take priority.

One of the worst things about untrained dogs is the fact that their messes leave behind lingering smells and stains. And the lingering smell can result in your pet associating that spot with his bathroom area. So the cycle can continue on. And many pet owners simply give up hope on getting their pets housebroken. They decide that they will just have to live with the problem.

The good news is almost any dog can be housebroken. The steps listed in this article are proven to work but they have to be followed consistently to be effective.

The use of dog crates is one of the most reliable ways of housebreaking a dog. In fact, this method is almost fail-proof. The problem with this one is your dog will have to spend time confined to the crate. The idea is that the dog will realize that the crate is his space and he will not want to ‘go potty’ in there because it is his space. You will need to insure that the kennel is large enough for your dog to be comfortable, and make it a cozy space.

The crate method requires that you, the dog owner will need to keep a watch over your pet. You will need to learn behaviors that indicate he/she needs to relieve himself. Keep in mind that puppies need to ‘go’ more often than older dogs. You will need to take your pet out to potty after a nap, after play, after a meal, and at various other times. Each time your pet relieves himself where you want him to, you should lavish him with praise or reward him somehow.

Many owners do not like the idea of confining their pets to a kennel or crate for training. And luckily there is another method that is very similar that can be used and it is just as effective as long as the dog owner is attentive. You will need to keep the dog with you – in most cases you will want the pet in the same room at all times. Use the same intervals to take your pet to the appropriate spot to relieve himself. It’s a good idea to develop a ‘code word’ for what you want your pet to do. This can be as simple as ‘do it’ or you can say, ’okay, now you can pee-pee’. Whatever works for you but you should keep in mind that there will probably be times that other people will be around when you use this word.

Taking your pet to the same spot helps the dog make an association with the spot and the activity. This means puppy pads should be kept in the same locations and if you take your dog outdoors you should have a designated ‘potty’ area.


Dog Grooming Basics

Dogs, just like humans, need to be groomed regularly to keep them looking their best. Besides helping them to look and smell better, good grooming can also help to keep them healthier.

Some breeds need daily brushing and others require much less. This is another factor that should be considered before you decide which breed of dog is right for you. As a dog owner it is your responsibility to ensure that your dog receives proper care and that includes grooming. A vet should be consulted if you ever notice any signs of skin, ear or nail problems. Below you will find some basics regarding dog grooming.

Hair Brushing

Brushing is one of the most important grooming dog needs. Most dogs enjoy being brushed – you won’t have to force him to cooperate with the activity. Brushing not only maintains a healthy coat that is free from mats in your dog but it will also help strengthen the bond between you and your pet. Long haired dogs usually require daily brushing. Medium-haired dogs may be prone to matting and tangles if not hair-brushed at least weekly while short-haired dogs only requires up to a month of in-between brushing. During shedding season it is more advisable to brush your dog more frequently to prevent hair build-up and excess shedding. Brushing also gives you an opportunity to check for skin problems or fleas.


Not all dogs like the idea of taking a bath. You will have to teach your dog how to enjoy taking his bath – it is up to you to make this time fun or at least less stressful, for a more hassle-free trip to the tub. Most dogs should be bathed monthly, but a once-a-week bath does not pose any harmful effects to your pet. When bathing, always remember to use a shampoo and conditioner that is intended for dogs. Your vet may recommend a specific shampoo to be used in bathing.

Nail Clipping

Most dogs dislike having their nails clipped. Many pet owners are uncomfortable with the trimming process for fear of hurting their dogs or having their dogs hurt them. Therefore, in order to make this process quick, be sure you have all equipment/supplies ready beforehand and use extra caution when handling and trimming your pet’s nails. Give your dog praise and a treat after every trimming session to make the experience more enjoyable. Mostly, dogs require monthly nail trims, but your dog may need more or less depending on the rate of growth of his nails.


If your dog needs a total cut you should probably pay a professional dog groomer. But if you have learned at least the basics in dog-hair cutting, you can give it a try at home.


Choosing a dog right for your family

Before you decide on a new dog you should do a little planning which may require some research. Begin by determining what type of dog is right for you and your family. Dogs are a huge responsibility. They ultimately become like a family member. They give love and they deserve love back. So before you get a dog you need to decide if you are ready for the responsibility.

Dogs can live as long as 20 years so you really have to commit to caring for this little creature. Besides feeding him you will need to tend to his grooming and medical needs and give him lots of love and attention. A small breed can live to 20 years while giant breeds usually do not exceed 12.

What size dog do you prefer and do you have enough space for him? Some small breeds are perfectly happy and content living in an apartment but larger breeds need much more exercise.

Another major consideration is the age of the dog you will add to your family. Some people prefer only puppies, so they can raise them on their own. Other people may prefer adult dogs because these dogs are usually already trained in some ways and any genetic medical or behavioral problems are already known. Therefore, older dogs come with fewer surprises.

If you choose a puppy you will need to consider what your puppy will be like when he is grown. How big will he get?  What will his personality be like?

Another important consideration is the time you have available to spend with your pet. All animals are independent to a degree, even domesticated ones, but your pet will depend on you for many things. You will need to ensure that you have the time to spend to give your dog a fair amount of affection and interaction.

Money can be another issue that must be considered. Single investment: It is not that the price of a dog has to determine the choice of a dog but still some breeds are expensive. Adopting a dog is usually the least expensive way to go.

Besides the cost of the pet himself you will need to purchase various supplies: feeder, water bowl, collar, muzzle, chip ID, toys, brushes, etc.. Additionally there will be ongoing expenses that you will need to keep in mind. These include such things as a plan for medical emergencies.

You also need to consider what type of relationship you want to have with your dog. It is not always easy to find the right pet for everyone. Some dogs are more nervous in nature and others are very calm and relaxed. Some breeds are extremely gentle and others are very active. Learning about the personality traits associated with particular breeds will help you make a wise choice in the selection of the right dog.


Brushing Your Dog’s Teeth

Did you know you need to brush your dog’s teeth? Her teeth should be taken care of the same way yours are. Well, almost anyway.

If you don’t provide attention to dental care your dog is likely to develop dental problems. This can include peritonitis, cavities, abscess, and gingivitis. To start with dental care you will have be patient and do a little at a time – especially in the early stages. Trying to do too much too soon will only result in a huge struggle that can end up with your dog resenting each tooth brushing session. Even worse, you could get bitten. Remember that you are in very, VERY close proximity with your dog’s mouth and huge danger of getting bitten if you don’t do this process right.

1)   Step one is getting your dog get used to you introducing something in his mouth – something besides food or a toy. It’s probably a good idea to have a few samples of dog toothpaste on standby. Your dog may tolerate one and not like the others at all. Never use human toothpaste – your dog will swallow it and can cause him to become ill.  Dog toothpaste comes in several flavors and they are formulated to be safe for dogs when they swallow it. Allow your dog to taste the toothpaste several times until he gets used to it.

2)   Step two is getting your dog used to the toothbrush itself. These come in various sizes and in fact, for small dogs you can use a toothbrush that fits on your finger. Allow the dog to investigate the toothbrush through smelling and licking. Tell your dog what the tooth brush is for. You may want to allow your dog to see you brushing your teeth.

3)   Step three – after you know which toothpaste and toothbrush to use for your dog you can get started with the actual brushing. Initially you really don’t even have to be concerned with brushing your dog’s teeth. Just place a small amount of toothpaste on the toothbrush and when you are ready proceed in rubbing the toothbrush against your dog’s teeth. Make the process fun and quick. Start rubbing it from the back teeth up to the front.  It should take just about 30 seconds or less.

4)   Step four – you are now ready to do some serious teeth brushing. Wear old clothes and have a towel handy. Be prepared to get slobbered on. Assume a comfortable position that allows you access to your dog’s teeth without straining yourself or your dog.  Lift your dog’s upper lips and brush your dog’s teeth and gums. Don’t worry about having only limited access – just brush whatever teeth you can. Rub in a firm, circular motion as you clean your dog’s teeth.  Eventually, your dog will allow you to reach the teeth located at the very back of his mouth. Do the top teeth before moving to the bottom.

5)   When you are finished you should wash your dog’s toothbrush well and store it in a dry place away from your dog’s and children’s reach. Praise your dog with each process, and never make tooth brushing a stressful ritual. Talk to your dog with a calm, soothing and encouraging voice to ease his worry about the procedure. Give your dog a healthy treat after brushing.


YouTube Video