Monthly Archives: March 2009

Agility Abilities

Have you ever thought that agility training might just be your dog’s thing? How do you tell if your dog has what it takes to succeed in agility competitions? The answer probably lies in your understanding of the dog. Those who are very athletic, eager to please and who have a wonderful relationship with you are the best candidates. 
History of Agility 
Agility training began in England not long ago and was fashioned after horse show jumping. After making its UK debut at Crufts in 1978, agility became the fastest growing dog sport. Not only is it popular among caretakers, its also very popular among spectators, the action is fast and it is always entertaining whether the dog does as the handler asks or not. It’s fun for everyone. 
Does My Dog Have What It Takes?
The only way to find out if your dog has got what it takes to do agility is to try it out. Find a good agility club in your area where experienced instructors can teach you what you need to know. This will help you avoid injury to your pup. You will want to learn new tricks in a controlled environment that facilitates good training practice on agility equipment that meets safety criteria.
Pursuing the Sport
Once you establish that you and your dog love the sport, it’s worth it to purchase an agility course, or join a club who has the equipment available. You can find some inexpensive equipment online at Amazon, Ebay or even Craigslist, but if you are purchasing used equipment through these sources, ensure that you use a light solution of bleach and water to thoroughly clean the equipment prior to use. 
Purchasing Agility Equipment
There are many different types of agility equipment available. If you’re just starting out in the sport, you will want to stay on the conservative side of purchases. A complete agility course can be very pricey, so wait and see if it’s something you and your dog really want to pursue. 
Once you’re convinced that this is the sport for you, go ahead and purchase the basic pieces of equipment. These include a bar jump, a tire jump and a tunnel. 
Agility can be a very entertaining sport that’s exactly what your dog needs to release excess energy. It can create a strong bond between both you and your dog, not to mention, it’s great exercise for both of you. 
Additional Resources: 

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

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Housebreaking Your Dog

Housebreaking a dog, no matter what their age is now one of the easiest things to do these days. There are a few things you need to have, there are the housebreaking supplies of course; but you should learn to use repetition, have patience and above all you should have a sense of humor. 
When Skye came to live with me, I had to teach her that going potty in the house was not an option. You see Skye grew up in a kennel and could let herself out into her dog run to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. She didn’t have to wait for some human to get up, go downstairs and open the door for her; so in the beginning we had a few accidents. I also found out early on in Skye’s training that if I rewarded her with a “potty biscuit” after she did what she needed to do outside; she got the idea a lot faster. She never got a whole cookie and often times she would be rewarded with a piece of cereal.
When I was growing up we had dogs and there never seemed to be much trouble to housebreaking them. I do remember one incident involving my grandparents’ Boston Terrier Peggy that had to do with the Sunday paper. You see, she was paper trained and when she was young to housebreak, my grandparents put newspapers down for her to go potty on in the spot they had chosen for her in the kitchen. Then when they couldn’t get her to go outside, they tried putting newspapers on the lawn to try and convince her that grass was OK, which finally helped to train her. The incident with the paper happened one Sunday morning when my grandpa was laying down on the couch enjoying his paper. Peggy walked over to a section on the floor that Grandpa was not reading and relieved herself there.
While you can still use the old method of housebreaking with newspapers, there are now many alternatives to that old standby. You can now purchase pheromone enhanced puppy pads that have a plastic backing. These are good because they keep the urine from soaking through the pads. You can get pheromone drops to use outside in the spot you want the dog to go. You can get artificial grass systems that can be used indoors (for rainy days) or outdoors to keep those burn spots down in your lawn. 
When you are housebreaking a dog, here are a few simple tips:
  • Taking the dog out should be the first thing you do in the morning.
  • After feeding your dog, wait about 20 minutes, and then take them out. 
  • Taking the dog out should be the last thing you do at night.
  • If you want to use a treat as a positive reinforcement, feel free to do so. It will help your dog learn faster. If you don’t want to use a treat, a pat, hug or words of praise will work just as well.
Watch your dog’s body language, if they start dancing around, pacing, or sniffing for a spot; take them outside. Usually this behavior means that they have to go outside. By following these simple tips it will be no time before you can sleep late on your weekend off.

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

Crate Training and Its Advantages

When I was growing up we had dogs but they were never crate trained. Crates were sold back then; my folks just chose to go without one. At night the dog would spend the night behind gates in the kitchen. Of course there was one Boxer named Jayne, who didn’t realize she wasn’t supposed to jump the gate and did just about every night until they got a taller one. The family knew she could jump it if she really tried, but for some reason she stayed put.
I got my first crate when I got my first AmStaff Nimber, when he was a puppy. While you can buy a crate for the puppy’s size, the puppy will grow and you could be buying several sizes before you reach the size you need for an adult dog. I bought a crate that was 36 inches long, 24 inches wide and 30 inches high; which was the size suggested by the breeder at the time. I put a cardboard box in the back of the crate on its side, with its bottom facing the door. In this way I was able to cut down the size of the crate for the puppy. Dogs do not like to urinate or defecate where they sleep, this is their “den” and they will keep it clean; if you are housebreaking a puppy this is another plus for getting a crate. As my puppy grew, I would cut a bit of the box away, so he gained more space in the crate.
Whatever size crate you buy, it should be at least tall enough for the dog to stand up in. They don’t have to be able to hold up their head, but they do need to have enough room to walk in, turn around and lay down easily. I also suggest using something washable on the bottom for the dog to lie down on. I like to use old quilts, or go the local recycling center to look for old blankets. You can even use old cotton towels; just make sure whatever you use is machine washable because sometimes accidents happen. I have more than one blanket, so in case one needs to be washed there is a clean one ready to use. You can even put a blanket over it to darken it at night to help your dog sleep.
A puppy should never be in a crate for more than three to four hours at a time if you can help it, and six to hours is the limit I use for Skye, as an adult. I try not to leave Skye in her crate for more than about six hours at a time, though she has been crated overnight when I am home. When Skye came to live with me, she was crated when I could not watch her even though she was an adult, as she was into everything. I also started crating her overnight when she began living here because she had been a kennel dog and wasn’t housebroken yet. The crate was also helpful for feeding her in because she had to get medication in her food and I didn’t want the cats getting into it. Now that she is settled into the household routine and the cats are used to her, I don’t crate her to feed her unless I am adding something to her food that the cats might find interesting.
A crate should never be used for punishment, no matter how frustrated you may get. It can be used for a time out when you need a break. It can be used if you need to have the dog out of the way, but in a safe place temporarily; an example of this would be if you are hosting a party, or mopping the floors that the dog just ran across with their muddy paws.
If you follow these easy tips, crate training can be a rewarding experience for the whole family. It worked well for me and I know Skye is happier; now she gets to sleep at the foot of my bed.

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

Do Pets Dream?

You’re quietly watching a scary movie late one night. It’s not too terribly scary because you have your faithful canine companion curled up on the sofa next to you, snoring contentedly. Suddenly, at the very spot in the movie that the “evil clown” attacks, your dog twitches and then falls off the couch. Popcorn flying, you’re convinced that the clown really is in the next room, but you’re too afraid to look because your pup is growling softly at, well, nothing….

If this has ever happened to you, I’m betting you know as well as I do that dogs dream. The fact is, this is true.
Dogs experience sleep patterns that are very similar to our own. The process begins when your dog walks around in a circle three times (we’ll get to that little phenomenon later), settles into a heap of fur, curls into a ball and tucks his nose under his tail.
So far, very similar to the way that we fall asleep. Of course, we probably don’t turn around three times, or tuck our noses under tails (I hope), but the rest of it fairly close.
Like us, our dogs will enter into rapid eye movement (REM) after a few minutes. This is known as the “active stage of sleep”. His eyes will roll under his closed lids (much as our own do when we enter REM), and he may bark or whine (just as my husband does). His legs will probably jerk a little, and all in all, the brain activity that would be seen if you were to hook him up to a monitor is similar to that seen during the dreaming sleep of humans.
In humans, there are five stages of sleep. The “Dreaming” stage occurs in the fifth stage, or REM stage of sleep. This is the most active state of sleep for pets and people, where kicking and running comes into play.
So, the short answer to this question is that yes, dogs do dream.
Incidentally, dogs spend between 10% and 12% of their lives sleeping. Unless you’re one of my dogs, then you’ll spend closer to 75-80% of your life asleep. And no, I never medicate my pets! They are just really, really tired….
And in case you need further proof of the dreaming capacity of dogs, take a gander at this “sleep walking dog” video. Then be very grateful that you don’t have to worry about this with your pet. If you do live with a dog like this, you might want to rethink watching those horror movies.

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

Smart Games to Play with Your Smart Pets

Whether you live in the northwest and are being pelted with rain, or in the Southwest where you’re plagued with heat and allergies, or even the Northeast where there’s still snow on the ground, we all have days when it’s just not too comfortable or safe to go outside.
So how do we keep our very smart pets entertained on days when we just can’t get outside to play? Play a game! Pets need quality time with their parents as much as children do, and these games will keep the entire family entertained!
Here are some “smart games” for you and your “Smart Pets” to play.
Hide A Treat: One of our personal favorites. This game consists of you hiding a treat someplace in your home, and then asking your dog to go find it. In essence, you’re training your dog to become a “tracking dog”. Keep in mind that you’ll need to show your pet how this game works the first few times, but it won’t be long before they take the challenge on themselves!
Hide and Seek: Do I sense a hiding theme here? Anyway – this is a fun game to play when you can sneak away from your pet. It’s even better when you learn to throw your voice and appear to be coming from another room! Either way, you’ll find this game to be entertaining.
Teach a Trick: Teach your pet a new trick! Yep, even old dogs and stubborn kitties can do this. Cats are wonderfully receptive to clicker training, and you can learn more about this method by clicking here or here.
A Day of Dexterity: Remember the great times we all had growing up making a “Front room Fort”? Why not try that with your pet. Be sure the area is safe. Then take a few minutes to set up a short agility course with blankets, chairs and maybe an old box, or a 2×6 plank that they can try walking on (under constant supervision, of course).  Try it out with your pet first by having them follow you through the course, then rearrange it and try something new.

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

Plants for Pets To Avoid

Spring is in the air and with this beautiful season follows the arrival of new flowers and plants. But beware – there are certain plants that just don’t belong in a home with pets. These are the plants that can cause everything from allergies to poisonings.
I can tell you from experience that it doesn’t matter how old or how smart your dog or cat is, they can still find a way to get themselves into trouble. If that happens to include chewing on household plants, you’ll want to ensure that you are taking the necessary precautions to help your pet avoid temptation.
You will also want to make note of a few phone numbers, or better yet –consider printing this list out and hanging it on your refrigerator. The way we react in the first few minutes can make a lifetime of difference for our pets and children.  Your first call should be to your veterinarian, so be sure to have his or her number written down in plain view. If, for some reason, you can’t reach your vet, these are some other numbers you can call.
ASPCA Poison Control Hotline
1-888-426-4435
Note: There is a $60 charge for this service.
The National Animal Poison Control Center (NAPPC)
1-800-548-2423
1-900-680-0000
Note: If you call the 1-900 number, the charge is $20.00 for the first five minutes, then $2.95/minute thereafter. If you use the 800 number, the charge is $30.00 per case (VISA, MasterCard, Discover, or American Express only).
Whomever you call, be sure that you’re ready with the following information:
  • The species, breed, age, sex, weight and number of animals involved.
  • The animal’s symptoms.
  • Information regarding the exposure, including the agent (if known), the amount of the agent involved and the time elapsed since the time of exposure.
  • Have the product container/packaging available for reference.
If your animal is having seizures, losing consciousness, is unconscious or is having difficulty breathing, telephone ahead and bring your pet immediately to your local veterinarian or emergency veterinary clinic. If necessary, he or she may call the APCC.
Over 700 plants have been identified to be toxic to our pets. Unfortunately, some of the most toxic plants are also the more beautiful plants. So before you start adding them to your yard or home décor, take a look at this list from the Humane Society or visit the American Animal Hospital Association website.
Additional Resources: 

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.