Monthly Archives: December 2009

How to Choose the Right Dog Obedience Class


By Ruthie Bently

It’s very important to find the right obedience class for you and your dog, whether they are a puppy or an adult. If you get into a class that is too advanced, not advanced enough or not the right fit, it can spoil the training experience for both of you. It can put you off obedience training, and put your dog off wanting to go to class and learn.

The age of your dog will help determine what kind of an obedience class to look for. Does your dog need basic training, or are you looking for something more advanced? When I brought my first dog Nimber home, he was only six weeks old and no class would take him because he was too young.

If you got your dog from a breeder, does the breeder want you to show the dog? If so, you will want to get into a confirmation class, which is a bit different from a regular obedience course. Your breeder should be able to help you find one if you can’t find one locally. Usually, training facilities will have more than one class for different ages. If you can get your puppy into a class at about three to four months, so much the better; the younger the puppy the faster they seem to learn. Unfortunately, many training classes don’t accept puppies under six months old.

To find an obedience class, ask your veterinarian, friends and family members, and check with your local park district office or YMCA. After you find a class that you may be interested in, call the facility and ask to see their training area. Does it look clean and well maintained, or does it smell of urine and feces? This is important because puppies can pick up bacteria and worms just by walking across a dirty floor. Do they have indoor facilities for bad weather or classes held during winter months? After you finish your first class, are there subsequent classes that teach the next levels of obedience training?

Some trainers will let you audit their class; this will help you determine if this is the right class for you and your dog. If you are able to audit a class, get there early so you can see the class from the beginning. Is there a recap session at the beginning of each class where you can show the trainer what your dog has done? This helps the trainer determine if your dog is doing the command correctly and if you are teaching it correctly.

Watch the trainer carefully to see if their method is one you can agree with. Is the trainer and staff congenial, or are they just passing time? Are they kind to the dogs or do they manhandle them? Get the trainer’s permission to talk to some of the students that are in class the night you visit. Ask them about the trainer’s methods, how well they interact with the dogs and how well they explain the commands you need to teach your dog. This may sound trivial, but it is important that you can understand what the trainer is trying to teach you and that the learning environment is beneficial to both you and your dog.

How long has the trainer been teaching, and what are their qualifications? Does the class instructor require a health certificate or vaccination record for all the dogs? If they don’t, you may want to think twice about participating in this training class. Before taking your dog to any obedience class make sure they have had all the appropriate inoculations; you don’t want your dog getting sick from another dog in class that may not be inoculated correctly.

The size of the obedience class is important as well; it will determine how much “hands on” assistance you will get from your trainer. If the class is too large, the trainer may be spread too thin and may miss something that you and your dog need to work on. I was able to get Nimber into a class with fourteen other dogs and our trainer had two assistants to help her. In my opinion, a good class size is between ten and fifteen dogs.

Every dog, no matter the age, needs to be obedient or you could have the equivalent of a “terrible two-year old” on your hands. By doing your research, you can find an obedience class that both you and your dog will want to attend. The benefits of an obedience training class are many; not to mention that you and your dog will make new friends, and you will have a well-mannered dog that is a joy to be around.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

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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Giving a Pet for Christmas? Santa Says No


By Linda Cole

Adding a pet to a home anytime during the year is great, but careful consideration should be taken before surprising your kids or anyone else with a new pet as a Christmas gift. Giving a pet for Christmas may seem like a wonderful idea at the time, but pets don’t always make good gifts. Here are five reasons why Santa says “No” to pets as Christmas presents.

No time for proper bonding

Christmas is the one of the busiest times of the year, and a new pet needs attention right away to bond with their new owner. If the bonding process is neglected during those first few days, the new puppy or kitten is more likely to form a relationship with the one who feeds them and attends to their needs instead of their intended owner. Plus, getting a pet for Christmas along with all the new toys and games Santa will leave under the tree can be overwhelming for children. Kids can quickly lose interest in a new pet after the initial surprise.

Insecurity

Giving a pet for Christmas can create an insecure pet. New puppies and kittens need to learn rules, and it’s hard to give them the attention they need in a busy home. With family and friends coming and going, a new pet may have trouble learning who is in charge. There are so many unfamiliar smells in a new pet’s environment that he may feel lost and uncomfortable. Insecurity can lead to behavioral problems later on, so it’s important to help new pets, especially puppies, learn who their pack leader is.

Other pets already in the home

Giving a pet for Christmas adds more tension to an already busy household, especially when there is no time to properly introduce a new member who most likely will not be welcomed by other pets. Dogs and cats are territorial and are not eager to share their space with a newcomer. Kittens and puppies may not understand the social hierarchy in their new family and if you don’t help a new pet learn proper socializing, the older cat or dog will give them a lesson of their own. Some little spats are to be expected, but outright aggression can leave a new pet hurt, frightened and harder to socialize with the other pets.

It’s easy to forget that a new pet is in the house

During the holidays, we generally have more food sitting around for guests to munch on. Alcoholic drinks, chocolate candy, raisins, nuts and other food items can be deadly for pets. Plus there are electrical cords to chew on and play with, tree ornaments and tinsel, all of which can be extremely dangerous to pets. An emergency trip to the vet can dampen any holiday festivities. It’s not easy keeping an eye on pets when you’re used to them in the house and even harder when the pet is new. An opened door as guests arrive can leave an exploring puppy or kitten out in the cold and lost. Refrigerator doors, cabinet doors or basement steps can all be harmful to a pet if you forget to watch out for them.

There’s an emotional connection that comes with selecting a pet

Most pet owners can’t tell you why they picked the pet they have. It may have been a look, a little yap or an outstretched paw catching an arm as a cage was passed. An emotional bond begins when you first see the dog or cat you will eventually take home. Choosing a pet is personal for most people and that’s why giving a pet for Christmas isn’t always a good idea.

If you want to give someone a pet for Christmas, a good alternative would be to buy them a gift certificate with a responsible breeder or make arrangements with a local shelter for an appointment after the holidays. This allows the person receiving your gift the opportunity and fun of picking out a new pet themselves. If you already purchased or adopted a pet, most breeders or shelters are happy to hold it until after the holidays when the new owner and pet have adequate time to properly bond. A picture of a new pet wrapped up gives someone, especially a child, something to look forward to after the holidays when life has returned to normal.

As far as I’m concerned, a pet is the best gift in the world to get. However, unless you are absolutely certain that the person receiving this heartwarming present really wants the responsibility of caring for a pet, it’s best to not give a pet as a gift. Surprises are great, but giving a pet for Christmas may be a little more of a surprise than someone was expecting, and it may not be appreciated.

Read more articles by Linda Cole

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.

What My Dog Taught Me about Responsible Pet Ownership


By Julia Williams

In a perfect world, every pet would have a responsible owner. Our companion animals bring so much joy and love into our lives, it’s the least we can do for them in return. Why then, do so many of these wonderful creatures find themselves living with humans who are not responsible pet owners? Although intentional neglect does occur, sometimes people are just simply unaware of how to properly care for an animal. They may have jumped feet first into pet ownership without thinking about what an animal needs to be happy and healthy. It’s still sad though, because the animal pays the price regardless.

I am an animal lover to my core, and it pains me to admit that I was a less than responsible pet owner once. I didn’t do it deliberately, and at the time I didn’t even know I wasn’t being a responsible pet owner. Yet ignorance is no excuse, and although my story had a happy ending, I’m still ashamed I didn’t know better.

Growing up in the country, we had a dog, two Shetland ponies and several cats. I felt a deep kinship with all animals, but surprisingly never bonded with any of the family pets. When I was 18, I lived alone in an apartment that belonged to my Mom. I’d been volunteering for my local animal shelter for a few months when the most adorable little puppy came in. Every time I walked by this puppy’s cage, my heart melted. I wanted this puppy more than I can remember wanting anything else in my young life.

Thinking only of that desire, I adopted this puppy. I didn’t consider the consequences; I didn’t think about what it meant to be responsible for an animal who would depend on me for every single thing; I didn’t contemplate the future in any way, shape or form. Nowadays, I think shelters are stricter about who they approve for adoptions, but at the time I don’t think anyone questioned my ability to care for this poodle-mix pup.

In terms of providing PJ with proper nutrition and vet care, I was a responsible pet owner. But I didn’t have a clue how to raise my puppy to become a well-behaved and well-trained dog. In truth, I didn’t even think about it. Blissfully unaware of what responsible pet ownership really entailed, PJ and I lived quite happily together for a year.

Then one day, I decided I was tired of the simple life. I packed my minuscule belongings and my dog into my car and moved to a big city, to share an apartment with my best friend from high school. She was happy to have me as her roommate, but not so thrilled to live with my dog. It certainly didn’t help that at 19, I was more interested in going out to meet people, attending rock concerts and having fun, than I was with spending quality time with my dog. Walking PJ was a chore, and I didn’t do it nearly often enough.

PJ did what any young, energetic dog would do in her situation. While I was away all day at work, she ransacked the apartment. She got into the garbage and scattered it everywhere. She chewed holes in our clothes and shredded the sofa cushions. PJ was bored, and she destroyed anything she could get her paws on. Coming home day after day to a trashed apartment began to take its toll on me, and on my relationships with both PJ and my roommate.

At the time, I felt that the responsible thing to do was to find PJ a new home, one where she could get the attention she deserved and obviously craved. I gave PJ to this sweet old couple who had no children. I knew they would dote on her, and she’d be so happy. Still, I dearly loved PJ, and letting her go broke my heart. It brings tears to my eyes even now, as I write this. Much older and wiser now, I can’t help but wonder “what might have been,” had I only known what responsible pet ownership really meant.

The most important thing my dog PJ taught me, is that the time to learn about responsible pet ownership is long before you decide to adopt that cute puppy or kitten. Long before you bring them home, you need to educate yourself on every aspect of pet ownership and care. You also need to take an honest look at yourself and your capability to be a good pet parent. I didn’t do either of those things, and PJ paid the price.

Read more articles by Julia Williams

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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.

The Benefits of Doggie Daycare


By Suzanne Alicie

In this world there aren’t many families who are able to keep someone at home with the dog all the time. Dogs that are left alone at home every day for several hours can begin to exhibit bad behaviors as a result of loneliness and boredom. Doggie daycare is a solution many pet lovers are looking at to make sure their dogs are cared for and attended to when they have to go out to work and school. Doggie daycare is a wonderful alternative to crating or simply leaving the dog at home alone.

When it comes to choosing a doggie daycare for your four legged friend, your best bet is to check with your veterinarian for recommendations. Of course before you leave your dog you should spend some time at the daycare center to see how things work there.

Some of the things you should look at and ask about before leaving your dog in a doggie daycare are:

Cleanliness – A doggie daycare should not smell of dog waste or be dirty. Think of your dog daycare the same as you would a daycare for your child. Everything should be clean and neat, because not only is it unhealthy for the people there if it is unsanitary, but that is also a way for illnesses to spread between dogs.

Requirements – What medical requirements are needed to leave a dog at the center? Do they ask for vaccination records, vet information, and are they equipped to deal with dispensing medications or treatments to dogs who have non-contagious conditions? You don’t want to leave your dog where he could be exposed to dangerous conditions or not receive the care he may need.

Activities – What are the dogs doing at the doggie daycare? Are there toys, and do they get to interact with humans and other dogs? If your dog is going to be kept in a cage all day then there is no need to remove him from home.

Care Takers – Pay specific attention to the workers. Do they seem to genuinely enjoy working with dogs, or do they appear to be frazzled and short tempered? The worst thought for me is the idea of someone losing their temper and disciplining my dog unreasonably.

Many doggie daycare centers offer not only daycare but also sleepovers, parties, training and grooming services. Essentially you can take care of many different doggie challenges by choosing a good doggie daycare.

The cost for doggie daycare varies based upon the services offered, but for a general day visit you can expect to pay around $25. Doggie daycares usually offer a monthly fee that covers Monday through Friday, monthly grooming, and special rates on overnight stays and products, for around $400 per month. Families that have more than one dog should ask about discounts or special multi-dog rates.

If you choose a good dog daycare location there really aren’t any disadvantages to the service, except possibly the cost. However, it really depends on your dog how the experience turns out. A behavior assessment should be performed when you take your dog in so that the workers can determine if your dog is a good fit. Dogs who are aggressive and territorial when it comes to other dogs don’t usually do well in a dog daycare system. If your dog doesn’t thrive in a doggie daycare situation, then you need to re-evaluate and decide on another course of action for your dog during the day.

Read more articles by Suzanne Alicie

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.

Unique and Cute Christmas Gifts for Dogs


By Linda Cole

Are you someone who buys Christmas gifts for your dog? This is the perfect time to buy something for your best friend you’ve been putting off buying. Our dogs do know when there’s excitement in the air. They enjoy getting things just as much as we do and some dogs even look forward to opening their own gift. Christmas gifts for dogs can be anything from replacing a favorite toy to a warm coat to help keep them warm. This year’s supply of Christmas gifts for dogs includes a wide variety of unique and cute toys, chew toys and balls. Here are some of my personal favorites that I think would make any dog happy.

Humunga Tongue – This ball comes with a huge tongue attached to it. When your dog retrieves the ball and brings it back to you, you will see a large tongue sticking out of his mouth instead of the ball. This is a fun Christmas gift for dogs who enjoy a good game of fetch or tug of war. Comes in 3 sizes: mini, medium and jumbo and retails at around $10.99 to $14.99.

World’s Toughest Ball – My dogs can chew through most any ball in a matter of minutes. There’s nothing sadder than a ball that has lost all of its ability to roll or bounce. If you need a tough, reliable ball that will be there when you and your dog are ready for a game of catch, this is it. The price is $14.40 for a small ball, $18.99 for a medium and $29.99 for the large size.

Treatstik – This is the perfect chew toy for entertaining your dog while he’s home alone. It will dispense your dog’s favorite treats giving him hours of good chewing fun. This toy holds up to the most aggressive chewer and is priced at $14.50 for both the small and large size.

Babble Ball – This unique Christmas gift for your dog will laugh, growl and talk to your dog. Retails at $9.99 for the medium, and $12 for large.

Double Chain Toy – This toy has two or three rings connected together. I have one with two rings and it’s a great toy for a game of tug of war. It stands up to the abuse of a hearty tug from most any dog. My larger dogs like to tease the smallest one of my pack with this toy by pulling her up and letting her dangle in the air when she grabs the other ring. A two ringer costs about $10.50 and the three ring is $8.99.

Dog Backpack – For your adventure loving, “let’s go for a hike” dog, this backpack will make you smile every time you take your dog on a walk. It is recommended by the Dog Whisperer, Cesar Millan, to help dogs with a little too much energy learn how to walk instead of dancing all around you while you walk them on a leash. Runs $39.99 up to $47.99 depending on size.

Snackshotz Dog Treat Launcher – Want a way to help your dog run off some pent up energy without wearing yourself down? Then this treat launcher is just what you need. This nifty little gadget will run around $15.

Personalized License and ID Tag – This is one of my favorite Christmas gifts for dogs because it puts a photo ID where it’s needed most – right on the collar. This tag looks like a mini driver’s license that includes your dog’s name, address, phone number, description and photo. You will also receive a wallet ID you can carry. This unique and cute gift has all the information someone finding your lost dog would need to return him to you. $29.95

CANIDAE Pet Tag – Your dog can proudly wear the logo of his favorite premium pet food company with this solid brass pet tag that comes in your choice of a large bone or small bone emblazoned with CANIDAE. If your dog has a feline friend, they can wear the round pet tag with the FELIDAE logo. The pet tags are $5.99 each, or two for $10.99.

Of course, the best Christmas gift for dogs is time set aside just for them every day. Our best friends don’t ask for much from us and they give us everything. Share as much of your time as you can each day and play fetch, tug of war or go for an extra walk. They don’t care if it’s only 5 minutes or an hour. To them, it’s the moment that matters the most.

Read more articles by Linda Cole

Find CANIDAE Retailers Near You!

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.

Purrfect Christmas Gifts for Cats


By Julia Williams

I don’t enjoy shopping for Christmas presents for my family and friends. There is too much pressure to find the perfect gift, e.g., one that won’t get returned or be met with that “what is this thing?” look. Cats, on the other hand, are quite fun to shop for. For one thing, buying Christmas gifts for cats won’t bankrupt my budget. Cats are also incredibly easy to please, and get just as excited about a simple catnip toy as they would with the latest, greatest “must have” cat toy of the season.

Here are a few Christmas presents for cats that I recommend. I think any of these items would make this holiday season merry for your feline friend. But here’s the thing: even if they don’t absolutely, pawsitively love your gift – they can’t return it, so it doesn’t really matter!

Elevated feeders let your kitty eat at the perfect height, which is said to be more comfortable and aids digestion. Elevated feeders are especially helpful for cats with arthritis, neck or back problems and other conditions that make swallowing difficult. Whether you choose the single elevated feeding station that holds one bowl or the double feeder, look for styles that have a sturdy metal frame and long-lasting stoneware bowls.

A water fountain provides a continuous flow of filtered H2O, which may motivate your kitty to take a drink more often. Most cats don’t drink enough water, so a fountain can help them stay properly hydrated and in good health. Another plus is that most water fountains for pets have a three-layer filter which removes impurities and makes the water taste better.

A “crinkle sack” is a great gift for a new kitten. I found a red velvet one last Christmas that I thought my paper-sack-loving cats would enjoy. Surprisingly, it didn’t interest them so I gave it to my friend’s new kitten, who loves the crinkling noise it makes and is always playing inside it.

Filled pet stockings are perfect if you are short on time – they come stuffed with all sorts of fun cat toys. To save money and time next year, shop the after-Christmas sales and you can pick them up at a steep discount.

Cozy window sill perches let your cat soak up the sun and watch birds, squirrels and other wildlife without endangering the critters’ safety.

A desktop cat seat gives kitty a comfy place to be near you while you work or play on your computer. It attaches to the side of your desk so the cat stays off your keyboard and doesn’t knock over your coffee while trying to get your attention. I need one of these badly (hint, hint) because my cat Mickey does this all too often.

Cat toys: Furry mice are always a feline favorite. Cats (especially kittens) can go through these quickly – buy a multi-pack or two so they never run out. Another inexpensive but highly entertaining cat toy is a ping pong ball. I put my cats into the bathtub with these; they can chase them without the ball ending up under the sofa or behind the fridge. Other favorite cat toys are feathers or streamers on a stick and catnip-filled soft toys. This year, my kitties are each getting a super cute Ho Ho Hairball cat toy, a furry round puff with eyes and a Santa hat.

Cat condos or cat towers provide your kitty with its own space to climb, stretch, scratch and sleep. Posts are either bare wood or covered with carpet or sisal, so be sure to get the scratching surface your cat prefers or buy a condo that has a combination of all three.

Dried bonito fish flakes are a natural, healthy treat that cats love. You can find these in many pet stores and in the ethnic section of most supermarkets.

A plush pet bed is a great Christmas gift for a cat, since a typical feline spends most of every day (and night) sleeping. Cat beds come in a myriad of styles and sizes. However, a cat will only care that it’s comfy, so choose the fabric and color you like, and everyone will be happy.

Buying Christmas gifts for cats is so much easier than trying to pick out that perfect present for Aunt Sally or Uncle Joe, or that co-worker you barely know. And one thing is certain – cats never complain that Santa didn’t bring them what they asked for!

Read more articles by Julia Williams

Find CANIDAE Retailers Near You!

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.