Category Archives: canidae

5 Things City Dogs Need to Know to Stay Safe

city dog luluBy Linda Cole

I’ve always lived in a small town, and though I can see the appeal a big city has for many people, I’ve never wanted to live in one. Dogs really don’t care what your preference is when it comes to rural or urban living, but city dogs need to have some specific skills to stay safe.

My dogs are used to a laid back and quiet environment, and we rarely meet other people walking their dogs when we’re out for a stroll. The only distractions include an occasional rabbit, deer or squirrel. If we take the dogs with us to a city, they’re excited and act like a tourist trying to take in everything at once. But they are also unsure and a bit uncomfortable as well. Big cities are full of life and activities that can take a little time for dogs to get used to.

Staying Calm in a Sea of People

Crowds of people fill the city sidewalks, all heading to their own destinations. Some are wearing uniforms or dressed like clowns or other characters a dog may not recognize. It’s important to help your pet feel comfortable and calm in a more chaotic environment. There may be people who want to pet your dog, and it’s up to you to make sure he knows how to politely greet people and when you should tell someone no. The last thing you want do is force your dog to do something he’s not comfortable doing. Some dogs are wary of strangers by nature.

Being Attentive to His Owner

With a lot more traffic and other distractions in a big city, a dog needs to pay attention to his owner, and it’s a must to keep him under control at all times. Retractable and long leashes can put a dog at risk of being injured if he steps out into traffic or rushes out of an elevator when the door opens. City dogs need to know and obey basic commands Dog-Animated-no-offerregardless of any distractions around him, especially when meeting other dogs while out walking. The “watch me” or “look at me” commands get your dog to focus on you and can be crucial if you need to get your pet’s attention.

Leave It and Drop It Commands

A city dog is more likely to find litter and garbage lying on the street or sidewalk, and it only takes an instant for a canine to grab something up. The “leave it” and “drop it” commands can save a dog’s life and save you money at the vet when you can prevent your pet from eating something he shouldn’t have. Since dogs are closer to the ground than you are, it’s not difficult for them to find a wrapper with part of a sandwich inside, cigarette butts, bones, cups, plastic bags or plastic utensils with bits of food on them. You may not see him grab something off the ground before you can tell him to leave it, but you can at least get him to spit it out by telling him to drop it.

Acclimating to Distractions and Noise

Larger cities have a variety of scents, distractions and street noise – people on skateboards, skates or bikes, someone pulling a wagon, in a wheelchair, pushing a shopping cart, jackhammers and other loud construction equipment. If a dog hasn’t been exposed to these sights and sounds, it can cause him to be nervous or scared of the noise and movement. Cities also have a lot more car and truck traffic on the noisy streets. Dogs that aren’t used to hearing the sound of garbage trucks, blaring sirens or honking horns may be bothered or scared by sudden loud noises.

Walking on Different Surfaces

city dog stephenCity dogs will encounter different types of surfaces they need to feel comfortable walking on. If they live in an apartment it could be a slippery hallway, stairway or lobby floor. Elevators, automatic or revolving doors can also be confusing for a dog that isn’t used to being around them.

The American Kennel Club recently added a new title to their Canine Good Citizen certification program. The Urban Canine Good Citizen tests dogs in specific skills they need to know in a big city environment, skills that help you keep your pet safe and under control.

A well mannered dog that’s comfortable and relaxed makes life easier for his owner, whether it’s in a large city or a small town.

Top photo by Lulu Hoeller/Flickr
Bottom photo by Stephen/Flickr

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5 Tips for Litter Box Training a Kitten

cat box abbamouseBy Julia Williams

Teaching a young kitten to use its litter box is generally not a long or complicated process. For starters, learning to use the box is largely instinctive for a feline. Further, if the kitten lived indoors with Mom for its first few weeks, it may have already been “shown the ropes” and will adjust to a new box in a new home almost immediately.

That being said, there are some things you can do to make the process go as smoothly as possible. Make no mistake, proper litter box training is very important, because establishing good habits early on is the best way to avoid future issues.

The Box

Most litter boxes are made from heavy duty plastic, which is easy to clean and very durable. I recently also came across a disposable litter box made from recycled paper. It was on the small side and had a low entrance, which is perfect for a little kitten to be able to enter and exit comfortably. A small cat box is fine for a kitten, but just be aware that they will outgrow it and you’ll eventually need to get a larger one for your adult cat. The cat box will need to be big enough for your cat to turn around in and scratch around in it comfortably.

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How to Help Your Dog Overcome a Fear of Strangers

By Langley Cornwell

As friendly as your dog normally is with you, does he sometimes act skittish when it comes to new people? In some cases, dogs do this because they may have been abused before you got them. In other cases, the dog might just be naturally skittish. It may take some effort on your part, but you can do a lot to help your dog overcome his anxiety when it comes to strangers. Remember that an anxious dog is one that is on full alert. This is a situation that has the potential to end badly, so you need to take care of this issue, for the mental and emotional health of your dog as well as for the safety of others.

Create a Safe Zone

The fastest way to reduce anxiety is to establish an area where your dog will have a complete feeling of safety. To do this, create a place that is just for your dog. It may be the dog’s crate, a specific chair, or some other area that is just for him. Make it a practice not to let anyone other than you or the dog enter his special safety zone. This will help your dog understand that this is a safe place where no one can disturb him.

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Could Your Dog Have Fall Allergies Too?

allergies timothyBy Lyn Lomasi

You’ve seen or felt it all before: the sneezing, the itching, the watery eyes, the irritated nasal passages, and so on. But your dog is now displaying some of the behavior typical for fall allergies in humans. Could your dog have fall allergies too? Is this even possible? What signs and symptoms should you be concerned about, and when is the appropriate time to pick up the phone and call the vet?

Can Dogs Be Affected By Hay Fever?

The answer to this may not be quite what you’re thinking. If you see your dog struggling with what seems like hay fever or fall allergies, you might be correct. However, in dogs, it is often referred to as atopy. Some of the symptoms of atopy are similar to what humans would experience with hay fever. Atopy is also most common in the fall season. Some of the signs and symptoms vary greatly from hay fever. Fall allergies in dogs can range from mild to serious. Learn the signs to watch for, as well as when the appropriate time to contact your vet is going to be.

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6 Ways to Make Walking Your Dog More Fun

dog walking tambakoBy Laurie Darroch

Although most dogs enjoy a good walk and exploring the neighborhood or other local terrain, it is fun to make the occasion extra special for your dog and yourself once in a while. For the more timid or hesitant dogs, the extra encouragement may be just the motivation they need.

Bring Along a Throw Toy

Dogs learn to associate things with particular activities. They will soon understand that bringing a leash out and attaching it to their collar or harness means it’s time to go somewhere. The presence of a favorite chase and fetch toy is a sure sign that playtime is about to begin. When you take your dog out for a walk, bring along a throw toy such as a ball or Frisbee to use for added exercise and training. You can practice commands such as “Fetch” or “Release” while you are walking and playing.

Change the Routine

People get bored with the same routine, and your dog might enjoy some variation as well. You may have a favorite route you take when you go walking with your dog, but vary it once in a while. Pick a park or an alternate neighborhood, go walking at the beach or even on a hiking trail for a nice change of pace for both of you. Your dog will enjoy all the interesting new smells in the different areas.

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Who Are Those Dogs in the Subaru Commercials?

subaru dogs paulaBy Linda Cole

Subaru has been airing TV commercials featuring cute dogs for quite some time. Their newest ad series features the “Barkley’s,” a family of three Golden Retrievers and one Yellow Labrador Retriever. The commercials definitely put a smile on your face as the adorable canine family “acts out” common everyday driving experiences in five different ads. What makes the commercials work is how the director of the ads was able to portray the dogs spoofing humans. So, who are those dogs in the Subaru commercials?


At five years of age when the commercials were made, Auggie is a purebred Golden Retriever and plays the Doggy Dad perched behind the steering wheel of his Subaru. When not driving the family around town, he spends his time at home on a farm in Canada with 10 siblings, although he isn’t related to any of them. He loves stuffed animals and is often seen carrying one around. Auggie isn’t a newcomer to TV commercials. He has an impressive resume under his collar already, with roles in other commercials, TV shows and movies.

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