Category Archives: Laurie Darroch

How to Groom a Dog with Matted Fur

dog mats taroBy Laurie Darroch

When your dog gets matted fur, it is not only a grooming problem; it can be a health and comfort issue as well. Matted fur can even be painful for your dog. Daily grooming can help to prevent mats, but proper coat care when they do occur is a key element of dealing with matted fur on your dog.

Matted fur acts like a trap for anything small and loose that your dog comes across while playing, even while indoors. The trapped debris or pests that gather in the mats can be a health issue as well as causing irritation, cuts and tender areas which can fester and become infected.


Mats come in many sizes. They may be small and easily brushed or cut out, or large and extremely tangled. Daily grooming is important, particularly on dogs that have thick or long fur. Prevent the matting from occurring by brushing or combing your dog’s fur on a daily basis, the same way you take care of your own hair. Catching smaller mats and working them out or removing them is much easier than dealing with huge clumps of matted fur.  It is also less painful for your dog. In addition, daily grooming is a nice bonding time with your dog.
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How to Select the Right Dog Coat or Sweater

dog coat funkblastBy Laurie Darroch

When your dog needs extra warmth to cope with cold weather, you want to pick the right coat or sweater to do the job correctly. Not all dogs are suited to extremely cold temperatures. The added layer of clothing can be a real help for dogs that are sensitive to cold weather.

A dog that is cold will cuddle against you, burrow under blankets, and may even shiver. Some dogs have plenty of thick over coat and undercoat, but others may have very thin fur and no real undercoat to help keep them warm. Adding a manmade coat may seem silly, but your cold dog will appreciate the extra warmth and be much more comfortable. Here are some tips for choosing the best coat for your dog.

Take Measurements

Dogs obviously vary greatly in size and shape. Getting a coat or sweater that fits correctly and does not cause discomfort is important. Measure your dog around the chest, neck and distance from their neck to their waist, and know their weight before you go shopping.

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5 Simple and Inexpensive Toys for Dogs

dog toy johnBy Laurie Darroch

As much as we love our dogs, the toys they play with can be expensive. We enjoy spoiling them, but sometimes we just have to resist the urge to buy them new toys.  The good news is, you do not have to spend a fortune on dog toys to keep your canine companions entertained. Simple toys can be just as much fun! Here are 5 alternatives to expensive dog toys.


Make or buy some non-toxic bubble solution and use either a battery powered bubble blower that makes a lot of bubbles one right after the other, or a simple inexpensive dollar store bubble wand to make the bubbles one at a time. This is great exercise for your dog as well as being a fun game for them. Watching your dog chase the bubbles is entertaining for you, too! Running, jumping and chasing the bubbles outside gives your dog some good leg stretching and cardio activity. A long session of chasing bubbles will burn off an active dog’s excess energy for a while.


Cats are not the only pet fascinated with boxes and bags and their contents. Dogs can be little nosey Parkers as well, and have to find out what is in those interesting containers.  Take advantage of a dog’s natural curiosity and create a simple toy using an empty cereal box or other small food box. Put some tasty CANIDAE treats in the box, set it on the floor and see how long it takes your dog to find a way to extract the treats from the box. Then repeat to keep your dog entertained. The cardboard tube from a roll of paper towels works, too – simply flatten one end and seal it up with duct tape.

Rag Toys

Not only are these toys simple to make, they recycle old clothes into inexpensive toys for your dog. Cut off the zipper from a worn out pair of jeans. Cut the jeans into strips and tie the strips together in knots with different sized knots. The thick jean material will hold up to dog gnawing.

dog toy LynYou can make something similar with old t-shirts – cut them into thin strips and tie together to make an octopus shaped toy with a knot. This works as a tugging toy and as a throw and fetch toy. The knot gives the toy weight and helps the fabric fly when you toss it.

Put a ball inside a sock and knot the end to keep the ball in the “sock sack.” This can be used as both a tug toy and a throw toy.  If you put a really bouncy ball such as a tennis ball inside the sock, the toy will also bounce on a hard surface when you throw it for your dog to fetch.


The old classic stick is still a favorite fetch “toy” with dogs. Pick a stick that is not too big or thick, but big enough for your dog to grab onto.

Do be aware of what type of plant or tree the stick comes from. Some types are extremely poisonous for your dog and should not be put in their mouth or used as a fetch toy. To keep your dog from swallowing splinters of wood, don’t let them chew on the stick no matter what type of tree it is from.

Plastic Jugs

This may not be a good toy for extreme chewers, although they can play with these with full supervision. Empty and wash out a plastic milk jug or use an empty large plastic water jug. Put some CANIDAE kibble in the jug and leave the cap off. Throw the container across the room. If your dog is a chaser, they will have fun charging after the noisy bottle and running around with the captured prize held by the handle.

Your dog may even play fetch with the bottle the same way they do with a stick or ball. It is humorous to see a dog run around holding the big jug between their teeth. It makes for some funny photo opportunities as well. This toy catches their attention even more when thrown on a tile or wood floor or on a patio where it makes plenty of noise.

As with any toy, store purchased or homemade, keep an eye on your dog when they are playing. Watch out for wear, inappropriate chewing, and broken parts they might ingest. As inexpensive as these homemade toys are, just throw them away or put into the recycling bin if they get too ripped or worn out to play with safely.

Top photo by John Collins/Flickr
Bottom photo by Lyn Lomasi/Flickr

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5 Fun Homemade Gift Ideas for Dog Lovers

homemade gifts 1By Laurie Darroch

When it comes to the dog lovers in your life, a homemade gift that acknowledges the bond they have with their special canine companion may be the perfect present. These 5 dog-themed Christmas crafts are all easy to make, inexpensive gifts from the heart.

Wooden Plaque (pictured at left)

These are very simple to create using paint and a cut piece of wood, acrylic paints and a clear finishing spray to preserve the completed project. If budget is an issue, use scrap wood or cut up old pieces of fencing post to make the wood shape you want to paint on.

Paint a fun saying, the dog’s name, a humorous quote or any other wording that is appropriate for the receiver and their dog. Let it dry completely and then seal it with clear spray. Add a hanging hook if desired. These look cute hung on a wall or set on a shelf standing up.

Paw Print Picture

If you have a willing canine helper, you can use paper and acrylic paints to make paw print gifts, such as a set of cards, a painting or wall hanging to frame. Add a photo of the dog to finish the project, or write a story or poem to go with the paw print painting.

To set this craft up, plan on working in an area that can be easily cleaned and is contained. If the dog is skittish about you dipping their paw in wet paint, have a helper there to keep the dog still. Lots of praise and a few CANIDAE treats as a reward will help. Have paper towels, water for washing their paw and a towel handy to keep them from running off covered in paint. Acrylics are water soluble and wash off the dog’s paws easily, but don’t let them lick it even if it is labeled as non-toxic.

Dog Emergency Information Kit

It’s always a good idea to have the information needed in an emergency easily accessible. It will not only be useful for the dog’s owner, but other caregivers when necessary.

Compile a written record that includes the dog’s name, breed and age, favorite toys, food and items of comfort. Include any medical problems and medications, special behavior issues, command words, owner’s name, address and phone number, vet’s contact information, and any other pertinent details regarding the dog. Add a few photos of the dog taken from different angles.

For presentation, buy or make a special folder or box to store the emergency kit in. Make it bright or easily identified so it can be found quickly in an emergency. If you use a box that is large enough, add a package of CANIDAE dog treats and a small toy for comforting a stressed dog. This gift may not be costly, but it is a genuine and useful gift of love to acknowledge a person’s connection to their beloved dog.

homemade gifts 2Shell Ornament

If you have access to shells, you can make simple Christmas ornaments for your dog loving friends.  All you need are acrylic paints and a brush, a finishing spray, and a bit of ribbon and hot glue to make the hanger.

Write the dog’s name on the inside of the shell using a fine tipped paint brush. You can embellish it with paw prints or a heart. Paint the edge of the shell to add color to the ornament. Use a clear finish spray to seal it and keep it from rubbing off over time, then cut a piece of thin ribbon and glue it in a loop on the back of the shell for hanging.

Besides the dog’s name, you can make additional ornaments with each family member’s name, or make shells with fun dog-related sayings or words to present a set of shell ornaments as a gift.

Gift Certificate

The gift of your care and time may be the best gift of all.  Create your own homemade gift certificates for services such as dog sitting, dog walking, playtime, and so forth. You can create them by hand or using a computer graphics design to print out. Create a small booklet of tickets redeemable for services that the receiver can redeem when they need your services.  Make them as ornate or as simple as your skills allow.

Photos by Laurie Darroch

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5 Reasons to Get a Coat for Your Dog

dog coat luluBy Laurie Darroch

Some people may think dog coats are silly, but there are reasons a dog can benefit from wearing one in cold weather. Dog coats are not just a dress up item; they are a necessity for some dogs and weather conditions.


Some dogs are hesitant to step outside in the cold. It may take some encouragement to get them out the door to face a walk in the frigid snow. The added warmth of a coat designed for those conditions can help motivate your dog to go out into the chilly weather. If your dog is comfortable, he is more likely to cooperate and go out for the exercise he needs or to answer nature’s call.
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Dog Potty Training Tips for Bad Weather

potty tips martinaBy Laurie Darroch

Some dogs resist going outside in rainy or snowy weather to go to the bathroom. They do not like the changes in temperature or the feel of the snow or the rain. With training and encouragement they will go outside, but you can help your dog by making the experience more tolerable.


Keep an area in your yard clear of snow for the potty area, and be consistent. Make sure the space is large enough for your dog to sniff and turn around on. Clear it as close to the ground as possible. With repetition and encouragement, your dog will get used to going to that one spot in inclement weather.

If you do not have a yard and are walking your dog for bathroom breaks, bring along a small hand shovel if they are resistant to relieving themselves on the snow. There are small, reasonably priced folding shovels available as well, which are easier to carry on an outing in the cold.
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