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Monday, April 27, 2015

Dog Toys - Toys are not a luxury, but a necessity.

For dogs and other animal companions, toys are not a luxury, but a necessity.

Toys help fight boredom in dogs left alone, and toys can even help prevent some problem behaviors from developing. Although cats can be pretty picky when it comes to enjoying particular toys—ignoring a $10 catnip mouse and marveling over a piece of crumpled newsprint—dogs are often more than willing to "play" with any object they can get their paws on. That means you'll need to be particularly careful when monitoring your dog's playtime to prevent any "unscheduled" activities.

"Safe" toys


Many factors contribute to the safety or danger of a toy, and a number of them depend upon your dog's size, activity level, and preferences. Another factor to be considered is the environment in which your dog spends his time. Although we can't guarantee your dog's enthusiasm or his safety with any specific toy, we can offer the following guidelines.

Be cautious


The things that are usually most attractive to dogs are often the very things that are the most dangerous. Dog-proof your home by removing string, ribbon, rubber bands, children's toys, pantyhose, and anything else that could be ingested.
Toys should be appropriate for your dog's size. Balls and other toys that are too small can easily be swallowed or become lodged in your dog's throat.
Avoid or alter any toys that aren't "dog-proof" by removing ribbons, strings, eyes, or other parts that could be chewed off and/or ingested. Discard toys that start to break into pieces or are torn.

A note about rawhide


If you're thinking about giving your dog rawhide chew toys, be sure to check with your veterinarian about which ones are safe and appropriate for your dog. Because these toys may pose choking hazards, only give them to your dog when you’re there to supervise. Also, be aware that many rawhides are byproducts of the cruel, international fur trade. For a humane alternative, consider toys made of very hard rubber which are safer and last longer.

More safety tips


Take note of any toy that contains a "squeaker"buried in its center. Your dog may feel that he must find and destroy the source of the squeaking, and he could ingest it. Supervise your dog's play with squeaky toys.
Check labels for child safety. Look for stuffed toys that are labeled as safe for children under three years of age and that don't contain any dangerous fillings. Problem fillings include nutshells and polystyrene beads, but even "safe" stuffings aren't truly digestible. Remember that soft toys are not indestructible, but some are sturdier than others. Soft toys should be machine washable.



Active toys:
  • Very hard rubber toys, such as Nylabone®-type products and Kong®-type products, are available in a variety of shapes and sizes and are fun for chewing and for carrying around.
  • "Rope" toys are usually available in a "bone" shape with knotted ends.
  • Tennis balls make great dog toys, but keep an eye out for any that could be chewed through, and discard them.
Distraction toys:
  • Kong®-type toys, especially when filled with broken-up treats—or, even better, a mixture of broken-up treats and peanut butter—can keep a puppy or dog busy for hours. Only by chewing diligently can your dog get to the treats, and then only in small bits. Double-check with your veterinarian about whether or not you should give peanut butter to your dog. Be sure to choose a Kong®-type toy of appropriate size for your dog.
  • "Busy-box" toys are large rubber cubes with hiding places for treats. Only by moving the cube around with his nose, mouth, and paws can your dog get to the goodies.

Comfort toys:
  • Soft stuffed toys are good for several purposes, but aren't appropriate for all dogs. For some dogs, the stuffed toy should be small enough to carry around. For dogs who want to shake or "kill" the toy, the toy should be the size that "prey" would be for that size dog (mouse-size, rabbit-size, or duck-size). (SEE Considerations when buying toys)
  • Dirty laundry, such as an old T-shirt, pillowcase, towel, or blanket, can be very comforting to a dog, especially if the item smells like you! Be forewarned that the item could be destroyed by industrious fluffing, carrying, and nosing.

Get the most out of toys

Rotate your dog's toys weekly by making only a few toys available at a time. Keep a variety of types easily accessible. If your dog has a favorite, like a soft "baby," you may want to leave it out all the time.
Provide toys that offer variety—at least one toy to carry, one to "kill," one to roll, and one to "baby."
"Hide and Seek" is a fun game for dogs to play. "Found" toys are often much more attractive than a toy which is obviously introduced. Making an interactive game out of finding toys or treats is a good "rainy-day" activity for your dog, using up energy without the need for a lot of space.
Many of your dog's toys should be interactive. Interactive play is very important for your dog because he needs active "people time"—and such play also enhances the bond between you and your pet. By focusing on a specific task—such as repeatedly returning a ball, Kong, or Frisbee®, or playing "hide-and-seek" with treats or toys—your dog can expel pent-up mental and physical energy in a limited amount of time and space. This greatly reduces stress due to confinement, isolation, and boredom. For young, high-energy, and untrained dogs, interactive play also offers an opportunity for socialization and helps them learn about appropriate and inappropriate behavior, such as jumping up or being mouthy.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

How to raise a dog friendly puppy


There's a short period in every puppy's development, from very early puppyhood to three or four months of age, when his experiences have a big effect on his entire approach to life. If he has lots of positive encounters with other dogs during that developmental window, he's far more likely to grow up to be dog-friendly. If he doesn't, he can become fearful and aggressive.
An adult dog's personality is far less malleable than a puppy's, but exposure to other dogs can still improve his social skills. Just move slowly and cautiously, and if you see signs of aggression or timidity, get help from a professional trainer right away.
This is easy, since other dogs, starting with your puppy's mother and littermates, do most of the work.
Young puppies teach each other how to act around other dogs, mainly by practicing how to show and read the signs of submission and dominance. Without this lesson in canine etiquette, a dog may attack another dog who's trying to tell him, "I give up--you're the boss!" Or he won't know how to defuse a dominant dog's aggression by signaling his submission. Either way, you're likely to wind up with expensive vet bills.

The solution is simple: Give your puppy plenty of chances to practice his canine etiquette.

Bring home your puppy at the right age. Don't buy or adopt a puppy who was taken away from his mom and littermates before eight weeks of age. Any earlier, and your pup won't have had enough chances to practice his canine manners with them.


Set up playdates. When you bring your new pup home, invite your friends to bring their healthy, vaccinated dogs over to play. To make sure your pup doesn't get intimidated, start with mellow, well-behaved dogs.


Start him in school. As soon as possible, sign up for puppy kindergarten classes that allow the pups plenty of time for off-leash play.

Feed his social life. When your puppy grows up, take him to the dog park, invite friends' dogs over to play, and keep exposing your dog to other canines. Even if your dog had a hopping canine social life during puppyhood, he needs regular exposure to other dogs throughout his adulthood or he risks becoming less friendly over time.

Bottom line: No matter what the breed or bloodline, every dog should get regular playtime with canine pals to be friendly and safe around other dogs. This is especially important before the age of three or four months, when a pup's experiences can shape his personality as an adult.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Finding a good dog breeder


We suggest you consider adopting a puppy (or an adult) from a shelter or rescue group before buying one. But if your heart's set on a purebred puppy, the first step is to find a breeder who knows what she's doing. Unlike pet stores and unscrupulous breeders, good breeders are careful to breed only healthy dogs with good temperaments. This means that any puppy you get from them has a better chance of turning out to be a good family pet. They also know how to raise their puppies in a way that prepares them for life as a family dog.


There are plenty of breeders out there who are uninformed, unscrupulous, or both. Take your time and be picky about finding the right one.

Where to start

Ask your vet, visit dog shows, or contact local breed clubs to get recommendations on good local dog breeders. The American Kennel Club also offers breeder referralsfor all the recognized breeds. And of course, if you know anyone with a fabulous dog, ask where she got the pup.




Questions to ask a breeder (see the article Becoming a Dog Breeder

Talk to and visit several breeders, so you get a sense of what separates the really dedicated breeder from the so-so one. 


Here are some of the questions that will help you suss that out:
Where do the puppies live? The answer should be "in the house with the family." A puppy who's born into family life has a better shot at growing up relaxed and friendly. A pup isolated from humans in a backyard, garage, or basement is more likely to wind up shy or aggressive.

How often are the puppies handled? Puppies should be handled by lots of different people beginning very early in life so they'll grow up to be comfortable and safe around humans. Ideally, the breeder throws regular puppy parties, inviting lots of guests over to play with and handle the pup. Five minutes of daily pats on the head by the breeder won't cut it.

Can I meet the parents? Meeting the father may not be possible, but you should certainly meet the mother. A puppy's parents give you better insight into her future personality than does her breed. A friendly, well-behaved Mamma or Papa dog is a good sign, both that you've found a good litter and a good breeder.

How many litters do you raise a year? A breeder with just one or two litters a year will have the time to give them the care and handling they need, and to find them good homes. Each female dog should be bred no more than once a year.

Can I have copies of the health clearances? Many breeds are prone to certain genetic conditions. The breeder should offer health clearances--documentation from an independent agency, such as the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals or the Canine Eye Registration Foundation--that the parent and grandparent dogs were tested for hereditary problems. (You'll need to do some research on your breed to find out what the parent dogs should be tested for--our breed profiles are a great place to start.)

Because some genetic conditions don't show up until adulthood, health clearances aren't available for dogs younger than two years old. For that reason, a responsible breeder won't breed dogs until they're two or three years old.

Can I talk to someone who's bought a puppy from you? Good breeders should be happy to give you references; even better, they'll refer you to other breeders as well as customers.


Signs of a reputable breeder
Keep your eyes open when you're visiting breeders. Here's a check list of what to look for in a good breeder.

The dogs live inside. 
Puppies who are going to be family dogs should be raised inside with the family, not in a backyard, basement, or garage.

The dogs and puppies are relaxed around people. If the parent dogs and puppies seem comfortable with humans, that's a good sign that they've been properly cared for and socialized.

The place is clean. Don't worry about the dirty dishes in the sink--just make sure the dogs' living area is safe, sanitary, and that they're supplied with fresh water, beds, and toys. Is there a toilet area in the puppy's living quarters, or is it all one big toilet? If it's the former, the puppies have a head start on housetraining.

The breeder participates in dog shows or competitions. A good breeder is motivated by enthusiasm for the breed, not by making a little extra cash.

The breeder asks you to sign a spay/neuter contract. If you're buying a dog who's not going to be bred, the breeder should ask you to sign a contract promising to spay or neuter your pup, to avoid contributing to pet overpopulation.

The breeder doesn't specialize in sizes or colors that are unusual for the breed.For one thing, extremely small or extremely large dogs are more likely to have health problems. For another, trying to breed for rare colors or extreme sizes is a sign that the breeder is more interested in making money out of a sales gimmick than in producing great puppies.

The breeder is up-front about the breed's drawbacks, whether that means a tendency to develop certain health problems or a temperament that's not for every owner. A good breeder wants you to love and care for your new dog for his entire lifetime, and she knows that's more likely if you're well prepared.


The breeder wants to meet the whole family and welcomes you to make several visits. To make the best match, the breeder will want to meet everyone who'll be living with the puppy. And she'll want you to take the time to make the right decision; high-pressure salesmanship is a red flag.


The breeder asks you lots of questions. This shows she wants to know exactly what kind of home her puppies are going to. She may ask who's going to be home during the day, what your dog-owning history is, and why you're interested in the breed. Don't be defensive; she's just doing her job, which is taking care of the pups she brings into the world.
The breeder will take the dog back, at any stage of the dog's life, if you're unable to care for her. A good breeder will insist on this. Again, she wants to make sure the puppies she brought into the world will always be taken care of.


The breeder won't let you take the puppy home before she's eight weeks old.Playing with her littermates teaches your puppy a lot about getting along with other dogs. A puppy who's taken away from her littermates too early is at a major disadvantage in her canine social skills.


Bottom line: Before buying a puppy, take the time to research and find a responsible breeder. Puppies from good breeders are more likely to grow up to be healthy, temperamentally sound dogs.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Top 10 Banned Dog Breeds

Late in 1980s, an epidemic of attacks by Pit Bull type dogs, and other related breeds, led to widespread bans. In 1991, the Parliament of the United Kingdom banned the ownership of Japanese Tosa Inus, Argentine Dogos, Fila Brasilieros and Pit Bulls, with many other countries following suit soon after. Even in areas where having such dogs is legal, it can be nearly impossible for homeowners to get liability insurance if they own one of the breeds below.


American Bulldog



Banned in Denmark, Singapore and various municipalities, the American Bulldog’s origins are in the deep south, where it was used as a farm dog. Its specialty is catching feral hogs, which can weigh several hundred pounds and wield savage tusks. When cornered, these razorbacks are nasty fighters, requiring a dog of great strength and athleticism to fight them, battling the hog into submission and holding it down until the hunter arrives. For this reason, they have a very high pain threshold. The American Bulldog can weigh from 70-120lbs., though many have been known to grow even larger.


Bandog



The term ‘bandog’ has been in use since the Middle Ages and is used to describe a large dog that was let off its chain at night to guard its property. The modern bandog is not a purebred, and there are various ‘recipes’ to achieve its creation, including American Pit Bull terriers and various mastiffs. The goal is to create a dog with the size of the mastiff and the drive of the APBT. The breed rose to a certain prominence in the late 60s, when veterinarian John Swinford began breeding them. His most famous dog was Bantu – a fierce, hard dog known for his fighting prowess. Weight can vary wildly, but 80 to 150lbs is the general range. Bandogs are generally prohibited anywhere there are restrictions on its parent breeds.



Neapolitan Mastiff



The Neapolitan Mastiff or Neo, comes from Italy, where once it was used as a gladiator dog in the bloody spectacles of the Coliseum. They were also used as war dogs by the Roman legion. Today, they are generally protectors of the home. Distinctive in appearance, the largest males can top 200lbs and are covered in loose, wrinkly skin with hanging jowls. A Neapolitan Mastiff was used to portray Hagrid’s pet Fang in the Harry Potter films. They are illegal to own in Singapore, and to own one in Romania you have to be certified psychologically fit.



Wolfdog



There are many established breeds of wolves and domestic dogs, including the Czechoslovakian Wolfdog (a mix of German Shepherd and Carpathian wolf) and the Saarloos Wolfhound (German Shepherd and Mackenzie Valley timber wolf). Perhaps the most famous was Jack London’s fictional White Fang. Due to its varied genetic structure the wolf dog is extremely unpredictable, reacting to certain situations like a wolf and others like a dog. It maintains an extremely high prey drive, and is not generally considered a good pet. There have been many attacks on humans, most commonly on small children, which they may view as prey items. It is prohibited in Norway.



Boerboel



The Boerboel comes from South Africa, and closely resembles a more athletic Bull Mastiff in appearance. The name roughly translates from Dutch to “farm dog”. It was bred from various native African dogs and guard dogs, and were brought into the country by European settlers, most notably the Dutch. In the late 1920s, the diamond company De Beers brought Bull Mastiffs to South Africa to guard their mines, and they contributed greatly to the modern breed. Excellent home guardians without being overtly aggressive, they are also said to be very fond of children. Easily topping 150lbs, they are banned in Denmark.



Dogo Argentino



First bred in Argentina in 1928, the Dogo was taken from the now extinct Cordoba Fighting Dog, which was mixed with various other breeds, including the Great Dane, Dogue de Bordeaux and Irish Wolfhound. Breeder Antonio Nores Martinez developed his dog as a big game hunter, taking on such dangerous prey as the mountain lion. Although it was not its original purpose, the Dogo has also been used for fighting. Generally weighing in at just under a hundred pounds, it is solid white and resembles a larger Pit Bull. The Dogo is banned in at least 10 countries, including Australia, New Zealand and Portugal.






Presa Canario


The Presa Canario is a massive fighting dog hailing from Spain’s Canary Islands, generally weighing over a hundred pounds. Of diverse mastiff stock, the breed achieved notoriety in 2001 when a pair named Bane and Hera attacked and killed 33 year old lacrosse coach Diane Whipple in the hallway of a San Francisco apartment building. The dogs were originally bred for an Aryan Brotherhood fighting ring. Bane and Hera’s owner, Marjorie Knoller, was convicted of second degree murder (a landmark judgment at the time) and is currently serving a prison sentence of 15 years to life. Presa Canarios are banned in Australia and New Zealand.



Fila Brasiliero

The Fila or Brazilian Mastiff, is a huge dog bred for hunting boar and jaguar, and was even used for tracking down runaway slaves. It has Mastiff, Bulldog and Bloodhound ancestry. It is perhaps the least tractable breed on this list, and is highly prized for its aggressiveness. This personality trait is called “ojeriza”, which translates from Portugese to ‘distrust’. The Fila despises strangers, to the point where Brazilian dog show judges are advised not to touch it, and the standard allows a certain ferocity in the show ring. It is illegal to own a Fila in the United Kingdom.



Japanese Tosa Inu

The Tosa Inu can weigh anywhere from 80-200lbs. It is a mix of indigenous Japanese dogs and various Western breeds, such as the Mastiff and Bull Terrier. The Tosa is also a fighting dog – although the Japanese idea of combat is much different than in other locales. There is great ceremony attached to Tosa matches. They are much like sumo wrestling, with the greatest champions achieving the rank of ‘Yokozuna’. The Tosa displays an uncommon stoicism, as they are expected to fight silently, without growling or whimpering. It is illegal to own in Denmark, Malta and Norway, amongst other countries.




American Pit Bull Terrier
There is no dog breed on earth more polarizing than the Pit Bull. Much maligned, the Pit Bull was bred from early Bulldogs and Terriers for the purpose of fighting other dogs. At this task, he has no peer. Once a beloved family pet (The Little Rascals’ Petey was a pit bull) the breed began to attract the wrong kind of attention in the 1980s. Prized for its strength and gameness (a somewhat indefinable quality which is identified by a willingness to fight, no matter what the cost), Pit Bulls became an urban symbol of criminal masculinity. Poor breeding and training has caused them to be responsible for attacks on humans, many of them fatal. This is somewhat anachronistic of the breed’s history, as Pit Bulls were never bred to be aggressive towards people. In the old days, dog fighters would bathe each others’ dogs before the match (to eliminate the threat of poison on the fur), and a snappy dog would be culled. Whether one considers them sweet-natured pets or deadly monsters, they are illegal to own in Miami-Dade County, Florida; Ontario, Canada; and many countries throughout the world.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Becoming a Dog Breeder


There is more to becoming a good #dog breeder than getting a male and female dog together and letting them "hook-up"!

Anyone ever tell you that all you need to do is get a #male and #female dog and let them breed and you can sell the puppies and make money?

Well that may be true somewhat. Then you will be known as a "backyard breeder". Backyard breeders do not get the respect of other breeders or the buying public. They are usually not the expert on the breed.



There are some basic rules or guidelines that people look for when buying a puppy.

The breeder knows and loves the breed they are selling. The breeder is an expert on the breed they raise and sell, or at the very least, a very dedicated student. He/she will be able to answer any question you might have about the breed, or be able to find the answer for you. They will know the history of the breed and for what purpose they were bred. They know about any particular health problem that might be common with the breed, temperament, breed behavior, etc.
The breeder will focus on their breed. If the breeder is truly dedicated to this breed, then you will know when you talk with them. You will hear the excitement and enthusiasm in their voice. You will not see this breeder selling several different breeds of dogs. You might see this breeder selling a large dog for one market and a smaller dog (or lap dog) for a completely different market. For example; if you see a breeder selling Rottweilers and Doberman Pinschers, does this person truly believe in one breed? They are both large dogs and pretty much serve the same market. But, if a breeder is selling a Rottweiler and a Yorkie, then they are selling a large guard type dog and a lap dog. There is no real conflict of opinion there.
They put their dog’s health first. These people do not use cheap dog food, you will find that they are using premium dog food. Dogs get all their nutrition from only one source and that food needs to provide everything the dogs needs to promote good health. They will usually give their dogs a vitamin supplement as well.
They care about good homes for the puppies. Responsible breeders know that they have only one chance to find that perfect home for their puppy. They don’t rush to get the puppies out of their house when they are 6 weeks old or right after they are weaned. We have found that the puppies will better adjust to their new homes if they are 8-9 weeks old before being placed. They seem to develop mentally after 7 weeks and are ready to bond to their new family.
Good Dog Breeders will have a Contract or Purchase Agreement.It is always better to have everything in writing when making a purchase. This will clearly state what is expected from the breeder (seller) and of the buyer. This protects everyone involved in the transaction. Included in the agreement will be any health guarantee.

Registration papers. Professional dog breeders will sell dogs with AKC (American Kennel Club) or CKC (Canadian Kennel Club) registration papers. I would not buy a dog without these registration papers, and do not suggest that you do this either. This includes you; if you become a breeder then sell quality, sell a puppy with AKC or CKC registration papers.
Good breeders will be there after the sale. But in order for the good breeders to be there after the sale they must make a profit on the dogs they sell.


Making a profit is not a crime! Don't feel guilty or intimidated by other breeders or the "inner circle" for making a profit breeding dogs. Breeders should not be expected to do a good job and not make any money for their efforts. The feeding, shots, worming, imprinting and socializing of a puppy cost money and takes time. You are providing a service to the people that want to have a beautiful, quality puppy and companion. A superior breeder does not have a day job, this is their job. Be responsible and be professional.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Dog behavior


Many canine misbehaviors are born out of instinct, and most arise from either boredom or stress. Aggressive behavior, chasing, marking, and resource guarding are modern manifestations of dogs' early instincts to acquire food and protect their territory and pack. Digging and chewing, on the other hand, are usually the results of boredom. Barking is a little of both. Jumping up and mouthing are simply examples of one species (dogs) attempting to make a connection using very different forms of communication than another species (humankind) understands.

It's important to recognize that these behaviors are innate. When your pup digs up your flowerbeds, he's not seeking revenge or trying to punish you for taking away his tennis ball. Dogs simply aren't programmed that way. But for him to learn what is and isn't appropriate in the world you share, you must act as the benevolent leader of your household:


Set boundaries and be consistent.
Reinforce good behavior with plenty of treats, toys, and attention.
Ignore unwanted behavior as much as possible.
Make sure your dog knows he's a beloved and important part of the pack.



Note: Any behavior can be made much worse by inadequate training or poor handling. Physical force is never effective and only weakens the bond you're trying to build.

Preventing a bad behavior is always preferable to having to treat it, and early training is key. Enroll your puppy in obedience classes and practice with him daily, even after the course ends. Training not only teaches your dog mannerly and useful behaviors ("sit," down," etc.), it hones impulse control and provides essential mental stimulation. It's a good idea to add to his repertoire of tricks and skills throughout his life.
Early socialization is the other key ingredient. Before he reaches 12 weeks of age (when the window of opportunity begins to close and dogs start fearing the unfamiliar), expose your pup to as much as possible.
Introduce him to people of all shapes, sizes, and colors, young and old, male and female. Arrange for playdates with dogs of different breeds, maturity levels, and play styles so that he learns good canine manners and play behavior. Finally, acquaint him with a wide variety of sights and sounds, from kids riding skateboards to the toilet flushing to Fourth of July fireworks.

Treating behavior problems
Some of the most loving, loyal, and intelligent dogs come from shelters where the majority are well past 12 weeks of age. If you've missed that window of opportunity for socialization, or a particular behavior already exists, treatment can be very effective.
Providing your dog plenty of mental and physical exercise is crucial to maintaining a well-adjusted dog (it's also an effective prevention tool). It's true: A tired dog is a happy dog, and the more physical and mental stimulation your dog gets, the less likely he'll be to dig, chew, or escape.
Like humans, dogs are social animals. Making him spend long days alone with nothing to do is not only cruel, it's an invitation for bad behavior. In the absence of being given something to do, your dog will create his own ways to amuse himself. If you work all day or are gone for long stretches, consider hiring a dog walker or finding a doggie day care.
For serious issues such as separation anxiety and aggressive behavior, consult a reputable trainer or behaviorist(Paulo Rebelo - Treino Canino). In those cases, desensitization is usually the preferred method of treatment. Essentially, desensitization pairs positive reinforcement (treats, praise, attention) with whatever triggers the bad behavior, thereby creating a new, positive association with the trigger.


In plain English: Your dog barks and lunges (anxious behavior) whenever the neighbor kids whiz by on their bicycles (trigger). Solution: Starting with very limited exposure, pair the sight of kids riding bicycles with plenty of treats and praise (positive reinforcement).


Bottom line: Canine misbehavior is rooted in instinct and intensifies when a dog is bored, stressed, or both. Early training, mental and physical exercise, and plenty of attention go a long way toward both preventing and treating behavior problems. Some cases require the help of a reputable trainer. Physical correction is never appropriate and nearly always makes things worse.

Monday, April 13, 2015

How to take care of Senior Dog

Old Dog

Senior dogs have different care requirements than those of a younger dog. This fact probably doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone. But how do you know when your dog is considered to be a senior?
It really depends on the individual dog. In general, giant breed dogs age faster than smaller breed dogs. A Great Dane is considered to be senior by roughly 5-6 years old whereas a Chihuahua would likely only be middle-aged then, and probably not considered a senior until 10-11 years. Large breed dogs fall somewhere in between. A Golden Retriever might be considered senior by 8-10 years of age. Genetics, nutrition, environment; all of these play a role in how fast your dog ages.

What are some of the things to expect as your dog ages? Your dog may develop arthritis or other degenerative diseases that cause him to slow down. He may not be able to walk as far or play as long. He may tire more easily. He may have difficulty getting up or finding a comfortable position to sleep in. He may become reluctant to go up and down stairs or have difficulty getting into and out of the car.

Without proper care, dental disease can pose a problem, particularly for older pets. You may be surprised to learn that veterinarians find evidence of dental disease in many pets as early as 2-3 years of age. If nothing is done to care for your dog’s mouth, by the time your dog is a senior, he may even have lost some teeth. Dental disease can be painful, causing your dog to avoid or have difficulty eating his meals. This may result in weight loss and an unkempt hair coat.

Dental disease is certainly not the only disease that can lead to weight loss. Senior dogs frequently suffer from kidney disease, liver disease, heart disease and other conditions that may result in weight loss.
On the other hand, some senior dogs may have the opposite problem. Some dogs will become less active with age, essentially becoming couch potatoes, and will gain weight as a result. Obesity in a major health issue in dogs of all ages and senior dogs are no different.

What can you do to help your senior dog? Here are some tips:
Schedule regular visits with your veterinarian. Your dog needs to be examined at least yearly if it appears healthy, as many diseases are hidden and not apparent. Remember it is much cheaper to prevent disease than it is to treat it!

Ask for a body condition evaluation during each vet visit. Body condition is crucial to determining whether your senior dog is overweight, underweight, or at an ideal body weight. In fact, you should also ask your veterinarian to show you how to evaluate your dog's body condition at home.

Feed your older dog a high quality diet. Also, learn to read the dog food label and choose a diet that is appropriate for your dog’s age and lifestyle.

Use food to keep your senior dog at his ideal body weight. Overweight dogs have a higher incidence of diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, skin disease, even cancer. Your veterinarian can help you choose an appropriate diet for your dog, especially since overweight dogs must be fed carefully to ensure that all nutrient needs are met while still allowing for weight loss. For instance, specialized diets that are lower in calories as well as those that are high L-carnitine are available for obese or overweight dogs. A diet with a carefully chosen carbohydrate or carbohydrate blend can also help keep your overweight dog feeling satiated.

Consider fortifying your senior dog’s diet with fatty acids such as DHA and EPA. They have been shown to be useful for dogs with mobility issues due to arthritis or other joint diseases. Supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin are also beneficial for senior dogs.

Consider a special diet if your older dog has heart or kidney disease. For example, diets lower in sodium are sometimes advocated for dogs with heart disease, while diets which help control phosphorus, calcium and other electrolyte levels are given to dogs with kidney disease. Your veterinarian can help you choose the best food for your dog based on your dog’s individual situation.

Take care of your dog’s mouth. Brushing your dog’s teeth may seem like a silly idea but it can help keep your dog’s mouth healthy. If you cannot brush, consider dental treats and toys that help keep the teeth clean.

Exercise your senior dog. It can help keep your older dog lean and maintain healthy joints and muscles. However, tailor your dog’s exercise needs to his individual requirements. For a large breed dog, walking around the block is probably just getting started but for a tiny Chihuahua, a brisk walk around the block may be a long trek. If your senior is not used to exercise, start slow and gradually increase the intensity — and only after you’ve consulted a veterinarian. Also, be careful with short-nosed (brachycephalic) dogs on hot days.

Provide plenty of toys to keep your senior dog occupied. Food puzzles, for example, are not only useful for entertainment but for weight loss purposes as well.

Provide your older dog with special accommodations too. For instance, dogs with arthritis might benefit from soft bedding in the form of a special dog bed or towels/blankets on which to sleep. Ramps can be used to make stairs easier to navigate if they cannot be avoided. Even providing carpeting or rugs over hard-surface flooring can help your arthritic dog gain his footing and make it easier for him to get around.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Cats - American Curl



Boasting head adornments that could have easily been fashioned by a legendary hat designer, along with their opulent plumed tails reminiscent of a luxurious ostrich-feather boa, the American Curl has audiences in awe worldwide. Distinguished by truly unique ears that curl back in a graceful arc, offering an alert, perky, happily surprised expression, they cause people to break out into a big smile when viewing their first Curl. Designed exclusively by Mother Nature, the ears can be likened to those of a Lynx with long tufts fanning outward, accentuating the swept-back look while complementing the Curl’s overall sophistication, stylish elegance, and dynamic presence.

Wake-up call! The alarm rings, and emerging out from under the covers, eager to start the day, is your Curl buddy. Eyelid pats, nose kisses, and hair licking prompt a gentle awakening. Then your eyes focus on that exuberant little Curl face, and another day begins. The Curl personality is truly unique. If not sleeping up high somewhere in a large salad bowl, figuring out with great determination just how to get into the shower with you, or assuming their right spot in front of a favorite TV show, they are patting at your glasses while you try to read the paper.

Needless to say, Curls are very people-oriented, faithful, affectionate soulmates, adjusting remarkably fast to other pets, children, and new situations. People say they are very dog-like in their attentiveness to their owners, following them around so as not to miss anything. When introduced into a new home, Curls seems to have an inherent respect for the current pet occupants, giving them plenty of room to adjust to the new kid on the block. Not overly talkative, the Curl’s curiosity and intelligence are expressed through little trill-like cooing sounds. Because they retain their kitten-like personality well throughout adulthood, they are referred to as the Peter Pan of felines.


When Curls are born, their ears are straight. In 3 to 5 days, they start to curl back, staying in a tight rosebud position and unfurling gradually until permanently “set” at around 16 weeks. This is the time breeders determine the kitten’s ear quality as either pet or show in addition to the kitten’s overall conformation. The degree of ear curl can vary greatly, ranging from almost straight (pet quality) to a show quality ear with an arc of 90-180 degrees resembling a graceful shell-like curvature.
Although the distinctive feature of the American Curl is their uniquely curled ears, the medium-sized rectangular body, silky flat-lying coat, and expressive walnut-shaped eyes are equally indicative of the breed. They are available in both long and shorthair color and pattern varieties, and since there is minimal undercoat, the Curl sheds little and requires hardly any grooming.


On a typical hot June day in 1981, a stray longhaired black female cat with funny ears mooched a meal from Joe and Grace Ruga in Lakewood, California, and moved in. “Shulamith” is the original American Curl to which all bona fide pedigrees trace their origin. No one ever suspected that from that simple encounter, and the birth of some kittens 6 months later, would grow a worldwide debate about the genetics behind those unusual curled ears. When selective breeding began in 1983, fanciers bred the American Curl with an eye toward developing a show breed. In analyzing data on 81 litters (383 kittens), renowned feline geneticist Roy Robinson of London, England, confirmed that the ear-curling gene is autosomal dominant, which means that any cat with even one copy of the gene will show the trait. In the December 1989 Journal of Heredity, Robinson reported finding no defects in any of the crosses he analyzed. This information provided the pathway for a new and healthy breed…and one with an outstanding temperament.



Indeed, the discovery of a novel cat is an event of great importance to feline fans and fanatics, and especially true when it’s inherently born to radiate well-being and good things to all fortunate enough to hold one. As the founder of this amazingly spiritual breed says, “They are not just ‘decorator’ cats. You might say that they are ‘designer’ cats, perhaps even signed masterpieces of a humor-loving Creator.’”
Pricing on American Curls usually depends on type, applicable markings, and bloodlines distinguished by Grand Champion (GC), National or Regional winning parentage (NW or RW), or Distinguished Merit parentage (DM). The DM title is achieved by the dam (mother) having produced five CFA grand champion/premier (alter) or DM offspring, or the sire (father) having produced fifteen CFA grand champion/premier or DM offspring. Usually breeders make kittens available between twelve and sixteen weeks of age. After twelve weeks, kittens have had their basic inoculations and developed the physical and social stability needed for a new environment, showing, or being transported by air. Keeping such a rare treasure indoors, neutering or spaying, and providing acceptable surfaces (e.g. scratching posts) for the natural behavior of scratching (CFA disapproves of declawing of tendonectomy surgery) are essential elements for maintaining a healthy, long, and joyful life.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Poodles




Elegant. Proud. Clever. Poodles are impressive dogs, as the many best-in-show winners from this dog breed can attest. Behind the blue ribbons, impressive hairdos, and regal attitude, you'll find an affectionate family dog with an ancient history and many talents.

Although today's Poodles seem to epitomize a life of leisure and luxury, make no mistake: These are real dogs bred to do real jobs. Although it hardly seems possible when you look at a primped-up Poodle in the show ring, the breed was originally a water retriever, a job that requires jumping in the water to fetch waterfowl for hunters.


In fact, the English name poodle is derived from the German word pudel, or pudelin, which means to splash in the water. And in France, Poodles are called Caniche, a name derived from chien canard, meaning duck dog.Even the elaborate coat styling that the breed's known for once had a practical purpose: trimmed areas lightened the weight of the dog's coat and wouldn't snag on underwater debris, while long hair around the joints and vital organs protected the dog from the cold water.
There are three sizes of Poodle, all considered part of the same breed: going from smallest to largest, these are the Toy, the Miniature, and the Standard. The Standard is probably the oldest of the three varieties, and some still carry on the Poodle tradition of working as a water retriever.
No matter the size, Poodles are renowned for a playful but dignified personality and keen intelligence. When it comes to training, this is an "A" student, and the Poodle excels at performance sports such as obedience, agility, and hunt tests.

Despite his regal air, the Poodle is no snob. These are people-friendly dogs who want to stay close to their families — they get lonely when left by themselves for long periods — and are always up for a good game.

The Poodle is one of the oldest breeds developed especially for hunting waterfowl. Most historians agree that the Poodle originated in Germany, but developed into his own distinct breed in France.

Many believe that the breed is the result of crosses between several European water dogs, including Spanish, Portuguese, French, German, Hungarian, and Russian water dogs. Other historians think that one of the Poodle's ancestors is the North African Barbet, which was imported to the Iberian Peninsula. After that, the breed arrived in Gaul where it was used for his hunting abilities.


It's also commonly believed that Poodles descended from Asian herding dogs, and then traveled with the Germanic Goth and Ostrogoth tribes to eventually become a German water dog. Yet another theory is that the Poodle descended from dogs that were brought out of the Asian steppes by the conquering North African Berbers and eventually found his way into Portugal in the 8th Century with the Moors.

Whatever its ancestry, this is a very old breed. Illustrations of Poodle-like dogs adorn Egyptian and Roman artifacts and tombs dating from the first centuries B.C. The drawings and statues show dogs that look very much like modern-day Poodles, bringing in game nets, herding animals, and retrieving game from marshes.

Although some say that the Miniature and Toy Poodles emerged shortly after the Standard, many believe it wasn't until the 1400s that breeders began producing smaller versions of the Poodle — first the Miniature, then the Toy — to delight the Parisian bourgeoise. The Toy and Miniature varieties were created by breeding small Poodles to each other, not by breeding Poodles to smaller breeds.

The French used the larger Standard Poodle for duck hunting, and the mid-sized Miniature Poodle to sniff out truffles in the woods. The tiny Toy Poodle's main job, on the other hand, was to serve as a companion to the nobility and wealthy merchant class. Well-to-do owners in the Renaissance often carried their Toy Poodles in their large shirtsleeves, leading to the nickname "sleeve dogs."

Gypsies and traveling performers learned that Poodles excelled in another canine profession: circus dog. They trained Poodles to perform tricks, dressing them in costumes and sculpting their coats into fanciful shapes to add to their stage appeal. Wealthy patrons took note and started clipping, decorating, and even dying their own Poodle companions.
Poodles were fairly rare in the U.S. until after World War II. By the mid-1950s, however, the Poodle had become the most popular breed in the country, a position he held for more than 20 years.
There are three sizes of Poodle: toy, miniature, and standard. These aren't different breeds, just different sizes of the same dog. The Toy Poodle stands up to 10 inches tall, and weighs about six to nine pounds. The Miniature Poodle stands 11 to 15 inches tall and weighs 15 to 17 pounds. The Standard Poodle stands 15 inches and taller (usually 22 inches); males weigh 45 to 70 pounds and females weigh 45 to 60 pounds.


Intelligent, loving, loyal, and mischievous are four words Poodle enthusiasts commonly use to describe the breed's personality. The Poodle is also known for what his fans call "an air of distinction": a dignified attitude that's hard to describe, but easy to spot in the dog.
Despite his regal appearance, the Poodle has a goofy streak and loves to play — he's always up for a game of any kind. He's also very fond of people and eager to please. Combine that with his legendary intelligence, and you've got a dog that's highly trainable.
A good Poodle who's been taught canine manners has a calm disposition, especially if he gets regular exercise to burn off his natural energy. Some owners and breeders think the smaller Toy and Miniature Poodles are a bit more high-strung than the Standard; however, other breeders and owners disagree with this theory.
The Poodle is protective of his home and family, and if strangers approach your house, he'll sound a warning bark to let you know. And although he's affectionate with his family, he may take a while to warm up to new people.

An outstanding trait of the Poodle is his intelligence. He is often said to have human-like intelligence, an amazing cleverness that astounds his owners. Of course, smart dogs can be difficult to live with. They learn fast — good habits and bad — and they remember everything.

Monday, April 6, 2015

How to Leash Train Your Active Puppy



If there's one thing you need to know about puppies, it's that they're unpredictable. Some may take to leash-walking well, others, not so much. So what are you to do if your puppy falls into the latter category? We've got some tips to help you out!


Choose the Right Leash and Collar for Your Puppy





This might seem obvious, but with so many collar and leash options out there, it may be confusing which to choose. Most professionals suggest getting a light weight collar and leash so the addition doesn't seem too imposing to your puppy. Once he or she gets used to the collar, you can move onto a different kind in the future once you understand your dog's needs better.

Help Your Puppy Become Accustomed to the Collar



Like most kinds of training, you want to make sure your puppy feels safe and secure while you're helping him get used to his collar and walking on a leash. Since simply adding a collar might result in a temper tantrum or cause your pup to become fearful or nervous, try slipping it on at a time when there are other distractions to occupy your puppy's mind. Try putting it on when you're interacting with him at home, or taking him out into the yard with you, or feeding him. Associating the collar and leash with food will give positive reinforcement to your pup, making it less stressful for both of you. If your puppy scratches at the collar, try to get his attention to distract him from the new addition around his neck. If that fails, bringing out a favorite toy should help.

Attach the Leash to the Collar

Seems pretty simple right? You'd be surprised. Often a dog will tend to run around like crazy once he feels some tension on the end of the leash. To avoid this, attach the leash and let him run around while it drags on the ground. Obviously only try this in an area where you can supervise your pup to make sure he doesn't run off and to avoid any entanglements. Ideally, you should try this when there is another dog around so your pup can play while wearing the leash. If this isn't possible, simply play with your dog or go through a fun training routine, rewarding him with a treat. While doing this, occasionally pick up leash and call him to you. The trick is to encourage him while gently picking up the leash, again rewarding him with small treats.

Learning to Walk With the Leash on

If your dog naturally walks at heel, that's great - but don't expect it - and don't try to get him to. Yanking on the leash won't help the situation, so think of getting him to walk as a gradual process. You may need to stand still or kneel down while he figures out what's going on - that way your pup realizes that he won't be able to go anywhere unless it is by your side. Some dogs may decide to sit down and not move. If this happens, call to your pup and offer him a reward when he comes over. Never yank him toward you. Once he comes over of his own will, offer him a treat and continue walking with him by your side.

Final Tips


Leash-training your puppy may be frustrating, but it's important to take your time and remain calm. Your puppy may not get leash-training on his first try, so it's important to take it slow and guage how quick your little one is able to learn. Small steps will soon lead to big gains - and soon enough your puppy will be walking nicely on his leash with you.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Why Is My Dog's Fur Changing Color & Thinning?

A sleek and shiny coat is one sign of a healthy dog. Changes in your dog's coat, either in color or in thickness, can signal that something is not quite right. Many things can cause these changes, from normal aging to more serious conditions that require attention. Paying attention to your dog's coat over time can help you gauge the quality of his health and be attentive to his needs.

Aging

Much like people, dogs tend to lose pigmentation in their fur as they get older. Generally, white or graying fur on an elderly or middle-aged dog is most noticeable around the muzzle, although white or gray hairs can spring up throughout the dog's entire coat. Thinning fur is also common among aging dogs. These are usually accompanied by other signs of aging, such as a gradual loss of hearing or vision, or the dog having difficulty moving as well as it used to. If your dog is advanced in years but otherwise healthy, then graying or thinning hair is most likely nothing to worry about.


Medical Conditions

There are a number of medical conditions that can cause hair loss or changes in pigmentation in dogs. These range from skin conditions, such as mange or flea dermatitis, to hormonal deficiencies such as hypothyroidism or Cushing's disease, to more serious illnesses such as cancer. If fur loss or discoloration seems more extreme than simple aging, or is accompanied by other symptoms such as a rash, unexplained lumps on the body, or changes in appetite or stool consistency, or anything else about your dog that strikes you as not quite right, you should have him checked out by a veterinarian as soon as possible.


Stress

Dogs are very sensitive creatures who don't react well to stress. Too much stress can cause dogs to suddenly lose their fur. After removing the source of the stress from the dog's environment, or removing the dog from the stressful situation, its fur will most likely grow back in time.


Poor Nutrition
Pattern baldness in a dog, focused mainly around the ears, can be a sign of malnutrition. If you notice this type of hair loss, check your dog's diet to make sure he is getting the right balance of nutrients in the correct amounts for his size and weight. You may need to consider adding a nutritional supplement to his diet.

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