Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Winter Proofing Your Dog's Paws

Winter can be a beautiful time to hike in the sparkly, cold wonderland. But, it can also wreak havoc on your dog's paws: cracking, trauma, frost bite, chemical burns and drying. This can hurt! We often don't think about it, but steps can be taken to prevent painful paws. Here's what you can do:
  1. Prep the paws. Trim the hair between the toes and around the paws. This will prevent ice balls from forming. It is also especially important to keep your dog's nails trimmed. Long nails can cause the paw pads to spread out while walking causing snow to get packed in between the toes. 
  2. Invest in some Paw and Nose Butter. Yes, there is such a product! Before you go out into the wild, gently clean your dog's paw pads with a warm wash cloth and apply a thin layer of butter. This will form a thin barrier between your dog's paw pads and the elements. Once you are done with your walk, wash your dog's paws with warm water and apply the butter again. This will help moisturize the paw pads and keep them from getting dried out.  You can follow the same steps for your dog's nose if you notice it is getting dry and cracked from the cold weather.
  3. Invest in some dog boots. This is another layer of protection for your dog's feet. You can still use the paw butter to keep the paws warm, soft and supple. But the dog boots add the ultimate protection.
  4. Stay away from de-icers and salt. Avoid areas that have had de-icer or salt spread. These substances can be toxic to pets and cause chemical burns. Once you are done walking, wash your dog's paws to make sure that there is nothing that Fido can lick off to make him/her sick and then apply paw butter!
Last but not least, here is a recipe you can use to make your own paw butter:
  • 2 TBS Shea Butter
  • 2 TBS Coconut oil
  • 2 TBS Beeswax
  • 1 tsp Sweet almond or Olive oil
Put all the ingredients into a pan and melt over low heat while occasionally stirring. Once it is all melted, transfer into a glass jar for cooling and storage.

p.s...This recipe can also be used as an excellent human body butter. :)

Monday, November 28, 2016

6 Gifts For The Dog Lover

Thanksgiving is officially over, so I can now move on to Christmas! This time around, I am going to post 6 gifts that are sure to please your average dog lover. I found all of them on Etsy and have the links provided below each image for your shopping convenience.

You can make cute little cookies with your favorite dog imprint for that holiday cookie swap by Housemate Artist.

This whimsical boxer print will catch the Boxer Lover's eye by Loopy Lolly.

In contrast, maybe your dog lover friend has more modern, minimalist taste by Lucky Dog Art Prints.

Give a unique gift of a moss terrarium featuring, but of course, a dog! by Moss Love Terrariums.

Going along with the plant themes, check out this succulent planter by The Yarn Kitchen.

And after a long dog walk, a leash (or coat) can be hung on this by Wisco Farms.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Thanksgiving Foods You Can Give Your Dog

Halloween is officially over. That means I can start talking about Thanksgiving, right? After all, it's just right around the corner and then it will be Ch******S. I'm not going to say that word quite yet. Because, we haven't even made it through Thanksgiving. Unlike the department stores, I like to focus on one holiday at a time.

Thanksgiving is a great time to lounge around, watch football, be thankful and slam food into our our mouths. Some of these foods can be shared with our four-legged loved ones and some of them can be dangerous. I've made a nifty little graphic that gives you easy reference to what you can and cannot feed your dog. Here ya' go:

Please remember that things like mac 'n cheese and cranberry sauce should be in small quantities. These are an "occasionally" treats because of the fat and sugar. Also, be careful about the pumpkin and sweet potatoes. Pumpkin and sweet potato dishes can have nutmeg in them, which is poisonous to dogs. The rule of thumb is to make sure you know what you are feeding Fido. Check the ingredients and make sure nothing sneaky is in the dish (sage, garlic, nutmeg, ect..) To make it easy for myself, before I start seasoning the heck out of everything, I set aside a small quantity of the unseasoned foods for my canines. I realize that setting aside a portion of unseasoned turkey is a difficult and unreasonable task. Especially since it needs to be thoroughly cooked before feeding it to anyone, two-legged and four-legged. I like to think of myself as a rational/ reasonable person, therefore after the turkey has been cooked, I simply remove the seasoned skin and bones from the meat I want to give to my canine companions. Everyone is happy and sane. And there are no emergency trips to the vet or GI mayhem. Let the holidays begin!!

Monday, October 31, 2016

5 Halloween Treats You Can Make For Your Dog

Halloween! One of my favorite holidays, and it shouldn't just be for the two-legged creatures. Here are 5 Halloween treats you can make for your four-legged trick-or-treat visitors. Enjoy!

(links to recipes are provided under each image)

Peanuts Snack Sandwiches by Sweet Paul.

These are for humans and dogs! Hotdog mummies by Frugal Coupon Living.

Mummy bones pumpkin peanut butter dog treats by The Cottage Market.

Easy Pumpkin Halloween Dog Treats by Dalmation DIY.

Pumpkin and Cheese Dog Treats by Kol's Notes.

Last but not least, here are a few safety tips for your pet on this spooky holiday:

  1. Keep human candy away from pets. A lot of the candy given to humans can be toxic to your pet, only give your furry family member treats that are made for dogs.
  2. Don't keep lit pumpkins around your pets unsupervised.
  3. Keep wires and electrical cords out of reach from chewing mouths.
  4. Don't dress your pet up in a costume unless they are comfortable being in a costume.
  5. Don't leave your dog out in the yard on Halloween. It can be a scary night even for canines!
  6. Keep your cat indoors to keep them safe from pranks and cruelty-related incidents.
  7. Letting your dog chew on pumpkins and corn stalks may cause GI upset. 
Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 17, 2016

How to Stop Leash Pulling in Canines

Leash pulling can be one of the most frustrating and difficult behaviors in your furry friend, because dogs naturally want to explore and are reflexively opposed to restraint. Basically, trying to train your dog to walk politely on a leash means you are working against your dog's natural instincts. But, it can be done and it should be done. You just need A LOT of patience and commitment.

Before I begin, I think I should clarify the difference between "polite leash walking" and "heeling". Heeling is a competitive exercise in which you are training your dog to walk close to your left leg. In this post, this is not what we are aiming at, but rather we want a polite leash walk (aka loose leash walk): The leash is slack. Your dog is not yanking and coughing around the block. Rather, you and the dog are casually walking from A to B. You are both interacting with each other and your dog is able to sniff and explore. It's a happy experience for both of you!

I would like you to notice three details in the above paragraph: Walking from A to B, Exploring and Interacting. It's not natural for a dog to want to walk in a straight line from A to B. They want to explore and SNIFF. Allowing your dog to do so, will help them with any pent up mental and physical stimulation that is built up in their body. Thus, equaling a better behaved dog. BUT, your ultimate goal is to get from A to B.... or rather start at A (home) and get around the block back to A (home). However you want to read it. Interacting is the last element. Most people, when they take their dog on a walk, don't really interact with their dog. It is a chore to them and they do it to get it done. A dog owner needs to change that mentality and interact with their furry family member during the walk. It is a time to train and build a positive relationship.

So let's begin:

  • The first step to walking your dog is to mentally prepare yourself. Before you leave the house, be aware of your body language and mental energy. Dogs are amazing and can pick up on any stress, negativity and frustration in your body. Make sure you keep this a positive experience. You need to be confident in your body language and energy. 
  • The collar should be placed at the top of the neck, instead of at the bottom near the shoulders. Dogs are built to pull with the chest and shoulders. Placing the collar near the shoulders, just reinforces the instinct to pull.
  • The leash should be short and loose. No retractable leashes. The farther you have your dog away from you, the harder it is to communicate. This ultimately leads to a lack of control.
Two Training Methods:

1. REWARD. It is best to train your dog when they are hungry. So opt for right before breakfast or dinner. Start with your furry friend right next to you on the leash and take a step. When your dog steps with you, give them a treat. With each step, reward your dog. Gradually, through subsequent walks, build up the steps between treats.

2. PENALTY YARDS. Let's say you are out in the yard and you have set up a point "A" and "B". At point B there is a really good treat. Start at point A and take a step. If they do not pull on the leash, take another step. Continue on this way. When they pull on the leash, immediately go back to point A and start over. This communicates to the dog that when they pull on their leash, it takes them farther away from their goal.

They key to training is to be consistent. Allowing your dog to pull you to a specific spot every once in awhile will backfire on you. Each time you allow, you are using variable reinforcement, which will build more staying power into the pulling behavior. Before you know it, you will have your dog pulling you every which way and you will be frustrated, because you will have to start training at square one again.

Last, your training sessions should be no longer than 45 minutes. Puppies should have shorter sessions. If your dog seems bored, losing attention or making mistakes, it's probably time to take a break. Training should be fun and rewarding in order to build a positive relationship with your dog.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Degenerative Joint Disease in Canines

Degenerative Joint Disease (DJD) is also known as Osteoarthritis. It is the progressive and permanent long-term deterioration of the cartilage surrounding the joints.  DJD is the #1 cause of chronic pain affecting one in five adult dogs.


For more information on DJD, please see these links:

Monday, September 26, 2016

Leptospirosis in Dogs

Lepto....What? Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that affects canines, humans and other animals such as livestock and wildlife. It is zoonotic, meaning it can be transmitted from animals to humans. Leptospires infiltrate the body system by burrowing into the skin and spreading throughout the body by way of the bloodstream. It then can infect the entire body by reproducing in the liver, kidneys, central nervous system, eyes and reproductive system. Soon after infection, a fever and bacterial infection of the blood will develop. But usually the body will resolve itself through antibodies. Depending upon the extent of the infection and the body's immune system, even after it has been resolved, Leptospirosis can remain in the kidneys and reproduce. Thus, infecting an animal's urine. Younger animals and animals with a weakened immune system are at the highest risk of complications with this bacteria.

Since Leptospires can infect an animal's urine, it is usually passed to another animal through water sources such as stagnant water, moist soil and recreational lakes/ponds. Exposure risk increases during summer and early fall months. It's rarely fatal to humans, but the Center for Disease Control estimates that there are up to 200 human cases a year in the United States.

Diagnosis of Leptospirosis can be somewhat tricky because it looks like many other diseases. But, here are some of the symptoms:

 Preventative Tips: 
  • Vaccinate your dog and livestock. Interestingly, Cats seem to have a natural defense to this bacterial infection, so there is not a vaccination for cats. 
  • Avoid stagnant water with your pets.
  • Good sanitation is a must for your family. Practice hand washing (especially with children who are at higher risk) when handling anything that may have your dog's urine on it. 
  • If you work in an environment that involves routine exposure to standing water or wildlife, wear protective clothing. 
Leptospirosis can only be diagnosed by a veterinarian. Because it looks like many other diseases, diagnosis can be frustrating and costly requiring numerous blood and urine tests. Once diagnosed, your veterinarian may recommend intravenous fluids, antibiotics as well as any other therapies depending upon the extent of the infection.

For more information, you can visit these websites:

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Dog Sweaters!! 2016 Edition

Winter is coming. Yes dogs have fur, but dogs do get cold. As an owner, you must prepare your dog to venture out into the cold much like you prepare yourself. Here is a quick article on recognizing when your dog is cold, what dogs are more susceptible to getting cold and what you can do about it: Winter Care For Dogs.

In the meantime, like I do every year, I would like to show you some fun dog sweaters for this up and coming season. Like always, I will have the link to the Etsy Shop where you can purchase the sweater from below the image:

This sweater is by BilleShop. Unfortunately, it is only for small dogs. Large dogs will not be able to express their love of owls this season.

GAME OF THRONES by Dog Sweaters By Maggs. I don't think I need any further explanation on this awesomeness.

Dog Pajamas for an Italian Greyhound by Duds 4 Buds Too. If only there was a butt flap. Don't worry though, the belly region is open for bathroom breaks.

Now Man's Best Friend can fashionable display Man's Favorite Team by Quilt N Crochet. They have all sorts of sports teams, so you can pick your favorite.

And finally, something a little more practical for that outdoorsy friend by Voyagers K9 Apparel.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

7 Signs It's Time to Change Your Dog's Food

 We have all heard the age old advice not to change your pet's food and that they should stay on their chosen pet food for the rest of their lives. Not True. Like humans, dogs change physiologically over time and their food needs to be adjusted every now and then to ensure proper nutrition. So, how can you tell if your dog is not getting enough nutrients (or too much) from their current dog food? Here are seven signs that it's time to change your dog's food:

Changing your dog's current food can sometimes be a tricky task. It's hard to wade through all the different varieties out there. As an owner, sometimes it feels like you need a PhD in dog food just to figure out what works and doesn't work for your pet. Transitioning your dog's food must be done over a 7-10 day period. Starting with about a 20-25% "new" food mixed with the old. Gradually increase the percentage of new over the time span until the old food is phased out. Sometimes, a food allergy may pop up with a new dog food. It is generally best to to pay attention to the ingredients in the food. If you notice an allergic reaction in your pet, check to see if there is something novel in that specific food. It may be a specific meat source, a grain or something completely random like a blueberry. If you find that the symptoms above seem to be a chronic problem, please, please, please call your veterinarian! Finding the right food for your pet can be really tricky sometimes and expert opinions make it a whole lot easier on you and your pet.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

4 DIY Dog Shampoo Recipes

Remember: Dogs have sensitive skin and should only be bathed at most once a month. Over washing your dog can dry out the skin and remove too many natural oils, which will eventually cause more skin problems. Don't worry, I have a dry shampoo at the bottom of this list that you can use in between bath times. 

Also Remember: You should never apply shampoo to your dog's face. Wash Fido's face gently with a wash cloth, not by dumping water on the head. Your four-legged family member will be forever thankful.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Canine Shedding

All dogs shed (well... except hairless dogs, because they are physically incapable of shedding...). Some dogs shed more than others. Some shed on a daily basis all year long, and some shed seasonally in the spring and fall. If you have a dog that sheds all year long, I feel for you, I really do. But, when should you start worrying that your dog's shedding problem is beyond the normal scope and is an actual health problem?

When you start to notice this:

Any of the above problems could be linked to an underlying health problem that will need to be addressed by a veterinarian. It could be anything from allergies, to hormones, a dietary deficiency (or over abundance), stress or a skin condition like mites and ringworm. It's important for your veterinarian to properly diagnose what is actually causing your dog to abnormally shed in order for the right treatment to be administered.

If you dog has normal shedding that is driving you absolutely nuts-o, here is one thing you can do:
  • Brush your dog daily with an undercoat rake. Most shedding is of the dog's undercoat with a little bit of actual fur. Take your dog outside and have some quality time of brushing out that undercoat. You couches, car and clothing will thank you.
Other than that, you can try some healthy coat vitamins and adjust your dog's food to something that is high quality. Fur is a common side effect of having animal love!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Dog Toy Safety

Let's face it, dog toys are fun for you and your dog. But they are not only fun, they are kind of a necessity. Toys provide comfort and fight boredom in your dog. They can also be used in training to provide mental and physical stimulation to ward off undesirable behaviors in your beloved four-legged family member. When dogs are not provided toys in the household, they will often find other objects to use as toys. Often, the items they choose will be things that you do not want destroyed or big time safety risks.

There are many toys on the market and some of them are perfect for a canine. Other toys can be a waste of money or downright dangerous for your dog. So, how do you as a canine owner, wade through the endless rows of dog toys to find the perfect one for Fido? Let's start with safety:

Making Toys Safe:
  • Size is important. Make sure the toy cannot be easily swallowed or lodged in your dog's throat. When choosing a toy, you must take into account your dog's size and behavioral tendencies. 
  • Cut off any ribbon, strings or "googly eyes" that can be ripped off and ingested.
  • Supervise and inspect: Always keep an eye on what your dog is doing with the toy. Discard any toys that are starting to rip or break into pieces that can be ingested.
  • Squeaky toys! Some dogs absolutely LOVE squeaky toys. Often, the squeaker is placed right in the middle of a stuffed toy and your dog will want to destroy that squeaker. Hence, a destroyed stuffed toy. Please supervise your dog during squeaky toy play. If your dog conquers the squeaky toy, discard the remnants... including the infamous squeaker, which can be a choking hazard. 
  • Check labels. If the toy is designed to be a people toy, but your dog really wants to play with it, check to make sure it is safe for children 3-years and under. Also, stuffing should not be made out of nutshells or those little polystyrene beads (ughhh). Your dog should probably not ingest any sort of stuffing, but nutshells and polystyrene beads are the most dangerous.  
  • Stuffed animals must be small enough for your dog to carry, but large enough that your dog can shake it. 
  • Rawhides--You should consult your veterinarian about giving your dog rawhides. These can give your dog serious obstructions. If you give your dog a rawhide, PLEASE supervise and always choose the right size for your dog.
Awesome Toys For Canines
  • Rope toys with knotted ends make an awesome game of tug-o-war. Plus, dogs really like to do what I call the "shake-kill" maneuver on them. 
  • Kongs are an absolute favorite. You can fill them with frozen treats or just plain ol' treats and keep your dog busy for quite a while. Just make sure the Kong is the right size for your canine. 
  • Tennis Balls! They can be thrown, they bounce AND they get slobbery wet! It's a dog's dream toy. But again, frequently check for wear and tear.
  • Busy Boxes-- These are large rubber cubes with hiding places for treats and provide mental enrichment for you dog. 
  • DIY enrichment games. Click here for ideas!
  • Of course, you can always go local in Bozeman, MT. and buy West Paw toys. We love them at Bark City! They are an environmentally friendly business and they recycle some of their toys into new toys. You can find West Paw Toys in other states as well.
Above are just some suggestions on awesome dog toys. Bottom line is that you, as a doggy parent, must provide your dog with mental and physical stimulation in order to ward of bad behavior habits spurred out of frustration and pent up energy. Also, toys should not just be a "babysitter" for your dog. You need to make sure your are interacting with your dog on a consistent basis. Dogs are social animals and can become very depressed when socially deprived. We at Bark City are always trying to find new and innovative ways to keep our dogs enriched. For ideas, you can always check out our Facebook page to see what we have going on in the daycare.  Go out and PLAY!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Summer Themed Enrichment Activities

We have been having a lot of fun with our new Enrichment Program and getting creative in how we can offer new stimuli to your dog to keep them learning and growing into smart pups. This week, we launched our Summer Themed Enrichment Activities (even though this summer has been kind of hit and miss on the weather). Here is a list of what kind of themes are up our sleeve:

Keep in mind, being the creative individuals that we are, we may fly by the seat of our pants and add a different theme on any given day. These themes are not set in stone! We will be rotating themes EVERY DAY. That means, your furry friend will have new toys to play with and games to solve that are completely different from the day before. In fact, with all our themed ideas, your dog may hit a different theme every day of the week.

 Here are a couple of pictures from earlier this week when our dogs went camping and to a dance party:

We have Dance Party USA going on complete with glow sticks and colored lights.

When you camp, you obviously need to go fishing in the ol' fishin' hole.

Balls in tents to complete our camping trip. If only this picture had the majestic Rockies in the background.

Coming up these next three days are: Baseball, Luau and Picnic (if it's nice out. If not, we will have another activity up our sleeve). Be sure to stop by our Facebook Page to check out all the photos. We update them multiple times a day.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Choosing a Shelter Dog

You have decided to adopt a shelter dog--- Congratulations! You have chosen to save a life and provide a second chance for a dog that has had a bad turn in life. There are certain things you must do before you adopt and things you will need to do once your dog is part of your family.

Before You Adopt: 
  • First and foremost-- decide how many dogs you want, because you will want them all when you walk into that shelter. Stick to that number. 
  • Decide what kind of dog you want. Do you want a small dog or a big dog? And active dog or a laid back dog? An adult dog or puppy? You will want to try to find a dog that fits your lifestyle. Stick to the plan. If you are planning on getting a small dog, don't come home with a Great Dane. 
  • Research, research, research-- Do you know what you will be feeding your dog? How much exercise your dog will need? What things are essentials for getting a dog (bed, bowls, leash, crate, ect...)? What vet are you going to use? What do you need to do to get a dog license in your city? What kind of paperwork do you need to adopt a dog? Buy those things.
  • Lay down ground rules for your humans before the dog comes home. There should also be rules for your new four-legged family member and all humans should stick to these rules. Will your new dog be allowed on the furniture? Where will he eat? Who will feed him? Bathroom schedule? ect.... The more consistency and less stress in the household, the better.
  •  Do you have other animals in the house and how are you going to transition them?  
At The Shelter: ** First and foremost: Remember that a shelter is a stressful place for animals. Any animal you are considering will be under some amount of stress.
  • Ask Questions: Don't be afraid to ask questions about animals you are interested in adopting-- Why is this dog at the shelter? Are there any medical issues? If so, consider whether you have the financial means to take care of the vet bills. Has it had a temperament test?
  • Watch and assess the dog you are considering from a distance: Is it sitting calm and watching? Is it engaging with people in friendly manner? Is it exhibiting signs of stress (pacing and whining)? Do you have a super-excited dog on your hands (jumping, barking, ect)? Is there aggressive traits, such as lunging, growling and charging? Is this dog fearful (won't approach you, hunching and hiding)? 
  • Walk up to the kennel and watch the dog's language. 
  • Take the dog to a quiet room. Does the dog pay attention to you? Or is he trying to hide and ignore you? Try to gently pat the dog, how does the dog react? Offer the dog a toy or treat and see what happens. Do they take it gently? Growl? Ignore? 
  • Take the dog for a short walk (if the shelter will allow): How does the dog react to surroundings? Are they barking at everything and pulling at the leash? Are they hiding behind you and fearful?
 All of the above will help you assess the dog's personality and temperament, but will not give you a perfect guarantee. Remember, to keep your two-legged family lifestyle in mind as well. If you choose a dog that is scared and fearful, you will need to give them a little bit more patience and a longer time to transition at their new home and to new surroundings. A fearful, scared dog will not do well in a home of people who like to throw parties. If you have small children, you may not want to get a big, adult dog that likes to jump up on people. 

Once Home:
  • At first, limit your dog to one area of the house and slowly open up new areas as they get used to things. 
  • Keep you dog on a leash while in the house for the first few weeks while he learns house rules. BUT, never leave your dog on a leash unsupervised.  
  • Do not leave your rescue dog unsupervised with current household pets. 
  • Limit the amount of guests you bombard your new dog with for the first few weeks. Remember that your rescue dog is coming from a stressful situation (the shelter) to a new stressful situation (a new home) and learning new rules.
  • Establish the rules and keep consistent with the rules. Consistency is key with all dogs. 
  • Remember that accidents will happen and that training is lifelong---Consistency and patience!
  • Dog's are den dwellers-- provide a crate for your dog, but do not use it as a punishment box. A crate should be their private den that allows them to retreat from stress.   
 Last but not least, remember that whether you are getting a purebred puppy or rescuing a shelter dog, ENVIRONMENT PLAYS A HUGE ROLE in a dog's behavior. A shelter dog can come from deplorable conditions and through love and patience become the best family dog ever. You can also have a dog that comes from a perfect breeder and become a nightmare if left with humans that have no idea how to communicate and train a dog. Pets are an unwavering commitment of time, love, money, patience and responsibility. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

How To Choose A Dog Breeder

Last week, I discussed the pros and cons of choosing a pure bred dog vs. a shelter dog. There are benefits and drawbacks to each choice. If you have already decided against adopting a shelter dog, and have your heart set on a pure bred, it's REALLY important to research your breeder and choose a reputable one. This will help ensure that your puppy has minimal health problems, is properly socialized and is not coming from a puppy mill. Below is a list you should go through while researching dog breeders:

  • First and foremost, make sure you have chosen a dog that fits your lifestyle. Remember, each breed has it's inherent traits, but that does not mean there are not pure bred dogs that stray from that norm. Nothing is set in stone. Choosing the right breed just helps point you in the right direction.
  • Do not buy a puppy from a pet store or website. Reputable Dog breeders will not sell their puppies through a pet store. Most likely, these puppies come from a puppy mill which is a large-scale commercial dog breeding facility that favors profit over well-being. 
  • A reputable dog breeder will screen all potential buyers. They won't just give a puppy to the first person to fork over the cash. They will ask you questions about your home life, what you like to do, how you will raise the puppy and most likely make you sign a contract. They want to minimize the risk that this puppy will end up in the humane society.
  • Ask the breeder about early socialization for the puppy. They should be socializing every puppy before re-homing. 
  • Get referrals.
  • A reputable dog breeder should allow you to visit multiple times. When you visit, look at the living conditions. Are the dogs in healthy living conditions that help foster physical and psychological health? Do the dogs appear to be healthy? There should be no signs of malnutrition, sores or illnesses. Are the dogs socialized? Is the interaction between the breeder and dogs positive or are the dogs showing signs of fear, ect...? Look at the dog's language! Visit the mother to see what kinds of behaviors she exhibits as well as her interaction with the breeders.
  • A dog breeder should provide you with a written contract and health guarantee. They should also show you records of vet visits with health screenings for the puppies and parents along with proof of OFA and CERF certificates. 
  • Breeders should explain potential genetic problems your pure bred may encounter. 
  • Provide documents of the parents and grandparents. There should be no crossbreeding and certainly no inbreeding. 
  • You should not be required to only see one particular veterinarian when you sign a contract. In addition, interview the veterinarians that the breeders have been using along with any other local vets. Veterinarians have a wealth of knowledge with it comes to local animal "gossip".
  • Breeders should be specializing in one specific breed or just a few and there will not always be puppies available. You may have to be put on a waiting list.
In addition to all of this above, you should make sure your breeders provide the paperwork for the puppies and parents as well! Here are a couple of links that will tell you what kind of paperwork to expect:

Dog Papers and Registration,,

AKC Facts and Stats, American Kennel Club,

A Puppy "With Papers" from a "Registered Breeder", Some Thoughts About Dogs,

Recognizing An Unethical Breeder, Pit Bull Chat,  

Next week, I will be writing about how to choose a shelter dog! Stay tuned!

Monday, June 13, 2016

Purebred vs. Shelter Adoption

The time has come where you are thinking about adopting a dog into your family. One of the big decisions is whether to adopt a shelter dog or a purebred dog. There are pro's and cons for both sides and some individuals can have very strong opinions one way or the other. I am going to lay out the basic pro's and cons for both sides in Layman's terms without veering into the opinion category.

Basically, what it all comes down to is genetics. A purebred dog will have a high chance of being predictable in behavior and physical appearances. After all, that is the whole philosophy of breeding animals. Certain dogs are "hardwired" for certain work behaviors and energy levels. If you are going to adopt a purebred, you must make sure you DO YOUR RESEARCH on that specific breed and provide a living environment that caters to their genetic tendencies. Purebred dogs also will have a higher likelihood of having health problems. The genetic breeding for physical appearances and the limited gene pool are what cause this problem. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE do your research when deciding on a breeder. This will help minimize the health problems in your dog. Some breeders are not reputable and are just in it for the money. (Next week, I will write about how to choose a dog breeder.) And lastly, be prepared to spend time researching your dog breed and forking over cash. Purebred dogs are a lot of money.

A shelter dog, on the other hand, is wide open when it comes to genetics. You most likely will have no clue as to what kind of breed (or most likely BREEDS) you have. This can cause a guessing game as to how to properly provide a living environment for your dog's tendencies. It will take time to figure out what Fido does and does not like. If you are adopting an older dog (as in not a puppy), you will not know the past history and have "surprise" behaviors pop up. But, adopting an older dog does have a plus-- most likely they will be house-trained! Shelter dogs are also less money upfront and most come with their shots, spay-neuter, microchip already completed. Health wise, you are working with a wider gene pool, so the likely hood of a chronic health problem is smaller than in a purebred.

I know I've talked a lot in this post about how genetics play a strong role in behavior for dogs of both purebred and shelter. But environmental factors should not be overlooked. Environmental factors do play a role in dog behavior. A dog needs a good starting point in life for socialization. If you are adopting a purebred dog, you will most likely have more control over what kind of environmental behaviors your four-legged friend has learned. A shelter dog is more complicated because the history can be anything and everything. The shelter can provide you with some background, but most likely you will need to be prepared to be dealing with a dog that has some bad habits. Whether a purebred or shelter dog, you need to make sure you are providing a family life that promotes positive environmental behaviors for your dog. Even if your dog comes from the most perfect background, if you do not continue offering a positive environment for your canine, your dog will develop bad habits. And vice versa, a dog that comes from a deplorable past can become the perfect family dog with time and love. Environment does play a role in behavior.

With all that said, choosing to have a dog in your life is a big decision. It takes time, research, money and commitment. You should never give an animal to someone as a gift and you should only adopt an animal if you are mentally and financially prepared to take care of it for the rest of it's life. With time and love, your furry friend will soon become a family member, not just a "pet".

Monday, June 6, 2016

Potty Training 101 (for dogs)

Whether you just adopted a puppy or an adult dog, chances are you are going to have to house train your dog to do the business in the appropriate place. For most dogs, it will take 4-6 months to a year of diligence to potty train. But, depending upon your new dog's previous living conditions and already developed habits, it could take longer or they could already be trained! If you have a straight out of the womb puppy, you will need to begin potty training at about 12-16 weeks. Whatever the scenario, you are going to need:
  • consistecy
  • patience
  • positive reinforcement
When you first bring your new addition to the house, limit where he/she can roam. This will give you a more controlled environment and give your dog less options to use as a toilet. Then, follow these steps:

Dog language for using the bathroom:
  • Whining
  • Circling
  • Sniffing
  • Barking and Scratching at the door
 As training progresses, you can offer more freedom for your furry family member to roam around the house. But, I would advise to slowly offer more roaming space... like one room at a time... until trust is established. Remember, you need to convince your new friend, that the great outdoors is the best place to go to the bathroom! This is done through consistency, patience and positive reinforcement.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Breaking Up a Dog Fight

If you own a dog, there is a good chance you will at some point have to break up a dog fight. Especially, if you often take your furry friend to the dog park. Dog fights can be scary and can result in injury to you or your dog if you are not mentally prepared to deal with one. The worst thing you can do is A) Scream at the top of your lungs. This only escalates the situation. B) Grab a dog's head and/ or neck area. This will result in you getting bit. and C) Keep a hold of the leash, if your dog has one on. This will result in entanglement and possible injury to one of the parties involved. If your dog has a leash on and is in a fight, the best thing you can do is immediately drop the leash. So, what should you do if you happen to find yourself in the middle of a dog fight? First and foremost, keep your cool. Next, here are some helpful tips:

When it comes to dog fights, the best thing to do is recognize the situation before it arises by knowing how dogs communicate. Usually, there is one dog that is the aggressor and the other dog is merely on the defense. Once you recognize which dog is initiating the fight, use the above techniques to stop that dog. Once that dog is stopped, the other dog that is just protecting itself, will most likely stop. Other methods of stopping a dog fight are to spray the dogs with water or bang an object that will make a loud noise. But, these tips are only really useful if you are at home and have access to such things that will spray water or will make a loud noise. Once you have broken up the fight, check to see if the dogs want to keep fighting or have calmed down. Dogs that want to keep fighting, may have underlying behavioral problems.

A dog owner can usually notice aggression problems within their dog when their dog reaches puberty: 6-9 months old, when the become socially mature: 18-36 months old or if they are not spayed or neutered. Even low levels of aggression should be taken seriously. If not successfully dealt with, low levels can eventually escalate into an out of control problem. Here are some signs that your dog will exhibit when they are aggressive:
  • Growling
  • Lip biting
  • Snapping
  • Lunging
A dog that is often the target of another dog will show these signs of fear:
  •  Crouching
  • Tucking of the tail between the legs
  • Licking the lips 
  • Backing away
It is important for a dog owner to know the difference between play posture and true aggression. In order to deal with aggressive behavior, the owner must start training right away by:
  • Sidetracking the bad behavior with a good behavior
  • Give verbal cues followed by action. Example: If your puppy bites your hand, immediately say "Ouch!" and stop playing.
  • Give your dog a time out right when they exhibit aggressive behavior.
  • Don't engage in aggressive roughhousing. Some puppies have a low arousal threshold. Playful roughhousing can quickly result in aggressive fighting with these types of puppies.
For more information, please see these links (or look for your own!):

How to Safely Break Up a Dog Fight, The Whole Dog Journal:

Yes, There is A Smart Way To Break Up a Dog Fight, The Dodo: 

How to Safely Break Up a Dog Fight, The Dogington Post:

Monday, May 16, 2016

Heartworms in Dogs

A heartworm is a parasitic worm that is transmitted by mosquitoes to your dog. It is easy to prevent, but can be difficult and costly to cure. Your dog can become infected when bit by a mosquito that is infected with the heartworm larvae. There is no way you can detect if a particular mosquito is infected, but it only takes a bite from ONE infected mosquito for the larvae to be transmitted to your dog.

Once the larvae has been transmitted to your dog, it takes about 7 months for it to mature into an adult heartworm. These little buggers travel through your dog's body and lodge into the heart, lungs and blood vessels to reproduce. Adult worms can get up to about a foot long and can live 5-7 years reproducing and causing permanent damage inside of your dog. A dog can get up to 250 worms inside there body! YUCK. If left untreated, the infestation will eventually kill your dog in a not so nice way.

Luckily, there are readily available preventatives you can give your dog in the form of monthly chew tablets (that dogs think are treats), monthly topicals and a 6-month injectable.  The preventatives are the way to go in terms of health and cost efficiency. If your dog already has heartworms, there is a treatment: Immiticide, which is an injectable arsenic based product that must be given 2- 3 times to your dog. The cost for treatment can range from $300-$1000 depending upon where you live. The catch to just relying on treatment instead of a preventative is that heartworms can cause serious permanent damage to your dog's heart, lungs and blood vessels. During treatment, your dog must remain quiet for several months afterward. As the worms die from the Immiticide, they break off into tiny pieces and can cause pulmonary blockage. Most deaths after treatment are caused by dogs exercising not from the actual treatment. If a dog gets heartworm and the owner has absolutely no way to pay for the treatment, the monthly preventative (Ivermectin) can be given instead. BUT, it takes about TWO YEARS for Ivermectin to eradicate the worms and in the meantime permanent damage to the heart, lungs and blood vessels will happen. In addition, heartworms are not a one time deal. Your dog can get repeat infections if not given the preventative.

How Can I Tell if My Dog Has Heartworms?
Initially, you dog will have no symptoms, but as the worms multiply and take up more space inside your dog, you will notice:
  • A chronic cough
  • Your dog will get easily tired from exercise
  • Abnormal lung sounds
  • Pass out from lack of blood to the brain
  • Eventually death
 Can Heartworms Be Passed to Humans?
No. Heartworms are a specific parasite to dogs, cats and ferrets. It is VERY rare for a human to get heartworms and even if a human does become infected, the worm cannot complete it's cycle. Also, Heartworms cannot be transmitted from dog to dog. It must be transmitted through a mosquito. Even if a mosquito bites an infected dog and then bit an uninfected dog. There is an incubation period that has to take place inside the mosquito before it can transmit the larvae.  

The best way to keep your dog happy, healthy and free of these really gross parasites is to give your dog the preventative. I recommend to give your dog the preventative even in the cold months. Repetition breeds habit and humans are notorious for forgetting. If you stop giving your preventative in the winter, you are more likely to forget to give it to your dog in the high-risk seasons. For more information, please visit these sites:

Heartworms in Dogs: Facts and Myths, WebMD, 

Heartworm Basics, American Heartworm Society, 

Heartworms, Pets and Parasites,

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

DIY Enrichment Games For Your Dog

With the start of our new Enrichment Program, I thought it would be fun to post some enrichment games you can make for your dog at home:

 Image: Yes Missy
The Muffin Tin Game is somewhat like Hide-and-Go-Seek, but with treats instead of humans. It's pretty simple and easy to put together. You just grab a muffin pan, and place a few treats in random indentations in the pan. Then, place tennis balls over all the indentations. You dog needs to A) figure out how to get the balls out and B) figure out which indentations hold the treats. A full tutorial can be found here: Yes Missy.

Image: The Nerd's Wife
This enrichment game was found on The Nerd's Wife and will keep your dog entertained for hours. I do want to write a little disclaimer: The Nerd's Wife tutorial on how to make this enrichment toy also endorses Purina Beyond Pet Food. Though Bark City thinks this is an awesome idea for an enrichment toy, we are not endorsing Purina Beyond.... Because, well... we think the food we sell at the daycare, Petcurean, is the bomb. 

Image: Kol's Notes
This enrichment toy comes from Kol's Notes. It's inexpensive to make and will keep your dog busy. But, like the above game by The Nerd's Wife, Kol's Notes is endorsing a dog food on their tutorial. Again, we want you to like Petcurean, so we aren't going to be endorsing Kol's food. But, nice toy Kol!

Image: Kelly's Dog Blog
I have seen this toy circulating the internet quite a bit. And, you will need a handyman to help you make it. But, once it's made, I think it would be well worth the time and effort. The concept of this toy is to have your dog figure out how to get the treats out of the bottle (aka spinning the bottle). If you want to see more images of how this toy works, head on over to Kelly's Dog Blog

Image: Leopold's Crate
This last enrichment toy may look like an ordinary ball with a bunch of fabric stuffed into it. And yes, that is what it is, but there is more! Inside each of those pieces of fabric are little tiny treats. This toy is good for "those one dogs" that like to rip their stuffed animals apart. For a full tutorial, please visit: Leopold's Crate

Remember to exercise your dog's mind is just as important as physical exercise. Constantly learn and play together!