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Which Dog Breed is Right for You?

When thinking about adopting a dog, take some serious time to consider a few things: Size, Coat, Personality, Independence, and Energy Level.

 

Size

Size is a huge factor when trying to determine what breed you’d like to adopt. Sizes vary according to height in inches and also in pounds.

  • Small breeds qualify at 14 in. or smaller and weigh 20 lbs. or less. So if a purse dog is what you want look into small breeds also referred to as toy breeds as they are close to the size of a small stuffed animal. Breeds that are considered toy breeds include Yorkshire Terriers, Chihuahua, Pug, and Shih Tzu’s to name a few. (1)
  • Medium dogs are considered 15-24 inches and are between 21-55 lbs. Bull Terriers, Bull Dogs, Australian Shepard dogs, and Shar-Pei’s are popular breeds in this size group. (2)
  • Large dogs qualify as being 25-27 inches tall, and weigh 56-115 lbs. the size of a small child or small adult. The large breeds are usually for people are willing to put a good amount of time into their animals based on size they need plenty of space. Some large breeds include Alaskan Malamutes, America Bull Dogs, American Foxhounds, and Bernese Mountain Dogs to name a few. (3)

 

Coat

The coat of an animal you’d like is crucial. Allergies play a huge part in determining this as well as how clean you prefer to keep your home. Coat types can vary; there are short, curly, wiry, medium lengths, feathered, fluffy, and long. Some shed more than others so be sure to do your due diligence before picking out your pooch.  (4) .

Personality

Are you outgoing and want a companion to take to dog parks or attend doggy day camp? Or are you a bit anti-social who just wants a companion like yourself? Would you like to be able to have friends over without worrying about an over protective dog? These are questions that should be determined of yourself and your potential pooch before picking him out. The friendliness of a dog plays a huge part in choosing a breed because some are very friendly and some are not at all. Some breeds are social, and some prefer to be alone.

Independence

Do you work from home? Can you take long enough lunch breaks to get home to see your dog? How long will you trust your dog at home alone? Do you intend to crate train him? All these questions pertain to the independence you want for your dog. This pertains to how self-sufficient your dog can be not how much attention he requires. If you can’t trust them alone and don’t want to try crate training, you can try Doggy Day Camp as a great solution. This allows dogs to socialize with friends in a monitored and controlled environment, and they come home exhausted. Although this can become expensive, many places offer discounts for multiple day packages.  Be sure to put some thought into this as well.

Energy Level

Breed energy levels vary from extremely high energy level to very low energy level.. But it is crucial to remember that all dogs are individuals and some may act different if they are mixed breeds or one breed is stronger than the other. Some examples of high-energy dog breeds are an Australian Shepherd, Boxer, Border Collie, and a Jack Russell Terrier.  Some examples of low energy dog breeds are Shih Tzu, Saint Bernard, Mastiff, and a Bull Dog.

 Before choosing a breed you clearly need to do some self-evaluation. You should fully understand what you want in a furry friend. Be sure to ask yourself all these questions and you should be prepared and knowledgeable on certain breeds. Have in mind a particular breed so the animal specialist can assist you in finding the prefect furry companion!

By Chelsea Nelson (Dog Walks Now Contributor)

Chelsea Nelson is originally from Upton Ma, and is currently a senior at Westfield State University. She intends to graduate in May 2015. She is studying English with a writing concentration. She has had dogs her entire life and currently has 3 dogs, Jasmine an 11 year old St. Bernard Hound, Kodiak an 8 year old Labrador retriever, and Bear a 2 year old chow lab mix. She has also worked at a kennel for 4 years and still works their on holidays and breaks from school. Read her dog blog or follow her on twitter.

Don’t Let Your Dog Be The Boss!

After-Obedience Blues

 

The majority of owned dogs who show signs of behavioral problems are typically over the age of two years and have had some sort of basic obedience training. The owner will say, “I taught him how to sit, stay, come when called and lie down but he just won’t listen!”  This is a simple case of a lack of reinforcement for the dog and boredom.  He doesn’t listen because there just is no reason for him to want to! Don’t let your dog be the boss! Once he’s gone through obedience training and knows his commands, you must continue to keep your dog engaged and review the commands he’s learned as well as challenge him through learning new skills and keeping it fun all at the same time!

Keep Him Engaged

Keeping your dog engaged in his learned behaviors as well as new ones is all about the reinforcement. It’s also about how fun you make it and the steps you take to continuously reinforce his basic obedience. Obedience is far more than just learning a few commands; your dog is actually learning how to learn. He uses obedience to learn your body language and what your communication actually means; it’s like a translator! Just because your dog has already gone through, does not mean you should quit talking! 

You can keep your dog engaged in the basic obedience commands he has already learned through incorporating it into your daily life. If your dog has learned the stay command, you can use it during meal times. With the bowl in hand, ask your dog to sit and stay.  Begin to lower his dish and if he moves, lift the bowl back up and again ask him to sit and stay. He will eventually get the idea that until he stays put, he won’t get to eat!  Dogs usually learn this within a couple of meals, and will sit in front of a full dish of food until you give him the okay to eat it! This keeps him interested and working with his sit, stay and even wait commands!

 

You can do this with other commands as well and incorporate them into solving other behavioral problems you may be experiencing.  You can use the sit command to work on leash manners, for example.  If your dog is a puller and loves to ignore you while on a walk, you can walk the opposite direction in which he tries to pull while encouraging him to follow you. When he catches up to you, ask him to sit. Don’t walk anywhere until he does! When he sits, give him a “Yes!” and walk on. The walking is his reward as this is what he wants to do! Give him what he wants when he shows a wanted behavior!

 Always Challenge Him, But Go Slow!

 Using known commands to teach new ones is one way to set your dog up for success, but you can also involve him in training new things.  Make goals of what you would like your dog to learn, and consider it a ladder.  Each step of the ladder should be one training game that can help lead you to your final result.  For instance, if you want to teach your dog to pick up and put away his toys, you will need to teach individual behaviors before turning it into a chain of behaviors to reach your final result.  Start with teaching him to pick up and hold a toy in his mouth. Then, build that into putting the toy n a certain spot. Then you can ask him to put it in his toy box.

If you try to start at the top and expect big things quickly, you will not only confuse your dog but you also will quickly make him lose interest in the task.  This will translate into him disobeying more and more as he becomes frustrated and uninterested in what you have to say. Go slow, at his pace, and build onto it to keep him engaged in learning!

A Command Is A Command

 It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to train your dog to ride a skateboard or just walk loosely on a leash; the concept is all the same. Be sure your dog knows what you expect of him and that he does it. Remember, you’re the boss, not him! Keep him engaged, and never give up! Basic obedience is not the end of a dog’s learning life. Any dog at any age has the ability to learn and alter their behavior with the right reinforcement and training schedule.

By Kimberly LeMaster

Dog Walks Now Contributor

Air Travel With Your Dog

It’s time to learn the best, safest and most convenient doggy air travel tips!

Prepare!

The very first step after making the decision to fly with your pet, and to avoid any safety hazards, is to prepare!  Preparing, though, could be a little more in depth than you expected.  If you are traveling within the United States, it is a requirement that by a licensed veterinarian assesses your dog for any out of date vaccinations and also provides a certificate of good health.  The certificate must be acquired within 10 days of your travel date!  This is to help prevent the spread of canine diseases throughout the states.

If you are traveling outside of the country, you must check with the requirements of your destination for your dog to enter! Some countries require a long-term quarantine for any animals entering the country for observation. Others may require specific vaccinations that are not the norm for our own country, and must be special ordered by your vet.  Know ahead of time to keep your dog safe!

Another preparation you must make for your dog prior to travel is your dog’s own transport carrier or crate. You must purchase one that is airline approved and provides your dog with enough space to stand, turn around, and lie down comfortably.  You also will want to provide your dog with a blanket that smells of you and home, perhaps his own blanket from his crate at home, so that he will feel safe during this very stressful event.  In addition, if your pet needs medications be sure to put a note on his kennel that states as such and have it on hand in case of emergencies.  Don’t forget to pack extra food, because you never know when your flight may be delayed!

Flying With Your Pup

Don’t spring your pooch onto the airlines as a big surprise.  Before you buy your plane ticket, call the airline you intend to use and question them on their pet handling practices, protocols and emergency policies. Ask how they handle a pet in medical distress, how the animal is treated in cargo, or if your dog is small enough to ride in cabin with you.  These questions could lead you to change airlines if they put your pet in danger!

Most pet dogs will fly in cargo with the rest of the items that passengers are bringing with them. Most cargo holds on planes are not protected from the chilly temperatures of such an extreme height, but be sure to ask your chosen airline about this. Some do have temperature controlled cargo holds specifically to protect passengers’ pets! If you are lucky enough to have a small enough dog to ride in cabin with you, make sure you purchase his fee ahead of time as well. Even if he will be on your lap or under your seat the entire time, ask about their policies and management practices about emergencies involving your pet including medical and potty needs.

Don’t Get Suckered

Aside from the scam websites that claim to help your pet ride in cabin for free by lying about his pet status, there are other common use practices that may be more harmful than helpful. One such practice is the use of tranquilizers. When you go to the vet to have your dog examined before flying, talk with him or her about your dog’s personality and stress levels. Most of the time, a dog is better off not being tranquilized unless his stress is so severe that he would hurt himself while in transit. Tranquilizers can lower body temperature and cause vomiting, both of which are extremely dangerous while in the air!  If worst comes to worst, consider other options that include your dog staying home instead of flying. Your dog’s safety, and the safety of airline workers as well as yourself should always come first!

By Kimberly LeMaster

Dog Walks Now Contributor

Does Your Dog Listen When Told To Come? Teach The Recall.

Imagine this: You’re playing with your dog in your front yard and he spots another dog on leash across the busy street. Excited, your pooch takes off to say hello to the new furry stranger. You call his name, tell him to come back, and offer all the treats he could ask for, but he proceeds away from you, ignoring every call. 

Your dog is not actually ignoring you, he simply sees that the dog across the street is more interesting and, most importantly, more rewarding than what he would get if he left the stranger and came back to you on your first call.  You can teach him to come back to you by teaching the recall!

 What Is Recall?

Recall is the name given to the command of calling your dog back to you.  Most owners use their dog’s name with the command “Come!” with this behavior.  The purpose of a reliable recall in your dog, whether he’s a pet or working animal is first and foremost to keep him safe!  The world is full of danger, and a recall cant actually save your pet’s life. 

 How Do You Train Recall?

It doesn’t matter if your dog is young or old, recall should always be a foundation of his training. It’s easy to start, and only takes a few minutes each day! 

You can begin in your home with your dog on leash. Make sure the room you are in is comfortable and quiet so that he can concentrate. Have a handful of some mid to low value treats, such as pieces of his kibble with your.  Take a few steps away from him while you call his name and the command, “Come!” in a high pitched, fun and non-threatening way.

This game must be fun for him and you to work!  As he walks towards you, say “Yes!” or click your clicker as a marker for the correct behavior and give him the reward when he gets to you.  Do this for only five minutes a day until he gets the hang of it! 

Next, you can move into a more distracting area, but don’t move too fast!  Do the exact same game, just with a few distractions to make it a little more challenging.  As he comes to you perfectly each time on the regular leash, you can move on to the recall game!

The Recall Game.

The recall game uses a long lead or leash.  Depending on the size of your dog and space available, it can be between 15 to 30 feet in length. You should not utilize the entire length of the long line to start with. Instead, as your dog becomes more reliable with what he’s doing, raise the criteria by increasing distance. If your dog becomes frustrated or confused, then go back a step or two and move slower!  For the recall game, you will need a helper!

Have one person hold the long lead while the other is a few feet away. You both should have some high value rewards on hand, like real meat or cheese.  Your helper should call your dog’s name with the command “Come!” and they should mark the behavior of him coming towards them with a “Yes!” Then the helper rewards your dog. 

Repeat the exercise yourself, and ask your helper to do the same again.  You don’t want to encourage your dog to run back and forth quickly between you. Instead, if he stays with you for a few moments, continue to give him a reward every few seconds. When you really need to call your dog to you for his safety, you want him to stay with you when he gets there!

Be patient, make the games fun, and you will set you and your dog up for success. With consistency, you will have a reliable recall trained in no time!.

by Kimberly LeMaster, Dog Walks Now Contributor

When Should Your Dog Go To The Vet?

Every dog needs regular examinations from a veterinarian to keep him healthy and happy. How frequently he should go depends on his age. Here are some general guidelines as to when your pet needs to see his vet.

Puppies

Puppies need physical examinations to make sure they are developing normally. Puppies can have birth defects that are not obvious until they become older and start to interact with the environment more. These exams help to detect problems early so we can intervene before they become serious.

Puppies also need a series of vaccinations, spaced 3-4 weeks apart, to protect them against deadly viruses and bacteria. Almost all puppies have worms and will need some kind of deworming treatment. Heartworm, flea/tick and intestinal parasite prevention must be started at a young age to protect against contracting other serious diseases.  If you decide not to breed your puppy, spaying or neutering will be done once they are a bit older (about 6-14 months).

Puppyhood is also the perfect time to expose your pet to positive sessions at the veterinarian. The experiences he has now can shape his opinion of the vet for his whole life. Bring your pup’s favorite treats with you to his appointments and be sure to be generous!

Adults

Adult dogs should have a comprehensive wellness exam at least once a year, whether they seem sick or not. Dogs are good at hiding early symptoms of illness. The veterinarian is trained to pick up on subtle changes on your pet’s physical exam. This is the best way to spot disease early, while it is still relatively early and less expensive to treat.

The veterinarian will usually ask a series of questions about diet, exercise, parasite prevention, behavior issues, and lifestyle. The answers you give to these questions will determine what testing and vaccinations your dog needs. The time you have with the vet at this point will enable you to discuss any concerns you have about your pet. As your pet ages, there may be changes in the testing or vaccines he needs.

Seniors

Senior pets, like puppies, need more frequent exams than adult dogs. The age at which a dog is considered a “senior” varies by breed, but generally are any dog older than seven years.

Senior dogs age faster, and are more prone to illness than younger dogs. They should be examined every 6 months. The vet will keep his eye out for diseases that affect older dogs like arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, and hypothyroidism. Some of these conditions cannot be diagnosed on physical exam alone, so your vet may also want to do some “senior wellness” testing. This usually involves taking blood and urine samples to check the health of the internal organs and blood cells. Other testing may be recommended based on your dog’s breed, and any symptoms your vet finds during his exam; this can include x-rays of the chest and abdomen, an ECG, an ultrasound of the abdomen or heart, and/or blood pressure measurement.

About 25% of senior wellness testing finds early disease, so even if you think your dog is doing well, testing is the only way to know for sure.

A physical exam by a veterinarian is the best way to know the health of your dog. So what are you waiting for? Stop guessing whether your pet is healthy, and schedule his appointment today!