Archive for December, 2010

New Year’s Resolution – Train Your Dog

December 31, 2010


Dog Training Can Be Fun

Perhaps you read one of my posts about the book “101 Dog Tricks”.  In that post, I said I was going to train Maya some of the tricks.  Well, guess what?  I haven’t.  I have been making excuses and procrastinating.  Enough is enough.  It is time to get back on track.

Perhaps you also have a dog which you have been meaning to train.  Well, it’s the new year.  Let’s start a New Year’s Resolution and make a plan.

The first part of the plan is eliminate excuses.  One of the biggest excuses (and one which I have used) is that we just don’t have enough time.  Well, this excuse is really really thin.  You only need to spend 5 minutes a day for training.  That’s it!  Just 5 minutes.  If you want, you can spend two 5-10 minutes sessions a day.  But if time is an excuse, then just do 5 minutes once a day.

Another excuse is that your dog just may not be motivated.  While it is true that some dogs are hard to motivate, you can start your training sessions with things that are easy and fun for your dog.  The easier it is for your dog to earn rewards, the more likely they are to participate in training.  Start simple and work your way up.

Another excuse is that perhaps you do not know how to train.  With all the resources we have available, this excuse should no longer apply.  If you are reading this post, then you have access to the internet.  And with access to the internet comes a lot of free information.  There are websites galore out there who can give you some great tips.  And you don’t have to limit yourself to just reading about dog training.  There are lots of dog training videos on You Tube.

After you eliminate your excuses, it is time to prepare.  Preparation includes getting treats which your dog loves and the right equipment for dog training.  Treats should be small, even for big dogs.  Dog training supplies can include a clicker (if you choose to use clicker training methods), leash, or a treat pouch.  None of these things are required, but they can help. 

And the final step you need to make before beginning is to make a schedule.  A good time to train is after you eat dinner but before your dog eats his.  Or perhaps you can do it right when you get home from work.  But set a time and stick to it.  After a week or two of fun dog training, your dog will know and look forward to the training schedule.

Training your dog is very important.  A well-behaved dog is a happy dog.  And a family with a well-behaved dog is a happy family.  So no more excuses.  It is time to get out and train!

Does Your Dog Need a Sweater and Boots?

December 28, 2010

Killer the Dog Wearing a Sweater and Boots

Believe it or not, sometimes the answer is yes.  Most of the time it is no.  But sometimes, just sometimes, it is yes.  Let me give you a good example of dogs who do not need a sweater and boots.  Then I will give you an example of a dog who does.

Sephi and Maya are my dogs.  They definitely do not need sweaters or boots.  First of all, both are big energetic dogs.  Sephi is a Chow Chow mix who has a double-coat which is medium in length.  Maya is a Labrador Retriever with short hair but hair which has been bred to keep in warmth.  She also has thick skin.

Killer is my parents’ dog.  He is a Lhasa Apso which is a small dog breed.  Although this breed can have long hair, the hair was bred for cuteness, not warmth.  His hair is thin and his skin is sensitive.  So like most small breed dogs, Killer should probably wear a sweater when he goes outside in the extreme cold.

What about boots?  Do dogs need boots?  In most cases, the answer is no.  But it may be a good idea in the snow.  Balls of ice may get in between a dog’s foot pads and cause pain or injury.  This may be especially true for dogs who have long hair sticking out from the pads of their feet.  But if you check your dog’s feet periodically, you probably won’t need to make them wear boots.  Killer has boots.  It is not just because of the snow and ice which can get trapped between his paw pads.  It is also because Killer won’t go outside in the wet unless he is wearing his boots.  He hates getting his feet wet so my parents got him little doggy boots which he surprisingly loves.  No more messes in the house because he refuses to go outside in the rain or cold!

If you are trying to decide if your dog needs a sweater or boots, first consider the breed.  Most big dog breeds do not need a sweater – even if they have short hair.  However, if your big dog is primarily an outside dog, make sure he at least has a warm place to sleep away from the rain, sleet, and snow.  Likewise, most small dog breeds, even breeds with long hair, may need a sweater.  Review information on the dog breed and see what he was originally bred for.  Most toy dog breeds may need sweaters whereas most sporting dog breeds do not.

Also consider how your dog behaves when he goes outside.  If he has a tendency to shiver or if he is reluctant to go outside, then consider getting him a sweater.  This applies to both big and small dogs.

And lastly, consider how your dog will react with a sweater and/or boots on.  If they hate them, then you will need to take the time to teach them to wear clothes.  To teach a dog to wear dog clothes like dog sweaters and dog boots, praise them whenever they wear it (don’t laugh at them), have them wear clothing only when you are able to supervise, start out with them wearing clothing for very short periods, and distract them with play or other fun things while they are wearing them.

Christmas Dog Video – “Dog’s Christmas Morning”

December 25, 2010

Check out this cool video sent to us by one of our readers:

Other cute videos of DextersRuffLife on You Tube.

Doggy Holiday Song

December 24, 2010

Dashing through the snow
Loving to go and play
Wagging my tail to and fro
Barking all the way
Bells on my collar ring
While prancing in snow so white
What fun it is to jump and play
On a day so fun and bright
Oh, Jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way
Oh what fun it is to play in the fluffy snow all day
Oh, Jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way
Oh what fun it is to play in the fluffy snow all day

Merry Christmas from the American Dog Blog!!

Dog Holiday Fun Mad Lib – Solution and Story

December 21, 2010

***Before you read this story, go to the previous post and think of the words which will fill in the blanks.  If you read the story first, then the story won’t be as much fun or as funny.

(Boy dog name) is a (dog breed).  And he loves Christmas.  He loves (something you do in the snow) in the snow and loves it when the family decorated the tree with (Christmas stuff).  He also likes Christmas dinner when he gets to eat some (Christmas food), and he enjoys his Christmas presents.  This year, he got lots of doggy (Christmas treats) in his stocking.  And he also got a stuffed toy (a present a child would get for Christmas) under the tree.  Grandma gave him a (color) spotted sweater and grandpa gave him a (another color) striped collar and leash.

(Girl dog name) is a (dog breed).  She loves Christmas too.  She especially liked it this year because she got to meet (Christmas character).  He was very nice and played (game you play) with her in the snow.  He even took her for a ride on his (something you ride).  Together they sang (Christmas song) as they dashed through the snow.

(Boy dog name) is a new member of the family this Christmas.  We think he is part (dog breed), part (another dog breed), and part (animal).  He is really funny looking with his long (dog body part), short (another dog body part), and fluffy (and another dog body part).  He has a big (dog color) spot over his left eye and a big (any color) spot on his rump.  And he has one brown eye and one (another color) eye – a very special mutt indeed.  He received all sorts of toys for Christmas including a stuffed toy (something a child would get for Christmas), a stuffed toy (animal), and a (color) striped sweater with (another color) polka dots.

All in all, it was a very great Christmas.  We hope that you enjoy your Christmas too.  Say hi to (family member) and (another family member) for us.  Give them our puppy love!!

Dog Holiday Fun Mad Lib

December 18, 2010

Do you remember Mad Libs as a kid?  It is really fun.  Simply find words which fit into the description category below.  Then in a few days, put these words in the blanks of the story we will post on the 21st.  Then read your story!

Here is an example of how a Mad Lib works.  Think of a dog’s name and a dog’s toy.  Any name or dog toy will do.  Then put then in the blanks of this sentence… “___(name)___ got a ___(dog toy)___ for Christmas and played with it all day.”

Now, think of names or things which fit into the following categories.  Be silly if you want.  The sillier you are, the funnier the story will be.  If you are reading this after December 18th, don’t peek at the 21st post until you have the following list completed.  Otherwise, it will ruin the story!

Boy dog name
Dog breed
Something you do in the snow (ex. sledding)
Christmas stuff (plural) (ex. gingerbread cookies)
Christmas food (ex. ham)
Christmas treats (plural) (ex. candy canes)
A present a child would get for Christmas
Another color
Girl dog name
Dog breed
Christmas character (ex. Santa)
Game you play (ex. Monopoly, football, etc.)
Something you ride (ex. skateboard, sleigh, etc.)
Christmas song
Boy dog name
Dog breed
Another Dog breed
Dog body part (ex. eyes)
Another dog body part
And another dog body part
Dog color (ex. brown)
Any color
Another color
Something a child would get for Christmas
Another color
Family member (ex. Uncle Ted)
Another family member

A Dog’s Christmas Story by Dawn Ross

December 15, 2010

My early life has had some extreme ups and downs.  I have felt extreme cold, comforting warmth, abandonment, and companionship.  It took two Christmas’ for me to find what a dog’s life should really be like.

I was born in a cold cage.  But I had my mom, my brothers and sisters, and a meager blanket on the floor.  My mother kept me warm and fed me well so I grew fast.  At first, I only felt and smelled my family, but then I was able to see them as well.  And as soon as my limbs grew strong, I was able to play with them too.

But this confortable time was not to last.  Soon a few of my brothers and sisters and I were taken away from our mom.  Our tiny little world suddenly grew into a big scary place.  When we were crammed in a tiny crate and taken out of the building where my mom lived, we saw the vast outside world for the first time.  But we saw only a glimpse before we were put in the back of a truck.

The ride took all day and we were not fed and did not have anything to drink.  By the time our crate was taken out of the truck we were hungry, thirsty, and we were a mess with urine and feces.  The man who took us brought us to a woman.  She bathed us, fed us, and gave us water but did not comfort us or even speak to us.  But we were put in a much nicer cage.  We had warmer blankets and the floor was not all wire.  And someone actually cleaned up our messes when we made them.  We also had visitors who came to play with us.  We had never experienced the joy of being petted and played with by people before and we thoroughly loved it.  One by one, some of these people took one of my brothers and sisters away with them.

It didn’t take long for a man and woman to take me away too.  They took me to an older woman who took very good care of me.  But I was lonely.  I missed my brothers and sisters and I would sometimes cry.  The older woman often comforted me and by the time three days had passed, I was a much happier pup.

On the fourth day, very early morning, the man and woman came back.  They put a big red bow around my neck and took me to their home.  I was to spend a few moments in a dark box where I cried and cried.  But my crying must have worked because soon I heard some children’s voices.  They tore the lid off the box and it was the happiest moment for us all.

Life with this family was much different than it had been the brief moments with the older woman.  I was left all alone in a crate most of the day.  When the family got home, I was so excited that I jumped up and down and licked everyone.  But they were not as happy to see me.  The children cried, the parents yelled.  And I got put outside.  By the time I was let back in, I was put back in the crate for the night.

One day, I must have done something very very bad.  I got an aweful spanking and was thrown into the crate and taken to the car.  They took me to this big place with lots of other dogs and left me there.  I was put in a wire cage all by myself and never saw my family again.

My cage was not as bad as the one I had lived in as a newborn pup.  I had a warm blanket, sometimes I had toys, and there were always people who fed me, pet me, and cleaned up after me.  Sometimes people would take me out for a walk.  The only really bad part part about this place was all the noise.  But I was only there for a few weeks when a very nice man took me to his home.

He was a nice man but sometimes he forgot the feed or water me.  He potty trained me somewhat.  I learned that I was supposed to make my messes outside, but sometimes he would forget to let me out.  Despite these occasional minor inconveniences, I was an overall satisfied dog.  I lived with this man all through the summer and fall and was growing to be a very big dog.

One day, while looking outside the fence, I saw another dog.  I was so excited and agitated at the same time that I started jumping up and down.  And lo and behold!  I found that I could jump over a certain low part of the fence.  The owner of the other dog put me back inside and told my man.  But he never fixed the fence.  A few days later, I jumped that low part of the fence again and went to visit the neighborhood.

At first, visiting the neighborhood was very exciting.  There were smells of food, other dogs, more people, and even of different animals of which I have never smelt the likes of before.  But then I got lost and I couldn’t find my way back.  I almost got hit by a car twice.  Some people threw things at me in anger.  And no one offered me any food or water.

The outside world became a cold and scary place.  I began to avoid people for fear of being kicked or having something thrown at me.  I rummaged through garbage cans in order to eat.  When it snowed, I found a small dark place under a patio and slept.  This place became my refuge.  The patio was attached to a building where I often heard a lot of people inside.  And sometimes whenever someone came outside, they put a lot of really nice food in the garbage can.

One very cold evening when I was going through the garbage can, a woman from the building came out and caught me.  I ran away as fast as I could before she could hurt me.  But her voice stopped me short.  She wasn’t shouting at me.  She was calling me.  She wasn’t calling my name, of course, but I knew she was talking to me.  Her voice was so sweet that I turned around to look back.  She was squatting down and making a bunch of sweet kissing noises.  I cautiously slunk my way back towards her.  And when she reached out to pet me, I rolled over on my back in submission.

She rubbed my tummy lovingly and I knew that I was safe.  Despite how frightened I was of a place with a bunch of people, I let her lead me inside the building.  The building was warm and cozy and decorated with a bunch of shiny lights and a big tree which reminded me of when I was brought to my first home.  The woman gave me a warm and delicious meal and water which was not frozen over with ice.

She took me to her home that night and made me a nice warm bed.  In the morning, she took me outside on a leash.  I have never been on a leash before and wasn’t sure what to think.  But with her warm assurances, I quickly learned that all I needed to do was walk with her and only stop once in a while to go to the bathroom.  After that, she gave me a bath.  The bath was nothing like the bath I had been given at the pet shop.  It was actually fun.  She didn’t just wash me, she played with me.  And when she was done, she brushed me with care and tenderness instead of with mundane rapidity.

After that, I was taken back to the building again.  I met a lot of people there and was a little scared at first.  But with her assurances I soon warmed up to everyone.  I had forgotten what it was like to be around people and I enjoyed every moment of it.  I soon learned that this building was part art gallery and part work shop.  The people who came regularly, including the woman, were artists.  Sometimes strangers came to visit to look at the art – and to pet me.

Going home at night and coming to the art gallery during the day became our regular routine.  I was called Scamp and everyone loved me.  I loved everyone too, but I loved the woman most of all.  It was with her that I experienced my second Christmas.  This time was better because I wasn’t the gift in the box and I received gifts instead.  I was never put in a cage again and was very seldom ever left alone.  People played with me and pet me regularly.  I always got my meals and even got special treats like biscuits and bones.  I was never thirsty and was taken out regularly for walks or trips to the park.

I am on my twelfth Christmas now and life is still as good as it was ten years ago when I first met the woman.  The turbulence of my youth is gone.  My first Christmas family didn’t work out, but I found something better.  I found someone who was prepared to handle all the responsibilities involved in my happiness and well-being.  And now Christmas is a very special time of year, one in which I will cherish for the rest of my days.

Story by Dawn Ross
© December 2010

WANTED – Tough Indestructible Dog Toys for Christmas

December 12, 2010

Maya Playing with one of Her Kong Dog Toys

Have you stopped buying dog toys for your dog because he chews them all up within minutes?  No matter what toy you get, it never seems to last.  So what do you give your dog for Christmas?  Are there any truly indestructible dog toys out there?  We are going to make a few recommendations but I guarantee you that there will be at least one dog out there who has destroyed the indestructible.  Share your ideas with us and our readers.  Perhaps we will get lucky this year and find just the right dog toy.

The Kong and Extreme Kong
My dog Maya has chewed almost every single toy I have ever bought her.  But the Kong is the only one which she has not managed to destroy.  She has a Jump n Jack Kong and a standard red Kong.  The standard red Kong is indestructible for most dogs.  But if you have a super chewer, the black Extreme Kong is the best.  Dogs love the Kong because of the funny bounce and because you can put treats in them.  The Kong is a bit expensive but it will most likely outlast any other dog toy you can buy.  If you are concerned about cost, don’t get the Kong treat fillers.  Just fill it with your own stuff.  I put peanut butter and chunks of doggy treats in Maya’s Kong.

Kyjen Fire Hose Dog Toy
Another toy which Maya has had a more difficult time chewing is the Fire Hose Dog Toy.  However, she probably could chew it if I just let her chew and chew.   So I only let her play with it on occasion when I can watch her.  This and its durability has made the Fire Hose Dog Toy last her about a year now.  The Fire Hose Dog Toy is made with real fire hose material, so you know its gotta be tough.  And it also floats!  Maya loves to fetch this one from water.

Tuffies Indestructible Dog Toy
Tuffies are good for average chewers but Maya has managed to chew these up.  I still get Maya the Tuffies dog toys because she loves the squeaky.  And if I only give them to her when I can keep an eye on her, they last a couple of months.  Tuffies are made of strong industrial-strength fabric and triple-sewn for more durability.  The fabric is strong, but it is actually soft on the dog’s teeth.

Buster Food Cube
I haven’t tried this one with Maya yet but we are looking at it for Christmas.  I have heard a lot of good things about it.  It is not only durable but it is great for dogs who enjoy mental stimulation along with their play.  Simply put food in the dog toy and let your dog figure out how to get it out.  At first it may take a really long time – perhaps days.  But as your dog gets better and better at it, you can adjust the level to make it more difficult.  The Buster Food Cube would be a great toy for Maya who loves to solve puzzles as much as she loves to chew.  (Sephi, on the other hand, is not much of a thinker and will give up on this toy if she can’t figure it out within 5 minutes.)

These are just a few of the dog toys which claim to be indestructible.  The Kong is Maya’s favorite and the Kyjen Fire Hose Dog Toy is Sephi’s favorite.  Check out our new a-Store with for these great indestructible dog toys.  If you know of any others, please let us know.

Dressing Up Your Dog for the Holidays?

December 9, 2010
Sephi and Maya

Sephi and Maya dressed up for Christmas

Pet stores are full of doggie costumes this time of year – from Santa hats or reindeer antlers to holiday clothing.  They are so cute and very tempting but is it a good idea?  Will your dog hate it?  Will it be uncomfortable?  Are pet costumes safe?  Before you purchase a holiday pet costume for your dog, consider these things first.

Consider Your Pet’s Temperament
Cassie absolutely loved to wear costumes.  She would get so excited whenever I got one out for her.  She loved the attention she would get when she wore them.  But she only tolerated them if they were comfortable.  Although Cassie loved dressing up, most dogs do not like it at all.  Sephi loves to wear a scarf but anything else, she hates.  And Maya hates both scarfs and clothes.  It took time for Sephi and Maya to get used to their dog seat belt so it would take even more time getting them used to wearing dog clothes.  A dog seat belt is necessary but clothing is not.  So why subject them to it?  I know it can be cute and even amusing.  But if your dog hates it, it is not nice.

Consider Your Pet’s Comfort
If your dog likes wearing pet costumes, make sure to purchase something which fits well.  Dog clothing should neither be too tight nor too loose.  Sleeves should be placed well so that the clothing does not irritate under their legs.  Straps should not pinch their skin or pull their hair.  And their tails should be free to wag.  It would also be nice if the clothing left places for your dog to go to the bathroom.  (Cassie once pooped in a pair of doggie pants.)

Consider Your Pet’s Safety
For the most part, dog clothes are safe.  Read the labels for any warnings and abide by them accordingly.  Consider if your dog has allergies as the stuff used to clean and/or package the clothes may cause irritation.  Make sure that your dog is always supervised when they are wearing their costumes.  You wouldn’t want them to eat their costume or get tangled in it.  And don’t allow your dogs to wear their costumes during vigorous play where injury is more likely with clothes which might get in the way of the fun.

(The photos above are of Sephi and Maya.  Since they hated the antlers I bought for them, I put them on, took a quick photo, and never made them wear them again.  They got lots of treats afterward.)

If your dog loves to wear costumes, send us a photo.  We’d love to see them!

Aging Pets – When is it Time to Let Your Pet Go?

December 6, 2010

Story of Killer and Fritz

I was just visiting my family this Thanksgiving and was concerned about my parent’s two aging pets – Killer and Fritz.  Both are 15 years old, have a difficult time getting around, and sometimes have issues with not being able to hold their bladder.  Killer is a Lhasa Apso who is deaf and also seems to have a bit of dementia.  Fritz is a yellow lab who has arthritis and a bunch of very big fatty tumors around his body.  He also has a bad hacking cough which the vet associates with heart problems.  Sometimes he also has stomach problems which give him a very bad case of diarrhea.

When I first heard about all these problems, I wondered why my parent’s hadn’t considered putting them to sleep yet.  Killer’s vet recommended to let Killer live out the rest of his life which may be only another 6 months or so.  But that was before he hurt his leg and is now walking with a painful limp.  My brother took Fritz to a different vet who recommended that Fritz be put to sleep.  The vet said that the coughing may not only be causing Fritz pain, but it could also cause his heart to give out.

After spending time with Killer and Fritz myself, I decided that my parents made the right decision to not put them to sleep.  While Killer can’t hear, he can still see and still find his food bowl, bits of food which fall on the floor, and still go to the door when he needs to go out.  Killer wears doggy diapers and he still looks forward to bed time when my parents put him in their bed for the night.  He loves to snuggle.  And towards the end of our trip, his leg was doing better and he was up and about more.

Fritz has a much more difficult time getting around due to the arthritis and fatty tumors.  But he loves feeding time and attention.  He was even inclined to play with my dog Maya (but we had to put a stop to that in fear of his heart problems).  His coughing was not frequent and only lasted for a few moments.  And he loved to go outside just to lay in the sun.

When we came home from shopping, both dogs were very happy to see us and looked forward to the loving greetings which they always get when my parents get home from work.  Despite their aging health issues, they seemed like very happy dogs.  They loved to eat, begged for Thanksgiving tidbits, and often sought us out for pettings and tummy rubs.

The vets did not see this happy part of them.  They saw the deteriorating physical conditions and dogs who were not very happy about being at the vet in the first place.  Perhaps if they had seen, both vets would have made the same recommendation to let Killer and Fritz keep pushing on until either their conditions got worse or they passed away in their own time.

If you have an aging pet and are wondering what you should do, take several factors into consideration.  Ask yourself these questions:

What does your vet say?  Does he give a definitive recommendation or does he use the words ‘maybe’ or ‘but’?

What are your pet’s health problems?  Do they appear to be causing constant pain or occasional pain?  How severe does the pain seem to be?

Does your dog still enjoy eating?  Do they look forward to treats?  Do they still beg for food or look for bits of food dropped on the floor?

Is your dog happy to see you when you get home?  Does he seek you out for petting or snuggles?

Does your pet still have an occasional inclination to play?

There is no definite answer.  A vet’s recommendation is just an opinion.  It is a professional opinion, so one that needs to be taken into account.  But your vet does not have the final say.  Weigh all your options.  Keep your pet’s happiness and comfort in mind.  And if it does come to the decision of you putting your pet to sleep, do it knowing that you considered everything and this is what was best.

For people who have had pets put to sleep or pass away, check out our blog on the book, “The Rainbow Bridge, Pet Loss is Heaven’s Gain”.