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Monday, July 23, 2018

10 Top Dog Sports

By On July 23, 2018

Dogs like to play as much as humans do—maybe even more! Here are some sports to play with your pooch.

One of the best ways to keep your dog challenged mentally and physically is to get it involved in a sport that makes the most of its natural instincts. Here's a list of fun sports you and your dog will love.
Agility One of the most challenging of dog sports, agility requires your dog to run through a complicated obstacle course. Dogs are judged on the speed and accuracy of their run, and the handlers are only allowed to guide their dogs using voice and hand signals. Obstacles include tunnels, teeter-totters, hurdles, weave poles, and pyramids. It's a fast-moving sport that purebreds and mixed breeds can all participate in. Agility keeps your dog's mind and body in top form and helps keep you in shape since running alongside your dog and guiding it through the appropriate obstacles is part of the challenge.
Flyball If your dog loves to run (and chase tennis balls), flyball might be the perfect sport. It's a canine relay race where dogs are broken into teams of four that must jump over a series of hurdles to retrieve a tennis ball released from a box when the dog steps on a pad. As soon as one dog retrieves the ball and returns to the starting gate, the next dog is released. Any type of dog can participate, but some popular flyball breeds include border collies, Jack Russell terriers, Australian shepherds, and whippets.
Dock Diving Started in 1997, dock diving is an exciting aquatic sport where dogs compete to see which one can jump the farthest into a pool of water from an elevated platform or dock. This sport has become so popular it is frequently featured on cable TV with meets being held across the country. All dogs are welcome to participate, but the larger breeds such as Labrador retrievers, Chesapeake Bay retrievers, golden retrievers, and Belgian Malinois are often at the head of the pack. In fact, Baxter, a Belgian Malinois, made headlines when he jumped 29 feet 11 inches on the David Letterman show in 2011.
Sheepdog Trials For sheepdogs, there's no greater challenge than moving a small flock of sheep through an obstacle course at a sheepdog trial. Patterned after real-life farmwork, each dog is required to move sheep around obstacles, over bridges, and into a pen. More advanced trials also require the dogs to separate a flock of sheep into smaller groups. Called "shedding," it is one of the hardest things a sheepdog is required to do. Originally a way for shepherds to show off their working dogs to each other, sheepdog trials are now held around the country. If you own a herding breed such as a border collie, Australian shepherd, rough collie, corgi, or bearded collie, it's an ideal way to give your dog lots of exercise and to utilize its natural herding instincts.

Disc Dog Started in the 1970s, disc-dog competitions challenge handler and dog to be the best at throwing and catching flying discs. The competition is generally divided into "toss-and-fetch" and "freestyle" competitions. In the toss-and-fetch category, competitors have 60 seconds to throw as many discs as possible over longer and longer distances. Points are awarded for accuracy and the amount of catches the dog makes. In freestyle, the handler and dog work together, often with music, to create a choreographed routine where agility, style, and fast catches make for an exciting show. Any dog can participate in disc dog as long as it can move quickly and enjoys catching discs.
Terrier Trials One of the more fast-paced dog sports, terrier trials happen so quickly that if you blink, you could miss all the action. A terrier trial is basically a steeplechase competition for terriers. The dogs are encouraged to chase a piece of fur over an obstacle course, and the first dog to reach the target is declared the winner. This type of race is most often associated with Jack Russell terriers. It's a great way to keep these high-octane dogs happy and healthy.
Earthdog Trials In an Earthdog trial, dogs are expected to boldly go through a man-made, underground tunnel that mimics the real-life burrow of a fox or other animal. Once underground, the dog should find the scent of its prey (usually a rat that is safely protected in a barred wooden box) and "work" the animal by barking, scratching, or otherwise annoying the rodent. Dogs compete at different levels of difficulty depending on the experience of the dog. Dog breeds that excel at Earthdog trials include dachshunds, Jack Russell terriers, West Highland terriers, Cairn terriers, border terriers, Norwich terriers, Norfolk terriers, Welsh terriers, smooth and wirehaired fox terriers, and miniature schnauzers.
Lure Coursing In lure coursing, dogs are encouraged to chase a mechanical lure over a distance of up to 1,000 yards. The mechanical lure is designed to change direction to simulate live prey such as a bounding jackrabbit or hare. Dogs run in groups of one or two, most often broken down by breed. They are judged on speed, agility, enthusiasm, and focus on the lure. Lure coursing is an excellent way to promote your sight hound's natural instincts. Consider lure coursing if you own any of these breeds: Irish wolfhound, Scottish deerhound, greyhound, whippet, saluki, borzoi, or Afghan hound.
Field Trials Unlike other dog sports, field trials can vary greatly from organization to organization, but basically they are designed to test a dog's hunting skills. Generally broken into different classes for pointers, flushers, and retrievers, field trials are a wonderful way to keep a sporting breed active and challenged. And, if you do use your dog for hunting, field trials are a smart way to fine-tune its skills during the off-season. Breeds that compete at field trials include Labrador retrievers; golden retrievers; English, Irish, and Gordon setters; Brittany or springer spaniels; flat-coated retrievers; Weimaraners; German shorthaired pointers; Chesapeake Bay retrievers; German wirehaired pointers; Hungarian vizslas; and Irish water spaniels.
Obedience Trials You might already have taken your dog to a basic obedience class to help it mind its manners, but you might not know that obedience competitions are a fun sport that dogs of all types can participate in. And, over time, your dog can master a wide range of commands in order to gain points to earn a formal title such as Companion Dog or Utility Dog. Even if your dog doesn't earn a title, it'll be a much better canine citizen in your home or in public.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Your Dog's ID

By On July 22, 2018

In addition to a collar and tags, should you also tattoo your dog or have a microchip implanted? Here's a look at the pros and cons of each identification method that can help if your dog is ever lost.

Every dog should have a collar and tags. It is the simplest, easiest way to identify your dog.
A buckled collar is preferable to a choke chain for identification purposes, since dogs are more likely to slip out of a choke collar. The collar should be fastened securely so that it will not come off if grabbed. Dr. Duane Schnittker of the Brentwood Veterinary Hospital in Brentwood, California, offers this reminder: "Make sure the tags have current information. Usually, dogs are found within 3 or 4 blocks of their homes."

Types of Tags

There are three kinds of tags: rabies tags, dog-license tags, and personal-identification tags.
A rabies tag has a number, the year in which the shot was given, and the name and address of the veterinary office where the shot was administered. It is important to keep track of the year the shot was given because tag numbers are reused each year.
Dog-license tags tell where the dog was licensed and feature a license number. The license number can be reported to animal control in the county and state where the license was issued to obtain the owner's name, address, and phone number.
Personal-identification tags usually have the address of the owner on the tag. These are often available in cute shapes, like dog bones, fire hydrants, and so on. Sometimes a tag will have a kennel-license number and an individual dog-identification number. If you find a dog with a kennel tag, contact the appropriate county to find out which kennel was issued that license number.

Disadvantages of Tags

  • They are easily removed by unscrupulous people, like thieves, who can easily throw collar and tags away.
  • The printing on tags may wear off over time.
  • If the collar is not secure, the dog may slip out of it.


Tattooing is a permanent means of identification. Your dog would be tattooed with a series of numbers (for example, some people use their Social Security number) or letters and numbers. Your contact information is registered with an organization such as the National Dog Registry, ID Pet, or the American Kennel Club (which registers tattoos of purebreds only).
Dogs are tattooed with similar tools to those used for humans, and the procedure appears to be relatively painless, though the noise may upset some dogs. The insoluble dyes in tattoo inks or pastes will not react with blood or tissues. On light-skinned animals, black ink is preferred; green ink is better for darker-skinned dogs.
The comparatively hairless inside of the earflap and inside of the hind legs or belly are the most common places to tattoo a dog. Some owners avoid ear tattoos if their dog's ears will be clipped later, and others are concerned that thieves may cut off the tattooed ear so they can sell the dog to a research facility. (Research facilities are not permitted to accept tattooed dogs.)
If you want to have your dog tattooed, consult your vet, breeder, or local humane society to find out more about the various registries and the tattoo they suggest. Each registry has pros and cons, and fees vary. In addition, animal hospitals generally maintain records of dogs they have tattooed.
If practical, keep the tattooed area shaved for maximum visibility.

Disadvantages of Tattoos:

  • A tattoo can be hard to see or find; the individual who finds a lost pet has to be aware of tattooing and look for the tattoo.
  • A canny crook can alter a tattoo.
  • When you move, you must remember to update your contact information with the registry.
  • Tattoos are not completely reliable as the only method of identification; they're best when combined with collars and tags and/or microchipping.


The high-tech solution to dog identification is a computer microchip. About the size of a grain of rice, the microchip contains a coded number and is encased in a biologically inert substance so it can remain under the dog's skin for his lifetime. A microchip cannot be lost, changed, or removed.
A microchip is usually implanted in the loose skin between a dog's shoulders. Occasionally, microchips migrate; for this reason, some owners tattoo their dogs with a capital "T" within a circle to indicate that the dog has been microchipped. Then, even if the microchip migrates and is not instantly detectable, the shelter will continue to search for the implant.
Microchips should be implanted by licensed veterinarians. The procedure appears to be virtually painless -- comparable to being vaccinated -- and puppies as young as 8 weeks can be implanted. No maintenance is needed, and the microchip should last for 25 years.
Ask your vet, breeder, or local humane society to recommend a microchip registry. Like tattoo registries, each microchip registry has its own coding system, and the fees vary.
Veterinarians and shelters use hand-held scanners to detect the microchip and read the code. Then the appropriate registry is contacted and the owner notified. Though several companies produce the microchips, universal scanners can read all microchips.

Disadvantages of Microchipping:

  • The person who finds the dog may not know about microchips or where to take a dog to be scanned. (You should take a lost dog to a veterinarian or a shelter to be scanned.)
  • When you move, you must remember to update your contact information with the registry.
  • Because it is hidden, a microchip is not the most effective ID method if used alone. Use in conjunction with collars and tags and/or tattooing to provide the most comprehensive protection.

Helpful Hints to Avoid Lost Pets

  • Do not let your dog roam. Unleashed, unsupervised dogs are vulnerable to traffic, attacks from other dogs, theft, and abuse. Walking your dog on a leash and keeping him in a secure yard are simple ways to greatly reduce the chance that your dog will run off.
  • Neuter or spay your dog. A neutered or spayed dog is less likely to wander.
  • Take proper care of your dog. Provide him with a safe, comfortable home; feed, walk, and water him adequately; and give him plenty of love and attention. Well-tended dogs have less reason to stray.
  • Just in case: Make sure you always have a current color picture of your dog and a record of her height, weight, coloring, and distinguishing marks. This will make the search for a lost pet easier.

Introducing Pets to a New Dog

By On July 22, 2018

From "the leader of the pack" to "the top dog," plenty of simplistic metaphors come from the canine world. But relationships between canines can be pretty complex, beginning with the very first meeting. Like most animals who live in groups, dogs establish their own social structure, sometimes called a dominance hierarchy. This dominance hierarchy serves to maintain order, reduce conflict and promote cooperation among pack members. Dogs also establish territories, which they may defend against intruders or rivals. Obviously, dogs' social and territorial nature affects their behavior whenever a new dog is introduced to the household.

Introduction Techniques:

  • Choose A Neutral Location Introduce the dogs in a neutral location so that your resident dog is less likely to view the newcomer as a territorial intruder. Each dog should be handled by a separate person. With both dogs on leashes, begin the introductions in an area unfamiliar to each, such as a park or a neighbor's yard. If you frequently walk your resident dog in a nearby park, she may view that area as her territory, too, so choose a less familiar site. If you are adopting your dog from an animal shelter, you might even bring your resident dog to the local shelter and introduce the two there.
  • Use Positive Reinforcement From the first meeting, help both dogs experience "good things" when they're in each other's presence. Let them sniff each other briefly, which is normal canine greeting behavior. As they do, talk to them in a happy, friendly tone of voice; never use a threatening tone. (Don't allow them to investigate and sniff each other for too long, however, as this may escalate to an aggressive response.) After a short time, get the attention of both dogs and give each a treat in return for obeying a simple command, such as "sit" or "stay." Take the dogs for a walk and let them sniff and investigate each other at intervals. Continue with the "happy talk," food rewards, and simple commands.
  • Be Aware of Body Postures One body posture that indicates things are going well is a "play-bow." One dog will crouch with her front legs on the ground and her hind end in the air. This is an invitation to play, and a posture that usually elicits friendly behavior from the other dog. Watch carefully for body postures that indicate an aggressive response, including hair standing up on one dog's back, teeth-baring, deep growls, a stiff-legged gait, or a prolonged stare. If you see such postures, interrupt the interaction immediately by calmly getting each dog interested in something else. For example, both handlers can call their dogs to them, have them sit or lie down, and reward each with a treat. The dogs' interest in the treats should prevent the situation from escalating into aggression. Try letting the dogs interact again, but this time for a shorter time period and/or at a greater distance from each other.
  • Taking the Dogs Home When the dogs seem to be tolerating each other's presence without fearful or aggressive responses, and the investigative greeting behaviors have tapered off, you can take them home. Whether you choose to take them in the same vehicle will depend on their size, how well they ride in the car, how trouble-free the initial introduction has been, and how many dogs are involved.
If you have more than one resident dog in your household, it may be best to introduce the resident dogs to the new dog one at a time. Two or more resident dogs may have a tendency to "gang up" on the newcomer.
It is important to support the dominant dog in your household, even if that turns out to be the newcomer. This may mean, for example, allowing the dominant dog to claim a favored sleeping spot as his or to have access to a desirable toy. Trying to impose your preference for which dog should be dominant can confuse the dogs and create further problems.

Introducing Puppies to Adult Dogs

Puppies usually pester adult dogs unmercifully. Before the age of four months, puppies may not recognize subtle body postures from adult dogs signaling that they've had enough. Well-socialized adult dogs with good temperaments may set limits with puppies with a warning growl or snarl. These behaviors are normal and should be allowed. Adult dogs who aren't well-socialized, or who have a history of fighting with other dogs, may attempt to set limits with more aggressive behaviors, such as biting, which could harm the puppy. For this reason, a puppy shouldn't be left alone with an adult dog until you're confident the puppy isn't in any danger. Be sure to give the adult dog some quiet time away from the puppy, and some extra individual attention as well.

When to Get Help

If the introductions don't go smoothly, contact a professional animal behaviorist immediately. Dogs can be severely injured in fights, and the longer the problem continues, the harder it can be to resolve. Punishment won't work, and could make things worse. Fortunately, most conflicts between dogs in the same family can be resolved with professional guidance.

Dog Park Dangers: 5 Considerations Before Visiting a Dog Park

By On July 22, 2018

Dog parks can be a great way to socialize your dog and get it some much-needed exercise. But hold off on loading your dog in the car just yet! It is best to know the potential dangers associated with dog parks before making the trip. Here are five dog park dangers to consider before venturing out.

Dog parks are becoming more and more popular throughout big cities. They give owners the opportunity to let their dogs play off leash -- especially helpful if owners live in the city -- and dogs are able to socialize and play in an enclosed environment. The overall idea is a good one; however, it doesn't account for dog (and owner!) temperaments. Before taking your pet to the dog park, consider these five dog park precautions.

1. Aggressive Dogs

One of the main troubles about going to a dog park is not knowing the temperaments of the other dogs. Your dog might be friendly, but that doesn't mean other dogs won't still be aggressive. Dog fights are a common concern in dog parks, and rightfully so. Although there is no way of knowing for sure if the other dogs are going to be aggressive, there are a few ways to prepare in advance before bringing your dog into a new environment.
First, visit the dog park without your pet. Observe the overall atmosphere, and visit at different times of day to see when it is the busiest. If your dog is new to the dog park, make sure to go during off hours, when there aren't as many dogs. That way, you'll have more control over your pet and the surrounding dogs.
Also, make sure the dogs in the dog park aren't in pack mentality. If owners are bringing their dogs at the same time of the day each day, their dogs know each other and have most likely formed a bond. By bringing a new dog into the mix, the pack might become aggressive to the newcomer, much like any pack of animals. If you see dogs running in a large group, try bringing your dog at a different time of the day to avoid any confrontation.

2. Irresponsible Owners

Oftentimes, a dog is the result of its owner. This can be good or bad. Whereas a well-trained dog likely has a responsible owner, an out-of-control dog might have an owner who is less likely to take responsibility for the dog's actions. Dog owners should know their pets well enough to decide whether or not the dog park is the right place for their dog.
Many irresponsible pet owners think that they can simply bring their pet to the dog park and let it loose, regardless of the dog's temperament. Dog owners should be aware of where there dog is at all times within the dog park, but in some cases, once the dog is off leash, the owner no longer pays attention to what the dog is doing. If issues arise, it's best to leave the park rather than get into a confrontation with another owner over which dog is in the wrong.

3. Transmitted Diseases

While your dog should always be up-to-date on its vaccinations, it is especially important that your dog is fully vaccinated before making a trip to the dog park. Diseases can be found in soil, water, and even air, so maintaining your pet's vaccinations is incredibly important. Talk to your vet before going to the dog park, and make sure your dog has all of the vaccinations it needs. It might need additional vaccinations since it will frequently be in contact with other dogs.
Dogs need to stay hydrated while at the dog park, but the water dishes can harbor all sorts of bad bacteria. Bring your own water bowl so your dog can get a quick drink without the added dangers.
Also, make sure your pet is neutered or spayed before visiting the dog park. Not only are unaltered dogs typically more aggressive than their spayed/neutered counterparts, but you also don't want to end up with a litter of puppies a few months after the dog park visit!
TIP: Make sure to bring a bag to clean up after your dog. Some parks offer a bag station, but bring your own just in case the station hasn't been restocked.

4. Doggie Division

A dog park that allows all sizes of dogs should be entered with caution. Many dog parks have a separate area where only smaller breeds are allowed. This gives you the option to bring your smaller breed into the larger area, but still gives your pet a safe option to steer clear of the bigger dogs. It should be noted that an altercation between a small dog and a big dog could result in fatality.
The main goal is to keep your dog safe -- and chances are, your dog will have fun regardless of whether its in the big dog area or not! If your small dog prefers to play with bigger dogs or vice versa, consider setting up playdates with other owners so your dogs can be monitored in a more confined setting.

5. Cost and Maintenance

Though not necessarily a danger, most dog parks cost money to attend. Depending on the location, dog parks require licenses and current immunization records. However, if there isn't someone regulating the dog park, you might wind up with dogs that are not currently licensed for that city or are not up-to-date on their vaccinations, which can be dangerous to your dog.
Also, regular maintenance to a dog park is necessary so your dog is safe in the environment. If you frequent a dog park, make it a habit to walk the perimeter to make sure there are no potential escape routes.
Dog parks can be a fun way for your pet to get out and explore with other canines. By knowing these common dog park dangers and taking care of any issues before they arise, you can help keep your dog, yourself, and others safe!

Escaping dog

By On July 22, 2018

Does your dog's ability to escape from the back yard have you convinced that he's nothing less than a hairy Houdini? Your never-ending attempts to keep your pet confined to your yard may seem comical at times, but every escape opens up the possibility of tragic consequences. If your dog is running loose, he's in danger of being hit by a car, injured in a fight with another dog, or hurt in any number of other ways. You're also liable for any damage or injury your dog may cause, and you may be required to pay a fine if he's picked up by an animal control agency. To prevent escapes, you'll need to find out how your dog is getting out of the yard, and more importantly, why he's so determined to get out.

Why Dogs Escape

Your dog may be escaping because he's bored and lonely, especially if...
  • He is left alone for long periods of time without opportunities for interaction with you.
  • His environment is relatively barren, without playmates or toys.
  • He is a puppy or adolescent (under three years old) and doesn't have other outlets for his energy.
  • He is a particularly active type of dog (like the herding or sporting breeds) who needs an active "job" in order to be happy.
  • He visits places after each escape that provide him with interaction and fun things to do. For example, he may go play with a neighbor's dog or visit the local school yard to play with the children.


We recommend expanding your dog's world and increasing his "people time" in the following ways:
  • Walk your dog daily. It's good exercise, both mentally and physically (for both of you!).
  • Teach your dog to fetch a ball or Frisbee¿ and practice with him as often as possible.
  • Teach your dog a few commands or tricks. Try to hold a lesson every day for five to ten minutes.
  • Take an obedience class with your dog and practice what you've learned every day.
  • Provide interesting toys (Kong¿-type toys filled with treats or busy-box toys) to keep your dog busy when you're not home.
  • Rotate your dog's toys to make them seem new and interesting.
  • Keep your dog inside when you're unable to supervise him. (This will also keep him safe and prevent any possibility of his being stolen from your yard.)
  • If you must be away from home for extended periods of time, take your dog to work with you or to a "doggie day care center," or ask a friend or neighbor to walk your dog.

Sexual Roaming

Dogs become sexually mature at around six months of age. Like a teenager first feeling the surge of hormones, an intact male dog has a strong, natural drive to seek out females. As you can imagine, it can be difficult to prevent an intact dog from escaping when his motivation to do so is very high.


  • Have your male dog neutered. Studies show that neutering will decrease sexual roaming in about 90% of cases. If an intact male has established a pattern of escaping, he may continue to do so even after he's neutered, which is even more reason to have him neutered as soon as possible.
  • Have your female dog spayed. If your intact female dog escapes your yard while she's in heat, she'll probably get pregnant (and she could be impregnated even if she stays in your yard). Millions of unwanted pets are euthanized every year. Please don't contribute to the pet overpopulation problem by allowing your female dog to breed indiscriminately.

Fears and Phobias

Your dog may be escaping out of fear, especially if he's exposed to loud noises, such as thunderstorms, firecrackers, or construction sounds.


  • Identify what is frightening your dog and desensitize him to it. You may need to seek out the help of a professional trainer, or talk to your veterinarian about anti-anxiety medications that might help your dog while you work on behavior modification.
  • Keep your dog indoors if there's any chance he may encounter the fear stimulus outside. You can even mute outside noises by creating a comfortable spot in a basement or windowless bathroom and turning on a television, radio, or loud fan.
  • Provide a "safe place" for your dog. Observe where he likes to go when he feels anxious, then allow access to that space, or create a similar space for him to use when the fear stimulus is present.

Separation Anxiety

Your dog may be trying to escape due to "separation anxiety" if:
  • He escapes as soon as, or shortly after, you leave.
  • He displays other behaviors that reflect a strong attachment to you, such as following you around, greeting you wildly, or reacting anxiously to your preparations to leave.
  • He remains near your home after he's escaped.
Factors that can precipitate a separation anxiety problem:
  • Your family's schedule has changed, and that has resulted in your dog being left alone more often.
  • Your family has recently moved to a new house.
  • Your family has experienced the death or loss of a family member or another family pet.
  • Your dog has recently spent time at an animal shelter or boarding kennel.


Assuming your dog has been correctly diagnosed as suffering from separation anxiety, the problem can be resolved using counter-conditioning and desensitization techniques.

How Dogs Escape

Some dogs jump fences, but most actually climb them, using some part of the fence to push off from. A dog may also dig under the fence, chew through the fence, learn to open a gate, or use any combination of these methods to get out of the yard. Knowing how your dog gets out will help you to modify your yard. But until you know why your dog wants to escape, and you can decrease his motivation for doing so, the recommendations below won't be nearly as effective.

Recommendations for Preventing Escape:

  • For climbing/jumping dogs: Add an extension to your fence. It's not so important that the extension make the fence much higher, as long as it tilts inward at about a 45-degree angle. Be certain there are no structures placed near the fence, such as a table or chair or dog house, that your dog could use as a springboard to jump over the fence.
  • For digging dogs: Bury chicken wire at the base of your fence (with the sharp edges rolled inward), place large rocks at the base, or lay chain-link fencing on the ground.
  • Never chain or otherwise tether your dog to a stationary object as a means of keeping him confined. Tethering is not only cruel, but it leads to aggressive behavior in dogs.


  • Never correct your dog after he's already left the yard. Dogs associate punishment with what they're doing at the time they're punished. Punishing your dog after the fact won't eliminate the escaping behavior, but will probably make him afraid to come to you.
  • Never correct your dog if the escaping is related to fear or is due to separation anxiety. Punishing a fearful response will only make your dog more afraid, and make the problem worse. In addition, avoid inadvertently reinforcing a fearful behavior¿such as petting a frightened dog and saying, "It's okay."
  • Only correct your dog if you can administer correction at the moment your dog is escaping, and only if he doesn't associate the correction with you. If you can squirt him with a hose or make a loud noise as he is going over, under, or through the fence, it might be unpleasant enough that he won't want to do it again. If he realizes that you made the noise or squirted the water, however, he'll simply refrain from escaping when you're around. This type of correction is difficult to administer effectively, and won't resolve the problem if used by itself.
You must also give your dog less reason to escape and make it more difficult for him to do so. Ultimately, that is how you'll put a permanent stop to that "Hairy Houdini" act.

13 Dog Park Etiquette Rules

By On July 22, 2018

Here are rules every pet owner should follow when taking their pet to a dog park.
Taking your pooch to a dog park is a great way to provide your pet with physical and mental stimulation. At a dog park, your dog can have valuable free time off leash and play with other canines who live nearby. And, because dog parks are springing up across the country, there's probably at least one located close to your home.
Every dog park has its own set of regulations, but here are some basic rules.

Before You Go

  1. Choose the right park. Look for a dog park that has training tools such as teeter-totters, A-frames, and weave poles scattered about. A bare, open field is fine since most dogs are content to wrestle and play with their friends, but it will be more stimulating for your dog if there are other challenges to tackle while it's at the park. Taking your dog to an open field day after day isn't a whole lot different than taking your kids to an empty parking lot to play. They'll always find something to do, but they won't be as happy without things to climb on or over.
  2. Neuter/spay your pet. Before you bring your dog to the park, neuter or spay your pet. Unneutered males can become bossy and/or aggressive, especially with other male dogs they don't know. And female dogs in estrus will cause all sorts of chaos with male dogs and even other females.
  3. Make sure shots are up-to-date. Before you expose your pet to other dogs at a dog park, be sure your pet is up-to-date on all its inoculations.
  4. Update identification. Make sure your pet has identification firmly attached to its collar. Even though it's in a fenced enclosure, it's still important to have proper identification just in case your pet gets loose. Plus, some dogs look alike and you don't want your pet to go home with the wrong owner. If there's a pack of black Labrador retrievers playing together, someone might grab the wrong dog if they aren't paying close attention.
  5. Train before you go. The key command your dog should know before you take him to a dog park is "come." You want your dog to immediately return to your side when you call. The last thing you want to spend time doing at the dog park is chasing Fido around when it's time to leave.
  6. Keep puppies at home. Never bring a puppy that's younger than four months old to a public dog park. At that age, their vaccinations are not yet complete, and they could be susceptible to diseases. Also, young puppies might be frightened by large, active canines.

Once You Arrive

  1. Learn the rules. Read and follow the rules of each dog park before you walk in. Different dog parks often have different rules and some might charge a fee or expect you to volunteer some time each week to keep it in good shape. So, know the ground rules before you go.
  2. Check the fence. Visit dog parks that are completely and tightly fenced. Once your dog is off leash, you don't want it sneaking under a fence or through an open gate where it could be hit by a car. Before you turn your dog loose, walk the perimeter to check for escape routes. This is especially important if you have a small or timid dog that might look for a quick exit.
  3. Survey the park. Before you turn your dog loose, check out the canine crowd. If the park is overcrowded or if there are a lot of wild, unsupervised dogs running about, you might want to come back at a calmer time. The best time to visit a dog park is when all the other canines are in a calm but playful mood.
  4. Take care with small dogs. If you have a toy breed or an elderly dog, look for a dog park that has a separate fenced area for more fragile breeds. That way your pet can frolic with dogs its own size instead of getting ruffed up by bigger, heavier breeds. Check out these popular small dog breeds.
  5. Be a responsible owner. Always pick up your dog's waste. Many parks have plastic bags available for you to use, but bring your own bags just in case. Not removing your dog's waste is rude and might cause you to be permanently banned from the dog park.
  6. Watch your dog. Dog parks are a perfect place to socialize with other pet owners, but don't ignore your dog. Always keep an eye on it to make sure it's not being bullied (or being a bully). Enjoying the dog park with your pet should be a time of bonding, not a time to relinquish your ownership duties.
  7. Bring refreshments. Most dog parks provide access to fresh, clean water for your pet, but it's still smart to bring a collapsible dog bowl with your own fresh water just in case. Dogs can overheat quickly during the summer, so be sure to have a water supply handy. And don't forget your dog's favorite treats, especially if you are practicing basic obedience at the park.

Caring for Older Dogs

By On July 22, 2018

Older dogs can enjoy a comfortable life into their advanced years. Here's how to help.
Pad Your Dog's Comfort Zone Just like humans, older dogs aren't as sure-footed as they used to be and might become arthritic as they age. Adapt the indoors for their less agile senior feet.
  • Short nails improve your dog's grip on bare floors.
  • Nonskid pads under rugs will help prevent falls.
  • Steep stairs can lead to bone-breaking accidents. Block them off to canine traffic.
  • Elevated food and water bowls make it easier for your dog to eat.
  • An insulated, cushioned bed makes it more comfortable for your dog to sleep by pampering its stiff joints and hips.
  • A portable, adjustable dog ramp lets your dog climb on and off furniture with ease. The ramp also makes it easier for your dog to get in and out of a car or truck.
Editor's TipGetting older doesn't have to mean that your dog needs to slow down or avoid climbing stairs and going on walks. Sometimes the slowness is due to joint pain, which can be managed. Talk to your vet if you suspect canine arthritis.
Maintain a Regular Routine Mealtimes, rests, walks, and play at the usual times comfort your dog as it ages. But adjust these routines to suit your pooch.
  • Chances are your dog doesn't need as much food as when it was younger and more energetic. Overfeeding can shorten your dog's life by making it obese and causing related health problems. Extra weight also puts more stress on arthritic joints. Talk to your vet if you need guidance on how much to feed your pooch.
  • Give your older dog regular exercise, but possibly scale it back or choose a low-impact version to suit its abilities. Keep up the daily walks, for example, but make them shorter and/or slower.
  • Try to avoid disruptions in your dog's daily schedule. A strange environment might disorient your pooch and cause stress. So consider how travel impacts your senior dog before including it in your road trip plans.
Keep Your Canine Cool Senior dogs don't tolerate extreme temperatures very well. Here are some tips for keeping them comfy during hot weather.
  • Let your dog chill out indoors during heat waves.
  • Never leave your elderly dog outside unsupervised on hot days.
  • Provide plenty of water to keep your dog hydrated. A few ice cubes keep water colder longer.
  • When playing, coax your senior dog to take a cooldown break in a shady spot.
  • Schedule outdoor exercise and play for cooler hours of the day: before sunrise or after sunset.
  • Encourage big gulps of water and siestas after sun-drenched outings.
  • Increase the number of shady dog oases in your yard for warm-weather lounging.
  • If your dog's activity dwindles as summer heat builds, it will eat less than in colder seasons. Adjust kibble portions to suit its appetite.
  • If your dog loses weight or you notice other indications of illness, be sure to call your vet.
Editor's Tip: In cold weather, set up your dog's bed in toasty places away from drafts.
Keep Up Your Older Dog's Appearance A well-groomed dog is a happy dog, regardless of age.
  • Maintain your dog's good health and appearance with regular nail, dental, ear, and skin grooming.
  • Brush your dog frequently. Not only will it keep its coat in better shape, the brushing will be relaxing for both of you.
  • Continue to give your dog regular baths. Just be sure to dry your dog off thoroughly so it doesn't get chilled.
  • Keep your dog free from fleas and ticks by applying a topical flea-and-tick preventative every month and maintaining a clean environment.
See the Vet for Regular Exams Find a vet you trust, and then let this medical professional help preserve and even improve your dog's golden years with regular medical exams. The vet will check for vision and hearing loss, as well as heart disease, and take blood to monitor the liver, kidneys, and pancreas.
It's also important to take care of your dog's dental health. Many vets recommend that you brush your dog's teeth every day. Your vet will let you know if your dog needs to have its teeth professionally cleaned.
Editor's Tip: No one knows your dog better than you do. Educate yourself about health problems that affect senior canines. You might notice symptoms in between appointments that should be brought to your vet's attention.
Watch for Warning Signs Keep in mind that the health problems experienced by senior dogs will vary based on the breed, size, weight, activity level, and quality of care. Watch for these signs and symptoms while remembering that they don't always mean your dog has a serious condition. Let your dog be examined by a vet to get a professional diagnosis.
  • Unexplained weight gain or loss
  • Increased thirst and urination
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Increased thirst or incontinence
  • Lumps, bumps, or growths
  • Unusual discharge from the nose, eyes, or other body openings
  • Bad breath
  • Changes in coat quality
  • Seizures
  • Coughing
  • Weakness, lameness, difficulty rising, or change in activity level
  • Abnormally colored gums
  • Behavior changes such as aggressiveness, extreme lethargy, or confusion
  • Cloudy eyes