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Combating Cabin Fever How to keep your dogs (and you) from going stir crazy in wintertime.

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beagle at window

When winter’s cold weather is punctuated with seemingly endless bouts of heavy snow and pelting rain and we’re stuck indoors, it’s understandable that we start suffering from cabin fever. And it’s no surprise that our dogs often feel the same way, too.

Getting outside is not only about bracing the cold for potty breaks, it’s important in keeping dogs well exercised. When the weather is such a challenge, it’s a good idea to introduce more walks in a day, each for a shorter time. This way, your pooch will get his normal exercise without being exposed to the elements for long periods. If you are lucky enough to have a pet-friendly indoor mall in your area, it is a great place to go for your daily exercise. Window-shopping never gets boring.

Playtime at Paws & Pals!

Playtime at Paws & Pals!

Dogs are very social creatures and, no doubt, many would enjoy doggie daycare sessions. This is another great cold weather alternative because, apart from the safe and organized play supervised by pet care attendants, simply hanging with other dogs will ensure your pooch gets plenty of physical and mental stimulation.

You can beat winter boredom and rev up your dog’s energy levels by playing indoor games at home, too. For ball-obsessed dogs, it’s all about the ball; not necessarily where the game is played. Let’s face it; such a dog will play fetch just about anywhere. It’s just a matter of remembering to roll the ball instead of throwing it in order to protect electronics and furniture. In addition, if you happen to live in a two-story home, you can add another level to the game by rolling the ball down the stairs.

Canine board games such as the Buster Activity Mat and puzzle toys such as those created by Nina Ottosson really challenge dogs and offer great mental and physical stimulation. Board games and puzzles involve hiding treats or small toys and allowing your dog to extricate them. In fact, behaviorists say that 10 minutes of such mental play is the equivalent of 45 minutes of active play.

Finally, don’t forget doggie play dates at another dog’s home. Canines enjoy new environments with a friend the same way kids do. In the end, don’t let the winter slow you down too much.  The key is to get up and moving with your furry friend while having some fun together!



Article source: Animal Behavior College

7 Signs Your Dog Needs More Mental Stimulation

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naughty dog

Have you ever wondered why your dog still destroys your shoes, even after a two-mile doggy run? Many dog owners worry about whether or not their dog is getting enough physical exercise, but they completely forget about mental exercise. If your dog is displaying any of the signs below, he may be in desperate need of some mental stimulation such as daycare, training, activity toys, games, etc.

#1 – Can’t Settle

Does your dog whine, pace, or get up from his resting position every few minutes? Dogs that just can’t settle, even after physical exercise, are suffering from a brain that just won’t be quiet. Exercising their brain will help them relax and finally settle down.

#2 – Destroys Things

If your dog is shredding, chewing, tearing, and ripping your belongings, no matter how many runs you take him on a day, then he probably needs to wear out that brain. Give him an activity toy that he can “tear” into or a puzzle to solve (hiding toys is great!).

#3 – Tail Chasing

Some dogs become obsessed with chasing their tail. Often it’s herding breeds such as the Border Collie, but any dog can become a tail chaser. Give your dog something else to do with her mind, and she’ll stop the chase (barring any medical conditions). Things like teaching her to herd a ball into a net or trick training can help.

#4 – Barks at Everything

This is the dog that acts like she’s “looking for trouble” — everything’s a threat, including the imaginary bunny in the corner or you walking through the door. Training is definitely a must for these dogs, but so is giving them something else to do with their brain other than making up threats. Give them a job to do – such as when the doorbell rings she needs to find her mat and go lay down – to help ease her mind.

#5 – Digging

Has your dog dug a hole to China in the backyard? Again, this is usually a boredom behavior. Give your dog something to do in the backyard that uses their brain and they will be less likely to dig up your petunias. Some pet parents actually give their dog a sand box to dig in and bury things for them to find – this uses mental and physical energy!

#6 – Sleeps A Lot

You may think this is a good thing, but it can be a sign your dog is bored and it’s definitely not healthy. If your dog sleeps more than your cat, you probably should break out some activity toys.

#7 – Whines

If your dog is whining for what seems like no reason (you’ve ruled out pain, fear, stress, attention, etc.), he may be bored. Think back to when you were a kid – what did you do when you were bored? You whined to your parents! Your dog is doing the same thing. Wait until he is quiet, and then give him something to do like an activity toy or play a game with him.

Article source:
Written by Kristina Lotz

To Dog Park or Not to Dog Park?

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off-leashThat is the question I am asked in every class. That the question even has to be asked is somewhat comforting. Dog owners everywhere seem to have an inherent mistrust of the idea that a bunch of dogs they don’t know will be racing around untethered by leash or human. Can they be trusted?

The consensus among dog trainers is surprising. While most will tell their clients to proceed with caution, most professionals will not take their dogs to off leash parks. The reasons are varied, but they come down to two main things; first, that the trainer is spending enough time exercising and mentally stimulating his or her dogs to make dog parks unnecessary and second, dog parks can be dangerous. The second idea is the focus of this article.

Until recently, I was a “let them work it out” dog trainer. I was taught, many years ago, that in a stable environment, dogs will set their own hierarchy and we should not get involved. I still believe this holds true in some situations. However, a dog park is not a stable environment. Far from it. Dog park hierarchy is so changeable as to be completely irrelevant. And new research is being done all the time on what healthy canine interactions look like and what they absolutely do not look like. My views have accordingly changed with the latest research.

To answer the question of whether the dog park is safe for your dog, I’ve broken the question down into what we know about off leash environments and what we don’t.

What we know – we absolutely know that the environment will change, sometimes continuously while we are at the park. Dogs will come and leave. Dogs will run by. Some will have toys, and some owners will be carrying treats. We also know that the dogs will be off leash, which means we might have a hard time controlling them.

What we can’t know – we won’t know the education level of either the dogs at the park or, more importantly, their owners. Have they been through an obedience class? We also cannot know how two dogs will get along until they do – or don’t.

Because of what we can’t know, my answer is that I do not recommend dog parks for socialization purposes anymore. I think that the risks, more often than not, outweigh the gains.

Having said that, I know that for a many owners dog parks are the only way their dogs get exercise. Off-leash parks are convenient and easy, and people are still going to use them. So with that in mind, here’s my best advice for going to a dog park.

  • Go with someone else. If your dog has a ready-made “pack” and good friend along, it’s a bit more unlikely that he/she would be bullied. But with a friend or without, it’s extremely important to;
  • Keep Moving. Dog parks are not places to sit around on lawn chairs and talk to your friends while your dog roams the park alone. They are meant for owners and dogs to interact, which is why almost all of them have paths clearly marked. Don’t congregate in the middle of the park, giving your dog (or someone else’s) something to guard (a spot, a toy, a stick, you). Keep moving – your dog will likely stay with you.
  • “Thin the herd.” Visit the dog park outside of peak times. Try to visit early in the morning or later in the evenings, avoiding Saturdays and Sundays in the middle of the day. And finally;
  • Watch for and interrupt:
  • Two or more dogs chasing another – when one dog is chasing another, then they come back with roles reversed, this is healthy play.
  • Two or more against one – the same rules that apply to chase apply to wrestling. There should be give and take.
  • Pinning – this is not willing submission. If a puppy rolls on its back to show submission, that’s a choice. If that same puppy is being held down by a larger dog, it is bullying.
  • Rolling – this is often seen during chase, if two dogs are chasing one. But it can also happen in unhealthy play with only two dogs involved.
  • Yelping – pay special attention here if the dog being yelped at does not respond to this signal. One yelp with the bully backing off is very different than prolonged and repeated yelping with no response from the bully.
  • Hiding or hovering – tables, chairs, your legs, wherever they can. If you see this behavior consistently, your dog is likely over their threshold for tolerating the park at this time.
  • Tail tucked – this is a submissive and fearful response. If your dog is displaying this with every dog he/she meets, the dog park may not be for you right now


If you are unsure whether something is healthy play between dogs, feel free to take your dog and leave the park. Erring on the side of caution is never wrong. For more information on the body language of dogs and on healthy play, Sue Sternberg is an excellent resource. Her video on Dog Park Behavior can be accessed through YouTube.


Christi Blaskowski, CPDT-KA
Unleashed Behavior and Training Services

5 Things People Do that Make Dogs Uncomfortable

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Dogs are known for being pretty tolerant, easy-going creatures, but there are certain things that can bother even the most docile of pups. Your intentions may be good when giving a dog a hug or patting a pooch on the head, but some canines don’t appreciate these actions and they can result in fearful or aggressive behavior. Below are five things not to do that often make dogs uncomfortable:

1. Hug a strange dog: Dogs don’t express affection in the same ways that humans do. While some dogs will tolerate hugs from their own family, a hug from a stranger can be interpreted as threatening. If a dog tenses up or disengages from your hug, he’s clearly uncomfortable.

2. Pet a dog on the head: Reaching for the top of a dog’s head can be a recipe for disaster. If it’s a dog you haven’t met before, let him greet you first and then opt for a chest rub instead of a head pat.

3. Make direct eye contact: While people may see eye contact as a sign of connection or good communication, dogs can perceive it as a threat. Be aware that eye contact is a sign of dominance in the canine world.

4. Put your face right in their face: People often do this to express affection, but this behavior can be intimidating and make a dog tense and uncomfortable.

5. Expose a dog to a noisy environment: A dog’s hearing is at least twice as sensitive to that of a human, making noisy situations uncomfortable and sometimes anxiety inducing. So think twice before turning that music way up or exposing your canine companion to a large get-together. If your dog is especially anxious, a calming supplement may help.

Article from: VetDepot

Protect Your Dog from These 5 Dangerous BBQ Foods!

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When the sun’s out and the days are long, there’s nothing better than a backyard barbeque with family and friends. While sharing a bite or two of grilled chicken breast or watermelon with your dog is usually fine in moderation, there are some barbeque foods that can be downright dangerous. Be sure to keep the following 5 foods away from Fido:

1. Ribs: Any meat on a bone is a recipe for disaster for dogs. It’s likely your dog will want to chew on that bone when the rib meat is gone, which can cause choking or severe injury if the bone splinters and punctures the digestive track.

2. Corn on the cob: Dogs don’t know to chew the kernels of corn off and leave the rest. The large cob can cause a dangerous intestinal blockage if swallowed in big pieces.

3. Too much fatty meat: While hamburger meat and steak isn’t toxic for dogs, ingestion of too much of these fatty meats can result in pancreatitis. Symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal pain.

4. Onion: Whether it’s being used as a burger garnish or chopped up in that guacamole, onion is a “no” for dogs. Ingestion can lead to gastrointestinal upset, an elevated heart rate, and even red blood cell damage.

5. Dessert: From fruit salad to brownies, there are a lot of doggie dangers lurking on the dessert table. It’s not known exactly why, but the ingestion of grapes can cause kidney failure in dogs. Most pet parents are also aware that anything chocolatey poses a danger because of the harmful compound, theobromine, which can lead to muscle tremors and heart arrhythmia. Sugar-free desserts containing xylitol are extremely dangerous for dogs and can have fatal consequences.

If you want to make sure your pup has a safe snack while everyone else is digging in, be sure to have some healthy dog treats on hand.

Article from VetDepot

5 Things Your Dog Wants from You

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If your dog could dream up the perfect life, you might think it involves a lifetime supply of treats and endless trips to the dog park. While these things may be on your dog’s wish list, most canines crave simple things that make them feel loved, happy, and stable. Below are five things your dog really wants:

If your dog could dream up the perfect life, you might think it involves a lifetime supply of treats and endless trips to the dog park. While these things may be on your dog’s wish list, most canines crave simple things that make them feel loved, happy, and stable. Below are five things your dog really wants:

1. Guidance: No dog wants to be yelled at for using the rug as a potty spot or chewing up your favorite pair of shoes, but canines don’t instinctively know not to do these things. Setting consistent boundaries early in life and committing to training will not only boost your dog’s confidence and happiness, but it will also strengthen the bond you two have with each other.

2. Stimulation: Dogs may not be able to ask for it with words, but they need both physical and mental activity to ward off boredom and undesirable behaviors. Regular walks, daycare, hikes, runs, or games of fetch are all great options to get your canine companion moving. Training sessions, agility activities, and puzzle toys are good ways to keep your dog’s mind sharp.

3. Consistency: Your dog doesn’t want to tag along on your emotional rollercoaster. It can be confusing if you come home one day in a great mood and super grumpy the next. While it’s natural for your days to differ and your moods to change, try to keep your reaction to your dog the same. Dogs need a leader who’s cool, calm, and collected. Consistency applies to a lot of other areas of dog ownership too, including feeding schedules and house rules. When you keep things consistent, you’re giving your dog the best chance to thrive.

4. Socialization: When dogs are exposed to a variety of people, other canines, and situations, they’re less likely to feel fearful or aggressive. If possible, start this exposure at a young age and keep it consistent. Puppy classes and daycare are great ways to accomplish this. Keep in mind that even with the best attempts at socialization, every dog is different and may not have the same level of comfort around other dogs and people. Tailor the socialization to your pup’s individual needs. For canines that don’t do well at the dog park, opt for walks or agility classes instead.

5. Attention to health: Your dog may not know the meaning of a healthy body weight or arthritic joints, but he does know what it’s like to feel good and energetic. Keep up with your canine companion’s health by committing to regular vet checkups, opting for a healthy dog food, keeping up with flea control, and not neglecting things like dental care. A healthy dog is a happy dog.


By VetDepot

5 reasons why having a dog is good for your health. 

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Though we always knew it in our hearts, recent studies have shown that owning a dog – and just being around one – can be great for your health! Read on to discover all of the incredible health benefits that can come with owning a pet. Read on to discover all of the incredible health benefits that can come with owning a pet.

1. Dogs improve our mood and reduce stress
For many of us, it is clear that being around dogs, especially our own, makes us happy and can instantly improve our mood. It has been proven that just looking into a dog’s eye can increase serotonin levels, the happy chemical in both a human and dogs! Interaction between human and dog also been proven to decrease cortisol, the stress chemical.

2. Dog owners are more fit
People with dogs tend to be more physically active and less obese than people who don’t. Dogs need and enjoy exercise, which is great for those who need some encouragement getting some exercise in. Walking, running, hiking, playing fetch, and even dogs are all ways dogs love to get their exercise – which means dog lovers can be encouraged to stay active every day.

3. Dogs keep blood pressure in check
The simple act of petting an animal-or even gazing at an aquarium-results in a drop in blood pressure. And pets can have a longer-term impact on the cardiovascular system, too, as researchers discovered when they tracked 24 hypertensive stockbrokers who adopted a cat or dog. Pet ownership blunted the blood pressure response to mental stress; the traditionally prescribed hypertension drug did not.

4. Dogs reduce risk of allergies, asthma, and eczema
People with allergies produce antibodies – which can cause inflammation in the airways (asthma) or the skin (eczema) – in response to irritants like dander and saliva. But exposure to a pet during infancy may mean less chance of developing such reactions in adulthood – possibly, scientists speculate, because the immune system becomes desensitized to allergens. What’s more impressive is that this immune-stabilizing effect appears to begin before birth. A 2008 study showed that prenatal pet exposure lowers allergic antibody production in the umbilical cord.

5. Dogs make us less lonely!
The elderly, sick, singles living on their own, and even homesick travelers can benefit from having a dog as a companion. Dogs get them out of the house, make a good conversation starter, and promote their capacity to build relationships.

It’s nice to reflect on how dogs are so good for our health and to feel deep gratitude for their presence in our lives.

Is Your Dog Singing the Back to School Blues?

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Is your dog singing the back to school blues? Back-to-school season is a time of transition for the whole family, as parents and children begin to adjust to a new routine. It’s also a difficult time for pets, who have grown accustomed to some extra attention during summer vacation. Dogs especially are extremely social and enjoy being around people.  Here are a few tips to make the adjustment easier for your pet!

  • Don’t make a big deal out of arrivals and departures. For example, when you arrive home, ignore your dog for the first few minutes then calmly pet him.
  • Get your pet use to being home alone. This is called “alone time” but should only be done in small increments of time to start with.  It is later extended until the school day ends and the kids are back at home.
  • Leave your dog with an article of clothing that smells like you, such as an old T-shirt that you’ve slept in recently.
  • Keep your pet active.  It has been proven that kids who walk their dogs have a stronger bond with their dogs. Remember also that a fast paced walk after school improves your pet’s health and gets rid of any excess  energy.
  • Add mental stimulation. To reduce boredom while the family is out, fill a treat-dispensing ball with your dog’s breakfast kibble; she’ll have to work to retrieve her meal – and will be so busy that she won’t notice you are gone.
  • Try daycare. Avoid long lonely days at home with doggie daycare, where dogs play together in a safe, supervised environment that is helpful for dogs of all ages, sizes and breeds.
  • Spend quality time with your pet when you are at home; include him/her in family activities ensuring your dog is still an important part of the family.
  • Try training. Working on a new trick each day will engage a dog intellectually and physically. A training class will not only refresh skills, but also give dogs time to socialize with canine friends.


Finally, a couple of weeks in advance, start leaving your dog home for short periods, gradually increasing alone time to the length of the school day. This will help reduce your dog’s separation anxiety and make for a smoother transition into your family’s new fall schedule.

Water and Your Dog

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dog drink water

Many dogs like to drink water from sources other than their fresh clean water bowls. The two most common places where dogs will drink from other than their bowl are the household toilet, and a foreign body of water (puddle, river, lake, etc). In most cases, drinking water from these sources will not harm your dog, but from time to time a dog can become ill if the waters contain certain types of organisms or hazardous chemicals.

Poisoning and Parasites

One danger is drinking from a body of water contaminated by parasites or bacteria, such as Giardia. Both are common in stagnant bodies of water, such as ponds, bogs and small lakes. You should be concerned if your dog shows the following symptoms after drinking from a stagnant water source:

Some weight loss, as a result of the diarrhea
Excessive gas, caused by the parasite

Prevention tips:
  • Provide fresh cold water at all times (may need to change it 2-4X daily)
  • Always bring fresh water sources with you if your pets are going to be around a lake or river.
  • If you see them drinking water from these sources direct their attention to their bowl of clean water.
  • Make sure bowls are placed in easy-to-access spots — one may place one bowl on each story of a multi-storied home, especially when pets are old, young, or have mobility problems such as arthritis.
  • Add ice cubes to the water in the bowl or use an insulated bowl to help keep the water cold.
  • Close doors to bathrooms and keep toilet lids down. One can even install childproof locks on the toilet lids for large, strong, or more determined pets.


Just like you, a dog’s body is around 80 percent water. This water is essential to help dissolve and carry substances throughout his body. It’s also the basis for most processes and chemical reactions that keep him healthy. Digestion, circulation, waste filtering, and body temperature regulation are just a few of the internal processes driven by water. If your dog is dehydrated, he can suffer kidney and heart damage, as well as other problems. As the summer’s dog days turn up the heat, ensure your best friend stays happy, healthy and hydrated with fresh, clean water.

National Pet Fire Safety Day

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According to the United States Fire Administration, an estimated half million pets are affected annually by fires. July 15th is National Pet Fire Safety Day, Paws & Pals would like to offer some tips to help you and your pet stay safe. We hope you will follow these important guidelines to help prevent disaster from harming that which is most precious to you, your family.

Develop a Plan for your Petfire-dog
  • Be sure that your dog and other pets are part of your organized evacuation plan. Rehearse your plan repeatedly with your family, including your dog.
  • Determine which family member will be responsible for each pet.
  • Know where your pets hide, as this may be the first place they go if there is a fire.
  • Assemble a dog disaster kit including: a supply of your dog’s kibble and treats, water, vaccination records and medications, emergency contact information including your veterinarian’s number, a favorite toy and an extra leash and collar with your dog’s identification.
  • Increase the chances of your dog’s rescue by putting a sticker on your door reading, “DOG INSIDE. IN CASE OF EMERGENCY, PLEASE RESCUE”


Prevent Your Pet from Starting Fires

We shudder to think about it. But according to the National Fire Protection Association, each year more than 1,000 house fires are accidentally started by pets.  We suggest you take a minute to pet proof your home against potential fire hazards—it could mean the difference between life and death for your four-legged friends.

  • Blow it out. Don’t leave lit candles unattended.
  • Cover it up. Pets are naturally curious and will investigate almost anything that has a scent. This includes your oven. Be sure to remove stove knobs or protect them with covers before leaving the house. Believe it or not, exploring stove tops is the number one way your pet can accidentally start a fire.
  • Secure young pets – Keep them confined away from potential fire-starting hazards when you are away from home such as in crates or behind baby gates in secure areas.


For additional fire prevention and pet safety guidance from The Red Cross, click here.

If you need a Pet Alert Window Cling, the ASPCA distributes free alert stickers on their website.


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