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Rehoming Your Dog(s)

Dog Rehoming: When Is It the Right Decision?

There are a number of sad but legitimate reasons for giving a dog up. If it must be done, protect everyone involved by taking these steps.


Although those are the reasons commonly given, the underlying cause far more often in those cases is that something interfered with the development of the all-important bond between dog and human that ensures the dog a lifelong, loving home. Every day, thousands of dog lovers move and take their dogs with them, find a new place to live where dogs are allowed, rearrange busy schedules to make time for their dogs, and reprioritize budgets to cover their dog-care expenses.

Animal protection and rescue workers often become cynical about and unsympathetic toward those who give up their dogs. Many of us who love our dogs find it difficult to imagine any legitimate reason for rehoming a dog. While it’s true that many dogs are given up for seemingly frivolous reasons, there are times when it is the right thing to do, including the following.

What are valid reasons for rehoming a dog?

1. Two (or more) dogs in the family are seriously fighting.

Although it’s not uncommon for two dogs in a family to have occasional squabbles, there are also times when knock-down-drag-out battles – or even rough play – can put one or more canine family members at risk of serious injury or even death (not to mention the risk of injury to the humans who have to intervene in the dog fights). This can be especially life-threatening when a size differential almost guarantees that a smaller dog will be injured – or killed – by a larger dog who plays too roughly or has mayhem in mind. Plus there is the risk of predatory drift, where the larger dog sees a significantly smaller playmate dash across the yard and his brain kicks into “Squirrel!” mode. He perceives his smaller canine companion as “prey” instead of “playmate,” and tragedy strikes.

dogs fighting in the house
Many of us who love our dogs find it difficult to imagine any legitimate reason for rehoming a dog, but there are times when it is the right thing to do
© Martina Osmy

Whether due to size difference or not, conflict and potential injury between canine family members calls for careful management protocols, implementation of a behavior modification program to reduce or remove tension when possible, and if necessary, rehoming of one dog to prevent tragedy. If modification isn’t successful and management isn’t realistic, it is only fair to give both dogs a chance at long and happy lives by rehoming one. (I usually recommend rehoming the easier of the two dogs rather than the more problematic one, because it’s much more difficult to rehome a dog with problematic behavior; you are probably that dog’s best option.)

2. The dog is a danger to someone in the household, or to the community.

This often entails aggressive behavior, but not always. Sometimes an aging dog-lover makes the mistake of replacing her beloved senior dog who recently passed away with a puppy of the same breed, forgetting that she was 15 years younger the last time she had a bouncing adolescent canine underfoot. If the human’s dexterity and balance is beginning to fail her, and/or if she is physically unable to meet the dog’s activity needs, rehoming may be the best option.

While daycare, pet walkers, and sympathetic family members and friends may be able to help with some of the exercise, the dog might still present too great a threat to the owner’s safety. If that’s the case, rehoming is the right choice.

A rowdy dog may also present some physical risk to small children in the home. Good management can often minimize the danger while the child grows and the dog matures and learns his good manners behaviors. Aggression, however, is another matter.

Aggression alone is not necessarily a reason to give up your dog. It is irresponsible parenting and dog-caretaking, however, to keep a dog who shows a willingness to bite kids in a home with children. Dogs who live in homes with small children must adore them, or the child’s safety is at significant risk. Anything less than “adore” means the dog should be rehomed, or at least sent off to stay with relatives until the child is old enough to no longer be at risk, and/or the dog has learned to love children. It’s a lot easier to rehome a dog before he bites a child.

should i rehome my dog?
There are valid reasons for rehoming a dog.

A dog with aggressive behaviors presents a risk to the community if the human is unwilling or unable to take necessary management steps to keep the community (and the dog) safe. While this can be due to a lack of concern on the human’s part, it can also be a result of denial and/or lack of education. When aggressive behaviors have been identified in a dog, it is critically important that the caretakers prevent the dog from having any opportunity to bite, and seek assistance from a qualified positive behavior professional for help in managing and modifying the behavior.

3. An unavoidable change in life circumstances precludes keeping the dog.

Stuff happens. You may have the strongest commitment in the world to your dog, and if life circumstances change and you can truly no longer care for him, then rehoming is the responsible decision. I’m not talking about simple priority choices (“We can’t afford the dog’s ACL surgery because we want to go to Europe this summer”); I’m talking about unavoidable life events such as heart attacks, strokes, foreclosure, moving to a long-term care facility, and other life-shattering occurrences. Sometimes, tragically, you really can’t care for your beloved canine any longer.

4. The dog has a health or behavior problem that is beyond the means of the owner to resolve.

Quality of life is an important consideration for dog and humans. If you really can’t afford the care your dog needs, you either provide it anyway, perhaps at the cost of your own health or diet, or you don’t provide it and your dog suffers. You can choose to make sacrifices in order to provide for your beloved dog, but there may come a legitimate time when the sacrifice is too great, or the challenge too difficult. Some medical procedures now available for dogs cost tens of thousands of dollars. Just because we can try to fix something and prolong life, doesn’t always mean we should. A loving caretaker may be completely willing to work with her difficult dog’s behaviors, but physically unable to do so. In those cases, rehoming a dog or even euthanasia may well be the best choice.

Aggression, severe separation anxiety,  and a variety of canine obsessive-compulsive disorders can be extremely difficult behavior challenges. While these sometimes respond to treatment, often with the help of behavior modification drugs, they don’t always, and quality of life can be greatly damaged for both dog and human.

For more information on how to treat separation anxiety, see “Surviving Severe Separation Anxiety.”

5. Wrong dog for the situation.

Sometimes, humans acquire a dog for a specific purpose – to be a service dog, do narcotics detection, or to fulfill some other working or competition goals. Sometimes the chosen dog turns out to be totally unsuited for the desired purpose, and the human doesn’t have the luxury of keeping the newly acquired dog while seeking another one who is more suited for the training goal. In such cases, it may be absolutely necessary, or at least fully justifiable, to return or rehome a dog in order to allow the person to seek and select a more appropriate candidate.

senior dog and senior man
Sometimes, rehoming a dog may be absolutely necessary, or at least fully justifiable.

Options for rehoming a dog

  1. Return her to the breeder, shelter, or rescue group you acquired her from. Responsible breeders and adoption organizations contractually require this, although some may allow you to rehome to someone you know that they pre-approve.

Caveats: If the place where you got your dog was less than reputable (for example, with overcrowded, poor conditions) you won’t want to return the dog there. If you got her from a pet store or puppy mill (oh dear), returning is not an option.

2.  Place her with a trusted friend or family member. Well-loved, well-behaved, healthy dogs usually have a circle of admirers who would jump at the chance to adopt.

Caveats: Even your best friend or favorite relative may decline to take on a dog with major health or behavior challenges. You must be honest about these challenges.

  1. Advertise for someone to adopt her. People sometimes have success with rehoming dogs by advertising on Craigslist or with fliers posted on the bulletin board at local pet supply stores or veterinary offices. Social media can be a huge help, too; put together some good pictures and complete description of your dog (and the reasons you have to rehome her) and ask your friends to share. You never know, a friend of a friend may have a perfect spot for the dog.

Caveats: Try to allow for plenty of time (weeks or even months) to network in search of a perfect new owner for your dog. It’s not easy to screen potential adopters – you risk placing your dog with someone who won’t provide the kind of loving care you want for her, despite their assurances (this goes triple if she has health or behavior issues). There have been recent Use Caution: There are numerous news stories about dogs placed in new homes free of charge by owners, shelters, and rescue groups, only to have to purported adopters “flip” (sell) the free dogs, or worse

  1. Take her to a good shelter or rescue. There are thousands of excellent dog adoption services around the country. Many provide medical treatment for at least some of the dogs in their care that the person surrendering the dog couldn’t afford. The best have behavior departments or working relationships with qualified professionals to modify difficult behaviors in order to make dogs more likely to succeed in their next, hopefully final, homes. Not everything is fixable, and responsible groups still have to make difficult euthanasia decisions, but your dog might be one they can help.

Caveats: Be sure you research these groups diligently. Visit the facility to see that it’s clean and well run. If you can’t visit, don’t leave your dog there. If they won’t give you straight answers about their willingness to treat medical issues or modify difficult behaviors, don’t leave your dog there. If your dog isn’t adopted, she may suffer in a cage at a “no-kill” shelter for the rest of her life, or worse, in the hands of a hoarder posing as a shelter or rescue. Again, you must be brutally honest about your dog’s health or behavior problems.

  1. Have her euthanized. As painful as this, it may be the kindest thing you can do if your dog has significant health and/or behavior issues. It may not be realistic to ask someone else to care for such a dog, and she could be abused or neglected in the process. Dying peacefully in the arms of someone who loves her is better than dying neglected in someone’s backyard, or after spending weeks, months, or years in the stressful environment of a shelter.

When I have a client considering this option because of difficult canine behaviors, I gently suggest that euthanasia is not an inappropriate choice for a loved dog if the client is unable to do the things necessary to restore her dog to physical health, or to manage and/or modify behaviors. I don’t tell her she should make that choice, but I let her know I’ll support her if she does.

Examples of responsible dog rehomes

Here are some examples from my world, of times when rehoming was necessary, responsible and appropriate. Names are changed to protect the privacy of my clients in all except the first example:

Caretaker health issues

More than a decade ago, my then-45-year-old brother had a series of major strokes from which he would never fully recover. He was placed in a long-term care facility where pets were allowed, but only if the resident could care for them, which my brother was unable to do. When my sisters and I visited Bill, he kept asking for his two well-loved Pomeranians. It broke my heart.

happy pomeranian

I tracked them down – they had been sent to a Pomeranian rescue group – and convinced the rescue (via a significant donation) to let me rehome the dogs with one of the staff at the facility. For many years she brought the dogs with her to work and Bill was able to keep them in his life. Although his dogs are gone now, other staff members continue to visit him with their dogs, knowing how much it means to him.

Wrong dog for the job

A good friend recently purchased an Australian Shepherd puppy from a breeder she thought she had carefully researched. Julie already had two adult dogs with behavioral issues that she had worked long and hard with, one adopted from a “no-kill” facility to save him from spending the rest of his life there. Although she’s been successful enough with her behavior modification work that she is able to compete with her two dogs in agility and rally obedience, she had her heart set on starting with a properly raised and socialized puppy who could grow up to be a really solid dog.

Imagine her dismay when the 10-week-old pup turned out to have significant fear behaviors – far greater than one should expect if he was simply going through a developmental fear period. After much soul-searching, she returned the pup to the breeder. Her decision to do so was sealed when, upon contacting the breeder to let her know of the pup’s behavior, the breeder advised her that she was trying to socialize him “too early.” This is a nonsensical excuse; it’s never too early for appropriate, carefully managed socializing (the critical socialization period is from 3 weeks to 14 weeks), and truly good breeders go to great lengths to provide this early socialization foundation.

Putting others at risk in the home

A client brought her just-adopted adolescent Border Collie-mix to see me because the young dog was acting very fearful of men. Linda had adopted Freddie (names changed) less than a month prior, and he already had seven biting incidents, including one bite that had broken skin. She has two small children in her home, but so far the dog had been relaxed and appropriate with kids. Freddie was a delightful dog with many good attributes, and Linda was committed to keeping him, if at all possible. We worked out a behavior modification program, and this exceptionally knowledgeable client went home, fully committed to working through her dog’s behavioral issues.

A week later during a stressful day in the home, Freddie bit one of the kids – twice. Although neither bite required medical attention, it was clear that he wasn’t safe in a home with children. Despite his bite history, the client was, fortunately, able to place Freddie in a dog-savvy home with no children.

Putting others at risk in society

A young couple adopted a dog a year ago from a “no-kill” group – a dog who, in my opinion, should not have been made available for adoption without first undergoing significant behavior modification. The couple, who were my clients, simply wanted a canine companion they could enjoy and share with friends and family. The Lab/Pit-mix they adopted was so defensively aggressive they were unable to have visitors at their home. If they tried to put him away in a “safe room” so they could enjoy their friends and family, the dog shrieked and became destructive – to his environment if he was left free in the room, and to himself if he was crated. After 10 months of dedicated behavior modification work, including medication for the dog, they sadly decided that neither they nor their dog was enjoying an acceptable quality of life, and chose to have him euthanized.

These rehomers are exceptional

Let me assure you that in my behavior practice these cases are the exception, not the rule. I am fortunate to be blessed with clients who are far above average in the commitment they make to their dogs. Their decisions to rehome are difficult, and invariably made only after much thought, discussion and angst. They are never made lightly by my clients, and never without considerable pain.

Rehoming a dog is a difficult decision

A client sent me an e-mail recently to tell me that she has been unable to implement our agreed-upon behavior modification program due to the full-time responsibility of caring for an elderly parent. Barb* said she is looking to rehome her dog. Bailey*, an otherwise delightful one-year-old Labrador Retriever, has mild-to-moderate dog-reactive behavior and separation distress, as well as the high energy level typical of an adolescent Lab. Barb has been bringing him to Peaceable Paws since puppy class. I was saddened to hear she was giving him up. It’s always sad for a dog, and the humans who know him, when the promise of a lifelong loving home falls through. (*Their names have been changed.)

Any one of these decisions can be irrevocable. Before giving  your dog up, be sure you’ve thought it through carefully and truly exhausted all your options for fulfilling the commitment you made to your dog when you adopted her. You don’t want this to be a decision you regret for the rest of your life – and hers.

I received another e-mail from Barb this morning. A family decision to place the parent in a long-term care facility has given Barb new resources, new energy, and a renewed commitment to work with Bailey. For now, he’s staying in his home. Cross your fingers.

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WDJ’s Training Editor Pat Miller, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA, grew up in a family that was blessed with lots of animal companions: dogs, cats, horses, rabbits, goats, and more, and has maintained that model ever since. She spent the first 20 years of her professional life working at the Marin Humane Society in Marin County, California, for most of that time as a humane officer and director of operations. She continually studied the art and science of dog training and behavior during that time, and in 1996, left MHS to start her own training and behavior business, Peaceable Paws. Pat has earned a number of titles from various training organizations, including Certified Behavior Consultant Canine-Knowledge Assessed (CBCC-KA) and Certified Professional Dog Trainer – Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA). She also founded Peaceable Paws Academies for teaching and credentialing dog training and behavior professionals, who can earn “Pat Miller Certified Trainer” certifications. She and her husband Paul and an ever-changing number of dogs, horses, and other animal companions live on their 80-acre farm in Fairplay, Maryland.

Foster Dogs Are Like a Box of Chocolates


Early in July I mentioned a litter of puppies I was fostering for my local shelter, and mentioned one pup I was particularly worried about finding a home for. She was a particularly aloof, un-social pup, and I was worried that no one would want to adopt her.

As it turned out, she was the first of the four pups in her litter to get adopted – and when I heard that she had been selected by a family with kids, I was immediately suspicious that she had been chosen because she seemed to be the “quietest,” calmest pup in the group. The problem is, she’s not calm, she’s terribly shut down and avoidant of people. Taken into the “get acquainted room” at the shelter with her littermates, her MO was to sit in the corner, averting her eyes, while the three other pups jumped happily on any human visitors, begging for affection. Shoot!

I saw her photo posted on the shelter’s Facebook page as “adopted” and I wrote a note on the post for the adoptive family, letting them know I was her foster provider and if they had any questions or concerns about her behavior, to please let me know. I was concerned, but I had to stop there. I’ve had my hands absolutely full of family drama; I had to let the puppies go.

Fostering again

But the three boy pups sat and sat in the shelter. As weeks ticked by, I checked the shelter website every day and saw DOZENS of other puppies arrive on the pages of “available dogs” at the shelter – and then saw them pictured as “adopted!” on the shelter Facebook page. The pups who were all flying off the adoption shelves were all fat, chunky, Pit/Lab types who were going to be big dogs. But there were no takers on the three small, lean, leggy pups. I stopped by the shelter a few times when I had a spare hour, to bring them into the get acquainted room, let them play with toys, and remind them that if they sit politely, they get treats.

One day, in mid-August, I stopped by the shelter with my dog-loving grandson to see the pups and found one of them with a bleeding cut on his hind leg, and a big swelling on his other hind leg that looked like he had a big round liquid-filled superball on his hock. He also had a pretty deep cut on his chest. What a mess! I brought the affected pup, whom the shelter had dubbed “Junior,” into the veterinary treatment room at the shelter, and the vet tech looked him over. Separated from his brothers, we could see that he was limping on the leg with the weird round swelling, and his patella on that leg seemed to be somewhat luxated (the vet tech palpated it and it popped right back into place – hmmm). She cleaned his cuts, stapled the cut on his hind leg, and put a needle in the swelling to see what sort of liquid came out. Fortunately, it didn’t look infected, just filled with mostly clear fluid. She measured out some antibiotics and some Metacam (an anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving medicine), and (as you might have guessed), I brought the pup home with me for some rest and relief from getting beat up in the shelter pen with his brothers.

My grandson was overjoyed to get to spend time with Junior. The puppy is very sweet and smart, and absolutely remembered all of our past lessons about offering a “sit” whenever he wanted attention or a treat. He decided that Boone was his favorite dog to follow around and play and sleep with – which was great, because it gave me and my now-oldest dog Woody some time to spend together without Boone being jealous.

But the next day, both of Junior’s hocks had big swellings on them. Then they started to shrink, but a few days later, one of his elbows developed a big swelling. And a day later, his other elbow swelled, too.The hocks started to shrink once Junior was sleeping on a thick bed in my home (not on the concrete floor of the shelter anymore), but then his elbows filled with fluid. Once I realized that this was caused by impact with the floor, I padded the floor of my office to give Junior and my dog Boone a safe “wrestling” area.

The hocks started to shrink once Junior was sleeping on a thick bed in my home (not on the concrete floor of the shelter anymore), but then his elbows filled with fluid. Once I realized that this was caused by impact with the floor, I padded the floor of my office to give Junior and my dog Boone a safe “wrestling” area.

I brought him back to the shelter several times over the next two weeks for the vet tech and then the vet to see these developments, and eventually he was diagnosed with elbow hygroma – a condition that can affect more than just elbows. For reasons that are poorly understood, some dogs develop swelling over the point of bones that come into contact with hard ground. Articles about the condition always suggest that it will likely go away as long as dogs have nice thick beds to sleep on. Spending all day on the concrete floor of the shelter certainly must have caused the problem with his hocks – but it was a lot of playing with my young dog Boone in my office that was likely causing the problem with his elbows. Boone was being a great sport, “self-handicapping” himself in play by laying on the ground for wrestling matches with the pup, but the pup was doing a lot of “play bows” as he darted toward and away from Boone – with his elbows banging on the hard floor of my office. Ugh!

I pulled out every spare carpet, rug, quilt, and blanket in my house and covered my office floor with them. I also stopped the dogs from playing in the house at all – I have only one rug in one room in the house, and they always seemed to initiate play on the hard tile floor of the kitchen. I shooed them out to the lawn whenever they started wrestling. And, over a series of weeks, the swellings all subsided. Finally!

Then I got word that the second boy pup got adopted – yay!

Update about the girl pup

Then I got a message on Facebook from someone who said they adopted the autistic-seeming girl pup, and wanted to know if we could talk. I was so happy to hear from that family – only it wasn’t the family. It seems the puppy had been returned by the family, and adopted again almost immediately by the woman who contacted me. She observed that the puppy was very quiet, and looked through the shelter’s Facebook page of “adopted” photos to see if she could learn anything about who had adopted the pup previously. When she saw that the pup had been adopted by a family with kids, she surmised that the environment was likely too busy or loud for the pup – and then she saw my comment offering help and she reached out to me.

I called the adopter, and we talked for a long time. I told her about the pup’s history, and she told me about how the pup is doing now. She indicated that the pup is still very reserved with humans, much more comfortable with dogs (she owns one older dog), but that she will approach and sit for treats (brag: this is a hallmark of time with me). She told me that she has all the time and patience in the world to teach the pup that she can be trusted and she’s not going to force or push the pup in any way. I am so relieved and grateful that this pup found the right home after all!

A troubling diagnosis

Finally, all of Junior’s various swellings were nearly gone and his kneecap hadn’t luxated for weeks. It was time to start advertising for a home for him. I didn’t want to take him back to the shelter, but hoped to find someone in my social network to adopt him, so he wouldn’t have to go back on concrete! I took some cute pictures of him and asked my friends to share his information on social media.

I also encouraged the two young dogs to play outside, rather than indoors on my hard kitchen floor. I might have been irritated with their choice of this muddy spot for wrestling if I hadn’t been so happy that they found a soft place!

Within a week, we had a bite: A super nice family from a nearby town wanted to come meet him. They have two boys, 14 and 7, and the mom works for my friend’s dog daycare business! Hurray!! He would be able to go to work with her each day! What a lucky puppy!  They came to my house to meet him, and I told them all about the issues we had been through. He also had a new cut on top of his head, which didn’t look very nice, but it was small enough that I didn’t think it needed any attention. I know they were listening to my recitation of Junior’s issues, but they were also very impressed by his now-very-solid sits and downs on cue, his recall, and even his skill at playing fetch (and bringing the toy back every time!). While he tends to jump up on people once when he’s excited, if you just pause a moment without petting or talking to him,  he quickly remembers that he’s not supposed to do that and quickly plunks his butt down into a sit. He was impressive, and they were impressed! I allowed them to bring Junior home to their house to spend the rest of the weekend with them, and I was thrilled to hear at the end of the weekend that they wanted to adopt him.

However, we couldn’t go to the dog daycare with his new mom until he had received some more vaccinations (for Bordetella and influenza) and had a clear fecal test – just like all of the client dogs’ requirements. I told the family I would be happy to hold him for a few more days so I could bring him to a local vet for an appointment to get the vaccines and to bring in a stool sample. By a miracle, I was able to score an appointment with a local vet almost immediately.

But right away, this veterinarian noticed the baggy skin on Junior’s elbows, the last remnant of his hygromas – as well as his sometimes-luxated kneecap, and the cut on his head, and the remnant of the cut on his chest and the one on his hind leg. She said,  “This looks a lot like Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome…”

I said, “Say what?” I have never heard of this.

Apparently, the veterinarian has a friend, someone she went to vet school with, who both has this condition and studies it at a university– that’s partly why the veterinarian recognized Ehlers-Danlos. It’s an inherited condition of connective tissue disorders resulting in defective collagen synthesis – and fragile skin, poorly healing wounds, and hypermobility of joints are all symptoms of this condition.


I asked the vet what she thought about adopting such an animal. She said, “I think everyone deserves to adopt a healthy dog…”

Of course, I think that, too – but I also didn’t want to see this pup not get a home! What if the family didn’t want to take this on?

I wrote a long email to the family explaining what the vet had said, and including some links to articles about the condition. Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome can be definitively diagnosed with a biopsy, but Junior’s symptoms are rather classic. He will require close supervision so he doesn’t play too roughly, supervision to prevent over-zealous activity that could contribute to joint luxation or skin tears, and special care of any wounds or skin tears he receives. And I told the family that I would not blame them one bit if they decided that Junior had more problems than they wanted to take on.

I was on pins and needles waiting to hear what they would decide – and also trying to figure out how on earth I was going to be able to find another home for him! My friend Leonora, who previously owned a dog with special needs, bravely declared that she would adopt him if the family would not, which made me cry, I was so touched.Junior is such a happy, sweet, smart dog. I’m thrilled that he’s found a home with a wonderful family who appreciates what a special guy he is, and is ready to appreciate him in spite of his physical challenges.

Great news for Junior

But fortunately, the family is awesome. The dad told me that the whole family talked about it, discussed how they would have to be careful with Junior and that he might have health problems from time to time – and decided that they wanted him anyway. “We haven’t heard anything at this point that would prevent us from adopting such a sweet and wonderful boy,” he texted me. “We understand the potential complications and would like to get more information, but at this point, we all feel pretty strongly that Junior belongs in our family.”

That’s been the best news. I am so grateful that such big-hearted people are willing to give this sweet pup a tremendous opportunity for a happy, healthy life with them….

And now I have to think about whether I’m going to bring home the fourth pup in the litter, who at five months is still at the shelter – and has big swellings on his elbows and cuts from playing with the non-related puppies he’s been housed with. Arghh!

Junior is such a happy, sweet, smart dog. I’m thrilled that he’s found a home with a wonderful family who appreciates what a special guy he is, and is ready to appreciate him in spite of his physical challenges.

You never know what you’re going to get when fostering for a shelter or rescue. All I know is that when this litter’s lives are all sorted out, I am going to take a break!


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Goldendoodle Grooming: 7 Secrets to Happier At-Home Care

Goldendoodle Dog Breed Information & CharacteristicsWhen you are lucky enough to have a loyal and trustworthy companion at your side, life becomes immensely lovely. The companionship provided by pets is genuinely unmatched, and you will rarely encounter loneliness if you have a pet in your life. 

Given the countless acts of love and support we have received from our furry companions, it is our moral obligation to return the favors by giving them the best care possible. We are pleased to provide you with a list of advice aimed at maintaining the happiness and health of your cherished pets. We hope that these recommendations will help you provide your dogs with the best care and attention possible.

Here we are giving you some unrevealed secrets to take care of your Goldendoodle dog:

1. Brush your friend’s hair regularly

Regular hair brushing is one of the nicest things we can do for our pet buddies. We’re here to show you how to brush your Doodle in a kind and gentle way that won’t hurt them. Let’s get going!

Starting by getting a gentle brush with soft bristles for your dog. Some of the best brushes for Doodles include the Pet Dematting Comb for Dogs and Chris Christensen Big G Dog Slicker Brush, all you can easily find on Amazon.

Moreover, brushing your Doodle’s hair should start from the bottom up. This is significant because it lessens the likelihood of painful hair pulling or straining. Move slowly; use a slicker brush, which is a unique type of brush. It is made to be kind to the hair on your Doodle. Take little chunks of their hair and gently brush them out as you go. 

Consider releasing knots one small hair at a time. Focus on little areas when brushing their coat rather than attempting to do it all at once. Brush each part of the hair down gently. Make sure you can see their skin through the hair when you do this. This step is crucial because it makes sure that all knots and tangles are removed.

2.  Give your dog a bath

Bathing your pet should be one of your top grooming priorities. Since every dog breed differs, their need for bathing differs too. You should consult your vet on this issue. Some dogs have different type of hair that needs a different type of grooming routine to follow. In Goldendoodle’s case, you should consider washing them on a 2-week to 6-week basis. However, bear in mind that while shampooing the Doodles’ hair, do it gently and always brush their hair first to prevent any knots, keeping in mind the very first tip above.

3.  Cut your pet’s nails every 3-4 weeks

Even though it is recommended that you take your pet to a vet for nail trimming, you could do it easily at home by taking help from a bunch of tutorials. It also depends on your pet’s nails; a Goldendoodle is said to get it done between a week and two weeks. Remember to be friendly with them at any cost!

4.  Haircuts

Especially for a Goldendoodle, a haircut is essential, among many other things. As these Doodles are known for their different types of haircut that make them appear adoring, the haircut should be done every 6-8 weeks. In addition, there is no specific type of haircut required for Goldendoodles. You could go for a teddy bear cut, poodle cut, or even a lamb cut, just to your liking.  

5.  Feed them according to their routine 

 It comes as no surprise that feeding your dog is important. However, some people tend to ignore their feeding routines. It is necessary to note that their routines do matter, and you should follow them, too. Keeping track of their eating patterns, such as how often they eat in a day, would help you a lot in grooming them.

6.  Brush their teeth

If you think about it, this task appears a bit difficult. Undoubtedly, every dog, no matter their breed, should have their teeth clean. With the help of dog-friendly brushes that you could easily find in stores or online, this grooming tip would be a lot easier. If you are wondering, brushing the Goldendoodle’s teeth should be done 2-3 times, and it would prevent any type of dental disease from occurring.

7.  Take your Goldendoodle for a walk every day

For people who may not be aware, in order to keep your doodles healthy from the inside, an everyday outing should be important on your list. Taking the dogs outside in the fresh air would help them explore new things. Let them connect with other dogs or play with them.

Conclusion Goldendoodle Grooming: 7 Secrets to Happier At-Home Care

Summing it all up, every dog has its own way of grooming that you should follow to let it grow from outside and inside, as well. By all means, one should keep in mind that these Goldendoodles dogs need grooming often in order to maintain their charm.   Guest Post

What Causes Cherry Eye in Dogs?

Cherry eye appears without warning as a smooth pink lump located near the inner corner of the eye.

Cherry eye in dogs is caused by a breakdown of the tissue fibers in the dog’s eye. It is a prolapse (displacement outward) of the gland of the third eyelid, also known as the nictitating membrane, or nictitans. Breeds with brachycephalic skull conformation have almost seven times the risk of experiencing cherry eye, according to one study, compared to other dogs.

Early-Stage Cherry Eye

Cherry eye appears without warning as a smooth pink lump located near the inner corner of the eye. It usually occurs in dogs 1 to 2 years old. In the early stages, most dogs are not affected by it.

Home Treatment

If you want to manage cherry eye at home, be sure you know what that you have diagnosed it correctly and it’s not a red eye. To treat cherry eye, you must keep the eye clean, including the corneal surface, by using a safe eye wash solution (human solutions are fine) daily. Artificial tears ointment applied a few times daily will help protect the exposed cornel surface from injury (again, human products are fine).

If there is swelling of the gland, your veterinarian may prescribe steroid drops as needed. If secondary bacterial infection develops, your vet may prescribe an ophthalmic antibiotic ointment. Your dog will have to be monitored for the development of dry-eye syndrome, or keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS), which is done with periodic Schirmer Tear testing. KCS is extremely uncomfortable and can cause vision loss.

Surgical correction is recommended to prevent secondary issues. Untreated dogs with cherry eye cannot fully close the eyelids, so they are more prone to corneal injury and secondary bacterial infection.


Cherry eye is believed to have a hereditary component in dogs. Commonly affected breeds include:

  • Beagle
  • Bloodhound
  • Boston Terriers
  • Chinese Shar Pei
  • English Bulldog
  • English Cocker
  • French Bulldog
  • Great Dane
  • Lhasa Apso
  • Newfoundland
  • Pekingese
  • Saint Bernard
  • Shih Tzu

Note: If you have an English Bulldog with cherry eye, don’t mess around. See a board-certified ophthalmologist as soon as possible. Cherry eyes in this brachycephalic breed are particularly challenging, and recurrence rates after initial surgery are high.

Surgery Cost

The cost of cherry eye surgery varies depending on where you live, if one or both eyes are affected, whether your regular veterinarian can do the surgery or you are referred to a specialist, and the size of your dog (the larger the dog, the higher the costs of anesthesia). An estimated range is $500 to $1,500.

Surgery involves anchoring or tacking the gland back down, or creating a pocket with overlapping edges that holds the gland back down in place. The longer the gland is out of place, the more difficult the surgery, making surgical complications like recurrence more likely.


New Puppy!

Anyone who’s adopted one knows it’s true: Puppies are pure joy*—no-fuss, no-muss, no-mess joy. Right?

The “joy” part is undeniable, but it requires an asterisk. Why? Well, a puppy may provide boundless joy, but he also presents challenges. Demands your attention. Requires effort. Hijacks your plans. Commandeers your time.

In short, he requires effort on your part. Constant effort.  

Make it easy on yourself: Add to your all-around puppy-raising knowledge with a new online course called Whole Dog Journal’s Puppy Guide.

Your pup’s early days come with all kinds of teachable moments. You’ll be faced with immediate challenges like house-training, choosing a veterinarian, and how to keep puppy from jumping up (and knocking down) everyone he meets in your home or on the street.

The Puppy Guide course helps you identify teachable moments… and act on them. The six sections of expert-sourced information will ensure that you experience more puppy joys than challenges. More positive energy than exhaustion. More fun than frustration.

Yes, that furry little addition to your family offers unconditional love, undying trust, and incomparable loyalty.

In exchange, you’ll feed, clean, train, entertain, exercise, socialize, discipline, care-take, and more. Whew! 

Unfortunately, as they say, puppies don’t come with an instruction manual. The good news: Our online course is the next-best thing.

Within colorful, interactive presentations, you’ll find a wealth of information — information to help you meet the many challenges presented by your rambunctious little pup. Whole Dog Journal’s Puppy Guide offers easy-to-follow, people-friendly lessons featuring expert advice from our editors, trainers, and veterinary consultants.


Adopting and raising a puppy may seem like a simple proposition. But with any new pup, all bets are off.

Whether you’re about to adopt a puppy or have just welcomed one into your home, you’ll find Whole Dog Journal’s online Puppy Guide course to be:

• a time-saver
• a money-saver
• a stress-saver!

The online course teaches you everything you need to know when a new puppy enters your life. The benefits you’ll get from our experts will also be your puppy’s benefits. You’ll be better-suited to help him adapt to his new surroundings, transition into his new life… and ultimately become a healthy, socialized, well-adjusted adult dog.
Puppies grow fast. Very fast. Your window of time to coach your new best friend is short. Don’t wait to learn the basics of puppy-raising. Before you know it, you’ll have lost a golden opportunity to shape that pup into an even more perfect dog. Hindsight won’t help much if your puppy grows into a hard-to-handle pooch!

Listen to Nancy Kerns, longtime editor of Whole Dog Journal“I meet a lot of dog owners who say they wish they had spent more time training Rover when he was young. Now, they deal with a dog who still chews up pillows or shoes. Or who won’t ride in a car. Or who’s skittish and scared of the world around him. Or who doesn’t respond to simple cues like ‘Leave it!’ or ‘Come!’”

Whole Dog Journal’s Puppy Guide helps you nip all of these puppy issues (and many more!) in the bud. It’s the perfect way to learn basic puppy skills… before it’s too late!

By enrolling in Whole Dog Journal’s Puppy Guide, you’ll be arming yourself with the knowledge you need to raise your pup into a healthy, well-adjusted dog.

How to Bathe Your Dog

Follow these instructions and suggestions for dog bathing products to make bath time a pleasant and beneficial experience for you and your pup.

dog getting a bath how to bathe a dog
Using a rubber bathtub mat in the bottom of the tub will make your dog feel much more secure and calm in the bathtub or shower stall. Dogs who slip in the tub never look this comfortable! Photo by Manu Vega, Getty Images

Don’t wait until your dog needs a bath to create a comfortable, relaxing routine for this important ritual. Plan ahead by organizing the products and equipment you’ll need, and if you’re new to dog bathing, rehearse the steps, which are:

  1. Dry brush your dog
  2. Wet with water
  3. Shampoo
  4. Rinse
  5. Apply conditioner
  6. Rinse
  7. Dry your dog
  8. Brush while drying

What bath products do I need?

The best dog shampoos and conditioners are made with gentle ingredients that remove dirt without irritating your dog’s skin. Depending on your dog’s coat, you may need a detangling spray, a rubber bathing brush for working shampoo through the coat, fast-drying towels, a hair dryer that dries dog hair quickly without feeling hot, and the right brush for your dog’s coat. Consult a groomer if you need help getting started.

dog getting dried after a bath
It’s important for the health of the dog’s skin that he’s dried thoroughly after a bath (especially for long or thick-coated dogs). To dry a dog thoroughly after a bath, groomers use special dryers that provide a cooler and more powerful jet of air than human hair dryers. The strong air flow forces the moisture away from the dog’s skin and out of his coat; the cooler air ensures that he doesn’t get overheated. If you use a human hair dryer on your dog, use it on the coolest setting possible. Photo by Siro Rodenas Cortes / Getty Images.

Where to bathe your dog

The best place for your dog’s bath might be your sink, bathtub, walk-in shower, outdoor wading pool, or back yard. Your water supply should be lukewarm, not hot or cold. If you’re using a bathtub, be sure your dog can climb in and out, and place a rubber bathtub mat (or at the very least, a towel) in the tub to keep your dog’s feet from slipping.

You’re probably going to get wet, so wear appropriate casual clothing. Use treats and encouragement to position your dog.

Start with a dry brush on your dog’s coat

Begin by brushing your dog’s coat to remove loose hair, burrs, sand, dried dirt, and other debris. If there are mats in your dog’s coat, save the brushing for later as a bath may loosen the matted hair. In that case, spray or apply a detangling product to the hair mats following label directions and then shampoo.

Dilute your dog shampoo

We, humans, are fond of frothy bubbles, so we tend to over-soap our dogs. While that may look efficient, it’s better to use fewer bubbles and more water. Grooming experts recommend diluting equal parts water and shampoo to blends as dilute as 1 or 2 tablespoons shampoo in 2 cups water. The dilute solutions reach all parts of the coat quickly and rinse out faster and more thoroughly than full-strength shampoo. Dilute your conditioner, too.

Step-by-step dog washing

Use a gentle stream of water to thoroughly wet your dog’s coat. Keep shampoo out of your dog’s eyes and ears as you apply it from neck to tail, then gently massage the shampoo into every part of your dog’s coat.

After that, rinse and rinse and rinse some more. Apply a diluted coat conditioner, if you’re using one, and rinse again. Use a finishing spray or other products as needed, then blot your dog’s coat with towels. If you have one, dry your dog with a dog blow dryer. Finish by brushing your dog’s hair while it’s still slightly damp.

For more detailed instructions, see “Waterworks: Tips and Techniques for Bathing Your Dog,” WDJ November 2014, and “When Can Puppies Take a Bath?”

Communicating With Animals

7 Lessons|ByJoan Ranquet

Communicating With Animals

Taken by 4.3k people

Animal communication happens all the time between humans and animals, and among animals in the same or different species. It comes in the form of body language, sounds, and signals. The animals in your household are picking up on your words and feelings at all times, and you are picking up on theirs, though you may not be fully aware of this intuitive exchange. With the right expert guidance, you will learn simple steps that allow you to connect with your animal in a meaningful way, and establish a deeper, mutual understanding of each other’s needs and desires.

Expand Your Relationship with Animals
In this 7-day course, animal communication expert and author Joan Ranquet will demystify what animal communication is and show you that anyone can achieve this skill. You’ll learn the foundational tools to develop your intuition and enhance your listening and communicating abilities between yourself and your animal. You’ll learn what your animal really wants, be able to communicate with your animal in ways they can understand, learn how your feelings are sending messages to your animals, understand the essence or persona of your animal, recognize physical issues in your animal, and more. By the end of the course, you’ll have a stronger bond with your animal companion and have more harmony with your animals at home.

What is included in this course:

  • 7 expert-developed lessons and videos on the art of animal communication.
  • A step-by-step guide to developing the foundational skills needed to build your animal communication awareness and the telepathy skills of sending and receiving.
  • Explore the idea of One Mind with your animal, tapping into a spiritual connection with your animal companion and with nature.
  • Guidance on how your emotions and energy affect your animal’s behavior, and how you can adjust your energy field so you promote a more positive, healthy behavior in your animal.
  • Learn how to identify your animal’s essence and develop a deeper understanding of its personality and most important needs.
  • Homework and journal prompts that inspire you to explore your relationship with your animal and develop further awareness.

Who should take this course:

  • Anybody who would like to learn how to communicate with animals.
  • Individuals who have pets or work with animals and want a deeper connection with their animal friends.
  • Animal lovers who want to feel closer to nature and the animal world.
  • People who are dealing with a behavioral issue with their animal and want to understand their animal better.
  • Anyone who wants to create a more healing relationship with animals.


Learn the art of animal communication and enhance your relationship with animals, starting today!17,372 Dog Human Hand Stock Photos, Pictures & Royalty-Free ...

Choose the option that works for you…
$19.00 or $35.00 or  $55.00
This is the total amount for all lessons.
We believe everyone deserves the gift of wellness, so we offer a pay what you can model. No matter how much you pay, you’ll get the same course as everybody else.

My Dog Ate Chicken Bones

My Dog Ate Chicken Bones

Eating cooked chicken bones can be dangerous to your dog.

Can dogs eat chicken bones? Well, yes, he can. Should a dog eat chicken bones? If the bones are cooked, the answer is absolutely not! Cooked bones are dangerous.

There are many people who feed raw chicken (including bones) to their dogs as part of a “bones and raw food” (BARF) diet. But there is more involved to feeding raw chicken safely than just handing your dog a raw wing or leg. For guidance on feeding raw bones as part of a BARF diet, see “Feeding Raw Bones.”

Why Chicken Bones Are Bad

Many veterinarians will say the dangers of eating chicken bones are a myth, adding that dogs have eaten them for centuries. But, in the next breath, the same veterinarian will likely tell you about a dog or two who choked or had to have emergency surgery for a perforated intestine, adding, so your dog shouldn’t eat chicken bones.

Once they reach the dog’s stomach, acids and enzymes normally dissolve chicken bones. But there’s always that one dog who chokes (from eating too quickly and not chewing sufficiently) or gets a bone fragment caught or a piece embedded somewhere in his digestive tract . . .

Treatment If Your Dog Ate Bones

What should you do if your dog ate some cooked chicken bones? First, stay calm—it will do neither of you any good to panic! If you catch him in the act, take the bone out of his mouth, if you can. If you have a hemostat in your first-aid kit, use that.

If you’re not quick enough to remove the bone before he swallows it, check for blood in his mouth or in his throat. If you see none—and your dog is acting normally—he’ll probably be OK. Note: Do not induce vomiting. There is more risk from the bone fragments coming back up.

Even so, though, it’s wise to give him soft food, like a little white bread and/or a tablespoon of plain canned pumpkin in his meals for a few days, to help move the bone pieces out. Encourage consumption of water, adding a little broth, if necessary, to keep him well-hydrated. (Always have a second bowl of plain water available, too.)

Check his poop for three days to see if there is any bone or blood and to monitor him for bloating, vomiting, bowel changes, or other discomfort like lethargy, lack of appetite, whining, and so on. Call your veterinarian immediately if you see these things.

To be sure your dog is fine, put chicken bones where he can’t reach them—even though he’s telling you that chicken and turkey taste great!


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Dog Ramps: Does Your Dog Need One?

Age, arthritis, and injuries can interfere with your dog’s enjoyment of beds, sofas, and rides in the car. Dog ramps can help inactive dogs enjoy their favorite places again.

Your dog can’t move around the way he used to. He might have trouble with stairs or his favorite window seat, and you feel his disappointment. Fortunately, a whole industry supports canine mobility with ramps and stairs that can help him feel younger again.

What are dog ramps and why use them?

Ramps are flat sloping boards that replace stairs with a gradual incline that’s easy to walk up or down. Most dog ramps are made of wood, plastic, or metal, and their surfaces include carpet, fabric, artificial grass, and nonskid materials.

When positioned between the floor and furniture or between the ground and your car’s door, a dog ramp can:

  • Reduce joint strain and arthritis pain.
  • Assist older dogs who can no longer jump into a car or onto a sofa or grooming table.
  • Prevent injury to you or whomever helps the dog climb up or down.
  • Reduce stress or anxiety associated with mobility tasks.
  • Help developing puppies stay safe by preventing hard landings.
  • Help dogs of all ages recover from illness, accidents, injuries, or surgery.

What should I look for in a dog ramp?dog ramp

When using car ramps, always provide your dog with guidance and support, so he doesn’t try to rush or jump off, and can’t slip or fall off if distracted. © Molly100 |

Dog ramps come in all kinds of materials, sizes, and price ranges. Here are some considerations.

  • If you plan to use the ramp indoors and out, look for durable materials that survive weather changes.
  • An adjustable ramp can be used in different situations or with different vehicles.
  • A folding or collapsible ramp will be easy to transport.
  • Be sure the ramp will fit in your vehicle if you plan to travel with it.
  • Nonskid surfaces, safety rails, and sturdy construction help prevent accidents.
  • The ramp should be an appropriate size for your dog and it should support her weight.
  • Be sure the ramp’s slope is comfortable for your dog. Small dogs and dogs with mobility problems often need a gentle or easy slope.
  • Check to be sure you can lift, extend, adjust, or move the ramp easily.
  • Look for a ramp that is easy to clean so it will stay fresh and look attractive.

What is the best dog ramp for my car?

Think about where you’re likely to go with your dog in the vehicle you’re most likely to use. Bi-fold and tri-fold collapsible ramps with skid- or slip-resistant surfaces are popular options, but check the size and weight of the ramp along with assembly instructions and slope to be sure it’s a good match for you and your car as well as your dog.

What is the best ramp for my bed?

Pet stairs and ramps make it easy for dogs to climb onto your bed or other furniture. Check the weight capacity for stairs, as different models support 20 pounds to more than 150. For convenience, look for a ramp or stairs that can be left in place, and for aesthetic appreciation, choose one that goes well with your furniture.

Ramps are unfamiliar to most dogs, so introduce your ramp in a quiet area free of distractions and practice with rewards and praise.


How To Calm An Anxious Dog: Be Predictable

If you’re looking to calm dog anxiety naturally – or reduce over-excitement – make your everyday routines consistent. When dogs can predict what’s next, they become calmer and less anxious.

Predictability is your best friend when you live with a dog – particularly when you live with multiple dogs. Your enemies are The UnexpectedThe Unknown, and The Unsure. The Un’s tend to make dogs jump up and run hither and yon, barking their questions, ideas, warnings, and enthusiasms. Then we humans have the job of directing the scene before us: Come! Sit! Stay! Place! Off! Leave it!

Consider this: It doesn’t have to be this chaotic, or this much work. We can significantly decrease the Un’s for our dogs by creating some precise, everyday, predictable patterns. Try it, and enjoy the newly peaceful atmosphere as both you and your dogs relax into knowing exactly what comes next.

Meet “The Pattern Hack”

Kim Brophey, owner of The Dog Door Behavior Center in Asheville, North Carolina, and author of Meet Your Dog, teaches what she calls “The Pattern Hack” in her L.E.G.S. Family Dog Mediation course.

“Any animal’s brain is wired to find patterns,” she explains. “It’s a key survival skill. Patterns make the world more predictable, which saves an animal effort.” Meaning: If they can anticipate what’s next, they can allocate their precious energy appropriately.

Anybody whose dog explodes with joy when they put on those hiking shoes – or gets sad at the sight of the suitcase – has noticed that dogs are amazingly good at detecting patterns. Brophey encourages owners to take advantage of this, and identify, strengthen, and formally teach the patterns that are hiding in their daily lives to their dogs.

Visualize, then practice

Establish a pattern for how your dog can interact with a visitor to your home – such as bringing a toy to play tug – to create a less overstimulated visit. The doorbell then sends your dog to go find her toy, rather than jostling at the doorway and jumping on your guest.
Photo by Kathy Callahan.

The first step is to analyze the things you do every day that can sometimes get a little too crazy. Feeding the dogs? Getting ready for a walk? Welcoming a guest? Pick one scenario you wish were going more smoothly, and visualize exactly how you’d like it to play with ball in mouth

The more precisely you can map out the desired scene, the better. While small differences may seem insignificant to us, they loom large for our dogs; a slight change means the situation is up for grabs. So, as you develop the pattern, remember that the more consistent you are about its details, the easier it will be for your dog to settle into it.

Once you have a clear pattern for the scenario you’d like to improve, put it into consistent daily practice. For example, here are some patterns you could establish:

WAKE-UP TIME. If your dogs nudge you to get up earlier than you’d like, teach the pattern that nobody ever gets out of bed until the alarm goes off. Whether you’ve actually set an alarm or not, always play that sound right before you get out of bed. Eventually (hopefully soon!), your dogs will stay in sleep mode until they hear that sound.

HEADING OUT THE DOOR. If your dogs jostle for position at the doorway, teach the pattern that the door never opens until all are sitting politely. It shouldn’t take long for your dogs to learn that your hand on the doorknob means that sitting will get the door open more quickly.

GUEST ENTRY. Teach that the doorbell always results in treats scattered on the dog bed, so the dogs learn to run straight to the bed at that sound, while your guests enter peacefully.

COUCH RULES. If your dogs are allowed on the couch or bed only when invited, you can make that simpler by creating a pattern around a special blanket: If the blanket is on the couch, dogs are welcome; if it’s not, dogs stay on the floor.

DOG MEALTIME. Maybe rather than jostling and whining, three dogs wait in “downs” at their specific spots as bowls are prepared, with bowls delivered in the same order each time. (Of course, if you are like my husband Tom and enjoy the chaotic anticipatory glee, you do you!)

Once you have a clear plan for a pattern or two you’d like to establish, get all the relevant humans on board with the idea that this will be the approach from now on; it will not work if the approach is haphazard! Then start teaching the dogs what you’d like to see. Precisely because these are everyday scenarios, the practice is built-in if you’re consistent.

Beware of unintentional patterns

Keep in mind that patterns can work for good or for ill in your life with your dog. Sometimes we unintentionally train a troublesome pattern! That’s when it’s time to create a replacement.

Long ago with our first dogs, Tom and I would drive to a giant woodsy park for an adventure, hiking with Shadow and Kela off-lead. They’d be so good – romping, but staying within a nice little perimeter of us and always checking in – until we headed for the parking lot and the car was in sight. That’s when they’d suddenly take off for one last zoom.

We’d cool our heels for 15 minutes – calling, worrying, feeling dumb – until they’d lope back, tongues hanging out, grinning. It wasn’t until they’d done this several times that we realized that our dogs had learned this pattern: car → awesome hike → car → end-of-fun. Our solution at the time was to put the leashes on earlier and earlier, which seemed a shame.

These days, I know I should have created a new pattern: The return car has to be the Next Fun Thing. Let’s say 100% of the time there’s a bully stick waiting in there for the ride home. They would have learned: car → awesome hike → car → awesome-treat-that-we-only-get-in-this-scenario. The dogs would have stuck right with us, and leapt into that car.

The environment is the cue

One of the coolest parts of the Pattern Hack is the moment you realize you don’t need to direct your pup with a string of verbal cues anymore. Instead, each scenario is its own cue: The sight of you cooking at the stove sends the dog to “settle” on his mat, and a family car pulling into the driveway sends him running for the favorite tug toy that produces a jump-free greeting. If you are consistent with how you construct and manage each situation, the environment itself cues the behavior that’s proven most rewarding for the dog.

From the behavior science point of view, Brophey says, “Patterns build and hold behavior in place far more effectively and naturally than cues ever could.” What’s more, dogs who can hang their hats on a lot of patterns often seem calmer and less anxious. These adjustments may seem small – remembering to put Spot’s bowl in front of the oven, and Rover’s by the fridge – but it all adds up to make our human world feel more predictable to our dogs. On a very deep level, they feel safer.


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Imagine Every Dog Owner’s Worst Nightmare Happening to You…


Your dog is running straight towards the street. You’re calling his name, yelling “Come!”What does he do?

We know you’re careful with your dog. He’s always leashed. He never bolts out of the door. He doesn’t like to chase squirrels. Until the moment he’s unsecured and he takes off.

Is your dog trained to reliably come when called?



Most of us are working on a reliable “recall,” but our pooches haven’t entirely gotten the hang of it…yet. Well, he better…

Introducing The Recall: Teach Your Dog to Come When Called, the must-have manual for teaching your dog an instantaneous, joyous, fast recall, without a second thought. In this eBook from The Whole Dog Journal, we’ve gathered the best advice from our contributors and top-notch trainers. Inside is everything needed for a reliable recall. You’ll learn…


  • Why the “come to me or else” method DOES NOT work
  • That dogs make decisions like accountants: “Is this good for me or bad for me?”
  • Why using a long leash is an essential training aid, and a retractable one is a big NO at any time
  • The 5 steps to creating a positive association with your recall cue.
  • The importance of having two recall cues. The second is only for emergencies and should be 100% effective, in all conditions
  • 7 tips for handling an off-leash crisis. The most difficult-yet-most-important rule to follow…DON’T PANIC!



This easy-to-read, step-by-step guide is your key to the reliable recall. And this eBook is available for purchase exclusively from The Whole Dog Journal – download The Recall today!

Beyond the Back Yard!

Can your dog sit, come, stay, and walk nicely on a leash in the local park? When guests come to the door? What about if a squirrel darts into the road?

If you answered “not so much,” this is exactly the book for you.

Beyond the Back Yard: Train Your Dog to Listen Anytime, Anywhere!  is a revolutionary guide by acclaimed dog-trainer and WDJ contributor Denise Fenzi that will help you to understand how your dog learns, so you can teach him potentially life-saving communication techniques.

This book provides a plan that teaches your dog to cooperate away from home, with interesting things going on around him, and without a cookie in your hand.

Denise’s do-it-yourself program shows your how to understand:

  • How your dog learns, and why positive reinforcement training strengthens the bond between you and your dog. If he’s off-leash and you call him, he should return because he wants to, not because he’s avoiding punishment.
  • What motivates your dog. Denise outlines how to rank “motivators” (petting, high value treats, a walk in the park), and goes on to explain how to use the value of a motivator to help your dog learn in a distracting setting.
  • How to identify what your dog already knows. Does he sit on command when you’re seated? If he only does so when you’re standing, it’s because you’ve changed the context. Denise lays out the steps to figuring out what distracts him, and what doesn’t.
  • When it’s appropriate to start going off-leash. Taking the leash off too-early in training can be disastrous. Denise’s concise instructions show not only how, but when to start off-leash training.

If you’re a serious dog parent, you’ll regret not purchasing this relationship-changing guide. Don’t miss out, order Beyond the Back Yard today.

Five Steps to Stopping Unwanted Behavior

What to do, and what not to do, when your dog does things you don’t like.

Most of the time, when dogs do something we don’t want them to do (such as stealing our socks or jumping on our elderly aunt), the first thing out of our mouths is “NO!” We’ve all done it. But you may have had a dog trainer or two tell you not to use the word “no.” Why not? Shouldn’t you correct your dog if he makes a mistake?

First off, in most cases, simply saying “no” (even if you say it loudly) doesn’t work. (If saying “no” did work, I’m quite sure my phone would stop ringing and I’d be out of a job.) In addition, when we use intimidation to stop our dogs from doing a behavior we don’t like, we may damage our relationship with our dog. Lastly, saying no provides no direction to your dog; it does nothing to tell your dog what she should do instead.

So if saying “no” isn’t the answer, how do we stop unwanted behavior? Here is a formula that you can apply to almost any unwanted behavior for great results:

1. Start with liberal doses of management.

Management” is dog trainer lingo for prevention. It means making sure your dog doesn’t have the opportunity to “practice” the behavior you’d like to stop. Whether that behavior is chewing your shoes, jumping on your kids, or barking as your neighbor’s dog walks by your house, the goal is to figure out a way to stop your dog from doing it until you can teach her what she should do instead.

This may entail getting creative – or at least putting your shoes in the closet. Use baby gates, crates, window blocks, and leashes. If you have a puppy, you may need to keep a toy in your hand when you pet your pup to keep her from mouthing. If your dog habitually barks at things she sees out the window, you may need to apply a visual block so she can’t see outside. If your dog jumps on visitors to your house, you may need to put up a baby gate so your pup can’t charge up to people when they come in the door. You get the idea. Once management is in place, you can move on to step two.

2. Remove reinforcement.

There is always a reason a dog does something that we don’t want her to do. It may be an expression of normal dog behavior and we need to provide other outlets for that behavior. The dog may be anxious and exhibits the behavior to alleviate anxiety. Dogs practice some behaviors we don’t like because they are fun (such as jumping on us), but sometimes these behaviors are an expression of frustration or fear (such as barking or tearing up the carpet).

Try to figure out why your dog does the behavior. Does jumping on you get your attention? Does getting into the garbage alleviate boredom? Will racing around the house with a sponge entice you to play the keep-away game? Does pulling on the leash mean the dog gets to drag you to and make you wait at the source of an interesting odor? Before you can effectively stop an unwanted behavior, you have to be able identify what is reinforcing the behavior and either remove that reinforcement or meet the dog’s need in another way.

3. Teach the dog what you want her to do instead.

Remember, saying no fails to tell your dog what to do instead. Teaching your dog what to do instead of (fill in your behavior issue here) is a major factor in successfully solving that problem behavior. For most of us, this is a huge change in our thought process.

  • Instead of jumping up, I would like my dog to greet people calmly with all four paws on the ground.
  • Instead of begging for food when we sit down to eat, I would like my dog to go settle on her bed.
  • Instead of barking out the window, I would like my dog to come and tell me if there is something to worry about outside.
  • Instead of lunging toward dog friends, I would like my dog to sit while I snap off the leash before play.
  • Instead of pulling on the leash when we walk down the street, I would like my dog to walk next to me.
  • Instead of running off into the woods, I would like my dog to stay within 30 feet of me on off-leash jaunts.

When we come up with something our dog can do instead of the undesirable behavior, we have identified an achievable goal. And from there we can lay out a training plan to meet that goal!

4. Use a positive interrupter.

Don’t we ever get to say “no” to our dogs? Setting limits and having boundaries (both physical and behavioral) are important in life, as well as with our dogs. It is okay to stop your dog from doing something that is unsafe or even just annoying. The key here is how you stop her. Clear and consistent feedback can be effective.

dog jumping on counter

For example, if you can see that your dog is considering jumping on the couch and you’d rather she didn’t, you can calmly and consistently interrupt the behavior and redirect her to her own bed.

I like to use something called a positive interrupter (PI). There are different types of PIs. The one I find most valuable is a noise or word that means, “Disengage from whatever you are doing and pay attention to me!” It is remarkably easy to teach initially, but it does take a lot of practice to generalize it so that it will work in more difficult situations.

To teach a positive interrupt:

a) Choose a word or noise.

Many people use a kissy noise or tongue click. Some people say “Watch!” or “Look!” Alternatively, you can use a more traditional approach and say “Leave it!” or “No!” The word doesn’t matter; what is important is the way you say it and the meaning you give to the word. The word is simply a cue; it’s not meant to be used to threaten or intimidate the dog. Use it in a clear and cheerful tone, as you would with any cue.

This is extremely important if you choose a word like “No!” as your PI. Most humans frequently use “No!” as a stern command or a threat of punishment, and find it nearly impossible to always say it cheerfully and happily. Try to think of it as just another random cue and say it cheerfully!

b) Say your PI and then immediately give your dog an amazing treat.

This is a time to bring out the big guns: chicken, roast beef, or whatever your dog loves most. Say your PI cheerfully and immediately feed your dog several pieces of roast beef, one right after the other. Repeat this a dozen or so times, or until your dog looks expectantly at you when he hears your PI. You are using classical conditioning to build a conditioned emotional response (CER) to the word. This step will help your dog respond even around really tempting distractions later on.

c) Teach your dog to disengage and look at you.

Cheerfully say your PI when your dog is mildly distracted. If he has developed a CER to the word, he will look back at you expecting the roast beef. At this point, “mark” the moment when he looks back with a signal of some kind, such as the click of a clicker or the word “Yes!” and then give him several pieces of roast beef in a row. Repeat this step until your dog is happily and joyfully orienting to you each time he hears the PI.

d) Practice around distractions.

Start with easy distractions such as a piece of paper or a boring toy. Gradually work with more difficult distractions. For those really tough distractions such as a squirrel running in the trees, you may have to practice at a distance first. Keep reinforcing your dog when he orients back to you until he will do it in most circumstances. At that point, you can begin to use your PI to interrupt your dog when he’s doing something that you would prefer he didn’t do.

Interrupters work in the moment, but they don’t necessarily teach your dog not to do the behavior in the future. An interrupter is a temporary solution. If you consistently follow your interrupter with a cue for an alternative behavior, you are more likely to have long-term success. For example, if your puppy starts to chew on a table leg, you can say your PI and then redirect your pup to chew on a toy instead.

5. Use force-free corrections sparingly.

Yes, there are ways to “correct” a dog without resorting to pain or intimidation.

Timeouts are one example. A timeout removes the opportunity for reinforcement. If your puppy bites your hand in play, you can “mark” the moment the teeth touch your skin with an “ouch” or other noise and stop playing for five to 10 seconds – then resume play. When repeated several times in a play session, the puppy should figure out that his teeth on your skin makes the play stop – bummer! He will try to avoid mouthing you in the future in order to keep the play session going.

Other similar corrective measures include walking away from your dog, putting toys or treats away, or preventing your dog from engaging in an activity he would like to do. This approach can be successful at stopping behaviors that are reinforced by your attention.

That said, however, timeouts require very good timing and must be used consistently. If your dog is not clear about what is stopping the play, for example, he may just get frustrated, and frustration can lead to an increase in unwanted behavior. Use timeout techniques sparingly, if at all.

Customize the Plan

In most situations, the first three steps (putting management into place, removing reinforcement, and teaching an alternative behavior) will work to stop unwanted behaviors. Interrupters may help for behaviors that are more difficult to manage, and timeouts can be used sparingly for behaviors that are being reinforced by you.

Keep in mind that stopping unwanted behaviors doesn’t always follow a linear path. Sometimes you will need to reevaluate and rework your training plans until you find the right formula for you and your dog.

Mardi Richmond is a dog trainer, writer, and the owner of Good Dog Santa Cruz, in Santa Cruz, California.

How to Stop Your Dog From Jumping on People

Not all dogs jump for joy in reckless exuberance; some jumping can be exploratory, a quest for comfort, or even aggressive. That’s why the solutions for this behavior will vary.

Try to keep in mind that your dog is not being “bad” – she likes you and she’s just trying to interact with you. With practice, you can easily teach her how to interact with less impact!

Dogs naturally like to jump up. It’s one of the ways they explore the world around them, including the humans they meet.

Unfortunately for our dogs, most people don’t like dogs to jump on them. A rambunctious adolescent Labrador or adult St. Bernard can get in a heap of trouble if they pounce on people, despite their friendly intentions. Even a tiny dog can trip an unstable senior or toddler, or put muddy paw prints on someone’s business suit.

The good news is, we can easily solve this behavioral clash – as long as we first identify the dog’s motivation for jumping up (because the solution will vary depending on the purpose of his paw assault!).

Why Do Dogs Jump?

Greeting and seeking attention from humans are the most common reasons that dogs jump up on us.

Pups learn at an early age that jumping up is the best way to get humans to pay attention to them. After all, they are tiny and way down on the floor, and it’s easy for us to overlook them unless they put their paws on our legs with a “Hi! Hey! I’m down here!” message. Because they’re little and adorable, we bend down and pet them, or at least make eye contact and talk to them. Boom! We just reinforced jumping up.

Because behaviors that are reinforced increase, by the time your jumping pup reaches adolescence, it’s likely that jumping up will have become a well-established behavior.

Dogs also commonly jump up on humans as an information-seeking behavior – frequently in dogs who are not completely comfortable or familiar with humans and who want to find out more about them. “Who are you and what are you going to do to me?”

Often misinterpreted as a warm greeting or attention-seeking, this can get a dog in real trouble when the well-intentioned but misguided human tries to pet the information-seeking dog and elicits a defensive bite instead of happy reciprocal jumping up to kiss

Finally, a fearful dog may jump on a known and trusted human to seek comfort. In this case, she’s saying, “Help me, I’m scared!” – just as you might seek comfort in the arms of a loved one when you are frightened.

Woody often tries to jump up and “kiss” his favorite people on the face in greeting. His handler mustn’t relax, but should step back and prevent him from reaching his friend. She should allow (and reinforce!) a greeting only if he keeps “four paws on the floor!”

What Not To Do When Your Dog Jumps Up on Someone

It used to be so simple. “Turn your back on the dog and step away” was the standard old-fashioned advice for dealing with a dog who jumps. That’s still a reasonable option for some dogs – with a lot of caveats.

It’s not a good choice for a dog who jumps on you for comfort or information. If a dog jumps up in an effort to gain information about you, you’d be better off standing still; turning away could elicit a bite.

If a dog jumps up in search of comfort, it’s kinder to provide that comfort than to turn away. Meet her needs rather than ignoring her!

If a dog jumps up in an excited, happy greeting or to seek attention, turning your back might work – but she might just keep jumping up on your back, which is still reinforcing because she gets to touch you.

The modern, behavior-science-based approach to jumping up is to figure out how to meet your dog’s needs so she doesn’t have to jump up, and generously reinforce incompatible behaviors as appropriate. Let’s look at how to handle these various jumping up behaviors.

While the following methods work for adult dogs, it’s easier to prevent a behavior from becoming established than it is to modify it after it’s been well-reinforced, so the sooner you start, the better.

What to Do When Your Dog Jumps to Greet

When your new pup comes home, make sure you (and everyone who regularly interacts with her) meet her attention needs so she doesn’t have to jump up to get you to notice her. Pay attention to her by greeting her before she jumps, reinforcing her for four paws on the floor. Teach her that if she sits, people will pay attention to her, and make sure you provide plenty of enrichment opportunities so she isn’t constantly seeking attention for lack of anything better to do.

“Find It” and “Search” are good incompatible behaviors that are easy to teach and simple to use. She can’t do them and jump up at the same time. “Find It” means you’ve dropped treats at your feet. Instead of jumping on you, your dog directs her energy toward the ground, sniffing for treats. For “Search,” toss treats six to eight feet away, again giving your dog something fun to do that’s incompatible with jumping up. You can instruct visitors to do these behaviors as well.

Convince your dog that sitting is a better way to get your attention by providing lots of reinforcement when she sits. You can use a tether to practice; tether her to something solid (such as a sofa leg or piano leg) and approach. If she stays sitting, approach, click and treat (or pet her, or do other reinforcing interactions). If she jumps, step back and wait for her to sit. Then approach.

When you are out and about, restrain her with your leash if someone wants to approach and pet her. Tell them they can pet her if she sits (assuming she enjoys being petted by strangers) and if she jumps up they need to back up. Hold the leash securely so she can’t pull forward and jump on them.

For a fun interactive incompatible behavior, teach your dog that if she sits when visitors come to the door they will throw a toy for her. Then have a basket of toys sitting outside the door with instructions to your visitors to pick up several of them and toss one when your dog sits to greet them. When she comes back and sits, toss the next toy and then the next. You can give your guest a handful of treats while your dog is chasing the toy, and when the toys are all tossed, they can play Find It.

What to Do When Your Dog Jumps for Information

This one’s simpler. If you know your dog is cautious with new people, simply don’t let her approach them (or them approach her), even when they say, “It’s okay, dogs love me!” It’s not okay for your dog, and you must protect her from risky interactions.

A truly dog-knowledgeable person will ignore her if she’s information-seeking and refrain from interacting with her, even if she jumps, until affiliative body language (soft body, soft eyes) conveys that she is relaxed and comfortable with that person. Still, you’re better off preventing interaction in the first place.

What to Do When Your Dog Jumps for Comfort

It’s absolutely fine to comfort your dog when she’s frightened. Don’t worry about “reinforcing” her fear – you cannot reinforce emotion. You can, however, help her survive her fear experience by assuring her that you’ll protect her.

When your dog behaves as if something is scaring her, before she jumps up to seek comfort, do whatever works to comfort her: get down to her level and calmly hold her, reassure her, pet her, move her away from the scary thing, play with her, feed treats, ask for her favorite behaviors, or sit and let her climb in your lap. Depending on how scared she is, she may not be able to take treats, play, or perform behaviors. In that case just hold and comfort her. Be sure you stay calm! Acting worried may stress her more.

Individualize Your Response When Your Dog Jumps

Dog behavior is far more complex than once thought, and modern trainers realize there’s no one-size-fits-all “turn your back” answer for jumping up. It’s more helpful to consider all the parameters – the dog’s motivation for the behavior, what is or is not reinforcing for the individual dog, and how to reinforce incompatible behaviors – and determine how best to work with your own canine companion to teach her how to interact politely with humans.

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Why Your Dog Licks You – And How to Stop It

Many dogs enjoy licking their humans. Some people are happy to be on the receiving end of dog licks, while others find it unhygienic.

But what about licking humans? Yes, your dog may be showing her affection for you when she licks you – and she may be getting a little oxytocin boost as well. She might also lick as an appeasement gesture if she thinks you’re upset with her. She could be attention-seeking, or simply washing off good flavors – anything from that peanut butter on your lips to skin lotion you put on this morning.

Is a dog licking you dangerous?

Allowing a dog to lick you, particularly in the face, has the potential to expose you to pathogenic, food-borne bacteria such as Salmonella, Campylobacter, and Pasteurella, as well as Leptospira, the bacteria that causes leptospirosis and is found in the urine or body fluids of infected animals. If you’re confident that your dog has not been exposed to pathogenic bacteria, and are non immune-compromised, you may feel fine about taking those risks. Just remember that dogs also eat yucky stuff, including a variety of animal feces, dead things, and random garbage – and they lick their own nether ends, to keep them tidy. When they lick your face they share all that with you! However, you can minimize the risk by avoiding the dog’s tongue contacting with your mouth and nose.

Conversely, if you use any medicated cream or topical oil, allowing your dog to lick your skin could be harmful to your dog. People who use topical forms of hormones or pain medications should check with their veterinarian before allowing their dogs to lick them. It may be worth asking them about sunscreen and other topicals, too.

How to stop my dog from licking me

Fortunately, if you’re not a fan of being licked by your dog, there are a number of gentle methods to discourage this behavior:

  1. Give your dog something else to do with her mouth. Preoccupy her tongue with a tasty chewie, a food-stuffed toy, or a snuffle mat.
  2. Teach her to target – and then reward her for touching her nose to targets that are a short distance from your body. (See:
  3. Enrichment! A tired dog is a happy owner. Mental and physical exercise is likely to reduce her need to lick.
  4. Turn away when she licks. If she’s attention-seeking, pre-empt her licking by giving her attention before the tongue appears. Then turn away if it does.
  5. Change your soap or lotion. Your dog may be attracted to whatever scent you are using; you might find one she likes less.

Finally, if your dog’s licking is excessive, consider whether it could be a symptom of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). If that’s the case, you’re best off seeking the assistance of a qualified dog behavior professional to find tactics to discourage your dog’s persistent licking behavior. But if you’re a fan of normal dog licks, go ahead – enjoy those kisses!

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5 Simple Steps to Improve Your Dog’s Quality of Life

Fix these little things to make your dog far more comfortable


If there were something simple you could do that would make your dog much happier, you’d do it in a flash, right?

Every day I see owners going to great lengths, and spending small fortunes, to indulge their dogs. That’s why I’m perplexed when I see those very same folks ignoring the smaller, easy-to-rectify issues that diminish their dog’s daily quality of life, causing anything from mild irritation to major pain.

Marketers may sell us on products for our dogs: expensive food and treats, beds, and toys. But some of the most important keys to our dogs’ happiness are free or low-ticket items that nobody advertises – so they can often go under the radar. Here are five simple things that you can fix to greatly improve your dog’s quality of life:

1. LONG NAILS. Ready for the hard truth? You need to be clipping or grinding your dog’s nails every three weeks.

I know. Your dog hates it. You hate it. So you put it off, and ask the vet or groomer to do it whenever your dog goes in. Unfortunately, unless you’re in the habit of monthly visits, that’s not nearly enough.

Here why too-long nails have a giant impact on your dog’s day and can become a true emergency:

* Each step your dog takes on those nails puts inappropriate pressure on the toes. That makes them twist unnaturally – and hurts!

* The pain causes dogs to compensate by adjusting their posture. That can cause orthopedic issues and can eventually be the source of hind-end weakness/soreness.

* Long nails give dogs even less grip on slippery wood or tile floors, increasing the likelihood of muscle strain. This is particularly hard on older dogs who’ve lost muscle tone. Imagine trying to walk across an ice-skating link wearing shoes with a smooth sole. That’s how your dog feels on slippery floors!

With a few exceptions, if a dog’s nails are clicking on the floor, it’s time. And if you’re thinking that’s not true for your own dog because clipping that short would absolutely mean cutting the quick, I have more bad news for you. The quick – the nerve inside the nail that bleeds when you cut it – grows along with the nail. So if you let the nails get too long, the quick gets too long, too.

The only remedy is an intense phase of even more frequent trimming! The quick always recedes back from the edge of the nail. After six weeks or so of weekly careful trimming, you should have a quick short enough that you can keep those nails from clicking on the floor.

Maybe you’ve always known how important nail trimming is but want to leave it to the “experts” because you still remember that time you cut a nail too short and made it bleed? My own “Aha!” moment came when my daughter interned at the local vet, and let me know that there is not some kind of perfect nail magic happening in that back room. Instead, they do their best, and sometimes they mess up. The difference is that you don’t see it happen and they use styptic to stop the bleeding. It’s a pain-free experience – but only for you.

That information was huge to me. I realized I was putting my dogs through extra stress so that I could avoid the drama myself. I decided that if this is to be done every three weeks, surely it’s better for my dogs to experience it with me, in the comfort of their own home. So, I worked on this skill; it’s not brain surgery! I’m pretty good at it now, and you can be, too. Here’s what will help:

* Make sure your clippers are sharp! Dull blades compress the nail before they cut through and so they can cause discomfort, even when the quick isn’t nipped. As soon as you notice that they require more force to snip through your dog’s nails, buy some new ones. I buy new clippers regularly since I clip a lot of dogs.

* Try a grinder! I was always afraid of these but have come to adore this option which leaves the nails with nice soft edges and avoids the possibility of cutting the quick with a single snip. (For more tips on using grinders, see “Grinders vs. Clippers,” WDJ October 2020.)

* Take the time to condition your dog to the experience. Pair even just the sight of the clippers or the sound of the grinder with something delicious. Dried fish! Feta cheese! Do that as frequently as you have to until you see that happy head swivel at the sight of the tool. Next step: Touch the tool to the paw, then treat. A baby-step approach can work wonders. While this may sound like it will take tons of time and patience, each interaction like this takes only seconds.

* Start small. Remember there’s no rule that you have to do all of the nails at once. With some dogs, I do two nails and call it a day.

implore you to work on this. You’ll screw up at first and you’ll want to give up. Stick with it because the more you do it, the better you get. And once you are skilled, you’re going to hit that every-three-weeks mark. It may never be your favorite part of the day, but you and your dog can get to the point where you don’t dread it. The sooner you get brave and learn to deal with this, the sooner your dog will find walking to be much more comfortable.5 Simple Steps to Improve Your Dog’s Quality of Life

Some owners enjoy hearing the jingle-jangle of their dog’s ID tags; some use the sound to help keep track of their dog’s whereabouts in the house or yard. But consider that your dog may be irritated by the constant noise.

2. CLINKING TAGS. Does the sound of your dog’s clinking tags ever bug you? Now imagine those tags were around your own neck 24/7, and you had incredibly acute hearing. Sad, right?

Sure, maybe most dogs get used to it. But why in the world should they? There are fantastic products out there that make clinking tags a torture device of the past.

Before you examine those new options, take the easiest step: simply reduce the number of jingling objects. Remove outdated license or rabies tags, and ponder whether you really need that rabies tag. Most counties do not require them as the license itself indicates an up-to-date vaccination history.

Once you’ve minimized the number of tags, it’s time to make them quieter. One option is to bundle them so that they don’t bang against each other. Plenty of do-it-yourselfers have always done this using rubber bands or electrical tape. Sure, it’s not easy to get to those tags, but if your dog never gets lost nobody will ever need to read them! However, if you’re looking for a cuter option, there are now great little pouches that can slip on, and wrap those tags together in silence.

Another thought is to take advantage of silicone. You can opt for a silicone ID tag rather than a metal one, or buy rubbery silencers that fit around the edge of the tags. Easily available online, they come in all sorts of colors and in the typical tag shapes.

Finally, there’s the no-dangling-ID-tag approach. There are slide-on tags that loop over the collar and lay flat. (I use these, with our generic family ID information, for my foster dogs, because I can easily move them from collar to collar.) You can also order a custom collar with ID information either engraved on a metal plate that’s riveted to the collar, or stitched on the collar itself.

Even if you don’t really want to change anything about your dog’s tags, give mealtime a consideration. I had a client who was perplexed about why her dog was finicky about eating at home, but happily wolfed down the exact same food at the pet-sitter’s house. A little investigation revealed the difference: The pet-sitter used a low plastic plate rather than a high steel bowl to serve the dog’s food,reducing the noise that was interfering with the dog’s ability to eat in peace! Now that he has a new dish at home that tags don’t bang against, that pup eats normally.

3. ILL-FITTING, 24/7 HARNESSES. Harnesses have many uses,but they must fit perfectly, and in most cases they should not be left on 24/7. Many owners find it handy to leave their dogs’ harnesses on all the time, especially for dogs who are difficult to “dress”. This practice not only poses the risk of rubbing a raw place on your dog but also is not as comfortable as being “naked” when he’s home.

5 Simple Steps to Improve Your Dog’s Quality of LifeWhile it’s easy to get a collar to fit well, a harness is another thing entirely. There are so many contact points – so many spots where, depending on how the dog is sitting, moving, or lying down, there may be rubbing, pinching, and discomfort. When you get a harness, it’s critical to invest the time needed to figure out exactly how it’s supposed to fit. Many manufacturers have posted video instructions on YouTube – those are always worth watching. After that, make sure you check and adjust regularly, particularly if you have a growing puppy.

Even if you have a perfectly fit harness, though, remember that in most cases it is specifically for leash walks. It feels like you need a PhD to get your dog into some of these contraptions, which is one reason people simply leave them on. But … gosh. Would you want to wear that every minute of your life? Many dogs just tolerate this, but why do we ask them to do that if we love them so much?

4.  MINOR SKIN/COAT/EAR ISSUES. We’ve all had that moment when we discover something on our dog that we should have found earlier: a tick, an infected ear, a mystery cut, a burr tangled deep in fur. No matter what it is, the sooner it’s found, the easier it is to fix. That timing can mean the difference between a simple at-home treatment and an expensive vet bill. More significant is the amount of discomfort your dog had to endure for goodness knows how long!

When your life is busy and your dog is active, though, it’s easy to miss things. The more you groom your dog, the more you have a chance to catch all sorts of things: new lumps and bumps, changes in fur texture, hair loss, parasites, mats that could be painful.

Whether you use a groomer or not, it’s a great idea to get into a once-weekly home exam routine. I now keep my tools (brush, nail clippers, little scissors, ear cleaner) in a basket near the TV so that when we’re relaxed at night I can slip over and make sure everybody’s in good shape. If I had to walk over and get it, I probably wouldn’t, because I’m lazy! This way, grooming has become a habit and I feel I’m always well aware of each dog’s status – and confident nobody’s suffering in silence.

All the previous “fixes’ we’ve proposed are inexpensive or free. Providing your dog with regular dental care can be costly – but not as expensive as treating the health problems that neglected dental issues can cause.

5. NEGLECTED TEETH. If your dog’s breath is super stinky and her gums are red, please contact your vet’s office and schedule a dental exam!5 Simple Steps to Improve Your Dog’s Quality of Life

Dental problems not only cause daily discomfort but also can have serious downstream health effects, like endocarditis from a chronic bacterial infection caused by the buildup of dental calculus. Endocarditis is six times more likely to occur in a dog with advanced gum disease as a dog with healthy gums.

Dental problems also cause chronic pain, which can make a dog cranky,reactive, and/or anti-social. Those of us who work in rescue have seen formerly neglected dogs with dental problems who seemed unfriendly and shut-down transform into seemingly younger, happier, and more engaged dogs after they had a veterinary dental cleaning and extractions or repair of broken or rotten teeth.

I’m all for indulging dogs with luxuries to make them happy and comfortable, but I think if we asked our dogs, they’d ask us to address the issues above first. It’s the low-hanging fruit of canine quality of life!


Kathy Callahan, CPDT-KA, the author of 101 Rescue Puppies: One Family’s Story of Fostering Dogs, Love, and Trust, loves to coach people and their puppies into a great pack life. 

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5 Things I Would Never Do With My Dogs

There is a trend on TikTok right now where various experts are sharing “things they would never do” after some years of experience in a certain field. The “things” are all activities that would expose a person to needless risks. I’m a dog writer, not a TikTok creator, but here’s my contribution to the genre! Based on my personal experience (and access to the experience of our many contributors and readers, shared with me over the past 25 years of editing WDJ), here are the top five things I would never do with my dogs to compromise their safety and wellbeing – from choices in dog chews to behavior training classes.saving your pets during a natural disaster

Leave my dogs home alone when there is a potentially disastrous condition nearby.
It took only one conversation with an owner whose dogs were home alone and killed in a fire to teach me this important lesson; the pain in her eyes haunts me to this day.

When wildfires erupt, authorities are quick to call for mandatory evacuations and they close roads to keep people from going home to rescue their livestock or pets. While this seems barbaric to the owner frantic to get home to save their pets, the public safety officers’ mandate is to save human lives above all else. They will allow registered animal emergency evacuation teams into closed areas if they deem the situation safe enough, but this is rarely the case in the first day of any kind of disaster.

Obviously, if you’re already at work when a fire breaks out in your area – or a levee breaks and floodwaters are engulfing your neighborhood – there is not much you can do. Find out who you can contact to report the need for your animals to be rescued; there is almost always an agency that is assigned to this important task.

But if there is a fire burning within 30 miles of your home, a tornado warning in your area, or it’s hurricane season and your local river is rising, take your pets with you if you leave the house. I’ve taken my dogs to a friend’s house when I had to go to the store with a fire burning 10 miles away. Leaving them home is not a chance I will take.

If you’re leaving your dog with a pet sitter, supply them with a “go bag” in case of an emergency. We cover more about this in our blog post, “Leaving town? Make sure a “go bag” is available to your pets’ caretaker before you leave!”

Sign up for a dog training class without researching the dog trainer and observing classes first.
Monitoring training-advice Facebook groups, I’ve read many posts from people who have paid for a six-week class, only to wonder if they should quit after the first session because the instructor insists that all the participants use choke chains and/or use leash yanks. Every time I hear this, I want to ask, “How was this a surprise? Why did you not observe a class first?”

saving your pets during a natural disaster
Don’t leave your dogs (or other pets) home if there is an emergency evacuation, even if the situation seems well in hand and packing up all your pets is a huge hassle. Consider it a safety drill! Conditions can change rapidly and public safety officers might not allow you to return if the situation goes south.
I read dog trainers’ websites carefully, looking for evidence of a positive-training education and credentials. If their website gives little detail beyond years of experience and some catch-phrases (including “positive dog training”), I send an email and ask what programs they have graduated from and which training conferences or seminars they most recently attended. I want to see passion for and commitment to continuing education, because modern training is advancing every year.

I recommend observing any dog trainer you’re considering taking a class with. I’d watch the instructor teach several classes of beginning-level students, because watching an advanced class march around flawlessly will not tell you whether force and fear were used to get the dogs to that level. I’d be looking for smiles on the faces of the dog handlers and loose, relaxed body language from the dogs and puppies. If the humans look grim and the dogs look shut down, I wouldn’t sign up for even a single session, much less a six-week class. And if the dogs show up in class wearing choke chains, pinch collars, or shock collars, I know it’s not the style of training I want to pursue with my dog.

Let dogs play with other dogs while wearing collars or harnesses.dogs playing with collar can injure them
I had read warnings from people who claimed that it was unsafe to allow dogs to wear collars while playing, but until I saw for myself what could happen, I thought the warnings were overblown and unnecessarily dramatic.

I was wrong.

When wrestling or playing “bitey face” games, it’s very easy for a dog to get his or her jaw stuck in the gear worn by their playmate. Don’t think because you haven’t seen it, it won’t happen to your dog; all it takes is a single playmate who likes to grab other dogs by the collar. And when this happens, both dogs panic and freak out. It’s incredibly difficult in the resulting melee to figure out how to free both dogs, especially as they spin, roll, and scream in pain and panic.

Since we first ran an article about this potential hazard (“Don’t Wait: Prevent Collar Accidents,” December 2020), dozens of readers have shared stories about dogs who have been maimed, traumatized, and even killed by their own collars. I guarantee you that my warning is not overblown. Become familiar with dog collar safety and let your dogs “play naked.”

This is the kind of play that can transform in an instant from fun to funeral. If one dog grabs the other’s collar and then playfully rolls over on the ground, the collar can twist in his mouth, tightening and trapping his jaw. This starts choking the other dog. Both dogs will start to panic and struggle. Unless someone can cut the collar off quickly, one or both dogs can end up badly injured or even dead. This is why I don’t let dogs play with collars or harnesses on.

Give my dogs *most* rawhide chews.
I would not give my dogs any of the following dog chews: dried pigs ears, dried bones (the kind sold in pet supply stores), or most rawhide or so-called “collagen” products (same thing) sold in pet supply stores.

I am very selective when it comes to dog chew items. Dead animal parts of unknown age and unknown country-of-origin, processed with dog-knows-what chemicals? No thank you.

There are two issues here: the potential for the items to be contaminated, with either Salmonella and other food-borne pathogens or potentially toxic chemicals used in the item’s processing; and the physical danger to dogs from lacerations to the throat or intestines or impactions in the dog’s stomach or intestines.

Nothing that holds up to assertive chewing for long should be consumed in quantity. And if it doesn’t hold up to assertive chewing, it will be consumed in quantity!

I do supply my foster puppies and adolescent dogs with certain chew items (more about that in a second) for limited periods of time when I want them to entertain themselves quietly for a bit. I also will give my adult dogs a certain chew item once in a while as a treat. But daily chewing is just not necessary – and it’s a risk! Yes, it’s an enjoyable natural behavior for dogs – and the activity is fraught with dangers. There isn’t anything under the sun that dogs chew on that’s safe for all dogs; veterinarians have surgically removed hunks of anything you can name from the perforated or impacted bowels of countless dogs.

What chew items do I feel good about, under strict supervision and for limited periods of time? Absolutely nothing that dogs can consume completely or to a swallowable size in under an hour.

I will procure fresh, gigantic, raw, meaty bones for my dogs once in a while – and I take them away the moment they are small enough for my dogs to get between their molars.

For the teething puppy or adolescent who needs to learn to be content in short-term confinement, I’ll buy dried “bully sticks” (a.k.a. “pizzles” or dried cattle penises) – but only the ones that are about three feet long, and I throw them away when they get to about six or seven inches (swallowable size).

For a number of years there was a single company that manufactured rawhide chew products that I felt were safe: sourced fresh from a slaughter plant in the United States (rather than a tannery in a country that lacks standards or inspections that would protect dogs) and made into giant rolls of extraordinary thickness. The rolls were so thick that it took even my very aggressive chewer an hour to chew an inch or so of these rolls (and then I’d take it away, to save for another day). That company fell victim to COVID-era shutdowns, alas. My search goes on for a company that makes a similar dog chew, but I haven’t found it yet.

Agree to having my dog vaccinated for anything that I haven’t researched and planned for in advance.
You can’t properly research whether your dog needs a particular vaccination while at the veterinarian’s office. And while it would be lovely to be able to trust any veterinarian’s opinion that your dog would benefit from whatever vaccination they feel is missing from your dog’s chart, the fact is, sometimes veterinary professionals are just checking the boxes, especially at well-pet visits.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not an anti-vaxxer. I’m a strong proponent of making certain my dogs have the vaccines that will protect them from hazards they are likely to encounter. But neither do I want to overvaccinate. Nor do I want to vaccinate my extremely senior dog for anything; I don’t believe in messing with dogs’ immune systems late in life!

Periodically, I pay for vaccine titer tests to determine whether my dogs possess levels of antibodies for distemper and parvovirus that will provide protection against those diseases. I won’t permit them to be vaccinated for those diseases again until they are needed.

Also, I pay attention to what they might be considered “due” for! I just don’t want to be blind-sided or strong-armed over something with potentially long-term consequences for my dog’s health.

If a vet has information about something new or terrific that may benefit my dog, I say, “Great! Let me read up on that. If it seems like the safety profile is good and it’s likely to offer protection from something my dog is likely to encounter, I’ll make another appointment to come back and get that.” And I will!

We asked a number of WDJ contributors what they would NEVER do with their dogs:

I would never deliberately scare my dog by disguising or altering my appearance. My dog Clara was a feral puppy, and I was the only person in the world she trusted for a very long time. Once, I unthinkingly wore something that was unusual enough that she didn’t recognize me – and she was petrified. I was her anchor in the human world, and I was gone, with a stranger in my place. But I wouldn’t do it to a gregarious dog either. We can’t know ahead of time how much a switch like that might scare any individual dog, and fear isn’t funny. – Eileen Anderson

Eileen blogs at and is the author of Remember Me? Loving and Caring for a Dog with Canine Cognitive Dysfunction and co-author of Puppy Socialization: What It Is and How to Do It.

I would never attach my dog to a retractable leash. That was true for Samantha and Chloe, my calm Labradors of yesteryear, and it’s especially true about my current Lab Blue Sapphire, who is twice as athletic and loves to chase anything that moves. I might as well have a raccoon or maybe a coyote on the leash! – CJ Puotinen

CJ is a long-time WDJ contributor and author of The Encyclopedia of Natural Pet Care and many other books.

I would never turn my dog loose in a dog park without first observing the behavior, actions, and interactions of the dogs and the humans inside the park. Obviously, dogs who don’t play well with others should not be taken to dog parks. The problem is, sometimes these dogs belong to humans who don’t understand this or just don’t care. Resource-guarding can turn ugly in a hurry if another dog doesn’t understand or respect it. Dogs with over-the-top prey drive are not fun for other dogs. And some dogs are just plain too rough. I saw a beautiful young Lab whose hind leg had been grabbed by another dog chasing him. The result? A severed Achilles’ tendon.

Observe the humans, too. People do dumb things! I saw a human thoughtlessly throw a ball such that two competing dogs went for it from opposite directions and collided face first. The result was broken teeth, lots of blood, and expensive veterinary bills. I saw a human throwing a flying disc for their own dog dangerously close to large rocks. Someone else’s dog went for the disc and crashed into a giant rock. That dog left the park on three legs.

If you see anything that looks remotely dangerous, don’t go in. And be alert if a new dog and human enter the park. Any newcomer can change the dynamic of the pack. Collect your dog and observe the new dynamic before deciding whether to stay. – Eileen Fatcheric, DVM

Dr. Fatcheric writes articles about veterinary medicine for WDJ and is a passionate and successful competitor with her dogs in agility.

I’d never make my dog uncomfortable for a laugh. This isn’t a new impulse for humans – I remember watching college guys give beer to their dog and laugh at the stumbling result – but social media has put this impulse on steroids. I cringe whenever I see a dog-themed TikTok start to trend, because all sorts of folks will jump onto the bandwagon, like “Scare your dog to see what they do.”

It only takes a quick scroll for anybody with any knowledge of dog body language to feel devastated by these “funny” videos. The dogs are totally freaked out. The human world they’ve landed in is confusing enough for dogs. It’s heartbreaking to watch the person the dog trusts most deliberately set them up to feel an intense, uncomfortable emotion like fear. – Kathy Callahan

Kathy is a dog trainer and author of 101 Rescue Puppies: One Family’s Story of Fostering Dogs, Love, and Trust.

Most of the things I would never do with my dog involve the use of force, pain, or fear. For example, I would never use a shock collar. There is no reason to shock your dog – not even the euphemistic low-level “stim” that shock-collar trainers try to convince you is not aversive. Studies confirm the position that force-free trainers have long held: Coercive methods are likely to lead to significant behavioral issues, especially aggression.

Also, I would never try to grab something from my dog’s mouth. As I tell my clients all the time – even if it’s rat poison, or your grandmother’s diamond bracelet – you’re likely to get the “something” back faster and with much less harm if you calmly ask the dog to trade rather than trying to grab the item. Offer a high-value treat in exchange! This is especially true if you have taught your dog to trade on cue in advance. – Pat Miller

Pat is a trainer, WDJ’s Training Editor, and author of many books about force-free dog training. Information about her training center and academy can be viewed at

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The 3 Most Common and Preventable Canine Maladies

With simple observation and proactive management, you can prevent the three conditions that most frequently compromise dogs’ quality of life.


There are innumerable exotic diseases and bizarre injuries that can potentially afflict any individual dog, but, sadly, the vast majority of dogs in this country today will suffer from one of a few very prosaic disorders. And many dogs suffer from every single one of the maladies discussed below! Even sadder: All of these life-impairing conditions are 100 percent preventable – easily preventable!

1. Obesity

There are so many overweight pets in this country that there is at least one organization whose sole purpose is to quantify them and help their owners reduce the problem. The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) estimates that more than 50 percent of the dogs in this country (and almost 60 percent of cats!) are overweight or obese.

Obese dogs are prone to a number of health problems that are directly related to their weight, including strongly increased incidence of osteoarthritis, high blood pressure, heart and respiratory disease, cranial cruciate ligament injuries, kidney disease, many forms of cancer, and a decreased life expectancy. Though many people assume otherwise, there is actually no clear evidence that obesity causes diabetes in dogs. However, obesity can contribute to insulin resistance, making it more difficult to regulate overweight dogs with diabetes. Obesity is also a risk factor for pancreatitis, which can lead to diabetes.

Fat dogs get caught in the same vicious cycle that fat humans do: the extra weight they carry makes it harder for them to exercise by putting extra strain on their joints, muscles, tendons, and ligaments, and discouraging them from exercising as much or as long. A fat dog has to work harder than his slim counterpart on the same hike, just as you would have to work harder if you were carrying a backpack with an extra 20 percent or more of your body weight in it. Given the extra workload, a fat dog may ache more than the slim dog the day after a long walk, and be less enthusiastic about going on the next walk. And the less exercise he gets, the fatter he may become.

The first step is recognizing the problem.

There are many reasons that dogs get fat – and the first is owner non-recognition of their dogs’ obesity! I’ve hurt the feelings of several friends and family members when I’ve tried to educate them about their dogs’ condition. I try to be kind and tactful – and I suspect their veterinarians do, too, because almost invariably, people will tell me, “My vet has never said anything about it!”

It shouldn’t take a friend or a veterinarian to “diagnose” a fat dog. Your dog is likely overweight if, when viewed from above, she has no appreciable waist; or if you can’t very easily feel your dog’s ribs. Running your hand across her ribcage should feel rather like palpating the back of your hand, with bones covered with only a thin layer of skin and muscle. If it feels more like it does when you palpate the palm of your hand just below your fingers, she’s likely overweight; if it feels more like the meaty part of your palm at the base of your thumb, she’s probably obese!

But perhaps you know your dog is a little heavier than she ought to be – you just hate to take away anything that makes her happy. Please remember that she will decidedly not be happy when she’s suffering from osteoarthritis at age 5, or exercise-intolerant at age 7. Our dogs’ lives are short enough! Condemning them to even shorter lives, full of pain and (at the very least) discomfort for the latter half of their lives is not very kind at all.

Ideally, you help your dog stay fit and trim with an appropriate diet and the right amount of daily exercise. If your dog is already fat, make it a priority to help her lose weight and gain fitness. If you (slowly) increase the lengths of the walks you take her on, you just may find that you lose some weight as well! For most of us, that would be a very good thing, indeed!

Check out How to Help Your Dog Lose Weight for more information on actions you can take. You can also use our dog food database to help you find the best low fat dog food.

2. Dental Disease

I’m certain I’ve never met a single dog owner that liked maintaining her dog’s dental hygiene – unless her dog had perfectly clean teeth without any efforts from the owner whatsoever. Whether you brush your dog’s teeth and/or pay for your dog to have her teeth cleaned at the veterinarian’s office, it’s an unhappy chore.

Some dogs do go through life, from puppyhood to old age, without forming a bit of dental calculus (also known as tartar). But most dogs have significant dental issues by the time they are middle-aged; one study identified periodontitis (inflammation of the tissue around the teeth, often causing shrinkage of the gums and loosening of the teeth) in a whopping 82 percent of dogs aged 6 to 8 years!

What’s the problem with that? Periodontal disease can lead to histopathologic changes in the kidneys, liver, and myocardium, and has been linked to cardiac diseases in dogs.

Also, unless a dog is anesthetized fully for a dental cleaning, things like cracked or broken teeth may go undiagnosed for a long time, leaving your dog in daily pain, especially when eating or trying to play with toys. And a dog who is forced to endure chronic dental pain may be (understandably) cranky with his human and canine family members. (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard about dogs who had developed aggressive behavior that went away almost immediately after a cracked tooth was finally detected and removed.)

It only makes sense to keep an eye on your dog’s teeth – including those hard-to-see molars in the back – and take appropriate action to keep them clean and healthy. When you schedule your dog’s annual wellness exam (you do take your dog in for an annual exam, don’t you?), make sure your veterinarian takes more than a one- or two-second peek at your dog’s teeth. (You can facilitate this by training your dog to allow you to lift his lips for increasingly longer moments, until his teeth can be visually inspected pretty thoroughly.) And plan on taking whatever steps are necessary to maintain his dental health, from daily brushing and the regular use of dental rinses or gels that help control dental tartar, to a professional dental cleaning under anesthesia at your veterinarian’s clinic.

close up of dog's mouth
It’s worth the time, effort, and money needed to maintain the holy trinity of canine dental health: clean teeth; tight, pink gums; and breath that doesn’t knock you over!

For more on maintaining your dog’s teeth, please read How to Properly Care for Your Dog’s Teeth and Dog Teeth Cleaning: Don’t Deny Dental Health.

3. Over-Long Nails

This problem may not seem as dramatic as the first two, but while it’s true that long toenails only rarely cripple a dog and don’t cause systemic disease, they can significantly decrease a dog’s quality of life by making his every step uncomfortable. (Plus, this can contribute to or aggravate a weight problem, as a dog whose feet hurt more and more from over-long nails becomes reluctant to exercise.)

Super-long nails are usually easy to spot, but dogs who have long hair on their legs and feet may be hiding painfully long nails – and perhaps even lesions on their toes from where long, curving nails have created pressure sores on adjacent toes.

But if they are not yet at an obvious, curving, “Call the SPCA” length, how do you know if your dog’s nails are too long? The best test is to listen closely as he walks across a tile or hardwood floor: If you can hear his nails go “Tick, tick, tick, tick,” as he walks, they are too long! (I’m guessing 90 percent of you just went, “Ugh!”)

If your dog’s nails are thick and long, don’t despair – but don’t avoid this important, basic responsibility, either. If you are easily able to cut your dog’s nails, trim a tiny bit off each nail weekly.
If it’s a struggle for you (for any reason, whether your dog’s behavior or your own squeamishness), look for a groomer who will help you schedule trimming visits frequently enough to restore your dog’s feet to health over the next few months.

close up of dog nailsNice nails! This dog’s nails are trimmed close to but not touching the “quick” – and the quick itself hasn’t had an opportunity to grow far from the toe.



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Some Things Bear Repeating! So very Important!

In recent conversations with fellow dog lovers, we’ve discovered many are not aware that certain frogs, palm tree nuts, and blue-green algae are dangerous and potentially deadly to our dogs. While we’ve written about these subjects before, we thought there’s no time like the present to repeat ourselves.

Every year, during the summer, we’re faced with these dangers in the great outdoors, even in our own backyards. Sometimes the descriptions are so gross and creepy, it’s any wonder we ever step outside with our dogs. In reality, we’ve been living with these potential dangers for years. Our dogs may have gotten into and/or tangled with one of these, and faced death without our ever knowing what happened. As pet parents, we are becoming more aware of our surroundings, subsequently preventing our dogs from being poisoned or worse.

1) Bufo or Cane Toad – This is a large, nonnative amphibian, poisonous to most animals that try to bite them. Let’s just call them giant ugly frogs, okay? Cane toads are reddish-brown to grayish-brown with a light-yellow or beige belly and can be uniform in color or have darker markings around the body. They have enlarged glands behind the eyes, which angle downward onto the shoulders. The glands secrete a potent milky-white toxin (bufotoxin) as defense against predators including domestic pets.

If your dog bites or swallows a cane toad, she can become sick and die in as little as 15 minutes without proper treatment. Symptoms may include frantic or disoriented behavior, brick red gums, seizures, and foaming at the mouth. If you see these symptoms, follow these steps:Wash toxins forward out of mouth using a hose for ten minutes being careful not to direct water down the throat. You’ve most likely heard the sound in your backyard or during your evening walks with your dogs.

September 14, it will have been a year since Shorty’s untimely death as a result of ingesting a sago seed (sometimes referred to as a nut or date). “It’s been my mission to bring awareness on the simple things like a sago palm seed that could kill our dogs,” said Marsha Droste, Shorty’s mom. Marsha and her husband Ed were walking their two Frenchies, Pete and Shorty, in their neighborhood, where sago palms are part of the landscape. They had no idea of the toxicity of the sago seed. Within two days of rushing Shorty to a critical care emergency veterinary hospital, Shorty was gone. Dr. Tina Wisner, a veterinary toxicologist with the ASPCA said that since 2017, calls to their national poison hotline about sago cases have shot up 79%. The seeds contain something similar to cyanide. It’s not just the seeds that are toxic either. The entire sago palm plant is also toxic. A single sago palm seed can kill a medium-sized dog. Gastrointestinal signs include hypersalivation (drooling), abdominal pain, reduced appetite, vomiting and diarrhea. Signs of liver damage also include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain and reduced appetite, as well as increased drinking and urination, dehydration, lethargy, weakness, jaundice (yellow cast to the skin, mucous membranes and whites of the eyes) and ascites (fluid in the abdomen).


2) Sago Palms and Their Seeds

There is neither a specific test nor a specific antidote for sago palm toxicity. Lab work, with elevated liver values, low protein, low blood glucose, anemia and evidence of reduced clotting, may not show changes for 24–48 hours after sago palm ingestion. If sago palm ingestion is suspected, it is important to take your cat or dog to a veterinary clinic as soon as possible, rather than waiting for clinical signs to develop. Treatment for sago palm ingestion focuses on decontamination and supportive care and medications to reduce the effects of liver damage.

The prognosis for dogs or cats that eat sago plant parts depends on the amount of toxin ingested by body weight and how quickly treatment is instituted. Smaller dogs and cats are more severely affected compared with larger animals that ingest the same amount of plant parts. The sago palm toxins are concentrated in the nuts or seeds and just 1–2 seeds can be fatal to a medium-sized dog. Reports of survival rates from sago palm ingestion vary, with one study of dogs that ingested sago palm parts reporting a 50% mortality rate.

3) Blue-green algae – In August 2019, we posted a warning on The New Barker social media pages from two pet parents who lost their three dogs to blue-green algae poisoning in just a matter of hours. The post was shared 8,500 times. Through their grief, Melissa Martin and J Denise Mintz shared their story.

“If you search ‘blue-green algae,’ you see pictures of nasty water,” said Melissa. “That is false! The place our dogs played for their last time was crystal clear except for what appeared to be debris from foliage. Do not let your dogs near standing water. Our Westies didn’t even get in the water, but played in the mud at the edge.”

Shortly after returning home from their walk, and playing in the pond, Abby began seizing, followed by Izzy. All three dogs were rushed to the veterinarian. Abby and Izzy, the two Westies, were struggling to breathe and continued seizing. “We decided to let them go together peacefully. In the process, Harpo started to go downhill,” said Melissa.The family was advised that Harpo was suffering from liver failure and internal bleeding. “I talked to Harpo and asked him to let me know,” said Melissa. “He did. I held him and told him how awesome he was, and reminded him of all the lives he touched. Then we let him go.”

Abby, Harpo and Izzy before their untimely passing from ingesting toxic blue-green algae…
Later this week, we’ll give you some information on Leptospirosis and salt water toxicity in dogs. This information is not meant to scare you into not doing anything with your dogs. We simply want our fellow dog lovers to be aware of your surroundings. Many of you already know about the potential for alligators in almost any body of water, and to stay clear from the lake and river banks. We are aware of the increase in coyote sightings within our neighborhoods.

The more we’re outdoors exploring our surroundings, the opportunities for our dogs to get into something they shouldn’t increase. Keep your eyes and ears open. Also, know the closest emergency or urgent veterinary care facility near you. Have their numbers handy.

The Pet Poison Helpline / 24/7


The ASPCA also has a free mobile app for animal poison control.




Thank you, Anna Cooke, Editor…and dog lover extraordinaire

THE NEW BARKER — The Art of Dog

Stop Barking

A visitor walks up to your front porch and rings the doorbell. Your dog goes wild, barking and jumping about. The excitement continues for the next few minutes until you can calm down your furry friend.

If you’re a dog owner, this is likely a familiar scene. Barking can be a stressor for you, visitors to your home, neighbors, and your dog. So, what can you do to reduce your dog’s bad barking habits?
Learning what your dog’s barks mean is the first step in training your dog to bark less. While there is no technology out there to tell us exactly what our dogs need and what their barks mean, Whole Dog Journal’s guide, Stop Barking, provides valuable guidance on deciphering your dog’s barks and training tips on how to transform your pet into a calmer and quieter companion.
  • 7 reasons why your dog is barking – and how to stop it
  • An incredibly useful training tool to help redirect undesirable behaviors
  • Training tips to help your dog greet calmly and quietly when visitors come knocking
  • How to teach multiple dogs to quiet their barking
  • 5 things to do when your dog’s barking is disrupting the neighborhood

This guide is a critical addition to any dog owner’s library, providing practical advice and tips on how to help your dog to stop inappropriate barking. Enjoy a happier, calmer, and quieter home and pet today by downloading your copy of Stop Barking.

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Avoid Common Dog Dangers with the Must-Have Guide on Dog Safety

As you walk in the door from work, your dog leaps with joy, letting out resounding barks of approval and happiness. But then she lets out a concerning yelp of pain. You look down to see a torn toenail that needs immediate attention. What do you do? Is it an emergency? Can you help?

When your dog is hurt or in pain, you jump into triage mode. Scenarios like torn toenails or bone fragments lodged in the mouth are common dangers dogs may face every day. Some you can remedy yourself; others require medical attention. Can you determine which is which?

As a pet owner, you’re committed to keeping your best friend safe. Learning what some of the most common dangers dogs face daily inside and outside of the home can help ensure you create a safe environment for your pet.

With the help of Whole Dog Journal’s digital guide, Dog Dangers, you can gain valuable insight into common hazards your dog faces every day, including what to look out for, what to avoid, and what to do if your dog hurts himself. You’ll also get tips on important details like creating a first aid kit for your dog and keeping him safe while swimming, so you can eliminate dangers from your dog’s environment before they harm him.

In Dog Dangers, you’ll discover how to:

  • Avoid the most common situations sending dogs into the emergency room by learning more about what they are
  • How to protect your pets during the holidays by getting helpful tips on reducing stress and helping them avoid harmful foods and commonly ingested object
  • Induce vomiting safely when it’s necessary when harmful substances have been ingested
  • Identify common household items and foods that are dangerous to dogs so you can create a safer home environment

This e-book is a must-have addition to your pet care library, giving you valuable tips to protect your dog at home and while out having fun. Give yourself peace of mind and your dog the safest environment possible by downloading your copy of Dog Dangers today.

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Dog Water Safety Tips When Paddle Boarding, Kayaking and More

It can be an absolute blast to bring your dog with you on a canoe, kayak, or paddle board, but it can be dangerous, too. Here are seven tips on paddling safely with your pup.


Paddlesports have been a popular trend for the past several years, in large part due to the convenience and lowered costs of inflatables, but since the pandemic hit in 2020, the interest has skyrocketed as people seek outdoor recreational activities they can do close to home. Being able to bring your dog along for a paddle makes it even more appealing.

Paddling with a dog on board may look easy, but whether your outing is a success or a debacle depends on how well you understand and prepare for the risks and challenges. Consider these seven tips to help you enjoy the water safely with your dog while kayaking, paddleboarding, and more.

1. Paddle within your abilities

Paddling a canoe, kayak, or stand-up paddleboard can seem simple, and your excitement to get out onto the water with your furry friend could make you underestimate how difficult it can be. Weather and water conditions can quickly change, and you need to know what to do when things go wrong.

Make sure you have sufficient training and experience paddling your craft before you attempt it with a dog. Paddling with a dog on board will require more skill, strength, and stamina than paddling alone.

Depending on the size of your dog, you may have to expend a lot more energy to cope with added weight, wind resistance, sudden weight shifts, and helping your dog back onto the craft. Also, a dog can take your attention away from hazards or cause you to make unplanned stops along difficult shorelines.

2. Paddle within your dog’s abilities

What is the biggest challenge you face with your dog’s behaviors on a paddle craft? I posed this question in a social media group for people who paddle with dogs, and every response related to the dog being overstimulated by the environment or stressed by the experience. Their dogs were not able to relax and settle, and many had difficulty preventing their dogs from jumping into the water to swim, chase wildlife, or meet other paddlers nearby (and join them on their craft). Many dogs did not respond well to instructions, especially coming when called.

Don’t let your desire to bring along your dog interfere with your ability to accurately assess whether your dog will be a good passenger. A distracted dog can endanger himself, you, and others. Additionally, if you or your dog require rescue, these attempts may be hindered if your dog is fearful of, or aggressive toward, strangers.

You will need excellent verbal control of your dog in a high-distraction environment. Are you confident that your dog will be able perform a reliable recall in an environment that includes proximity to wildlife, a body of water, and objects that resemble toys (things floating in the water)? If you require a leash or other training/management tool to control your dog, then she’s not ready to come along on a paddle. (To prepare your dog, or test her preparation, try all the “Dry-Land Training” exercises.)

Is your dog physically capable of balancing on a boat or paddleboard? Your dog will require a fair amount of muscle strength and stamina to balance on the craft and get back on from the water. Water and weather conditions can put an additional strain on your dog.

Will your dog truly enjoy the experience and be able to settle? Stress – even “happy stress” – can make a dog more susceptible to dehydration, hypothermia, heat exhaustion/stroke, and shock, so you want to be skilled in reading your dog’s subtle stress signals to monitor your pet for early signs of distress and discomfort.

3. Learn first aid for dogs

The most obvious risk to your dog is drowning, so it is essential you know how to administer CPR and mouth-to-snout artificial respiration.

Perhaps less apparent but just as dangerous are the risks of dehydration, hypothermia, heat exhaustion/stroke, and shock, particularly for puppies, dogs who are elderly or in poor health, very small dogs, or brachycephalic breeds. You need to know what signs to watch for, how to provide emergency aid, and what not to do, such as cooling a dog too quickly.

4. Be aware of potential water hazards

Common water hazards include sharp debris along shorelines (shells, rocks, glass, fish hooks, etc.), contaminants (pollution, blue green algae), and large rocks, branches, or debris close to the surface. In some areas, the wildlife could be a danger to your dog, and some predators may try to snatch your dog out of the craft.A lesser-known but very real danger is water intoxication/salt water toxicity, especially if your dog likes to drink from bodies of water, bite at the water, or fetch in the water. Ingesting too much water is life-threatening, and the symptoms can be easily misdiagnosed or dismissed with deadly consequences to your dog.

5. Use a dog life jacket

Even if your dog is an excellent swimmer, a well-fitted dog life vest, appropriate for his weight, is essential for your dog’s safety as well your own – because a medium- to large-sized dog struggling to stay afloat can drown a person.

A life vest also provides some protection from the sun, rain, and cold, and it gives you something to grab onto if you need to help your dog back onto the craft. Many dog life vests have a handle on the top for this purpose. Be sure you spend time conditioning your dog to enjoy wearing the dog life vest before you try to use it on the water.

See Whole Dog Journal’s Dog Life Jacket Review

6. Bring pet-safety essentials

What you decide to bring with you on the craft depends on how long you plan to be out on the water and how far you will be from your vehicle. Be sure to pack the items in a good-quality dry bag. You should have with you a bottle of fresh water for your dog (and a container for your dog to drink from). It is unwise to let your dog drink from the body of water, and a bottle of clean water can also be used to flush debris from a wound.

A dry towel for your dog can also be very useful as protection from the sun or cold, and a wet towel can help in cooling your dog gently (e.g., when treating heat exhaustion/heat stroke).

There may be a high risk of paw-pad injuries from debris along the shore line, so it’s a good idea to bring some self-adhesive bandagefor rudimentary first-aid treatment until you can get your dog to the vet clinic. Dog booties might be an option for your dog, but ensure they do not interfere with your dog’s ability to balance or swim. You should also bring along emergency information such as the address and phone number of the nearest vet clinic and an emergency whistle, just in case.

For longer or more remote paddle trips, you will want to include more pet first-aid items such as (but not limited to):

• Small bottle of sterile saline solution to rinse debris from the eyes or a wound

• Extra bottle of clean water

• Disinfecting wipes

• Dog-safe antihistamine product for allergic reactions

• Peroxide to induce vomiting

• Emergency ration of your dog’s food in case you are stranded or delayed.

Here is our list of 12 items that are first aid kit essentials when traveling and doing activities with your dog.

7. Use a leash (but not on the water)

The shoreline may have sharp rocks, shells, broken glass, fishing hooks, etc., and using a leash to keep your dog near you until you board the craft can help reduce the chances of your dog injuring a paw. A leash may also be useful in emergency situations and unplanned stops, so be sure to bring it even if you don’t think your dog will need it.

Remove your dog’s leash once you are on the water, and safely stow it. A leash can become tangled in equipment and limbs (yours and the dog’s), and it can snag on objects if it drags in the water. Never tether your dog to the paddle craft, you, or any object because your dog could get tangled or dragged under the water and be unable to get loose. If your dog requires a leash to be well behaved on the water, then your dog is not ready yet to come along.

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My Doggy Has a Tummy Ache!

Pepto Bismol for Dogs: How to Use It Safely

Pepto Bismol is safe for dogs when used properly.


Vomiting and/or diarrhea can be distressing for a dog and definitely no picnic for his owner. It’s only natural to want to offer some relief as quickly as possible. Pepto Bismol (bismuth subsalicylate) can be used to safely reduce a dog’s symptoms of nausea, heartburn, gurgling, uncomfortable stomach and most effectively, diarrhea.

Will Pepto Bismol stop my dog’s vomiting and diarrhea?

Pepto Bismol coats the irritated surfaces in the dog’s gastrointestinal (GI) tract, reducing inflammation of the stomach lining, which slows or stops the release of excessive fluid into the digestive tract. This helps slow or stop diarrhea and reduces the dog’s discomfort.

How much Pepto Bismol should I give my dog?

Pepto Bismol comes in a number of formulations, including the original liquid and an ultra-strength liquid, as well as caplets, liquid-caps and chewable tablets. For accuracy in dosing, stick with the original strength liquid formulation, which will allow you to give just the right amount for your dog.

A generally accepted safe dose of Pepto Bismol (or a generic version of bismuth sub- salicylate) for dogs is 0.25 to 2 ml per kg of the dog’s body weight (0.1 to 0.9 ml per lb), for a maximum of three to four times a day. Be aware that use of Pepto Bismol may change the color of your dog’s stool to a gray or greenish-black.

Can I give my dog Pepto Bismol with other medications?

Do not give your dog Pepto Bismol if she receives anti-inflammatory medication (such as prednisone, carprofen, meloxicam, or aspirin), heart medication (furosemide, enalapril, benazepril), or is pregnant or nursing. Also, Pepto Bismol can interfere with radiographs (x-ray studies) so don’t use it if you are planning a visit to the veterinarian within 24 hours.

If your dog is not improved after 24 to 48 hours, stop using and consult your veterinarian.

Vomiting and diarrhea are not uncommon in dogs. Often the cause is not serious and home treatments like Pepto Bismol can be helpful. If, however, your dog is markedly distressed or does not improve after a couple of days, the GI problems could be a sign of something more serious and he should see his veterinarian immediately.

Dr. Kathryn Allen has a journalism degree from the University of Arizona and a veterinary degree from Cornell University. She is a small-animal veterinarian in Phoenix, where she lives with two dogs and two pigs.

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How to Pick Up a Puppy

If your new puppy is avoiding you, you need these tips on how to hold your puppy – especially if he has advanced to growling or snapping at you.

When you see a little puppy, the most natural thing in the world is to run over and swoop her into your arms for a nice big cuddle!
I beg you: Don’t do that. It may feel wonderful to you, but the odds are you just created a moment of fear for that puppy.


Style matters, and the seemingly simple pick-up approach above includes three unfortunate choices: The surprise, the swoop, the squeeze. Each of those elements creates discomfort in a being who is new to our human world. (Nobody on Planet Dog picks anybody else up!) To complete the picture of terror, there’s often optional element #4: The Squeal.

Sometimes, people contact me in a bit of a panic because the puppy they got last week is growling at them, and it’s getting worse every day. A quick home visit usually reveals that these nice folks are in the surprise-swoop-squeeze camp. They are unintentionally terrifying their pup, and the pup is learning to fend off that moment with a growl.

While that’s a bummer, it’s also great news – because it means we can probably fix this in a jiffy by creating a new pick-up process that will build the missing trust.


It’s scary for puppies when they are picked up completely by surprise. One minute they’re just hanging out – maybe even sound asleep – and the next they’re up in the air! Sure, some pups will roll with it, but for many others it’s alarming.

You can avoid the surprise factor by altering your approach. No running! No zooming! Just stroll over so pup has a chance to see you’re on your way. Then crouch down, and take a moment to say hi with a gentle stroke. All along, provide a nice low-volume voice-over for extra reassurance and preparation: “Hi sweet pup. How about I come say hello?” That advance warning system means the puppy has a chance to catch up to the action.

Extra help: For a pup who has already been growling about handling, a cue word is a nice thing to add. A consistent heads-up in the form of a cheery, “1-2-3 time for a pick-up!” can be a game-changer. It helps pup learn to be ready when that’s about to happen and to totally relax when it’s not.


Even if you eliminate the element of surprise, you still may hear a growl if your pup feels unsafe in the air. That’s why the second rule of the perfect pick-up is this: No swoop-and-dangle allowed. Your new pup doesn’t want the thrill of an amusement park ride.

Help her feel safe with you by using a slow, cradling motion that keeps her body supported 100% of the time: One hand underneath, the other softly against her chest and shoulder. Bonus points for continuing your quiet voiceover: “Aw, there we go, we’re just going to move over here, you’re my sweetie girl . . .” Don’t stand up too quickly – give pup the old, creaky elevator experience rather than the one that whisks you ridiculously fast to the top floor.

Extra help: If you’re doing remedial work, it can help to have a chew, a toy, or a piece of jerky in your hand as you say, “1-2-3 time for a pick-up!” This way you can distract pup from her worries and create a positive association with the feeling of being handled in this way.


Once pup is in your arms as you’re standing, you can extend her lesson in trust by slowly, gently putting her right back down. For some puppies, the worst part of a pick-up is the dreaded squeeze-n-trap! Humans love to trap puppies in what they call a loving hug. Alas, the puppy might call it terrifying jail time.

Nobody – not one human, not one dog – wants their body to be held against their will. And yet somehow we think puppies are supposed to sit endlessly in our laps, or cherish being carried around by us, so we make them do that regardless of their reaction. Kids are the ones who find this hardest to resist, but I’m amazed how many adults also refuse to recognize a puppy’s squirming as a legitimate plea for bodily autonomy.

To add to the train wreck, these over-held pups are often the ones who grow into dogs who hate being handled! Which is sad in all kinds of ways, because it’s the folks who most want cuddlers who tend to turn their dogs into resisters.

Here’s what I tell kids (and, ahem, a few adults): Do you want to be your puppy’s favorite? Then, especially at first, let that puppy do the choosing! Rather than demanding the puppy’s attention, entice it instead. Get down on the floor, get a squeaky toy, roll around in a puppy-like way – and soon enough that puppy will start choosing you to play with. And then, miracle of miracles, when she’s tired she’ll wander over and choose your lap to sleep in. Now you’re just one step away from that pup happily asking to be picked up and cuddled.

how to hold a puppy
The perfect puppy hold. Stable support underneath, but with a relaxed hold. Happy puppy feels secure but not trapped. For kids in particular, sitting on the ground is the best way to hold puppies without scaring them.


If you eliminate the surprise-swoop-squeeze from your routine, your pup will soon be calm about being picked up. To see if you’re at that point yet, look for the signals that pup is happy about this consent-based handling. Is she regularly approaching you? Turning her head toward you instead of away? Relaxing her body against yours? No longer struggling in your arms? Perfect. Now you can skip the warning cue, and the treat in your hand as you lift.

But the rest? The no-surprise approach? The soothing voiceover? The un-intimidating crouch? The slow, supported lift? Don’t drop those. It’s habits like those that eventually make people describe you as the one who is “just magic with dogs!”

Nope. It’s not magic, just empathy. Use it, and enjoy the rewards.


Prescription Dog Foods: Do They Really Help?

Short answer: It depends on the food and your dog’s condition. Prescription dog food can help, but sometimes they make matters worse!

The general concept of veterinary or prescription diets is sound; it’s well-accepted by all nutrition experts that nutrient levels and ingredients can be manipulated in various ways in order to have beneficial effects on animals (including humans) with specific health conditions. We’ve known this ever since the 1930s, when veterinarian Mark Morris innovated the first diet for dogs who were suffering from kidney failure (see “The Morris Family and the Dawn of Veterinary Diets”).

Unfortunately, nearly a century later, the concept is in danger of being a victim of its success. In the past 15 years or so, there has been a tidal wave of prescription foods being brought to market. Pet food makers have been enjoying seemingly endless success by marketing foods to the owners of dogs of ever more specific descriptions – there’s a food being pitched for adult Yorkshire Terriers! there’s one for Pug puppies! – and this trend has spread to the veterinary foods.

There are so many products that even veterinarians are often confused about which food to recommend to their clients.

The development and marketing of these products got so out of hand, that in 2016, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) created a guidance document for its staff, intended to educate them (and, sort of subversively put pet food makers on notice) about the laws that apply to these products.

Prescription Diets for Dogs Defined

There are a few differences between a prescription diet and an over-the-counter food.

Prescription diets are defined as those that are labeled and/or marketed as intended for use to diagnose, cure, mitigate, treat, or prevent diseases and are labeled and/or marketed to provide all or most of the animal’s total daily nutrient requirements by serving as the pet’s sole diet. They are meant to be marketed by and used only under the direction of a licensed veterinarian, who bears the responsibility of ensuring that the pet receiving the diet has been properly diagnosed as suffering from a disease or other health condition for which the food would constitute an appropriate treatment. A veterinarian is also expected to provide periodic assessment of how the animal has reacted to the diet and to discontinue the product when warranted.

Consumers are not supposed to be able to purchase prescription diets without a prescription, due to the potential for misusing the product and/or misunderstanding its role in the treatment of the pet’s condition.

There’s one quirky aspect of the rules regarding the labels of prescription foods: They are not allowed to include any representation that the product contained therein can be used to treat or prevent disease. Discussion of that technical information and the specific factors of the food that are therapeutic or beneficial to pets with the diagnosed condition are supposed to be limited to veterinarians only. That’s why manufacturers of these foods maintain separate websites – one for veterinarians and a separate one for pet owners – that describe their products.

Our Peeves About Prescription Dog Foods

Though we love and believe in the concept of truly therapeutic foods, we have a few peeves with prescription foods, starting with the practice of making the technical information about the products inaccessible to owners. We believe that interested owners can and should be trusted with information about how the prescription diet is supposed to affect their dogs. We also think that giving owners access to this information would also help them discern the differences – if there truly are any – between the prescription foods and non-prescription foods whose labels may also wink and hint at certain nonspecific health benefits. Over-the-counter food labels probably read as more therapeutic than prescription food labels!

Our biggest pet peeve, though, has to do with the ingredients that tend to appear in prescription diets. These foods are full of by-products!

In a way, this is a legacy of the original inventors of prescription diets, the father and son veterinarians who developed all the original diets for Hill’s Pet Nutrition. It’s unclear whether there were any nutritionally adequate dog or cat foods on the market before Dr. Mark Morris, Sr., formulated his first products. Dr. Morris graduated from veterinary school as the Great Depression dawned. There were shortages of food for humans, so you could be certain that what was left over for making into pet food was not the most appealing material. But Dr. Morris had something that few (if any) pet food makers at the time had going for him: a scientific mind, honed at the best veterinary college of its day, and knowledge about the nutritional requirements of animals. He, and his son after him, focused on meeting those requirements – proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals – from whatever foodstuffs were at their disposal, at the right price. Nutrients, not ingredients, became the Science Diet way – and the company’s formulators defend it to this day (though the marketing people have pushed for greater inclusions of ingredients that are more appealing to consumers (“humanization” is the industry parlance).

We don’t think there needs to be a wall between these schools of nutritional philosophy. Of course the nutrients in a food are the most important thing – but why can’t they originate from less-processed ingredients?

We developed WDJ’s dog food selection criteria with the quality of ingredients as the most important factor. In prescription dog food, the factors that are responsible for the therapeutic action of the food are of the utmost importance; we can look the other way when we see powdered cellulose as a fiber source or corn gluten meal as a protein source when we know that there are other functional attributes of those ingredients that have qualified them for inclusion. (Though when lay people can’t access the rationale for the inclusion of those ingredients, it’s frustrating!)

Fortunately, change is coming – and the newly crowded veterinary-diet market affords consumers more options, even for highly specialized products.

The Morris Family and the Dawn of Veterinary Diets

The concept of pet foods formulated to benefit dogs with specific health problems was innovated by Mark L. Morris, Sr., a veterinarian who started his first practice in 1928 in Edison, New Jersey, after graduating from Cornell University. At a time when most veterinarians treated mainly livestock and working farm animals, Dr. Morris focused his veterinary practice, the Raritan Hospital for Animals, on the care of companion animals.

At that time, the nascent pet food industry produced two types of foods for dogs: baked biscuits and canned foods that consisted almost exclusively of horsemeat. Most people fed table scraps to their pet dogs; only more affluent, urban or suburban owners augmented their dogs’ diet of leftovers with a commercial dog food.

These products were anything but “complete and balanced” – living conditions caused by the Great Depression meant that only the least-nutritive foodstuffs were going into pet food. Dr. Morris noticed that his veterinary practice saw an unusually high number of dogs with kidney disease, and he speculated that this had something to do with their diets, comprised mostly of poor-quality protein. He started conducting research on pet nutrition; he believed that he could better treat his patients by using proper nutrition from a balanced diet.

Dr. Morris worked with Dr. Jim Allison at Rutgers University’s biochemistry department to develop techniques for diagnosing diseases in small animals and to develop and test recipes for better dog and cat diets; he started selling his first pet food formulas in 1939.

That was the same year that he met Morris Frank, a young man who had lost an eye in an accident as a young child and lost vision in the other in a boxing match as a teenager. Frank traveled to Europe in 1928 to acquire his German Shepherd guide dog, Buddy; shortly after he brought Buddy back to the U.S., Frank started America’s first guide dog school in New Jersey. In 1939, he and Buddy were “The Seeing Eye” guide dog school’s national ambassadors – though Buddy was by then an old dog suffering from kidney disease. Frank sought out Dr. Morris, desperate for anything that might help Buddy.

Dr. Morris formulated a special diet for Buddy, canning it in glass jars in his kitchen with the help of his wife, Louise. Legend has it that the dog’s health improved and soon, this formula – dubbed Raritan Ration B – was in great demand. Frank sent Dr. Morris a canning machine and a commission for thousands of orders. By 1948, with the popularity of the food growing – and no doubt, wearying of operating the canning machine – Dr. Morris took his formula to a Topeka, Kansas, canning company, the Hill Packing Company (named after its founder, Burton Hill), which had been canning dog food (as well as horse meat for human consumption!) since 1930.

The business relationship thrived and by 1948 became a partnership, Hill’s Pet Nutrition. Raritan Ration B was given a new name, “Canine k/d” (for “kidney diet”). Dr. Morris continued to create new formulas for diets that addressed pet health problems and Hill’s produced, packaged, and marketed them. In 1951, Dr. Morris moved his laboratory to Topeka, where new products are developed and tested at the Hill’s Global Pet Nutrition Center to this day.

Mark Morris, Sr., was instrumental in the founding of the American Animal Hospital Association. He also established the Morris Animal Foundation and served as president of the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Mark and Louise Morris had two children, Mark Jr. and Ruth. Mark Jr. earned a doctorate’s degree in veterinary medicine in 1958. After serving in the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps, he completed a Ph.D. in veterinary pathology and biochemistry. Later, he joined Hill’s Pet Nutrition, where he expanded the company’s offerings. In 1968, he oversaw the development of a new line of dog and cat foods called Science Diet, formulated with preventative health in mind. Mark Jr. was a founding member of the American College of Veterinary Nutrition and co-authored Small Animal Clinical Nutrition, the definitive textbook for companion-animal nutrition.

Hill’s Pet Nutrition has been purchased by large corporations twice: Riviana Foods bought the company in 1968, and in turn was purchased by Colgate-Palmolive in 1976. Hill’s is currently ranked fourth on the list of the largest pet food companies in the world, with $2.5 billion worth of sales annually.

Recommendations for Prescription Dog Food Use

We can’t (won’t) tell you which company’s prescription diets to choose for your dog; only a veterinarian can do that! But we encourage you to dig in for (and prepare to pay for) an extended conversation with your veterinarian about any prescription diets she may recommend for your dog. We’d suggest the following discussion points if your veterinarian recommends a prescription diet for your dog:

  • The first thing to ascertain is whether your vet can describe what, specifically, the product offers to your dog. What are the specific attributes that are therapeutic for your dog’s condition? It’s not enough to just point owners toward a “kidney diet” any time there is a dog of any age with almost any sort of abnormal urine test result.
  • Ask follow-up questions. If, in the example above, your vet suggests that her recommended “kidney diet” has lower-protein, and that your dog should be on a lower-protein food, ask her what amount of protein she thinks is suitable for your dog. Many kidney diets have protein levels that are very low, far too low for a young or middle-aged dog in the early stages of kidney disease – so low, in fact, that dogs who are fed these diets for a long time start losing muscle mass as their bodies attempt to function without enough dietary protein. It’s easy to find foods at any level of protein she thinks is appropriate, with higher-quality sources of protein than are typically used in prescription diets.
  • Buy a small amount of the food for the first time. Many prescription diets are not very palatable.
  • If your dog won’t eat it, don’t fall for the “He’ll eat it if he gets hungry enough” speech. If your dog is not well, going hungry will not improve matters. As soon as possible, ask your vet for a more palatable alternative.

Alternative Dog Food

Starting below, we’ve listed all the prescription dog foods currently on the market in a searchable database. We’ve included the complete ingredients list, as well as the protein and fat content, of each of the foods on this list. We strongly suggest that you compare the ingredients of all the products that are formulated for whatever condition your dog is being treated for. Then ask your veterinarian if she could investigate the technical information for your preferred product and perhaps prescribe it for your dog, too.

Company Name Variety Condition Formulated For Ingredients Type Meat, Meal or Both Minimum Protein Content Minimum Fat Content Grain Free or Inclusive
Blue Buffalo KS Kidney Support Kidney Care Deboned Chicken, Potato Starch, Pea Starch, Peas, Potatoes, Dried Egg Product, Chicken Fat (preserve view more Dry Meat 14.0% 18.0% Grain Free
Blue Buffalo GI Gastrointestinal Support Low Fat Digestive Care Deboned Whitefish, Chicken Meal, Pea Protein, Potatoes, Tapioca Starch, Pea Starch, Peas, Natural Fl view more Dry Both 24.0% 6.0% Grain Free
Blue Buffalo W+U Weight Management + Urinary Care Weight Management, Urinary Care Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Pea Starch, Peas, Pea Protein, Powdered Cellulose, Natural Flavor, Pe view more Dry Both 30.0% 10.0% Grain Free
Blue Buffalo HF Hydrolyzed for Food Intolerance Food Senstitivities Salmon Hydrolysate, Water, Potato Starch, Natural Flavor, Pea Fiber, Cane Molasses, Tricalcium Phosp view more Canned Meat 8.0% 2.0% Grain Free
Blue Buffalo GI Gastrointestinal Support Low Fat Digestive Care Whitefish, Potatoes, Chicken Broth, Water, Chicken Liver, Chicken, Pea Flour, Dried Egg Product, Pea view more Canned Meat 8.0% 15.0% Grain Free
Blue Buffalo GI Gastrointestinal Support Digestive Care Chicken, Chicken Broth, Chicken Liver, Potatoes, Whitefish, Pea Fiber, Pea Protein, Natural Flavor, view more Canned Meat 8.0% 4.0% Grain Free
Blue Buffalo W+M Weight Management + Mobility Support Weight Management, Joint Care Deboned Salmon, Chicken Meal, Pea Protein, Powdered Cellulose, Peas, Tapioca Starch, Natural Flavor, view more Dry Both 30.0% 12.0% Grain Free
Blue Buffalo NP Novel Protein Alligator Food Senstitivities Deboned Alligator, Peas, Pea Starch, Alligator meal, Pea Protein, Tapioca Starch, Potato Starch, Can view more Dry Both 22.0% 14.0% Grain Free
Blue Buffalo KS Kidney Support Kidney Care Chicken, Chicken Broth, Water, Potato Starch, Potatoes, Carrots, Peas, Pea Fiber, Chicken Fat, Flaxs view more Canned Meat 3.0% 2.5% Grain Free
Blue Buffalo W+U Weight Management + Urinary Care Weight Management, Urinary Care Chicken, Chicken Broth, Water, Whitefish, Chicken Liver, Carrots, Powdered Cellulose, Potatoes, Barl view more Canned Meat 7.5% 2.5% Grain Free
Blue Buffalo GI Gastrointestinal Support Digestive Care Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Oatmeal, Brown Rice, Peas, Potatoes, Dried Egg Product, Natural Flavo view more Dry Both 24.0% 12.0% Grain Inclusive
Blue Buffalo W+M Weight Management + Mobility Support Weight Management, Joint Care Whitefish, Potatoes, Chicken, Chicken Broth, Water, Chicken Liver, Powdered Cellulose, Pea Fiber, Fl view more Canned Meat 7.0% 2.5% Grain Free
Blue Buffalo NP Novel Protein Alligator Food Sensitivities Alligator
A great source of protein that’s low in fat and cholesterol, alligator can help pe view more
Canned Meat 7.5% 6.0% Grain Free
Blue Buffalo HF Hydrolyzed for Food Intolerance Food Sensitivities Salmon Hydrolysate, Pea Starch
Pea Starch
Packed with the protein, vitamins, fiber and potassium that view more
Dry None 24.0% 12.0% Grain Free
Darwin’s Natural Pet Products Intelligent Design JMS Joint & Musculoskeletal Formula for Canines Joint Care Whitefish (Pollock), Turkey Hearts, Turkey Necks, Broccoli, Sweet Potatoes, Turkey Livers, Zucchini, view more Frozen Meat 13.0% 6.0% Grain Free
Darwin’s Natural Pet Products Intelligent Design CS Cancer Support Formula for Canines Cancer Care Whitefish (Pollock), Turkey Necks, Turkey Gizzards, Broccoli, Beef Liver, Turkey, Beef Kidney Fat, W view more Frozen Meat 15.0% 6.0% Grain Free
Darwin’s Natural Pet Products Intelligent Design KS Kidney Support Formula for Canines Kidney Care Beef Meat, Sweet Potatoes, Beets, Beef Livers, Beef Hearts, Egg Whites, Cabbage, Yellow Squash, Beef view more Frozen Meat 13.0% 9.0% Grain Free
Darwin’s Natural Pet Products Intelligent Design LS Liver Support Formula for Canines Liver Care Whitefish (Pollock), Beets, Broccoli, White Potatoes, Turkey Livers, Beef Kidney Fat, Turkey Meat, P view more Frozen Meat 7.0% 7.0% Grain Free
Hill’s k/d with Chicken Canned Dog Food Kidney Care Water, Pork Liver, Corn Starch, Chicken, Chicken Fat, Dextrose, Flaxseed, Dried Beet Pulp, Chicken L view more Canned Meat 16.0% 26.0% Grain Free
Hill’s a/d Canned Dog/Cat Food Urgent Care Water, Turkey Liver, Pork Liver, Chicken, Turkey Heart, Corn Flour, Pork Protein Isolate, Fish Oil, view more Canned Meat 44.0% 33.0% Grain Free
Hill’s s/d Canned Dog Food Urinary Care Water, Corn Starch, Chicken Fat, Pork Liver, Sugar, Egg Product, Powdered Cellulose, Iodized Salt, S view more Canned Meat 7.7% 26.3% Grain Free
Hill’s c/d Multicare Chicken & Vegetable Stew Dog Food Urinary Care Water, Chicken, Pork Liver, Carrots, Rice, Green Peas, Corn Starch, Chicken Liver Flavor, Powdered C view more Canned Meat 22.8% 18.3% Grain Free
Hill’s k/d with Lamb Canned Dog Food Kidney Care Water, Pork Liver, Corn Starch, Lamb, Chicken Fat, Dextrose, Flaxseed, Dried Beet Pulp, Chicken Live view more Canned Meat 16.2% 26.3% Grain Free
Hill’s j/d Dry Dog food Joint Care, Heart Care Whole Grain Corn, Chicken By-Product Meal, Flaxseed, Soybean Mill Run, Brewers Rice, Soybean Meal, P view more Dry Meal 19.2% 16.5% Grain Inclusive
Hill’s i/d Dry Dog Food Digestive Care Brewers Rice, Whole Grain Corn, Chicken Meal, Pea Protein, Egg Product, Corn Gluten Meal, Chicken Fa view more Dry Meal 26.7% 14.4% Grain Inclusive




Apple Cider Vinegar for Dogs

Apple Cider Vinegar for Dogs

Is apple cider vinegar good for dogs? This inexpensive liquid has long been used in folk remedies for a wide assortment of human ailments. Used topically and/or as a supplement, it has just as many benefits for dogs.

According to its advocates, apple cider vinegar (ACV) is one of the least expensive, most versatile, and most effective canine health aids. 

Applied topically it’s a popular treatment for:

  • Itchy, flaking skin and dull coats
  • Flea infestations
  • Sore muscles
  • Ear infections
  • “Doggy” skin and coat odors

Taken internally, apple cider vinegar is said to:

  • Improve digestion
  • Help prevent urinary tract infections
  • Fight yeast infections
  • Relieve arthritis symptoms
  • Extract medicinal properties from plants when used to make alcohol-free herbal tinctures


All vinegars are made from liquid containing sugar, and cider vinegar begins as a blend of water and apples or apple pectin, a soluble fiber. When exposed to air, which allows yeasts to grow, the natural sugars in apples ferment and become alcohol. As fermentation continues, acetic acid bacteria turn the alcohol into acetic acid, which is vinegar’s main component. Acetic acid gives vinegar its distinctive taste, odor, and properties. 

Because of vinegar’s culinary uses, most groceries carry a variety, such as balsamic (a thick, intensely flavored grape vinegar), white or red wine vinegar, and vinegars made from malt, rice, champagne, sherry, beer, and various fruits. 

Distilled white vinegar is widely sold in the U.S. Made from grains, it has a sharp, distinct flavor and fragrance, and it’s popular as a household cleaning agent and an ingredient in salad dressings, pickles, catsup, and barbecue sauces.

In contrast, apple cider vinegar is often sold as a raw (unpasteurized) product containing the vinegar’s “mother,” a cloudy substance containing unfiltered acetic acid bacteria. Unpasteurized, unfiltered vinegar is preferred by those who consider vinegar a health supplement.


Reports about the health benefits of cider vinegar are anecdotal because no clinical trials testing cider vinegar’s effect on dogs have been published in the medical literature. This does not mean that claims about its uses have been disproven; they simply haven’t been tested, mostly because apple cider vinegar is inexpensive, widely available, and cannot be patented. 

Some of the claims are exaggerations. For example, cider vinegar is often called a nutritional powerhouse, full of vitamins and minerals, but this is inaccurate. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, raw cider vinegar contains 11 milligrams (mg) potassium per tablespoon, but that is its only significant nutrient. 

Apple cider vinegar won’t cure your dog’s cancer, and while it might help prevent urinary tract infections, it isn’t a cure for that condition. 

Apple cider vinegar is usually administered to dogs:

  • Diluted by adding apple cider vinegar to your dog’s water (such as 1 part apple cider vinegar diluted in 3 to 5 or more parts water or another liquid),
  • One-to-one or 50-50 (equal parts of apple cider vinegar and water or liquid), or
  • Full-strength (undiluted) carefully applied with a cotton ball, sponge, or dropper.

Apple cider vinegar can be used as a mild cleaner and disinfectant in the following ways: 

  • Dilute cider vinegar 50-50 with water and apply with a sprayer or sponge immediately after bathing to remove leftover soap residue, alleviate dandruff and itchy skin, condition hair, and repel fleas. To help prevent dander, rub diluted cider vinegar into the dog’s skin just before bathing and wash it off. 
  • A 50-50 cider vinegar soak or rinse can soothe itchy feet, and it can be massaged into muscles strained by overactivity.
  • To make a simple ear cleaner that helps control yeast and fungus (do not apply to inflamed or broken skin), mix 2 tablespoons cider vinegar with 1 cup warm water. 
  • Diluted or full-strength cider vinegar can be sprayed as a deodorizer on dog toys and bedding. Added to laundry rinse water, it acts as a gentle disinfectant.

To help improve your dog’s coat, digestion, or overall condition:

  • Add apple cider vinegar to your dog’s water bowl, starting with a small amount, such as 1 tablespoon cider vinegar in a large bowl of water. Leave a bowl of plain water nearby as a backup in case your dog doesn’t like the taste. Dogs who are used to cider vinegar easily adjust to other water sources when vinegar is added to water while traveling. 
  • Cider vinegar can help digestion by increasing stomach acid levels, which may improve nutrient absorption. Start by adding small amounts to food or water and gradually increase to approximately 1 teaspoon per 15 pounds of body weight (about 1 tablespoon per 50 pounds). 
  • Some users report that organic unpasteurized, unfiltered cider vinegar added to food and water has helped relieve their dogs’ arthritis symptoms.
  • When adding cider vinegar to food or water, start with small amounts and, if your dog tolerates the taste, increase gradually. If the condition you hope to improve doesn’t change within 30 days, discontinue treatment.
  • Add apple cider vinegar to the rinse water after bathing your dog to help control yeast or fugal infections, such as those that contribute to itchy paws.
  • A washing solution of 1 part vinegar in 3 parts water has been shown to remove 98% of bacteria, out-performing antibacterial soap. Use the solution and a scrub brush on vegetables that will be included in a dog’s raw, home-prepared diet, and rinse in clean water.
  • For a fragrant coat conditioner, loosely fill a glass jar half full with dried rose petals or lavender blossoms, cover with cider vinegar, and let stand for a month or more. Strain, then lightly spray onto wet hair after bathing.


Most herbal tinctures are alcohol-based, but cider vinegar is a preferred solvent for tinctures for dogs. In her book Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health (Storey Publishing, 2008), herbalist and dog-lover Rosemary Gladstar recommends placing chopped fresh or dried herbs in a glass jar (if using dried herbs, fill the jar only halfway to allow for expansion), then gently heat raw organic cider vinegar, cover the herbs with warm (not hot) vinegar, leave a 2- to 3-inch margin, close the lid, and let the herbs soak for four to six weeks. Shake the jar daily. Strain and store the tincture in dark cobalt or amber glass bottles, label, and keep away from heat and light. 

In addition to herbs listed in her books and in canine herbal references, Gladstar recommends a garlic/dandelion vinegar tincture as a general tonic and to help dogs repel parasites. Use fresh or dried dandelion leaves, roots, and blossoms with an approximately equal amount of garlic and follow the instructions above. 

Add tinctures to your dog’s food in small amounts, gradually increasing to 1/4 teaspoon per 20 pounds of body weight per day. 

Learn more about Apple Cider Vinegar Tinctures.


Because of its acidity, cider vinegar should be diluted for most canine uses. Avoid the eyes, mucous membranes, and open cuts or abrasions as vinegar will sting if applied to broken skin.

Vinegar should not be used where it could stain or damage wood floors, cabinets, or granite countertops. Cider vinegar is orange-brown in color, so its topical application is not recommended for dogs with white or light coats or for use where it can stain white or light colored carpets or fabrics. 

Before applying diluted cider vinegar to a skin-sensitive dog, test a small area of bare skin with the solution and check 24 hours later for any sign of irritation, itching, or scratching. If your dog doesn’t have an adverse reaction, use moderate amounts such as those described here. Feeding too much cider vinegar can led to vomiting, damage to dental enamel, and mouth irritation. 

courtesy: Whole Dog Journal


A Healthy House for Your Dog (and You, Too!

We think of our homes as the safest place for our dogs, but there are many things you can do to make them safer and healthier, including using pet safe cleaners.


Maintaining a healthy home is in everyone’s best interests. Here are simple steps that can lead to a healthier home environment for you, your dogs, and your family.


In recent years nontoxic household cleaners have become popular in supermarkets, natural food stores, and from online retailers. Some contain traditional ingredients like vinegar and baking soda, both of which you can use individually.

The acetic acid in distilled white vinegar kills harmful bacteria and microbes, plus it has antifungal properties that help resist mold. For a simple all-purpose cleaner, mix equal parts water and vinegar. Apply with a sponge, cloth, or spray bottle, then rinse or wipe with a clean, damp cloth and let dry. Make a spray that can help prevent ant or mite infestations around food storage areas by blending 1 cup distilled vinegar, 1 cup water, and a few drops of peppermint essential oil.

A popular do-it-yourself cleaner for vinyl floors combines 1 cup vinegar, 5 drops baby oil or jojoba oil, and 1 gallon warm water. The result removes waxy buildup and leaves the floor shining.

While recommended for kitchen counters, floors, sinks, mirrors, bathrooms, and windows, vinegar’s acidity can damage stone and should not be applied to granite countertops.

Baking soda, which is alkaline rather than acidic, is an effective scrubbing agent for sinks, countertops, and cookware, plus it’s a natural deodorizer. To remove odors, sprinkle baking soda on carpets before vacuuming and add to laundry wash water.


Dust is often a challenge in homes with dogs. If yours is a shedder, you’ll want a good vacuum cleaner, Swiffer floor sweeper, lint rollers, or all three. Vacuum cleaners designed for use around pets feature allergen-capturing filters and attachments that work on floors, furniture, dog beds, and more.

To deal with flea infestations, vacuum areas frequented by your pets every two to three days, especially highly trafficked hallways and paths in your house. Flea eggs, larvae, and pupae can be found wherever a dog lives, and female fleas lay 20 to 50 eggs per day for up to three months. No wonder they’re hard to eliminate!

Flea larvae mature on or near the dog’s bedding and resting areas, so removing opportunities for eggs to develop is the most effective nontoxic flea population control strategy. Don’t forget to vacuum under cushions on couches or chairs that your dog sleeps on. Change vacuum bags frequently and seal their contents safely in a plastic bag (or empty bagless canisters into a plastic bag) before disposing.


Washing your dog’s bed is a good idea wherever fleas are a problem or whenever it needs a good cleaning, so check bed labels for cleaning instructions. Dog beds, blankets, throw rugs, and removable bed covers can be tossed in the washer with any detergent – you won’t need insecticidal soap, special detergents, or bleach because fleas cannot survive plain water. If desired, add baking soda as a deodorizer.

If a bed cover isn’t removable or the bed shouldn’t be washed, vacuum or clean it thoroughly, scrub it with a damp microfiber cloth, and wash the floor under the bed as often as possible. Purchase several covers, sheets, or towels for pet bed use and rotate them in and out of the wash.


The best food and water bowls are made of stainless steel. Avoid ceramic bowls, as some decorative ceramics allow chemicals to leach into food and water. Plastic bowls may contain carcinogenic substances and can harbor bacteria.

Washing your dog’s food and water bowls with soap and hot water is especially important if you feed your dog raw meat because pathogenic bacteria can reproduce quickly at room temperature. Your dog should have access to fresh, pure water at all times.


Slick or slippery floors, whether polished wood, vinyl, laminate, or tile, can pose health risks to dogs who have arthritis or are recovering from an illness or accident. Replace slippery flooring with bamboo or cork, both of which are slip-resistant, or use non-skid rugs, sisal grass runners, peel-and-stick carpet squares, yoga mats, or other skid-free surfaces wherever your dog needs traction.

You can discover a flooring’s slip-resistance by checking for its coefficient of friction, or COF, which is an objective standard of rating how slippery an item is. Manufacturers and retailers publish flooring COF ratings for comparison. Terracotta tile, quarry tile, and brick have high COF ratings, so they are very slip-resistant, while honed natural stone, which is slippery like glass, has one of the lowest COF ratings.

Open some windows in your home whenever possible; this will improve the indoor air quality (as long as there are no wildfires or other threats to outdoor air quality.). Screens help to keep flying insects out. Safety bars are a good idea for incautious dogs. Photo Credits: Alina Rosanova /


Science tells us that dogs improve human health by bringing the outdoors in, but we don’t want a house full of muddy paw prints. Create an entrance plan to help keep things tidy. A mud room or garage entry, coupled with a super absorbent doormat or rug directly inside or outside the door will reduce incoming dirt. Have a good supply of towels, paw or body wipes, brushes, and grooming supplies nearby to simplify cleanup.


You already know that, for your own health, you shouldn’t smoke. But did you know that second-hand smoke has been associated with lung and nasal cancers in smokers’ dogs? If you must smoke, do it outdoors and away from your dog. Don’t smoke in any enclosed space such as a closed room (or worse, in a car) with your dog present.

The air in the average home can be two to 20 times more polluted than the air outside. In addition to using natural cleaning products, open the windows in your home at least once a day unless the outdoor air quality is poor, such as when smog, air pollution, smoke from forest fires, or high pollen counts reduce air quality.

Whole-house and portable air filters remove dust, pollen, mold, and bacteria. Non-toxic houseplants improve air quality by removing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen. Instead of using chemical “air fresheners,” use scented flowers, dried herbs, or aromatherapy essential oil diffusers to add fragrance.


Pet waste smells bad and can attract flies and spread worms. Removing it daily helps prevent health problems including coprophagia (when dogs eat their own or other dogs’ poop).

In place of commercial pesticides and herbicides, look for safe, organic compounds that can help control garden pests and keep your yard healthy without the use of toxic chemicals.

Every improvement you can make in the health of your home and yard will help your dog avoid common problems.


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“May I Pet Your Dog?”

The Problem With, “May I Pet Your Dog?”

Let’s ask the dog – not the handler – and learn when his body language truly is answering “Yes!”

Kathy Callahan, CPDT-KA, is a Family Dog Mediator (FDM) who specializes in puppyhood coaching in Alexandria, VA. She’s also the author of 101 Rescue Puppies: One Family’s Story of Fostering Dogs, Love and Trust.

It used to be that if folks wanted to pet your dog, they just reached out and did it. Happily, in today’s more well-informed world, there’s usually a quick, “May I pet your dog?” first.  All too often, though, the moment that permission is granted, the stranger is moving in close and looming over the dog, swiftly thrusting a hand an inch from the dog’s nose. The dog – perhaps pushed forward a bit by the owner who sees how eagerly the other human wants this – might find an enthusiastic, two-handed ear jostle is next. 

For some dogs – the stereo-typical Golden Retriever, perhaps? – this is the moment they’ve been waiting for! That extra human attention may even be the highlight of their walk. If your family has only included extroverted canine ambassadors like this, the idea that a dog would not welcome an outstretched hand is incomprehensible. 

Yet, comprehend we must. Because, believe it or not, few dogs automatically love being trapped on a leash and touched by new people. As hard as it is for us to accept, that quiet dog being petted may well be hating every moment that the human is enjoying so much. While that’s important to understand when you’re the stranger in the scenario, it’s absolutely critical when you’re the one holding the leash.


man petting dog
Photo Credits: Antoniodiaz /

Indeed, plenty of wonderful dogs are not eager to say hello to strangers. They may feel anything from uninterested, to wary, to terrified. In some cases, they have been specially bred – by humans – to feel what they’re feeling. 

Unfortunately, because we humans value petting dogs so much, we often ignore that pesky truth. We tend to believe that all good dogs should happily accept petting from anybody at any time. But dogs have plenty of reasons for choosing to say no:

Perhaps they’ve been bred to guard, so this forced interaction with strangers is deeply conflicting.

Perhaps they’re simply more introverted and don’t enjoy this kind of socialization.

Perhaps something in their background has made them less trusting of people.

Perhaps normally they’d be all in, but today their ear hurts, or they are very distracted by the big German Shepherd staring at them from across the street.

There are many reasons, all legitimate, that may make a dog prefer to skip this unnecessary interaction. Look for consent before the two-handed ear jostle!


Becoming conscious of just how deeply some dogs do not want to be randomly touched is the first step toward realizing that we really should be asking dogs, not their handlers, whether or not we can pet them. Ultimately, it’s the dog’s consent we need in order to safely pet them, not the human’s. 

Maybe the idea of giving our dogs the right to consent feels strange to you. For my part, it feels downright creepy to not give my dog the right to consent or decline to being touched by a stranger. It feels wrong that I have the power to decree, “Sure, absolutely, you go right ahead and put your hands all over this dog’s body. She’s so pretty, isn’t she? We all love to touch her.” Ew!  

Of course, dogs can’t verbally answer the “May I pet you?” question (when given the opportunity to do so), but they sure do answer with their body language. Unfortunately, most people don’t have the skills to read what can be very subtle signals, and as a result, many dogs are routinely subjected to handling that makes them uncomfortable. Worse, this often happens while they’re restrained by a leash with their owner allowing it. 

That experience can make dogs even less enamored of strangers, and – the saddest part – less trusting of their owners, who did not step up to help them through that moment. 


I give my dogs agency when it comes to who touches them and when. If somebody asks, “May I pet your dog?” I smile at their interest and tell them I’d love for them to ask the dog. Then I show them how: 

  • Keep a little distance at first.
  • Turn a bit to the side, so you don’t appear confrontational.
  • Use your warm, friendly voice to continually reassure. 
  • Crouch down, so that you’re not looming in a scary way.
  • Keep your glances soft and light instead of giving a steady stare.
  • Offer your hand to sniff. But instead of the fist shoved unavoidably in the dog’s face (which is what society has been taught is the polite thing to do), simply move that hand ever so slightly toward the dog so she has a choice of whether to get closer to investigate. Look elsewhere as she does so, so she can have a little privacy as she sniffs.

Often, this approach gets us to a waggy “yes” from even a shy dog in 30 seconds! 


If the dog pulls toward the stranger with a loose, relaxed, or wiggly body, the dog is saying yes. Great! The next step is to begin petting the dog in the spot she’s offering – likely her chest or rump. (A top-of-the-head pat is on many dogs’ list of “Top 10 Things I Hate About Humans.”)

If my dog does not give a quick or easy “yes,” I may try backing us up a bit and making conversation, because many dogs warm up after having a few minutes at a safe distance to size up a new human. I might feed my dog a few treats while talking to the stranger, or give him some treats to toss near my dog. If she then relaxes and leans into the experience, great! 

If not, we just call it a day and move along. That is also – and this is critically important – great! No harm, no foul. No need to apologize if our dogs say, “No thanks.” We can simply and cheerily head on our way. 

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Is Your Dog Terrified To Be Alone?

Is Your Dog Terrified To Be Alone? There Is Hope!

It’s every dog owner’s nightmare – your dog is afraid to be left alone. It’s a life-altering situation that’s heartbreaking, destructive, and potentially dangerous. But with this innovative book from professional dog trainer and behavior therapist Nicole Wilde, you’ll learn not only how to distinguish separation anxiety from similar-looking maladies, but also how to alleviate this debilitating disorder.

Don’t Leave Me is a Separation Anxiety textbook that will teach you to:

  • Recognize The Behavior
  • Handle The Trauma
  • Manage The Symptoms
  • Determine The Treatment

Using real-life examples plus her experience with her own dog, Nicole Wilde leads you through the facts and falsehoods of what separation anxiety is, its causes, and the potential remedies.

Did you know?

  • Your “clingy” dog doesn’t necessarily have separation issues?
  • Letting your dog sleep in your bed will NOT encourage separation anxiety?
  • Gating a separation-stressed dog is possible?
  • Certain medications are a safe and useful part of effective treatment?
  • Effective Management (including when and how to leave him alone)
  • Proper Nutrition (and which foods to avoid!)
  • Appropriate Exercise (but be cautious of one particular place)
  • Confidence Building (and why you need to be a strong leader)

In addition, you’ll discover calming tools such as music, flower essences, D.A.P., and even body wraps, all of which can soothe your dog in times of distress.

Separation anxiety is a very serious issue that forces too many dog-owners to give up hope (and their dogs!), but there are solutions – learn and implement them with the help of this hands-on guidebook. Order your copy of Don’t Leave Me today!





Can Dogs Drink Milk & Eat Dairy Products?

Many dogs enjoy and benefit from consuming milk and other milk-based foods without any ill effects. Follow these tips if you’d like to add dairy products to your dog’s diet.

Whole Dog Journal is reader-supported. If you purchase through links on our site we may earn a commission. Whole Dog Journal does not accept money for its food and product reviews.

Any food fed to dogs will provoke an argument, but dairy products provoke more than most.

Milk and dairy products are highly regarded because of their protein, calcium, potassium, vitamin D, B vitamins, zinc, and other nutrients. That, and the fact that most dogs love dairy products, mean that milk and other milk-based products remain popular additions to canine diets.

Theories About Issues With Feeding Milk

Healthy infant puppies have no trouble digesting their mother’s milk, but adult dogs are often unable to digest lactose, milk’s naturally occurring sugar. The lactose in cow’s milk is blamed for diarrhea, vomiting, loss of appetite, bloating, flatulence, and other symptoms associated with lactose intolerance.

Until recently, the dairy-for-dogs debate focused on how milk is produced and processed. Today’s dairy cattle are often raised in crowded conditions, fed inappropriate feed, and treated with hormones and antibiotics that leave residues and affect the quality of milk. People who consider milk a perfect food for puppies and adult dogs advocate a return to humane, organic, small-scale, grass-fed dairy farming

Pasteurization is also blamed for reducing the nutritive qualities of milk. Milk is pasteurized to kill harmful bacteria, yeast, and molds; ultra-pasteurization (treatment with higher temperatures) further extends shelf life.

Critics of these procedures claim that pasteurization alters milk’s proteins and destroys its beneficial enzymes. Raw milk is touted by these folks as the solution. The Campaign for Real Milk ( provides updates, resources, and safety information about raw milk. Regulations vary by state, but in several states pet supply stores sell raw milk products for dogs.

Homogenizing has its critics, too. Fresh whole milk separates, with cream rising to the top. Some dairies sell whole milk that has a layer of cream on top but most sell homogenized milk, which has been treated under high pressure to break the cream into small particles, resulting in a uniform mixture. Because the fat molecules in goat’s milk and sheep’s milk are already small enough to create a uniform texture, they are not usually homogenized.

New Theory About Lactose-Intolerance in Dogs

It’s gotten popular for drive-through coffee chains to offer a free “puppuchino” for any dogs in your car. Typically, this is a paper cup filled with whipped cream, sometimes topped with a dog biscuit. Dogs love this treat, but whipped cream contains a lot of fat and sugar, and the service size may be inappropriately large!

While milk production and processing methods remain key topics, the science of genetics has changed the dairy-for-dogs debate. About half of America’s dairy cows have a mutation that creates a milk protein called A1 beta-casein. Recent research has shown that A1 milk, which is produced by Holstein cattle, America’s most productive dairy cows, may be linked to human health problems such as allergies, indigestion, and even autoimmune disorders.

In contrast, cows such as Guernsey, Jersey, Charolai, Limousin, Norwegian Reds, and Brown Swiss cows have a higher percentage of the older, original A2 gene. More than 200 reports in the medical literature compare the effects of A1 and A2 milk, including “A Systematic Review of the Gastrointestinal Effects of A1 Compared with A2 Beta-Casein” in the September 2017 journal Advanced Nutrition. That study reports that A1 milk consumption is associated with digestive discomfort and inflammatory response markers in rodents and humans.

While no conclusive studies have compared the effects of A1 and A2 milk on dogs, anecdotal reports from veterinarians, breeders, and owners describe dogs with dairy-related indigestion improving on A2 milk.

Milk that is labeled as A2 or A2A2 (which indicates that both parents of the cows that produced the milk had the A2-milk producing genes) is now easy to find in American supermarkets as well as natural food stores.

Other animals that produce A2 milk include sheep, goats, bison, camels, donkeys, and yaks. Any of these milks can be added to food to help ill or aging dogs recover or used as a supplemental food for young puppies.

Can Does Eat Cheese?

Dairy products made from milk, especially cow’s milk, can produce no problems at all or acute digestive upsets in dogs. Upsets are usually blamed on lactose intolerance.

Cottage, Swiss, and cheddar cheese contain far less lactose per ounce than whole milk. String cheese or young (rather than aged) cheddar training treats are easier for most dogs to tolerate than aged hard cheeses. Ripened cheeses contain mycotoxins that can be toxic to dogs, such as those found in Roquefort, blue cheeses, and Stilton. The fungi used to make these veined, fragrant cheeses produce roquefortine C, which can cause vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and even seizures in dogs.

Aged, hard cheeses have a high sodium content and so do feta and some other types. Too much salt can harm dogs with heart disease, Addison’s disease, advanced kidney disease, and other conditions that warrant a low-salt diet. Cottage, ricotta, mozzarella, Swiss, and goat cheese are usually low in sodium.

Another concern is the fat content of cheese, which can lead to weight gain and in some cases pancreatitis, a serious illness in dogs. Cheeses that are lower in fat include mozzarella, cottage cheese, and cheeses labeled “low fat” or “reduced fat.” Large quantities of any cheese can create problems, so moderation is your best cheese-feeding guideline.

Whey, a byproduct of cheese-making, has traditionally been fed to farm animals, including dogs. Powdered whey protein is sold as a performance-enhancing sports supplement for canine athletes and for dogs recovering from illness or injury. If your dog might benefit from a whey supplement, consult your veterinarian and adjust the dog’s diet as needed. Liquid raw-milk whey is sold at some stores and farms; see

Dairy and Microbiome

As described in “A Better Biome: Fecal Transplants for Dogs,” WDJ February 2018, microbiome is an umbrella term that describes communities of bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other microbes in the body, especially within the digestive tract.

“Friendly” or beneficial bacteria secrete chemicals that destroy harmful bacteria. If they are present in sufficient numbers, colonies of beneficial bacteria starve harmful microbes by depriving them of nutrients and space. A healthy microbiome is the immune system’s first line of defense.

Lactofermented dairy products are probiotics that support the microbiome and are often recommended for dogs with yeast infections, inflammation, skin issues, allergies, and digestive disorders.

The most famous fermented dairy products are yogurt and kefir, and in recent years both have become popular foods for dogs. They help strengthen the immune system, aid digestion, and restore the body’s beneficial bacteria, especially after treatment with antibiotics.

According to “Modulation of the intestinal microbiota of dogs by kefir as a functional dairy product,” a study published in the May 2019 Journal of Dairy Science, healthy adult dogs had improved gut bacteria after daily feedings of kefir for just two weeks. “Kefir could be further developed as a novel probiotic food supplement for dogs to improve the quality of life of dogs,” the study concluded.

Several types of yogurt and kefir are available in natural food markets and pet supply stores, including fresh or frozen cow’s milk and goat’s milk products, some with added ingredients (check labels). The most affordable way to feed plain, unflavored, sugar-free yogurt or kefir is to make your own, and the process is simple.

Dehydrated live milk kefir starter grains and yogurt starters are readily available (see or The fermentation process helps reduce lactose in milk, and so do active cultures, which continue to break down lactose during the cultured milk’s refrigeration.

Making yogurt requires a warm, steady temperature such as in an electric yogurt maker, while kefir ferments at room temperature. If available, try using organic, pasture-raised A2A2 milk or goat’s milk. Store yogurt and kefir in the refrigerator or freeze it for long-term storage. How-to videos at and other sites demonstrate the steps; search online for “make your own yogurt or kefir.”

Begin feeding these foods in small amounts, such as 1 teaspoon per 20 pounds of body weight added to your dog’s dinner. Wait 24 hours and watch for digestive problems such as diarrhea. If your dog enjoys the taste and feels well, add more the next day. Several experts say to feed up to 2 tablespoons of yogurt or kefir per 20 pounds of body weight per day, but many dogs in excellent health eat significantly more. Monitor your dog’s response and check with your veterinarian for the best results.

using kefir starter to make lactofermented dairy

Can Dogs Eat Ice Cream?

Dogs, like their humans, love frozen dairy treats – but frozen dairy treats may not love them back. Ice cream made with cow’s milk is likely to be high in lactose (and probably A1 milk proteins), sweetened with sugar, high in fat, and artificially flavored. Always check the ingredients; some ice cream contains xylitol, which is seriously toxic to dogs.

Ice cream products that are specially made for dogs are usually lactose- and xylitol-free but may contain sweeteners like maltodextrin, polydextrose, sorbitol, and other questionable ingredients.

Making a healthier alternative can be as easy as freezing plain kefir or yogurt in ice cube trays, popsicle trays, or freezer pop molds. Fresh fruit, peanut butter, or other sugar-free flavorings can be added before freezing along with wooden sticks for holding the treats for your dog.

Let Your Dog Enjoy Dairy!

It’s well known that dogs love dairy! With carefully chosen ingredients, your pups can fall in love with milk-based products that love them back.

Please Don’t “Alpha” Your Dog

Life with your dog shouldn’t resemble some sort of dystopian boot camp. Mutual respect based on clear communication and kindness set the stage for cooperation and peace.

For over a decade, the scientific behavior community has been telling us that trying to be the human “alpha” is a seriously flawed approach to changing your dog’s behavior. Despite this, there is still a plethora of information online and in books that purport to teach you how to be an alpha to your dog. 

Reading through some of that advice in preparation for writing this article, I feel physically chilled. I can’t imagine living in a home where I had to “demand respect” and “assert my dominance in everything I do” around my dog, to “make him get out of my way” if he’s lying in my path, or other equally absurd recommendations. And I don’t think I’m alone; I don’t know many dog owners who want to live in some sort of canine detention center, where the dogs must be reminded at every turn that I’m the boss! 

I’m not going to go on and on; I just want to give some encouragement to anyone who has fallen prey to this sort of indoctrination. If you have been intimidated by an instructor into yanking on your dog’s leash, or told that your “softness” is the reason your dog is misbehaving, know this: These are outdated methods that are no longer recommended by today’s behavior experts. 


Today’s humane, successful, and enjoyable approach utilizes methods that create a relationship with your dog based on mutual trust, love, and respect. Real leadership looks like:

  • Showing and teaching. Use lure-shaping to teach your dog to lie down on cue, rather than pushing on her shoulders or pulling down on her collar. Or “capture” the down by “marking” it with the click of a clicker or a verbal marker, such as the word “Yes!” and giving her a treat whenever she lies down on her own, until she understands this is a great way to win more rewards and starts offering the “down” more frequently. Then just add your cue! (See “The Allure of the Lure,” WDJ July 2018, and “How to Get a Dog to Behave,” August 2014.)
  • Understanding. Recognize that when your dog doesn’t do something you ask her to do, it’s because something is interfering with her ability to do so – she may be stressed, distracted, in pain, or simply hasn’t learned the behavior as well as you thought.
  • Empathizing. Comfort your dog when she is stressed, hurting, or confused instead of insisting that she perform.
  • Forgiving. If your dog did something that upset you, whether she soiled your carpet or snapped at you when you picked up a shoe she had snagged, don’t hold it against her. Our dogs are doing their best to make sense of a human world that often makes no sense to them. They are, however, really good at reading our body language, and if you stay angry about something your dog has done she’ll know you’re upset with her (and be stressed about it), but she won’t know why.

Do your dog a life-enhancing favor and eschew the use of force and intimidation in favor of cooperation and trust. In the end, your role as a benevolent leader rather than an alpha dictator will make life better for both of you.

Author Pat Miller, CBCC-KA, CPDT‑KA, is WDJ’s Training Editor and author of many books on dog-friendly dog training. See “Resources,” page 24, for book and contact information.

How to get rid of dog fleas!

Will Pet Insurance Help You?

Myth or Fact: Is Pet Insurance Costly?

Insurance for cats and dogs isn’t as standard as insurance for houses and cars. Unfortunately, this is because of the many myths and misconceptions about pet insurance. Pet owners are more inclined to pay out-of-pocket costs than get insurance for their furry friends. Why is that? The costs associated with pet insurance make owners vehemently deny the benefits.

You do not need to get the first pet insurance policy you encounter. It’s crucial to read resources and reviews like Spot pet insurance reviews before agreeing to a specific plan. Among the many things you have to check are the coverage, the premium, and the claims process. You should also check the specific breed of cat or dog you have and ensure the policy covers their usual conditions. 

Dog, Cat, Pets, Mammals, Animals, Friends, Friendship

Myth: Young and Healthy Pets Don’t Need Insurance 

The best time to buy pet insurance is when the pets are still young and healthy. Pre-existing conditions aren’t eligible for pet insurance, so it’s important to secure a policy before these pre-existing conditions start to appear. If your pets eat something toxic or develop skin rashes, the policy can take care of their vet needs. 

Myth: Pet Insurance Doesn’t Cover Vaccines 

There are some pet insurance policies that cover vaccines and boosters. However, it doesn’t make sense to pay for insurance on expected annual costs of pet upkeep. If you know you need to pay $500 a year for your pets’ boosters, why spend that money on an insurance company? Pet insurance protects owners from unexpected costs of pet maintenance. This includes injuries and illnesses that cost thousands of dollars to treat. 

Myth: Pet Insurance Doesn’t Work With All Clinics and Hospitals 

This claim is the biggest myth of all. Pet insurance doesn’t work the same as health insurance. With pet insurance, the owners have to file a claim to get reimbursement. You don’t have to worry if the veterinarian is “in-network.” The insurance will cover a portion of the cost of treating your pets. This, of course, depends on your specific insurance policy. 

Myth: Filing a Claim Is Such a Nuisance 

Admittedly, some pet insurance companies make it hard to file a claim. That’s why you need to review the policies before signing them. Most pet insurance will simply require a copy of the vet invoice. If your pet insurance has an app, you just need to upload the invoice and wait for the process to complete. 

Myth: Previous Medical Conditions Are Not Covered

While it is true that pre-existing conditions are not included in pet insurance, you can still ask for coverage for illnesses they’ve already been cleared from before. For example, your dog had an ear infection three years ago. If it has been cleared from it, the policy can cover ear infection if it happens again. Additionally, there are a lot of illnesses born out of previous conditions. Pet insurance can cover these as long as it is not the pre-existing condition itself. 

Do not second-guess the usefulness of pet insurance. It’s a practical way to take care of your pets. Being a pet parent is more than just playing with them and buying them the best dog food. You want them to live a long and healthy life, right? Then, pet insurance is a practical way to ensure you can always provide for their needs.



Great Book! Take a Look! Woof!

All it took was a sudden lunge and a flash of teeth. You may have missed it by a hair, but regardless, the intention was unmistakable: your dog could have bitten you, or someone else.

“This behavior came out of nowhere,” you say, and to you, that may be true. Your dog however, if able to talk, would tell a very different story. Earlier risk factors, subtle clues in his behavior, a rising stack of stressors, all warning signs aimed to clue you in, were missed.

No dog wants to bite, just as no one wants to be bitten. As the careful, responsible dog owner you are, you’re looking for ways to avoid a potential bite before it happens. Let the experts of Whole Dog Journal make your life less stressful, by learning how to do the same for your dog!

Dog BitesWhole Dog Journal’s newest eBook, will give you the insight you need to understand why some dogs respond with aggression, and how you as their owner can help remove or manage stressors in their environment that can lead them to lashing out.

Download today, to find the following tips inside…

Why growling is good and how to decipher the many types. (Some dogs even talk in growls!)

How to lower your dog’s “bite threshold” by recognizing stressors in your dog’s environment, and how to remove them entirely.

Train your dog through play! Learn how a game of tug can lead to changes in biting behavior.

Including specialist’s advice and sample behavior modification training and programs, Dog Bites has all the information you’ll need: from why our instinctual reaction to punish a growl or lunge is harmful to a dog’s future communication, to how to desensitize your dog to adverse stimuli in their environment through counter-conditioning.




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Separation Anxiety in Dogs

What the mainstream media (and your Instagram feed) gets wrong about separation anxiety in dogs.

The advent of the pandemic in 2020 caused many of us to begin spending most of our time at home with our dogs. Many people used the opportunity of having more time at home to add a new dog to their families.

Then, seemingly overnight, there were reports everywhere in the mainstream press and on TV discussing the huge, catastrophic,impending wave that’s supposedly about to strike our nation: a wave of canine separation anxiety – the common expression for dogs who experience distress when left home alone. On every media (and social media), journalists are worrying about how our canine family members will adjust to being alone once our families return to school and work outside of the home.

The good news? All that buzz created has more awareness than ever about separation anxiety in dogs. And that awareness means that people are clamoring for information.

The bad news is that much of the information that has been made available to dog owners includes confusing or incomplete recommendations, which leaves them feeling overwhelmed and at a loss as to where to begin.

And the really ugly news? With the increase in attention and demand for separation anxiety training services, inhumane and ineffective methods, promoted as guaranteed quick fixes, have flooded into the marketplace. Add the fact that the media has been indiscriminately airing both urban legends about canine separation anxiety (SA) as well as false claims about quick fixes, and you’ve got a perfect recipe for a lot of potential cruelty inflicted on an already highly stressed canine population.

Here are some important corrections to the most prevalent and potentially harmful inaccuracies about canine separation anxiety commonly shared today:

WRONG: “The separation anxiety crisis is new.”

CORRECTION: Media attention is new, but this is one of the most common issues addressed in professional behavior practices.

According to a 2010 study published in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior, problems that occur during the owner’s absence represent up to 40% of the caseload in behavioral practices in North America. That is a lot of separation anxiety. Fortunately, because this concerning behavior is not new, there is also a lot of research available to help with its understanding. In the past four decades, separation anxiety has been the most commonly discussed disorder in published studies of experimental research and retrospective research in the fields of applied animal behavior and veterinary behavior (Ogata 2016).

The process of training a dog who exhibits separation anxiety was originally developed in the 1950s. While the implementation of that process has been refined and improved over the years, the basic principle of systematic desensitization is the same. (See “Amicable Separation,” WDJ June 2020.)

WRONG: “Separation anxiety results when dogs are too attached to their families.”

CORRECTION: Much media attention focused on the sheer number of hours that we were spending at home with our dogs. The worry seemed to be that being home all the time would create hyper-attachment and therefore lead to separation anxiety. However, a landmark study showed otherwise. Video analysis showed that dogs with SA spent no more time in contact with or in proximity to their owners during the attachment test than dogs without SA (P>0.05) (Parthasarathy, 2006). Being more bonded does not mean more separation anxiety.

Our canine behavior practice has focused on SA exclusively for more than 20 years. In all that time, we have not seen a correlation between so-called “Velcro dogs” and separation anxiety. Nor have we seen that dogs who spend a lot of time with their owners are more likely to have signs of separation anxiety than dogs who spend less time with their owners.

As far back as the early 1990s, we began seeing peer-reviewed research that refuted the notion that dogs who are “spoiled” by their guardians are more likely to engage in problem behaviors such as separation anxiety. Separation anxiety is not linked to any particular behaviors on the part of the dog’s owners. A lot of our work resides in reassuring these loving dog guardians that they did not create this problem.

Have you felt guilty about what others have said about your supposed role in your dog’s separation anxiety? Please, right now, absolve yourself of any and all guilt. This condition is not your fault.

WRONG: “More exercise will fix dogs with separation anxiety.”

CORRECTION: We’re all for physical exercise and mental enrichment, but these aren’t a cure for fear in this or any case. We shout from the rooftops that dogs need appropriate enrichment both physically and mentally.

However, this is because enrichment contributes to the overall health and wellbeing of our dogs. More physical exercise or mental enrichment unfortunately does not result in a resolution of fear-based behaviors like separation anxiety, despite how prevalent these recommendations are.

Let’s say you are terrified of flying on an airplane, but you must make a flight later that day. What if your friend told you to run 10 miles prior to boarding in order to feel less afraid? We think you’ll agree that this would not help. Physical exertion cannot overcome panic, particularly not in the long term.

WRONG: “You can prevent separation anxiety.”

CORRECTION: Helping your dog learn about spending time alone is a great exercise for many reasons. But the idea of prevention gets fear in dogs all wrong. We cannot “prevent” that for which we don’t know the cause. Separation anxiety may be well-researched, but what causes it still remains unclear.

We can do a lot to help dogs learn that alone time is safe, and we can prepare them for the eventuality of time spent without us. However, even these worthwhile tasks do not guarantee the prevention of separation anxiety.

WRONG: “Separation anxiety in dogs can be fixed quickly.”

CORRECTION: It’s so tempting to think that there’s a way to speed up fear recovery. If there were a gadget, a pill, or an app that fixed separation anxiety, we would be all over it, but none exists.

It’s imperative to understand that separation anxiety training has to be adjusted to the individual dog with whom we are working. The dog sets the pace, and no two dogs are the same. These are living, breathing, sentient beings, and we can’t apply cookie-cutter training and expect resolution.

Separation anxiety is akin to a phobia in humans and the level of panic that the dog experiences when left alone may not be logical to us, but it is very real to the dog. Fear like that cannot be modified by using quick fix remedies.

But you can take comfort in this: The scientifically supported training that is used to resolve SA is not new; it’s been tested and true.

WRONG: “Nobody knows how to help these new dogs with separation anxiety!”

CORRECTION: We do know how to help dogs with separation anxiety. Thankfully, we already have good practical experience and don’t need to reinvent the wheel.

The successes that we have witnessed are countless. Additionally, members of our team have helped many more dogs, and the collective accomplishments are inestimable. The dogs we’ve seen are incredible. They just need help feeling safe in this modern world. Our clients’ dogs who suffer from separation anxiety are truly extraordinary in every way; they are simply terrified of alone time. We can help them thrive.

The premier specialists with this behavior issue are Certified Separation Anxiety Trainers (CSATs). CSATs are the only separation anxiety practitioners recommended by the American Veterinary Society for Animal Behavior.


Are you worried about leaving your dog alone? Don’t heed the myths and confusion shared in the popular press and social media. Contact a qualified dog professional and get started. We’ve been here all along and we’re here for you now. You can get through this and your dog can, too.

Malena DeMartini-Price is renowned in the dog training world for her expertise in dog separation anxiety issues. She is the author of the books Treating Separation Anxiety in Dogs, as well as Separation Anxiety in Dogs: Next-Generation Treatment Protocols and Practices.

Maia Huff-Owen is a KPA-CTP and a CSAT. She is also an instructor for Malena DeMartini’s Separation Anxiety Certification Program, a 14-week, intensive course that teaches dog trainers how to work successfully with separation anxiety cases. See “Resources,” page 24, for contact information.

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CAUTION! Don’t Let Your Kitties Get Into Toxic Items!

5 Things in Your Household That Are Toxic for Cats You Might Not Know About

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Cats are known to be one of the most low-maintenance pets. Their independent nature allows pet owners to leave them for hours on end without fuss. However, that doesn’t make them any less susceptible to dangerous items lying around your home. In case of freak accidents, it pays to consider getting pet insurance for your cat. It will cover the costs of treatments or tests resulting from accidents or illnesses. With that out of the way, you can rest assured that your cat is protected against unfortunate situations. Plus, it prevents you from shelling out sudden expenses in the future.

All that said, here is a list of five things in your home that may be toxic for your cats. Keep them in mind and make sure to put these items away before you carry on with your day. If all else fails, your pet insurance plan should help ease your worries.

Alcoholic and Caffeinated Beverages

We all love ourselves a good glass of wine or beer after a long day’s work. Cats, on the other hand, may not react well to alcoholic beverages. They contain ethanol, which affects a cat’s nervous system. They can get drunk with just a small sip, causing unstable movement and sleepiness. If ingested in excessive amounts, the worst-case scenario is respiratory failure and possibly death. 

Similarly, coffee, soda, tea, and other drinks with caffeine can be bad for cats. They are shown to affect the heart, lungs, kidneys, and nervous system. That said, make sure to stow away your morning cup of coffee, along with the beans atop the kitchen counter.

Food Items

Cats are not allergic to all human food items. In fact, some enjoy chicken just as much as humans do. However, there are certain food items commonly found at home that can cause food poisoning. This includes chocolate, grapes, onions, garlic, chives, and leeks. If you prepare homemade meals for your cat, make sure to exclude them from your recipes. They can cause serious damage like ruptured blood cells, impaired oxygen flow, low blood pressure, seizures, tremors, diarrhea, and vomiting. 


This one may come as a surprise to many of you. While some flowers can live harmoniously with cats, certain forms of pollen, flowers, and leaves can be toxic to their health. You should avoid lilies, daisies, tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, azaleas, and chrysanthemums.Red haired pussy on the sill window


Another household item we tend to leave around the house is medicine. Certain types can fatally damage your cat’s systems, such as ibuprofen, aspirin, sleeping pills, cholesterol medication, and antidepressants, to name a few. As a safety measure, keep all your medicine bottles stored in a secure place.

Cleaning Products

Ingesting cleaning products is dangerous for nearly everyone, including cats. Detergent, bleach, and bathroom cleansers are common culprits in cat poisoning. If your cat shows signs like vomiting, burning skin, excessive drooling, and respiratory difficulties, then it is best to rush them to the vet.

These are just some household items that may pose risks for your cat’s health. Be cautious and read up on other ways you can keep your cat safe at home. 

My Puppy is 6 Months Old! What now?

6 month old Labrador retriever

Month 6 to 1 Year of Puppy Development – What to Expect

It seems like only yesterday you were bringing your tiny puppy home for the first time. But at 6 months old, your pooch is now considered an adolescent.

They’re in the final stretch of their development stage, and pretty soon you’ll have an adult dog on your hands. The care needs of a 6-month to 1-year-old pooch are drastically different to earlier ages, which we’ve also covered, so you’ll need to make sure you’re prepared.

And to help you on your way to raising a healthy and happy adult dog, we’ll be going over everything you need to know about month 6 to 1 year of puppy development.

young German Shepherd

6-Month-Old Puppy Training

By 6 months of age, your puppy should hopefully be crate trained and housebroken. Some pups might have the odd accident or two, but this shouldn’t be a regular occurrence.

Your puppy’s brain is fully developed at this point, so they should understand the difference between wrong and right behaviour.

Now is a good time to work on some basic commands such as sit, stay, and lay down. You can also start adding some tricks like roll over, crawl, and catch.

If you haven’t already, consider teaching your puppy recall (i.e., come back when called). This is handy during off-leash walks for when you need your pooch to return to you. Teaching your dog to drop items on cue is also important, particularly if they get their paws onto something they’re not supposed to.

Once your puppy has learned everything they need to know, you should continue training sessions to keep them on their toes. Otherwise, you might find your puppy has a sudden case of forgetfulness, which might set their training process back.

Around this time, you might notice your puppy picking up some bad habits or new behavioural issues. Make sure you rectify any problem behaviour as soon as possible.

Don’t be tempted to let it slide or presume it will go away once your dog reaches adulthood. The longer you leave it, the harder it will be to correct.

If you’re struggling to deal with a misbehaving puppy, speak to your vet for advice or consult a dog trainer.

Springer Spaniel puppy

6-Month-Old Puppy Behaviour

Your puppy is essentially a teenager at 6 months old, and their behaviour will be a lot different to when they were 8 weeks or even 16 weeks old. They will likely be energetic, playful, and much more independent.

It’s also common for puppies to get a bit rebellious and destructive during this stage of development. They may start regressing in terms of training, seemingly “forgetting” all the things you’ve previously taught them.

Try not to get disheartened and continue working on your pup’s training. Be consistent and repetitive with sessions, and above all else, don’t lose hope! Your puppy’s naughtiness isn’t personal, it’s just something that happens during the adolescent stage.

You can help reduce mischievous behaviour by ensuring you provide your dog with plenty of physical and mental stimulation. Puzzle toys, games of fetch or tug-of-war, and even agility courses are great ways for curbing boredom in rascal pups.

In addition to a newfound rebellious streak, you might notice a shift in the behaviour between your puppy and other dogs in your house. Adult dogs will know your pup isn’t so young anymore. They’ll be less likely to look the other way if your puppy crosses any boundaries.

dog playing in garden

6-Month-Old Puppy Sleep Schedules

Despite being bigger and stronger, your 6-month-old puppy still requires plenty of rest each day. All that playing and exploring is hard work! Most puppies sleep for around 16 to 18 hours a day at 6 months old.

Make sure you let them squeeze in a nap after a walk or intense play session. Besides, while your pup is asleep, at least they’re not getting into mischief!Additionally, your four-legged friend should be older enough to sleep through the night without needing any potty breaks. As a general rule of thumb, a puppy can hold their bladder one hour for every month of their age. So, a 6-month-old dog should be capable of going 6 hours without needing to eliminate.

Naughty Puppy Behaviour

A couple of common problems associated with 6-month-old puppies is disobedience and not coming back when called. The former usually results in a lot of young dogs being put in rescue centres, unfortunately.

It can be frustrating dealing with a puppy who won’t listen, but you need to keep up your training sessions (we keep reiterating this, but it really is important!).

Offer treats, games, or praise when your puppy is responsive and listens to your commands. Reward them after good behaviour so they associate it with a positive.

If your pooch isn’t returning to you when you call them back on walks, it could be because you’re not as appealing as the thing they’re sniffing, exploring, etc. You need to give your dog a reason to want to come back to you, whether it’s because you have a tasty treat or their favourite toy.

mischievous puppy

6-Month-Old Feeding

Between the ages of 2 to 6 months old, puppies are normally fed 3 to 4 times a day. During the adolescent stage, however, most dogs can drop down to 2 meals a day.

Some large breeds aren’t fully mature until 18 to 24 months old, so they may still need to be fed 3 or 4 times a day. If you’re unsure, check with your vet before you reduce your puppy’s feedings.

Although your puppy is almost an adult, they still have some growing to do. Continue feeding them puppy food to ensure they get all the nutrients they need.

At a year old, most canines can be moved onto adult dog food twice a day. Again, large and giant breeds may still require puppy food at this age as they take longer to develop than small and medium breeds.

6-Month-Old Puppy Socialisation

While the prime time to socialise your puppy is when they are 8 to 16 weeks old, that doesn’t mean you should stop socialisation altogether. It’s still crucial for your canine to explore their environment and be introduced to new things.

Keep meeting new people and going to new places, and allow your puppy to experience things they’re not used to. This will increase their confidence and shape the type of dog they become as they mature into an adult.

Remember, ignore undesirable behaviour and reward good behaviour. Dogs learn best through positive reinforcement.

For example, if your dog barks or acts frightened when they see a bicycle, don’t yell or punish them. Keep walking and continue subjecting them to the fear until they start to relax.

The first time your dog walks past a bicycle calmly, give them a lot of praise and a reward (seriously, make a song and dance of it!). Your pup is more likely to repeat an action if they know something good comes after it.

puppy socialisation

6-Month-Old Puppy Appearance

After reaching 6 months of age, your puppy will be nearing their adult height and weight. Small breeds will be almost fully grown, but they might retain a bit of their “lanky” puppy appearance until they fill out over the upcoming months.

Medium-sized dogs will continue to grow for several months, though not as rapidly as they did when they were younger. Large and giant breeds, on the other hand, usually keep growing until 12 to 24 months of age.

Between the ages of 6 and 8 months old, dogs become sexually mature. This is around the time you should consider spaying or neutering your pooch. Bear in mind that small dogs sexually mature faster than large breeds.

Unneutered males will start showing interest in females even at half a year old, especially if they are in heat. It can be hard to control an unneutered dog around a female in heat. All his attention will be directed towards mating.

Unaltered males will mark their territory with urine, both outside and inside the house. Neutered males can also engage in marking behaviour, but usually to a lesser degree.

If your female puppy hasn’t been spayed, at around 6 to 8 months old, she will usually go into heat (also known as estrus). She can become pregnant at this age if left alone with a male dog, and may even try to run off to find a mate.

dog running with ball

6-Month-Old Puppy Health and Care

Your puppy should have had all of their vaccinations by the time they are 6 months old, but they will need booster shots annually to maintain protection from infectious diseases.

Hopefully, you’ve been keeping on top of your dog’s heartworm and flea/tick treatments. At this stage of development, your puppy should be wormed around every 3 months. Flea and tick preventatives should be given every month.

You should be making sure your puppy’s exercise requirements are being met. At 6 months old, your pup should be able to go on 30-minute walks once a day.

Continue to keep on top of your puppy’s grooming needs. This includes brushing, clipping nails, and cleaning ears and teeth. If your pooch is a long-haired breed, their coat might be getting pretty thick by now, so consider taking them to a groomer for a trim.

One of the most important decisions you’ll need to make once your puppy is around 6 months old is whether you’re going to spay/neuter them. There are a lot of benefits to neutering and spaying your pooch, including:

  • It reduces the risk of some health issues, such as certain cancers, infections, and risks associated with pregnancy.
  • It prevents unwanted litters.
  • It can encourage calmer behaviour in dogs. Additionally, neutered males are less likely to mark their territory.
  • It stops female dogs from coming into heat. During the estrus cycle, which lasts around 3 weeks twice a day, female dogs usually produce a bloody discharge and will go to great lengths to find a mate. Spaying your dog means you don’t have to go through this inconvenience.

As you can see, spaying/neutering your pup has a lot of advantages, both to you and your dog. If you’re still a little on the fence about your pup having this type of surgery, speak to your vet for advice. They should be able to answer any questions or concerns you might have.

Puppy collar of shame

6-Month-Old Puppy Schedule

By now, your puppy should be on a consistent schedule so they know what to expect each day. But if you hadn’t got a routine planned out for your pup just yet, here’s an example one you could use:

7am – Potty break and activity.

8am – Meal and activity.

9am – Sleep.

12pm – Potty break and activity.

4pm – Sleep.

6pm – Potty break, meal and activity.

8pm – Activity until bedtime.

10pm – Potty break and bed.

Bring Your Pet With You!

For quality, Made In the USA  artwork, decor, pet products and supplies, be sure to check out Pet Lovers Market today!

Bring Your Pet with You When Moving to an Assisted Living Commabout:blankunity

According to a recent poll on healthy aging, more than 50 percent of Americans between the ages of 50 and 80 are pet owners. Moreover, the benefits of animal ownership are well-established. Pets provide companionship and love, instill a sense of purpose, and reduce stress and blood pressure, among others.




Image via Pixabay

Given the benefits of pet ownership, it’s not surprising that many assisted living communities are welcoming residents with dogs and cats. If you are an animal owner who is considering a move to one of these facilities, consider appropriate strategies to make the transition as easy as possible for both you and your treasured friend. Pet Lovers Market presents a guide that will make the transition to assisted living with a pet less stressful.

Prepare Financially

For individuals moving to an assisted living residence, finances can be a critical factor in the decision-making process. In addition to comparing the costs of various facilities, you should also calculate your monthly income by adding up all sources of revenue, including Social Security payments, private pension distributions, and investment returns.

Next, if you are selling your home to help finance the move, work with a real estate agent to make sure you receive a fair price. Your agent should also be able to guide you in preparing your home for the market. For example, you may want to consider cost-effective renovations and improvements based on current trends that can increase the value of your home.

Choose the Right Facility

Once you know your budget, it’s time to research assisted living communities to find the perfect fit. While many facilities welcome animals, the rules for pet owners can vary. Learn about the policies for each potential community and ask essential questions.

● Are there any restrictions on animal size or breed?
● Is there a pet deposit or monthly fee?
● Are there vaccine requirements?
● Are pets allowed in the common areas?
● Are there dog parks or other ways for animals to socialize?
● Does the facility offer services such as grooming or dog walking?
● Is personalized pet care assistance available?

By collecting information throughout the process, you can find the residence that best accommodates your unique circumstances.

Help Your Pet Adjust

Because moving can be stressful for pets, stay sensitive to their needs and alert to any potential problems. Planning in advance can aid in your pet’s adjustment process.

● Limit your pet to one room at a time during the adjustment phase.
● Set up a special area in the room with your pet’s bed, toys, and supplies.
● Stay home with your pet.
● Maintain a consistent schedule of feedings, nap times, potty breaks, and exercise.
● Ensure your new home has items with your scent.

Be a Good Neighbor

When you move into a new community, you want to make a good impression. Be a responsible animal owner by always cleaning up after your pet, keeping your dog leashed, and ensuring your furry friend respects personal boundaries.

Assess your pet’s behavior and address any potential issues. For example, when your dog barks, it can disturb the peace and annoy your neighbors. Similarly, if your pet tends to bite people or other animals, it presents a risk to the safety of the community. Online information can help address many behavioral issues, including barking and biting. If problems persist after following the step-by-step instructions, consider hiring a professional dog trainer to help.

Pet ownership is rewarding in many ways. With research and planning, you can find the perfect retirement community for you and your animal, ensure an easy adjustment and help your pet become a welcome member of the community.

The Best Dog Etiquette Tips to Keep Peace in the Neighborhood

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The Best Dog Etiquette Tips to Keep Peace in the Neighborhood

If you’ve never been kept up all night by a neighbor’s dog barking, or walked out the front door to a smelly surprise, then you may not realize just how important dog etiquette is. If you would like to live peacefully in your neighborhood without becoming public enemy number one, it could be time to teach your dog some manners. Here are just a few tips for becoming a responsible pet owner.

Stop the Barking

You may not realize it, but you actually can train your dog to bark only when necessary. One way to do this is to ignore him while he is barking, but turn to him and give him praise the second he stops. It won’t take long for him to differentiate the good behavior from the bad. Also, try to keep him from being cooped up inside and bored all day. If your schedule is busy and you are going to be gone most of the day, consider hiring a dog walker or dog sitter to allow him to expend some energy and get out of the house.

Be Considerate of House Guests

Not everyone loves dogs, and even if they do, they might not love yours the way you do. When people stop by to visit, don’t automatically assume that they will want your pet climbing onto their lap. If your dog stays outside even part of the time, consider letting him play in the backyard while you have visitors. Or if that’s not an option, keep rambunctious pets in their areas with pet gates or crates. If you feel your pet can be polite during a visit, at least give him plenty of exercise before they arrive to curb some of the nervous energy they might feel with the presence of someone new.

Mind His Business

You are probably mindful of cleaning up his messes while you’re walking around the neighborhood, but most people don’t think too much of letting their dogs urinate near the neighbor’s bushes. But dog urine can actually cause a lot of damage to lawns and other greenery, and it’s just good manners to keep them away. Steer them toward pavement or rocks outside your neighbors’ yards instead.

Fence Him In

Some pet owners get in the habit of letting their dogs run around the neighborhood. And they think just because they’re spayed or neutered, there is not much harm in it. But most people would rather not have strange pets in their yard, so make sure your fences are secure and keep him inside the fence. Inspect your fence every once in a while to make sure he is not digging underneath or that there are no loose boards or wires where he can escape.

If you need a fence installed, locate Angi fence companies in your area. Be sure to carefully consider reviews and feedback from past customers and check in to see if any fence companies are offering discounts or credits on installation work. Installing a fence averages $4,500, but costs can vary widely depending on what type of materials you use, the size of the fence, and your location.

Dog Park Etiquette

Believe it or not, the dog park has its own set of unspoken rules to ensure safe play with other dogs. For example, don’t bring a dog that is sick or in heat. Don’t bring food for your dog that other owners will have to keep their dogs away from. And be mindful of any aggressive situations that might be festering before they get out of hand, either from or toward your pup. Intervene early and separate dogs who might not get along.

Your dog needs to expend energy just like you do. To keep him relaxed and healthy he needs a lot more companionship than you may realize. Do your best not to leave him at home alone for long periods of time or to keep him cooped up when he needs to get out and play. If your dog is happy and relaxed, he will be much more likely to behave himself.


Ryan Goodchild

Look at this precious pup!



"Autumn" - Female Havanese

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We receive a great deal of phone inquiries, so we request that first contact be made via email. The email will also give us the opportunity to provide you more detailed information about our puppies, prices and availability. If you would prefer to contact us via phone after your initial email, we welcome any additional questions you may have and look forward to speaking with you. Thank you for contacting and look forward to all inquiries, working with you and providing detailed, accurate information so you can make an informed decision about getting a Southern Silks puppy.
Thank you again, best Jeanne

Jeanne Roane
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Southern Silks Maltese and Havanese Puppies is a small hobby show breeder of Maltese puppies and Havanese puppies from beautiful southern Louisiana.

Southern Silks – Maltese – Champion Fabs

All of Southern Silks Maltese and Havanese breeding stock are AKC registered purebred Havanese dogs and Maltese dogs that are prime representatives of their breed. Our goal is to provide our new parents with a loving companion and quality family pet experience. We also do offer top show line quality Havanese puppies and Maltese puppies.

We are serious responsible Havanese and Maltese breeders and are constantly striving to improve our breed quality. Our passion for these wonderful small, healthy, beautiful, silky haired, sweet tempered companions, are to love, cuddle and spoil. We want all their new owners to experience the joy and love our Havanese and Maltese puppies will bring to you and your family.

“Tiger” – Red Brindle Havanese

We look forward in working with you in the future and especially showing you our Havanese and Maltese dogs! Be sure to look around our site for more information about these lovely breeds and their origins.

Customer service is a top priority for Southern Silks Maltese and Havanese Puppies. We offer a wealth of information for the Havanese and Maltese lovers of the world! Always feel free to call us at 337-364-9376 or Email Us with any questions you may have about our Havanese or Maltese dogs, puppy contracts, deposits, and appointments.

4 Things to Know About Entrepreneurship When You’re Adopting a New Pet

Most people, especially those who aren’t currently pet owners, don’t consider how a pet could affect their career. However, if you’re a busy entrepreneur and welcoming a new pet to your home, there are some things you need to know.

Looking to find a gift for the dog or cat lover in your life? Visit Pet Lovers Market to find the perfect gift!

1. Pets Need Time to Adjust

New pet owners often have visions of pets snuggling with them on the couch or taking fun day trips with their new friend. Few are thinking about an anxious cat or dog acting out when no one else is home. Animals are much more territorial than humans and like to live in spaces that they’re familiar with. It can take time for them to settle in. During the first few weeks of your pet’s arrival, you may need to make yourself available to help your animal adjust. It may be worth considering running your business from home for a while if possible.

You can also use outside help to save yourself time and stress. For example, if you’re looking to gain tax advantages and reduce your financial risk, you can use an online service to set up your limited liability company to save yourself time filing all the paperwork. Make sure you are familiar with your state’s regulations for business formation, as they can differ depending on location.

2. Pets Can Be Expensive

Like any good entrepreneur, you likely have a budget for your business, but you’ll need one for your pet, too. Caring for an animal can be costly, especially if they have any health issues. Even a healthy animal needs the occasional checkup, especially when they’ve just been adopted. Don’t jump into pet ownership if things are too tight financially. It isn’t fair to you or your would-be companion.

3. Be Prepared for Emergencies

Keep in mind that there may be surprise expenses. Like people, pets have medical emergencies, and a visit to the veterinary emergency room can be expensive. Keep in mind that there is more to dealing with emergencies than just having an emergency fund to help cover the expense. Like a human ER, emergency vets use triage to operate efficiently, and for many pet owners, emergencies and other medical worries can be stressful and may involve long waits. Also seeing your animal in distress can be upsetting and may distract you from your work.

4. Pets Thrive on Routine

Your new pup isn’t going to relax all day just because you got stuck in a meeting. Similarly, your new cat may be happy to bask in the sun during the day but could grow anxious if dinner time gets delayed. In short, pets like routines.

There are ways that you can teach your pet to be more flexible, but you are likely to need to adjust your schedule adjustments in the beginning. Otherwise, you may be coming home to ruined furniture and accidents. The good news is that learning effective time management skills can help you as a business owner as well.

It’s Worth It in the End

There’s one more thing you need to know about welcoming a new pet: It is totally worth it! Everyone is different, of course. However, for most people, the bond with a pet is well worth all the effort and costs. As a new business owner, you may also have an easier time managing stress when you have a furry new friend to cuddle with.


Ryan Goodchild


They say that dog is “a man’s best friend” for a reason.

It couldn’t be more true!

As we coordinate Zoom calls (new to me!) and settle for smaller gatherings, I’m reminded of the one family member who is always by my side:

My dog, Tommy.

Through these difficult times, he has been there to comfort me—and we’re definitely never 6 feet apart when we’re home!

If you’re a dog lover like me, you know what I’m talking about.

On National Love Your Pet Day, I’ll turn to my pup for one of my favorite activities: movie night.

Does your dog like to watch movies with you Christine? Mine does! I think he’s happy to be the ONLY one getting my attention.

Especially when we find time to watch “Where the Red Fern Grows.” He has plenty of tears to lick off my face, then.

They don’t call me “The Kissy Doctor” for nothing!

But if you’re looking for a movie to watch with your family that won’t tear your heart in two, here are some of my favorites.

However, you still may want to grab the tissues for some of these.

Lady & the Tramp (1955)
The Fox and the Hound (1981)
The Adventures of Milo and Otis (1986)
Turner & Hooch (1989) Homeward Bound (1993)
Balto (1995)
Shiloh (1997)
My Dog Skip (2000)
Because of Winn-Dixie (2005)
The Secret Life of Pets (2016)
A Dog’s Journey (2019)
The Art of Racing in the Rain (2019)

You probably notice these films are all about dogs! I can’t help it, they’re my favorite, and they remind us that our dogs will always be in our corner.

From my pack to yours,





The Love Hormone…Happy Valentine’s Day!

I’ve been thinking about how grateful I am to be a pet parent this week. The unconditional love and companionship of my four-legged family members is one of the best things in my life — it’s unlike any other feeling…Coming to this realization sparked my science-brain, and sent me on a research mission.

And I found some interesting stuff.

As much as I LOVE sharing new studies, I try to avoid overwhelming you with scientific words and facts in these emails. My newsletter is one of my favorite ways to connect with you… and that’s not as easy to do if I’m putting you to sleep!

…But this fact is just plain cool.

It all begins with a hormone called Oxytocin.

Otherwise known as “the love hormone,” oxytocin tells us to bond and feel affection.

Now here’s the cool part: A study at the University of Colorado measured Oxytocin levels in pet parents compared to people living without pets. Can you guess what they found?

Quality time with animals may increase your Oxytocin levels.

Yes! Just spending time with your pet — whether you’re cuddling, playing, or petting — can give you a rush of those warm feelings.

Another study, published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research, showed that, when compared to people without pets, pet parents actually experience lower levels of stress after or during major troubling events.

And that’s just ONE of the ways that being a pet parent can lift your spirits!

We’ve known for decades that both exercise and the great outdoors can boost your mood, right?

Well, over the last year, experts in publications like TheWell, RunnersWorld, The University of Chicago, and even Forbes have decided — we need to get out more. That’s right, exploring the outdoors, for even 20 minutes a day, can seriously improve your health.

Walking your dog can be a fun, safe way for you (and your family!) to get up, get out, and stay active while you practice social distancing.

Other people are catching on, too. It’s NO WONDER shelters saw a huge spike in adoptions in 2020!

Rescues all around the United States are receiving thousands of adoption applications every week since the first stay-at-home order… and there’s still no shortage of dogs, cats, or other companion animals in need of safe, loving homes.

Even if you’re not in the position to adopt right now, many shelters are still allowing “walking visits,” which gives both you and the pups a chance to get out and get moving.

Yep! You read that correctly. Most shelters often allow volunteers to visit just to take unadopted dogs on a walk.

And hey, you could even snap a pic of the pup you’re visiting and post it on social media to inspire others and increase Fido’s chance of adoption! (If you do this, tag @drjeffspets on Instagram so I can see it, too!)

It’s a win-win for both of you!

You can check out my friends, Best Friends Animal Society, to learn about the rescue effort happening around the country and find adoptable pets in your area.

From my pack to yours,

Dr. Jeff Werber, DVM

P.S. If you or someone you know is struggling with anxiety or depression during these strange, isolating times, visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) online for information, resources, and to find support.

How do I stop my dog from eating poop?

How do I stop my dog from eating poop?  Believe it or not, I’m asked this question A LOT.

It’s one of the grossest parts of raising a dog… especially when they try to lick your face (yeah, gross!).

Most pet parents assume it’s a symptom of a vitamin deficiency, but experts haven’t found any evidence that dogs look for minerals left behind in their droppings.

The truth is, it’s probably an ancestral behavior.

In the wild, mothers will eat their stool — as well as their pups’ — to avoid leaving a scent that could tip off their prey. Meanwhile, male dogs will eat other dogs’ poo to keep the scent off their territory and maintain dominance.

Now for the good news: I can help you stop this stinky behavior!

First of all, I recommend picking up after your dog as quickly as possible. In some cases, this will be enough, and they will simply grow out of it on their own.

Another option is to try sprinkling something spicy, bitter, or sour over your dog’s poop in the yard.

What are your thoughts on raw food?

As you know, wolves and other ancient dogs weren’t living in cozy three-bedroom homes with a full kitchen and stove.

Raw food is their natural diet.

In a domesticated world, though, it can be dangerous to feed your dog a raw diet.

Think about how you prepare chicken for your family. Everything you do — from the way you store, prepare, and cook the meat — is done to avoid getting sick from bacteria like salmonella, E. coli and listeria, right?

Well, the meat in mass-produced raw diets run the same exact risk for your dog.

In fact, many brands have posted multiple recalls of their raw recipes for this reason.

That’s why I formulated Optimum — to deliver a high-quality raw diet that is safe, 100% of the time. My team developed methods to freeze-dry and use high-pressure processing to ensure every morsel is safe for your dog.

You see? When done properly, a raw diet can be healthy and beneficial.

Like most things in pet parenting, it just comes down to doing your homework.

Can dogs be gluten-intolerant?

Ah, gluten. It’s a big topic right now — when it comes to the health of humans AND the pets.

Here’s the thing… Any dog can be allergic to anything. So it’s possible that your dog is allergic to gluten.

However, it’s not as common as you’d think.

When it comes to grains, dogs are most often allergic to corn and/or wheat — not gluten.

If you’re concerned about your dog experiencing the adverse effects of allergies, talk to your veterinarian. They’ll likely suggest that you try an elimination diet to narrow down the potential allergens.

From my pack to yours,

Dr. Jeff Werber, DVM

Join Dr Jeff’s Facebook Group!

P.S. As I write this, I realize that I’m NOT done talking to you about grains. The truth is, grains and gluten have become a hot topic in the last few years, and there’s a lot of misinformation going around.

Stay tuned for my next newsletter, where I’ll break down some of the most common myths about grains and gluten in pet food…

…and I promise, some of them WILL surprise you.

We love Dr. Werber!  Woof, Remy and Louie

Popcorn and Puppies…and a Movie!

Can Dogs Eat Popcorn? Here’s What Veterinarians Have to Say

Jennifer Nelson
·2 min read
Dog Eyeing Popcorn
Dog Eyeing Popcorn

Brandi Thompson / EyeEm / Getty Images

Pop, pop, pop. Your dog instantly knows when the air popper is hoppin’ and traipses over to get in on your snack. But aside from the cuteness overload of tossing Fifi popcorn and perfecting her mid-air catch, should your pooch actually eat popcorn?

We got the skinny (popcorn is a low-fat snack after all) from two veterinarians who were happy to weigh in before movie night at your house.

“Yes, dogs (and cats) can eat popcorn! It’s a low-calorie food that pets love, so it makes a great treat,” says Dr. Angelica Dimock, managing shelter veterinarian at Animal Humane Society.

Dr. Dimock even recommends plain popcorn to replace high calorie treats for dogs that need to lose a little weight.

Which Popcorn is Best for Dogs?

“When feeding popcorn to your pet, it’s important that the popcorn is plain and preferably air popped. Popcorn that is covered in butter (even fake butter), salt, and seasonings can cause stomach issues for your furry friends,” Dr. Dimock says.

She adds that while pets can handle small amounts of “people food” as treats, for their health, it’s best to not feed your pet only human food.

It’s good to note that microwave popcorn typically is high in salt (and fats), which can be a problem for some canine cardiac patients. But plain, air-popped corn in small amounts is a perfectly acceptable treat for your pooch.

Easy on the Portion Size

“Now this doesn’t mean you should let your doggie eat a whole bag of Jiffy Pop,” says Dr. Matthew McCarthy, founder of Juniper Valley Animal Hospital.

Like people, who fill up on nutritionally deficient foods like snacks, it’s not a good idea for your pets either. “Ideally keep snacks, treats, and people foods to less than 10 percent of your dog’s daily caloric intake,” says Dr. McCarthy.

Dr. Dimock agrees and says that a handful for a medium-large dog is plenty–and only use it as a treat or snack, not a part of their regular diet.

So enjoy your next movie night guilt-free with your pup and a little bit of plain air-popped popcorn for a special treat.

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