Tuesday December 3, 2013
Rewards make up the foundation of positive reinforcement dog training. Though there are many other training methods out there, I feel that positive training is one of the most effective and humane. Best of all, it's fun and simple. Think about it: if given a choice, would you rather get rewarded when you do a good job, or be chided and intimidated into performing a task? I think it's safe to say that most people would opt for the former. Of course, dogs are not human, but they do experience many of the same emotions that we do. Bottom line: we all know that any dog would pick the reward.
As you train your dog positively, there are many rewards that you can use. Food is most often used as a reward because so many dogs are highly food-motivated. On the other hand, what about those dogs that are NOT food-motivated? I have encountered many dog owners who feel that training is impossible because their dog could care less about food (yes, such dogs do exist). The good news is that there are other ways to reward these dogs. It's all a matter of determining what your dog values. Check out this list of the best ways to reward your dog. Use it as a guide to help you train your dog the positive way.
Photo © Jenna Stregowski
Friday November 29, 2013
Happy Black Friday, if that's your thing. If you are anything like me, you won't dare step foot in a store today (actually, I mainly shop online all year round). Perhaps Cyber Monday is more your speed. Either way, the holiday shopping season is here. Have you made your gift lists? Personally, I like to buy little presents for my dogs (and dogs owned by friends and family). Sure, pets don't really get the concept of holiday gift giving and all the festivities, but I think the point is that it's fun for us. I have such a blast watching my dog tear open her gifts! Are you ooking for some presents for the dogs in your life? Check out my dog gift guide for a few ideas.
Now on to gifts for the humans. Sometimes it's hard to find just the right thing to give to friends and family. Fortunately, finding great presents for the dog lovers in your life can be pretty simple. I put together a list of some of my favorite gift ideas for dog lovers. See if any of them sound good for the dog lovers in your life.
What is on your gift-giving list? How about your own wish list?
Photo © footloosiety on flickr
Monday November 25, 2013
Don't try this at home: Chloe eating off the Thanksgiving table in 1996Photo © Jenna Stregowski
At our yearly Thanksgiving dinner, my mom used to recall the story of the time (many years ago) that she and my dog Chloe spent Thanksgiving alone together. Mom made herself a HUGE plate of leftovers that someone brought her, then left the room for a few minutes. When she returned, the plate was perfectly clean and Chloe was happily licking her chops. Fortunately, Chloe did not get sick, but my angry mother missed out on a tasty dinner. It's a good thing she really loved that dog!
Mom and Chloe are no longer with us. Perhaps they are together beyond the Rainbow Bridge eating whatever the heck they want. Now, as a part of our tradition, we tell the story at the Thanksgiving table every year and laugh. On a more serious note, everyone in our family has learned to be extra careful with food around pets.
The take-away message is this: do what you can to keep your pets safe this Thanksgiving. During the holidays, many dogs get very sick from eating rich, fatty foods or getting into decorations. Others run outside because a guest left the door or gate open. Some become lost, while others return with injuries. This time of year, veterinary emergency clinics get busy with pet illnesses and injuries that could have been avoided. Take the time to pay extra attention to details and keep your dog safe. If you plan on spending Thanksgiving with your dog, remember to play it safe. Keep an eye on your dog, the food, the decorations and the doors.
Do you have any fun stories about your dog's holiday adventures? Share them in the comments!
Tuesday November 19, 2013
Because it's Adopt a Senior Dog Month, I want to talk about a health concern that is rather common in senior dogs: Osteoarthritis. Dogs can experience some of the same aches and pains we humans may feel in our joints as we age. Senior citizens, canine and human alike, often suffer from some form of arthritis. The key to helping your dog lies in your understanding of the disease.
Arthritis comes in many forms, and it can affect humans, dogs and other animals. Osteoarthritis, or degenerative joint disease, is characterized by inflammation of a joint caused by a loss of cartilage between the bones of that joint. This bone-on-bone friction leads to pain, stiffness and swelling. While there is no cure for osteoarthritis, there are fortunately many ways to manage it.
Whether or not your dog currently has arthritis, you should know that there is a good chance arthritis will affect him someday. As an owner, it's difficult to watch your canine companion experience pain and stiffness. Fortunately, you can learn how to help your dog live a more comfortable life. Take the time today to learn about canine osteoarthritis. Find out how you can help ease your dog's discomfort by working with your vet and making some changes to your dog's environment and routine.
Have you had a dog with arthritis? Tell us what did you do that really seemed to help your dog.