Friday December 6, 2013
I was not lucky enough to grow up with pets. Every Christmas, I used to wish for a cute puppy in a big red bow. It never happened, but now I know that it was probably a good thing. I think growing up with a family pet would have been wonderful, but getting one as a holiday gift could have been trouble. That's because dogs given as holiday gifts (especially to children) are all too often forgotten when the novelty wears off.
Choosing to get a new dog is a big family decision that requires advance planning. If you are a parent and the kids are begging to get a dog, then you'll need to consider whether or not you are ready to take on some of the responsibility as well. If you want to give your friend or significant other a dog as a gift, think about the responsibility you will be putting on that person. Either way, if you decide the time is right for a new dog, the announcement itself can be one of the presents. Actually picking out the new dog can wait until after the holidays. After all, it's a big decision!
This is not to say that all dogs given as gifts end up unwanted. There are times when it works out for everyone, but these are situations where the new dog owner is dedicated and responsible. Before giving a dog as a gift, think seriously about the details. Is the person or family ready for a dog? How do you know what kind of dog is right? You might stop yourself and realize that it really can wait until January.
Photo © Andersen Ross/Getty Images
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!