Thursday, December 11, 2008

Free Knitted Dog Sweater Pattern

Keep your dog warm this winter with this knitted dog sweater. The dog sweater instructions are for sizes small to large. I knitted the small sweater and it fits my friend's miniature schnauzer. I would say that the small size will fit any dog in the small dog group. The large size would probably fit a medium sized dog like a beagle, a dachshund, or a cocker spaniel. I originally got this pattern from Michael's Craft's store but changed it a bit when I knitted it.

I didn't have any trouble with the dog sweater pattern and I'm somewhere between beginner and experienced as a knitter. The knitted sweater pattern has basic knitting including knit, purl, increase, decrease, and slip stitch. There are no complicated cable stitches or popcorn stitches but the neck is knitted with a circular needle.

I had never used a circular needle before and I had no trouble with it for this pattern. The picture shown here is the dog sweater that I knitted. It's being shown on a stuffed animal because I don't have a small dog but it gives you the idea of what the sweater looks like.

Knitted Dog Sweater Pattern

Yarn required: 6.5 oz. sports weight yarn. You can break this up into two different colors if you want a contrasting neck and sleeves.
Needles: Size 8 (5mm), Size 8 (5mm) circular needle/16"
Stitch Holder

Size: S (L) Chest size: 13 ¼" (25") Length: 9 ¼" (21 3/4")
Gauge: 18 sts. and 36 rows equals 4" in garter stitch
(The garter stitch is knitting every row.)
Abbreviations: dec-decrease, inc-increase, k-knit, p-purl, k2tog-knit 2 together, rnd-round, RS-right side
Ssk-slip,slip,knit (slip next 2 sts as if to knit, one at a time, to right needle into fronts of these 2 sts and k them together.
M1 – make 1 stitch. (An increase worked by lifting the horizontal thread lying between the needles and placing it onto the left needle. Work this new stitch through the back loop.)

Back: Cast on 35 (51) sts. with the straight needles. Knit in the garter stitch, increasing 1 stitch at both ends of the row, every 6th (4th) row, 3 (14) times. There are now 41 (79) stitches on the needle. Continue knitting in the garter stitch for 5 ¾" (14 ¼").

Leg Openings: Place a marker at the end of the last row. This will mark the beginning of the leg openings. Decrease Row: K2, ssk, k to last 4 sts., k2 tog., k2. Repeat the decrease row every other row 3 more times – 33 (71) sts. Knit 10 rows. Increase Row: K2, M1, k to last 2 sts., M1, k2. Repeat the increase row every other row 3 more times – 41 (79) sts. Place a marker at each end of the last row to mark the end of the leg openings. Knit 4 rows. Work even in the garter stitch for 1 (5"). Place 41 (79) sts on a holder.

Front: Using straight needles, cast on 19 (33) sts. Knit in the garter stitch for 1 ¼ (6 ¼ "). Shape the leg openings as you did for the back. Place 19 (33)sts. on a holder.

Collar: Using the circular needle, knit across the Back stitches on the holder, then the Front stitches. – 60 (112)sts. Place a marker and join for working in the round. Size L only: *K2, k2tog, k3, k2tog; repeat from *, end with k4 – 88 sts. Both Sizes: Work even in rounds of K2, P2 until collar is 4 (7"). Bind off loosely following the ribbing pattern.

Sleeves: At each leg opening, with right side facing, pick up and knit – 28 sts. Knit in K2, P2 until the sleeve measures 2 ½ (3 ½") Bind off loosely following ribbing pattern.

Finishing: Sew the side seams on either side of the leg openings. Sew the sleeve seams and weave in the ends. Hope this knitted dog sweater keeps you pup warm all winter.

Happy Knitting!

Monday, December 1, 2008

How to Celebrate Christmas with Your Pets

Here are some terrific Christmas for Pets articles that I came across at Associated Content. The articles provide some really great stocking stuffer ideas for dogs and cats, and tips on how to keep your pet safe during the holidays. Take a look:

Including Pets in Christmas Activities by Thom Conroy – Thom gives some wonderful ideas to help include your pet in the holiday festivities. Don’t leave your pet out in the cold! Read how to include your dog or cat in the Christmas celebrations.
Read more…

Christmas Stocking Stuffers for Lizards by C. Jean Heida – Make sure you hang a Christmas stocking for your pet lizard, so Santa can fill it with lizard goodies. C. Jean gives some great ideas for stocking stuffers for lizards in her article. Take a look for some lizard gift ideas…

Christmas Stocking Stuffers for Guinea Pigs by C. Jean Heida – Another helpful article from C. Jean with Christmas stocking stuffer ideas for guinea pigs and their owners. It’s always fun to include a favorite pet in on the holiday spirit. Read more…

Christmas Treats for Dogs by Amy Brantley – Your dog enjoys Christmas treats as much as you do. Include your dog in the Christmas celebration with these dog treat ideas from Amy. Read more…

Tips for Keeping Your Cat off the Christmas Tree by Nicole Humphrey – Do you have a cat who is fascinated by the sparkling Christmas tree? Nicole has some practical ideas to keep your tree safe from a curious cat. Read how…

I hope the links to these articles help you and your pets enjoy the Christmas season. Your pets will thank-you for including them in the holidays with a big, sloppy kiss. Who could ask for anything more?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

How to Protect Your Pet During the Winter

Well, Halloween is over and the clocks have been set back. You know what comes next...WINTER! It's time to think about preparing your pet for the cold, winter months. If your dog or cat spends a lot of time outside, make sure they have an insulated shelter to get in out of the cold. Even then, they should be allowed inside off and on throughout the day. Evenings get especially cold, the temperature dropping by 20 degrees or more. Bring your pet inside on winter nights.

Even if you have a long-haired pet, like a collie, a sheltie, or a Maine Coon cat, the weather affects them in the same way it does humans. They can suffer from hypothermia just as you do. Some dogs like Alaskan Malamutes or Siberian Huskies are better suited to the cold. They have insulated coats that protects them from blowing snow and wind, but if you own one of these dogs and they are not used to the cold, they can still suffer in the freezing weather. Make sure you insulate the dog house, garage, or wherever your pet sleeps with blankets, pillows, or bedding filled with wood shavings. Pet stores also carry heated pads that can be placed under the dog house or bedding. If your pet is a chewer, this is not an option, however.

Water is another issue during the winter months. An insulated dog house will not keep water from freezing. You will have to bring your pet indoors frequently for water. Dog houses and garages are only recommended for daylight hours. I can't emphasize enough that pets should be brought inside at night.

When walking your dog in frigid weather, snow, and ice, use some type of booties to protect the dog's paws from ice chips, freezing walkways, and salted roads. Road salt will dry out the pads of your pet's paws, causing cracking, and bleeding. You can make pet booties yourself with a woolen or felt fabric or knit the dog booties yourself. It may seem strange at first, seeing your dog in booties, but the added protection will prevent frostbite, cuts, and infection.

Small dogs, cats, and short-haired pets should also wear jackets or sweaters. Water proof dog and cat jackets are best, but any covering is better than no protection. Knitted wool sweaters are very warm and are ideal protection from the wet and cold. Just don't put wool sweaters in the clothes dryer or they will shrink to a tiny size. Wool sweaters need to be air dried. There are many free knitted dog sweater and cat sweater patterns online, so if you know how to knit, this is a great way to build up your pet's winter outerwear. It's fun choosing all the different colored yarns and knitting your pet a cozy sweater. Create matching pet booties, as well.

Another thing to keep in mind during the cold weather, especially if your pet is staying in a garage, is anti-freeze. Anti-Freeze is extremely toxic to humans, pets, and other wildlife. Animals will drink anti-freeze, being attracted by its sweet taste. If your pet drinks a puddle of anti-freeze, go to the vet immediately. It will cause death. Double check your driveway and garage for anti-freeze that may have leaked out of your vehicle or a vehicle that was parked in your driveway. Protect your pet and any other wildlife like squirrels, raccoons, chipmunks, and birds that are looking for water in the winter.

Dry, cold, or heated air is also a problem for some pets, causing dry skin, itching, and hot spots. Add a little extra fat to your pet's food in the winter. You can do this by using a tablespoon or two of olive oil, fatty acid supplements you can buy at the pet store, or the extra fat cut off of meat. The added fat gives a nice shine to your pet's coat and prevents dandruff. Your pet will love the extra fatty oils too.

Hope these tips help both you and your pet stay cozy and warm all winter.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Find Out Your Dog's Breed with Dog DNA Testing

I was talking to the lady next to me at my dog’s obedience class and she mentioned that she was having her dog DNA tested. She couldn’t stand it anymore and wanted to know what mix her dog was. I had never heard of DNA testing for dogs before, so I was quite surprised it was available. (The picture on the right is a German Shepherd/Golden Retriever mix.

The woman told me she ordered a DNA kit online and that the results would cost about $60.00. When I think of DNA testing, I picture big laboratories with scientists in white lab coats, sitting at microscopes, beakers, and test tubes strewn about them. I didn’t realize that testing was that simple.

Everyone in the class was anxiously awaiting the test results. It only took about a week for the results to come back. It was amazing, really. The test gave the actual percentage of each dog breed that her dog’s DNA was made up of. She told me that her dog was tested according to 135 dogs that the AKC recognizes as purebreds.

She found out that her dog was part Australian shepherd, German shepherd, and golden retriever. Everyone in the obedience class was guessing what breeds the dog might be made up of, but no one got the right answer. The dog owner was very happy with the results and a few of the other people in the class are planning on having their dogs tested also.

So, if you’ve been wondering about what your mixed breed dog is made up of, or if you want to be sure that your dog is a purebred, you might want to consider DNA testing for your dog.
DNA will do the test for $59.99. That is the least expensive place I found on the internet.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Get an Original Colored Pencil Portrait of Your Pet

Have you ever wanted an original portrait of your pet or your favorite wildlife animal?

Colored pencil portraits are an economical, yet gorgeous way to have a portrait of your favorite pet created. These portraits are painted using professional Prismacolor colored pencils on artist vellum. They are also sprayed with a preservative to keep the colors bright and long lasting.

The example of the Great Dane puppy is one of my favorite colored pencil portraits. I painted it (colored pencil artwork is actually considered painting) from a reference photo of a Great Dane puppy. It is an 8"x10" size for easy framing.

A colored pencil portrait can be painted using any high quality photo of your pet. Try to choose a photograph that shows your pet's personality and expression. A pet's portrait makes a great gift and a lasting memory of your pet.

If you would like more information on colored pencil pet portraits, just send me an KCurleyArt@gmail and I'd be happy to give you more details.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Keep Your Pets Safe in the Summer Months

Dehydration in Pets

Now that the weather is getting warmer, it is time to consider your pet's comfort and safety. 
The summer months are approaching and it doesn't matter how many warnings are given. You will see pets tortured inside sweltering cars in parking lots. It never fails. It is so disturbing to see a panting dog, heaving and slobbering against a car window on an 80 degree day. The inside of a car will reach 120 degrees within a few minutes. When that happens, your pet will not have much of a chance. Even cracking a window will not help in this kind of weather.

Don't let your pet suffer. Protect him from dehydration and heat exhaustion. Like people, pets need a cool, shady spot to hunker down and wait out the daytime heat. Provide plenty of fresh water. The only way a dog can cool down its body is by drinking water. They do not sweat like people do.
Overweight or older pets are especially affected by the heat.

Treating Dehydration in Pets

If your pet becomes severely dehydrated and cannot drink, try giving it fluids by using a squirt bottle and squeezing the fluid into the cheek pouch. You can use something like Pedialyte to replace the electrolytes. You can also try soaking his body to lower his temperature. Use a rectal thermometer to take your pet's temperature. It should read from 100 - 102. Anything higher than this is extremely dangerous. If these methods do not work, bring your pet to the vet immediately. Fluids will have to be replaced intravenously.

Another thing to keep in mind is that your pet does not wear running shoes. If you decide to go for a run on a hot day, it is better to leave your pet at home. Paws can get burned on the hot pavement, and body fluids depleted quickly. Keep your pet's walks short. If you have to take your pet along, make sure to bring bottled water for your pet to drink from frequently. Exercise is not always a good idea on a hot day.

Your dog trusts you to take care of him. He will do anything you ask him to. He will run, play Frisbee, sit in a hot car or lay on a boiling beach just to be by your side. Be the sensible one, and keep your pet safe. Enjoy each other's company lounging around at home together. Stay cool with an iced tea for you and a Frosty Paws for your pet.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

How to Teach Your Dog to Come When Called

It is so important to teach your dog to “come”. The “come” command could save your dog’s life some day. I learned the hard way. My dog, Griffin, was 1 ½ years old when he was hit by a car. When I think about it, the whole series of events leading up to his tragic loss runs in slow motion in my mind.
Griffin and I were sitting in the yard with my 18 month old son. A squirrel went darting past and Griffin took off like a rocket after him. I can still see him disappearing into the woods behind our house. This happened before leash laws and Griffin was always loose.
About two minutes later, the phone rang. It was the police telling me my dog had just been hit by a car. My neighbor took care of my son while I went to the scene of the accident. Griffin lay on the ground, bleeding from the mouth and a glazed look in his eyes. I don’t know whether he knew I was with him or not.
The person who hit him was in tears and offered to bring Griffin to the vet. I rode in the back with Griffin’s head in my lap. We arrived at the vet, but there was too much internal damage to do anything. Griffin died a few minutes after we arrived at the vet.
I only tell this story so you can see how important it is to teach your dog the command, “come”. I have a puppy now. He is 5 months old and I work on the recall command every day. The puppy is doing very well with returning to me when I call him, but I am going to continue training him until “come” is perfected.
I use the following method:
1. I tie a 50 foot length of rope onto the puppy’s collar then let him wander in the yard.
2. I say his name and then the word “come”. Then I draw the rope to me until the puppy gets back to me.
3. I have him sit and then praise him and give him a treat.

4. We do this about twenty times a day.
After three days, the puppy was running back to me and I didn’t have to pull the rope.

I also use this method to train him not to leave the yard.
When the puppy reaches the boundary of the yard, I pull on the rope and say, “No”. He is learning quickly not to go beyond the borders of the yard. I do this in different areas of the property, so he learns the boundaries.

I hope this helps you, and that you teach your dog the “recall command”, so you don’t have to go through the tragedy that I did.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

How to Housebreak Your Puppy in 15 Minutes Using the 5 Minute Rule

I brought my puppy to the vet the other day and saw this in the office. It's another method for housebreaking your puppy. It's similar to the one I wrote last month, but has a few different tips on keeping to a housebreaking schedule:

1. Take your puppy outside first thing in the morning for 5 minutes. (Be consistent, try to do this at the same time everyday.)

2. Bring the puppy back inside and feed him/her whatever he can eat in 5 minutes.

3. Take the food away and bring the puppy back outside for another 5 minutes.

4. Reward and praise your puppy for urinating or defecating outside.

5. Repeat this again in the afternoon and evening.

This method is a proven and recommended way to housetrain your pet. If you catch your puppy in the act of urinating in the house, you should immediately say NO in a loud voice, make a loud noise, or give the pet a quick squirt from a water bottle and take the dog outside immediately.

Your puppy will associate the negative reinforcement with urinating or defecating in the house. Any negative reaction after the accident has occurred will do no good to prevent future accidents. You have to catch your pet in the act of having an accident.

Rubbing your dog's nose in his/her accident or hitting the puppy is strongly discouraged. It may cause your pet to fear you. Stay positive and your pet will be housetrained in no time.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Strategies for Housebreaking Your Puppy

Housebreaking your puppy can make or break the relationship you have with your dog. I have known many people who just never get past the housebreaking training. They get so frustrated after a few months of cleaning up dog poop, or steam cleaning their carpeting after accidents that they look for a new home for their puppy.

Take a look at Craig's List or the classified ads in the newspaper and you will see so many dogs from 6 months to 1 ½ years old that are being given away. The dog owners are fed up with the aggravation of a dog that cannot be housebroken. The fact is that all puppies can be housebroken if given the time and the patience.

There are many different housebreaking methods; most of them will do the trick. Go to the library, browsing the pet section. You will find a wide variety of dog training books which contain chapters on housebreaking your puppy.

The keys to housebreaking are to be consistent, and patient. You can't expect a puppy to be housebroken in a week. You have to consistently apply the training method you have chosen. Don't try to switch methods every few days, figuring another training method be more effective. This will only confuse your puppy while he is only trying to please you.

Physically, a puppy cannot be completely free of accidents in the house. His brain is not fully developed enough to control his bodily functions. This does not mean that the puppy is not learning, just that he cannot help himself at the moment. If you are persistent with the puppy's training, and follow through with your training method, your puppy will be completely trained between the ages of 3 to 5 months.

Female dogs are usually easier to train than males because they will urinate or defecate only once when brought outside. Male dogs, on the other hand, will urinate and defecate several times, marking their territory as a sign of dominance. A neutered male dog will also be easier to train because the urge to dominate is diminished. Keep this in mind when housebreaking your puppy.

Here are a few tips and strategies to housebreaking your puppy:

  • Decide the housebreaking method that you feel will work out for your situation.
  • Make a schedule to follow during the first few weeks of training: feeding, watering, and walking your puppy.
  • Control the amount of food and treats you give your puppy. Irregular feeding can make housebreaking much harder.
  • Make sure your pet has all the water he needs during the day, but limit water intake at night to avoid accidents. This is only temporary, until your puppy gets a little older, and can control himself. If your puppy appears thirst, certainly give him more water, but a limited amount during the night should be okay.
  • Don't let your puppy wander around the house while being housebroken. Dogs don't like to mess in their sleeping area, so limiting your puppy's space will make housebreaking easier.
  • If you see your puppy sniffing the floor, it probably means he has to go out. Distract him immediately and bring him outside.
  • Take your puppy to the same spot every day to relieve himself. The scent of previous visits will urge him to go quickly.
  • In the beginning, your puppy will need many trips outside. Gradually spread out the times that you bring him outside, making a regular schedule that fits your lifestyle.
  • Catching the puppy in the act is one of the quickest ways for him to realize he is doing something wrong. Be firm with him, keep him with you while you are cleaning up the accident, and let him know you are displeased. The puppy will feel completely guilty, associating your displeasure with his actions.

These are methods I have used through the years to train my puppies. They are traditional ways to housebreak a puppy. Depending upon your circumstances, whether you are in the city, working all day, at home, or in the country will determine the housebreaking method that is best for you and your pup. Do your research and begin the training. Good luck with your new puppy!

If anyone has any housebreaking ideas or methods that have worked, please leave a comment to help others housebreak their puppies.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Puppy Training Begins before You Bring Your Pup Home

I've met a lot of pet owners through the years, and many of them feel that any type of training will break the spirit of their dog. Usually, these dogs have the run of the house and the owners under their control. They have no boundaries, sleep on furniture, eat from the table, intimidate guests, and basically, take over the household.

If you have a small dog, this may be seen as cute, but if your dog is medium sized or large, this type of situation can be a struggle. The lack of training and discipline leads to unhappy animals, and unhappy owners. Oftentimes, the dog has to be given to a shelter or rescue organization if the owner cannot regain control of the pet. No one wins in this situation.

Many times, a lot of the problems can be prevented before they even begin. Choosing the right puppy is the first step when thinking about training. This may seem strange, but not all dog types are suited for certain people. For instance, if you are a shy, quiet person, it is unlikely that an aggressive dog would be the right choice for you. On the other hand, if you are an active, outgoing person, you wouldn't want a small, nervous dog. So, it all begins with choosing the right match of puppy to human.

Do your research and keep training in mind. Compare all the different breeds and their qualities, to determine the best pup for you. If you are going to a shelter to find a puppy, take the time to become familiar with the personality of the dogs. Don't judge a book by its cover, look beyond the cuteness of the puppy. For instance, if you want a dog that will fetch (particularly hunting dogs), throw a ball and see if the dog will go after it automatically. My beagle will not chase a ball or a stick, no matter what I do, yet my collie will play fetch all day long. So be sure to look for the qualities you want in a dog right from the start. Also, try to determine if a dog is too aggressive by playing a little rough with him. It's okay if the puppy growls and tugs, but he should stop when you tell him "no" in a firm tone. If the pup won't stop, but gets progressively more excited, then he might be too aggressive to handle as he gets older.

These are just a few ideas to keep in mind when choosing a puppy. Training is very important. Keep it in mind even when choosing your puppy and you will both get off to a positive start. Remember, you will have your dog for years to come, and you want him to be your best friend.

Once you have brought your puppy home, the next step of training is housebreaking. I'll give some ideas that worked when I was housebreaking my dogs in my next blog.

Take a look at this video from YouTube. It pulls at the heart-strings,but the puppies here have been rescued.