Thursday, April 19, 2012

Does Your Dog Eat Too Fast?

Does your dog eat so fast that he gags, coughs and vomits? These ideas help you slow down your dog's eating, so he can actually enjoy his food. Not only that, the suggested tips and games help you bond with your dog and stimulates his mind by learning new games and puzzles.

Take a look at How to Keep Your Dog from Eating too Fast and find out how you can make your dog's mealtime a fun, learning experience.

If your dog continues to cough or gag after eating, bring him to a vet to check for any digestive problems.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Volunteer at Your Next Dog Agility Trial

Participating in dog agility is one of the best ways to bond with your dog. After a few months of agility classes, you will notice that you and your dog communicate without having to say anything. It all has to do with body language. Dog agility trials offer you one more way to keep that bond strong and give you an idea of how your dog focuses on you even with so many distractions.

If you decide to enter an agility event with your dog, consider the volunteer opportunities available at the trial. Volunteering for one of the trial jobs helps you become acquainted with other competitors and makes the events run smoothly. It also gives you a close up view of the agility course and something to do besides get nervous before your agility run. Make sure you designate which events you are competing in when you fill out the volunteer form. This ensures you free time for your event. Even beginner agility enthusiasts can do most of the volunteer work.

Ring Crew

Volunteering for ring crew is a good starter job at the trial. All that is involved is sitting on the sidelines and watching the dogs run the course. If a dog should knock off a jump bar, you run in and put it back on the jump. Also, when the dog groups change, you set the jump bars to the correct height for the dog. You do not have to guess because the judge yells out the jump height.

Leash Runner

Leash runner is another beginner volunteer job. Each handler takes the leash and collar off the dog before beginning the course. The leash runner takes the collar and leash and carries it to the end of the course. When the dog completes the final obstacle, you hand the leash to the handler.

Course Builder

Course builders set up the new agility course for each event. This job involves moving jumps, tunnels, weave poles, A- frames, hoops, and dog walks. A course chart is available to show where the obstacles go and how they are numbered. The judge is also available to direct how the course should be set.


The time of each dog's run is calculated electronically. When the dog runs through the first obstacle, it registers on the time keeping machine. The timekeeper just has to make sure the time begins as soon as the dog begins its run and turns off when the dog passes the final obstacle.


The scribe's job is to write down the time it took each dog to complete the agility course. When the dog finishes the run, the timekeeper tells the scribe the dog's time.

North American Agility Council
Act Up Agility Club

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Do I Need an Aquarium Bubbler and Air Pump for My Fish Tank?

Photo by Vestman

Freshwater and saltwater aquariums require equipment that prevents the water from becoming stagnant and polluted. Water movement provides oxygen for the fish, keeping them healthy and disease free. The aquarium filter is necessary for all aquariums because it filters out fish waste and excess fish food. The filter also provides oxygen as it circulates water throughout your fish tank. Two other pieces of aquarium equipment that aerate and move aquarium water are the air pump and bubbler. Although the air pump and bubbler are not essential equipment for your aquarium, they do provide extra aeration and water circulation in the fish tank.

Air Pump

An air pump produces air that flows through plastic tubing into an aquarium bubbler, air stone or into a sponge filter. Sponge filters do not provide their own pumping action like an external, power filter, so it needs a pump to force air into the filter and push the tank water through the filter material. Air pumps also carry air to bubblers and air stones through plastic tubing. The air produces bubbles that add oxygen to the aquarium.

Bubblers and Air Stones

The aquarium bubbler is a long tube with tiny holes that connects to the plastic tubing, which comes from the air pump. They are also known as ‘bubble wands’ or bubble walls’. Bubbles from the wands rise to the surface of the aquarium water, taking toxic gases out of the tank. The bubbles provide additional oxygen to the water, helping fish to remain healthy and active. The bubbles also keep the water moving, keeping fish waste and food from settling on the tank bottom.

Air stones are porous stones that release bubbles from air forced through air pump. Aquarists use air stones, not only for added aeration but also as ornamental bubble stones in the aquarium. The bubbles look great as they rise to the surface and they reflect the colors and lights of the fish tank.

So, if you’re wondering whether you need an air pump and bubbler, keep in mind that any extra oxygen you can add to the fish tank helps keep your fish healthy and bubbles are also pleasing to the eye.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Taking Care of a New Puppy

Your puppy or adult dog depends upon you for everything in his life.  Learning about how to take care of him is the most important part of being a pet owner. Although the following dog care tips might seem like common sense, you'd be surprised how many dog owners do not follow up on regular dog care.

You love your dog and that is really important but he has physical needs too.  You are responsible for making sure your dog is happy and healthy.  Follow these dog care tips and your puppy will live a long, healthy life, always your faithful friend.

1.  Feed your dog twice a day when he is under one year old, then only once per day.  Any high quality dog food that meets the nutritional needs of a growing dog is fine.  Read the dog food label for the recommended amount to feed your dog, according to his ideal weight.  Try to avoid too many treats and feeding your dog human food.  It’s hard to resist when your dog starts begging for a treat but keeping him at his ideal weight will make him more energetic and healthier.

2.  Groom your dog every day.  Dogs love to be pampered and most dogs enjoy a good brushing.  Grooming your dog removes dead fur and helps eliminate shedding all over the house.  It also enhances the fur for a shiny coat and healthy skin.

3.  Brush your dog’s teeth at least once per week because dogs develop plaque just like humans do.  Use toothpaste made only for dogs since human toothpaste can irritate your dog’s stomach.  The first time you brush your dog’s teeth, just do it for a few seconds to get her used to the feel of the brush and taste of the toothpaste.  Eventually, your dog will look forward to having her teeth brushed.

4.  Exercise is essential for all types of dogs.  Walking your dog is the best way to bond with him and give him the exercise he needs.  Walk your dog at least twenty minutes per day.  If you have a large dog that is hard to handle, a harness helps keep your dog walking beside you.  Exercising your dog also helps him behave in the house because he used up his energy walking with you.

5.  Regular visits to the veterinarian are also a necessary part of dog care.  Make sure your dog is updated on all his vaccinations, especially rabies.  The vet also performs a blood test on your dog every year, testing for heartworms.  Using a monthly heartworm medication prevents your dog from becoming infected with life threatening heartworms.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Does Your Dog Bark at Everyone Who Walks By?

If your dog barks or lunges at everyone who walks by the house or while you are walking, then these tips might help. Using a few training techniques to refocus your dog can help stop barking, nipping and lunging at other dogs and people.

Redirect Behavior

If you are walking your dog and he starts staring at another dog or person, (which is supposedly, very rude behavior for a dog. My dog does it all the time.) put him in a sit position and stand directly in front of him so he can't see the dog. He'll try to look around your legs but move with his head and don't allow him to look. Keep feeding him treats, one after the other, to keep him focused on you until the other dog or person is out of his view. If your dog is clicker trained, use the clicker when he is focused on you.

I know this is hard to do if you are pressed for time while on the walk but it really does work. When I take my dog for a walk at a nearby park, I can actually get him to sit while other dogs walk by, then we continue on our way.

As far as barking from the window, that's a tough one. I'm still working on that with my dog but my dog behavior instructor says that it takes two  weeks of calm behavior to break a dog's habit. Try putting something on the couch, so your dog can't see out the window for awhile. If he gets excited while on the
floor, distract him with treats and make him sit, basically the same thing as when you're on the walk.

Work Your Dog

Another thing you can do is practice commands when your dog gets overexcited. For instance, when you see him getting anxious while on a walk or in the house, have some treats ready and just have him sit, down, walk backwards, touch your hand, anything to keep him busy, so he knows you're in charge and have things under control.

Your dog might think he has to protect the house and the people he is walking with when you're outside. He has to learn that the situation is okay and you can take care of things. Hopes this helps.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Teach Your Dog How to Visit

Now is the time to get out the clicker and teach your dog a new trick! It's National Train Your Dog Month, which is the perfect time to think about your pet.

When was the last time you taught your dog a trick? It doesn't have to be a tough one, just something to help you bond with your dog, spend some time together and enjoy each other's company.

Right now, I'm trying to teach my dog how to put his head in my lap and "Visit." He's getting the idea, as long as there's a treat waiting for him!

Teaching Your Dog "Visit"

Have your dog sit next to you and then hold a treat on the other side of your leg, so your dog has to reach over your thigh and get it. As soon as he touches your leg with his chin, click and treat. Do this a few times until your dog gets the idea.

When he is putting his head on your thigh regularly, add the word, "Visit". Soon, your dog will be putting his head on your lap whenever you say the cue word. It's a really cute trick, especially when company comes over and your dog "visits" them.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Is the Martingale Collar Right for Your Dog?

The Martingale collar has been used for sight dogs like the greyhound and whippet for years. Their thin, long necks and heads cause traditional snap collars to slip right over the ears and off the head. This is where the Martingale collar comes in. It is the perfect collar for sight dogs or any dog that slips out of his collar.

Advantages of the Martingale Collar: 

  • The loop design of the dog collar prevents it from slipping off the dog's head.
  • The collar is much safer, preventing the dog from escaping and endangering himself.
  • The collar is dog friendly and more humane. When the collar is connected to a leash, it closes around the actual diameter of the dog's neck. In this way, the closing of the collar does not restrict the dog's throat like a traditional choke chain, or pinch collar.
  • The Martingale collar is perfect for any sighthounds and many sporting and working breeds like: Vizlas, Borzoi, Collies, Australian Shepherds, Greyhounds, Whippets, Boxers, and Pharaoh hounds, to name a few.
  • Most dogs respond to the Martingale better than with a choke collar. It never produces a choke hold on the dog, but gently tightens to fit the dog's neck. There is no pain or constriction of any kind to the dog if fitted properly.
  • The collar remains in position on the dog's neck much better than a traditional flat collar. Because of this position, most dogs will not pull and tug in front of the owner. It is a much better collar for loose leash walking and training.
  • A struggling dog cannot back out of this collar. If the dog is frightened by traffic or loud noises, trying to rear away from the frightening source, he cannot pull out of the Martingale.

All of these facts are good reasons to try the Martingale collar with your dog. The collar is very effective when fitted according to manufacturer's specifications. The basic fitting method is to tighten correctly. When the smaller loop is pulled, the two outer parts of the collar should join in the middle, fitting comfortably on the dog's neck.

The Martingale collars are available in a variety of sizes, colors, patterns and materials. They are sometimes hard to find in pet stores because most people buy traditional flat collars or chains. You could request your local pet store to order one, but it is probably easier to order one online. Most sites will tell you how to measure your dog's neck and each Martingale is adjustable to fit a variety of sizes.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

How Often Should I Give My Dog a Bath?

Credit: Mikumistock
In days gone by, dog shampoos were very harsh. They stripped the dog's coat of essential oils and dried out the dog's skin. Current dog grooming products are much milder and actually enhance the dog's skin and coat. Using a gentle dog wash allows pet owners to bathe their dog more frequently, even once every week and is actually beneficial to the dog's health.

Following a few simple dog-grooming steps will keep your dog clean and well groomed, putting a spring in his step and a smile on his face.

Always brush your dog before applying water or dog shampoo to prevent tangles and mats in the dog's fur. Thorough brushing also removes dead fur, flaking skin, and any sticks, leaves, or burrs that your dog might have picked up outside. If necessary, cut out any mats, especially under the dog's belly and behind the ears.

Apply vegetable oil or mineral oil to any sap, paint, gum, or other sticky substances that are stuck in the dog's fur 24 hours before bathing your dog. This will help wash it off more readily.

Choose a gentle dog shampoo with added skin conditioners and detanglers. Today's pet shampoos actually heal skin allergies, eliminate germs and bacteria, and repel fleas, ticks and biting insects. Tear free dog wash is also available at pet stores and makes your dog bath more enjoyable for both of you. If the dog likes the bath, she won't be afraid to get into the tub on the next bath day.

Gather up all the dog bathing supplies before putting your dog into the tub. Have towels, cotton balls, shampoo, a brush if you're using one, and a cup for rinsing, then you’re all set to go.
Fill the tub with warm water and put cotton balls into the dog's ears to prevent water from running into his ear canal. Now it's time to put the dog into the tub. Gently lift him into the tub if he won't jump in on his own. Talk in soothing tones to your dog to keep him calm and wet the dog's coat thoroughly with warm water. Make sure the water reaches all the way to the skin for a complete washing.

Apply dog soap to the fur and scrub until a lather forms. Wash the dog starting from the back to the front to prevent your dog from shaking too much, saving you from getting a shower, as well. A dog usually only shakes when her head and ears get wet.

After shampooing your dog’s whole body, rinse the coat with clean water. Be sure to rinse all the way to the dog's skin, removing all traces of dog shampoo. Any dog soap left in the coat dries and causes itchy, flaking skin.

Squeeze out any excess water by running your hand firmly along your dog's body. Cover him with a towel and gently pat dry. Avoid rubbing the dog's fur too much or mats and tangles will form. Use a hair dryer on low heat to completely dry your dog, if she isn't afraid of it. It is fine to let the dog's fur air dry. Take her for a walk if it's warm outside to help the fur dry quicker.

Source: American Kennel Club, New Puppy Handbook, 2009.