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Monthly Archives: November 2016

Why Mixed Breeds Rule: a Reminder for National Mutt Day


December 2 is National Mutt Day, which has been celebrated twice a year on July 31 and December 2 since 2005. According to event founder Colleen Page, this holiday is all about “embracing, saving and celebrating mixed breed dogs.”

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While more than half of all dogs in the USA are mixed breeds, up to 80% of shelters dogs are represented by all-American mutts. So, when thinking of getting a dog, here are some great reasons why you should consider a mutt.

Mixed breed dogs are unique in both looks and personality. They are easy to find and offer endless choices. Mutts tend to be healthier, better behaved and live longer while still performing the same activities as many purebred dogs. In 2014, Westminster Kennel Club began to include mixed breed dogs in its agility competitions. They tend to make better family pets, too, as their breed-centric compulsions are more muted making them easier to handle and often easier to train.

Not only are mixed breeds less costly to acquire than their purebred counterparts, experts have confirmed they tend to be healthier and therefore incur fewer medical expenses. In 2013, a study in The Veterinary Journal found that mixed breed dogs live on average 1.2 years longer than pure breeds.

So, in honor of National Mutt Day, consider visiting a shelter or adopting a mixed breed dog. If you are unable to adopt, you can always volunteer or donate to help mutts find their forever homes. Be sure share pictures of your all-American dogs on social media for #nationalmuttday and encourage others to join in to remind us all why mixed breeds rule.

National Take a Hike Day – November 17th

National Take a Hike Day – November 17th

National Take a Hike DayThere is something remarkably rewarding about finding a hidden spot of beauty that is seemingly untouched by man. Stumbling upon a cavernous cave, sparkling blue waterfalls, and trees displayed in a tunnel-like fashion aren’t things you see on your daily walk around the neighborhood. These special places are found when you go on an adventure and challenge yourself to go off the beaten path. This is why I challenge you to go on an adventure on National Take a Hike Day, November 17th.

Some of the best hikes I have been on have been those that I didn’t plan. Instead, I drove to the nearest scenic area and looked for a park pull off or simply decided to ‘get lost’ and see where I ended up. These are the times I have discovered the true beauty of the state in which I live. It’s nice to take in the beauty and silence but finding these places is even better when you have someone to share it with. This is why I often take my trusty canine companion with me.

 It is as much an adventure for me as it is for her. My dog takes in the smells and wildlife while challenging me to go off the beaten path in her pursuit of a squirrel. She is ultimately the reason my simple hike becomes an adventure. It’s almost as if she idolizes the adventures of Loki the Wolfdog and hopes to encourage me to follow in their adventurous spirits. Often times we will find ourselves enjoying the cooler weather for miles.

Before you begin your hike make sure you take into consideration your needs as well as your dog’s. Take into consideration that hiking is more strenuous than walking. If you rarely get out for a neighborhood stroll, the odds are your dog doesn’t either. If you decide to take your dog for an initial two mile hike then you might be carrying them on the stretch back. Make sure you pick a comfortable distance for both you and your pet. 

If you are looking for some starting points for your canine accompanied adventure then please consult this general list of dog friendly state parks in your area but before you run out the door make sure you grab a few essentials:

-        Leash

-        Water

-        Disposable bags

-        Collar (a harness typically does best as it allows the most control and comfort) 

Have fun and go take a hike!

Training your puppy means a happier, healthier life

By Kelly Diehl, DVM, MS
Science Writer and Researcher
Morris Animal Foundation

OBTIf you and your family have chosen to bring a puppy into your life – congratulations! Dogs bring love and joy to their families, but choosing a puppy is the easy part. The real challenge begins when we bring our furry friends home and they start learning how to be a part of the family. Time spent training your dog from the day he or she comes home is an investment in a beautiful relationship that will last a lifetime.

Having a well-trained dog not only is good for your furniture, your neighbors, your mail carrier and your sanity, it also is beneficial for your dog. Both animal behaviorists and human psychologists recognize the benefits of a close human-animal bond, and positive reinforcement training provides a way for dogs and their human companions to strengthen that bond. An additional benefit is the mental and physical stimulation that training provides for dogs. (Training your dog also can save their life in more ways than one. Multiple studies have shown that behavior problems are one of the primary reasons people relinquish their dog to an animal shelter.)

House training a puppy is essential, but even learning some simple commands such as “sit,” “lie down,” and “stay” can make a positive difference in how a new puppy (or dog) integrates into a household.  Using positive reinforcement is critical; dogs don’t understand hitting or yelling, and often will become more fearful or aggressive with punishment.

In addition to positive reinforcement, most trainers and veterinarians recommend crate training your puppy. Dogs in the wild naturally seek out dens for shelter and protection. A crate gives your puppy a safe space they can retreat to, and that you can use to aid in house training your pup and preventing destructive behavior.

Keeping a consistent schedule, from feeding times to potty breaks, is important for puppies. When you first get your puppy, they need to be taken out frequently to urinate and defecate. Picking a specific area that becomes the designated bathroom and rewarding your puppy as soon as they eliminate are other helpful tips for training. Trainers recommend that you reward your puppy while still outside; don’t wait until you’re back in the house.

There is no getting around the fact that you will need to purchase new gear for your pup. All dogs need a leash and collar, as well as either ceramic or metal food and water bowls. Puppies have a strong instinct to chew, so providing age and size appropriate materials is important. Toys and other play items designed for dogs enrich their environment and provide welcome diversions.

Avoid giving your puppy old, used household items to chew on or play with; dogs are not good at knowing that the old slipper you gave them to play with is different than your expensive Italian stiletto shoes!

From a safety perspective, a well-trained puppy is a safer puppy, particularly around other dogs and people. But even training can’t prevent every incident. Remember to provide your dog with identification just in case the unthinkable happens and your dog is lost. Implanted microchips are the most high-tech options on the market, but even something as simple as a customized dog tag can provide identification. Identification can mean the difference between bringing your dog home and losing it forever.

The companionship dogs provide us is priceless. Bonding with our furry friends through positive training strengthens and enhances that relationship. For dog-training resources, check with your veterinarian, your local humane organization, or visit American Animal Hospital Association’s Healthy Pet for tips and references.